Teaser Tuesday: Wild Dakota Heart



Dakota Hearts Book 4
Wild Dakota Heart

Former NAVY SEAL, Ethan McKinnon, has spent ten years trying to wash away the bad boy reputation that ultimately resulted in the death of his best friend Denny Newton.  Unfortunately, that meant leaving behind everyone, especially Maddie Newton, Denny’s sweet younger sister. Ethan had faced sniper bullets and lived through black ops missions that he never should have come home from.  But facing Maddie again, and gaining her forgiveness, is the most terrifying thing he’s ever had to do.

There was a time when Maddie Newton’s sun rose and set with Ethan McKinnon.  But that was before her world shattered with her brother’s tragic death, and Ethan had left her to grieve alone while he played hero somewhere else in the world.  Old motorcycle pieces in the garage have been a constant reminder of her brother’s unfinished life.  Now that Ethan is back in Rudolph, he insists they work together to fulfill Denny’s dream of restoring the motorcycle and bringing it to Sturgis. But how can Maddie work alongside Ethan when he’s the last man on earth she wants to be near…and the only man she’s ever truly loved?


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Excerpt 

Ten years of doing right didn’t erase one moment of stupid in the course of a man’s life.  Ethan McKinnon knew that more than anyone.  There were some things you couldn’t change no matter how much you wanted a do-over.  No matter how much you had changed.

Eight years of military service, most of them as a Navy SEAL, and the past year as a police officer, hadn’t prepared him for what he had to do in the next few minutes.

Facing Maddie Newton.

The sounds of his cruiser’s wheels on the pavement drowned out whatever thoughts cycled throughout his mind during the few hundred yards between seeing the red compact car plowed into the tree. He didn’t have to radio in the license plate to know who the driver was, making this stop all the more difficult.

Pulling the mic from the radio attached to his duty belt, Ethan called into the station.

“Dispatch, this is W17.  I’m at the scene of a one car accident on Buena Vista Road.  Vehicle is a red sedan.”  He paused to read the license plate and transmit it to the dispatcher.  “I’ll need a tow truck.  Checking for injuries now and will radio back if an ambulance is needed.”

“Copy that,” the dispatcher said.

Ethan pushed the door open and stood for a second with his heart lodged in his throat, choking him.  On pure adrenaline, he quickly moved his legs forward until he was standing just outside the driver’s side of the car. 

He’d seen Maddie from afar while he was driving in town and then down at the shelter just after the ice storm hit months ago.  But he’d never ventured this close to her.

The last time he’d seen Madelyn Newton, she’d been crying.  She’d walked right up to him with half the town of Rudolph standing around them, her eyes lifeless and her body fragile with emotion.  Then she’d slapped him across the face, telling him she never wanted to see him again.  A few hours later, Ethan boarded a plane heading to Fort Benning, Georgia, so he could start the basic training that launched his career as a Navy SEAL.

That was nearly ten years ago.  Ethan had been back in Rudolph for nearly a year and he’d done everything possible to remain invisible to Maddie.  Until now.

Peering in through the window, he found Maddie slightly slumped over the deployed airbag, looking down at the red on her fingers. His mind focused on the red spot on the left side of her temple.

Blood.

Instantly, all his specialized training kicked in.  His senses came alive and he quickly scanned the immediate area.  The smell of antifreeze hung heavy in the air around him and steam rose slowly from beneath the hood of the car.  But to Ethan’s relief, there was no smoke and he didn’t smell gasoline.

As if just realizing Ethan was standing there, Maddie lifted her face and glanced up at him with a bewildered expression. Ethan opened the door and saw the red spot was now a streak trailing down the side of her face.  Panic hit him hard in the center of his chest.  He’d dealt with all types of emergency situations in his life, first as a Navy SEAL and now as a police officer.  But this was Denny’s kid sister!  And she was bleeding.

“Maddie?  Don’t move.  Just let me know if you’re hurt.”

She said nothing.  Her eyes were void of the lifelessness he’d seen the last time they’d been this close.  He’d braced himself for hatred.  Maybe even another slap across the face.  But Maddie just looked at him as if she were trying to piece the course of events that brought them there together.

