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Armed and Dangerous

Armed and Dangerous

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Armed and Dangerous

192 pages
2 hours
Apr 8, 2019


This is a collection of sample chapters from the following novels.

Lethal Refuge by Vonnie Hughes
Iron Cop by Sally Booth
Proving Ground by Stanalei Fletcher
On The Surface by Margo Hoornstra
A Serenade to Die For by Janet Fogg
Wounded At The Lake by Mitzi Pool Bridges
Caged Souls by Gina Leuci
Keeping Hope Alive by Fran McNabb
Broken Ties by Gloria Davidson Marlow
Peril, Passion, Peru by Eve Dew Crook
Apr 8, 2019

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Armed and Dangerous - Wild Rose Press


Armed and Dangerous

A Romantic Suspense Sample ebook


The Wild Rose Press Inc.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

Armed and Dangerous

COPYRIGHT © 2019 by The Wild Rose Press Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information:

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708

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Publishing History

Digital ISBN: 978-1-5092-2691-7

First Sample Chapter Edition, 2019

Published in the United States of America

Sample Chapters of…

Lethal Refuge by Vonnie Hughes

Iron Cop by Sally Booth

Proving Ground by Stanalei Fletcher

On The Surface by Margo Hoornstra

A Serenade to Die For by Janet Fogg

Wounded At The Lake by Mitzi Pool Bridges

Caged Souls by Gina Leuci

Keeping Hope Alive by Fran McNabb

Broken Ties by Gloria Davidson Marlow

Peril, Passion, Peru by Eve Dew Crook

Lethal Refuge


Vonnie Hughes


Célie Francis ran faster than she ever had in her life. Fingers of fog rolling in from the sea grabbed at her as her feet alternately flew and stuttered over the uneven pavement of the ocean road.

Where was he? How much time did she have?

The wash of the sea was a calm counterpoint to her harsh, frantic breathing. Above the sound of her thudding feet, the shriek of a bird pierced the air.

No, not a bird. Something was squeaking. Occy’s old bicycle!

He had found her.

Faster, Célie, faster, shouted the little man on the treadmill in her mind.

I can’t, she sobbed.

Fancy the consequences?

No, God, no!

Then run faster.

But her aching legs could not obey. And on the roadway, the relentless squeak, squeak kept pace with her. Frantically she zigzagged, seeking a haven in the fog. It was barely dawn on the lonely North Auckland cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. No help anywhere.

Have to hide. Have to hide. Her shoes slapped a rhythm.

Salty sweat stung her eyes. Ignore it.

The slap of her running shoes echoed, then died in the mist. Died…

Her brain, tumbling in an endless whirl of fear and futile questions asked—why Occy? Why had he killed a man this time?

Up ahead loomed a deep grey cloud of mist. Thank you, God. She blasted into the fog bank and the squeaking receded behind her. This is your chance, the little man said.

Veering off the footpath, she streaked across a pristine lawn and crouched behind a lavender bush. Her chest heaving, she struggled to gulp another breath of sodden air.

Squeeeak. He was back. This was it. Eyes streaming, she curled into a ball on the cold ground and waited.

Something yellow zinged past her face and tickled her arm. A needle-sharp sting pierced her elbow, then another. Bees, irritated by her invasion, were trying to drive her out. No, you won’t. What’s out there is a lot worse than what you can do. As the pinpricks tingled and burned, she pressed her lips together so hard that the muscles on the sides of her face ached.

Louder now, the squeaking advanced and receded. He was casting up and down, looking for her. Please, please…

A sibilant whisper reached her through the clammy fog. I know who you are, Célie. I know where you live.

Chapter One

Brand Turner, the North Shore Witness Protection Unit psychologist, checked the card in his hand. He stared at the unassuming house in front of him. Yes, this was the place. Average looking neighborhood on the south side of Auckland. Nothing different about it to draw attention. Weatherboards that needed a re-paint. Lawns that needed mowing. It blended into its surrounds as if it had been especially designed to do so. Which of course it had been.

