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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 14, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
“A pure adrenaline rush.”–RT Book Reviews
You can’t escape the past . . .
Noni is desperate. Her infant niece has been kidnapped, and the only person who can save her is a private detective with too many secrets to count — and more enemies than he can name. A man who walked away from Noni without any warning a year ago, a man who broke her heart. But with Talia’s life on the line, Noni needs his help now more than ever — and this time, she won’t take no for an answer . . .
The moment Denver Jones sees Noni, the memories come rushing back. The fire in her eyes. The determination in her voice. The danger of having her in his life. Denver had to push her away once, but now with vicious criminals threatening Noni and her niece, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect them. But enemies from his past are circling, and they’ll use anything — and anyone — to get to Denver.
Twenty years ago
Denver sat in the front seat of the fancy car while the pretty lady drove through the small town, her nails a bright red against the white steering wheel. She’d said her name was Dr. Sylvia Daniels, she’d arrived at the boys home yesterday to meet him, and today she’d told him he had to go to get a physical. At least she hadn’t come in the room with him when the doctor had checked him out.
The front seat was too big for him. He was small enough he was supposed to sit in the backseat, but he didn’t want to argue with her.
“You’re turning into such a big boy at only eight years old.” She glanced at him, her eyes bluer than the ocean on television. “I know after speaking with you yesterday that you don’t have selective mutism. You can talk if you want, correct?”
He nodded. But he rarely wanted to talk. Why bother?
She smiled. “I didn’t get a chance to tell you yesterday that I’m sorry it took me so long to find you.”
It had been his first day at the boys home. He bit his lip. She sounded super smart, and she knew he could talk, so it’d be rude not to try. “You were lookin’ for me?”
She turned back to the road. “Yes.” Her grip tightened until her knuckles were as white as the leather. “From the second you disappeared.”
His stomach felt funny. Was that his fault? “I’m sorry.” Sometimes if he said he was sorry, even if he didn’t know why, he didn’t get hit. Though a lady like her wouldn’t hit as hard as his uncle, probably. “Really sorry.”
Her chin lifted, and her dark hair bounced down her shoulders. “None of this is your fault.”
Denver glanced out at the small stores on the quiet street. When the authorities had taken him out of school and driven him to the boys home, nobody had explained anything to him. “Um, where’s my uncle?”
The lady turned toward him. “Do you care?”
Denver lifted one shoulder. He didn’t like getting hit, but he needed family. That was an odd way for a grown-up to answer the question, too. He plucked at a string next to the hole in his jeans. Why was life so scary?
She sighed. “Landrey Mishna is not your uncle, and you don’t have to worry about him any longer. He kidnapped you. From me.”
Denver wiggled on the smooth seat, his heart leaping. “He’s not my uncle?” A heavy weight lifted from his shoulders. If the guy hadn’t been his uncle, then Denver wasn’t related to a total asshole. Denver had thought it was his fault his uncle always hit him, but maybe Landrey was just a bad guy. Maybe Denver didn’t have to turn out to be a bad guy, too, since they didn’t share blood. “He lied?”
“Yes.” The lady sniffed. “He was a soldier who worked for me, and he took you away when I had other plans for you. Apparently I made him angry when I stopped seeing him.”
Denver turned to face her. Who was she? What did she want from him? God, he wished he were bigger and could just get out of the car and run. Did that mean he wasn’t alone? His chest got heavy. “You know my family?”
She stiffened but didn’t turn. “I know everything about you.”
He swallowed and leaned toward her. His heart beat faster. “Do I have a dad?”
Now she turned, her face not telling him anything. “No.”
He crossed his arms. “Do I have a mom?” Maybe his mom needed him. She had to be lost, or she’d be with him.
Dr. Daniels stopped at a crosswalk. “You don’t have a mom. You’re quite alone, Denver.”
He didn’t have a mom? His shoulders fell. Yeah, figured. His eyes stung. If he had a mom, then he wouldn’t be alone. “Okay.”
