Skip to main content

Excerpt - Undercover Cowboy by Laura Scott

Undercover Cowboy
by Laura Scott


Running from the Mob

FBI agent Logan Quail puts his life and career in jeopardy when he blows his cover to save Kate Townsend from a mafia goon. He wasn't able to save his fiancée from Bernardo Salvatore's violent syndicate, but this time he'll make sure that Kate Townsend doesn't get herself killed trying to prove her father was murdered. Now Logan and Kate must work together, each overcoming their separate grief, to bring down a ruthless mob boss. And maybe find some peace through the healing power of love.

Excerpt of chapter one:

"Kate, I'm in trouble," Angela Giordano, her former college roommate, whispered urgently through the phone. "You have to help me!"

Kate Townsend frowned and tried to ignore the churning in her stomach. She tightened her grip on the subway pole as the Chicago train lurched around a curve. "What kind of trouble?"

"I think my uncle is trying to kill me."

She sucked in a harsh breath, but couldn't say she was surprised. Angela's uncle was Bernardo Salvatore, suspected Chicago crime boss. "Why? What happened?"

"I can't tell you now," Angela whispered. "I need you to meet me here in the back of the restaurant. Hurry!"

No way was she going to the restaurant owned by Salvatore. Talk about walking straight into the lion's den. "Try to remain calm. I'll help you escape, but we have to meet someplace else." She tried to think logically. They needed to meet out in the open, in neutral territory. "I'm on the red line, heading north. Let's meet at Stanton Park. It's not far from the restaurant."

There was a long pause. "I'd rather wait for you to get here." Angela's voice had dropped so low Kate almost couldn't hear her. Had someone come outside to find Angela? Someone spying for her uncle? Salvatore wasn't the type to do his own dirty work.

"Stanton Park," Kate insisted, glancing at her watch. "I can meet you by the northeast corner of the building in forty minutes."

"Okay," Angela agreed, before quickly hanging up.

Kate clutched her phone, trying to calm her racing heart. She was worried about her former roommate, but she also hoped this might be the break she needed. Now that Angela was in danger, too, there was no reason for her to protect her uncle. Surely Angela would cooperate, giving the authorities inside information about Bernardo's activities.

And maybe, just maybe, Kate would find a solid link to her father's death. His murder. Her chest tightened painfully and the grief she'd tried so hard to keep at bay threatened to erupt.

She took several deep breaths, battling back the wave. She missed him so much. She still had trouble believing he was gone. The pastor at their church reminded her he was in a better place, but that knowledge didn't stop her heart from aching. Didn't stop her from crying herself to sleep at night.

From being determined to seek answers.

In the four weeks since her father's death, she'd become obsessed with trying to find a way to link Salvatore to the crash that had claimed her father's life. But she wasn't getting any help from official channels. According to the police report, her dad, a Chicago cop, had been on the way to the courthouse when he was killed in a motor vehicle crash. His driver's-side door was T-boned at a busy intersection. A witness had come forward claiming it was a tragic accident, and based on that statement, the cops were willing to close the case.

But Kate wasn't buying that story. For one thing, the driver of the other vehicle hadn't been hurt at all, and when she'd tried to track him down, it seemed as if he'd vanished without a trace. She couldn't find proof that a person with that name and address had ever existed. Also, she had thought it was suspicious that her father had died on the way to the courthouse to testify against Dean Ravden, one of Salva-tore's goons. But since the only charge against Ravden was a DUI, no one believed that her father had been the victim of a mafia hit.

Not even her oldest brother, Garrett, who was also a Chicago cop. He'd listened patiently to her theory, but then told her she was imagining things. Their father's unexpected death couldn't possibly be the result of a professional hit. Garrett told her the mafia wouldn't bother to stage a car accident—they would have simply shot him in the head. Or the heart.