He pushed open the squeaky gate and strode up the path to the WPU’s safe house. He had to find Célie Francis—now renamed Melanie Pearson—before someone else got to her. Someone whose intentions were not altruistic.

As with all safe houses, there were no trees to provide cover for lurkers and Brand felt as exposed as a flasher on Main Street.

Just as he neared the corner of the house he heard a faint chink like metal brushing against a chain-link fence. He turned. A big bullmastiff trundled towards him, teeth bared—the biggest bullmastiff he’d ever seen.

Heart pounding like a jackhammer, Brand stopped dead. Anyone who said they weren’t afraid of a guard dog like this was either lying or stupid. Or both.

The dog halted a few yards in front of him taking up a foursquare stance, blocking the entrance to Ms Francis/Pearson’s doorway—a canine Colossus of Rhodes.

It didn’t slobber.

It didn’t pant.

It just stared, its head on one side; no doubt working out which flank to rip up first.

Brand tried a jocular Hullo there, Dog, and knew he sounded ridiculous.

The terminator curled a supercilious lip, exposing huge canines. It shifted from foot to foot like a javelin thrower getting ready for the run-up, then advanced with a menacing soft-shoe shuffle. No barking, just a businesslike, steady pacing.

Brand told himself he had faced worse than this. If he could face down a psychopath trying to eliminate innocent shoppers in a shopping mall, then he could deal with a dog. Of course he could.

Behind him, he heard a car draw up next to the sidewalk. A split second was all he had to decide—turn his back on the dog, or ignore what was behind him?

He spun around as the dog stopped pacing and glared at the car. Suddenly the animal lumbered past Brand, the wrinkled skin on its massive body gathering and stretching with each long stride. With a growl, it bashed through the wooden gate and lunged at the car. Someone inside shouted and slid the window up. Dog slobber streaked the glass as the terminator spread himself over the car door.

Brand raced towards the sidewalk, his mind clicking over at the rate of knots. So much for the safe house. Someone had already targeted Ms Francis.

The driver gunned the engine and Brand squinted to see the numberplate. But the maroon Mercedes dragged away with a throaty snarl and left the terminator staggering in the gutter.

As Brand’s breathing steadied, he approached the dog. Carefully. Are you all right, fella? The car must have clipped its shoulder. One side lurched downwards while the three remaining legs fumbled to prop up the big, solid body. Gingerly Brand stretched out a hand as the front door of the house burst open and someone hurtled down the driveway towards them.

You bastard! What did you do to him? Pint-sized feminine fragility warred with naked fury.

Brand stood up.

The elusive Ms Francis. In spite of the new grunge haircut and less than stylish clothes, he’d know her anywhere. When he’d interviewed her, the lady’s don’t-you-mess-with-me attitude had failed to hide the deep fear beneath the veneer. And the eyes. Oh, yes. Who could forget those fabulous silver eyes?

Back to business, Turner. She’s not for you. It’s all right, Célie, he soothed. The terminator should be okay. A trip to the vet—

She wasn’t listening. Kneeling in the gutter she cooed, Oh, Peaches. Poor baby. Let me see your sore leg. She kissed the slobbery muzzle of the mastiff while her long, thin fingers gently probed his body.

Peaches? Brand heard himself asking fresh air. That’s a hell of a name for a terminator.

Mind your own business and call an animal doctor, she snarled. The dog whined and leaned against her.

Well I—

No vet numbers on your cell phone? she snapped. That figures.

Ouch. Now she had him pegged as an animal-hater. If she’d waited for him to finish…

Then she peered up at him, blinking, and blushed a hectic red. Oh, it’s you, Doctor. Sorry, she mumbled.

The dog raised its head from her lap and stared at him with serious brown eyes. Oh, how it wanted to slay him, but it couldn’t dredge up the energy.

Is your vet’s number inside by the phone? Brand asked.

