Release date: August 18, 2014
On leave from the FBI, Special Agent Jason Spark is enjoying some welcome peace and quiet when he’s called on to help the local sheriff’s department check out a 911 call. Expecting a prank or misdial, he unwittingly steps into a horrifying bloodbath straight out of a Hollywood slasher movie, complete with clues scrawled on the wall.
Nikki Hart’s husband and son are killed, but she survives, badly beaten and barely clinging to life in a coma. When she awakens, she doesn’t know her name, recognize her face, or remember anything about herself and her past. Terrified, and unsure of whom to trust, she clings to the memory of the angel who comforted her in her darkest moments.
The investigation turns up a prime suspect: The Butcher, an elusive hired assassin for the Sicilian mob. As the news of Nikki’s recovery spreads, putting her in this ruthless killer’s sights again, Jason will do whatever it takes to protect the woman he’s learning to love.
by Susanne Matthews
Sensuality Level: Sensual
A former high school teacher, Susanne Matthews lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband, the inspiration for all her heroes. When she’s not writing, she enjoys camping in the summer and romantic getaways in winter. Find Susanne Matthews at www.mhsusannematthews.ca/, on Facebook, and on Twitter @jandsmatt.
An excerpt from On His Watch:
The sound of breaking glass coming from downstairs shattered the stillness. Nikki tensed. Had the sound come from the kitchen? Had she left a window open? She’d shut the bedroom window a few moments ago because the wind had picked up and its whistling sound bothered her. Could it have knocked over the crystal vase of roses Sam had sent her this morning? Perhaps Mrs. Olsen’s tabby had jumped in the window and knocked the vase over. The cat had been a regular visitor when the previous owners had lived here, and he saw no reason to curtail his visits. She’d almost had a heart attack the last time he entered, bringing her a gift—a dead mouse—and Danny had laughed himself silly at “Mommy’s girliness.” Sam, not an animal lover, had threatened to poison the animal if it came into the house again. If the cat had broken the vase, its days were numbered.
Or what if someone was in the house? She’d noticed a lot of strangers in town, some looking more unkempt than others. There were plenty of family campers, but every now and then, she’d seen so-called gold prospectors combing the Larosa hills. Trudy, Mandy’s best friend Lily’s mother, had said they were harmless but to a girl like Nikki from San Francisco, dirty, half-starved men meant trouble. They could easily be junkies desperately needing a fix.
She took a deep breath. She didn’t hear any other suspicious sounds. As Sam would say, she was letting her imagination run wild. Most likely it was one of Larosa’s minor quakes that had caused a glass to slip off the table. Just a few miles off the San Andreas Fault, the town was constantly trembling. She barely noticed the Earth’s slight shaking anymore.
Even though she’d convinced herself nothing was amiss, Nikki tiptoed to the guest room, got down on all fours, and peeked under the bed. Mandy was asleep. The child slept like the dead once she was out. Nikki reached for the flashlight, turned it off, and used the bed to leverage her body upright again.
She picked up the cell phone she’d left on the dresser earlier, made sure it was on in case Sam called, and dropped it into the right pocket of her pajama top. Carrying the flashlight, she slipped out of the room, closing the door softly behind her.
Maybe getting a dog’s a good idea. It would keep the damn cat out of the house.
Nikki stood still in the hallway and listened. The only thing she could hear was the sound of the television in the den. Someone was buying a vowel.
She reached Danny’s room and opened the door. When she saw his bed was empty, she relaxed and shook her head in resignation. As much as it annoyed her to admit it, this time Sam was right. Her imagination did tend to look for boogeymen where there weren’t any. Clearly her eight-year-old and his bottomless pit of a stomach had decided to have another bedtime snack. No doubt he was the culprit. She left the room and placed the flashlight on the hall table where it usually sat in case of a power outage.
“What did you break this time?” she called as she headed down the stairs. “I swear, you’re like a bull in a china shop.”