Murder and Lies (MF)
[BookStrand Romantic Suspense]
After Vienna’s shocking death, Maggie Benson never thought her world could get any darker. The sheriff determined it was suicide, but Maggie cannot accept that. When her diner is vandalized and her cook is hurt, her world begins whirling out of control. She is plunged into a world of deceit where she is followed and her home broken into.
When Wilson Beaumont shows up, Maggie is immediately drawn to him, but senses he is hiding something that has to do with Vienna. Wilson is searching to find answers about his daughter and thirteen million dollars missing from the Longstreet Bank. If he doesn’t find the money soon, he knows he will be killed.
Wilson and Maggie must find a way to trust each other in order to survive. But after all the murders and lies, is it too late to uncover the secrets that threaten their future together?
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
4.5 STARS: "It starts with murder, but stumbles toward love: K. R. Bailey’s “Murder and Lies” opens with the shock of a friend’s death – but it is far more than a simple murder-mystery. Maggie Benson is an appealing main character from the start. She helps people, and is simply heartbroken at her young friend and employee’s death. Her motivation, in the beginning, is obvious. Wilson Beaumont has a whole different problem: money. And not just lack of money – it's lack of a whole lot of money, and there's a good deal of trouble headed his way because of it. Of course, it’s the dead girl who has the information he needs… a dead girl who is more to him than he wants known at first. The town of Twin Rivers hardly seems the sort to have this drama land in its midst. It really has such charming aspects – and the author describes things beautifully. The flickering light of campfires for example, or the day-to-day operations in the diner all work to set the mood. This is a town of kindly folks too, like like Sherriff Anderson and Lindsay. However, the distant specter of a menacing bank owner looms over all for contrast; there are the ruthless, as well. At first, we feel a bit angry that Wilson brings all this to the quiet town – right to Maggie’s little diner, in fact. However, it isn’t long before we suspect that it was Vienna who first brought the trouble. Who to trust will become central to uncovering what really happened. Each new revelation throughout throws even more intrigue into the mix. Although Maggie becomes more and more attached to Wilson, she also discovers (or thinks she discovers) more and more about him. And it is not all good. The interplay between the two is engaging and utterly believable – conversations both reveal and raise our suspicions. We readers know how we want things to go, but increasingly, we wonder if these people are who we think they are. This is not at all a mystery overlaid with a romance; each piece is integral to the plot. A matter of trust; a matter of the heart. “Murder and Lies” does deliver on the suspenseful mystery, but doubly so on the feelings of the heart. This is an absolutely gripping romance. A must read, for sure." -- Snapdragon, Long and Short Reviews
Maggie started to step outside, but gunfire exploded all around her. The night filled with noise. Yelling. Screaming. Maggie stayed hidden inside the dark shed, frozen in fear. She tried to find a weapon, a shovel, anything she could use to protect herself.
The door slammed shut on the big house, and she heard running. People everywhere running and shouting. She shivered but remembered Sam’s words about staying hidden, no matter what. What the hell was happening? She heard glass breaking. More screaming. Pandemonium everywhere, like a war going on. Maggie whimpered and slid closer to the back of the shed.
A bullet broke the glass above her head, and she bit her tongue to keep from screaming. Another bullet hit the wall. Suddenly, the door to the shed flew open, and Sam stood in the doorway, his eyes wide. “Maggie, come on,” he yelled and grabbed her hand, pulling her out of the shed and up the hillside behind the house.
Maggie ran until she thought her lungs would explode. “I can’t. I can’t go any farther.” She slumped to the ground, gasping for air.
“Maggie, we have to get away from here.” Sam tugged, and Maggie forced herself to stand. They continued, but at a slightly slower pace.
She didn’t have time to look behind her. There was no time for any discussion about where they were going. She forced her mind to concentrate on running, putting one foot in front of the other. She didn’t know how long they ran or how far away from the lodge they’d come, but when Sam stopped, she sank gratefully to the ground, gasping for air. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on breathing. When she opened her eyes, she saw a dark spot on Sam’s shirt.
“You’re hurt,” she cried out.
“Ssssh.” He shook his head. “I’m fine.”
Maggie closed her eyes and leaned against a rock, willing herself not to panic. Finally, she couldn’t wait any longer. “Sam, what’s going on?”
He glanced at her. “Wilson arrived.”
“Wilson?” Maggie sat up, her eyes going wide.
“The FBI was with him. He made a deal with them.”
“What?” Maggie’s heart soared. Wilson was here, trying to help free her. She’d been right to trust him. Now she had to find a way to survive until he found her.
Sam moved closer and took her hand. “It’s okay. I’ve never quit loving you, Maggie.”
Maggie closed her eyes, but for some reason, his words sounded wrong. She listened to his even breathing but didn’t feel any comfort. Suddenly, her nerves were on edge. Something wasn’t right, and she didn’t feel safe. She didn’t feel protected. She glanced up at Sam and in the early dawn could see his face and realized he was looking at her, but his eyes were full of disdain. She pulled away quickly.
“Sam. What’s happening?”
He snickered. “What do you mean? You’re with me. We got away.”
The sound of his voice made fear prickle her spine, and she knew she needed to get away from him.
“I, ah, need to find a place to, ah, relieve myself.” It was the only thing Maggie could think about as an excuse to get away.
He grasped her arm. “You’re not getting away from me.”
Just then she heard a sound below them, down the hill. “Be quiet.” His voice was full of warning.
She heard footsteps and whispering. Someone was after them. She jumped up and yelled, “Here, up here!”
Sam pulled her back down and slapped her. “What the hell are you doing?”
Maggie didn’t respond. She listened to the footsteps as they climbed the hill and prayed it was help.
“Sam, is that you?” She heard Longstreet’s voice, and all hope seeped from her.
“Arlo, up here.” He said the words loud enough for them to hear him but not loud enough for them to echo across the deserted hillside.
“You have her, then?” Longstreet chuckled softly. When he came atop the hill, he stopped in front of Maggie. “Glad you decided to come with us. Too bad your boyfriend won’t be joining us.”
“You heard me.” Longstreet came closer and let his eyes wander over her face.
“I need to relieve myself.” Maggie blurted out the words. “Please, may I have some privacy?”
Longstreet laughed. “Go. There’s some bushes about five feet away.”
“Thank you.” Maggie turned but not before her arm was grabbed.
“Don’t try to run. I’d hate to have anything happen to you before your time is up.”
She shivered. Longstreet meant business, but she was determined to find a way to survive.