Still, she knew deep down that somehow, someway, Salva-tore was responsible. With Angela's help, she might be able to prove it. Turning her grief into grim determination wasn't easy, but she steeled her resolve and focused on the upcoming meeting with Angie. It was nearly eight o'clock in the evening, which meant that it would be dark by the time she reached the park. She needed to arrange some sort of backup.

For a moment she considered contacting FBI Special Agent Logan Quail, but almost as soon as the thought formed, she rejected it. She'd only talked to Logan once in the six months since she'd been his informant while working as a waitress at Salvatore's restaurant. With his help, she'd left the mafia-owned restaurant without raising Salvatore's suspicions.

But once she'd recognized Dean Ravden during a news story, she'd called the number he'd made her memorize. Much like her brother, Logan had listened while she explained how she had seen Ravden meeting with Salvatore at the restaurant and why she thought her father was murdered. But while Logan thanked her for the information, he also told her in no uncertain terms to stay out of the investigation. He seemed distant and impatient with her for calling, so she simply agreed and hung up.

She shouldn't have been surprised at the way he'd shut her down, since Logan didn't think much of her goal to become a police officer. He'd made it clear he didn't believe women belonged in law enforcement.

During the few days they'd worked together, six months ago, she'd felt close to him, but once they were out of danger, he'd walked away. To be fair, he'd first tried to convince her to go into a safe house. When she refused, he left barely saying goodbye.

After Logan bruised her heart, she decided it was better to keep her distance. She'd thrown herself into her schooling, finishing up her criminal justice degree.

Being a cop was all she had ever wanted to do. Her grandfather, her father and her three older brothers were all in law enforcement. She'd intended to try out for the police academy, but then her father had died. And her world had spun out of control.

Now it was time to get back on track. She grimaced and pulled out her phone to call her eldest brother, Garrett. He hadn't believed her before, but surely he'd come through for her now that she had Angela as a potential witness. Maybe Angie could even verify that Ravden was one of her uncle's thugs.

For the first time in days, she felt a quiver of anticipation. She quickly dialed her brother and waited for him to answer.

"Katie? What's up?" Her brother's deep voice helped calm her nerves.

"I need your help. My old roommate Angela needs to get away from her uncle, Bernardo Salvatore. I'm heading over to meet her now. How quickly can you get to Stanton Park?"

"Are you crazy?" Garrett shouted in her ear, so loud she winced and pulled away the phone. "No way, absolutely not. It's too dangerous." Her brothers were always overprotec-tive, but she couldn't remember the last time Garrett had yelled at her.

"But she might be able to give us key information," she pointed out, striving to remain calm. "I can stall until you get here."

"I'm more than an hour away and can't leave in the middle of my shift. Don't go, Kate. I mean it. I forbid you to go!"

Forbid? Since when did her brothers forbid her to do anything? She was so upset and shocked she could barely speak.

"Katie, please." Her brother's tone softened, as if he'd sensed he'd gone too far. "We'll meet her first thing in the morning, okay? Call her back and let her know we'll meet with her then."

"What if tomorrow is too late?" She knew only too well how Salvatore got rid of people. He murdered them in cold blood and then dumped their bodies into Lake Michigan. At least that's what he'd done six months ago, when a waitress at the restaurant had crossed him.

"Tell her we'll meet her later tonight then. I get off work in a couple of hours. Just don't meet her alone," her brother insisted.

"All right, I'll call her back." She hung up on her brother and then dialed Angie's number, but the call went straight through to voice mail.

She sighed and chewed her lip as she considered her options. Her brother didn't want her to meet Angela alone, but she wasn't helpless. She knew basic self-defense moves; her brothers had taught her well. She'd picked the location, not Angie. Therefore, she had the upper hand.

Again, she considered calling Logan Quail, but knew his reaction would be very similar to her brother's. She tried Angie one more time, and when she still didn't pick up, Kate decided she had no choice but to go to the park as planned. Her brother called, but she sent the call to voice mail. She didn't have time to argue with him, and besides, he was too far away to help her, which was why she'd called him in the first place.

