For the Love of a Seal by Dixie Lee Brown Book Tour and Giveaway :)
White-knuckled, heart-pounding, mind-numbing fear had a choke hold on her throat. Tori hated helicopters. She definitely hadn’t thought this through when she followed Blake and jumped in with him as he was about to take off. Her brain had misfired at the prospect of losing her job and the trickle-down effect that would have on her life…and the life of her six-year-old son. Having been a stay-at-home mom since Isaiah was born, proud owner of a journalism degree but no work experience, it’d been unimaginably difficult to land a job. Within weeks of discovering the untenable financial position she’d been left in when her husband died, the bank had foreclosed on her house. Options were a thing of the past. She’d needed a job, even a temporary one. It didn’t matter that her new boss had a preset interview list or that he would accept nothing less, because there was a chance, however small, she’d be hired on in a permanent position if she performed in a manner that exceeded her boss’s expectations. If she didn’t find a way to change Blake Sorenson’s mind, she could kiss that possibility goodbye. Even her temporary position would be in danger, with small likelihood she’d land other employment before she was evicted from her rental house, putting her and Isaiah out on the street. She couldn’t let that happen. The helicopter leveled off, and Tori’s stomach finally caught up to the rest of her. She swallowed hard, willing her breakfast to stay down as she focused on the horizon. They were headed east, into the morning sun, and if the miles of dense timber below were any indication, they were somewhere over the Siskiyou National Forest. Suddenly, the gravity of her situation hit her full force. She had no idea where they were going…or how long they’d be there. The man she was with was a total stranger, and first impressions hadn’t exactly won her a place in his heart. What if he’d allowed her to stay onboard only to teach her a lesson? Would he drop her at his first stop, abandoning her to find another way home? Perhaps it was what she deserved, and she wouldn’t really blame him, but the realization she was at his mercy put a damper on her determination. Uncertainty ratcheting her tension, she glanced toward him, only to find him facing her, his jaw set in a hard line. The sunglasses he wore hid whatever he was thinking, except for the serious frown creasing his forehead. Tori caught her bottom lip between her teeth as she swung toward the front again. Blake’s warm chuckle came through her headset. “Are you all right? You’re looking a little green. You’re not going to puke on me, are you?” Oh God, I hope not. “I don’t think so. I’m sorry. Not a fan.” “Of what? Flying?” This time he issued a full belly laugh. “You could have fooled me.” He leaned toward her until she looked at him. “You do remember coming along on this flight was your idea, right?” “Yeah, that decision might have been just a tiny bit too spontaneous.” Tori couldn’t help laughing. When she looked toward him again, a grin teased his lips. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking.” Seemed she couldn’t stop apologizing either. In fact, since the second she’d laid eyes on the exceptionally attractive Blake Sorenson, her brain had failed to engage before opening her mouth. Resisting the urge to slap her palm to her face, she shrugged. “You could have kicked me out. Why didn’t you?” “Could have, I guess. Too late now, though. This is a round trip—in case you were wondering.” Though she couldn’t see his eyes behind his dark glasses, something about his rugged features kept her from looking away. His words, and the sincerity with which he’d uttered them, eased her uncertainty, but she was still curious. “You didn’t answer my question. Why’d you let me tag along?” It sounded like he might have sworn as he returned his attention to the controls. “I make it a rule to get to know every woman I come across wearing red stilettos.”
