Discovering Emily Series, Book 1
by Rachel Carrington
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Date of Publication: July 21, 2014
Word Count: ~67,000
Cover Artist: Elaina Lee of For the Muse Designs
Getting close is dangerous…
He’s too close, and I start to fidget, needing to keep my hands busy so they won’t grab hold of his shirt. Because that’s what they want to do. Draw him closer. So I can Inhale his scent. Taste his skin.
I didn’t run because I was in an abusive relationship; I ran because my soul was being crushed. I’d forgotten how to live, how to be happy. Running out of gas in a small town, I catch the eye of the local sheriff when the very last thing I want is to come under the scrutiny of the police. I left my boyfriend with blood on my hands, and I know as soon as the wound heals he’ll come looking for me.
Adam Madison draws me to him so easily I can’t even pretend to fight. And the closer we get, the more combustible we become. I’ve never experienced such passion or power. My need is as great as his, but I’m sure he’ll walk away from me once he knows my secret. No other man would stay.
I’ve had enough complications in my life. I’m not looking for more, and that’s exactly what Adam is—a sexy, magnetic complication with secrets of his own. And with my ex on the hunt, I can’t risk bringing him down with me. But he won’t leave…even when vengeance could kill us both.
I close my eyes and slowly squeeze the trigger. The shot sounds so loud I jump backwards. But the bullet hits its mark, tearing a hole through Mark's shoulder. With a curse, he falls to the ground. I know I haven't killed him because he's making so much noise and trying to scramble to his feet. So I snag the keys from the hook by the back door and run.
He'll come after me which means I don’t have much time to get a head start. The mud tries to suck my shoes off, but I clench my toes while Mark’s promise bounces around inside my head.
You’ll always be mine.
At the time, I thought it was romantic, but I was only eighteen. What the hell did I know? It didn’t take me long to learn it meant Mark doesn't take no for an answer. In high school, his determination was a compliment. Nowadays, it would get him arrested...if we didn't live in a town that worshipped him.
Shaking so hard, I have a hard time jabbing the key in the ignition. Relief floods through me when I can finally start the 2000 Volvo my grandmother got me when I graduated from high school seven years ago.
As I gun the engine, I see Mark's reflection in my rearview mirror. He's made it to his feet, and though blood is dripping down the front of his shirt, he’s running after me.
The Volvo kicks up plenty of dust and gravel when I stomp on the accelerator, showering Mark with enough pebbles to bring him to a halt. His loud curses follow me down the old, dirt road where our clapboard home sits. It’s the one his daddy built us once he knew Mark wouldn’t be leaving town anytime soon.
Staying in rural Broomtown, Kentucky definitely hadn't been my choice. That had been all Mark. After my parents died, I wanted to get as far away as possible to start our lives fresh, but Mark, well, he figured since he was going to be trapped in a dead end job once his dreams of playing football were over, he might as well do it around family.
I keep looking in my mirror to make sure he isn't following me, and I don't dare relax until I make it to the highway. Even then, the trembling continues.
Ten miles down the road, I realize I left my purse on the kitchen counter, and I have no money and less than a half a tank of gas. In a car that chugs gas like this one, that isn’t going to get me very far. But anywhere is better than Broomtown with Mark.
A tear trickles down my cheek, and I swipe it away. No more tears. I have cried enough for him. When I was still young and foolish, I thought Mark and I would be together forever. I know now that forever can be a hell of a long time when the love of your life morphs into a raving lunatic.
My heart aches when I think about what we had once. We were the love story everyone dreams about. Me, the head cheerleader, and Mark, the captain of the football team. I still remember the night the Broomtown Broncs won the state championship. No one thought a team from the sticks could win such an important title. Mark had carried me on his shoulder through the cheers and the drums. Then he had to go and do something stupid for a senior prank that changed everything.
I switch on the radio to drown out the memories, but they've always been louder. The thump of the wheels hitting pavement releases some of the pressure in my chest, and my shoulders begin to relax. I might not be free of Mark forever, but tonight I wouldn't have to listen to his drunken complaints.
The Volvo's lone headlight illuminates the long, winding road ahead then bounces off the side of a white car heading in the opposite direction. I wish I could stop the person, warn them where there going. That road dead-ends in Broomtown. Hopefully, the driver doesn’t have plans to stay long. It’s the kind of place that sucks you in and while you’re there, it drains your soul a little piece at a time until you’re moving in slow motion. Just putting one foot in front of the other.
My hand smells like gun powder, and though I wipe them one at a time on my jeans, the smell won’t go away. I still see the blood, too, even though none of it got on me. There’d been a lot of it, though. If I hadn’t seen Mark get up and walk with my own two eyes, I would be worried I’d killed him.
