Toni Anderson’s Cold Justice Series on Audio

cj-audio1

Did you know Toni Anderson’s Cold Justice series is available to listen on audiobook? If you’re looking for a thrilling and sexy romance, you do not want to miss this series!

 

AColdDarkPlace_ToniAnderson_ebookfinalAbout A COLD DARK PLACE

Justice isn’t always black or white.  

Former CIA assassin Alex Parker works for The Gateway Project, a clandestine government organization hell-bent on taking out serial killers and pedophiles before they enter the justice system. Alex doesn’t enjoy killing, but he’s damn good at it. He’s good at dodging the law, too–until a beautiful rookie agent has him wondering what it might be like to get caught.

FBI Special Agent Mallory Rooney has spent years hunting the lowlife who abducted her identical twin sister eighteen years ago. Now, during an on-going serial killer investigation, Mallory begins to suspect there’s a vigilante operating outside the law. She has no choice but to take him down, because murder isn’t justice. Is it?

Sometimes it’s cold and dark. 

When Mallory starts asking questions, The Gateway Project management starts to sweat, and orders Alex to watch her. As soon as they meet, the two begin to fall in love. But the lies and betrayals that define Alex’s life threaten to destroy them both–especially when the man who stole her sister all those years ago makes Mallory his next target, and Alex must reveal his true identity to save the woman he loves.

Add it to your Goodreads list here!

Listen to a sample of A COLD DARK PLACE here!

Grab the audiobook of A COLD DARK PLACE:

iBooks | Amazon | Audible

Get your hands on the e-book of A COLD DARK PLACE for free:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

 acdp-sale

Read an excerpt from A COLD DARK PLACE:

“We’re up to fifteen women,” Lucas’s voice was gruff. The dark circles under his eyes added a worn out quality to his grim expression. He answered her silent question with a shake of his head. “I didn’t see any kids and no one who looked like Payton.”

Mallory was torn between disappointment and relief.

“He kept more personal trophies in his bedroom. Whoever shot the sonofabitch did the world a favor.” A flicker of unguarded emotion crossed his face. Then he buried it beneath six years field experience and a flat cop stare. “You’ll hear all the details at the briefing.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Lemme get a coffee and we’ll head over together.” He froze as a stranger wearing a visitor badge and carrying a laptop walked through the office doorway. “Alex? What the—?”

“You missed the meeting, asshole.” The man’s expression was fierce. “Thought I’d hunt you down and make you buy me a beer.” His gaze darted to her. “Looks like a bad time though.”

“That was today?” Lucas palmed his forehead. “Jesus, you’re right. I’m an asshole.”

“I already covered that.” The man— Alex— grinned, and Mallory got a fierce blast of gorgeous. The response wrung a reluctant smile out of Lucas.

“Believe it or not, Mal, this is a good friend of mine, Alex Parker. I asked him to attend a Counterintelligence Awareness Group briefing I organized so he could tell us about some of the latest internet security measures being developed in the private sector. He runs his own company in DC. Does a lot of government contracts. We served together in Afghanistan.” His gaze swung back to Alex. “I assume the meeting went ahead without me?”

Alex nodded. “We managed to fumble along without your incisive brilliance.”

“Yet I’m the asshole,” Lucas grinned. “This here is Special Agent Mallory Rooney.”

The stranger held out a tanned strong-looking hand as they were introduced. His skin was warm, fingers firm as they squeezed hers.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Agent Rooney.” The self-deprecating smile was a killer. So was the short, ruffled light-brown hair and days’ worth of scruff on his jaw.

Despite the tailored suit, he hadn’t been intimidated enough by the high powered members of that committee to shave. The contrast snagged her attention. He was different from the law enforcement personnel and political players she usually met. There was something underplayed and restrained about him that didn’t mesh with the keen intelligence she saw in his eyes, nor the taut looking muscles that filled out that suit. It intrigued her. She hadn’t been intrigued on a personal level in a long time.

“You work in security?” she asked. “Keeping Trade Secrets secret— or trying to. It isn’t exactly running the gauntlet every day like you guys.”

Lucas sat atop his messy desk. “Says the man with the Distinguished Service Cross.”

Something vulnerable sparked in those slate eyes. “I got caught in a firefight and managed not to get killed. I got lucky.” Those eyes of his weren’t revealing anything now— all emotion banked. “I better let you get back to work. It’s a long drive back to DC.”

Their boss walked in and Mallory stiffened. Danbridge’s gaze skimmed Alex with a cursory glance that notched up to feminine appreciation on the second go ’round.

“Special Agent Randall, I need a word.” Then she walked into her office, heels tapping.

Lucas swore under his breath. “Alex, I owe you big time, buddy. I’ll be in touch. Will you show him out for me, Mal?”

“Sure,” she said. The longer she could avoid her boss the better. The two men shook hands and said goodbye.

“I can find my own way,” Alex said softly.

“No problem. I need to stretch my legs anyway.”

His gaze flicked to her boots and up, the brush of it almost as intimate as a physical touch. An unfamiliar sliver of sensation unfurled inside her, nearly unrecognizable because it had been so long. Attraction.

Telling herself she wasn’t deliberately prolonging their time together, she took the stairs as she led the way out. He was taller than she’d first realized. In her low-heeled boots she stood just under five foot nine and he was four or five inches taller. She frowned. Seeing him at a distance standing beside Lucas, she’d have described him as medium height and just okay looking. Up close, when you got the full force of those intelligent gray eyes and that perfectly proportioned masculine face, he was a hottie. Made you appreciate the inaccuracy of eye-witness accounts. No wedding ring either.

It was her job to pay attention to detail.

Even though she maintained a space between them she was hyperaware of him beside her. Outside the front entrance of the five-story, white concrete building he turned to her and asked, “Can I take you out to dinner sometime?”

“I don’t date.” The answer came out automatically before her brain engaged. Crap.

There was a long pause while those beautiful eyes of his wandered over her face, resting on her bruise from yesterday. He didn’t argue or try to change her mind.

“It was nice to meet you, Special Agent Rooney.” And then he walked away.

She squeezed her hands into fists. Damn, why had she said no?

Because she didn’t date.

She watched Alex Parker climb into his car— a low-slung sporty job— and raise a hand before he drove away. His car disappeared and a familiar sense of loss rushed over her. She clenched her jaw, turned around and went back to work.

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Pinterest

Spotlight: COLD IN THE SHADOWS by Toni Anderson

If you love romantic suspense or if you’re a Criminal Minds junkie, you have got to get your hands on Toni Anderson’s Cold Justice series! Both incredibly sexy and suspenseful, this series is a must-read. Find out about the fifth book in this stand-a-lone series, COLD IN THE SHADOWS, below!


ColdintheShadows_ToniAnderson_FINALAbout COLD IN THE SHADOWS

2016 Booksellers’ Best Awards Finalist in Romantic Suspense.

CIA Officer Patrick Killion is on a secret mission to hunt down the ruthless female assassin hired to kill the Vice President of the United States. The trail leads him to the Colombian rainforest and an earnest biologist, Audrey Lockhart, whose work on poison dart frogs gives her access to one of the deadliest substances on earth—the same substance used to murder the VP.

When Audrey is attacked by the local drug cartel, Killion steps in and hustles her out of harm’s way, determined to find out what she knows. His interrogation skills falter somewhere between saving her life and nursing her back to health as he realizes she’s innocent, and he ends up falling for her. Audrey has a hard time overlooking the fact that Killion kidnapped her, but if she wants to get her life back and track down the bad guys, she has to trust him. Then someone changes the rules of their cat and mouse game and now they’re the ones being hunted—by a cold-blooded killer who is much closer than they think.

Add COLD IN THE SHADOWS to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on COLD IN THE SHADOWS:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

acdp-sale

Did you know the first book in the Cold Justice series is available for free? Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE!

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Read an excerpt from COLD IN THE SHADOWS:

According to Patrick Killion’s favorite data analyst at the Agency, he was a half-inch short of being the perfect romance hero. As long as the inch she was talking about was his height and not his dick, he didn’t give a rat’s ass.

Today, at a measly five foot eleven and a half inches, he towered above the locals. His height, combined with his sun-bleached blond hair, meant he definitely did not blend in with the Colombian population. He didn’t bother to try.

The CIA dealt in threat assessment and probability levels, manipulation and human intel. Lockhart’s appearance, expertise, hidden Cayman Island bank account, and the fact she was in the right place at the right time for Vice President Ted Burger’s murder, made her his number one suspect. So, despite FBI ASAC Lincoln Frazer telling him to back off yesterday, he was still following her. He couldn’t walk away.

Last night he’d shaken the tree to see what fell out.

He ignored the twinge to his conscience. He’d been a little rough. He hadn’t wanted to risk her getting the drop on him. He had given her a get-out-of-jail-free pass and probably saved her life—that should count for something.

Except she hadn’t behaved as she should have. She hadn’t called her employer. She hadn’t grabbed a bag and run. Instead she’d reported the assault to the local cops and had gone in to work today. Maybe she’d been busy destroying evidence or delaying until the last possible moment before she made a mad dash for some small private airfield. Maybe she was overconfident about her abilities. Or maybe she was innocent.

It was the last “maybe” that bothered him.

As he stood in line for a ticket to the ecological park, a pretty redhead in a strappy top and high-heels eyed his neon orange T-shirt and red plaid shorts with a distasteful grimace. He’d committed a class-A felony and the fashion police were about to convict.

“Airline lost my luggage.” Killion raised his palms in a pitiful shrug, putting enough misery into his travel-worn appearance that the woman’s expression immediately shifted from disgust to empathy.

“That blows. How long ago?”

“Two days now. They swear they’ll get it to me sometime today—”

She gave a disbelieving snort. “Yeah, they once lost my luggage on a trip to Mexico and by the time it arrived I was getting on the plane home. Worse, they refused to reimburse all the clothes I needed to buy…”

Off she went, and he was in. Phase one of this mission accomplished. He walked into the conservatory as part of a group of American tourists, rather than as a single white guy traveling alone. They milled loosely about, looking at Lepidoptera specimens that fluttered about like giant-sized pieces of confetti.

