For readers 18 years and older, also see books by erotic author Jennifer LaRose here
During her recovery from a hit-and-run accident, Trisha Kourtz’s ill father informs her she has a brother. Believing she was an only child the past twenty-five years ― she’s shocked, in denial, and completely thrown off balance.
When a handsome paramedic, who rescued her from the accident appears on her doorstep, her confusion transforms to lust. However, when a dark figure lurks outside her windows at night, her life takes an unimaginable turn.
Blake Mitchell became irresistibly drawn to Trisha the moment he gazed into her intriguing teal eyes. Though he suspected the hit-and-run was more intentional than accidental, he never expected to get tangled in the sorrow and deceit plaguing her world.
A handsome paramedic, a terminally ill father, a newly discovered brother, and a stalker. How much can one woman bear?
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“Hi. What’s going on?” Blake asked, watching Trish nervously rub her left arm from shoulder to elbow.
The officer puffed his chest in authority. “What are you doing here? She requested police assistance, not medical.”
The insinuation didn’t sit well with Blake. “Cut the hero crap, Loper. I have a personal interest here.”
Trisha moved away from the officer but he followed, stopping too close for Blake’s liking, at her back. “I’m glad you’re here, Blake,” she said. “Please come in.”
Blake stopped to acknowledge her dad, noting his yellow coloring had deepened over night. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be long. “Hi,” Blake said, addressing both Norma and Mr. Kourtz.
Norma smiled. “Hello, sir. It was good of you to come and check on my girl.”
“I was at the station when the call came through. I recognized the address and wanted to make sure she’s okay.”
“That’s very considerate. Physically she’s all right.”
That statement drew his gaze to Trish. She still appeared nervous, but she glanced at Blake and smiled.
He moved into the kitchen. “What happened?”
“I received a disturbing phone call.”
Right after becoming the victim of a hit and run? He doubted the call was coincidental, and it sat like a brick on his shoulders. He took her by the hand and guided her under his arm. It was a selfish maneuver, considering he wanted her away from Loper.
She squeezed his fingers. “Can you stay for a few―”
“Was there a number on your caller I.D?” Loper interrupted, straightening his stance and clamping a hand over his gun holster.
“I’ve already told you, no. Norma said it read unknown.”
Thunder crashed, rattling the windows. Trish jumped and intensified her grip on Blake’s hand.
Loper removed the radio from his belt. “I’m just making sure I’ve got the facts straight. I’ll be on duty until three o’clock, so call if you have any more problems.” He called the police department to update the dispatcher, and informed her of his return to the station. “Trisha—”
Blake cleared his throat.
Loper glanced at him from the corner of his eye. “Ma’am, if you need anything, you know where I’ll be.”
Trish followed the officer into the family room, pulling Blake by the hand. When Loper stepped outside, the wind grabbed the screen door and slammed it against the front of the house.
Blake saw her cringe right before she glanced at her dad. “I can’t believe that didn’t wake him.” She turned to Blake. “Do you have time for coffee?”
He took it upon himself to shut and lock the door then checked his watch. “I’ve got about twenty minutes.”
Heavy rain pounded the roof. Trish glanced at the ceiling. He viewed her backside and the delicate slope of her shoulders. Her posture wasn’t as hunched over as last night, and she seemed to move with a little more ease. It didn’t seem possible, but she grew more beautiful each day. “You look great, Trish. Do you feel better?”
She turned around. Their eyes locked.
“I do. Thanks for asking.”
He rested his hands on her shoulders and gave them a reassuring squeeze. Soft flesh and delicate bones filled his palms. “You’ll be back to normal before you know it.”
Nodding, she took him by the wrist and led him into the kitchen. The rain stopped. An echo of thunder rolled overhead, indicating the storm was passing faster than anticipated.
While he pulled out a chair and sat down, she poured coffee. Her baggy yellow shirt hid the bandages and the smooth curve of her waist, but the images embedded in his mind from Tuesday brought those curves to life.