Then Dr. Daniels turned and watched him as if they had all day. “Yesterday when I arrived, you were talking with Ryker and Heath. I figured the three of you would bond quickly. At least I hoped.”
The older boys had protected him from a bully, although he’d been giving it a good fight. “Um, Doctor? What should I call you, and what do you want with me?” She hadn’t explained anything the day before.
She swallowed and pressed her high heel on the gas pedal. “You may call me Sylvia. I’m a doctor who studies smart kids like you.”
He tilted his head to the side. Being quiet helped him to study people, and he somehow knew when they were lying. This lady was lying. She was a doctor, and she studied people, but that wasn’t her name. He’d noticed the hitch in her voice yesterday when he’d first met her. Why would she give him a fake name? If he called her on it, she might hit him. “You gonna study me?” he asked quietly.
Her mouth lost its firm line and she looked softer. She turned the car down a long dirt road toward a big white building. “Yes, I am. You, Ryker, and Heath are special.” Suddenly she reached over and grabbed his hand, enclosing it with her soft skin. “You are the most special of all, Denver. Someday I’ll tell you why.”
He blinked and looked around as she stopped the car. None of this made sense, but he didn’t have a choice in anything. He never had. Not really. “We’re back at the home.”
“Yes,” she said, squeezing his hand before releasing him. “It’s time to get started, my sweet boy.”
* * *
Four years later
Ned Cobb was dead.
A bruised and battered Denver huddled in the corner and stared wide-eyed at the dead adult on the ground. Ned’s brown eyes, so often filled with pure mean, now stared blindly from his smashed head. He had been the owner of the boys home, and he had liked to punch kids. The man had just killed another child, one who’d shown up only yesterday. Ralph’s small body was in the corner, and Denver couldn’t look at him.
Death made the room feel heavy. It even smelled funny. Like old cut grass that had been under wet wood for an entire spring.
Ryker and Heath, Denver’s brothers, stood with bloody baseball bats in their hands, staring at Ned’s body. Like Denver, they both had special senses, including abnormal strength. Right now they were pale, and Heath looked like he was gonna throw up.
“We had to do it,” Ryker said, his voice shaking. He was the oldest of them at around sixteen, and his voice never shook. “Ned killed that kid and was going to kill us.”
Heath nodded, his long brown hair pulled back and his greenish brown eyes filled with terror.
They’d both swung only once.
Denver grabbed the wall and climbed up it to stand. His hands hurt from trying to defend himself from Ned’s belt, but he didn’t think any fingers were broken this time. Though his pinkie was numb.
Ryker dropped the bat and ran over to the kid on the ground. “Ralph?” His voice really trembled now.
“He’s dead,” Denver whispered. His stomach hurt so bad he needed to go to the bathroom.
Ryker checked the kid’s neck anyway. His hands looked like they were shaking, but he touched Ralph carefully, pressing on the jugular. Then Ry leaned over to listen for breathing. He slowly straightened up. “Yeah.” He turned around.
Heath threw his bat over into a corner. “The sheriff is coming back soon. We have to run and get out of here.”
The sheriff was Ned’s brother, and he liked to hit them with his baton. A lot. Denver straightened his shoulders. He might be younger than Ryker and Heath, but this was his fault. They wouldn’t have come down into the basement of the crappy boys home unless it was to save him. Now he had to save them. Even if it made him bad and he’d have to go to hell. Right now he had to protect them. “Burn it. The whole place.”
Ryker looked up at him, surprise in his greenish blue eyes.
Denver flushed. He didn’t talk much, mainly because talking just got kids hit. Also, speaking was hard to do, so he didn’t do it. But this was too important. “We’ll burn the evidence.” Plus, the boys home sucked and it should burn to the ground.
Heath paused and looked wildly around. His shoulders settled, and he breathed out. “Run. We have to run.” He started moving for the door. “I know where the fuel is. We’ll just burn this main building and leave the barracks alone.”
