A seven-time RITA Award–winning romance author, Patricia Potter’s foray into romantic suspense has been “a dazzling success . . . with romantic flair and emotional intensity that is classic Potter” (Library Journal). Here are three of her most stunning tales of women falling dangerously in love while running for their lives.
Cold Target: A beautiful lawyer joins forces with a New Orleans detective to find the sister she never knew she had. But her sister is on the run from an abusive, politically powerful husband who would sooner have her killed than lose her.
“Potter weaves suspense and emotional drama in rare form in this fascinating novel.” —BookPage
Twisted Shadows: A young woman discovers she is not only the daughter of a notorious Boston crime boss but also a person of interest to a steely FBI agent. Now someone wants her dead, and the man determined to destroy her family may be the only one who can save her life.
“Impossible to put down.” —Romance Reviews Today
Behind the Shadows: A young woman trying to prove that she and an heiress were switched at birth finds herself caught in a corrupt world of privilege where a killer is watching and waiting to silence her forever.
“Readers who like to keep their adrenaline pumping will definitely enjoy this.” —Romance Reader at Heart
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About the Author
Patricia Potter is a USA Today–bestselling author of more than fifty romantic novels. A seven-time RITA Award finalist and three-time Maggie Award winner, she was named Storyteller of the Year by Romantic Times and received the magazine’s Career Achievement Award for Western Romance. Potter is a past board member and president of Romance Writers of America. Prior to becoming a fiction author, she was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal and the president of a public relations firm in Atlanta. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee.
Read an Excerpt
New Orleans Four weeks later
Meredith Rawson paused at the doorway to her mother's room and looked at her ravaged body.
She was dying. The change in just a day was shocking. She had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer only weeks earlier, but already the disease had spread throughout her body.
Until now, Meredith had clung to hope. But a call to her mother's doctor had revealed that she had only days to live. An aggressive treatment of chemo and radiation had failed to halt the progress of the disease.
Meredith had hoped against hope. She'd known deep inside that the rapid deterioration was its own prophecy. She'd known, and yet she had not accepted it.
Grief and regret tore at her heart. Grief for her mother, for the loss of a life that was ending far too early. Regret that she had never completely made peace with her, that the remnants of old wounds had kept them apart.
She pasted a smile on her face, balanced the large bouquet of flowers in her hands, and went inside.
Her mother lay quietly, unmoving, in the bed. She hadn't been moved to critical care from the room she'd occupied for the past two weeks. Instead Meredith's father had hired private duty nurses to care for her twenty-four hours a day. He'd been convinced she would be more comfortable. Her mother always had been a very private person.
The nurse sat beside her mother's bed now. Her father, she knew, was in court. There was an important case.
There is always an important case.
That excuse had been only too familiar. A distant mother. An absentee father, except during those times he planned her life.
Her mother's eyes were closed. Her face looked skeletal, her once lustrous blond hair nearly gone. The nurse stood and took the vase and flowers from Meredith. The room was already filled with gaily colored flowers. They made her mother look even more pale. Faded.
"How is she?" Meredith whispered to the nurse.
The nurse indicated the door, and Meredith followed her outside into the hall.
"You'll have to talk to the doctor about that," the nurse said.
"I know he'll give me the medical information. I already have that. I want to know how she's feeling." Her worry overrode her usual courtesy.
The nurse — Betty Akers, Meredith remembered — did not seem to take offense. "Not well," she said softly. "She's taken a turn for the worse. I think she's ... given up. But she's been asking for you."
"I can stay a few hours. I have a court hearing at two."
"She's drifting in and out of consciousness. I don't know how long before she wakes again."
"If she doesn't wake before I have to leave, I'll be back as soon as possible." She'd planned to visit her mother this evening, but that was before the doctor told her that her mother was failing rapidly, far faster than anyone had thought. It had been telling, but not surprising, that it had been the physician who called, not her father.
