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Maddie Walker has never trusted her enigmatic brother-in-law, Chase Harrison, believing he intimidated her once-vivacious sister into a withdrawn shadow. When her sister, Laura, dies suddenly in a car accident, Maddie suspects Chase may have contributed to her death. Guilty for not protecting Laura, Maddie is determined to keep her niece and nephew safe, and discover the truth about her sister. But the more time she spends with the grieving husband and devoted father, the more he melts her suspicions—and her heart. Can she discover Chase’s secrets without falling prey to the fire in his dark, intense eyes? And how long can she deny her own secret passion?
Chase promised his wife he’d never reveal her dark secret. After years of lying to Maddie, Chase now needs her help with his two traumatized, motherless children. But he can’t risk letting her stay and discover the truth. And he can’t trust himself to keep the passion Maddie begins to stir in him from exploding into emotions he’s afraid he can’t control.
Maddie’s heart hammered in her chest. Was she too late? Had something terrible happened to her sister?
Tightening the scarf around her neck, she stepped out of the taxi into a sea of slush. Icy soup gushed into her shoes. Sleet stung her face as she trudged up the iridescent lawn, dragging her suitcase, and tripped over a child’s sled half-buried in a snowdrift.
Leg throbbing, she limped to the porch. Ear-splitting rock music blared from the house, as if a party were going on. Maddie studied the dark windows through the hazy puffs of her icy breath. There were no lights on inside.
She jabbed her finger at the doorbell.
The only response was the thumping bass and screaming lyrics of the Rolling Stones.
She peered through the sidelight pane beside the door. A man sat in the front room, lit only by the light of the fireplace, his back to her. A bare back.
Pressing her cheek against the glass, Maddie felt the pulsing vibrations of Mick Jagger’s “Sympathy for the Devil.” How fitting.
She rang the bell again, then pounded on the door. Seconds ticked by like hours. Eventually her brother-in-law rose from his chair and moved toward the entry.
The door swung open and Chase Harrison stood before her, half-naked without a trace of self-consciousness. Dark wiry hairs covered a muscled chest. Tight, reveal-all jeans accentuated his slim hips--and everything else. The devil was still intense, too-handsome-for-his-own-good, and dangerous.
A look of bewilderment spread across the strong planes of his bristled jaw. “Son of a bitch.”
“Nice to see you again, too.” Maddie yelled to compete with the stereo’s deafening volume. “Where’s Laura?”
His cold eyes barely flickered. Offering neither a brotherly kiss nor a hug, Chase motioned her inside, and closed the door. Wordlessly he walked over and muted the stereo to soothing silence, switched on a lamp, then plucked a gray sweatshirt off the sofa and tugged it over his head.
Careful not to drip on the Oriental rug, Maddie rolled her carry-on suitcase through the entryway and parked it at the bottom of the stairs. Glowing warmth and the scent of burning embers beckoned her toward the fireplace. She pulled off her wet gloves and tossed them on the hearth. “I want to see my sister.”
Chase leaned against the brown leather sofa, studying her with dark, searing eyes. One shade lighter than black, with a few softening flecks of gray, they were shadowed by angular brows and sinfully long lashes.
But for the first time since she’d known Chase those intense eyes, usually so intimidating, looked drained, fatigued. Sorrowful.
Maddie’s lungs froze in her chest. “Where. Is. Laura?”
He didn’t answer.
“Tell me, dammit.”
Still no response. Chase’s normally imposing presence was almost ghost-like in its fragility.
Maddie shrugged out of her coat and scarf, laid them over an armchair, and marched off toward the master bedroom.
He caught her arm. “She’s not there, Maddie.”
She wrenched out of his powerful, not-at-all-ethereal grasp. “Where is she?”
He swallowed visibly but didn’t meet her eyes.
Oh God, Laura was in the hospital. Maddie’s breath quickened. “What did you do to her? I swear, if you hurt her....”
Chase flinched. Pressing his fingernails into his palms, he straightened to his full height. “Laura’s dead.”