As much as I want to get away from Mark, I couldn’t kill him. It’s certainly not that I love him anymore, but taking a human life just isn’t in me. Hell, taking any life. Mark and his best friend always made fun of me when I wanted to set the mice free from the traps rather than kill them. Mark had better be glad that’s the type of person I am.
Static replaces the low, monotonous voice of the town’s only radio broadcaster. I switch off the sound, and a flash of blue catches my eye in the rearview. I lift my gaze, and my stomach sinks. A cop is behind me, and the blue lights insist I pull over.
Damnit. With one hand, I direct the car over to the side of the road while I reach for my purse that isn't on the passenger seat where I always drop it. Then I remember I left the house without anything but my clothes and keys. Double damn.
I hear the squawk of the cop's radio as he approaches the side of my car. His long, black flashlight taps against the driver's window, and I sigh, knowing the only way out of this is to tell the truth...well, some of it anyway.
Blinking rapidly against the glare of the light, I press the button to lower my window. My gaze tilts upwards and connects with hazel eyes. A sinfully handsome face causes my breath to stall in my chest. The man standing outside the window of my Volvo is a cop, and I should give him the proper respect, but finding my voice proves impossible.
The darkness doesn't allow me much of a view, but it's enough to make my nerves dance. I glance at his full lips and realize they're moving. He's talking to me, and I blink several times in an attempt to regroup. My hand fumbles on the seat next to me.
"I-I'm sorry, Officer. I left my purse at home. I do have a driver's license and insurance, but I was in a hurry. I didn't even think about it, honestly." I babble on for a few more seconds until the cop interrupts in deep, throaty bass.
"Have you been drinking?" He shines the flashlight into the interior, and the beam slides over my denim-clad legs before sliding up my thin t-shirt. I hadn’t had the time to grab a coat, and as cold as it is outside, it’s no wonder my outfit looks suspicious. His gaze pierces mine again while he waits for my answer.
I attempt to swallow, but the lump in my throat is the victor. "No, I haven't." But I don't blame him for asking.
"Would you step out of the car, please?" He opens the door and takes a step back to give me room.
Trembling, I follow his command, closing the door behind me so I can lean against the coldness of the steel. A gust of frigid wind lifts the hair off the nape of my neck, and the trembles segue to shivers.
The officer drags his gaze back to the interior of my car before fixing it on me again. He’s staring at me, and I don’t like it. I’ve had just about enough of me treating me like I’m a piece of meat. Of course, now isn’t the time to get defensive. Instead, I return his stare, but I have to look up, way up, to face him. "Do you mind telling me why you stopped me?" I silently congratulate myself on the composed question.
He juts his chin toward the front of the Volvo. "You have a headlight out."
If only he could see how relieved I am…Something as simple as a headlight, I can deal with. "Oh, that. Yes, I know. I've been meaning to fix it, but it just keeps slipping my mind. I'm sorry." I lift my shoulders in an apologetic manner, but the stern look on the cop's face remains.
"What's your name?" The look on his face dares me to lie.
"Emily. Emily Murdoch." I accept the challenge by using my mother’s maiden name which is also my middle name.
"Where do you live, Miss Murdoch?"
Shit. The last thing I want is for him to know my real name. Living in Broomtown has taught me that cops cannot be trusted. As gorgeous as this one is, I still won’t let my guard down. I paste an easygoing smile on my face and lie again. "Juniper Springs."
His eyebrows lift, and my heart pounds. Did I say something wrong? Can he tell I'm lying now? "Really?"
I stick to my story, replying with only a stiff nod.
"You mind if I take a look inside your car?"
“Not at all.” I move away from the door and wave my hand as though granting entrance to my minions. What else am I supposed to do? If I said no, he’d have come up with a reason to arrest me. That’s what all cops do.
His concludes his search quickly and straightens to face me. "It's too dangerous to be driving these dark roads with only one headlight, Miss Murdoch. I suggest you get it fixed first thing tomorrow morning." He switches off the flashlight. "Drive safely."
I watch him walk away while my legs threaten to collapse. Once back inside my car, I take in great gulps of air and lean my head back against the rest. But something tells me I shouldn't be relieved. The cop bought my story too easily. Which probably means he didn't just find me by accident.
A sick feeling settles in the pit of my stomach. Mark is already on the hunt.
Let's learn a little about Rachel Carrington:
What is your writing environment?
I write on my bed with my laptop, and I don’t usually start writing until after eleven at night. As long as I have something to drink, I’m good to go. This is my preferred way of writing, but I can generally write anywhere.
