Run to Ground, the first book in my brand new Rocky Mountain K9 Unit series, will be out on June 6, 2017. To help tide you over until then, here's a sneak peek:
He lost his mentor.
He lost his K9 partner.
He almost lost his will to live.
But when a ruthless killer targets a woman on the run, Theo and his new K9 companion will do whatever it takes to survive—and save the woman neither can live without.
Grieving the death of his partner, Theo Bosco has no room in his life for distractions. Though his instincts scream that he should avoid Juliet ‘Jules’ Jackson, he can’t seem to stay away. It doesn’t help that Theo’s new K9 companion has fallen head over paws with Jules’s rambunctious family.
Or that when he’s with her, Theo finally knows peace.
When Jules rescued her siblings, whisking them away to the safety of the beautifully rugged Colorado Rockies, she never expected to catch the eye—or the heart—of a cop. Yet as Jules struggles to fight her growing attraction to the brooding K9 officer, another threat lurks much closer to home…
And this time, there’s no escape.
Run to Ground
Book 1 in the Rocky Mountain K9 Unit Series
Available June 6, 2017
It was one thing to resolve to stay away from Theo when Jules wasn’t faced with his broad shoulders and a rare, precious smile. Viggy sat next to him, his tail thumping on the porch boards. It took less than two seconds for her to cave, to smile back and open the door wide enough for them to step inside.
“We’re about to have dinner,” she said, unable to keep her gaze from roaming over Theo hungrily. He was in jeans and another hoodie that was identical to the one she’d stolen from him. Although Jules had planned to wash it and give it back, she couldn’t bring herself to do either. It was warm, comfortable, and smelled like him, and she couldn’t bear to change that—or give it up. “Want to join us?”
“It’s tuna noodle casserole.” As she started to lead the way to the kitchen, she glanced over her shoulder and caught him staring at her butt. Her voice went a little husky. “Just thought I should warn you.”
“Consider me warned.” His gaze slid up her back and their eyes caught.
Of course, Jules tripped on the warped floorboard at the kitchen entry. Flushed and flustered, she regained her balance and hurried to the stove, pretending she had to check the contents of a pan. After a moment of staring at broccoli—because who could get breathless about a vegetable?—Jules was ready to face Theo again. When she turned, he was right there, his eyes locked on her mouth. She was immediately breathless all over again. He leaned in closer—or maybe she did—until their lips were just a breath apart.
Ty and Tio came charging inside through the back door, and Theo straightened, taking a step back. Jules didn’t know whether to curse the twins’ timing or thank them.
“Hi, Jules! Hi, Theo! Hi, Viggy! We’re going to get cleaned up,” Ty yelled as they charged through the kitchen and into the hallway. The clatter of their feet on the stairs sounded like a thousand booted soldiers making their way to the second level.
“Ow,” Jules complained, rubbing her ear with one hand. “Why was he shouting? I was two feet away from him. I think I just lost my hearing in this ear.”
Theo took a step closer again. Taking her fingers in his, he gently pulled her hand away from her ear and leaned in. She held her breath.
“Should I test it?” he said quietly, near enough to her ear that his breath touched her skin.
Jules shivered. “Um…what?”
“A test.” He leaned even closer. Now she could feel the warmth of his lips. “A hearing test.”
“This doesn’t feel like any hearing test I’ve taken before.” Her voice had gone from slightly rough to full-on throaty. “I’m wondering about its medical legitimacy.”
“That’s because it’s a field hearing test.” She loved how he played along, understanding when she was teasing and when she was serious. She knew, too, that he wasn’t like this with anyone else—only her. There was something heady about being the one who was able to make serious, angry Theo laugh and joke. “Only to be used by trained first responders.” His voice had lowered to a rumbling hum, and his lips were actually brushing the ever-so-sensitive shell of her ear.
“Good thing you’re here, then. Being a trained first responder and all.” Jules knew she shouldn’t be flirting, but this teasing version of Theo made it impossible not to respond.
