Buried Secrets by A.Y. Stratton
On a frigid Milwaukee night, professional fund raiser Kate Harvey sneaks into an attorney’s house hoping to rescue documents for her grandmother. On the very same night Attorney Nathan Crosby sneaks into the same house to collect evidence of the lawyer’s dirty dealings.
Neither expects to land in the midst of a vendetta.
But when they stumble over a dead body, they know there’s more going on than either could have imagined. Racing to solve the mystery of long-past misdeeds, Nathan and Kate soon realize that criminals aren’t their only danger.
Kate has never met a man who attracts her more than Nathan. Nathan can’t think straight with brave, beautiful Kate around. But the cost of getting involved might just be their lives…
Two feet away was the entrance to a bedroom. All she could hear was her heart thudding. And then a footfall. Nearby.
Was someone in the bedroom?
She backed away from the doorway, ducked around the corner, slumped against the wall, and strained to hear. Nothing.
Maybe the Schmidts had a cat. Or a noisy heating system. She tiptoed toward the bedroom doorway and clicked on her flashlight. An arm shot out, grabbed her shoulder, covered her mouth, smothering her scream, and slammed her against the wall.
“Who are you and what the hell are you doing here?” A man spit words into her ear. One hand clamped her windpipe. The other twisted her right arm up her back.
She stabbed her flashlight into his groin and heard a groan. The man released her so suddenly she collapsed to the floor, gasping. With a growl, he snatched away her flashlight, flicked it off, and stood above her. “Cheap maneuver.”
“Water!” Her voice came out in a croak. “I need water. Please.” Just her luck some jack-ass burglar had picked the same house on the same night. Who was this guy, and how the heck was she going to talk her way out of there?
“Bathroom’s this way.” The man stood over her and pointed to his right beyond the king-sized bed. “Can you get up?”
She managed to stand and peered at the shadow beyond the flashlight. “Who are you?”
“You want water? Then move.” He waved with the flashlight.
Kate staggered into the bathroom, registering a tub the size of a wading pool, a glassed-in shower, and wall-to-wall windows, before stopping at the nearest of two heart-shaped marble basins.
The guy was right on her heels. Watching to get a glimpse of his face in the mirror, Kate turned on the faucet, removed her gloves, and shoveled water into her mouth.
The guy towered above her. All she could see was his square chin spattered with dark stubble. He wore brown leather gloves and a black leather coat. Beneath his unzipped jacket, a plaid shirt collar stuck out. The collar button was missing.
He lifted the flashlight so they both could see the mirror. The man’s ice-blue eyes grew large. A half-smile flickered on his lips.
“You’re uh…” He started to laugh and shook his head. “I don’t believe this.” He kept nodding at her, half-frowning, half-grinning, as if he’d remembered something very funny.
Finally, he signaled with the flashlight. “That’s enough!” His harsh voice made her jump.
She felt his eyes on her as she wiped her hands on the back of her coat, tugged her gloves back on, and rubbed the faucet clean of her fingerprints. She glared back at him and massaged her throat.
The man wasn’t aggressive any more. His shoulders were relaxed, and he looked like he was trying not to laugh. Was it something she’d done or something the guy had seen?
She pulled herself up tall and ran her gaze from his head to his toes, before she made eye contact again. “I’m going to have a huge bruise on my neck, thanks to you.” He didn’t respond, so she kept talking. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”
The man threw his head back and laughed, his eyes glistening in the glow of the flashlight. “You don’t understand the rules, do you? The guy with the gun gets to ask the questions.” His right hand slid into his jacket pocket.
“You need a gun, huh?”
“Right pocket. Always handy.” His cocky smile revealed perfect teeth. “Your turn. What are you doing here?”
“You’re a burglar.” She lifted her chin. “Not a policeman. You don’t get to ask me anything.”
He ripped off his hat, revealing a thatch of sweaty hair. “Talk, and make it fast.”
Look him in the eye. Take your time, she told herself. You can talk your way out of this. He needed a comb and haircut. His eyebrows were dark and thick. The veins at his temples stood out. His jaw bone twitched. He smelled like breath mint and soap.
He was obviously enjoying himself.
“Did you see that?” The man looked out the front window and gripped her arm.
“Wait here. I’ll check.”
Kate followed him back to the top of the stairs, her pulse thudding in her ears again.
“Thought I saw headlights, but never mind. Okay, dutiful granddaughter, now what?”
“I need to look in the attic.”
The man stuffed his hands into his jeans’ pockets and nodded toward the stairs. “You got five minutes and then we’re gone, both of us.”
A. Y. Stratton grew up in Glenview, Illinois, and Elm Grove, Wisconsin. By the time she was 14, she was determined to write stories like Ellery Queen, Mary Roberts Rinehart and Agatha Christie.
While her children were young, she submitted short stories to magazines and newspapers and received rejection slips. A.Y. jumped at the chance when a friend asked her to write cover stories for an ad publication. Next she begged her way into free-lancing for a string of community newspapers, which led to her own bi-weekly column.
After A. Y. joined Romance Writers of America, she concentrated on writing on romantic mysteries. In September of 2009, Wild Rose Press published Buried Heart, a romantic suspense tale involving an uptight public relations agent, an archaeology professor and a Mayan Codex dating back before the invasion of Cortez.
Buried Secrets, another romantic mystery by A. Y. Stratton was released in November in paperback and digital.
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