Coming fall 2014, Playing with Fire, Book two, Sonoran Security Series
Here is a sneak peak of a scene from the book that is currently under edits and will be released soon.
Matt Anderson, co-owner of Sonoran Security, has been hired to provide security for a major remodel project in North Scottsdale.
Stella Adams has stepped out on her own and away from her family’s real estate development business by purchasing a foreclosure of an estate home. This move has created a major rift with her family, especially her father, Robert Adams.
When Stella’s father contacts Matt and asks him approach Stella about providing security for her construction project, Robert Adams had hoped to keep tabs on his feisty, independent daughter. Instead, he unwittingly places Matt in the unlikely role of peacemaker between father and daughter. Years ago, Matt had walked away from his family and never looked back and now as he falls in love with Stella, his carefully built façade of cool, efficient control is begins to crumble.
When he discovers that a nearby construction site fire was the latest in a string of arsons and things begin to happen on Stella’s remodel, Matt works against the clock to find out who is responsible. He must stop the arsonist before he strikes again.
The waitress arrived at the table with their dinners. “Careful, both plates are very hot,” she cautioned as she set them on the table and left.
Matt unwrapped the foil which held flour tortillas and began to load beef and vegetables on one. He paused briefly. “Life as a child of domineering father isn’t a bed of roses.”
Stella took a bit of her tamale and considered his comment. The other day he’d commented that he knew what it was like to have a father run his life. Now, he’s opened the door again with this comment. Maybe it was time to ask again. “Now that you know everything about my family, tell me about yours.”
Matt finished chewing his tortilla and took a large sip from his tea. “My family history is something that I never discuss.”
Stella looked down and stuffed a forkful of rice in her mouth. She’d just spent the last ten minutes baring her soul to this man. It was time for a quid pro quo. “Why?” She asked.
He avoided her look and began to assemble another tortilla with fillings. “I just don’t.” Matt replied.
Despite his size and experience, there was a “little boy lost” aura about him when the topic of his family came up. Stella suppressed a smirk. With four brothers and being the only girl, if there was one thing she knew how to do, it was how to handle little boys who wore size ten shoes. She waited until he’d taken another bite of the fajita he held and then asked, “Serial Killer?”
Matt’s head snapped up. “What?”
“If you’re reluctant to talk about your family there must be some deep dark family secret. So, who’s the serial killer in the family?”
Matt’s lips curled into a smirk. “I can’t tell you. If I did I’d have to kill and bury you with all the other bodies.”
Stella grinned. “And where are these bodies buried?”
Matt laughed and she took another bite of her tamale.
“Is this another way to find out where I come from?” Matt asked.
“Yep partner.” Stella drawled. “Yesterday you talked a lot about barns and horses. Are you a city boy or a country boy?”
Stella smiled. Now we’re getting somewhere. “So, you grew up on a ranch and went to school in the city.”
“Good guess. Give the lady a yellow rose.”
Buoyed by his playfulness, she continued, “Longhorn or Aggie?”
Matt chortled a short laugh, “darn sure ain’t an Aggie.”
“Went to University of Texas?”
“For a while,” Matt replied.
“Did you like it?” Matt’s expression darkened. Stella sensed that she had started to tread into dangerous territory.
“Not really,” he replied.
“What year did you graduate?”
Matt set down his fajita. “I didn’t,” he growled. “Are you finished grilling me yet?”
Stella watched as he reached over and finished his remaining iced tea in a couple large swallows.
“Matt, what happened?”
Matt set his glass down and signaled for the waitress. When she arrived, he ordered a beer. Stella picked at her rice and tamale while he shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He clearly wanted to say something. If she’d just wait, maybe he’d open up.
When the waitress returned with his beer, and he took a long pull from the bottle, and began to nervously pick at the label.
“Look Stella. I’m not terribly comfortable talking about the specifics but let me say this. I understand what’s it’s like to have a father who is determined to plan your life. My old man was like yours. He was tough on us. One night I hit the breaking point and walked away. From everything, family, college, friends, you name it. I understand that you must create your own destiny, but be careful. You may end up destroying things that can’t be put back together later down the road.”
Matt brought the bottle up to his lips and took another couple gulps of beer.
Stella leaned forward and spoke quietly. “Matt. You’ve done so well. You’re a co-owner in a very successful business and you’ve done it on your own. They’d be proud of you.”
He didn’t look up and continued to pile beef, grilled onions, tomatoes and peppers into another tortilla. She watched in silence. He was precise and controlled as he layered the ingredients, as if he had no cares at all. Stella wondered how he could dial back the emotions she witnessed moments ago so quickly, or was he just really good at hiding how he really felt.
“You’re telling me that you haven’t spoken to anyone in your family since you left college?”
Matt looked up at her. His brown eyes which had twinkled with humor a few minutes ago were somber and reminded her of a picture of lone dog sitting a kennel in a Humane Society advertisement.
“No. I’m sure the old man disowned me when I left.”