Denver nodded. They didn’t want to kill anybody else. It was after midnight, so they were alone in the main building.
The fire was surprisingly easy to start, and since they spilled lighter fluid and gasoline in almost every room, the building went up in flames fast. Crackling wood had a nice smell, and Denver tried not to think about the burning bodies.
“Let’s go,” Ryker said, turning, his voice sounding older than it had earlier. “Now.”
Denver followed him, with Heath taking up the rear. They hustled across the scrub field into the forest and kept running. Ryker had hidden packs for them nearly a month ago that contained food, knives, and additional clothes. They’d known either they would have to escape, or Ned would kill one of them.
They ran all night, finally stopping to rest at the far edge of the forest, miles away from hell.
Denver leaned against a tree, his chest heaving, tears in his heart. His hands shook. And his legs ached. What had they just done? “We’re just kids.”
“That’s okay. It was him or us.” Ryker slid an arm around his shoulders, his voice cracking and then strengthening. “We’re smart, and we’ll figure out a way to survive until we’re not kids anymore.”
“She’ll find us,” Denver whispered, his stomach rolling over. The woman who studied the three of them, the one dating the sheriff—she’d find them. The doctor lady. There was something wrong about her. She showed up every once in a while to make them take written and physical tests like they were lab rats. She took notes and then went away. And she looked at him funny. Different from the way she looked at Ryker and Heath. Denver bit his lip to keep from crying. Even if the lady didn’t find them, the lawman would never stop looking for them. “The sheriff is gonna want to murder us for killing his brother.”
Heath coughed. “Yeah, but they’re alone, and we’re family. You can’t take down an entire family.”
Denver scratched his chin, his chest aching. “We’re family.” He looked at the scar on his hand. It was four years old, and it meant everything.
“Family,” Ryker affirmed, stepping away to grab cereal bars out of his pack. He stared at the crushed food but didn’t open the wrapper. His body swayed, and he sat down. “Let’s take a minute.”
“Yeah.” Denver’s knees wobbled as he looked at his scar line. Four years ago. He’d felt like a dork, but he’d asked Heath and Ryker for blood. They’d been behind the main building after a day of being tested, and he’d wondered if he was making a mistake. What if they had laughed at him?
He went instantly back to that day that had changed so much.
Denver took a deep breath. “Let’s become blood brothers. There’s one thing that will bind us.” What if he was wrong? Was this stupid? He reached for a knife he’d stolen from the kitchen earlier, wanting only one thing in life. Even if he died tomorrow, he didn’t want to be alone anymore. Maybe they had a chance together in the next life, wherever that was. “Blood.”
Heath moved away from a tree he’d been leaning against, his jaw hard. “I get it.”
“Blood brothers,” Ryker said, grabbing a knife from his back pocket. One Ned didn’t know he had. “This one is sharper. Let’s use this one.”
Denver’s chest exploded. They were gonna do it. Create a brotherhood like he’d dreamed about when they became friends four years ago. It was important that they each cut their own hand—make the choice.
The slice hurt, but somehow it healed what ached so badly inside him. When he pressed his hand to Ryker’s and Heath’s, when they all pressed together, it got kind of messy. Bloody. But it meant something. It meant everything. If he died now, it was okay. He had brothers. Maybe they’d all meet again in heaven. He kind of believed in the place. Tears clogged his eyes.
His hand hurt when everyone let go.
Heath looked down at his bloody palm. “Should we put on bandages?”
Denver shook his head, letting the tears fall. It was okay to cry. They were family. “Let the scars get bigger.”
“Yeah,” Ryker said, his eyes glassy. “We’re brothers now.”
Denver jerked back to the present, and tears filled his eyes, but he didn’t care. They were on the run, and they were just kids. If the sheriff caught them, he’d kill them with a lot of pain. But he could never take away who they were. What they’d formed.
They were family.
