ONE WRONG STEP
THE BORDERLINE series, Book 2
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adventure on the border continues with ONE WRONG STEP.
She never planned to get involved with
her ex again. Especially not in his murder…
But that’s just what happens when Celie Wells has
an encounter with her former husband, and he turns up dead
an hour later. Now, after working hard to distance herself
from his crooked ways and shady connections, she finds she’s
smack dab in the middle of his murder investigation. And
it isn’t just the police who have their eye on her,
but an enraged drug lord who is seeking payback.
The only person who seems to be on her side is old acquaintance
John McAllister. But the sexy reporter has a nose for news,
as well as a reputation as a playboy. Is he helping Celie
out because he wants a story or a one-night stand? She knows
John’s interest is potentially hazardous to her heart.
But not accepting his help could put her life at even greater
risk—and she can’t afford one wrong step.
FOUR STARS from Romantic Times!
"Griffin's characters are well developed, the narrative
complex and the dialogue skillfully written in this suspenseful
romance. The supporting characters are also nicely crafted,
and the setting is believably drawn."
—Romantic Times Book Reviews
"Griffin has more than proved that she is a force to
be reckoned with in the world of romantic suspense novels.
One Wrong Step is a sexy and thrilling novel that
will keep readers turning the pages…"
—Queue My Review
"One Wrong Step starts with a bang and never
let’s up on the pace. Laura Griffin is an exceptionally
talented author, who has a knack to keep her readers on the
edge of their seats. The twists and turns of the story leave
the LaMans racetrack in the dust."
—The Winter Haven (FL) News Chief
“Imaginative scenarios, dynamic characters and countless
emotions combine to make ONE WRONG STEP intriguing from beginning
“A first-rate romantic suspense story!”
—Fallen Angel Reviews
“Enjoyable, fast-paced romantic suspense.”
—Publishers Weekly Online
Celie Wells dropped the
fire extinguisher on the floor and gaped at her kitchen through
the cloud of yellow dust. How come they never showed scenes like
this on the Food Network?
Her lungs tickled. Coughing, she waved away the
superfine particles that floated around her. God, she’d made
a mess. And a racket. She should probably notify the building super
about her little accident.
She eyed the disemboweled smoke detector on her
kitchen floor and decided against it. If anyone from the building’s
management saw her luxury unit in its current state, she could kiss
her hefty security deposit goodbye. And her ceiling wasn’t
permanently damaged, nothing a little spackle and touch-up paint
She picked up the portable phone, battling the
urge to do what she normally did when disaster struck, which was
call her mom. Virginia Wells was great in a crisis, and she would
be delighted to learn that her domestically challenged daughter
was actually baking.
But Celie wasn’t in the mood for a lecture,
and that’s just what she’d get if she told her mother
she’d set her kitchen on fire while baking goodies for the
Bluebonnet House Easter party. It wasn’t that her mother disliked
battered women’s shelters per se; she just didn’t
believe it prudent for thirty-one-year-old divorcee to work at one.
Celie wasn’t up for the debate tonight. Her
self-esteem had taken a hit already when the cheerful, scrumptious
bunny cake she’d lovingly created had morphed into a charred,
inedible pancake inside of her oven. Throw together a festive
Easter party in six simple steps!! the glossy magazine had
proclaimed from the check-out line. Celie’s radar should have
been on red-alert when she read step one: Create a tasty bunny
cake that doubles as a fun centerpiece!
Celie dumped the nontasty, nonfun bunny cake into
the sink. Even her disposal rejected it.
She sighed. When it came to cooking--or anything
remotely domestic, for that matter--she was inept. Her uselessness
in the kitchen was just one more sign that the Suzie Homemaker gene
had missed her. It was ironic, really, considering that her lifelong
ambition had been to settle down, make a home, and raise a family.
She was being hormonal again.
She fetched the broom from the hall closet and
began sweeping up the snowy mess all over her floor. She’d
made it through this entire hellacious week without a meltdown,
and she wouldn’t lose it now, not over a stupid rabbit cake.
If Feenie were here right now, she’d be laughing, not on the
verge of tears.
The portable phone rang. Celie glanced at the caller
ID and confirming for the umpteenth time that her best friend had
“Hi Feenie, what’s up?”
Feenie Juarez lived five hours away down in Mayfield,
Texas, but she and Celie talked so much, she may as well have lived
“Just calling to see how your meeting went.
Did you get the director to recommend drug treatment for your kid?”
Feenie always called the children at Bluebonnet
House “her kids,” and Celie hadn’t gotten around
to mentioning that it bothered her.
“No.” Celie leaned her broom against
the counter and took a clean mixing bowl out of the cabinet. “But
I did get roped into being in charge of the Easter party
“You’re kidding. Don’t tell me
you have to cook.”
“You got it.” She started measuring
ingredients again. Darn it, she was out of baking soda. She’d
borrowed that first teaspoon from her neighbor across the hall,
but she dreaded the thought of going back there. That woman could
talk the ear off a cactus.
“Hey, you know anything about cake baking?”
she asked hopefully. Feenie was no domestic diva, but she’d
come a long way in the months since she’d been married. Just
last week, she’d been making tamales for her husband.
know two things,” Feenie said. “Betty and Crocker.”
Celie sighed, and then explained what was going
on, omitting the part about the four-foot flame that had leapt out
of the oven and scorched her ceiling.
“I can’t believe you’re making
something from a magazine,” Feenie said. “Are you masochistic
or just nuts?”