Kellie Greyson peered from beneath lowered lashes at the three solemn men making no secret of the fact they were watching her every move. Tony Palazzi, that slimy piece of horse manure, and two of his thugs leaned their backs against the bar to her left, holding drinks they’d yet to sample. Second day in a row. Good. Maybe the low-cut tops and miniskirts I bought aren’t a waste of money after all. The sky-high heels were killing her feet, though. Combat boots had been far more comfortable. She placed a hundred dollars’ worth of chips in the betting circle of the Blackjack table, and the dealer dispensed cards to each of four players, turning up a five for himself. The first two gamblers went bust. The third stayed at eighteen. To make Tony think she appreciated his perusal, Kellie smiled before tapping her finger on the table beside the seven of spades and two of hearts she’d been dealt. The dealer hit her with an ace, and a murmur of approval rippled through the players to her right. Kellie watched in amusement as the dealer appeared to swat absently, as though at a pesky fly buzzing around his ear—the obvious signal about as subtle as a freight train. His hole card was a nine, and when he dealt himself another nine, he did a lousy job of hiding his frustration. She reached for the chips he pushed toward her, leaving a small bet on the table for the next deal. When he shoved those chips toward her too, she glanced at him. The dealer nodded to someone behind her, and, immediately, a heavy hand dropped on her shoulder. One of the muscled suits, who’d been standing with Tony a moment ago, leaned to speak in her ear. “Miss, please come with us.” His tone left no room for discussion. Kellie glanced over his shoulder to see who “us” was and met the stern glare of Tony’s other gorilla. Well, it’s about friggin’ time. Three days she’d been here, choking on the foul air, counting cards and beating the house—waiting for this exact moment. She grabbed her chips, which the helpful dealer had placed in a box, and stood to accompany her escorts to the cashier’s window. After she cashed out, she’d demand to speak with the owner of the Dominion Hotel and Casino, whose orders were, apparently, getting her tossed out. At long last, she’d have her chance to find out what Tony knew about her sister. Except…they weren’t taking her to the cashier’s window. Sandwiching her between them, the two beefy men veered toward the elevators. “Where are you taking me?” There was really only one place they could be going, and Kellie’s restrained excitement warred with nervousness. One of the men pushed the top button beside the closed elevator, and an arrow flashed on, pointing up. “Mr. Palazzi wants to talk to you.” The doors opened, and the man gripped her elbow, guiding her ahead of him into the car. His hand moved over the panel of buttons and the number forty lit up—the top floor. The second man fingered a card on a lanyard around his neck and slid it into a slot above the numbers. The elevator started upward. Kellie’s heart rate lurched into overdrive. Her palms started to sweat, in spite of her plan having finally become reality. All she had to do was continue her charade a while longer. She fished a tube of lipstick from her purse and swiped on a fresh coat of Parisian Red. Tony’s vice was women—and his weakness would be her means to the information she needed. Saliva pooled at the back of her throat as revulsion threatened her determination. Stick to the plan. She’d been over this a hundred times. Tony had been the last person to see Anna before she disappeared. Her sister’s missing person’s case was now officially cold. But Tony, Las Vegas businessman and crime boss, knew something. She felt it in every fiber of her being. All she had to do was get close enough to make him trust her—long enough to find a thread of evidence—something or someone who knew what happened and was willing to tell the story. To find her sister, Kellie would use the assets the good Lord gave her without conscience. As much as she despised playing the slut card, that description epitomized the type of woman Tony was attracted to. She’d seen the pictures, read the stories in the rag magazines and seen the women hanging on his arm. Dumb, beautiful and the sleazier the better. That was what it would take to catch the eye of the rich and powerful Tony Palazzi. Kellie wasn’t gorgeous, by any stretch of the imagination, and she certainly wasn’t dumb, but she cleaned up good enough, and her strong, toned legs, thanks to four years in the Marine Corps, had garnered her fair share of admiration. She could play the vamp if incentivized—and finding Anna, possibly alive, was incentive enough. There was nothing she wouldn’t do to bring her home. Nothing. The elevator doors slid open directly into Tony’s office. Tall and slim, with glistening black hair and pretty-boy features that belied his evil heart, he leaned against the edge of his desk and stared. The man on her right gave her a shove and stepped into the room behind her. The doors slid shut and the elevator whirred to life