2008 Booksellers Best Award Winner!

He's an ex-cop. She's an ex-wife. And they're both out for revenge on the same man....

When pampered former cheerleader Feenie Malone takes a job writing fluff pieces for her South Texas paper, she has no idea she's about to stumble into a juicy news story that could launch her career -- if it doesn't get her killed first. Almost as soon as she breaks out her press pass, she crosses paths with Marco Juarez, the macho PI obsessed with solving his sister's murder. The information he has might be the perfect lead -- but his dangerously sexy looks could be a deadly distraction.

Juarez has zero patience for reporters, especially mouthy blond ones. But with the evidence pointing to Feenie's ex-husband, Marco thinks she could be useful. Confident he can keep her on a tight leash, he lets her in on his investigation. He quickly discovers he's underestimated his new partner, as well as the danger they both face. Now he must protect her -- to the very last breath....

 

One Last Breath

THE BORDERLINE series, Book 2
Pocket Star
April 2008
ISBN-10: 1-4165-3738-4
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-3738-0

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Reviewers Say...

"Laura Griffin hits all the right notes with One Last Breath - compelling characters, unexpected twists and a gripping story from the first gasp to the last sigh."
—Bestselling romantic suspense author Roxanne St. Claire

“Laura Griffin has the voice of a seasoned veteran in this tasty debut which mixes suspense and snappy humor with wonderful results. Don’t miss one of the best debuts of the year!”
—Affaire de Coeur

“Griffin kicks off her romantic suspense career in high style with this action-packed tale filled with passion and revenge. She's one to watch.”
—Romantic Times

“There is a new romantic suspense author in town. Laura Griffin’s debut novel, One Last Breath, is a strong blend of suspense and romance. The intelligent writing is full of promise. If this first book is any indication, we should see some good things from this author.”
—All About Romance

One Last Breath rocks!”
—Winter Haven News Chief

 “Griffin's fully fleshed characters, dry humor and tight plotting make a fun read and a promising career kickoff.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A winner of a debut; fast-paced romantic suspense with lots of surprises!”
FreshFiction.com

Prologue

Officer Marco Juarez hated domestics. It was always the same shit: drunk man slaps woman around. Woman calls the cops, hysterical. Cops hightail it over and find everybody’s kissed and made up, even though the woman has a shiner and a bloody lip. No matter what you said, the victim always resisted filing charges.

Maybe this call would have a different outcome. So far, it was different by virtue of the fact that it had come from a rich neighborhood. Juarez turned onto Pecan Street and drove past the tidy row of restored bungalows. He rolled to a stop in front of a yellow and white two-story where a crowd had gathered in the driveway. He turned to his rookie partner.

“Follow my lead.”

Peterson nodded eagerly and checked his weapon.

Juarez raised his eyebrows. “Why don’t you start by talking to bystanders, see if we can get a feel for what’s happening.”

“Got it,” Peterson said.

Juarez slammed the door of the cruiser and walked up the driveway. Most everyone looked like your typical nosey neighbors. A white-haired man in aqua Bermuda shorts stood off to the side with his arms crossed. He scowled as Juarez approached him.

“’Bout time y’all got here. Gal’s been at it twenty minutes now. She’s hot as a firecracker.”

Juarez looked up the driveway and spotted the “gal” in question. She had a head full of blond curls and wore one of those short, pleated skirts that barely covered her rear end. She was loading what looked to be a .22.
 
A deranged cheerleader?

With fluid ease, she tucked the slender rifle against her shoulder, aimed at something on the back fence, and fired. A shiny object burst into smithereens. A beer bottle? No. Several more objects were lined up on the fence posts.

Juarez glanced around. Suits and ties were strewn about the driveway. He eyed the upstairs windowsill where a pair of boxer shorts had hit a snag on the way down. They fluttered like a battle flag in the evening breeze.

Former cheerleader, deranged wife, he decided.

“What’s she shooting?” he asked the neighbor.

“Dunno. Think it’s a vase or somethin’.”

“It’s a trophy,” a woman put in. She was blond, thirtyish, and looked like she’d just come off a tennis court. “Last year’s Club championship.”

“You know this woman?” he asked her.

“She’s my best friend.”

“She intoxicated?”

The woman snorted. “Nope. Just pissed.”

Juarez waited for more.

“She just found out what a prick she married,” the woman said, as if that explained everything.

“Her husband inside?” Juarez touched his sidearm, and the woman frowned.
 
“You don’t need that, for heaven’s sake! No one’s inside. Only thing in danger ’round here’s those trophies.”

Procedure called for him to draw his weapon anyway and disarm the subject, but Juarez wasn’t much on rules and regulations, especially when they went against his gut instincts.

And his gut instincts at the moment told him the friend was right--this woman was armed, but she wasn’t dangerous. Not yet, at least.

The wife re-loaded, and Juarez watched. She was pretty, actually. Graceful. She knew how to handle a gun, too, and for some reason the combination made his pulse pick up.

“Ma’am,” he said, walking toward her. “I’m gonna have to ask you to put the gun down.”

Instead of complying, she turned and glared at him. Her cheeks were flushed pink, and blond ringlets fell over her eyes. He put her at late-twenties, five-five, a hundred-and-thirty pounds. He couldn’t help noticing a very nice share of the weight was concentrated up top.

She turned back around, aimed the gun toward the fence, and fired, this time taking out a little brass statue. She was a hell of a shot.

“Ma’am.” Juarez stepped closer and clamped a hand on the barrel.

What?” she demanded.

“Put the gun down.”

She huffed out a breath and laid the gun on the pavement. Then she crossed her arms over her chest and gave him a venomous look.

“Mind telling me what’s going on here, ma’am?”

If possible, her cheeks flushed even more. “Target practice. Why? Is there a law against shooting golf trophies?”

He repressed a smile. “No, but there’s a law against firing a weapon within city limits.”

“That’s a utility easement back there, so I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“What’s your name, ma’am?”

She started to speak, then bit her lip. “Feenie. Feenie Malone.”

“Okay, Mrs. Malone--”

“That’s Ms.!

Peterson appeared and retrieved the gun from the driveway.

“Okay, Ms. Malone,” Juarez said. “Let’s cool off for a minute, all right? Now, my partner here is going to hold onto your gun while we go inside and talk.”

She looked him over then, her blue eyes simmering. Her neighbor had been right about the firecracker thing. This woman was hot, in more ways than one, and she had a defiant streak that Juarez admired.

“Look, Ms. Malone.” He leaned in and lowered his voice. Several curious neighbors inched closer. “Whatever you’re doing here, I’m sure he deserves it. But you’re causing a disturbance, and I’d hate to have to haul you off to jail. There’re kids watching.”

She glanced at the crowd behind her and bit her lip again. She seemed to calm down fractionally, and some of the color faded from her cheeks. “Okay, Officer…?”

“Juarez.”

“Okay, Officer Juarez.”

“Why don’t we go inside now?” He surveyed the debris on the driveway. “Keep any other guns in the house?”

She tossed a look over her shoulder as she led him to the back door. “Sure. My husband collects them. The .22 is mine.”

“Where does your husband store his guns, ma’am?”

She opened the screen door and ushered him inside. “In the safe, usually, but right now they’re at the bottom of the swimming pool.”

Juarez stopped short. “The swimming pool?”

“That’s right. With his clubs and his flat-screen TV.” She smiled sweetly. “I’m feeling much better now, Officer Juarez. Can I fix you some lemonade?”

 

Copyright © 2007 Laura Griffin

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