She went back into the room and sat on the chair next to her mother. She looked at the face that had been so beautiful. Beautiful and distant. Marguerite Rawson had been the perfect hostess. The perfect wife. Sometimes Meredith thought she was also the perfect mannequin. Emotion seldom showed in her face. Affection was a brief smile.
As a child, Meredith had eaten in the kitchen. Her father didn't think young children should be allowed in the dining room with adults. A housekeeper — a long succession of housekeepers — always put her to bed. Play was ballet classes, which, being taller than the other girls and more awkward, she detested.
Once Meredith finished her homework, her father always gave her another task. It wasn't good enough that she passed her courses. She had to be the best in her class. If she received less than an A, she received a bitter tongue-lashing about being lazy and worthless.
Her mother had never protected her from the attacks. She'd never dried her tears.
Meredith had learned not to cry, not to reveal any sign of vulnerability.
But she was crying now. Perhaps the tears weren't falling down her cheeks, but she felt them trapped at the back of her eyes. Tears for all that was, and all that had never been.
She picked up her mother's hand. It was purple now from multiple needle pricks. And impossibly fragile.
The touch apparently woke her mother. Eyes flickered open. Once a vivid sapphire blue, they now looked dull and sunken.
"Meredith," she said in a thin voice.
"I'm here," Meredith said, wanting to tighten her hold on her mother's hand yet afraid she might hurt her.
Her mother's gaze flicked over to the nurse, who had been reading a book. "Please ... leave us," she said with labored breath.
The nurse rose and looked at Meredith. "I'll be right outside."
Meredith waited as the nurse retreated.
"I want you to do ... something for me." Her mother stopped as if even that sentence exhausted her.
"Anything," Meredith said.
Marguerite Rawson said nothing for several moments. Emotions crossed her face. Meredith wondered whether she was having some kind of internal argument.
Then, haltingly, "You ... have a ... sister."
Meredith just sat there. The news was like a thunderbolt striking her. "I don't understand."
"I was ... seventeen. Pregnant. My parents were ... furious. Mortified. Daddy thought it would destroy his career." Her mother swallowed hard and pain etched her sunken face.
"Squeeze the ball," Meredith urged her. The pain medication was self-controlled now.
"Later," her mother said. "I ... please find her. My ... trust fund. I am leaving it to you. And to her." She searched Meredith's face, as if seeking approval.
Meredith knew about the trust fund. It had been established for her mother, who had never used it. Meredith knew it was meant to go to her. But that had been the least of her thoughts. She made an adequate income with her practice.
"Memphis. I was ... sent to Memphis. She was born in ... February."
Her mother suddenly jerked. She squeezed the small rubber ball that released the narcotic into her veins. She turned back to Meredith. "Promise me."
"When, Mother? What year? I need more."
"Seven ... seventy."
"Father? Does he know?"
A tear worked its way down her mother's face. She seemed to nod, but she didn't answer directly. Instead she looked away as if she were staring into another place. Another time. "I'm ... sorry. Not a good mother. I ... didn't have anything ... left after ..."
"You were a fine mother," Meredith lied.
"No ..." The voice trailed off. Her mother's eyes closed.
Meredith sat there for several more moments, waiting to see whether her mother would wake. She had been so determined to exact a promise.
And Meredith needed time to digest the news. A sister. A half sister. Why was it that children never believed their parents had a youth? Never had been madly in love? Never had done anything outside the norms they had set for their own children?
She had a thousand questions. Who was the father? What had happened? Was the baby taken from her?
She looked at her mother and realized she'd never known her.
She finally rose and went to the door. The nurse stood just outside, ready to resume her place at her patient's bedside.
"She's asleep. Will you call me on my cell phone the moment she wakes again?" Meredith searched in her purse and pulled out her business card. "My cell phone number is there as well as my home and office numbers," she said. "I'll be back tonight in any case."
"Sandra Winston will be here then."
"Please give her the numbers," Meredith said.