She eyed the April issue of Living sitting
open on her counter. The photograph showed a rabbit-shaped cake
with jelly bean eyes, licorice whiskers, and fur made of shaved
coconut, tinted pink of course. Her gaze shifted to the singed heap
in the bottom of her sink.
“A little of both,” she answered, glancing
out the window. Even if she hadn’t been wearing threadbare
plaid pajamas and waiting on a take-out delivery, she didn’t
relish the thought of braving west Austin’s hilly streets
in a driving rainstorm.
Especially at night. Celie steadfastly avoided
going out alone after dark.
“The good news is I figured out where I went
wrong,” she told Feenie. “The bad news is I don’t
have any more baking soda, and I want to give this recipe another
whirl. Is there something I can substitute?”
Feenie snorted. “You’re asking me
for cooking tips?”
“Well you mentioned the tamales, so I thought--”
“It was a nightmare. I was up to my elbows
in corn husks all day, and the final product tasted like soggy Fritos.
Next time Marco wants homemade Mexican food, he can hit up his mom.”
“Oh.” Celie felt deflated. In the morning
her boss expected her to put on an Easter party for twenty-two kids,
some of whom had never even received a birthday present. She wanted
to do something special and memorable, but the prospects were growing
dimmer by the minute. And the thought of picking up a package of
generic, grocery-store cupcakes depressed her. Celie’s mother
never would have resorted to such a thing.
“Get over it,” Feenie said, reading
her mind. “The kids’ll be fine. Bring ‘em some
chocolate bunnies, and they’ll think you hung the moon.
“So what are you doing home, anyway?”
Feenie asked. “I thought you had a hot date with that grad
And there it was--the real reason for the call.
“I’d say ‘hot’ is an exaggeration,”
Celie said. “Think Will Ferrell without the jokes.”
“Well, didn’t he ask you out for coffee
tonight? What happened?”
Celie plopped down on the couch. “I told
him we’d take a rain check. With this party tomorrow, I didn’t
Actually, she’d gotten cold feet. Celie hadn’t
been on a date since before Google was invented, and she felt woefully
out of touch with modern standards. What if this guy wanted more
than coffee? What if, say, he wanted to come back to her apartment
afterward jump into bed together? Celie didn’t do recreational
sex. Even when she’d been married, the recreation part had
been pretty lacking.
“That’s chickenshit, and you know it.
Who doesn’t have time for coffee?”
Celie heard cooing on the other end of the phone
and decided to change the subject. “Olivia’s awake?”
“Yeah.” Feenie’s tone mellowed.
“We’re having one last feeding before bedtime. At least
I hope it’s bedtime. Last night we were up every hour between
midnight and six.”
No wonder Feenie sounded crabby. “You must
be exhausted,” Celie said.
“I’m okay. Liv’s just colicky,
bless her little heart.”
Feenie could hit the kill zone of a paper silhouette
from forty yards away with her .38, but motherhood had turned her
into a complete softy. Celie had spent a few days down in South
Texas after Olivia’s birth, and had actually caught her getting
misty-eyed over re-runs of Seventh Heaven.
Celie felt a pang of envy, and then hated herself
for it. Feenie deserved to be happy. She’d been to hell and
back over the past few years.
Feenie must have sensed what the silence meant.
“So, this cake thing. Here’s my advice: toss the Martha
Stewart mag in the trash and stop by the grocery store,”
The buzzer sounded, and Celie got up to grab her
checkbook off the kitchen counter. “My dinner’s here.
Lemme let you go.”
“I mean it, Celie. Pick up some Easter candy
and quit torturing yourself. Those kids adore you, with or without
Celie punched the intercom button. “Yes?”
“Ms. Wells, we have a delivery down here--”
“Send him right up!” And then to Feenie,
“All right, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
Celie got off the phone and wrote a check to Shanghai
Garden. On her way to the door, she glanced in the bathroom mirror
to make sure she looked halfway decent. She didn’t. Her dark-blond
hair was dusted with flame retardant, and globs of batter decorated
her pajama top. Plus she wasn’t wearing a bra. She grabbed
a denim jacket off the hook in the foyer and shrugged into it just
as a knock sounded at the door. Out of habit, she patted her pocket
to make sure she had her pepper spray handy before going to work
on her numerous locks. As she flipped the first latch, she peered
through the peephole, expecting to see a stranger in the hallway
holding a carton of Chinese food.
But the man who stood there looked all too familiar.
Celie’s hands froze. She backed away from
the door and darted a frantic glance around the apartment. Where
had she put the phone? He knocked again, and then the doorknob rattled.
God, was it possible he had a key? She took out her Mace.
“I hear you in there, Celie. Open up, okay?
I just want to talk.”
Yeah, right. Did he think she was crazy? She held
her Mace in a death-grip as she bit her lip and tried to decide
what to do.
“Celie, please?” The familiar voice
made her chest tighten. Guilt, anger, regret--the emotions battled
“I just need to talk to you,” he repeated.
Instead of locating her phone and calling the police,
she moved toward the door. Methodically, she undid all the locks
until only one deadbolt remained. She waited a beat, giving herself
one last chance to heed the warnings blaring in her head. Then she
turned the key and pulled open the door.
Her ex-husband stood before her holding a drooping
bouquet of flowers and a baseball cap. He wore a tattered UT windbreaker,
sneakers, and wet jeans that clung to his gaunt frame. He desperately
needed a haircut.
Not to mention a methadone fix.
“Hello, Robert,” she said. “Rumor
has it you’re dead.”