Harlequin Intrigue\The Gates
Excerpt from book:
Special Agent Ava Trent took a slow turn around Room 125 of the Mountain View Motor Lodge, studying everything, even though the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had already given the place a thorough once-over that morning before the locals had called in the FBI. She doubted there was much they'd missed, but she liked to walk through a crime scene while it was still relatively fresh.
She wasn't going to pretend she could put herself in the head of either the victims or the perpetratorshe'd leave the hocus-pocus to the Investigative Services Unit. She just wanted to get a good look at the setup. Get a picture of it in her head. Most people in law enforcement had their own rituals. Taking a good, long look around a crime scene was hers.
Unmade queen-size bed. Suitcases open, partially unpacked, on the luggage stand helpfully supplied by the Mountain View Motor Lodge. Two toothbrushes in the bathroom.
Blotches of blood on the torn green comforter hanging off the bed.
"Married couple. Gabe and Alicia Cooper." Cade Landry, the agent assigned to investigate the possible kidnapping with her, strode up to her, all broad shoulders, square chin and no nonsense. He was new to the Johnson City, Tennessee, resident agency and, if his gruff demeanor was anything to go by, he wasn't going to turn out to be a favorite among the other agents.
She didn't care herself. She wasn't looking to have her hand held, and if she wanted conversation, she could call up her mother or her sister and get all she could handle. And unlike the female support staff at the resident agency, who all found Landry's rock-hewn features and sweet molasses drawl irresistible, she certainly wasn't in the market for a romantic entanglement, especially not with a fellow agent.
"Plenty of signs of a struggle, but not serious injury," Landry continued. "Blood on the bedspread looks incidental. Bloody nose, maybe. Busted lip in a fight. If the Coopers are deceased, it didn't happen here."
"Why were they here in Poe Creek?" she asked.
"Three-year wedding anniversary, according to the motel staff," Landry answered.
"An anniversary trip to Poe Creek?" She took another look around the motel room and shook her head.
"The husband's a pro fisherman. Seems his idea of an anniversary trip included fishing on Douglas Lake," Landry explained, referring to a lake northeast of Knox-ville, Tennessee. It was a fifteen-minute drive from Poe Creek, depending on where they'd planned to put their boat in the water.
"Where can I get me a romantic man like that?" she murmured.
It might have been her imagination, but she thought she spotted a hint of a smile flicker over Landry's stony features. Just a hint, then it was gone. "Not an angler?" he asked as he followed her on her circuit of the room.
"Actually, I'm a very good angler," she answered. "But I don't reckon scaling fish ranks high on my list of things to do on an anniversary trip." Not that she'd ever had an anniversary to celebrate. Unless you counted six years with the FBI.
"Maybe he does all the fish-cleaning. A woman might find that romantic." Pulling out a pen, Landry nudged a piece of paper lying on the bedside table. It was a note, written in a lazy scrawl. "'225 Mulberry Road.'"
"Locals already checked it out. It's a bait-and-tackle shop on the way to Douglas Lake. They're getting the security video for us, in case the Coopers made it there."
"May have nothing to do with their disappearance." Landry's tone of voice was one big shrug. She was beginning to wonder if anything interestA spy is forced to come in from the cold in the first book in The Gates miniseries by award-winning author Paula Graves
Coming in from the cold is the only choice for Sinclair Solano, once a fiery young radical turned CIA double agent turned fugitive. Not only must he free his kidnapped sister from the rebels he betrayed, but he also must clear his name. And neither will be easy with beautiful FBI agent Ava Trent dogging his trail. Seeing no other option, Sin uneasily joins forces with Ava to plan an ultradaring guerilla attack and rescue op. But the mission requires trusting Ava, and putting her irresistible body in the line of fire. Being alive has never been so dangerous