In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I’ll be posting a romance scene from each of books today and over the weekend. I’m starting with the first book published in the New Beginnings Series.
The hope of a future for the broken begins in Mourning.
Skip-tracer Renee Stratford-Knight’s life plan changed upon her sister’s murder. Instead of using her skills to find people, Renee opened New Beginnings a firm specializing in “vanishing” abused women. Now her ex-husband -and former business partner – Jonas Knight reenters her life asking about her most vulnerable client.
Jonas knows his ex-wife helped embezzler Gina Howard elude the authorities and intends to bring the young woman to justice. When Renee is threatened, Jonas grows suspicious of his client’s reason for finding his niece.
In order to uncover the secret a teenager girl disappeared to keep, and a killer wants silenced, Jonas and Renee must struggle through distrust and the pain of their pasts to work together to save the life of teenage girl – and their own.
Renee threw the door open. Jonas snapped his phone shut and started toward her. She held her hand out, stopping his approach. “I know Alex harassed you into this promise. You go home and get some sleep. I’ll get a car and head out.”
Jonas closed the distance between them. “Don’t be obstinate. You have a car and a driver at your disposal, try being grateful for a change. And for the record, your baby brother asked and I agreed because I wanted to.”
“I don’t need your help.” She glared at him.
“Understand that Alex…” He stressed her brother’s name. “…needs me to help you. The kid couldn’t live with himself if anything happened to you. He’d blame himself.”
Tension and memories thickened the air around them, the unsaid filling the small space between them. Tears blurred her vision. No, she didn’t want Alex to carry around the weight of such a burden. She and Jonas — their marriage — crumbled under the pressure of their shared and individual guilt of what happened to Melody. She wouldn’t force the same consequence onto her brother because of her distrust. With God in her life, she could work with anyone. Including Jonas. She’d figure out a way to help Glory and keep Priscilla off the grid.
Wrapping an arm around her shoulders, Jonas frowned as his gaze scanned the parking lot. Renee tried to step away but he tightened his grip.
“Come closer.” Jonas’ jaw appeared chiseled in granite and even the smallest trace of blue disappeared from his gray eyes. His gaze locked onto an object and watched it, the storm in his eyes deepened as he leaned forward.
Renee shifted backwards to put distance between them. “Not on your life.”
He trailed a finger down her cheek. “Remember our cases together. The diversion plan. Always worked best.”
Heat flicked at her face. She steeled herself from reacting to his familiar touch and the memories threatening to weaken her knees and resolve. The Hello Kiss. The Goodbye Kiss. The We-Found-True-Love Kiss.
“It won’t work,” Renee breathed out.
“We have to try. The guy is here.” He placed one hand behind her back, drawing her to his chest as the other hand stroked her cheek. Tenderness seeped into his gaze. “Forgive me,” he whispered and closed the distance between them.
His lips touched hers, the pressure light and feathering, gentler than Renee remembered. The tender caress on her cheek beckoned her closer, as did his arm cradling her back. The familiar touch sent her senses reeling and pleasant memories drifted into her mind. On their own accord, her lids drifted closed and she melted into his embrace.
The reaction shook her. Jonas was no longer hers. She was no longer his. This wasn’t a real kiss. This was breaking her heart. Tears pooled in her eyes and she placed her hands on his shoulders, planning to push him away. Her arms betrayed her and snaked around the back of his neck, fingers threading into the strands of hair curled at his nape.
The pressure of the kiss increased and Renee welcomed it. She wanted to remember what it had been like to have a claim to this man’s love. The temptation to cave into the longing grew. Pressing closer, she surrendered to the embrace and sought the comforting and enticing beat of his heart. The heat intensified between them.
She had to end the moment. Now. Renee flattened her hands against his shoulders.
Jonas pulled back. “It’s all right. He left.”
She was a fool. The kiss hadn’t affected him at all. Turning, she swiped at the hot tears trickling down her face. “Don’t ever do that again.”
If you’d like to read Renee and Jonas’ story, Lost Then Found is available at:
Available in print this spring.