A family of seven—five women who all looked like they’d rather be at the mall, an older man, and a teen who read every piece of information like he was cramming for a test. Killion stayed close to the stacked redhead because he looked like the kind of guy who’d stay close to a stacked redhead, but he also chatted to the others in the group, gleaning information. They were down from Florida, visiting family over Christmas. The Americans had arrived in a large minivan with an armed driver, but the driver stayed with the vehicle so they weren’t too worried about security. In this country, staying in one spot for any length of time meant you attracted attention—and not the, “Oh my, don’t you have pretty eyes” kind of attention.

It wasn’t a good thing.

Hot sun bore down on the forest canopy that shaded the ecological park. The small interpretive center affiliated with the Amazon Research Institute attracted local schools as well as the occasional tourist, but it was Monday, January 5 and schools were closed until after Epiphany. The place was deserted except for this little band of intrepid explorers. The ground steamed and sweat beaded on his skin as his adopted people wandered slowly from enclosure to enclosure. A rivulet of perspiration soaked into his shirt.

A huge yellow butterfly drifted over his head and landed on a piece of cut fruit on the feeder tray. The redhead barely contained her squeal of excitement and took twenty pictures with her little point-and-shoot. Killion’s point-and-shoot dug into his spine and held fourteen rounds. Their group finally headed into the amphibian enclosure where decaying damp earth mixed with traces of ammonia, and the musk of rotten leaves.

Welcome to the jungle.

His new friend grabbed his arm, pointed. “Aren’t they cute!” A minuscule, neon-yellow frog was stuck on the side of a glass tank.

“They may look cute”—said a familiar voice with just the barest hint of a Kentucky twang—“but one golden poison dart frog contains enough toxin to kill ten-to-twenty grown men.” Dr. Lockhart wore spectacles on a string around her neck and reminded him of the class nerd—the one all the guys had secretly lusted after but had been too intimidated to ask out on a date. The professor had unusual violet-blue eyes that showed clear signs of a sleepless night. He would have felt guilty, but more than one person had told him he was a heartless bastard who didn’t have a conscience. A sociopath by any other name.

He didn’t give a shit, so they were probably right. Hell, she should be thanking him. Being tied up and threatened sure beat the hell out of a trip to a Black Camp or a lifetime in prison—and those were the more civilized options.

Audrey Lockhart wore ubiquitous jeans over Birkenstocks and a tight white tank top that molded her breasts in a way that left little to Killion’s undeniably vivid imagination, all topped off with a thin purple shirt that she left open. She wasn’t carrying a weapon—unless she had a frog in her pocket. “I’m Dr. Lockhart, I study anurans and my specialty is the familyDendrobatidae—poison dart frogs.”

For all intents and purposes she appeared to be exactly what she said. A scientist, dedicated to her research. He rarely trusted appearances. That’s what data analysts, surveillance, and background checks were for—not to mention interrogation.

“I thought captive ones weren’t poisonous?” Killion pointed to a little guy about an inch long that was sitting at a precarious angle on a large green leaf. The creatures didn’t look real—they looked like miniature plastic toys. They certainly didn’t look like the deadliest creatures on the planet. He placed his hand lightly on the redhead’s back, and she sank against him, proving her taste in men was as terrible as his taste in clothes.

The professor’s eyes ran over him and his new squeeze, then away, dismissing him as just another tourist.

She didn’t recognize him from last night. There was no obvious guile in her gaze. No deception.

“You’re right in that individuals bred in captivity have no toxicity, but these specimens were pulled straight from the nearby rainforest where they are endemic and, trust me, you wouldn’t survive a close encounter.” Her voice was husky, sexy enough to raise his awareness of her as a female rather than a target.

He’d always had a thing for voices. And nerds.

She continued, growing more serious, “It takes years for them to lose their toxicity, and even touching a paper-towel that has been in contact with the skin of these particular individuals can kill you. They are extremely dangerous.”

“Death by frog.” His smirk didn’t reach his eyes. “Bet that ain’t pretty.”

The redhead laughed. The professor did not.

“We’re very careful how we handle them.” She looked stern now, like she was the teacher and he was the naughty schoolboy. And there was his vivid imagination going nuts again.

“Have you ever seen someone die after touching one?” asked his new friend.

“Thankfully, no.” The professor’s gaze was open and sincere.

What did he expect? Skull and crossbones instead of pupils? He’d been with the Company long enough to spot an operative with one quick glance, but this woman was an enigma. Either she was an incredible actress, or he was way off base in his assessment of the facts. Hell, maybe she was just another enviro-nut trying to save the planet—or, in this case, frogs.

“Do they taste like chicken?” he joked.

Those violet-blue eyes flashed. “I don’t know,” she bit out. “Would you like to try one?”

Ouch.

Her fiery response was hot as hell, but obviously she didn’t appreciate his sense of humor—he’d been told it was an acquired taste. He didn’t look away, instead used the opportunity to study her carefully. Her gaze was determined, but he could see fear at the edges—from the scare he gave her last night? Or did she live in constant fear, waiting for her time between the crosshairs? He didn’t figure being an assassin was particularly good for your long-term health. Someone, somewhere was always trying to tie up loose ends.

The information he had on Lockhart was solid, but facts didn’t necessarily add up to truth—something he’d learned during his time in Iraq. He needed to dig deeper, get closer. But didn’t dare tip her off. Hence his little tourist trip today. Like Lockhart with her frogs, he wanted to study her in her natural environment.

“Aren’t you scared, working with them?” His new friend asked in a voice that was as thin and high as her heels. “I mean, what if one hopped on you?”

“I’m more scared of people than I am of frogs.” Sadness touched one side of the biologist’s stern mouth.

Join the club, sister.

“I’d be terrified.” The woman shuddered beneath his palm and relaxed back into him. He removed his hand. God, he hated using people, and yet he was so fucking good at it.

“What d’you feed ’em?” He searched for questions a normal tourist would ask, rather than “do you stay and watch your targets die, or do you take off early to avoid traffic?”

“Ants, beetles, some plant material. We go out and forage in the jungle for fresh food every few days,” the professor told him.

“You go into the rainforest alone? Aren’t you scared of being kidnapped?” he asked.

K&R was a lucrative business throughout South and Central America, as well as many Middle-Eastern countries. One of his best friends was a former SAS soldier who worked full-time as a negotiator for the families of kidnap victims. This was prime territory for those who liked to extort a little extra pocket money with relatively low investment, so why was Dr. Lockhart immune? Were the local bad guys more scared of her than she was of them? Was she connected in some way? None of his sources had any information on the professor that he hadn’t already gleaned for himself.

“I don’t go into the jungle alone.” Lockhart’s gaze skewered him, seriously questioning his intellect—he got that a lot. “I’m extremely careful, obviously, but it’s no more dangerous here than in some parts of the States. I’ve never had any trouble in the rainforest.”

She’d experienced trouble somewhere though and not just his visit last night—he could see the echo of experience in her eyes. Men like him exploited weakness like that.

“You studied these things for long?” He sought to distract her from her memories.

She made direct eye contact this time in a way that told him she didn’t like him very much. Ignoring his question, she checked her watch and called out to the others to begin her demonstration. Four o’clock on the dot.

 

 

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Pinterest

Spotlight: COLD FEAR by Toni Anderson

If you love romantic suspense or if you’re a Criminal Minds junkie, you have got to get your hands on Toni Anderson’s Cold Justice series! Both incredibly sexy and suspenseful, this series is a must-read. Find out about the fourth book in this stand-a-lone series, COLD FEAR, below!

ColdFear_ToniAnderson_FINALAbout COLD FEAR

2016 Daphne Du Maurier Award For Excellence In Mystery/Romantic Suspense finalist and Bookseller’s Best Award finalist.

A relentless FBI profiler hunts a vicious killer.

When old evidence turns up on a fresh corpse, ASAC Lincoln Frazer is determined it won’t delay the execution of a convicted serial killer. But when more young women are brutally slain, it becomes clear—this new killer is intimately familiar with the old murders.

A dedicated emergency physician hides a dark secret.

Former Army Captain Dr. Isadora Campbell helped her mother conceal a terrible crime. After her mother’s death, Izzy resigned her commission and returned to the Outer Banks to raise her rebellious teenage sister. But it doesn’t take long for Izzy to suspect that someone knows exactly what she did, all those years ago.

If they work together, maybe no one else will die.

With pressure mounting to reopen the old case, Frazer will use any means possible to catch the killer. Thrust together during the investigation, he and Izzy find themselves reluctantly attracted to one another, and begin an affair. Meanwhile the killer is much closer than they think. Izzy’s confession of her secret drives Frazer away as he struggles with her deception. By the time he realizes he’s fallen in love with the stubborn woman, the killer has her. Now the race is on to save Izzy, and any chance of a future they might have together.

Add COLD FEAR to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on COLD FEAR:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

acdp-sale

Did you know the first book in the Cold Justice series is available for free? Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE!

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Read an excerpt from the first chapter of COLD FEAR:

Helena Cromwell allowed herself to be dragged toward the top of the tallest dune that edged the northern tip of Crane Island.

“Where are we going?” she demanded.

“You’ll see. Come on, scaredy cat.” Jesse Tyson, high school quarterback and her crush of the last six months, had to shout to be heard over the noise of the storm.

“It’s too dark to see anything.” That was a lie. It was pitch black but her eyes had adjusted to the night and the full moon provided short blasts of silvery light that lit up the world whenever the clouds parted for more than a few seconds.

A shadow moved in the periphery of her vision and she whipped her head around, jerking to a stop. “Did you see something?” she yelled.

Jesse tried to pull her forward, but she dug in her heels. Was someone out there? A shiver tip-tapped down her spine. She peered hard into the night, but when the moon reappeared there was only blowing sand and violently lashing grass.