Noni tossed her laptop and stack of maps on the faded patchwork bedspread, her eyes gritty and her temples aching. The battered electric heater rattled from the corner of the motel room, providing a surprising amount of heat. Her fingers tingled as they started to warm up.
Winter blew snow around outside, and ice scattered against the window. She shivered and knelt one knee on the bed as she spread out the closest map. Where was her pen? Scrambling for her bag on the floor, she drew out a black marker and made several notations across the mountainous Pacific Northwest. Her heart raced, and her lungs compressed. She had to be closing in. Then she crossed out several towns, including Seattle, before pulling her phone from her pocket and hitting speed dial for number one.
Static crackled and then an expletive echoed as it sounded like the phone was dropped. Something shuffled. “Eagle? This is Sparrow” finally came over the line.
Noni rubbed her aching head. “Hi, Aunt Franny. I thought we agreed to forget the nicknames.”
“So did I, dear, but Verna likes being called Hawk Two.”
Why would they have a Hawk Two when there wasn’t a Hawk One? Noni swallowed down a sharp retort. “We have to get serious, Fran. This is dangerous.” Though she’d done everything possible to make sure the two older women were out of the line of fire. “Where are you?”
“I just set up camp and am staying in the Motel Burnside just north of Portland. Verna should be pulling into Salt Lake City any second now,” Franny said. “My meeting with our private detective is tomorrow morning—he has already left Seattle and is heading here.”
“Good. I’m going to scout around here in Greenville before backtracking to Snowville in a day or so.” Greenville was near the Washington-Idaho border, fifty miles out from Snowville. People back home familiar with the street gang had told her of its affiliations in Greenville. Now all she had to do was find them. Somehow.
She was leading a team—an untrained, totally vulnerable team—in a chase after a dangerous gang member. She was a lotion and candle maker, for God’s sakes. What the hell had she been thinking?
“What about the FBI office in Snowville?” Franny asked.
Noni swallowed, trying to shove away self-doubt. “The FBI is a last resort.” If she contacted them, the agents would immediately send out an AMBER Alert for a missing child. If that happened, Richie might kill the baby. She couldn’t let that happen. Plus, the law wasn’t exactly on her side right now since she was working outside it because of time constraints. God, she hoped she wasn’t making the hugest mistake of her life by handling this herself.
“Any news from Denver?” Franny asked, sounding weary.
“No.” Noni lifted her chin, her heart cracking at the mere mention of his name. He had given her a fake last name, so all she had was his picture and some basic information she knew about him. “But I’ve posted a search for him all over the Internet, even on dating sites. He has to see something.” Her chest hurt to even think about the asshole who’d broken her heart so easily, but she needed his help, and she’d take the pain to save the missing baby. “I’ll find him.”
“Honey.” Fran cleared her throat. “He’s probably no better than that first private detective we hired, the one who stole half of our savings.”
Noni’s shoulders slumped. “Denver has to be better, and I’ll get our money back from that other detective. I promise.” How, she had no clue. The first detective she’d found had been a fraud. He’d taken everything he could—twenty thousand dollars. But they’d been desperate. Sharon’s baby had been kidnapped two weeks ago, and the baby was only three months old.
Poor Sharon. The question of what exactly had caused her death would have to be answered later—after Noni made sure her baby, Talia, was safe from her dick of a father. Noni would bet her life that Richie had given Sharon the drugs she’d overdosed on.
Was Talia safe? Was anybody reading her stories at night? She liked to cuddle with her special blanket and listen, even at only three months old. Did she miss her blanket? Noni glanced at the light pink edging peeking out of her pack. Her hand shook, and her heart felt like somebody had punched her in the chest. What if Talia wasn’t safe?
She couldn’t think like that. She had to focus on what to do to get the baby back.
The second detective Noni had hired had at least traced Richie and the baby to somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. The PI was heading to Portland, but Noni’s gut and a source back home had told her to head to Greenville. “Get some sleep, Franny.”
