Samantha Martin’s carefully reconstructed life is teetering on the edge of disaster. After surviving an abusive childhood, Sam is only months away from completing her hard-won college degree when she gets devastating news about her brother. Donnie, her protector and best friend, lies in a coma in a Charleston hospital.
Sam struggles with the question of who shot her beloved brother as well as the monumental expenses of his ongoing care, and in desperation seeks ready cash by agreeing to act as the “entertainment” for a local man’s bachelor party –
where to her everlasting mortification, she encounters the one man who’d ever meant enough to her to break her heart.
Forensic artist Josh Harding recognizes the butterfly tattoo on the curvaceous hip of the wig-bedecked stripper. After all, he’d spent hours sketching her lovely figure while a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Now here she is, eight years later, and it becomes clear that Sam is in trouble. Seemingly unrelated threads weave into a pattern surrounding her and her brother. Exposing criminal enterprise among the upper echelon of local society and the shocking truth behind the city’s most famous murder, the unexpected connections that neither Josh nor Sam saw
coming draw them both into a tangled web of love and Deception.
One fine day in the not-too-distant past, Lisa Clark O’Neill left Wittenberg University with a BA in English, which she promptly neglected. After working as an interior designer, decorative artist, and Montessori art teacher (there may have been a BA in art as well,) she finally settled into the role of mother to two very fine children.
However, two years of doing the stay-at-home-mom brain cell melt drove her to pull out a pen and one of her old college notebooks.
That turned into six manuscripts.
Lisa spent subsequent years avoiding housework by burying her nose in just about every romance novel she could get her hands on, after completely falling in love with the genre. Her own work falls into the romantic suspense sub-genre, with strong comedic undertones.
Lisa currently lives in the Atlanta area with her family, her dog, her cat and her daughter’s pet rabbit. When she isn’t attempting to keep the rabbit from eating the woodwork, she’s hard at work on her next novel.
Links for Lisa:
Sam’s mind whirled in confusion as she tried to make sense of what he was saying. What exactly could Donnie have done considering he’d been in a coma for the past few months? And the almost… fond way he was speaking to her was in direct conflict with his hold on her arm. He was gripping her so tightly she’d no doubt have a bruise. But that was the least of her worries. This guy was clearly psychotic. Whether he was the man stalking her or not, he was certainly up to no good. Sam opened her mouth to scream for help but it died in her throat when he squeezed her voice box.
With the hand that had been gripping her arm he fumbled around in the pocket of the lab coat.
Justin’s lab coat.
Was his plan to hurt everyone she cared for in some way?
He eased his grip on her throat and she gulped in a breath of burning air. Just as she felt the prick of a syringe below her ear.
“One push,” he told her softly. “One push from my thumb and its lights out, Samantha. A shame,” he continued in that conversational tone that was completely divorced from the current reality. “I didn’t want to have to kill you.”
The tip of the needle pressed into the soft skin of her neck, and though he was obviously threatening her to keep her quiet, her throat was too bruised for her to do much more than squeak. He dragged her backwards toward the edge of her brother’s bed, heading farther away from the doorway. Sam looked plaintively toward that opening hoping one of the nurses or orderlies would come in.
But given the noise still coming from the hall she figured she was on her own.
Clawing at the arm around her throat earned her a meaty fist upside her head, and after the stars had faded Sam tried to stop panicking long enough to think. She’d been trained to defend herself, but at the moment that instruction seemed beyond her. Her thoughts were such a jumble of raw emotions and nerves that it was hard to remember to breathe.
Angling her head to the side as much as she could, Sam saw him messing with her brother’s IV. This creep obviously intended to pump something into it that would do God knows what to her brother. Rage bubbled up so hot and fast that her body stiffened of its own volition. The man behind her sighed, tightening his grip around her throat.
“We can do this one of two ways,” he informed her equably, all trace of southern honey gone from his voice. His accent sounded vaguely northern, harsher and more guttural than it’d been before. “I can hit you with the needle, put you in one of these beds and take you downstairs. Maybe leave you behind the hospital in an alley, make it look like a mugging gone bad. Or I can tap you on the head, take you out of here the same way, and then bring you along on a little trip to visit with my partner. He has a real thing for sexy broads – gets him in a lot of trouble. I feel pretty sure he’d enjoy taking you out for a test spin or two before he decided how best to dispose of you. Either way, you’re gonna die, but it’s up to you how painful we make it. Fight me now and I’m inclined to introduce you to my pal.
Be quiet and behave like a good girl and I’ll make sure you and your brother don’t suffer.”
Oh, God. He was going to kill them. And he was threatening her with rape to make his job easier. Whoever this man was, he had no idea what he was saying.
Because instead of making Sam quiescent, that particular threat made her blood burn hotter.
But forcibly, exercising as much willpower as she possessed, she made herself tremble meekly and nod her head in terrified agreement. The trembling part was accurate – there was enough adrenaline in her body to jumpstart a turbo jet – and the terrified part wasn’t far off.
But meek and agreeable she was not. Like she’d just sit back and let him blithely murder her and her brother? She had way too much to live for and there was no way she’d sacrifice Donnie.
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