“Hey.” Sam’s voice brought her off her flirty cloud and back to earth with a thump. On the pretext of getting a serving bowl from the cupboard, she reluctantly eased her body away from Theo’s, only then realizing how closely they were standing, with her side almost plastered against his front.
“Hi, Sam.” She still sounded breathless, and Theo hadn’t even touched her—not really. “Homework done?”
A crease formed between his brows. “N-not yet.”
“Need a hand? I can break out my rusty chemistry skills.”
“N-n-no, th-thanks.” He got a pitcher out of the cupboard and started filling it with water from the tap. “Hey, Theo. D-does Viggy n-need a w-w-water b-bowl?”
“Sure. Thanks, Sam.” Theo leaned against the counter next to Jules, close enough that she was continually aware of him. She held back a snort. Who was she kidding? She’d be hyper-aware of him even if he were in another room.
“D-did you f-f-find the sh-sh-shooter?”
Theo’s expression turned grim. “Not yet.”
“Jules!” the twins shouted in unison. Jules knew that tone. That was the something-else-is-broken tone. Her shoulders sagged before she stiffened them. No matter what had broken or collapsed or fallen off or stopped working, it was better than not having the kids with her. Even if the house toppled down around their ears, at least they were together.
“Sorry.” She gave Theo an apologetic smile. “Dinner might be delayed a few minutes.”
He took a step toward her. “Need help?”
“No.” She frowned. “Maybe. I’ll call you if it’s something beyond my abilities. My fix-it record is actually pretty good.”
Sam snorted. “All you d-d-do is p-put duct t-tape on st-tuff. Or k-kick it.”
When Theo coughed, Sam looked over at him, and the two exchanged a look that was so full of manly condescension that Jules propped her fists on her hips, now determined not to ask Theo—or Sam—for help.
“Sam,” she said, her voice sugar sweet, and Sam gave her a wary look. “Since it might take a while for little ol’ me to duct tape whatever it is that’s broken, why don’t you finish your homework in the meantime?”
He made a face but answered politely enough. “Yes, m-ma’am.”
“Jules!” The shout from upstairs had a hint of hysteria to it, so Jules hurried out of the kitchen, hoping she’d be able to solve whatever was wrong. Now it was a matter of pride.
A half-hour later, she proudly sailed back into the kitchen. Passing through the doorway, she opened her mouth to brag about how the toilet had been successfully unclogged—no duct tape necessary—when she stopped abruptly, the words catching in her throat.
Theo was sitting next to Sam, their heads bent over an opened textbook.
“If I c-can’t see it, I j-just d-d-don’t g-get it.” Sam’s head was propped on one hand, the fingers working against his buzzed scalp.
Theo picked up a pencil and tugged Sam’s notebook closer. “Here’s a hydrogen atom. Here’s another one. They each have one electron.” Jules leaned against the wall, her heart filled to bursting at Theo’s patient explanation. “When they share those electrons, they form a covalent bond and become a hydrogen molecule.”
Sam’s rumpled forehead smoothed slightly, although he still looked confused. “Wh-what m-makes it a c-c-covalent bond?”
“Sharing the electrons, rather than just taking them.”
“I’ll n-never r-r-rememb-ber th-that.”
“Sure you will. Think of ‘co’ as in working together. Like ‘cooperating’ or ‘coexisting.’”
Jules’s brain instantly supplied a host of other options, such as “co-parenting” and “cohabitation.” Feeling warm, she cleared her throat to derail those thoughts, and both of the guys looked up at her.
“Y’all hungry?” Her voice was huskier than normal. “Although the casserole is probably burnt to a crisp by now.”
“I turned off the oven,” Theo said, getting up and crossing the kitchen to turn it on again. “It’ll need heating up, but it should be okay.”
How was she supposed to resist him when he looked like he did and saved people’s lives and rescued dinner and helped Sam with his homework? It was impossible.
“Theo, could I see you in the hall for a second?”
Although he gave her a wary look, he followed her out of the kitchen. As soon as they were out of Sam’s line of sight, Jules shoved Theo against the wall. With both hands knotted in his shirtfront, she yanked him down until she could reach his mouth. Then she kissed him. Hard.