“There’s no one there. Come on, Helena,” Jesse insisted.

Of course there was no one there. It must have been a trick of the light, or the storm making her nerves dance like Mexican jumping beans. She let Jesse drag her another few steps. No one else would be crazy enough to be out here in this weather, especially on New Year’s Eve—she rolled her eyes. This was a stupid idea, and if her dad found out she was here, or that she’d lied about being at Kit’s tonight, he’d kill her.

“Where’s your sense of adventure?” Jesse taunted.

“Same place yours is gonna be if our parents find out where we are and what we’re doing,” she grumbled.

“We haven’t done anything, yet.” Jesse’s dark eyes glistened in the darkness.

Her heart gave a little flutter and she swallowed hard. Oh, my. And that was why she was out on the dunes even though she knew better.

The fact they’d both been drinking alcohol wouldn’t go over well, either. Not that her dad was ever going to find out. He’d ground her for a year and it wasn’t just because she’d lied about where she was going, or was out with a boy. No one was supposed to be on the dunes at Parson’s Point. Her dad worked for Land Management at the Department of Natural Resources and took this kind of trespassing very seriously. The area was part of a stabilization experiment they were conducting to try and protect the Outer Banks from further erosion.

She knew the spiel by heart. If he found out it wouldn’t matter that she was his daughter, in fact, that would make the punishment worse.

The hand that pulled her along was confident and strong, not allowing her to baulk or change her mind. She started to slip backward in the loose sand, but Jesse grasped her tighter and hauled her with him. She couldn’t help but be impressed by all those gorgeous muscles.

Together they staggered over the top of the beach ridge and slid down the other side, sand flying in every direction. She squealed with fright when they stumbled to their knees in the valley between dunes. Then she started giggling hysterically.

“Idiot.” She shoved his arm. Jesse took both her hands in his and she could feel him staring at her in the darkness. For a moment she thought he was going to kiss her but instead he flashed her a grin—the one that had all the girls in high school swooning—and pulled her to her feet. They climbed up the next, shorter dune and landed near the top, lying side-by-side in the sand. Something dug into her thigh and she shifted away from it, closer to Jesse.

The wind howled and she shivered.

“You cold?” It was now officially January and blowing a frickin’ gale. “A little.”

Jesse shrugged out of his down jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. “What about you?” she asked, even though she was grateful for the body heat still trapped inside the fabric.

“I’m fine.” Wide shoulders brushed hers as he shrugged. Eighteen years old and a star athlete, he wore a red plaid shirt over a bright white t-shirt and jeans. “I dragged you out here. I don’t want you to die of exposure before I even steal a kiss.”

Helena shot him a sideways look. Over the last few months she’d caught him staring at her a few times, but he’d been dating someone from the mainland. The girl had finally broken it off with him on social media—beotch—and just before Christmas, he’d asked Helena to go with him to the New Year’s Eve party his friend was hosting. She’d been both thrilled and nervous the entire Christmas break. Now she was here. Squeezed up tight against him and him talking about kisses. Her cheeks bloomed with heat and she wanted to fan herself, but didn’t dare lest he think she was a total dork.

She was a total dork.

Jesse reached out in front of them and parted the sharp blades of grass that blocked their view, revealing an endless swath of beach, and miles and miles of crashing waves. God, it was beautiful. And so was he.

The ocean merged with the sky in a black abyss. The occasional flash of a lighthouse beacon cut through the otherwise impenetrable gloom. Jesse wrapped his right arm across her back, his hand hooking her waist and pulling her closer. Helena’s mouth went as dry as the sand she lay in. Attraction mixed with the two tequila shots she’d downed at the party before he’d dragged her out here. Her nerves sizzled. All she could think of was his hand on her waist, his hard body pressed snug against hers.

Would he try to kiss her? Would she let him? How far would she let him go? She squeezed her thighs together, a little shocked that she was even thinking about making out with Jesse Tyson.

She’d never had a boyfriend, unless you counted holding hands in third grade. She wasn’t one of the “popular” girls in school. Jesse made her nervous because she liked him and didn’t want to look like an idiot for going out with the best looking guy in school.

Why had he asked her out? Was it a dare? She wasn’t that pretty. Her best friend Kit was way prettier than she was, and smarter. Did Jesse think she was easy? Is that why he’d brought her out here? She frowned.

She pushed the uncertainty away. Kit kept telling her she was beautiful and to relax and enjoy herself, to have a little faith. Maybe she should actually listen to her friend for a change.

Helena’s breath caught as a twenty-foot wave smashed onto the beach, and made the gulls cry out stridently as they fled to safety. Storms made her nervous. She’d grown up with them, but feared the sea was going to wash away her house and drown them all in their sleep. That’s what happened when your dad spouted environmental doom and gloom at every mealtime.

They’d been lucky this time. The storm had skirted the Carolinas and was headed toward Maine and Newfoundland. There was another one on the horizon but it was that time of year. Jesse’s warm hand slipped a little lower on her waist and found the place where her t-shirt met her jeans. His fingers played beneath her waistband as if looking for bare skin.

How had this happened? Her. On a date with the high school quarterback?

“What do you think?” He had to shout to be heard over the howling gale and the fierce roar of the ocean. Hardly romantic, but his laughter was so infectious it took a moment to realize he was talking about the storm, not being with him.

“It’s terrifying,” she admitted with a grin. “But,” she watched another wave pile-drive the shore. “It’s also thrilling—exhilarating. There’s an energy to it…”

“I know, right?” The arm tightened on her waist. “It’s as if there’s electricity sparking through the air. The sea is so rough you know if it caught you you’d never get out alive.”

“And that excites you?” Maybe the guy was nuts. Maybe that’s why he asked her out.

“The power of it.” He looked at her then. Leaned closer so their lips were only an inch apart. “You know what really excites me?”

She raised an unimpressed brow that he probably couldn’t see in the dark. If he gave her a cheesy line she was out of here.

“Kite boarding.” His warm breath brushed against her lips—then he kissed her.

The wind wailed spookily above them but she didn’t notice the weather anymore. Her heart banged her ribs like a hollow drum. Jesse turned her so they were facing one another and took her face gently between his hands. Then he kissed her again, not overly confident, but his lips were firm, warm, not wet or sloppy, feeling their way over her mouth, searching for something.

He tasted very slightly of beer, but also of mint. Curious, tempted, she opened up to him and he took the kiss deeper. Then his tongue touched hers and she jumped.

“Sorry.” She grinned as she pulled back.

A weird huffing noise had her turning. She let out a strangled gasp as a dark figure loomed behind them. Terror squeezed her heart so hard, pain spasmed along her arm.

“What the hell?” Jesse yelled.

Before her frozen limbs could react, the figure lifted something over his head and brought it down with ferocious force. It made a horrific sound as it connected with Jesse’s head.

“Jesse!” she screamed. She grabbed him by the shirt but he lay there, heavy and limp. She tried to shove at the attacker’s legs but he was so much bigger than she was. Run! She scrambled down the dune, trying to scream for aid, but the man swung the object he held sideways, like an axe, and the flat end of it caught her on the side of the head.

A scream rent the air and she realized, almost surreally, that she was the one screaming.

 

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Pinterest

Spotlight: COLD LIGHT OF DAY by Toni Anderson

If you love romantic suspense or if you’re a Criminal Minds junkie, you have got to get your hands on Toni Anderson’s Cold Justice series! Both incredibly sexy and suspenseful, this series is a must-read. Find out about the third book in this stand-a-lone series, COLD LIGHT OF DAY, below!


ColdLightOfDay_ToniAnderson_finalAbout COLD LIGHT OF DAY

Winner 2015 Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence for Romantic Suspense, and the Book Buyers Best Award.

Physicist Scarlett Stone is the daughter of the man considered to be the most notorious Russian agent in FBI history. With her father dying in prison she’s determined to prove he’s innocent, but time is running out. Using a false identity, she gains access to the Russian ambassador’s Christmas party, searching for evidence of a set-up.

Former Navy SEAL, now FBI Special Agent, Matt Lazlo, is instantly attracted to Scarlett but life is too complicated to pursue a politician’s daughter. When he discovers she lied to him about her identity, he hunts her down with the ruthless efficiency he usually reserves for serial killers.

Not only does Scarlett’s scheme fail, it puts her in the sights of powerful people who reward unwanted curiosity with brutality. The FBI—and Matt—aren’t thrilled with her, either. But as agents involved in her father’s investigation start dying, and the attempts to stop Scarlett intensify, Matt and his colleagues begin to wonder. Could they have a traitor in their midst?

As Scarlett and Matt dig for the truth they begin to fall passionately for one another. But the real spy isn’t about to let anyone uncover their secrets, and resolves to remain firmly in the shadows—and for that to happen, Matt and Scarlett have to die.

Add COLD LIGHT OF DAY to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on COLD LIGHT OF DAY:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

acdp-sale

Did you know the first book in the Cold Justice series is available for free? Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE!

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Read an excerpt from the first chapter of COLD LIGHT OF DAY:

“I feel sick,” Scarlett Stone warned in a sharp undertone to her lifelong best friend, Angelina LeMay.

“They don’t know who you are,” Angel responded with a pat on her arm. “Relax and enjoy yourself for a change. I can’t believe you actually came with me, but I love you for it.”

Her friend wouldn’t be quite so understanding if she knew what Scarlett had hidden in her panties. She took a gulp of champagne. This was a stupid idea. Who did she think she was—James Bond?

The thought shot fear through her bloodstream. Too close to home. Too real.

But this wasn’t spying on State secrets. She was investigating an old crime, looking for the truth before it was too late. No one would help her. God knew, she’d begged every one of them over the years and they’d all refused. Now it was up to her.

The reception room where the Russian Ambassador to the United States was hosting his annual Christmas party looked like the inside of a palace, with fantastically high ceilings, icy white walls inlaid with gold detail, and two huge chandeliers shining like a galaxy of tiny stars. A grand piano off to one side was being played quietly in the background. The subtle scents of pine mingled with perfume and the spice of mulled wine—the effect cloying, yet oddly nostalgic. The place was crowded. The sense of opulence and history, staggering.