He’d felt them, but had been handling an emergency situation and looked no deeper than that. Well, maybe just a little deeper.
He unhooked the top two buttons on his uniform shirt. “It’s really warm in here.” His gaze wandered over her jogging shorts, the tee shirt hanging an inch below her waist, and the thick, black ponytail lying in the crease of her spine.
“I turned off the air conditioner. It gets too cold for my dad.” She placed their cups on the table, sat down on the chair to his right, and started fidgeting with her necklace.
She looked lost. Like a little girl about to be eaten up by the great big world. A tear slid down her cheek which she tried to inconspicuously brush away.
“Tell me about the phone call.”
Her fingers stilled on the gold chain and her gaze lifted to his eyes. “Besides it scaring the hell out of me?”
“Was it a prank?”
She meekly shook her head. “I don’t think so. It was too personal.” She stood and walked to the stove.
Apparently needing a form of stability, she grabbed the handle behind her back. “He knew my name. He described the clothes I’m wearing.”
Blake gazed out the bay window into the adjoining woods. The trees were too thick and too close together to see beyond their boundaries, making it an ideal hiding spot. “Did you mention that to Officer Loper?”
She nodded. Her arms tensed as she squeezed the oven handle. “But the worst part, he asked if my dad is dead yet.”
“Who knows your dad is sick?”
“A lot of people.”
“I know you told Detective Kulan you have no enemies, but are you sure?”
She paused to chew her bottom lip. “It’s him.”
“Who?” Blake joined her by the stove.
“The guy who hit me.” She stepped forward and unexpectedly rested her forehead on Blake’s chest. To seek protection from a man she hardly knew proved how frightened she was. “He mentioned running into me again.”
“Christ, Trish.” Instinctively, he wrapped her in his arms. It seemed appropriate considering her desire to be comforted. “You’re not safe here.”
“What do you suggest I do?” she asked, locking her hands at his back.
The desperation in her embrace blew his mind. “The ideal solution would be to get the heck out of here, but―”
“I can’t uproot my dad. I can’t take him to some strange place to die. I won’t do it, Blake. I can’t. The move itself would kill him. My dad is going to die with dignity at home, as he wishes.”
Blake attempted to caress the tension from her spine. “I understand that. I would never undermine your father’s wish.” He inhaled a deep breath, embracing her incredibly sensual scent of musk and flowers. “I suggest private security.”
She stepped even closer and tightened her arms. He placed one hand on the backside of her head. He stroked her spine with the other. She relaxed a bit with each caress, but it was progress.
“I can’t afford that,” she said into his chest, her warm breath filtering beneath his shirt.
“You shouldn’t be alone. How long is Crissy staying?”
She stepped from his embrace, stole a peek at her dad then sat down at the table. “A few more nights.” She gripped her coffee cup between both palms and brought it to her lips. “It’s pretty late when she gets home from school.” Her face paled. “It isn’t safe for her either.”
“I’ll do what I can. I’ll drive by on my way to and from work. I also have a buddy, Travis Bramble, who’ll be more than happy to help.”
“I appreciate it, but don’t inconvenience your friends. Officer Loper said he’ll request twenty-four hour patrol.”
“Bad things are still known to happen during police patrol.” Many times he’d responded to victims of violence while the house was periodically monitored.
“It’s my only option at this point.”
“Do you own any firearms?”
Her head jerked in his direction and she nearly dropped her cup. Coffee trickled over the rim, dribbling on the table. “Oh, God, no.”
“It may not be a bad idea.”
“It’s… it’s an awful idea. I don’t know anything about guns.”
Her hands trembled nonstop so he removed the mug from her fingers and set it down before she burned herself.
“There are CCW classes everywhere these days, Trish. You may want to consider it.”
“I… I will.”
He knew she’d said it only to appease him. Her priority was her father. “The only advice I can give right now is to keep the doors and windows locked, and light up the yard at night.”