Read Blamed Online

Authors: Edie Harris

Blamed

BOOK: Blamed
3.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Blamed
By Edie Harris

Born into a long line of spies, sanctioned killers and covert weapons developers, Beth Faraday carried out her first hit-for-hire when she was still a teenager.

That part of her life—the American spy royalty part—ended one year ago, with a job gone wrong in Afghanistan. The collateral damage she caused with a single shot was unfathomable and, for Beth, unforgivable. She’s worked hard to build a new life for herself, far away from the family business.

But someone, somewhere, hasn’t forgotten what Beth did in Kabul. And they want revenge.

As the Faraday clan bands together to defend Beth and protect their legacy, Beth is forced to flee her new home with the unlikeliest of allies—MI6 agent Raleigh Vick, the only man she’s ever loved. And the one she thought she’d killed in the desert.

Book one of the
Blood Money
series

84,000 words

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the November 2014 edition of the Dear Reader letter. This month, Carina Press and I share an anniversary: five years since we joined Harlequin! Harlequin has been an amazing home for both of us, showing support, enthusiasm and offering a team environment for both the business and for authors. I’m thrilled to have seen Carina Press and our authors grow to great success in sales, reviews, careers and awards in the five years since we opened our doors, and we believe things can only get better from here.

In honor of the holiday season, two authors bring us holiday novellas. First, in Shannon Stacey’s contemporary romance,
Her Holiday Man
, two people, both wounded by love in the past, are brought together by a widow, a child’s joy, and the spirit of Christmas. Later in the month, star-crossed lovers Gabe and Cat meet again at Christmas after five years apart—just a week before she’s set to marry another man, in the historical romance
A
Christmas Reunion
by Susanna Fraser.

Lauren Dane is back with the third installment in her urban fantasy series, and this one is more romantic than ever! Don’t miss Rowan and Clive in
Blade on the Hunt
.

As a follow-up to his incredibly popular romantic suspense
Fair Game
, male/male romance author Josh Lanyon brings us
Fair Play
, in which ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills must figure out who is willing to kill to keep his former ’60s radical father’s memoirs from being published.

In
Tempting the Player
by Kat Latham, a rugby player’s extreme fear of flying keeps his career from taking off—until a sexy pilot tempts him into her cockpit to help him overcome his phobia...of planes and commitment. Joining Kat in returning with a contemporary romance is Stacy Gail with
Where There’s a Will
, the much-anticipated story of Coe, who won reader’s hearts in
Starting from Scratch
. This is one hero who will steal your heart, all because of the milk!

Designed for Love
by Kelsey Browning is also in our contemporary romance lineup in November. A former Houston socialite is out to prove she’s more than a blonde bobblehead by managing a huge construction project. When an environmentalist mucks up Ashton’s plans, she must rely on the blue-collar contractor who can either help her build her dreams or crush them.

Last, but not least, of the fantastic contemporary romances is male/male romance
In the Fire
, the second part of the In the Kitchen duology by Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin. After spending the last eight years apart, chefs Ethan Martin and Jamie Lassiter have to decide whether to face the fire to get what they want or live a lifetime apart. Don’t miss the chemistry and emotional angst between Ethan and Jamie in this explosive duology.

Two murders in two mansions in two weeks—what’s going on in Naples’ most glamorous neighborhood? For cozy mystery fans, Jean Harrington’s Murders by Design series should not be missed. Pick up her newest release,
The Design Is Murder
, or catch up with
Designed for Death
,
The Monet Murders
,
Killer Kitchens
and
Rooms to Die For
.

This month we’re thrilled to welcome Edie Harris to our publishing team with Blood Money, her romantic suspense series that follows the lives and loves of a family of spies. In
Blamed
,
A
Blood Money Novel
, we meet the first of the siblings. Beth Faraday, a former assassin who wants nothing more than to stay retired, finds her new life turning anything but normal when sexy British spy and ghost from her past Raleigh Vick shows up in Chicago, determined to protect her from the bounty that’s been placed on her head.