Until 1994, the ambassador’s residence had been the Russian Embassy and reeked of a rich clandestine history of secret power struggles. Fitting under the circumstances. Her father had told her the KGB used to operate out of two trailers in the back yard, in the shadow of the huge Washington Post building. She didn’t know where the KGB’s modern-day equivalent, the SVR, was secreted and she hoped she never found out.

Angel’s parents—her father was Congressman Adam LeMay—had received an invitation to tonight’s Christmas party but hadn’t wanted to attend. Angel had begged Scarlett to take the place of her sister who was hiking in the Mojave Desert. Considering the new ambassador was Andrei Anatoly Dorokhov, Scarlett hadn’t been able to refuse, no matter how dangerous and desperate her plan might be. She had no choice.

She took another drink. She needed a little Dutch courage, maybe even a sedative.

“Scar, don’t look now,” Angel’s voice dropped to low and breathless, “but I think my future husband just walked in the door.”

Angel LeMay fell in lust on a regular basis.

“I hope you’ll be very happy together,” Scarlett said without turning.

“Navy dinner dress blues and a gold cummerbund.” Her friend fanned herself with her free hand. “I am in love.”

“I thought you were only getting married for money?” Scarlett teased.

Angel flashed her dimples. “I’ll make an exception for a war hero, and anyway, he might be loaded.”

Angel might be her best friend, but it didn’t mean Scarlett was blind to her flaws. Her parents indulged her every whim. She “worked” on Capitol Hill in her father’s office, doing God only knew what—answering the mail if tonight was any indication. Scarlett figured brain atrophy explained most of Angel’s poor choice in men. Not that hers was much better. Lab rats and academics were the only guys she dated, and “dated” was an optimistic term. “Grabbed coffee with between experiments” was probably more accurate.

Over Angel’s shoulder, Scarlett watched another guy wearing a black tux making his way toward them. His intense coal-eyed gaze never left her friend’s butt. Angel was wearing a little black dress, with the emphasis on “little.” Few men could resist and fewer tried. He looked up and caught Scarlett watching him. A dimple appeared in one cheek and ebony eyes twinkled. No remorse that she’d caught him ogling her friend’s ass. Just that sense of entitlement that if he wanted to stare, no one was going to stop him. Confident and powerful. Somewhere in his late twenties, early thirties, the man had player written all over his handsome face.

He walked up and introduced himself. “Welcome to the home of the Russian Ambassador to the United States. May I say it is a pleasure to welcome such beautiful young ladies. My name is Sergio Raminski, the ambassador’s personal assistant.” His Ws sounded vaguely V-like, but apart from that his accent was perfect.

He looked more like a bodyguard than any personal assistant she’d ever seen, but maybe she was paranoid. Actually there was no maybe about it. A shiver of unease hummed over Scarlett’s skin. If ever there was a candidate for foreign intelligence agent, Raminski was it.

According to her dad, a portion of the embassy staff here were actually agents for the Kremlin, the same way some of the Americans in Moscow did more than stamp passports. Angel introduced herself and then introduced Scarlett as her sister, Sarah. Scarlett’s nerdy appearance had been overhauled by a pro, something Angel had been doing at every opportunity since kindergarten. She and Sarah looked vaguely alike now that Angel had plastered her with makeup and pulled back her hair. Scarlett had borrowed a strapless, silver gown that shimmered in the candlelight. The skirt had a net petticoat and double layers of gathered silk which flounced around her knees. Four-inch heels meant she was almost chin-level to most of the guys in the room.

Sergio bowed first over Angel’s hand, then Scarlett’s. When she tried to let go, he surprised her by holding tight for a moment, making her pulse skip a beat, though not in a good way. A blush heated her cheeks and she pulled firmly away.

“Your father was unable to attend?” Sergio asked.

Scarlett’s mouth gaped.

Angel stepped in. “After the Vice President’s funeral today he felt a little unwell. He sends his apologies.”

Scarlett swallowed the knot that had formed in her throat. Her father was the real reason she was here.

“Nothing serious, I hope?” Black eyes were alight with interest.

Insider knowledge is always of interest to Russian officials no matter how seemingly mundane—her father’s warnings flashed through her mind.

“Just something he ate at lunch.” Angel smiled. She was a pro at lying and manipulation to get what she wanted. From the hard light in his eyes, Scarlett bet money Raminski was better.

“You were lucky you did not all succumb to the sickness.” Raminski cranked up the warmth of his smile. “I would have missed out on the best part of the evening—meeting two such lovely, young ladies.”

Gag.

It wasn’t only Raminski’s cheesy lines that made her queasy. She was about to do something that could get her arrested. The idea made her stomach cramp. Once in a lifetime opportunity, she reminded herself. And once in a lifetime might be an overstatement. Fate. Serendipity. Seize the moment. What is the worst that can happen?

They could lock her up and throw away the key.

Crap.

She swallowed more champagne.

 

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Pinterest

Spotlight: COLD PURSUIT by Toni Anderson

If you love romantic suspense or if you’re a Criminal Minds junkie, you have got to get your hands on Toni Anderson’s Cold Justice series! Both incredibly sexy and suspenseful, this series is a must-read. Find out about the second book in this stand-a-lone series, COLD PURSUIT, below!


ColdPursuit_ToniAnderson_finalAbout COLD PURSUIT

2015 Winner of National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award ~ for Romantic Suspense. Finalist in the National Readers’ Choice Award, & the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

Single mom Vivi Vincent is thrust into her worst nightmare when she’s trapped inside a mall during a terror attack along with her eight-year-old son. With the help of Jed Brennan, an FBI special agent on enforced leave, Vivi and her son survive the assault. But the danger is far from over.

Vivi’s son may have witnessed critical details of the terrorists’ future plans and is targeted for death, but he’s mute, and he’s traumatized. Still someone launches a strike against the FBI’s safe house, and Jed fears the bad guys have an inside man. No longer knowing who to trust, he hides mother and son in a log cabin deep in the heart of the Wisconsin Northwoods. There Jed and Vivi try to figure out how to unlock the information inside her son’s head. What they don’t bargain for is the red-hot attraction that flares between them, or the extent of the sinister plot that threatens to rip apart not only any chance of happiness they might have together, but also the very fabric of American society.

Add COLD PURSUIT to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on COLD PURSUIT:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

acdp-sale

Did you know the first book in the Cold Justice series is available for free? Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE!

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Read an excerpt from the first chapter of COLD PURSUIT:

The roller coaster thundered high above them in the mall and people screamed. Vivi Vincent’s son’s blue eyes widened with wonder as he watched with obvious delight. He grabbed her sleeve and grinned like any normal eight-year-old boy.

The bright colors of the rides and glaring sunshine through the glass roof made her eyes water. That’s what she told herself. It had nothing to do with the disastrous meeting they’d had first thing this morning with Dr. Hinkle.

She patted Michael’s hand, and he caught her gaze. The intelligence that shone in his eyes took her breath; as if all the secrets of the universe were locked up inside that bright, young mind.

He kept tugging her arm, trying to get her to go on the ride, but her stomach was too jumbled to even think about going on a roller coaster right now. And no way would she let him go alone—if something went wrong who knew what could happen? She’d never forgive herself if he got hurt just because she was too chicken to go on an amusement park ride.

“Want to visit the toy store?” she suggested instead.

He nodded and smiled, but she knew he was disappointed from the look of yearning he sent to the seventy foot monstrosity behind them. They headed past old-fashioned carousels and giant mushroom-shaped swings—much more her speed. The Minneapolis Mall, a smaller cousin to the Mall of America a few miles across the city, was a kid’s paradise.

She straightened her shoulders. Michael would enjoy this outing today, even if she had to subject herself to the terror of going on that thing. It would hopefully make up for his being poked and prodded by Dr. Hinkle this morning, then patronized within an inch of sanity by a local TV reporter doing a feature on the famous psychiatric neuroscientist’s research program. The woman had interviewed them about Michael’s “issues” and drawing ability. Hopefully it wasn’t a slow news day in the twin cities.

Michael spotted the intricate green serpent who guarded the entrance of the toy store and any lingering disappointment in his expression vanished. They stood in silent fascination for several long minutes as they took in the display that clambered up and over the shop. There was a teddy bear in cowboy gear riding a horse, a dinosaur on a motorcycle, and above it all a giant clown that made Vivi distinctly uneasy. What was it about clowns?

“OK, let’s go inside. You can choose one thing from the store, and then we’ll go find something to eat. Later we’ll hit the rides.”

He grinned and ran inside. Vivi hid a smile. She took a step after him only to collide with someone massive and bulky who knocked her on her ass. She ended up sprawled on the floor as the man kept on walking. Her jaw dropped at his rudeness, and she climbed awkwardly to her knees, cradling her wrist, which hurt from the unexpected impact with the floor.

“Need some help?” A man crouched beside her. He had short, black hair and rich, brown eyes that crinkled attractively at the outer edges. His fingers were strong and firm as he eased her to her feet, holding onto her good arm.

“Thank you.”

She gripped him for balance as she slipped her shoe back on. He had a straight nose, full bottom lip and a cleft in his chin. Those dark eyes ran over her critically as if assessing her injuries, then something changed and they warmed with frank male approval. She let go of his hand, and her knees wobbled. She blamed it on the high heels she so rarely wore.

Another round of screams from the people on the roller coaster broke through her reverie.

“Thank you, again. I’d better go find my son.” She nodded toward the toy store. It had become automatic to use Michael as a barrier, and the habit was starting to wear on her nerves. Maybe one day she’d get over the trust issues her ex had instilled in her.

Maybe.

One day.