“You just plowed your car into a tree.  Your airbag was deployed.  Do you feel any pain in your chest?”

She shook her head weakly.

“You hit your head during impact,” he said.  “Do you understand what I’m saying to you, Maddie?  Do you know who I am?”



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Teaser Tuesday: Dakota Heat



Dakota Hearts Book 3
Dakota Heat

Hotshot Sam McKinnon was always leaving town, chasing another fire until his own hometown became vulnerable during the fire season after a big flood left debris and devastation in its path.  He didn't expect out of town dispatcher, Summer Bigelow, to catch his eye or his heart.

It hadn't been Summer's idea to move from Providence to South Dakota, but when a serial murderer suddenly turns his attention on Summer, her boss insists she leave town. She's dealt with high tension, life or death situations many times in her job.  It isn’t until she meets Sam McKinnon and falls for the sexy hotshot that she really begins to know fear.  The fear of losing someone she loves.


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Excerpt 

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Summer Bigelow glared at the police chief of the Providence Police Department as she sat back against the chair.  She’d thought the parking ticket she’d found on her windshield this morning was a bad start of the day and it could only get better from there.

She’d been wrong.

Matt Jorgensen looked at her with sympathy.  “You’re one of the best dispatchers I have, Summer.  I’m not disputing that.”

“Then why?” she said.

Matt raised his voice over hers. “But I’m not going to risk your life to some crazy stalker who has already killed four women.”

Summer’s mouth dropped open.  She forced air into her lungs as she looked at the two detectives sitting in the office with them.  Jake Santos and Kevin Gordon had been working this case right from the beginning and had been doing drive-by checks on her ever since the killer had called into her line.

“There was a fourth?”

The grim look they both offered was answer enough.

“Last time he called in, he reported there was a fourth,” Jake said.  “A kid discovered her taking a short cut through a parking lot on the way to school this morning.”

“But he called in last week.  He said...”  Summer fought to think through the chain of events that had transpired over the last two weeks.

Kevin Gordon got up from his seat and walked in front of her, sitting on the desk.  She knew his wife had been stalked by her ex-husband a few years ago and was nearly killed.

“You have to take this serious.  We are.  With Daria, we knew her ex-husband was after her and she didn’t leave town.  We were watching him and he still managed to slip through our fingers.  I thank God every day we found Daria in time.  We don’t know who this serial killer is or where he’ll be next.  All we know for sure is that based on his last phone call, he’s fixated on you.”

“Look at you,” Matt said, throwing his pen on the blotter on his desk.  “It’s been a week since that nutcase called in and I can already see the toll it’s taking on you.  You’ve got dark circles under your eyes and you look like you haven’t slept at all.  And don’t blame Bobbi’s lumpy couch, either.  You walk down the hall and I see you looking over your shoulder.  That’s no way to live, Summer.”

“He doesn’t know my name.  Bobbi said I could stay at her place as long as I need to while you watch my apartment.  How could he possibly find me?”

Jake handed her a folded newspaper.  “We found this on your doorstep this morning.  He could be anyone you talk to on the street, Summer.  Anyone.”

She opened the Providence Journal Bulletin. In red marker, the words YOU’RE NEXT were boldly scribbled on the page.  Taped to the top was a picture of Summer walking out of Bobbi’s apartment.  The picture had the mark of a bullseye over her face.

Summer swayed in her seat.  The serial killer had been stalking her and she’d never even known.  The growing ball of fear she’d walked around with for the past week burned in her stomach.


She thought to this morning when she’d found the parking ticket on her car in front of Bobbi’s apartment building.  A nice man had stopped his walk when she’d ranted in frustration over what was happening and told her the day would get better.  It could have been him.  It could be anyone.  How would she know?

“For your own safety,” Matt said.  “You are going to be leaving Providence today.  I’m not arguing the point.”

“But…  You’re sending me to the middle of no man’s land.”

“South Dakota isn’t exactly the South Pole.  You’ll be working fire dispatch.  It’s a good cover.  I’ve already briefed the superintendent in charge of the fire unit in the area.”