When the subway stopped near the park, she elbowed her way past the crowds to exit the train. Stanton Park wasn't far from Old Town, a short distance from Salvatore's restaurant. She walked quickly, avoiding direct eye contact with any of the other patrons.

She arrived at the park a good ten minutes early, and made sure she wasn't followed as she wound her way to the back of the park, where the recreation center was located. She'd thought a public place would be safe, but because of the late hour, there weren't many people around. Still, she rested against the side of the brick building before sending Angela a quick text.

I'm here. Where r u?

She waited a few minutes, but didn't get a response from Angela. Her stomach knotted with worry. First no response to her phone calls, and now no response to her text message. Had something happened? Had Salvatore or one of his men caught her at the restaurant before she could leave? Was Kate too late to help her?

Please, Lord, keep Angela safe.

Kate stood with her shoulder pressed against the brick wall, peering cautiously around the corner toward the front of the building, scanning the area. Her heart thudded painfully, as the seconds passed with agonizing slowness.

The area in front of the recreation center was unusually quiet. Time passed slowly, until it was ten minutes past their arranged meeting time. She silently vowed to wait another ten minutes before heading back to the subway.

Then she saw Angela, dressed in the familiar Salvatore's waitress uniform of black skirt, black apron and crisp white blouse, walking briskly up the sidewalk toward the building. Kate let out her breath in a sigh of relief.

"Kate?" Angela called softly. "Where are you?"

For a moment she hesitated, the tiny hairs on the back of her neck lifting in sudden alarm, but before she could move the cold steel barrel of a gun pressed through into the center of her back. "Step forward very slowly," a low male voice said from behind her. "If you try to run, I'll shoot."

A trap! Stunned speechless, she could hardly wrap her mind around the fact that Angela had actually set her up. How else would the gunman have known she was here? Kate glared at her former roommate in horror as she followed the gunman's demand to take several steps forward.

Angela's eyes had widened in shock. "What are you doing? You promised you wouldn't hurt her!"

"Go back to the restaurant. This isn't your concern," the gravelly voice said. Battling her fear, she listened intently to the hint of an Italian accent in the gunman's voice. Her mouth went desert dry as she realized it wasn't likely Salvatore himself behind her, when he delegated the dirty work. He had plenty of hired muscle to do these kinds of things for him.

Like kidnapping her. Or flat out killing her. Feeling helpless, she thought of how upset her brothers would be to lose her. And for a moment, Logan Quail's broad grin, as he tipped the brim of his cowboy hat, flashed into her mind. He wouldn't be at all happy if she died here tonight. Especially since he'd gone out of his way to help her escape Sal-vatore six months ago.

Angela gave Kate one last helpless glance before turning and running back in the direction from where she'd come. Kate tried to slow down her breathing, assessing her escape options, which admittedly looked grim. If she ran, she had no doubt the gunman would follow through on his threat of shooting her in the back.

Obviously, she'd been a fool to believe her former roommate had really been in trouble. Angie knew what her uncle was, and went to work for him at the restaurant anyway. Convincing Kate to join her, no less. Kate foolishly had taken the job, only to find out the place was run by the mafia. She'd been so glad Logan had helped her get out of there. Yet all for naught, considering she was being held at gunpoint.

Swallowing a lump of fear, she briefly closed her eyes and prayed. Please keep me safe, Lord!

Feeling calmer, she lifted her hands up higher in the air as a gesture of surrender, as she addressed the gunman. "Tell me what you want. Money? Information? I'm sure we can come to some sort of understanding."

"I don't want anything, but Salvatore wants you!"

Oh, boy. She didn't like the sound of that. Why would Salvatore want her now after all this time? She didn't know what Salvatore wanted, but there was a slim chance of surviving this if she could keep the gunman talking long enough. If Garrett had figured out she hadn't listened to his advice, maybe, just maybe, he'd send a police cruiser to the park to help her. "I'm surprised to hear that since he's the one who fired me. Does this mean he'll give me my waitress job back? I could use the money, the tips were great."

