Beautiful Beast

Beautiful Beast

by Dani Sinclair

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Overview

Breaking in to the home of the man suspected of killing her father was reckless. But Cassy Richards had to confront Lieutenant Gabriel Lowe and learn the truth. She found a man with the aura of a predator — and the scars of a wounded soldier. His eyes held a conviction that told her this man was innocent. And by coming there, she'd put them both in imminent danger.

Gabe had lost his memory of the day a bomb exploded, killing the man he'd been ordered to protect and covering the theft of a deadly toxin. He'd retreated to heal from his wounds — and to investigate outside the bounds of military law. Cassy led the enemy to his door. And now the beast would protect his beauty and see that justice was finally served.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781552545577
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 08/01/2006
Series: Harlequin Intrigue Series , #935
Sold by: HARLEQUIN
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 169 KB

About the Author


The Easter Bunny is supposed to bring sweets and chocolate. One year he brought a bouncing baby to Dani's parents instead. She'll let you make your own association here. Dani's parents claim they were elated, but she thinks it just took time for the shock to wear off.

Reading and writing have always been part of her life. As a child she wrote plays and talked neighbourhood children into performing for parents and anyone else she could coerce into sitting through them. The rest of the time she spent reading walking every Saturday to the library to replenish her stack of fiction.

In high school Dani finally began writing her own novel. The murder mystery featured a private investigator and a mysterious, beautiful woman. (Her first romance though she didn't know it back then.) Over the years, Dani continued to dabble in writing. So when her sister asked her to write her a romance novel while Dani was between jobs, it sounded like a piece of cake.

Ignorance is bliss. Dani says she wrote her first romance novel in something like one week. She was so pleased by the results, she followed it up with two more. Then she discovered a group of writers who met once a week to critique and offer support to one another. Shortly thereafter she discovered a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. Of the five writers who formed the initial critique group, the three who were able to persevere are now all published authors. Moreover, Dani is proud to add that all three have been nominated for the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards.

Dani concludes with: "Thanks to the loving support of my very own hero and the two sons we raised, I sold 13 books in five years. I'm proud to call myself a writer. And hopefully, I've given to others some of the pleasure I've derived from a lifetime of reading."


Read an Excerpt

Frederick, Maryland
Present Day

A slender figure came around the far side of his house and sprinted across the front lawn to disappear in the hedge on the other side. Gabriel Lowe stopped walking. Not CID, FBI, Homeland Security or any of the other official types who watched his house from time to time. Their people would have approached his home in a much different fashion.

Female, based on the swing of nicely rounded hips in figure-hugging jeans. A long ponytail swished against a slender back covered by a fitted jacket. His intruder was obviously looking for a way inside. And in that instant, he knew who it had to be.

His fingers flexed and balled into fists. Jaw clenched, Gabe stepped off the sidewalk and slipped into the nearest shadow. He followed her silently, letting his anger build.

With a low-voiced, muttered imprecation, she battled her way behind the prickly juniper that squatted beneath his dining room window. Identity confirmed, Gabe faded back against the bole of the spreading oak tree a short distance from her.

Cassiopia Richards — the woman who had named him a murderer — gazed up at the window and sighed. She withdrew a ridiculously tiny pocketknife from her hip pocket and hesitated. The small blade was hard to see in the bit of moonlight that filtered between the high clouds, but her intention was clear.

Gabe was reluctant to accost her too soon. Would she actually go through with a criminal act?

She slit the screen and started to reach for the window itself. Abruptly, she stopped.

"Blast."

The utterance was a wisp of discord in the chilly night air. She struggled with the juniper branch that had clamped onto the back of her coat. Apparently, she didn't understand that an illegal activity like breaking and entering required silence and speed.

Not once did she bother to scan her surroundings. She wouldn't have seen him if she had, but she was either extremely sure of herself or totally inept. Watching her struggle with the bush, he was betting on the latter.

FRAZZLED, CASSY JERKED her coat free, half hoping this

window would be locked like the others she had already tried. Then she could go home and come up with a new plan. This one was stupid. If she were caught...

She would not think about that. She couldn't afford to turn around and go home. If there was the slimmest chance Gabriel's friend Beacher Coyle had actually succeeded where everyone else had failed, she needed to do something.

She'd been a fool to listen to him in the first place. He'd almost convinced her that they were victims, like her father. He'd persuaded her to listen and now the golden-tongued son of a serpent wasn't answering his telephone. Gabriel had blown her off when she'd contacted him, and now Beacher was avoiding her calls. And if her suspicions were correct, Beacher had brought the results of his search to Gabriel.

They'd found the missing toxin and were going to sell it unless she stopped them. By the time she convinced someone in authority, it would be too late and she was not going to let them get away with it.

Not a sound disturbed the stillness of the night. Cassy had little fear of being observed, given the distance between the houses. The blasted neighborhood was dark enough to give her the creeps. Once more she adjusted the thin bits of plastic over her hands and reached up.

With a scraping, groaning racket all out of proportion to what she'd expected, the window yielded and slid to one side. Startled, she froze. Her heart thundered wildly in her chest. Her ponytail swung as she took a quick look around the yard and at the house next door.

GABE REMAINED MOTIONLESS as her eyes swept by him

without faltering and continued on to the house next door. He could have told her she had nothing to worry about from that direction. The family inside would be glued to their television sets at this hour. Nothing less than an explosion would bring them to a door or window.