“Good luck getting him out of there.” The handsome stranger held up a plastic bag with the distinctive logo on the side. It looked incongruous against his smart business clothes—a black suit, blue shirt, purple tie. How someone carried themselves revealed a lot about a person—his posture suggested a military background—and maybe some sort of law enforcement. He also exuded an air of competence and authority she recognized from her days working at the UN. The last guy who’d affected her this way had taught her that a handsome face and commanding manner were no substitute for compassion or morals. Still, it was nice to look at.

“I got my fix buying for a friend’s kid.” For a split-second a shadow passed across his features then disappeared. Maybe she imagined it. He took a step away. “If you’re sure you’re OK?”

She nodded and he smiled back and then strode away.

Gone. Vivi blinked.

It had been a long time since a man had looked at her like she was anything except a frazzled, single mom over thirty. The sensation of being a flesh and blood woman slid over her body like a skintight dress, rekindling a part of herself she’d forgotten existed. Great, another thing to add to her list of frustrations.

Walking toward the store she fingered her sore wrist and decided it was nothing more than a mild sprain. She’d ice it when they got back to the hotel later tonight.

A loud boom erupted from the center of the atrium. She jumped and spun around. Screams grew louder and for a moment she thought the roller coaster was malfunctioning. Then a weird noise peppered the air, one that sounded familiar but she couldn’t identify at first. Then she did. Gunfire. People started running. A man standing beside the candy store dropped to the floor, and the glass from the window shattered and rained down on him as a wide pool of blood spread around his body.

Oh, dear God.

There was a shooter in the mall.

Michael!

She spun and ran inside the toy store, searching frantically. People were rushing around desperately looking for children and loved ones. A display crashed to the floor, and a model disintegrated into a thousand pieces. She skidded on the tiny bits, but righted herself before she fell. A woman rammed a stroller into Vivi’s ankles in her determination to get to her toddler, who was wandering off to the front entrance. Vivi grabbed the kid and thrust him back into his mother’s arms.

“Thank you.” The woman’s face was white with terror. She had a baby and a toddler to deal with, along with masses of shopping bags.

“Leave the stroller. Grab the children and get out of the mall as fast as possible,” Vivi told her. That’s what she intended to do. She scanned the store for the carrot-topped head of the most important person in her world. There. She pushed her way through people milling around in confusion.

Michael was starting to get agitated and stood silent and shaking. She got to him and cradled his precious face with one hand, pushed back his hair with the other. She had to calm him down if they hoped to get out of there alive. “I’m here, Michael. I’ll look after you, but you have to listen to me and you have to concentrate, OK?” Please don’t freak out.

Blue eyes cleared and focused. Her incredibly brave son squared his shoulders and nodded, taking her hand and squeezing tight. He knew they were in danger. Love for him swelled inside her so enormous it wanted to burst through her skin. The terror was bigger. It wanted to crawl through her veins and eat her alive.

She would do anything to protect this child. Anything.

One of the cashiers was on the phone, presumably talking to security. Another cashier yelled, “Cops are telling us to sit tight while they assess the situation.”

Sit tight? No way in hell.

 

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Pinterest

Available for Free: A COLD DARK PLACE by Toni Anderson

acdp-sale

Toni Anderson’s A COLD DARK PLACE is available now for free! If you’re looking for a thrilling and sexy romance, you do not want to miss this first book in her bestselling Cold Justice series!

 

AColdDarkPlace_ToniAnderson_ebookfinalAbout A COLD DARK PLACE

Justice isn’t always black or white.  

Former CIA assassin Alex Parker works for The Gateway Project, a clandestine government organization hell-bent on taking out serial killers and pedophiles before they enter the justice system. Alex doesn’t enjoy killing, but he’s damn good at it. He’s good at dodging the law, too–until a beautiful rookie agent has him wondering what it might be like to get caught.

FBI Special Agent Mallory Rooney has spent years hunting the lowlife who abducted her identical twin sister eighteen years ago. Now, during an on-going serial killer investigation, Mallory begins to suspect there’s a vigilante operating outside the law. She has no choice but to take him down, because murder isn’t justice. Is it?

Sometimes it’s cold and dark. 

When Mallory starts asking questions, The Gateway Project management starts to sweat, and orders Alex to watch her. As soon as they meet, the two begin to fall in love. But the lies and betrayals that define Alex’s life threaten to destroy them both–especially when the man who stole her sister all those years ago makes Mallory his next target, and Alex must reveal his true identity to save the woman he loves.

Add it to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE for free:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Read an excerpt from A COLD DARK PLACE:

“We’re up to fifteen women,” Lucas’s voice was gruff. The dark circles under his eyes added a worn out quality to his grim expression. He answered her silent question with a shake of his head. “I didn’t see any kids and no one who looked like Payton.”

Mallory was torn between disappointment and relief.

“He kept more personal trophies in his bedroom. Whoever shot the sonofabitch did the world a favor.” A flicker of unguarded emotion crossed his face. Then he buried it beneath six years field experience and a flat cop stare. “You’ll hear all the details at the briefing.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Lemme get a coffee and we’ll head over together.” He froze as a stranger wearing a visitor badge and carrying a laptop walked through the office doorway. “Alex? What the—?”

“You missed the meeting, asshole.” The man’s expression was fierce. “Thought I’d hunt you down and make you buy me a beer.” His gaze darted to her. “Looks like a bad time though.”

“That was today?” Lucas palmed his forehead. “Jesus, you’re right. I’m an asshole.”

“I already covered that.” The man— Alex— grinned, and Mallory got a fierce blast of gorgeous. The response wrung a reluctant smile out of Lucas.

“Believe it or not, Mal, this is a good friend of mine, Alex Parker. I asked him to attend a Counterintelligence Awareness Group briefing I organized so he could tell us about some of the latest internet security measures being developed in the private sector. He runs his own company in DC. Does a lot of government contracts. We served together in Afghanistan.” His gaze swung back to Alex. “I assume the meeting went ahead without me?”

Alex nodded. “We managed to fumble along without your incisive brilliance.”

“Yet I’m the asshole,” Lucas grinned. “This here is Special Agent Mallory Rooney.”

The stranger held out a tanned strong-looking hand as they were introduced. His skin was warm, fingers firm as they squeezed hers.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Agent Rooney.” The self-deprecating smile was a killer. So was the short, ruffled light-brown hair and days’ worth of scruff on his jaw.

Despite the tailored suit, he hadn’t been intimidated enough by the high powered members of that committee to shave. The contrast snagged her attention. He was different from the law enforcement personnel and political players she usually met. There was something underplayed and restrained about him that didn’t mesh with the keen intelligence she saw in his eyes, nor the taut looking muscles that filled out that suit. It intrigued her. She hadn’t been intrigued on a personal level in a long time.

“You work in security?” she asked. “Keeping Trade Secrets secret— or trying to. It isn’t exactly running the gauntlet every day like you guys.”

Lucas sat atop his messy desk. “Says the man with the Distinguished Service Cross.”

Something vulnerable sparked in those slate eyes. “I got caught in a firefight and managed not to get killed. I got lucky.” Those eyes of his weren’t revealing anything now— all emotion banked. “I better let you get back to work. It’s a long drive back to DC.”

Their boss walked in and Mallory stiffened. Danbridge’s gaze skimmed Alex with a cursory glance that notched up to feminine appreciation on the second go ’round.

 

“Special Agent Randall, I need a word.” Then she walked into her office, heels tapping.

 

Lucas swore under his breath. “Alex, I owe you big time, buddy. I’ll be in touch. Will you show him out for me, Mal?”

“Sure,” she said. The longer she could avoid her boss the better. The two men shook hands and said goodbye.

“I can find my own way,” Alex said softly.

“No problem. I need to stretch my legs anyway.”

His gaze flicked to her boots and up, the brush of it almost as intimate as a physical touch. An unfamiliar sliver of sensation unfurled inside her, nearly unrecognizable because it had been so long. Attraction.

Telling herself she wasn’t deliberately prolonging their time together, she took the stairs as she led the way out. He was taller than she’d first realized. In her low-heeled boots she stood just under five foot nine and he was four or five inches taller. She frowned. Seeing him at a distance standing beside Lucas, she’d have described him as medium height and just okay looking. Up close, when you got the full force of those intelligent gray eyes and that perfectly proportioned masculine face, he was a hottie. Made you appreciate the inaccuracy of eye-witness accounts. No wedding ring either.

It was her job to pay attention to detail.

Even though she maintained a space between them she was hyperaware of him beside her. Outside the front entrance of the five-story, white concrete building he turned to her and asked, “Can I take you out to dinner sometime?”

“I don’t date.” The answer came out automatically before her brain engaged. Crap.

There was a long pause while those beautiful eyes of his wandered over her face, resting on her bruise from yesterday. He didn’t argue or try to change her mind.

“It was nice to meet you, Special Agent Rooney.” And then he walked away.

She squeezed her hands into fists. Damn, why had she said no?

Because she didn’t date.

She watched Alex Parker climb into his car— a low-slung sporty job— and raise a hand before he drove away. His car disappeared and a familiar sense of loss rushed over her. She clenched her jaw, turned around and went back to work.

 

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Pinterest

Available for Free: A COLD DARK PLACE by Toni Anderson

acdp-sale

Toni Anderson’s A COLD DARK PLACE is available now for free! If you’re looking for a thrilling and sexy romance, you do not want to miss this first book in her bestselling Cold Justice series!

 

AColdDarkPlace_ToniAnderson_ebookfinalAbout A COLD DARK PLACE

Justice isn’t always black or white.  

Former CIA assassin Alex Parker works for The Gateway Project, a clandestine government organization hell-bent on taking out serial killers and pedophiles before they enter the justice system. Alex doesn’t enjoy killing, but he’s damn good at it. He’s good at dodging the law, too–until a beautiful rookie agent has him wondering what it might be like to get caught.

FBI Special Agent Mallory Rooney has spent years hunting the lowlife who abducted her identical twin sister eighteen years ago. Now, during an on-going serial killer investigation, Mallory begins to suspect there’s a vigilante operating outside the law. She has no choice but to take him down, because murder isn’t justice. Is it?