Yes. She was too absorbed in the dog to realize which way the conversation was heading.

Then we’ll go inside and call him. He leaned forward to ease the dog out of her lap, praying he didn’t lose an arm.


Brand had expected nothing less. The WPU had no doubt drilled into her their life-saving mantra: Trust no one.

In spite of the hour he’d spent interviewing her three weeks ago, she didn’t trust him. And she was right. But from her attitude that day, he considered the WPU mantra was unnecessary. He doubted Ms Francis had ever trusted anyone.

He held out his ID. She flicked him a look that said, Any idiot can make up an ID. And I do remember you. Just.

He said placably, So would you fetch the vet’s number for me please.

Oh, godammit! She speared him with a filthy glance. Then she glanced down at Peaches. He could see fear in her tight facial muscles and anxious eyes.

Here. Mind Peaches. As she eased herself away from the dog, Peaches, doing a Hollywood, played the scene for all it was worth. He whimpered and cast pitiful looks at Ms Francis.

Brand took her place in the gutter.

Here. She rested the dog’s head in his lap and he tried not to flinch. Those vicious teeth were perilously close to the family jewels. But Peaches didn’t object. He began to dribble on Brand’s Levis and shuddered in spasms. Brand looked up at the woman hovering at his elbow.

He’s in shock. Hurry.

Célie hurried. She raced up the cobblestone pathway and a few seconds later he heard her voice. Hey! she yelled, then the sound choked off.

Brand dumped the dog in the gutter and streaked up the path, crashing the front door back on its hinges. A huge figure was dragging Ms Francis along the hallway towards the back door. Her legs flailed as she grunted and struggled with her abductor.

Brand raced down the hallway and his impetus shot him clear out the back door.

Oomph! He collided with a sweaty human gorilla. The guy was huge. Twisting aside, he bolted after a second gorilla who was struggling to bundle Célie into a maroon Mercedes in the back street behind the house. Célie was not going gracefully. She head-butted her captor’s chin. He lost his balance and staggered sideways.

Brand flung himself into the fray.

Who the hell are you? Célie’s attacker snarled, lurching back to avoid Brand’s right hook. Brand didn’t waste time. He closed in and finger-jabbed the guy in both eyes.

But Brand knew he and Célie wouldn’t last long against these two. He fumbled with the cell phone clipped to his belt.

Then as if he’d been signalled, their attacker whirled around and stumbled his way to the car, his eyes streaming. The second gorilla headed towards them at a shambling run, stamping over flowerbeds.

Quick! Out of the way! Brand yanked Célie aside and they watched as the second man dived into the Mercedes and gunned the motor. The car took off with an eldritch screech of mistreated tires.

‘M,’ Brand muttered.

What? Célie stared at him, her face taut with fear.

That’s all I could see. They’ve rubbed mud over the numberplate. And they hadn’t expected anyone else to be at her place, he thought.

Thank you. Célie tried to smile. Then she exclaimed Peaches! and took off, running back through the house.

Brand caught up with her, his eyes swiveling in all directions. But all that was left of the gorillas were a few drops of blood on Célie’s trainers.

She stood at the curb out front, talking to Peaches who was lying prostrate in the gutter. Now look here, you ham actor, she was saying. Enough. You did your best, but you’re not hurt bad, are you, sweetie? On the last words her voice softened to honey drizzling over warm toast and Brand’s stomach tightened. The woman had the attitude of a demented bulldozer and the voice of a sorceress. His mind damn near shut down when she said, Are you, sweetie?

Pull yourself together, he admonished himself.

She looked up at him, those silver eyes unreadable.

I came to warn you— he began.

Too late for that, she sniped. Then she pointed towards the house. Tel-e-phone, she enunciated clearly, as if to a difficult child.

He grinned. She sure bounced back fast after a setback.

He jogged up the path and stepped through the front door.

Upstairs, a floorboard creaked. He froze.

Chapter Two

Another creak.

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