Death and deceit tore them apart ten years ago. Can those same things bring them back together again and mend their broken hearts?
Ten years ago Cooper Stone had the world at his feet. He was in love with the girl of his dreams, had a best friend who he thought of as a brother, and was planning a career in the military. The night of his senior prom his world came crashing down. Word came that his best friend had been killed in action and his girlfriend turned down his marriage proposal and walked away, leaving him to pick up the pieces of his broken heart.
Maggie Fields had lost everything that truly mattered to her. Her brother, her parents, her career dreams, and the love of her life Cooper Stone, but she didn’t fold. She did what she had to do to survive and she fought back against those who wanted to destroy her.
When trouble comes to Climax Holler, is Cooper willing to put aside his heartache at the sight of Maggie and help keep her safe? Can these two overcome their past to find love once again?
“Maggie?” He managed to force the name past his dry lips. It was her, but somehow it wasn’t.
The Maggie he had known as a teenager had been full of life. Her amber eyes had shone brightly as she had laughed at the charmed world around her. Back then, when Maggie walked into a room she had commanded attention. She had been like a butterfly in a garden of flowers—briefly touching every person in the room, making them feel like they were the most important person there. You couldn’t take your eyes off her in the hope that her joy-filled laughter would lighten you next. That Maggie had been slender, but still possessed of dangerous curves that had led his heart on a merry chase. This Maggie looked like a haunted skeleton, a darker, sadder version of the Maggie he had known and loved.
“Hi, Cooper.” Her voice was still that sexy, southern rasp that had always been his undoing. It was straight off the coast of Alabama. The very sound of it seemed to conjure up warm summer nights spent under the stars with your ass in the sand and beach waves crashing nearby.
Cooper felt his jaws painfully tighten. White hot anger sliced through him. Anger that after ten years of nothing from her—no calls, no e-mails, texts or visits—she would show up like this out of nowhere. Hell, he hadn’t even known for sure if she was dead or alive.
No, that was a lie. He had known. Deep inside his gut he had known that she was still out there somewhere. Maybe even with a husband and children. And now, with no warning, she stood in his office.
Staring silently back at Maggie in a room suddenly robbed of air, Cooper felt like he was drowning. Like a fish out of its bowl of water, gasping opened mouth for air…drowning. Why was she here? After ten long years, why had she come back? Breaking through to the surface, Cooper became aware of Agent Rodriquez clearing his throat.
“I believe you know Margaret Fields?” asked Rodriquez. It was obvious he knew that Cooper did. Standing in front of him now, Rodriquez almost seemed to be waiting for Cooper to deny it. Cooper looked down at his desk…at the papers scattered there, at his coffee cup, now empty and stained. His computer, already restarted in an attempt to leave earlier, now sat mocking him. Why the hell hadn’t he left five minutes earlier? Just looking at her, into her beautiful, sad eyes made him wish he was anywhere else. He looked anyway. “Yeah, we’ve met.”
Her eyes flashed and she let out a slow, easy breath, as if she hadn’t been sure that he would acknowledge her.
Rodriquez nodded. “Good. I did a little checking on you, Stone. You’re a former Marine. A decorated veteran, a sharp-shooter, correct?”
“He’s a true American hero.” Maggie sent him a tentative smile. Cooper felt the tick in his jaw line start up and he willed it to stop. He searched her face for sarcasm, but found only sincerity.
Cooper frowned. He damn sure didn’t want to stand around talking about his military history with Rodriquez, rehashing the past. That’s what Maggie was to him—his past and the remembrance of a heart left shattered. “It’s clear you’ve done your homework, so what do you want Rodriquez? I was just getting ready to leave.”
“Okay, I’ll get to the point. Miss Fields, here, is in Federal protective custody. She’s needed in Knoxville in three days to testify. Despite the fact that we’ve kept her location secret and have moved her multiple times, there have been two attempts on her life. I’m fairly certain we have a dirty agent in the local field office.” Rodriguez dropped his hands down in defeat, frustration clearly written on his face. “Honestly, at this point I don’t feel that the Agency, or umm…I can keep her safe before the trial starts. Knowing your background and your history with Miss Fields, I think you’re the best option she has right now.”
Cooper couldn’t help himself, his eyes flicked back to Maggie. She stood quietly, slightly raising her head, her eyes met his, but she gave nothing away. She looked like she’d be one hell of a poker player. That was new, Cooper thought as he ran his hand through his short, dark hair. “I’m afraid, Agent Rodriquez, that is not going to be possible.” Cooper moved to the window. It had started to rain. So much for the damn fire pit. This day was going to hell fast. Maybe he would skip the steak, too, and just have beer for supper.
“Mr. Stone, I don’t think you understand. Miss Fields’ life is in danger.”