Sometimes it’s cold and dark. 

When Mallory starts asking questions, The Gateway Project management starts to sweat, and orders Alex to watch her. As soon as they meet, the two begin to fall in love. But the lies and betrayals that define Alex’s life threaten to destroy them both–especially when the man who stole her sister all those years ago makes Mallory his next target, and Alex must reveal his true identity to save the woman he loves.

Add it to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE for free:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Read the prologue of A COLD DARK PLACE:

Lindsey Keeble sang along to “Fun.” on the radio, trying to pretend she wasn’t freaked out by the dark. It was one in the morning and she hated driving this lonely stretch of highway between Greenville and Boden. Rain was threatening to turn to snow. The wind was gusting so forcefully that the tall trees looming high above her on the ridge made her swerve nervously toward the center line. The back tires slid on the asphalt and she slowed; no way did she want to wreck her precious little car.

She worked evenings at a gas station in Boden. It was quiet enough she usually got some studying done between customers. Tonight everyone and their dog were filling up ahead of a possible early winter storm. You’d think they’d never seen snow before.

A flash of red lights in her rearview had her heart squeezing. Dammit!

She hadn’t been speeding—she couldn’t afford a ticket and never drank alcohol. She signaled to pull over and stopped on the verge. Lindsey lived responsibly because she wanted a life bigger than her parochial hometown. She wasn’t some hillbilly. She wanted to travel and see the world—Paris, Greece, maybe the pyramids if the unrest settled down. She peered through the sleet drenched glass as a black SUV pulled in tight behind her.

A tall dark figure approached her vehicle. A cop’s gold shield tapped against the glass. Frigid damp air flooded the interior as she rolled down the window and she huddled into her jacket as rain spat at her.

“License and registration.” A low voice rumbled in that authoritative way cops had. He wore a dark slicker over black clothes. The gun on his hip glinted in the headlights of his vehicle. She didn’t recognize his face, but then she couldn’t really see his features with ice stinging her eyes.

“What’s this about?” Her teeth chattered. She found the documents in her glove box and purse, and handed them over. Her hands returned to grip the hard plastic of the steering wheel as she waited. “I wasn’t speeding.”

“There’s an alert out on a stolen red Neon so thought I’d check it out.”

“Well, this is my car and I’ve done nothing wrong.” She knew her rights. “You’ve got no reason to stop me.”

“You were driving erratically.” The voice got deeper and angrier. She winced. Never piss off a cop. “Plus, you’ve got a broken taillight. That gives me a reason.”

Lindsey’s worry was replaced by annoyance. She snapped off her seatbelt and applied the parking brake. She’d been shafted last year when another driver had sideswiped her in a parking lot and then claimed she’d been at fault to the insurers. “It was fine when I left for work this afternoon. I haven’t hit anything in the meantime.” Goddamn it.

“Go take a look.” The cop stood back. He had a nice face despite the hard mouth and even harder eyes. Maybe she could sweet talk him out of a ticket, not that she was real good at sweet talk. Her dad could fix the light in the morning but if she had to pay a ticket as well, every hour of work today would have been for nothing.

She pulled the hood of her slicker over her head and climbed out. The headlights of his SUV blinded her as she took a few steps. She shielded her gaze and frowned. “I don’t see anything—”

A surge of fire shot through her back. Pain exploded in a shockwave of screeching agony that overwhelmed her from the tips of her ears to the gaps between her toes. She’d never experienced anything like it. Sweat bloomed on her skin, clashing with sleet as she hit the tarmac. Rough hands grabbed her around the middle and hoisted her into the air. She couldn’t control her arms or legs. She was shifted onto a hip where something unyielding bit into her stomach. She fought the urge to vomit even as her brain whirled.

It took a moment to make sense of what was happening.

This man wasn’t a cop.

Still reeling from the stun gun, she couldn’t get enough purchase to kick him, but she flailed at his knees and tried to elbow him in the balls. It didn’t make any difference and she found herself dumped into the cold confines of the rear of his SUV. He zapped her again until her fillings felt like they were going to fall out and her bladder released.

The world tilted and she was on her front, face pressed into a dirty rubber mat, arms yanked behind her as something metal bit into one wrist, then the other. Handcuffs. Oh, God. She was handcuffed. A sharp pain ripped through her chest—if she didn’t calm down she was going to die of a heart attack.

A ripping sound rang out in the darkness. She was shoved onto her back, and a piece of duct tape slapped over her mouth. It tangled with her hair and was gonna hurt like a bitch when it came off.

Something told her that was the least of her worries.

There was no reason for him to kidnap her unless he was going to hurt her. Or kill her.

The realization made everything stop. Every movement. Every frantic breath. Her heart raced and bile burned her throat as she stared into those cold, pitiless eyes. With a grunt he slammed the trunk closed, plunging her into a vast and consuming darkness. Rain beat the metal around her like an ominous drum. She was scared of the dark. Scared of monsters. Humiliated by the cold dampness between her legs. How could this have happened to her? One minute she was driving home, the next…

Where was her phone?

She rolled around, trying to feel it in her pockets. Shit. It was still in her purse in the passenger seat of her car. There was a crashing sound in the trees. She closed her eyes against the escalating panic. He’d gotten rid of her car. An elephant-sized lump threatened to choke her. She’d worked her ass off for that car, but finances and credit-ratings were moot if she didn’t survive this ordeal. This man was going to hurt her. She wriggled backward so her fingers could scrabble with the lock but there was nothing, and the panel above her head didn’t budge even when she kicked it. How dare he do this to me? How dare he treat her as if she was nothing? She wanted to fight and rail against the injustice but as the SUV started up she was immobilized by terror. All her life she’d fought to make things better, fought for a future and this man, this bastard, wanted to rip it all away from her. It wasn’t fair. There had to be a way out. There had to be a way to survive.

She didn’t want to die. She especially didn’t want to die in the dark with a stranger who had eyes as cold as death. Tears brimmed. It wasn’t fair. This wasn’t fair.

 

acdp-sale

Toni Anderson’s A COLD DARK PLACE is available now for free! If you’re looking for a thrilling and sexy romance, you do not want to miss this first book in her bestselling Cold Justice series!

 

AColdDarkPlace_ToniAnderson_ebookfinalAbout A COLD DARK PLACE

Justice isn’t always black or white.  

Former CIA assassin Alex Parker works for The Gateway Project, a clandestine government organization hell-bent on taking out serial killers and pedophiles before they enter the justice system. Alex doesn’t enjoy killing, but he’s damn good at it. He’s good at dodging the law, too–until a beautiful rookie agent has him wondering what it might be like to get caught.

FBI Special Agent Mallory Rooney has spent years hunting the lowlife who abducted her identical twin sister eighteen years ago. Now, during an on-going serial killer investigation, Mallory begins to suspect there’s a vigilante operating outside the law. She has no choice but to take him down, because murder isn’t justice. Is it?

Sometimes it’s cold and dark. 

When Mallory starts asking questions, The Gateway Project management starts to sweat, and orders Alex to watch her. As soon as they meet, the two begin to fall in love. But the lies and betrayals that define Alex’s life threaten to destroy them both–especially when the man who stole her sister all those years ago makes Mallory his next target, and Alex must reveal his true identity to save the woman he loves.

Add it to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE for free:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Read an excerpt from A COLD DARK PLACE:

“We’re up to fifteen women,” Lucas’s voice was gruff. The dark circles under his eyes added a worn out quality to his grim expression. He answered her silent question with a shake of his head. “I didn’t see any kids and no one who looked like Payton.”

Mallory was torn between disappointment and relief.

“He kept more personal trophies in his bedroom. Whoever shot the sonofabitch did the world a favor.” A flicker of unguarded emotion crossed his face. Then he buried it beneath six years field experience and a flat cop stare. “You’ll hear all the details at the briefing.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Lemme get a coffee and we’ll head over together.” He froze as a stranger wearing a visitor badge and carrying a laptop walked through the office doorway. “Alex? What the—?”

“You missed the meeting, asshole.” The man’s expression was fierce. “Thought I’d hunt you down and make you buy me a beer.” His gaze darted to her. “Looks like a bad time though.”

“That was today?” Lucas palmed his forehead. “Jesus, you’re right. I’m an asshole.”

“I already covered that.” The man— Alex— grinned, and Mallory got a fierce blast of gorgeous. The response wrung a reluctant smile out of Lucas.

“Believe it or not, Mal, this is a good friend of mine, Alex Parker. I asked him to attend a Counterintelligence Awareness Group briefing I organized so he could tell us about some of the latest internet security measures being developed in the private sector. He runs his own company in DC. Does a lot of government contracts. We served together in Afghanistan.” His gaze swung back to Alex. “I assume the meeting went ahead without me?”

Alex nodded. “We managed to fumble along without your incisive brilliance.”

“Yet I’m the asshole,” Lucas grinned. “This here is Special Agent Mallory Rooney.”

The stranger held out a tanned strong-looking hand as they were introduced. His skin was warm, fingers firm as they squeezed hers.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Agent Rooney.” The self-deprecating smile was a killer. So was the short, ruffled light-brown hair and days’ worth of scruff on his jaw.

Despite the tailored suit, he hadn’t been intimidated enough by the high powered members of that committee to shave. The contrast snagged her attention. He was different from the law enforcement personnel and political players she usually met. There was something underplayed and restrained about him that didn’t mesh with the keen intelligence she saw in his eyes, nor the taut looking muscles that filled out that suit. It intrigued her. She hadn’t been intrigued on a personal level in a long time.

“You work in security?” she asked. “Keeping Trade Secrets secret— or trying to. It isn’t exactly running the gauntlet every day like you guys.”

Lucas sat atop his messy desk. “Says the man with the Distinguished Service Cross.”

Something vulnerable sparked in those slate eyes. “I got caught in a firefight and managed not to get killed. I got lucky.” Those eyes of his weren’t revealing anything now— all emotion banked. “I better let you get back to work. It’s a long drive back to DC.”