But what was Cassiopia Richards doing here in the first place? Perhaps he should have heard her out when she called the other day, but her patronizing tone had annoyed him. He'd never forgotten her tirade when he'd been trapped in that hospital bed. Gabe didn't owe her a thing.

She stared at the opening as if trying to screw up her courage to climb inside. Then she cast another nervous glance around. He waited.

THIS WAS NO TIME for paranoia, Cassy admonished herself. There was no one lurking nearby watching her every move, even if the back of her neck was crawling in warning. Gabriel Lowe was at his gym at this hour. While the sound of the window opening had been loud, it hadn't been loud enough to carry inside the house across the yard, and no one moved on the silent street. Not a single car had driven past since she got here.

Well, it wasn't every day she attempted to break into someone's home. Her nerves had a right to be jumpy. She was usually such a practical person.

Cassy gripped the windowsill and levered herself up. The jagged screen snagged on the elbow of her jacket. She yanked her arm back. The screen ripped free of the window and fell, tangling with the bush below. She froze in dismay and swore softly.

So much for hoping he wouldn't notice the torn screen.

ENTERTAINED DESPITE his annoyance, Gabe waited to see

what she'd do next. What she did was seek a better grip, even though the weird, loose-fitting clear plastic covering her hands made the task harder than it should have been.

What were those things? They weren't the latex gloves that hugged the skin. These bits of clear plastic fit so loosely she seemed to be having trouble keeping them in place.

Cassiopia Richards had to be the most inept burglar ever. Her thrusting hand tangled in the sheer drape that covered the window. She tried to shove the material aside as she swung her leg up and over but the drape wasn't having any of it. In her attempt to avoid being wrapped in the filmy cloth, her leg apparently collided with the back of a chair.

Gabe nearly smiled. His dining room was small, the furniture too large for the space. He'd kept his parents' old stuff after he bought this place because the pieces served to fill the empty rooms. Since he was pretty much the only one who ever saw them, their relative size had never mattered, but her unexpected contact with the chair nearly reversed Cassiopia's direction. Even from where he stood he could hear the chair clatter against the table.

CASSY STOPPED MOVING half-in and half-out of the window. She stopped breathing as well. She waited for Gabriel Lowe to appear out of the darkness and condemn her. Even though she was almost positive he wasn't home, it seemed an inevitable thing to happen.

She cast another frantic glance around. The yard was pitch-black. She couldn't see a thing. There was no going back now. She expelled the breath of air and forced her other leg over the sill.

The drape swirled around her once more. She wriggled, colliding with the chair again. Cassy wrenched the gauzy fabric to one side in a frantic swipe. Off balance, she tumbled forward. Only pure dumb luck and the mahogany dining room table kept her from crashing to the floor.

Great. He'd never notice that. This was not an auspicious start to a life of crime. If she believed in omens, she'd turn around, climb back through that window and go home to bed. She could always get a decent lawyer in the morning.

She should have tried the authorities first. Maybe someone would have listened.

The prickly sensation that she was being watched would not go away. Her hand went to a side pocket and came out with the minuscule pocket flash. The attached key ring jingled as she moved.

If someone had been home, they'd have called the police by now. She'd made enough noise to wake the dead. Good thing she wasn't planning on a life of crime. Her nerves couldn't take much more of this.

Get it over with. Call out. See if someone was there.

GABE FLATTENED HIMSELF against the side of the house near the open window. He jumped when she spoke.

"Hello?"

Her scratchy voice was barely a whisper of sound.

"Is anybody home?"

And what would she do if he answered?

"Didn't think so, but I wanted to be sure."

Gabe shook his head. The woman was squirrel fodder. He'd been right to not waste time talking with her when she called.

The beam of her small flashlight swung away from the window. Gabe moved to where he could just see her vague outline. Her body radiated tension as she peered around the room. The resonant sound of the grandfather clock chiming the hour sent a tiny shriek past her lips.

"Idiot!"

On that, they were in complete agreement. Muttering a profanity, she repositioned the chair at the table.

"No way am I going back out that window. When I leave tonight, I'm going out a door like any civilized burglar."

Thoroughly amused, Gabe watched as Cassiopia moved the small ray of light to search out a path to the kitchen. It would almost be a shame to ruin her evening by revealing his presence.

HER FRAZZLED NERVES were playing tricks on her. There was no one here. Gabriel Lowe was at the gym. Based on past observations she should have an hour and a half before he returned.

Cassy picked her way carefully through the maze of furniture. Fortunately for her, his tastes ran to the stark. While the heavy old pieces were oversized, he hadn't filled his home with bric-a-brac and clutter. And that seemed a little strange, given that he was supposed to be a sculptor. She'd expected to find dozens of ugly pieces scattered about.

Cassy shook her head. Who cared? The only thing that mattered was finding his home office, doing a quick search for what Beacher had found and getting away before either of them returned. She'd watched Gabriel enough to know that he spent most of his time in his basement. He even entertained Beacher down there, unless they sat around in the dark upstairs when he came to visit. Obviously, the basement was the place to start and she'd better hurry.

Finding a door next to the refrigerator, she reached for the handle. A mop stem hurled out of the darkness and cracked against her shoulder. Cassy leaped back, another small shriek escaping. Dislodged, a plastic pail rocked against the dustpan with a surprising clatter. The broom tipped over. She barely caught the handle in time to keep it from crashing to the floor.

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Beautiful Beast 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It wasn't too full of romance, and I found that it kept me engaged and on the edge of my seat.