Meredith was mouthing words as if everything was normal. But nothing was normal. She looked at her mother and wondered how many more secrets she had.
But she had to get to the courthouse. She had a hearing on a protection order this afternoon, and Judge Evans did not tolerate tardiness nor was he sympathetic toward postponements, regardless of the reason. And this matter couldn't wait. She was seeking a restraining order against a New Orleans policeman. The complainant was his wife. She was terrified of him. It had taken every ounce of courage she had to file.
If the hearing was delayed in any way, Meredith wasn't sure that Nan Fuller would keep her courage. She had already returned to Rick Fuller twice after receiving at his hands injuries severe enough to send her to the hospital.
As Meredith drove to the courthouse, she mentally reviewed the case. Rick Fuller was a popular man in the police department. Like many abusers, he was a charmer. His captain refused to believe Nan despite her two documented hospital visits, partially because Nan had contradicted herself several times out of fear.
Meredith checked her watch as she drove into a public parking lot. She was due in court in thirty minutes. She was ten minutes late in meeting her client at a restaurant across the street from the courthouse. Meredith had not wanted Nan to confront her husband in the hallways without her.
She hurriedly gathered her suit jacket, briefcase and purse and stepped out of the air-conditioned vehicle. The heat hit her like a furnace blast when she opened the door, even though she had grown up in this climate. She hurried toward the restaurant, knowing she must look as wilted as she felt. Of course, the light was red. It was always red when she was in a hurry.
Meredith broke the law and crossed without waiting for it to change, dodging several cars in doing so.
She hadn't expected her mother to drop a bomb on her. She felt like a piece of rope in a tugging contest, pulled on one end by a client's future and on the other by her mother's past.
Praying that Nan was still there, she reached the restaurant and rushed inside. Her client was sitting toward the back with Janet, a counselor from the women's shelter. As always, Nan looked ready to run away, and her hands were tightly clasped in front of her.
A blonde with wide cornflower blue eyes, Nan was a pretty woman, or would have been without the look of constant apprehension on her face. She was also thin, too thin. She was one of Meredith's pro bono cases, a referral from the women's shelter where she volunteered on a regular basis.
Despite the shortness of time, Meredith slid into the bench across from Nan and reached out to clasp her shaking hands. They were freezing.
"This shouldn't take long," Meredith said.
"I'll have to see him?"
"Yes. He's contesting it. I hoped he wouldn't because of his job, but ..."
Nan stared at her. "I don't know if I can testify against him when he's looking at me."
"You won't be testifying against him. Not in the sense that he has been charged with a crime. You are merely asking for protection. Remember that."
"I'll try," she said.
Meredith looked at her watch. "We had better go."
Nan rose, as did Janet. Janet, Meredith knew, had also been a victim of domestic violence. She had been the one who had urged Nan to come to Meredith.
They reached the courtroom ten minutes before two. No one was loitering in the corridor. Rick Fuller must have gone inside.
She didn't see him in the courtroom. Only his attorney, who nodded to her. The rest of the room was empty except for a man sitting in the back.
A lump settled in her stomach. Gage Gaynor. He had been a witness in several cases when she was an assistant district attorney, including one involving NOPD members. He had testified against fellow police officers, and the rumor was he'd been dirty as well. She didn't know whether that was true. He had denied it when she'd prepped him for testimony, and the defense counsel had been unable to shake him.
But in her few sessions with him, she'd had disquieting reactions to him. A physical attraction had flared between them, a response she most definitely hadn't wanted and that had probably led her to be more distrustful and more hostile than required.
Her suspicion had been met with his obvious lack of confidence in her abilities. He'd been defensive and curt. Still, he'd fascinated her in some elemental way.
That had been years ago. Since then, she had encountered him in courtroom hallways, and she'd always felt an odd tug deep inside at the mere sight of him.
