Title: The Rebel
Series: Harlequin Intrigue
Authors: Adrienne Giordano
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Blog Tour Dates: October 1, 2015 – October 9, 2015
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Bad to the bone…in all the right ways
A brilliant civil lawyer, David Hennings has always been the outsider—at odds with his wealthy family, shunning relationships, defying convention as a sexy leather-jacketed biker. Which is why sculptor Amanda LeBlanc agrees to his request to reconstruct a skull from a cold case murder. The instant heat between them is scorching.
But once Amanda takes the job and gets too close to the rebellious attorney, her carefully balanced life is upended by a series of methodical attacks. Someone doesn't want her to finish the job. Now David will risk everything not to lose the woman he unknowingly put in jeopardy.
* * *
“Come on, boy. Another quarter mile and we’re done.”
Larry McCall whistled for Henry, his black lab, who needed exercise more than Larry, to move along. Sunrise illuminated the sky, streaking it in shades of purple and orange that made even a grisly homicide detective marvel at the beauty of nature on an early fall morning.
With Henry busy sniffing a patch of dirt, Larry paused a moment, tilted his head back and inhaled the dewy air. Another two weeks, all these trees would be barren and the city would come in and scoop up the leaves. At which point, his body would make excuses to stay in bed rather than hoof it through ten acres of fenced-in fields on Chicago’s southwest side.
Half expecting Henry to trot by him, Larry opened his eyes and glanced to his left, where the dog always walked. No Henry. Since when had he gotten subversive? Larry angled back and found Henry still at the spot he’d been sniffing a minute ago. Only now he was digging. Hard. Terrific. Not only would he have dirt all over him, but he’d also probably snatch a dead animal out of the ground and drop it at Larry’s feet. Here ya go, Dad.
Not happening. He whistled again. “Leave it,” he said in his best alpha dog voice.
His bum luck was that Henry had alpha tendencies, too, and kept digging. He’d have to leash him and pull him away before a dead squirrel wound up in his jaws.
Years earlier the city had torn down three low-income apartment buildings—the projects—because of the increased drug and criminal activity surrounding the place. All that was left was the fenced-in acreage that made for great walking. Problem was, there could be anything—rodents, needles, crack baggies, foil scraps—buried. Needles. Dammit. Larry hustled back to the dog before he got stuck. Or stoned.
“Whatever you found, Henry, we don’t want any part of. Leave it.”
He snapped the leash on, gently eased Henry back and was met with ferocious barking. What the hell? His happy dog had gone schizo.
“What is it, boy?”
Holding the dog off the hole he’d started, Larry bent at the waist to focus on something white—dull white—peeking through the dirt.
Henry barked and tugged at the leash.
“Okay, boy. Relax. Let me look at it.”
He led a still barking Henry to a tree, secured the leash around it to keep him at bay and walked back to the spot. Using the handkerchief he always carried—yes, he was that old school, so what?—to protect his hands, he cleared more of the loose, moist dirt from the top, and more white appeared. He tapped the surface. Solid. Rock solid. And Larry’s stomach twisted in a way it only did on the job.
Stop. Twenty years of working homicide told him he should. Right now. Don’t go any further; call it in.
Birds chirped overhead, the sound so crisp and incessant it sliced right into his ears. Henry apparently had riled `em good. Still squatting, Larry scanned the desolate area. Beyond the fence at the end of the last quarter mile, the early morning rush began to swell on Cicero.
Henry barked again. Normally calm as a turtle, he wanted to dig.
Larry cocked his head to study whatever peeked through the dirt, and once again his stomach seized. After all these years, only one thing futzed with his stomach.
But, truth be told, he had a tendency to overthink things. Something else years on the job had done to him. Hell, he could be staring at an old ceramic bowl. And how humiliating would it be to call this in and have it wind up being someone’s china?
Henry barked again, urging him on, and Larry gave in to his curiosity and pushed more loose dirt around. At least until he hit a depression and his finger, handkerchief and all, slid right into it. Gently, he moved his finger around, hitting the outer edges of the depression, and a weird tingling shot up his neck. His breathing kicked up.
What’d this dog find?
He cleared more dirt, his fingers moving gently, revealing more and more of the surface of whatever was buried here. Once again, his fingers slipped into the depressed area and he knew. Dammit.
He’d just stuck his finger into an eye socket.
Five Years Later
Surrounded by four hundred guests, seven of them sitting at her table in the ballroom of Chicago’s legendary Drake Hotel, Amanda studied a giant photo of a fallen firefighter that had flashed on the screen behind the podium. Without a doubt, she’d botched his nose.
Ugh. How embarrassing. Any novice artist, particularly a sculptor, would see the slight flare of the man’s nostrils. She slid her gaze to the sculpture, her sculpture, a gift to the widow of Lieutenant Ben Broward, who’d died three months ago after running into a crumbling building to save a child.
The child had survived.
Ben had not.
And Amanda’s gift to his widow and their children was now worthless. At least in Amanda’s mind. Had the flaring nostrils been that obvious on the photos she’d been given? Later, when she arrived home, she’d swing into her studio and check. Just to satisfy herself.