“I mean it. Let’s forget Denver What’s-His-Real-Name-Who-the-Hell-Knows-Because-He’s-a-Damn-Liar and just do this ourselves.”
“Let’s go back to calling him ‘dickhead,’” Noni said, even her arms feeling heavy. She’d met Denver, a private detective, while he was on a case in her town of Anchorage about a year ago, and he had seemed like a bloodhound who’d always find the guy he was looking for. She’d fallen for him and hard. Then he’d left, and her world was a darker place without him. A colder place. But she needed his help now, and she’d do whatever it took to get it. “We might be taking on an entire gang, Auntie. Denver is tough enough to do it.”
“I don’t know,” Franny said, drawing out the words. “I guess, worst-case scenario, we can just stand behind him if bullets start flying.”
“Absolutely,” Noni agreed, pushing the map out of the way. In fact, she wanted to shoot Denver herself. How could he just leave her? Her skin heated, and she took a deep breath to calm her emotions. “Get some sleep. I’ll call in tomorrow.”
“Honey, this has to be about finding the baby and not, ah, meeting up with Denver again.”
“I know.” The words felt hollow, just like her chest.
Fran sighed. “I know you know, but you’ve never given up on anything in your life, and you really had feelings for that man. You didn’t get any closure.”
Because the dickhead had left her without a word. Noni swallowed a lump in her throat. “Yeah, I want closure. But I want that baby back and safe more. She’s all that matters right now.” Noni had made a promise to both Sharon and her baby, right after Talia’s birth, that she’d be there for them. That she’d protect them. She’d helped take care of Talia for three months, and her arms already felt empty. “I’m focused. Get some sleep, Auntie.”
“All right. Night, sweetie,” Franny said before disconnecting the call.
Noni set the phone on the nightstand and stretched out on the bed. She should get out her notes and keep working. Her eyelids fluttered shut, and she relaxed into the worn mattress as her mind wandered.
Would she find Denver? Of course she needed him to save the baby. But that wasn’t all. She needed answers, and if she was honest with herself, she wanted to see him. Wanted at least a chance to seek that connection again. She was too tired to feel pathetic about that.
She drifted, trying to just relax.
A whisper of sound jerked her back to the motel room. She tensed and looked toward the door, partially sitting up out of instinct.
Oh God. Denver. In the flesh.
He stood inside the room, quietly shutting the door against the freezing cold. The entire atmosphere electrified. Holy crap on a mutinous cracker. Denver was there. Really there. After a year of having no clue whether or not he was alive, the sight of him seemed surreal. Was she dreaming about him? Again? How could he really be there?
“Noni,” he breathed, his gaze settling on her.
“I locked that door,” she mumbled, sitting all the way up, her mind blanking to avoid the rush of emotion pouring through her.
“What are you doing?” he snarled, his eyes turning a furious blue.
Her temper rolled from banked to a slow burn. She blinked. So much for her secret little fantasy of him finding her, begging forgiveness, and professing that his heart and soul belonged to her. Not that she’d take him back. But still. “Excuse me?” Her voice had risen.
“Pack. Now.” He edged to the motel room window and moved the heavy curtain out of the way to peer out.
She shook her head, trying to grasp reality. It had been so long since she’d seen him, and within seconds, her entire body had flared to life. Her heart thundered. How could he still affect her like this?
He turned his head slowly back to her, as he must’ve realized she hadn’t jumped into action. Stress cut lines around his mouth. “Noni. Now.”
That dangerously deep and dark voice. She still heard that low tenor in the time between sleep and wakefulness…when dreams took her under. Like he’d taken her under.
Somehow he looked tougher than before. Even more remote and distant. So large and so…male.
His black hair brushed the collar of his battered leather jacket, and his ripped jeans led to snow-covered leather boots. A shadow covered his square jaw, showcasing each hard angle. His dark brows were arched, his eyes were a sizzling blue, and his full lips were set into a thin line. Tension choked the air around them, rolling through the room with a discernible heat.
