Maggie McGonigal will protect her son at any cost, including her own life. After seven years in witness protection someone has found her and is trying to kill her. She contacts the man she never wanted to see again. Now to convince him to take a son he doesn’t know about back to his ranch in Montana, so she can disappear again.
Cody Hawkins comes running when the woman he wants to forget calls him for help. Someone is trying to kill her.
It’s been seven years since Maggie walked away. Why contact him now? Who would want to kill her? Can he help her and then walk away from her? Or can he convince her to return to Montana and let him protect her?
“Why would anyone want to kill you?”
“Like I said, it’s a long story.”
“Well, darlin’, you asked me here. It was a long drive from Montana, so go ahead and let’s hear the whole story.”
“I was a witness to a murder. Maybe we should talk after dinner, when Matt is asleep. Will you be staying at the hotel tonight?”
“I wasn’t sure where I would spend the night. Hadn’t planned on staying in this expensive tourist trap, but if what you’re telling me is true, then, yes, I’m staying here tonight.”
“I’ll call down to the desk and book you a room.”
“No, if I’m going to protect you, I’ll be sleepin’ here, in your room tonight.”
She squirmed in her chair and he forced himself not to smile. He could only imagine what she was thinking about the two of them spending the night together in this small hotel room.
“If someone wants you dead, I need to be here, in this room, to keep you both safe. Now that’s settled, why would someone want to kill you?”
“Six years ago, I witnessed a mafia shooting in Chicago. I’ve been in the witness protection plan ever since. It looks like they finally found me.” She glanced across at Matt.
A cracking sound pierced the room. A jagged pattern cut across the window, scattering shards of glass on the floor.
Cody threw himself at her, pushing her to the ground. Another bullet embedded itself in the wall, inches above where she’d sat minutes before.
“Mommy,” Matt yelled.
“It’s okay, honey. Lie still. Don’t move.”
Using his elbows, Cody cautiously raised himself. Sliding off Maggie, he crawled across the floor to the bed where he reached up and pulled Matt into his arms. Clutching the boy tightly against his chest, he could feel the little heart pound wildly.
“Hey, buddy, it’s going to be okay. What were you watching?”
“The Roadrunner, Wile E. Coyote is going to drop a rock on him.”
“Think he’ll get him?”
“No. of course not,” Matt laughed. “The bad guy never wins.”
Cody smiled. If only life was that simple. The bad guy never wins.
“How about you watch it from down here?”
“Why? Why are you and Mommy on the floor? What was that loud noise?”
“It’s sort of a game. We want you to play, too, so you have to watch TV down with us.”
“Okay.” Matt slipped from Cody’s arms to lie on the plush hotel carpet. He stared up at the cartoon still playing on the TV and became mesmerized by the colorful action on the screen.
“Are you all right?” Cody flashed a look at Maggie.
“I’m fine. Take care of Matt.” She clenched her upper arm, but the red continued to trickle down to her elbow and drip onto her jeans.
“We’re doing great, aren’t we, buddy?” He patted Matt on the head.
Another crash filled the room as a third shot shattered the mirror. The glass sprayed across the bed and floor like pebbles spread across the shore by ocean waves.
Matt and Maggie screamed.
Cody tightened his arms around Matt and glanced at Maggie.
Any color left had fled her face, her body shook, and the blood continued to ooze between the fingers she had clamped around her arm.
“You’ve been shot. You’re bleeding.”
“Brilliant diagnosis, Sherlock, like they say in the movies, it’s just a flesh wound. I’m fine.” She pulled herself to a sitting position and leaned back against the chair, pasting a smile on her face. Her body shook hard enough to rock the chair.
“It’s not that serious. It just burns like I’ve been branded.”
“Keep the pressure on and stay down.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Matt, go stay with your mother.”
Matt crawled to his mother’s side. “Are you okay, Mommy?”
“I’m fine, honey.” Maggie attempted a smile. “Shouldn’t we get out of here?”
“Hang on. We don’t know if anyone is out in the hall. There could be a second person waiting to get you if you survive the shooter and try to escape.”
“I didn’t think of that.” Maggie dropped her chin to Matt’s head. “Now you know why I want you to take him away from here.”
It had been a few minutes since the last shot, so Cody inched his way to the window on his knees, carefully avoiding shattered glass and mirror. When he reached the wide windowsill, he pulled himself up by his arms, cautiously peering out over the ledge. A turret blocked part of the view of the harbor, but there would be a clear view into Maggie`s room from the higher floors in the tower. Using his finger, he drew an imaginary line from the bullet hole in the wall, to the middle of shattered area of the window, attempting to gauge where the shots had come from. It looked like the fifth floor of the tower. He double-checked but couldn’t see anyone moving around over there.
Reaching for the cord, he closed the thick heavy curtains. Then he stood and edged to the hotel room door. He carefully unlocked it and opened it a crack.
He waited a second, then opened it a little more and slipped into the hallway.
A few minutes later, he reappeared.
“I think it’s okay now. Let’s check the damage.” He dialed the front desk to get a doctor.
He hadn’t expected any of this when he came here; someone shooting at them, a six- year old who wanted to come to his ranch and Maggie with a bullet in her arm.
What the hell had she gotten herself into? And how the hell could he protect her and her son?
Why did she go back to the chair? Wouldn’t she be right back in the line of fire? O_O
What a tense start here. Sounds like this will be an exciting read.
Excellent excerpt! I wonder how soon Cody does the math and figures out that Matt is his son and wonders why Maggie never told him.
Events answered his questions better than words ever could. Great action.
Loved the premis and the exert so much I bought the book for my Christmas reading list.
Gotta love cowboys and mysteries.
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