Who is your perfect hero and why?
I don’t have a perfect hero because I think perfection is boring. I like heroes with flaws and scars. Even in my personal life, I don’t want a man who is so intent on doing everything right that he isn’t focused on the big picture and that’s just enjoying being with someone you love.
What authors have caught your interest lately and why?
I could write an entire post on this one, but I really want to read the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones. I love to laugh, and the excerpts alone have had me giggling. They are on my Goodreads shelf right now.
Also, I’d never read anything by Tess Geritsen before, either, but I’m absolutely addicted to Rizzoli & Isles so now I have to read the books!
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
I want to write a book that resonates with readers, that leaves them wanting to read more when the finish. If I’ve done that, I’m happy. So I guess I could say the type of book I want to write is an unforgettable one.
Top 3 things on your bucket list?
1. Meet Dean Cain (Pete Davenport on Hit The Floor). I’ve been a fan girl for years and years.
2. Spend the night in The Manta Resort, which is an underwater hotel, on Pemba Island.
3. Take a ride in a fighter jet.
Now ask me how many of these I’ll actually do. :-D
How did you get the idea for this particular novel?
Unfortunately, domestic violence is something that has been in my family so I’m all too familiar with it. I wanted to write about not only the escape but the road to recovery. But I knew I also wanted to do it in a way that didn’t just focus on the abuse. I wanted the heroine to grow beyond the anger and to learn to live and love without being scared of being hurt. So I created Emily. Though she’s terrified of what lies behind her at first, she’s an overcomer, and I think the readers will see more of that as the series continues.
What is your favorite scene in your new release?
This is a hard one because there were many scenes, as I wrote them, that really flowed, and once I finished them, I didn’t change a thing. If I thought long and hard about it, I guess I would say the first jail scene. I don’t want to give any more than that away!
What are you working on now and when can we expect it to be available?
I’m working on the sequel to Connecting Strangers. It’s called Being Lovers. I’m not even a third of the way through the book at present so I would safely say the book won’t be ready until September at the absolute earliest. In the meantime, I have several other books from my backlist that I will be releasing soon.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Create book videos. Read. Put together jigsaw puzzles. Go the movies with my friends. Shop. Play tourist in my hometown (historical Charleston, South Carolina). Drink coffee with my friends. Talk on the phone. Create graphics for upcoming books. Watch series I’ve missed on Netflix. Sing. Travel. And the list goes on.
What would you consider a perfect date?
A picnic on the beach in the evening just as the sun is setting.
What is one interesting fact about you that readers don’t know?
I put so many facts about myself on my website so it’s always interesting to come up with one that I haven’t shared. I guess it would be that I don’t like to not know how to do something. So I’ve taught myself, whether through trial and error, reading books, or instructions from the Internet, how to do many, many things like build a website, remove viruses from computers, create graphics, refinish furniture, etc. As an example, this weekend, I had some plumbing issues in my house. I could have waited to call a plumber on Monday. Instead, I researched the issues, determined what I needed to do, and fixed the problem without the hefty bill!
About the Author:
I started writing years ago, and my first attempt was a contemporary romance that will never see the light of day. I think I may even have thrown it away by now. It was absolutely horrific as I knew nothing about well…anything to do with writing.
After that, I started writing fantasy romances about wizards and wizards, and once those took off, I segued to paranormal romances (hello, vampires and ghosts) and romantic suspense.
I also write articles for various magazines, including The Writer’s Journal, Writer’s Magazine, Writer’s Weekly, Writing for Dollars, Absolute Write, Freelance Writing.com, and Funds for Writers.
I’m fortunate to make my home in historical Charleston, South Carolina. Beautiful city. Beautiful people. When I’m not writing, I love to read, watch Bones, Castle, Blue Bloods, and Hawaii Five-O, create videos, keep Target in business, play visitor in my city, and drink lots of coffee.
My website: http://www.rachelcarrington.com
Rachel would like to thank all of her sponsors for contributing prizes to her blog tour for Connecting Strangers.
For a complete list of participating authors and how to connect with them socially, please visit: http://www.rachelcarrington.com/blog/huge-shout-out-to-these-fabulous-authors
$25 Amazon Card
E-copy of Dare to Love by Carly Phillips
$15.00 Target gift card
E-copy of The Memory Child by Steena Holmes
Paris bath set from Bath and Body Works by Lisa Renee Jones
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Prize pack of all of Violet Duke’s books (Nice Girl trilogy, Nice Guy spin-off, and Love, Chocolate and Beer)
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