It had never made sense to her. He was not a particularly good-looking man, at least not in the classical sense. His hair was a sandy color, straight and a little long, as if he missed haircuts on a regular basis. He had a crooked nose, obviously broken at some time, and a mouth that seldom smiled. But the rare times it did, the crooked left end of his lips moved upward in an intriguing way, and a small dimple transformed his face.
Most striking, though, were his eyes. They were a cool green that could frost an opponent in the warmest of New Orleans days. She had been on the receiving end of that gaze and shivered now just at the memory.
Still, she'd been drawn to him. He radiated a raw masculinity that he didn't try to present as anything else. Perhaps it was his self-confidence, or the athletic grace in his every movement, or the world-weary skepticism in his eyes. Whatever it was made her wary of him even as his presence created an uncomfortable warmth inside.
That kind of physical attraction was perilous to her well-being, and she had run the other way as fast as she could after the case ended.
Nan caught a glimpse of him, too, and Meredith saw her flinch.
"What is it?" she asked.
"He's one of Rick's friends," Nan whispered. "He was over at the house for a cookout."
Meredith glanced back at him, hesitated, then left her client's side to approach him. "Are you here for a reason?" He looked amused. "No hello?"
She realized how rude she had sounded. But he had put her on the defensive before.
She decided to be direct. "My client says you're a friend of Rick Fuller. Are you here to testify for him?"
"No, and no," he said.
"I beg your pardon?"
"No, I'm not a friend. And no, I am not here to testify for him."
"Nan Fuller says you are a friend. That you attended a cookout."
He shrugged. "I attended with a friend who was invited."
"Then why —?"
"Do you ask everyone in courtrooms why they're there?"
"Somehow I doubt that you're a courtroom voyeur."
He stood with that loose-limbed grace she remembered to her deep discomfort. "I'm here on official business," he said.
She knew better than to ask what. He would merely counter with a nonanswer of his own. At least he did not plan to testify.
She started to turn away before she allowed her temper to get the better of her.
"Gone over to the dark side, Counselor?" he asked, causing her to turn back to him.
"What do you mean?" She knew her cheeks were coloring with anger.
"Defense attorney. I understand that you got a couple of lowlifes sprung a few days ago."
"L. L. Jenkins for one. He needed more than a lecture."
"The judge didn't think so. But I'm flattered that you're following my career."
His mouth turned up on one side. "Hardly. It's common knowledge. L.L. is well known in the police community. How does it feel to let criminals loose on the city? Of course the DA's office does that on a regular basis as well, so I guess it's not much of a change."
It was a well-aimed arrow. Though she believed in second chances, she'd seen far too much plea bargaining.
"Prison wouldn't help them."
"No? Neither will a slap on the wrist. It just tells them they can get away with it."
She suddenly recalled one of the facts she'd discovered about him when she was researching his background as a government witness. He had a younger brother in prison. Drugs. It had been something she'd honed in on because she knew the defense would try to embarrass him or destroy his credibility.
"Is that what happened —?"
Judge Evans's bailiff entered the room, and she didn't have a chance to finish the question before turning around and returning to her client at the table.
In minutes, she had the protective order. It was not contested.
Bewildered, Nan looked at her.
Meredith turned around. Gaynor was gone.
She went over to Rick's attorney. "What happened to your client?"
"He decided not to contest," the attorney said.
"You'll have to ask him."
"Maybe I will," she said.
The bailiff said she could obtain a copy of the order in the clerk's office in the morning. Rick Fuller could not go within five hundred feet of his soon-to-be ex-wife and was not to contact her except through their respective attorneys. If he wanted to see the children, it would have to be under court supervision.
Meredith followed Nan and Janet through the door. They paused outside. "I will bring the order over later," Meredith said. "Call me if he tries to contact you, then call the police."
"They won't do anything," Nan whispered. "He's one of them."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Patricia Potter Romance Collection Volume One"
Copyright © 2018 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
BEHIND THE SHADOWS,
About the Author,