Edie Harris’s Blamed: A Blood Money Novel is an exciting must-read! This romantic suspense is full of spies, assassins…and revenge. Read on to get your sneak peek at this thrilling new book.
About Blamed: A Blood Money Novel:
Born into a long line of spies, sanctioned killers and covert weapons developers, Beth Faraday carried out her first hit-for-hire when she was still a teenager.
That part of her life—the American spy royalty part—ended one year ago, with a job gone wrong in Afghanistan. The collateral damage she caused with a single shot was unfathomable and, for Beth, unforgivable. She’s worked hard to build a new life for herself, far away from the family business.
But someone, somewhere, hasn’t forgotten what Beth did in Kabul. And they want revenge.
As the Faraday clan bands together to defend Beth and protect their legacy, Beth is forced to flee her new home with the unlikeliest of allies—MI6 agent Raleigh Vick, the only man she’s ever loved. And the one she thought she’d killed in the desert
Beth had almost had herself convinced, before this very moment, that the man on whom she trained her gun wasn’t a spy. She’d almost believed that those little zings down her spine whenever they’d nodded a greeting to one another had been basic attraction, not like recognizing like. Perhaps the quirked half-smiles when they ran into one another at the Starbucks two blocks over weren’t because Beth had caught him following her, but merely because they were in the same place at the same time, again. Maybe when he had come into the Institute gift shop to buy the print of the painting that even now hung haphazardly in his living room…maybe it had been pure coincidence, when he’d seen her walk past the shop on the way to her office and waved to her through the glass.
And all the nights she had sat curled in the cozy armchair in front of her window, staring out across the street instead of focusing on curatorial paperwork, and seeing him quietly staring back at her? Maybe it had been a meet-cute waiting to happen, and her life was less Thriller Drama and more Romantic Comedy. Maybe her neighbor really was a normal, handsome, suit-wearing thirty-something: Preston Barnes, Commercial Real Estate Developer, just like the card she’d glimpsed when he’d dropped his wallet one Saturday morning at the nearby Whole Foods.
Commercial real estate developers, as far as she knew, didn’t make a habit of bleeding out in their bathtubs, or holding a gun on their neighbors. “Neighbor,” she intoned wryly. “How are you this fine evening?”
He smiled, different from the half-smiles in the coffee shop. The coffee-shop smiles were more a cute twist of firm lips, a flash of humor permitting a dimple to appear in his smooth cheek. This smile, on the other hand, was all white teeth, feral and sharply amused and far more threatening to her peace of mind than the pistol he had pointed between her eyes. “Dandy. Can’t you tell?”
Surprised to find her gun hand steady—finally—she swept her gaze over him, noting his shiny black dress shoes, tailored charcoal trousers, now-ruined white button-down, and buttery yellow silk necktie, loosened ever so slightly at the unbuttoned collar. He’d obviously been caught unawares by the shooter, his clothing showing all the signs of a businessman just home from a long day at the office. She remembered the jacket on the floor next to the open briefcase. “Rough night?”
He huffed out a pained laugh, wincing when it affected his wound, and clamped his free hand against his side. “You could say that.” As she allowed him movement, he did the same to her, letting her grip the Beretta in both hands. “Beth, isn’t it?”
She smirked at his attempt to maintain cover. But her smirk faded when he grimaced again. “You need a doctor, pal.”
Expression tight, he tilted his head slightly to the side, assessing her with that intelligent blue gaze, and she allowed herself a leisurely look at him for the first time since he’d moved in across the street six months ago, instead of quick, stolen glances. His pale eyes were thickly lashed beneath slashing black brows, the contrast of his neatly trimmed ebony hair against fair skin incredibly striking. He possessed an angular face, with the faintest of hollows beneath its contours, and the sharp lines of his jaw and chin and nose, not to mention the prominent cheekbones, gave him a harsh, masculine beauty. Without a doubt, he was one of the most gorgeous men Beth had ever seen, and the day’s worth of rakish dark stubble only made him more so.
“I can’t go into an ER with a gunshot wound.” When she merely arched an eyebrow, he gave her a pitying look. As though he expected her to be better at playing this game than she was. “Mandatory reporting.”
She blinked innocently. “You mean you don’t want the police to look into your shooting tonight? You don’t want your attacker brought to justice?” Justice. Now there was a word she hadn’t so much as thought in a year. It made her shiver, and she realized he was right to look at her with pity—she couldn’t play the spy game anymore, too out of practice and out of patience, not tonight and certainly not with him. “I can’t let you bleed to death in your bathtub, Mr. Barnes. It’s undignified.”
His shoulders rolled in a faint shrug. “This? Just a flesh wound. Relax.”
That made her teeth clench. “I’ll relax when you’ve handed me your weapon.”
He seemed to consider that for a long moment. “Was the rest of the apartment clear?” When she nodded, he sighed. “Good. I thought I heard him go out the back.”
“The balcony door was open when I got here.”
As though it were just that simple for him, Barnes spun the Ruger on one long finger and handed it to her, grip first. Seeing her no-doubt shocked expression, his smile changed again, back into the cute, lopsided Starbucks grin that never failed to set butterflies loose in her stomach.
God, what was wrong with her, that this lying liar-face of a man’s smile got to her when Mark the Sous Chef’s didn’t? Why was it, she wondered, mind suddenly frantic, that she had been unable to shed her danger-junkie approach to men, as she had shed her old life? Beth wanted normal,damn it—not just a year of it, but a lifetime.
The only conclusion left to draw was that she was too broken from all her bad deeds to understand normal. To deserve it.
Swallowing her bleakness at the thought, she snatched the Ruger and tucked it into the back waistband of her jeans. Hesitating only a moment, she extended a hand to help haul him out of the tub. “I’m taking you to the hospital.”
“No.” But he took her hand anyway.
Boy howdy, was that a mistake. The second they touched, Beth’s skin sizzled, her breath catching in her throat as her gaze locked on his. She watched his pupils dilate and a hectic flush flag those too-pale cheeks, mesmerized by his visceral reaction to her touch.
Which made her wonder what he saw in her reaction, to make his eyes dart over her features as if he were drinking her in, memorizing her. “I—I don’t—” She cleared her throat, trying to rid herself of its suddenly husky quality. “I can probably dig out the bullet if I have to, and I can stitch and clean you, but I don’t have anything on hand to replace the blood you’ve lost. And, buddy—” she surveyed the bottom of the tub, his stained clothing, “—you’ve lost a lot of blood.”
Tightening his hold on her, he levered himself up with a groan. “Looks worse than it is, I promise. Just do what you can.” Once standing, he released her, planting his hand on the counter when he swayed.
She moved to steady him without thought, one arm looping around his waist. He was a big man, at least six-two and a solid two hundred pounds, maybe more. Under her arm, his torso felt muscled and firm, and Beth fought against the instinctive urge to lean into him, regardless of the fact that she was the one holding him upright. “Any idea who your late-night visitor was?”
His chuckle was completely without humor. “Oh, yes, I’ve got an idea.”
Pulling his heavy arm across her shoulders, she led them through the bathroom, into the master bedroom. “Care to share with the class?”
“You won’t like the answer.”