The tip of the gun jabbed the area between her shoulder blades, making her suck in a harsh breath. "Don't play dumb. Turn around and walk to the back of the building."

Never go to a second location. The knowledge reverberated in her mind, but what choice did she have? With the gun prodding her, she walked slowly, twisting her neck in an attempt to get a glimpse of the gunman. But when the gun barrel dug painfully through her T-shirt into her skin, she gave up.

She would stall as long as possible so she could remain at her last-known location.

"I'm not playing dumb. I don't know what's going on. Mr. Salvatore fired me because I was so nervous I dropped dirty dishes into his lap. Surely he hasn't held a grudge all this time? I mean, is killing me over dirty dishes really worth it?"

As they reached the back of the building, the gun barrel pressed even harder, making her bend forward at the waist in an attempt to ease the pressure. "Down on your knees," he said in a harsh tone.

No! Was he really going to kill her right here in the park? She'd thought Salvatore wanted her alive, but maybe he only wanted her dead. She sank to her knees, closed her eyes and silently recited the Lord's Prayer.

"Well, now, who's this little filly?" The familiar Texan drawl made her eyelids snap open.

Logan?

Order:
Print books:
Harlequin.com
Harlequin.com (Large Print)
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble (Large Print)
Amazon.com
Amazon.com (Large Print)
Christianbook.com
Booksamillion.com
Booksamillion.com (Large Print)

Ebooks:
Harlequin.com
Nookbook
Kindle
Booksamillion.com
Kobobooks.com
iTunes

You can also purchase this book from any of the stores found at CBA Storefinder.

Also, don’t forget that it’s Free Book Friday over at Harlequin.com--if you order two or more books, you’ll get their weekly featured book for free!

This week, the featured book is: The Braddock Boys: Colton by Kimberly Raye

Comments

Popular Posts

Lady Wynwood's Spies 4 vignette - Lady Stoude

This is a really random scene I wrote that occurs in Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer right after chapter 23, after Keriah returns home and before Phoebe comes to pick her up later that night. The team has finished making all preparations for the trade for Michael at Vauxhall Gardens. *** “Oh! I have no wish to go to the ball tonight!” Lady Stoude stood in the open doorway to the drawing room of her husband’s townhouse, hands on hips, with a disgruntled expression that looked faintly like a drowned cat. Her husband, Jeremy, Lord Stoude, glanced up at her from where he was leaning against the mantle of the fireplace, drinking something amber-colored and peaty-smelling. He merely gave her a mild, inquiring look. “Why not, my dear?” “I have just heard from my maid, who heard from Mrs. Butterworth’s maid, who heard from Miss Farrimond’s maid, that Miss Farrimond will not attend the ball tonight, because an unfortunate accident with hair dye caused her to now sport a gia

What are you crafting today?

I always have multiple knitting projects, and over Christmas I started a new one. I’m working on developing a pattern for the arm-warmers (called muffatees or manchettes in Regency and Victorian England) that are mentioned a few times in Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer and Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 5: Prisoner . My character, Phoebe, has a rather deadly pointy thing hidden in hers. :) The pattern is based off of antique knitting books which are scanned by Archive.org. (You can download .pdfs of the books, which I think is really rather cool.) The book the pattern is from was published after the Regency era, but I’m reasonably sure the pattern was in use in the Regency, just passed down by word of mouth. Are you crafting anything today?