Sitting back in her chair, she eased out a breath and made eye contact with Lexi, her interior designer friend who’d originally suggested she attend this fundraiser and meet Pamela Hennings and Irene Dyce, both politically connected—and extremely wealthy—women. Amanda’s idea to donate the sculpture had come after seeing an interview with Lieutenant Broward’s wife and children. She couldn’t give them the man back, but maybe the sculpture would bring some sort of peace. Not exactly closure because Amanda didn’t buy in to that whole closure thing. What did that even mean? Tragedy was tragedy and she doubted Ben’s family would ever fully recover.
Mrs. Hennings leaned closer to speak over the chatter and the sound of clanging silverware filling the room. “Amazing likeness, dear.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Dyce said from the other side of Mrs. Hennings. “Beautiful work, Amanda.”
Not that she believed it after spotting her mistake, but coming from Mrs. Hennings, the wife of Chicago’s most brilliant defense attorney, a woman notorious for her good taste, Amanda, as she always did, graciously accepted the compliment, allowing it to momentarily smother her doubt.
At least until she looked at that nose again. Would the widow notice? Would she see the blunder every time she chose to look at the piece? Would it drive her insane? Gah.
The woman couldn’t spend years looking at a nose butchered by the artist. Amanda couldn’t allow it. She’d redo the piece. That’s all. She’d make time to fix her mistake.
A waiter slid a slice of cherry cheesecake in front of her. Any other day, she’d happily indulge, which of course wouldn’t help her lose that extra ten pounds, but a girl had a right to sugar. Simple fact. But after the beating she’d just given herself, she wasn’t sure her stomach could handle a rich dessert. Gently, she nudged the plate away, opting instead for a sip of water.
“Evening, Miss LeBlanc.”
She glanced up to where a large, barrel-chested man, late fifties perhaps, stood behind her. “Hello.”
“I’m detective Larry McCall. Chicago PD. Homicide.” He gestured to the vacant chair next to her. “Mind if I sit?”
Oh, boy. What was this?
Whatever it was she was thankful he wasn’t the man who’d been sitting beside her all evening. That man, a financial planner from one of the city’s big banks, had disappeared more than thirty minutes ago after she flatly told him, no, she was not interested in doing “hot” things in his bed. What an idiot. With any luck, he’d found a woman willing to take him up on his offer.
She held her hand out. “Of course. Someone was sitting there, but he’s been gone awhile.”
Hopefully for good.
The detective glanced across the table where Lexi sat with her boyfriend, Brodey, another Chicago homicide detective and also the brother of one of the Hennings & Solomon investigators. Seemed to Amanda that the Hennings clan had a connection to just about everyone in this city.
“Junior,” Detective McCall said, nodding a greeting.
“Lawrence,” Brodey drawled.
And how amusing was this? Clearly these two were in some kind of twisted male peeing match, and Amanda did everything in her power not to roll her eyes.
Detective McCall dropped his bulky frame into the chair beside her. “I’ll move if he comes back. Sorry if I’m interrupting.”
“Not at all. What can I do for you, Detective?”
“I checked out your bust.”
Amanda bit her lip, stifling a smile as the detective replayed in his mind the last seconds—wait for it. There.
He smacked himself on the head, then did it again, but he laughed at himself all the same. Instantly she liked him, liked his ability to find humor in embarrassing situations, liked his acceptance of his blunder without making a fuss.
“I apologize,” he said. “This is what happens when you put a guy like me in a place like this. I insult nice women.”
And he had the rough-around-the-edges grit of one of those throwback detectives she liked to watch on reruns of NYPD Blue.
“Well,” she said, “lucky for you I’m not easily offended. And what’s worse is that I figured out immediately you meant the sculpture and not my—” she looked down, circled her hand in front of her chest “—you know.”
“The sculpture. Yeah. It’s really good.”
Aside from the botched nose.
“No. I mean it’s really good. I knew Ben. Good guy. Great guy, actually. His wife is the daughter of…” He shook his head, waved it off. “Never mind. Doesn’t matter. The sculpture is…accurate. Scary accurate.”
Hmm… Having been approached by detectives before, Amanda felt the puzzle pieces beginning to come together and she readied herself to ruin Detective McCall’s evening. “I had a few photos from different angles to work from.”
“Yeah, I guess that helps. Listen, do you ever do forensic work?”
And there it was.
As suspected, the detective wanted her help on a case. Probably doing an age progression on a missing child or working with a witness to identify an attacker. Because of budgeting woes and a lack of funds for full-time forensic artists, police departments sometimes hired outside the department.
None of it mattered. She’d have to turn him down. “I’m sorry, Detective. I do have an interest and have taken some classes, but it’s not work I feel comfortable with yet.”
McCall, apparently ignoring her refusal, leaned in. “I’ve got this case...”
USA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane's Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction.
* * *
There is a tour-wide giveaway of a $25.00 eGift Card to an online book retailer of winner’s choice and three swag packs.
* * *
Blog Tour Stops
October 1, 2015
October 2, 2015
October 3, 2015
October 4, 2015
October 5, 2015
October 6, 2015
October 7, 2015
October 8, 2015
October 9, 2015