Conceal, Protect

By: Carol Ericson
AN UNDERCOVER SPY WITH THE HEART OF A COWBOY…

A disappearing roommate and a break-in are all Noelle Dupree needs to take what may be a permanent vacation. The Colorado ranch she inherited is the perfect getaway. It even comes with a hard-bodied cowboy who seems more than willing to be at her beck and call. But there’s more to “Jared Douglas” than meets the eye.

Although Noelle thinks everything that happened is random, Special Agent J.D. knows better. An international arms dealer has set his sights on Noelle, and he’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. Keeping Noelle safe soon becomes more than just a mission for the highly trained spy. Because this time, it’s not only his career that will suffer if he fails….





“Are you a cop?”

“No.” He tugged on his longish hair. “Do I look like a cop?”

“No, but you sound like one.”

“Just common sense,” he said with a shrug.

She called the local sheriff while J.D. checked the outside of the house with a flashlight. If Zendaris’s guys had broken in, they wouldn’t leave anything, but a thief looking for a quick fix just might. But would a junkie have left the house in such good order?

He trailed the beam from his flashlight along the window ledges and ground surrounding the house. He couldn’t see much in the dark. He’d have to look around tomorrow. He definitely planned to be here tomorrow. And the next day. And the next...

Anything to keep Noelle safe.







CAST OF CHARACTERS

J.D.—Mysterious Prospero Team Three agent who’s been assigned the task of keeping close to a woman who might know too much, but as the threats against her escalate, J.D. finds he can’t get close enough.

Noelle Dupree—A widow, who witnessed her husband’s murder, she’s been keeping a tight rein on everything in her life, including her emotions, but when a sexy spy lands on her doorstep, her loss of control might cost her more than she bargained for.

Ted Dupree—Noelle’s flaky half brother stumbles onto a plot with international consequences, and this time not even his famous charm may be enough to save him.

Bruce Pierpont III—Noelle’s wealthy admirer follows her to Colorado and she knows his intentions aren’t completely innocent, but are they sinister?

Abby Warren—Noelle’s roommate disappeared suddenly, but she left a web of danger and intrigue behind that seems to be leading Noelle to the same fate as her roommate.

Ally Nettles—Noelle’s childhood friend bears a striking resemblance to Noelle…and it just might get her killed.

Nico Zendaris—An international arms dealer who was burned by Prospero Team Three; now he wants revenge and nothing’s going to get in his way this time.







Chapter One

The red plastic tray clattered to the floor, and Noelle Dupree jumped as if she’d heard a gunshot. Just like the one that had killed her husband.

She crouched and snatched up the tray with a shaky hand. She was regressing. Loud noises hadn’t startled her for at least a year.

She smacked the tray back onto the pile at the beginning of the assembly line, ignoring that she hadn’t lined it up with the others, and pursed her lips. She’d done too much work to go back to that quivering mass of nerves she’d become after Alex’s murder.

And yet—she looked over her shoulder—she couldn’t shake this feeling she’d had over the past few weeks that someone was following her. Watching. Measuring.

Could it be the cops? She’d been the one to call the police when her roommate, Abby, hadn’t returned from a business trip. The police had come out to the apartment, questioned her, looked through a few of Abby’s things, confiscated Abby’s computers and then disappeared.

When she’d called to follow up, the sergeant with the D.C. Metro Police had told her Abby’s disappearance was out of their hands. What did that mean?

Her roommate had been private and solitary, and that had suited Noelle perfectly. Now she didn’t even have the name of a relative she could contact about Abby. But if the police weren’t worried, why should she be worried?

Because someone is following you now.

“What kind of soup would you like, Noelle? We have lentil or chicken noodle today.”

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