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year! This year is the Year of the Rabbit. The Chinese zodiac is split into 12 animals, and their years are 12 years apart. My mom was born in the Year of the Rabbit, so you could calculate her age if you wanted to. :) My humorous Christian romantic suspense serial novel, Year of the Dog , is a reference to the Chinese zodiac because the heroine is a dog trainer. It’s a prequel to my Warubozu Spa Chronicles series, which is set in my birth state of Hawaii. Here’s the book description: Year of the Dog serial novel by Camy Tang Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While renovating her new dog kenneling and training facility, she needs to move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate—according to them, a job requiring her to be covered in dog hair and slobber is an embarrassment to the family. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irat

Camille Elliot's January newsletter

My Camille Elliot (Christian Regency Romantic Suspense) newsletter went out last week, but in case you missed it, the link is below. In my newsletter this month, I posted a link to a special extra scene from Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer , information about an experiment with my current Facebook group, and the date for an upcoming sale on Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 2: Berserker . I also mentioned a sweet Traditional Regency Romance that I’m reading. Click here to read my Camille Elliot newsletter for January.

Talk of the Town by Joan Smith

Talk of the Town by Joan Smith Daphne Ingleside’s visit to her Aunt Effie in London was meant to add a little spark to her placid country life. And it did—once the two women decided to write Effie’s memoirs. For Effie, a faded divorcée, had been the beauty of London in her day, and many of the ton feared their misbehavior would be disclosed. The Duke of St. Felix, misinterpreting their project as a means of blackmailing his family, antagonized the sharp-witted, beautiful Daphne to his peril. Regency Romance by Joan Smith; originally published by Fawcett *** I first read this Regency romance years ago in mass market paperback and remember liking it. But when I saw that the author released it on ebook, I found that I didn’t remember the story at all, so I decided to re-read it. It was just as enjoyable the second time around. This story is full of witty banter and is a light, cute comedy of manners. I like how forthright the heroine is, although her tongue is at times a trifle

ひとり寿司第28章パート1

「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** 28 「ねえビーナス、お願い」装具をもっとしっかり脚に巻きつけようともがきながら、レックスは肩で携帯を持とうとした。 「ごめん、すごく仕事が忙しいの。トリッシュに行ってもらうように電話したから」 「トリッシュ? いつから彼女が私のお気に入りになったの?」立ち上がり、段ボール箱の間を通って、トイレにたどり着いた。 「ジェン、今週末は出かけてるの——ほんと、都合がいいわよね。だから、トリッシュかマリコのどっちかなのよ」 (うわっ)「分かった。何時に来てくれるの?」 「あの子

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Did you do anything special to honor today?

A List of my Free Blog Reads

Curious about what my writing is like? Here’s a list of all my free books and the free short stories, novellas, and novels that you can read here on my blog. I’ll update this post as I add more free reads. Christian Humorous Romantic Suspense: Year of the Dog (Warubozu Spa Chronicles series, Prequel novel) (Currently being posted monthly on my blog as a serial novel) Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, finally has a chance to buy a facility for her business, but her world is upended when she must move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate. When she stumbles upon a three-year-old missing persons case, security expert Ashwin Keitou, whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier, is tasked with protecting her. However, danger begins to circle around them from people who want the past to remain there. Can they shed light on the secrets moving in the shadows? Christian Romantic Suspense: Necessary Proof (Sonoma series #4.1, n

Year of the Dog serial novel

About Year of the Dog : A month or two ago, I remembered an old manuscript I had completed but which hadn’t sold. It was a contemporary romance meant for Zondervan, titled Year of the Dog . The book had gone into the pipeline and I even got another title ( Bad Dog ) and a cover for it, but eventually my editor at the time decided she didn’t want to publish it, for various reasons. She instead requested a romantic suspense, and so I cannibalized some of the characters from Year of the Dog and thrust them into the next book I wrote, which was Protection for Hire . Honestly, I didn’t take a lot from Year of the Dog to put in Protection for Hire , aside from character names and a few relationship ties. I was originally thinking I’d post Year of the Dog as-is on my blog as a free read, but then it occurred to me that I could revamp it into a romantic suspense and change the setting to Hawaii. It would work out perfectly as (yet another) prequel to the Warubozu series and introduce