“Fire dispatch.”

Matt looked at her file.  “You’ve been trained in it.  It’s a perfect cover.  If the killer continues looking for you he won’t be looking for a fire dispatcher.”

“Why would he look for me in South Dakota?  What the hell is even in South Dakota?”

Kevin’s voice was sobering.  “Safety.”


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Teaser Tuesday: Badland Bride



Dakota Hearts Book 2
Badland Bride

Raised an Army brat, Regis Simpson was used to calling new towns home, learning to quickly make friends but never letting anyone get too close.  When devastating floods tear through the Badlands of South Dakota, she thinks Rudolph is just another town that needs to be rebuilt.  Nothing more.  The sooner she gets her work done, the sooner the people of Rudolph can heal and she can move on to the next town in need.  She never counted on the sexy town doctor, Keith “Hawk” McKinnon or his determination to break down walls she’d spent a lifetime building, making it impossible for her to leave.

Nothing pained Hawk McKinnon more than seeing people he’d known his whole life hurting.  He traded a high-paying salary at a city hospital to come back to Rudolph and make a difference where he’d dug his roots.  When the beautiful Regis Simpson comes to town offering help, he’s immediately drawn to her even though she’s spent a lifetime packing armor around her heart.  But once her work is done, she’ll be leaving again.  He’s determined to do everything possible to make her stay.


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Excerpt 

Army brats weren’t wusses. She’d been dealing with tough situations from the moment she’d pushed her way into the world. At least that’s what Regis Simpson’s daddy always told her. She should've known better than to traipse through mud and rubble without proper boots, no matter how stylish her flats looked in the store window. Her reward was the nice chunk of medal from the rusty fence that had somehow embedded itself into her ankle when she’d slipped.
     “You’re going to need a tetanus shot for that.”
     Regis looked up at the man standing over her. He’d just taken her on a thirty minute walk around his property to assess flood damage. It wasn’t pretty. Now as she was sprawled out on the muddy ground, smelling earth and Lord knows what else decaying, she tried to focus on the wetness from the ground seeping into the fabric of her pants rather than the pain in her leg.
     “I’m up on my shots,” she said, trying her best not to pass out as she pulled her leg away from the twisted fence. 
     Regis took the man’s proffered hands in hers and welcomed his help. She’d already been out to six properties today and couldn’t remember all the people she’d talked to.
     Tim Bennett. That was this guy’s name, right? Relief flooded her. She hated when her brain became overloaded with details. And Mr. Bennett had bigger worries than the damage she’d done to her leg to help keep her straight. Everyone in Rudolph and the surrounding towns in the Badlands of South Dakota were worried about whether or not insurance would cover enough to repair the damage to their property after the worst ice storms and flooding in a hundred years had swept through the area. That’s what she did and the only reason she was on a marathon tour of destruction. And there were days she wondered why she was still doing it after five straight years of living out of a suitcase and calling the local motel in Anytown, USA her home.
     “No, you really should have Hawk take a look at that. It looks pretty bad. Might need stitches.”
     “Hawk? What is he, a local Native American shaman or something?”
     Mr. Bennett smiled. “More like the local dare devil. Or he used to be anyway. People around here joke he went into medicine just so he could stitch up his own wounds because the thieving insurance companies cancelled his policy.”
     The joke fell flat and Mr. Bennett’s smile immediately faltered as if he suddenly remembered who he was speaking to. “Let me see if I can find something clean to wrap that leg.”
     “I’d appreciate that.”
     Regis couldn’t exactly blame Mr. Bennett for being nervous. It didn’t matter what town she was in across America. When a natural disaster struck an area, it caused upheaval and destruction that she needed to help these fine folks fix. She was their hope of a swift recovery…so long as she approved their claim.
     And that, she was sure, was the reason for Mr. Bennett’s nervous energy.
     While she waited, she carefully tried to put weight on her foot but felt warm moisture seep into her shoe as pain shot up her leg. She quietly let out a colorful stream of expletives that she knew sounded odd coming out of the mouth of someone in her position. But being raised by a single father on Army bases around the world, she heard a thing or two that made even her toes curl.


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