Coming in December: Leah Braemel caps off her sexy cowboy romance trilogy, new author Caroline Kimberly is back with her sophomore historical romance, Michele Mannon concludes her knock-out MMA trilogy, and so much more!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful month of books you love, remember and recommend.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Editorial Director, Carina Press (Five years and counting!!)

Dedication

For T.M.
For K.C.
For B.W.

And always, always, for my mother.

Acknowledgments

As the daughter of an editor, it has always been my belief (and chagrined experience) that every writer, no matter how talented, needs an editor. More than that, a writer needs an editor who won’t cater to the arrogant whims of said writer, but will best serve the interests of the book—characters, plot, the works. It’s been a privilege to collaborate with one such editor, Kerri Buckley of Harlequin Carina Press, as we kick off the Blood Money series together with
Blamed.
This book is far better than it would otherwise be because of her; thus far, it’s been a trial not to fly across the country and tackle-hug her for all the wonderful work she’s done and continues to do with the Faraday clan.

Thanks must also be given to Angela James, for believing in this series enough to acquire the first five books in one fell swoop, and to my agent, Laura Bradford, for making all the behind-the-scenes publishing-business stuff happen like magic. You ladies are bomb.

Also? Thank you to my father for making me watch Harrison Ford’s
The Fugitive
at what was likely too young an age. I imprinted on it (and
Die Hard
, let’s be honest), and look where we are now. Love you.

Author’s Note

Fun fact: Beth and Vick started life as a weekly serial feature titled “In Her Sights” on my website in 2011. Yes, you heard me—2011. Then I sent them into time-out on my hard drive until they agreed to play nice with one another...and were reborn into bigger, better, brighter characters three years later when I submitted a 140-character Twitter pitch during #PitMad in January 2014 to Angela James, the editorial director of Harlequin Carina Press. My tweet:

She was an assassin;
now she’s retired
,
but a sexy MI6 agent from her past missed the memo.
The price on her head doesn’t help
,
either.

And lo, the
Blood Money
series was born.

There’s lots I could—should—say about writing
Blamed
, but the most important thing is this: Please don’t go looking for a secret storage wing, like
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
, in the Art Institute of Chicago. I took what we call “creative liberty” here, and the very nice museum security guards will totes escort you from the building. And probably ban you for life. And that would be the worst, so consider yourself warned.

“Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.”

—Indira Gandhi

Prologue

The blood in her mouth tasted like hot pennies.

Flinching as a secondary arterial spray lashed her face, she kept her fingers clenched in her tormenter’s hair, holding his head aloft for the slice of the blade she’d stolen from his tool kit when his back was turned.

That mistake had just cost him his life.

Her stomach lurched, and she shoved the dead man away, wishing he’d deafened her when he boxed her ears on the second—third?—day, so she couldn’t hear the back of his skull hit the concrete floor with a sickening
thwack.
Her hand shook, the knife threatening to slip from her mangled fingers, but once it fell, she knew she wouldn’t be able to pick it back up, and she couldn’t afford to be weaponless. Injured knuckles white around the slick rubber grip, she staggered back until her shoulders hit the far wall of her prison.

Her torture chamber.

The blood cooling on her face ratcheted her panic up a notch. Every breath was pure agony, broken ribs prodding like iron pokers against her lungs. Every square inch of skin on her back burned like hellfire. Her body was one giant bruise, her mind a tangled mess. Tears spilled down her cheeks, wet and warm—and silent.

She’d not made a sound when she slit her captor’s throat. Her family would be so proud.

The thought made her tears fall faster. A longing for home and the Queen Anne Victorian in which she’d grown up, the same longing she had buried deep for the past year, threatened to bring her to her knees, but no.
No.
It was just like the knife—if she fell, she’d never get back up, and eventually, someone was going to come looking for the man she had killed.

John. He’d told her his name was John, but surely that was a lie. Monsters never told the truth.