again, taking the other man back the way they’d come. Tony pushed away from the desk and advanced toward her, his face a mask of annoyance. “Who are you, and why are you here?” Despite having prepared herself, mentally and emotionally, to meet the casino’s owner on his turf, his nearness and obvious anger almost made her back up a step. She stopped herself just in time. I can do this. Just play the role. Locking away any emotions that might trip her up was second nature, also courtesy of the Marine Corps. She allowed a faint smile to curve her lips. “My name is Kellie Greyson. As to why I’m here…I’m afraid you’ll have to enlighten me.” Tony stopped in front of her, snatched the box of chips from her hand and set it on a nearby table. He slid the strap of her small handbag off her shoulder and rummaged through it until he found her driver’s license. Sidestepping her, he handed the ID to his thug and whispered something. The man disappeared through a doorway to the right of the desk. Kellie seethed at Tony’s arrogance and the high-handed examination of her personal property, but the object of this exercise was to convince him he could trust her, so she’d let it go. She raised an eyebrow. “You don’t believe me?” Tony turned his back, setting her purse on the edge of his desk. “You were counting cards in my casino.” Kellie shrugged. “That’s not against the law.” He faced her again, a cold smile stopping far short of his eyes. “It’s frowned upon. Surely you’re aware of that. I’m curious why you were so obvious. Winning eighty percent of the hands you’re dealt is sure to get you caught and kicked out.” Kellie glided forward until she reached a chair positioned in front of his desk, sat and crossed her legs. “If that’s the case, why did it take you so long to catch me?” His lecherous appraisal flicked over her legs and back to her face. “Because I enjoyed watching you.” She caught herself before disgust mushroomed and seeped through her facade. With effort, her smile widened. “I could say the same to you. Perhaps that’s why I kept coming back.” The door swung open and Tony’s man returned, striding across the room until he reached his boss. Their whispered exchange continued for far too long, unnerving her, and suddenly the wisdom of her scheme came into question. The hired man didn’t look at her as he scooted by to resume his silent vigil in front of the elevator doors. “Well? Am I who I said I was?” Kellie stayed in character, clinging to her bravado, but it was definitely slipping. Something was wrong. Either Tony’s penetrating gaze saw right through her, or he simply wasn’t interested. Either way, her sixth sense said it was time to go, regroup and try again another day. A smirk twisted Tony’s features, and his silence battered her flagging confidence. She pushed to her feet with a deep sigh. “It’s settled then. You have your money back, and I promise never to set foot in your casino again.” She stepped toward the desk and reached for her handbag. “I’ll let myself out.” Tony moved quicker, catching the strap of her handbag, and ripped it from her fingers. “I’m afraid I can’t let you leave, Kellie. You see…counting cards is a felony, if you use a computer.” He reached inside her bag and brought out a pocket-sized device she’d never seen before. Kellie’s uneasiness grew. “That’s not mine.” “You know that, and I know that, but the Nevada Gaming Commission will believe what I tell them. And I’m going to tell them I found it in your handbag, where you hid it after I caught you cheating.” Tony stepped closer, draped his arm around her shoulders and led her back to her chair.
This is Luke Harding’s story.
Six months in a desert hellhole taught Navy SEAL Luke Harding things he never wanted to learn about life and death. Only tender memories of the beautiful brunette he met a few weeks before his deployment helped get him through the torturous days and nights. Back in the States after a perilous rescue, physically and emotionally damaged, Luke’s about to plunge into a new kind of war. In a seemingly bucolic Idaho town, Sally Duncan faces real—and unpredictable—danger.
All Sally ever wanted was a safe place to raise her nine-year-old daughter. Her identity hidden behind a façade of secrets and lies, can she trust Luke—a man she barely knows—with the truth? Even as they give in to long-denied passion, a killer with a personal vendetta is setting an ambush that will leave them praying for a miracle and fighting for the future they may not live to see.
Dixie Lee Brown lives and writes in Central Oregon, inspired by gorgeous scenery and three hundred sunny days a year. Having moved from South Dakota as a child to Washington, Montana and then to Oregon, she feels at home in the west. She resides with two dogs and a cat, who are currently all the responsibility she can handle. Dixie works fulltime as a bookkeeper. When she's not writing or working, she loves to read, enjoy movies, and if it were possible, she’d spend all of her time at the beach. She is also the author of the Trust No One romantic suspense series, published by Avon Impulse.