Survival of the Fittest - A viper series novel.
The VIPERS are an secret and exclusive group comprised of England's upper tier. They are criminal profilers of the Victorian age, specialized in all fields of psychology, apprehension, espionage, and not a single one of them prepared for the disruption of a woman into their lives.
When Roderick Beaumont, The Marquees of Witherborne, is summoned to the castle in the dead of night he assumed a case demanded his attention. Little did he expect to go home with both a case and a new wife.
Ainsley De Lacey was abducted from her Uncle's London town home and later discovered battered and abused in a room in the royal palace. To protect her reputation, the Queen orders a marriage between Ainsley and Roderick.
Now, Roderick must hunt down and remove the threat to the crown and his wife. Ainsley will have to struggle to heal from her ordeal and learn to trust again.
Here is an excerpt:
In the hall, Ainsley heard her husband’s voice loud and commanding. “What do you mean she was trying to move out?”
“Exactly that, Sir,” Benjamin responded, his calm firm tone the complete opposite of Roderick, “She had managed to get herself across the room, dressed and mostly packed.” Silence. “Sir, she only planned to move into her own bedroom.”
Roderick growled, “I don’t care where she thought she was going but she’s not doing it.” Throwing her head back against the pillow of her makeshift bed on the couch in the library she swallowed hard.. If only her legs were stronger this wouldn't be an issue. “Let me in there.”
“No.” Benjamin barked back raising to Roderick's bait. “Not until you are calm.” Dead silence filled the air. She took a sharp breath and pushed herself upwards. She needed to intervene. This was her fault and not Benjamin, even if he was a loyal man against the weaker sex.
“What?” her husband yelled and something heavy hit the door, she hoped she was wrong, but feared it might have been Roderick’s fist or Ben’s body. Either one didn't bode well for the door or the men.
“I’ll not let you go in there angry.” Benjamin shouted. “She’s been through enough.”
Shaking her head in dismay, Ainsley had to agree with him. The last thing she wanted was Roderick’s wrath though she probably deserved it in some way.
“She’s my wife.” Her husband snarled back, “She’ll answer to me.”
Ainsley stood and made it only a few feet before her sore legs, hard and swollen as if filled with water and sand, grew weak. The table she held onto for support pitched forward,. The heavy wood crashed to the floor, sending her sprawling across the rug into the opposite table. A large vase of flowers rocked forward, hung precariously for a moment before shattering to the floor.. A nasty expletive rushed forward on her lips right before the door to the library crashed open and Roderick filled the doorway.
Struggling to right herself, the shards of broken glass cut into her flesh, “I’m sorry.” She mumbled feeling embarrassed and foolish. “I was…”
“You were trying to kill your fool self?” he snapped and stomped towards her.
“No.” suddenly she felt incredibly small as he towered over her, “I was coming to explain.”
His immense hands circled her waist and he lifted her out of the glass. Although he was furious with her, his touch was gentle. “I don’t want to hear it, Ainsley,” He barked between clenched teeth.
“But Roderick it was an accident. I lost my footing and fell. I was just,” she stopped. For the briefest of moments she transported to another time and place, it was dark but she could smell something familiar. A hearty distinct fragrance, smoke filled her nostrils, a clicking sound, men laughing, shattered glass, what was it?
“Damn it woman.” Roderick sat down on the sofa, positioning her in his lap, the cool touch of his fingers probing her for injury, “You’ve hurt yourself.” He mumbled and grazed an open wound on her hand, “I’ll have to dig the glass out.”
“No.” she whispered, “Roderick.” He wasn’t listening to her instead he spoke over her and ordered Benjamin to fetch supplies so he could get the glass out before it festered. She sniffed his shirt and her senses flooded with recognition. Her stomach flopped and bravely she braced herself for another memory.
Five years ago Andrew White was shot and killed, his case remains open with the Wellmore Police Department.
For five painful years Hannah can't let go of her beloved boyfriend. When a package of candid photographs arrive at work one day she first thinks she has a stalker but the last image, taken seconds before the shooting confirms her worst nightmare is coming true - the killer is back.
Detective Boston, has always thought of Hannah as a beautifully tragic victim, but as the deaths start mounting around her he can't help but get involved professionally and personally. When the killer comes after Hannah, Boston steps into a deadly game of keep away with the monster - leaving Hannah the prize to be fought over. It's a race against time and unknown territory to get to the final round.
This is a love story born from tragedy, fostered by murder, and nurtured by circumstance.
Here is an excerpt:
A smile curved at his lips, it reached all the way up to his eyes with genuine surprise. “Ms. Cavanaugh.” He spoke from two desks away, his wide stride closing the distance between them. “It’s nice to see you up and about.”
A blush graced her cheeks and she stood and extended a shaking hand. “Detective Boston,” Hannah managed, through her suddenly dry mouth.
“What brings you here today?” He rounded his desk and took her hand in his and gave it a firm shake.
“I…a…” Her mind and body went numb. Why was she here?
He glanced down and she followed his lead to the white box cradled against her chest . “Are those for me?”
“Yes.” She muttered as she thrust the platter and box toward him.
His eyes flickered to his partner and Dave conveniently disappeared. “That is so kind of you.” He pulled back the top flap and made a great show of sniffing the cookies and reaching for one on the top. "I've missed these...how many chips?"
Stunned for only a second she fell slack jawed yet again before the grin tickled at her cheek. "I don't know. I didn't make them."
"I see, if you are not bringing me cookies, then why did you come down here today?"
“I didn’t want to. come down” She blurted out. Wincing at her admission. “My mother made me do it.” Even as she turned and pointed, embarrassment burned her cheeks. Her mother watched like a hawk, waived wildly from her perch by the elevator as they both turned in her direction.. He waived in response and smiled.
“Then it was nice of your mother to make you.” Extracting a cookie, he bit into it. "I've missed these precious gems. I see now where you get your talent."
She closed her eyes and willed herself to get control of her nerves. “Thank you.” He chewed slowly and watched her fidget. Hannah forced herself to swallow, “For taking care of me the morning of the funeral it was very kind.”
He shrugged, “It’s the least I could do. I got to rescue a damsel in distress and got my face on TV.”
A nervous giggle cracked through her parched throat. Things hadn't been this awkward between them ever, and now that easy relationship of the past few years was drying up like a slug covered in salt.
“Glad I could oblige. I brought your handkerchiefs back.” She motioned toward the box he’d discarded in pursuit of the cookies.
“Thanks.” He rested his hip on the edge of his desk and offered her one of the cookies. “How are you holding up?”
“Shitty.” Hannah turned her nose up at her mothers offering.. “This," She wiggled a finger at her entire body. "Is all an act. I’m trying to get rid of my mother so Kaycee will keep her sanity and I can get a Red Bull and go back to bed.”
He paused in the act of taking another cookie and stared at her to determine the validity of her statement. “Red Bull?”
Hannah nodded, “My mother gave them away." She leaned close enough he had to lean forward to hear her. "I need one, baaaddd."
He rolled his bottom lip over his teeth and narrowed his eyes. “You don’t seem like the addict type.”
She leaned closer and whispered with a grin, “She threw away my Frappuccino’s too.”
“Tragic.” Boston popped another cookie into his mouth.
“Excruciatingly tragic. I'm about to climb the walls without a healthy dose of caffeine. If she doesn't leave soon, you might have another murder on your hands."
His dark eyes drew down with the corners of his mouth as he frowned. "Trust me, prison time is not worth a Red Bull."