Swallowing her nausea, she stumbled toward John’s crumpled body. The thick pool of blood was unavoidable, though she shuddered when red seeped between her bare toes. Dizziness swamped her when she dropped into a crouch, the hand not holding the blade searching the pockets of the dead man’s cargos for his key card.

Her victory upon locating the card was short-lived when she remembered what came next.

Each time John had “visited” her, it had become harder and harder to stay conscious. Everything in her
hurt
as she’d never hurt before. The temptation to let her eyes slide shut forever had been so strong, John singing soothingly while he disinfected his tools from their session.

Lullabies. He sang her lullabies.
Rock-a-bye baby
,
on the tree top...

She had always remained awake long enough to watch him leave, knowing he’d be back to resume her torture. The key card was merely half the equation when it came to unlocking the door. John’s fingerprint was the other.

When the wind blows
,
the cradle will rock...

Dragging John’s body to the scanner mounted next to the door was not an option, not in her weakened state. Her gaze caught on his limp hand, and a tremor wracked her. There was no choice. Flattening his palm against the bloody floor, she lowered the knife.

When the bough breaks
,
the cradle will fall...

She couldn’t help it—she vomited. But when her retching ceased, she gingerly picked up the severed finger and rose from her crouch. She almost didn’t feel the wetness underfoot anymore, which meant blessed numbness had nearly arrived. Key card first, then the bloody print on the scanner’s screen, and she held her breath.

And down will come baby
,
cradle and

The near-silent
snick
of the steel door unlatching shook John’s voice from her head. Freedom. Oh, God, freedom from this hellhole was so close, so amazingly close she was dizzy with it.

Her tears fell harder.
Fuck.
Why couldn’t she stop crying?

With a soft whirring noise, the door slid open, and a bunker-style hallway cast in eerie greenish light was revealed. She was underground, as suspected. A memory flashed, of John using a medical scalpel to dig the GPS tracker out from behind her ear. There had been nothing clinical or precise in how he’d wielded that blade.

Can’t have them finding you before we’re done here
,
little girl.

She didn’t bother looking back at his lifeless form as she eased through the door, still clutching his finger and key card. They might still prove useful in helping her escape this prison; John would not.

Adjusting her grip on the knife, she crept down the hall, ignoring the black spots clouding her vision and the vicious pounding of her head. It felt as though her brain were trying to punch its way through her skull, and she simply didn’t have
time
for that nonsense, because someone was watching her. Her hazy thoughts pictured the camera mounted in the corner of her cell, its little red dot blinking, always blinking. Someone would know what she’d done to John, and she refused to wait for retaliation to find her.

Run now. Collapse later.

The concrete was cold beneath her sticky, blood-soaked feet, with a chill that crept up her ankles, her calves, making her knees knock together. She was so tired. It had been at least a day since John had given her anything to drink, and he’d never provided food. As she slowly made her way down the empty corridor, her senses began to fail her, the muted buzz in her ears blocking out the faint echo of her rasping breaths. Her adrenaline rush from the kill was over.

Perhaps...perhaps she wouldn’t make it out of here, after all.

A loud sob escaped against her will.

The sounds of footsteps, heavy and booted, broke through the encroaching deafness, and then there he stood in front of her, limned in the faint glow of the bunker lights, a tall man with ice for eyes and a nasty-looking gun.

“Beth.”

She blinked at him through her tears, her relief short-lived as a wave of bitterness swept through her battered body as she saw where, precisely, that gun was aimed. Her voice cracked, breaking low and hoarse when she spoke. “Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame.”

She hummed the rest.

You give love a bad name.

BOOK: Blamed
3.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Come Fly With Me by Addison Fox
The Free (P.S.) by Vlautin, Willy
The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani
Grave Girl by Amy Cross
Bounty on a Baron by Robert J. Randisi
Book by Book by Michael Dirda
The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
Escape from Alcatraz by J. Campbell Bruce