Their boss walked in and Mallory stiffened. Danbridge’s gaze skimmed Alex with a cursory glance that notched up to feminine appreciation on the second go ’round.

 

“Special Agent Randall, I need a word.” Then she walked into her office, heels tapping.

 

Lucas swore under his breath. “Alex, I owe you big time, buddy. I’ll be in touch. Will you show him out for me, Mal?”

“Sure,” she said. The longer she could avoid her boss the better. The two men shook hands and said goodbye.

“I can find my own way,” Alex said softly.

“No problem. I need to stretch my legs anyway.”

His gaze flicked to her boots and up, the brush of it almost as intimate as a physical touch. An unfamiliar sliver of sensation unfurled inside her, nearly unrecognizable because it had been so long. Attraction.

Telling herself she wasn’t deliberately prolonging their time together, she took the stairs as she led the way out. He was taller than she’d first realized. In her low-heeled boots she stood just under five foot nine and he was four or five inches taller. She frowned. Seeing him at a distance standing beside Lucas, she’d have described him as medium height and just okay looking. Up close, when you got the full force of those intelligent gray eyes and that perfectly proportioned masculine face, he was a hottie. Made you appreciate the inaccuracy of eye-witness accounts. No wedding ring either.

It was her job to pay attention to detail.

Even though she maintained a space between them she was hyperaware of him beside her. Outside the front entrance of the five-story, white concrete building he turned to her and asked, “Can I take you out to dinner sometime?”

“I don’t date.” The answer came out automatically before her brain engaged. Crap.

There was a long pause while those beautiful eyes of his wandered over her face, resting on her bruise from yesterday. He didn’t argue or try to change her mind.

“It was nice to meet you, Special Agent Rooney.” And then he walked away.

She squeezed her hands into fists. Damn, why had she said no?

Because she didn’t date.

She watched Alex Parker climb into his car— a low-slung sporty job— and raise a hand before he drove away. His car disappeared and a familiar sense of loss rushed over her. She clenched her jaw, turned around and went back to work.

 

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Pinterest

Available Now: COLD HEARTED by Toni Anderson

ch-release

NYT Bestselling Author Toni Anderson’s COLD HEARTED is available now! If you like smart, sexy, and thrilling romantic suspense, you definitely want to get your hands on COLD HEARTED!

 

ColdHearted_ToniAnderson_FINALAbout COLD HEARTED

Hunting For A Killer…Who Doesn’t Play By The Rules.

Detective Erin Donovan expects life to quiet down after the arrest and conviction of a serial rapist who terrified her university town last summer. Then two young women are brutally slain and the murders bear all the hallmarks of the campus rapist. Did Erin arrest an innocent man? Now her job is at stake and tensions are high and just when it looks like things can’t get worse, her department gets the help it needs to solve the double homicide–in the form of a man Erin has never been able to forget.

FBI Agent Darsh Singh has no interest in reliving the past. Three years ago, his feelings for Erin Donovan had him breaking all his rules about getting involved. Now his only interest in the former NYPD detective is figuring out if she screwed up a rape investigation and helped send an innocent man to prison. But being forced to work together rekindles their old attraction, and as Darsh and Erin fall for each other, the campus predator fixates on Erin. The race is on to identify the ruthless killer before he makes Erin his final victim.

Add it to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on COLD HEARTED:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo 

Want to read the first chapter of COLD HEARTED? You can do so here!

Get a sneak peek at COLD HEARTED:

Darsh pushed through the crowd of spectators who lingered despite the lateness of the hour and the sub-zero temps. He hoped someone here had the smarts to photograph the onlookers in addition to the crime scene. Killers often came back to observe the chaos they wrought. It was all part of the thrill. Unlike most fictional killers and rapists, the real life versions were generally as smart as a thumbtack. He flashed his creds at the police officer manning the outer perimeter and ducked under the tape. “Agent Singh. FBI. I need to speak to whoever’s in charge.”

You’re FBI?”

He ignored the skepticism. “That’s what they told me when I graduated the academy.” He pocketed his gold shield as the officer shouted to one of her colleagues before leading him to the two-story clapboard house surroundded by yellow crime scene tape.

“Sorry.” The rookie was flustered. A dark blush worked its way into her cheeks and matched her cold-looking nose. “I wasn’t expecting a fed to show up.”

Darsh signed his name on the log, put paper covers over his boots, latex gloves on his hands, and walked into the house. It was just as cold inside—front and back doors were wide open. At least it would slow decomposition.

The rookie button-hooked a right and walked up to a blonde who wore a gray pantsuit beneath a black parka with a fur-lined hood. The blonde had her head down but seemed vaguely familiar.

She looked up, and a pair of smoky blue eyes collided with his. Every neuron in his body sparked to life as recognition slammed into his gut. Her pupils dilated, but apart from that, she betrayed no visible reaction.

Fuck.              

There was no smile. No “Hey, how’re ya doin’?” But then their last encounter had been conducted under very different circumstances. Horizontal. Naked. Panting.”

 

Want to win?

Toni Anderson is giving away a $25 Amazon or iTunes giftcard – winner’s choice! To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Pinterest

First Chapter Reveal: COLD HEARTED by Toni Anderson

COLD HEARTED by Toni Anderson releases May 31st – but we didn’t want you to wait to get a peek at what’s in store for you! Take a look at the first chapter below and enter to win a $25 giftcard!

 

ColdHearted_ToniAnderson_FINALAbout COLD HEARTED

Hunting For A Killer…Who Doesn’t Play By The Rules.

Detective Erin Donovan expects life to quiet down after the arrest and conviction of a serial rapist who terrified her university town last summer. Then two young women are brutally slain and the murders bear all the hallmarks of the campus rapist. Did Erin arrest an innocent man? Now her job is at stake and tensions are high and just when it looks like things can’t get worse, her department gets the help it needs to solve the double homicide–in the form of a man Erin has never been able to forget.

FBI Agent Darsh Singh has no interest in reliving the past. Three years ago, his feelings for Erin Donovan had him breaking all his rules about getting involved. Now his only interest in the former NYPD detective is figuring out if she screwed up a rape investigation and helped send an innocent man to prison. But being forced to work together rekindles their old attraction, and as Darsh and Erin fall for each other, the campus predator fixates on Erin. The race is on to identify the ruthless killer before he makes Erin his final victim.

Add it to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on COLD HEARTED:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo 

Read the first chapter of COLD HEARTED now:

He spotted her across the street, blonde hair shining like polished gold in the sunlight, her lithe body tormenting every Y-chromosome in a hundred yard radius. He pulled out his cell and took a snapshot to immortalize the moment. He’d thought she said she was returning later in the week. Obviously he’d been mistaken. He dialed her number and watched her pull out her phone. He waited for the matching smile to form on her lips, for her eyes to light up. Instead, she checked caller ID, grimaced, and let the call go to voicemail.

Horror rushed through him as she re-pocketed the phone and turned back to her companion. What the fuck? He killed the connection and collapsed to a nearby bench, hidden from sight by a mass of tangled bushes.

He’d thought she loved him. That she wanted to be with him…

God! He’d given her everything she needed, laid it out like a feast on a platter with a fucking apple stuffed in its mouth. She played you, dumbass.

Fury flayed his skin. Rage so hot and pure that the blood coursing his body burned his bones. She thought she could dismiss him? Like he was nothing? Like he hadn’t risked everything for her? His hand strangled his phone as he imagined it squeezing her alabaster neck.

A noise brought him back to himself, and he drew in a long breath.

A laugh.

A giggle.

His head jerked up. Students milled around. They were relaxed and happy after winter break. The monster had been caught. They were safe. Life could go back to normal.

Sheep.

How could they think they were safe when the person they were having coffee with might be a predator dreaming about ripping into their soft, white underbelly? Why were they so willing to swallow bullshit as long as it was confidently labeled “truth”?

The system was broken. Bad guys walked free every single day. Good guys rotted. Innocents died.

Idiots.

A cute freshman smiled shyly at him from the bench opposite. He stretched his mouth into an answering curve that revealed nothing of the shock and disappointment that still rippled through him. Women liked him. So why the fuck did she think it was okay to ignore him?

A plan formed in his brain—a plan that buzzed along his nerves with the blistering speed of electricity.

Should he do it?

It might mess up things, and he didn’t want to go to prison, but it would certainly get her attention. His brain raced over the possibilities. He knew how to do this. He knew how not to get caught. And it might keep things interesting. Life had been pretty fucking boring lately and, as he’d found out last year, there was nothing quite as satisfying as revenge.

The student hiked her bag on her shoulder and got up to leave. He eyed the flirty plaid skirt she wore over opaque black tights and tall black boots, then jogged to catch up with her. Made a joke. Made her blush.

It was almost too easy.

He laughed and realized he was enjoying himself again. The excitement resurrected something inside him that was both heady and familiar. Something that scared him enough to keep it tightly leashed and under control. Something he’d denied himself for ten long months.

He reined in the thrill that fizzed through his bloodstream. He needed to be careful. The memory of the disgraced former quarterback reminded him he couldn’t afford to get cocky. No way in hell did he intend to share the asshole’s shame and degradation. But he knew the system. Knew the flaws. She was going to regret not taking that goddamned phone call for the rest of her life.

*     *     *

Cassie Bressinger smoothed out the single sheet of paper and read Drew’s small, cramped handwriting for the seventh time that day.

Cass,

I was trying to figure out something interesting to tell you, but after only a month I’m already running out of material. I mean, there are only so many adjectives I can invent to describe the three shades of gray that make up the decor here—snot, Minnesota, and dead rabbit are my newest favorites. I probably wouldn’t win any prizes in English class, but as I got kicked out I guess it doesn’t matter.

Three shades of gray—hmm, there might be a book in there somewhere…

Fifty Shades this place is not. Not to say there isn’t plenty of banging going on from the grunts and groans I hear at night. Someone somewhere is enjoying the fuck out of somebody else. 

