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I write sweet and inspirational romances and romantic suspense novels for Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense, Simon and Schuster, Howard Books, and Tule Publishing Group. I love to interact with readers daily on Facebook and Instagram.
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Nov 11, 2016

Yuletide Peril Chapter Two

Chapter Two
      "That’s all I can tell you about my sister," Tabby said to the homicide investigator, who’d introduced herself as Detective Carlucci. "I didn’t see or talk to the man. I don’t know what he wanted to tell me."
         "Any idea where your sister might be staying?" the detective asked.
         Tabby gave a negative shake of her head. "I don’t. Since I hadn’t heard from her again I figured she’d moved on."
         "When she contacted you, what did she want?"
         Still feeling the sting from the visit, she sighed. "Beth was having a cash–flow problem and asked if I could help her. I gave her what was in my purse, which wasn’t much. Then she was gone. I really don’t know anything more." Tabby glanced toward the suite where a gurney with a sheet draped over the dead man was being wheeled out. "Do you know what killed him?"
         "Blunt force trauma to the head."
         Turning her attention back to the detective, Tabby asked, "Why would someone do that? Who is he?"
         "It’s my job to find out." Detective Carlucci flipped her notebook closed and dug out a business card from the side pocket of her tailored, expensive–looking suit jacket. "If you think of anything else, give me a call."
         Taking the card, Tabby nodded. "I will."
         The detective moved to confer with her partner, a tall, blond–haired man with sharp, vivid green eyes that seemed to take everything in at once.
         "You okay?" Jon asked as he came to stand beside her, his handsome face full of concern. The crispness of his white dress shirt against his olive skin made his square jaw and high cheek bones more pronounced. Tonight he’d swept his dark hair back in a controlled style that complemented his tailored black suit, though she much preferred the more tousled way he normally wore it.
         She resisted the urge to lean against his broad shoulders for comfort. He was her boss. And that was a line she’d promised herself she wouldn’t cross. Not even because of a dead man.
She shivered. The creepiness of the turn of events made her skin crawl.
         "You’re cold. Here," Jon said and draped her wrap around her shoulders.
         "It’s just so sad. Who do you think killed him? And what did he want to tell me?"
         "I don’t know. But the police will figure it out. Let’s get you home."
         "But the guests!" She didn’t relish rejoining the party and having to field questions, but doing so was part of her job. "We can’t just leave."
         "Don’t worry. I’ll come back and make sure everyone’s had a good time," he said, his dark eyes alive yet so tender as his gaze touched her.
         The unmistakable buzz of a cell phone on vibrate reverberated around them. Jon patted his breast pocket. "Not mine."
         "It’s mine," she said, gesturing to the blue beaded evening bag dangling from the crook of Jon’s elbow. Amid such grim circumstances, an amused smile played at the corners of her mouth. Jon was the only man she knew secure enough in his own masculinity to hold a women’s purse without embarrassment. That was one of the many traits she enjoyed and appreciated about her boss.
         With a rueful grin, he slid the bag to his hand and held it out. She opened the latch and fished out her small red cell. She glanced at the number, didn’t recognize it. "Hello?"
         "Listen carefully and do not react. I’m watching you," said a muffled voice, whose gender was indistinguishable. "If you ever want to see your sister alive again, go home and await instructions."
         The line went dead.
         Terror chomped through Tabby but she forced herself not to let it show, even though it sounded like her sister had been kidnapped.
         Quickly, she closed the phone, took her bag from Jon and said, "You’re right. I need to go home. You stay and make sure the guests are happy."
         Without waiting for a response, she hurried toward the elevator. To her chagrin, Jon matched her pace. As the elevator doors slid open, she put her hand on Jon’s chest to stop him from entering. She felt his heart beating, the tempo nearly matching her own. Awareness of his proximity sent shivers of a different kind sliding over her skin.
         "Really. You stay," she managed to say.
         Capturing her hand and pulling her into the elevator, he said,     "Really. I’m not."
         The elevator doors slid shut, blocking out prying eyes. Tabby bit her lower lip. How was she going to get rid of Jon?
         "Spill it," he said.
         "I… What are you talking about?"
         He grabbed her purse.
         He undid the clasp, reached in and dug out her cell. "You received a call that upset you. Who was it from?" He checked the call log.
         Staring straight at the door so he couldn’t see the panic in her eyes, she said, "It’s none of your business."
         Reaching past her, he hit the stop button. The elevator ground to a halt. "We’re not leaving until you tell me what has you so spooked."
         Frustration and panic vied for prominence in her mind. She needed to get home. She needed to be there when the call came in about her sister. Even though they weren’t close, Beth was still family.
         Over the years, Tabby had prayed her sister was safe and happy. And when Beth appeared out of the blue, Tabby had wept with joy that God had brought her sister back to her. Tabby tried to ignore the disquieting knowledge that Beth wasn’t like the girl who’d run away. The cold, hard person standing in her kitchen hadn’t wanted a warm and fuzzy reunion, only money. Confused and hurt, Tabby had done what she could for her sister.
         As she would now. After all, they shared the same blood and Beth obviously needed her.
         "I can’t say anything," Tabby said, looking up at her strong, handsome boss and yearning to confide in him, wishing she could slip into his embrace and forget the horrible events of the night.
         But he was her boss and there was no way she’d ever jeopardize her job or her integrity by becoming just another notch on his belt.
         Though eight years her senior, Jon had a youthful exuberance for life that made him good at his profession and also a desirable catch. Touted as one of Boston’s most eligible bachelors, Jon had his pick of women. And usually dated several at a time. Another reason she would never let herself fall for him. She wanted a love that would last a lifetime. So far, she hadn’t found it.
         Jon stepped closer, his six–foot frame crowding her into the corner. "Who called and what did they want?"
         "Please, I have to get home."
         He reached out to run his knuckles down her cheek. "Trust me, Tabby. I can help you."
         "You’re really not going to let me out until I tell you, are you?"
         He shook his head.
         "Fine." Conceding defeat in the stubbornness department. "The caller said if I want to see my sister alive, I need to go home and wait for further instructions."
         Jon straightened, his expression darkening. "Was the caller a man or woman?"

         "The voice was digitally altered, so I don’t know." She shivered again as fear traipsed up her spine. "And the person said he or she was watching me!"

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