She couldn’t stop looking at him, watching him like a starving woman would a cheesecake.
There was something unreal about him—an elusive, too-male, predatory quality she’d never been able to define. Yet she felt it. She felt him—the danger and the kindness, the complexity and the simplicity. All characteristics he’d probably deny…if he bothered to talk at all.
“Noni,” he snapped.
She jumped to her feet.
He was pissed?
Hurt rocketed through her, and she shoved most of it away, leaving a lump of coal in her gut. “Sorry to bother you and whatever woman you’re lying your ass off to right now, but I need your help.” Her knees wobbled, but she held herself upright.
He breathed out, and his nostrils flared. “Later.” Angling around her, he shoved the maps and manila files off the bed and into her bag.
She’d forgotten. How had she forgotten his terseness? “I’m not going anywhere,” she snapped.
He turned, and she instantly found herself up against the wall, his hand flat against her upper chest. How had she also forgotten how quickly he could move? He was almost supernatural that way. Fear shocked her, while desire pissed her off. She hated being in this position, where she needed him. His face lowered toward hers. Flecks of different shades of blue made up his spectacular eyes, which glittered with an emotion she couldn’t quite read.
She was pinned easily—too easily—in place. This close, she could smell him. Male and forest and leather and something that was all Denver.
He didn’t speak. No order, no sarcasm, no words. He just stared as if he could compel her into obedience with his intensity.
There was a time she’d responded to his looks. She’d read him—almost felt him. He wasn’t much for talking, and she’d learned to interpret his movements and expressions. Because he had mattered to her.
Apparently she hadn’t mattered a whit to him. Hurt exploded inside her again.
- "TOP PICK! 4 1/2 stars! A pure adrenaline rush...Zanetti proves that when it comes to RS, she is in a class by herself!"—RT Book Reviews on Twisted Truths
"TWISTED TRUTHS is a nonstop, action packed suspense blended in with just the right amount of romance and steam."
"Top Pick! 4 1/2 stars! Rebecca Zanetti's novels have become my comfort food."
—Night Owl Reviews on Twisted Truths
"TWISTED TRUTHS stayed true to its title and had many twists and turns that kept this fast paced story on overdrive."
"Absolutely fabulous! What a great conclusion to the series!"
—Obsessive Reading Disorder on Twisted Truths
- "Zanetti balances the adventure and menace with a relatable romance. The result is a story that's sexy and emotional, and filled with a rich look at love in all its forms."—Washington Post on Deadly Silence
- "TOP PICK! 4 1/2 STARS! Emotionally charged and sexy action-packed thriller. It doesn't get better than this!"—RT Book Reviews on Deadly Silence
- "Budget your time, readers, because this is one that's hard to put down."—HeroesandHeartbreakers.com on Deadly Silence
- "Fans of the Sins Brothers will love this new spin-off series, and lovers of romantic suspense will be drawn to the sinister overarching plot line that is sure to haunt the Jones brothers throughout the series. Twisted and intense."—Gravetells.com on Deadly Silence
- "Rebecca Zanetti is on fire. Her last few books are some of her very best and she continues that streak with this book. When I think about this book words like 'intense' and 'fierce' come to mind."—Scandalicious on Deadly Silence
- "Total Surrender is action packed, thrilling, and heart-stopping romantic suspense at its best."—Harlequinjunkie.com
- "WOW! I could not put Blind Faith down. [It] is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time."—Freshfiction.com
"Top Pick! 4 1/2 stars! The rich world of romantic suspense gets even better with the first in Zanetti's tremendous, new, paranormal-edged series. Zanetti pulls together a heady mix of sexy sizzle, emotional punch and high-stakes danger in this truly outstanding tale. Brava!"
--RT Book Reviews on Forgotten Sins
- On Sale
- Nov 14, 2017
- Page Count
- 432 pages