I think it’s consensual…

An ironic concern for a convicted rapist but, hey, who wants to be predictable?

Honestly, Babe, I’m at the stage where protecting my own ass has become my #1 priority. Luckily, I’m a big motherfucker and spent years on the gridiron, staring down people desperate to drill me into the ground. I could do with my offensive line in here though…

Crap.

I didn’t mean to talk about this shit and I’m running out of writing paper so I don’t want to start over. Plus, my fingers are getting cramps from holding a pen. Yeah, me, former star athlete whose hands were supposed to be his golden meal ticket. Getting cramps from writing a freaking letter! More irony J

Enough about me. How are you? What’s happening with your courses this semester? You said you were going to try and get into law school. Please don’t do that because of me!!! The last thing I want is for you to be stuck in a stuffy courtroom listening to god-awful testimony and watching people’s lives disintegrate. Run away and join the circus. Take a year off and travel the world.

Seriously. 

And make sure you write and tell me all about your adventures, okay? I’m living vicariously. And if you want to have sex with other girls—that’s okay. Feel free to write and tell me all about that, too. Kidding! Well…kind of kidding and now kind of horny, which is a pain in the ass. Obviously the DA was right to classify me as a dangerous sex fiend.

Fucker.

Okay, gotta go. Time for me to go line up for sloppy mashed potatoes and sausages that look like severed fingers… Ugh, okay, just grossed myself out. 

Don’t worry about me—I got this.

Love you. Miss you.

Drew. X

Someone knocked on the door and Cassie jumped. Tanya Whitehouse sauntered in before Cassie had a chance to hide the letter.

“That from Drew?” Tanya was wearing skinny jeans, her favorite strappy black top, and sparkly earrings. Her lips glowed in glittering magenta. Going out. Doing normal things like a normal person.

Cassie popped a shoulder and nodded.

“He okay?” asked Tanya.

“He’s incarcerated with rapists and murderers for crimes he didn’t commit,” she bit out. “What do you think?”

Tanya placed her perfectly manicured hand along Cassie’s forearm. “You know what I meant.”

Always patient. Always reasonable.

Cassie swallowed the anger. She wasn’t patient, and she wasn’t reasonable. But Tanya was only trying to help. All her friends had been nothing but supportive throughout this entire nightmare.

“He says he’s okay.” Cassie swallowed the knotted lump of grief that had taken up residence in her throat and tried to find her rationality. “I think he just says that to make me feel better.”

“You going to visit him?” Tanya asked gently.

Cassie nodded. “I’m driving over with his dad at the end of the month. Drew doesn’t want me to come, but I—”

“Maybe he’s right.”

Cassie sat up on the messy bed. She knew where this was going. “Please don’t tell me I’m wasting my life. Drew is my life.”

Tanya grabbed Cassie’s hand and squeezed hard enough to hurt. “I just don’t want you to be sad for the next thirty years.”

Her vision blurred, but they both pretended Cassie wasn’t crying. Even she was sick of the incessant tears. “I won’t be.” She was lying. “Anyway, he can still appeal.”

There was an awkward silence when Tanya didn’t say anything. Cassie’s gaze shifted to the image on the front of a magazine. Easier to look at some movie star complaining about her messed up childhood than dealing with the sort of truth that dug holes in your soul.

“Hey,” Tanya said brightly, “there’s a party over at Riddell Hall. Wanna come with?”

Cassie shook her head.

“Come on. It’ll be fun,” her friend urged.

Going to a party would remind her of all the times she and Drew had hung out. She didn’t want to acknowledge the aching void of his absence—especially not in public.

“I have an assignment due tomorrow. I really need to finish it.” She crawled over to her bedside table in search of a tissue.

Tanya lightly flicked the magazine, mockingly. “Well, you better get on with it then.”

Cassie slumped back to the bed, ashamed of how piteous she’d become. “I can’t face seeing people,” she admitted. “Not yet. Maybe coming back to school was a mistake.”

“You did great. Take it slowly. You’ll get there, and we’ll all be waiting for you on the other side of this.”

Cassie nodded. The problem was there was no ‘other side.’ Drew’s loss was like a rip in her chest that got bigger every day. “The world thinks he’s a monster.”

Tanya wrapped her arms around Cassie in a quick hug. “We love him. We know he’s a good guy and would never touch those lying bitches.”

“I don’t know how this could have happened.”

“You can’t lock yourself away forever, Cass.”

But she wanted to.

She didn’t know why she’d come back this term, but hanging around her parents’ house with nothing to do was worse. Christmas had sucked balls. Now she needed to figure out a way to move on without giving up on the man she loved.

She gripped her friend. “I love you, Tan. I’m sorry I’m such a bitch.”

“I love you, too, baby.”

She forced herself to pull away and wiped her eyes. “I really do have an assignment to finish.”

“Then get to it, slacker.” Tanya gave her arm a noogie.

Cassie forced a smile. She’d blown off cheerleading practice earlier today, and if she did it again, the coach would throw her off the squad. She didn’t care, except it would screw with her scholarship, and her parents weren’t wealthy. She couldn’t afford to get thrown out of the program, and she needed a good GPA to have a hope of getting into law school. But every time the football players ran onto the field in their black and gold jerseys, it was like someone was pouring acid in her eyes. Knowing everyone’s life went on while Drew sat locked up in a cell. Her throat constricted. Some days it felt like the pain would consume her whole.

She stood and pushed her friend toward the door. “Go. Have fun. Kiss some hot guys for me.”

“If I can find someone worthy enough, I intend to do a lot more than kiss him. So don’t worry if I don’t come home tonight. I’ll text you.” Tanya grinned. “Mandy’s studying in her room. Alicia is still at the library but said she’d be back just after ten as per usual. She might come to the party later, so if you change your mind…”

“Maybe,” Cassie lied. “You be careful out there. Guard your drink,” she warned. Because if those women had been raped, there was still a dangerous criminal on the loose, and no one knew it.

“I will, honey. Jillian’s going to be here any minute to give me a ride.”

“Go. Have fun.”

Tanya turned and smiled at her sadly, touching her arm. Cassie felt the punch of it near her heart. “You’ll get through this, Cass. You don’t have to forget Drew, but you need to keep living your life. He’d want you to do that.”

Cassie’s lip wobbled as she remembered what he’d said in his letter. She crossed her arms over her chest as she watched her friend jog down the stairs, grab her coat, and race out the front door. She had to believe a miracle was going to happen and that Drew would be freed, but it seemed futile. The judicial process was so slow it took months to even schedule a court hearing. In the meantime Drew was forced to live amongst killers and thieves. Getting raped in the showers wasn’t something anyone should have to worry about. Who could live like that?

That bitch Donovan had a lot to answer for. The blonde detective probably thought this was over.

It wasn’t. It would never be over.

Anger grounded her. Without it she’d be so damn lost.

Across the hall, Mandy turned her music on full blast. Cassie slipped on her noise-canceling headphones and stared at her computer and thought about the paper she needed to finish. Instead she pulled out a pen and notepad and started to write back to the man she loved, stopping only once to wipe away the tears that insisted on falling.

 

Want to win?

Toni Anderson is giving away a $25 Amazon or iTunes giftcard – winner’s choice! To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Pinterest

On Sale: Toni Anderson’s COLD JUSTICE series

salegraphic

Toni Anderson’s Cold Justice series is on sale for a limited time!

AColdDarkPlace_ToniAnderson_ebookfinalAbout A COLD DARK PLACE

Justice isn’t always black or white.  

Former CIA assassin Alex Parker works for The Gateway Project, a clandestine government organization hell-bent on taking out serial killers and pedophiles before they enter the justice system. Alex doesn’t enjoy killing, but he’s damn good at it. He’s good at dodging the law, too–until a beautiful rookie agent has him wondering what it might be like to get caught.

FBI Special Agent Mallory Rooney has spent years hunting the lowlife who abducted her identical twin sister eighteen years ago. Now, during an on-going serial killer investigation, Mallory begins to suspect there’s a vigilante operating outside the law. She has no choice but to take him down, because murder isn’t justice. Is it?

Sometimes it’s cold and dark. 

When Mallory starts asking questions, The Gateway Project management starts to sweat, and orders Alex to watch her. As soon as they meet, the two begin to fall in love. But the lies and betrayals that define Alex’s life threaten to destroy them both–especially when the man who stole her sister all those years ago makes Mallory his next target, and Alex must reveal his true identity to save the woman he loves.

Add it to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

And, don’t forget – the complete series is on sale! Get your hands on the rest of the books for .99c each!

Get your hands on COLD PURSUIT for .99c:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Get your hands on COLD LIGHT OF DAY for .99c:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Get your hands on COLD FEAR for .99c:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Get your hands on COLD IN THE SHADOWS for .99c:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play

The sixth book in the Cold Justice series, COLD HEARTED, releases May 31st! Don’t forget to preorder your copy!

 

ColdHearted_ToniAnderson_FINALAbout COLD HEARTED

Hunting For A Killer…Who Doesn’t Play By The Rules.

Detective Erin Donovan expects life to quiet down after the arrest and conviction of a serial rapist who terrified her university town last summer. Then two young women are brutally slain and the murders bear all the hallmarks of the campus rapist. Did Erin arrest an innocent man? Now her job is at stake and tensions are high and just when it looks like things can’t get worse, her department gets the help it needs to solve the double homicide–in the form of a man Erin has never been able to forget.

FBI Agent Darsh Singh has no interest in reliving the past. Three years ago, his feelings for Erin Donovan had him breaking all his rules about getting involved. Now his only interest in the former NYPD detective is figuring out if she screwed up a rape investigation and helped send an innocent man to prison. But being forced to work together rekindles their old attraction, and as Darsh and Erin fall for each other, the campus predator fixates on Erin. The race is on to identify the ruthless killer before he makes Erin his final victim.

Add it to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on COLD HEARTED:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo 

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest