About the Book
Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money, and she can’t believe that it came from her sweet neighbor. Or that it lands her in the middle of another one of Detective Tom Parker’s investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor’s innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue that is far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation–and strikes too close to home for comfort. As family secrets come to light, her world–and her budding romance with Tom–begin to crumble. To Kate, it’s clear that she won’t be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster’s secrets. But is it too late for her and Tom?
Note: Each book in the Port Aster Secrets series is a stand-alone mystery, however, book two is a spoiler for book one’s mystery, so we recommend the series be read in order.
(to avoid the spoiler for Deadly Devotion, book 1 in the series, this excerpt from the opening chapter starts late):
[The heroine, Kate is buying groceries for an elderly neighbor and absorbed in reading a newspaper article about the murderer she outed in Deadly Devotion, as the clerk rings through her groceries, when…]
“Ma’am, could you come with me please?” The voice belonged to a security guard. At least that’s what was embroidered on his crisply ironed shirt with chevrons on the shoulder. Since when did the store hire a security guard?
“Me?” she squeaked, sounding as guilty as a pilfering mouse. She cleared her throat and forced backbone into her voice. “Why?”
The line of customers behind her gawked, eyes rapt with morbid fascination. She recognized a couple of faces and felt her own face heat. In a town this size, whatever was going on would be common knowledge by suppertime.
The pimple-faced cashier held one of the ten-dollar bills she’d given him under a blue light and showed it to the towering guard who still had his hands on her groceries. “See? Counterfeit! All three of them.”
A collective gasp sounded behind her.
“Good work, kid.” The security guard released the bags to accept the evidence.
Heart pounding, Kate gaped at the bills. “My neighbor gave them to me to buy her groceries.”
The guard nodded, but he didn’t look like he believed her. “If you’ll follow me, ma’am”—he shot a pointed look to the oglers behind her—“we’ll sort this out in the manager’s office.”
“What should I do with the groceries?” the clerk asked.
The guard steered Kate toward the office. “Have a stocker put them back.”
“No.” Kate whirled around. “I need to take those to my neighbor. She’s elderly and not feeling well. She needs—”
“Okay.” The guard waved off the cashier, curled the newspaper into the top of one of the bags, and hoisted them off the counter. “Follow me.”
Fevered whispers rose in their wake.
The guard closed the office door behind them and set the grocery bags on the manager’s desk. From the front page of the newspaper, [the murderer’s victorious smile mocked Kate.]
Suddenly, she had the sinking feeling she was the one being entrapped.
Her breath came in gulps. What if the manager didn’t believe her? Or worse, what if he did and the police went after Verna?
Kate dug around her purse for other cash, her credit card, something. She couldn’t let her sweet old neighbor take the fall for trying to pass off counterfeit bills. How had Verna even ended up with a wad of counterfeit cash?
Kate zipped closed her purse. She must’ve left her wallet on the bed when she’d switched purses this morning. Chewing on her bottom lip, she eyed the guard. “Are you sure the bills are counterfeit? I mean, that cashier didn’t look old enough to know the difference.”
“No, ma’am. I don’t know for sure.” The guard positioned himself in front of the door, his expression impassive. “That’s why we’re waiting for the police to sort this out.”
“The police?” She swiped slick palms down the sides of her slacks. “Is that really necessary?” She’d never liked the police. Not since her father died in police custody when she was ten. “I mean, I can pay for the groceries . . . some other way. My neighbor will be worried.”
A loud rap sounded on the door.
Kate jumped at the sound, knocking a soup can out of one of the grocery bags. As she scrambled to stop it from toppling off the desk, the guard pushed open the door.
Detective Tom Parker strode into the room looking every inch her knight in shining armor, just as he’d been when he rescued her from Molly’s attack with that syringe. Kate’s knees went weak with relief. Tom was the one exception to her police aversion. Although he was not quite as tall as the security guard, with his dark hair, square chin, and piercing blue eyes, Tom’s powerful presence dwarfed the younger man. And his warm smile loosened the knots in her stomach.
He’d never believe her guilty of counterfeiting. After how badly he’d felt about taking her into custody for her friend’s murder three months ago, he’d make sure she wasn’t falsely accused again.
Hopefully the fact that he wore his usual suit and tie instead of a police uniform would also stave off rumors of her being arrested. He glanced around the room, then turned back to the security guard. “Where’s your counterfeiter?”
The guard hitched his thumb in Kate’s direction.
“Miss Adams?” The surprise in Tom’s voice reinforced the absurdity of the accusations, but a second later his face broke into a grin. “If you wanted to see me, you could have just called.”
Her stomach somersaulted at his gentle teasing and at the disappointment that she hadn’t called vibrating beneath his words. If only he knew how much she’d wanted to agree to that second dinner date he’d been vying for. But his warning that Molly Gilmore’s lawyer might attack her character in the upcoming trial had her too worried Tom’s reputation would be ruined. She knew all too well what guilt by association felt like. She could never willingly subject anyone to that kind of ridicule—especially someone she cared about as much as Tom.
Suddenly aware of the security guard’s scrutiny, she schooled her expression. “Thanks. Next time I’ll keep that in mind.” Tom being a cop made the risk of being romantically linked ten times worse. If Molly’s lawyers didn’t try to shred Kate’s reputation in their effort to make her look less of a victim, they’d certainly question Tom’s objectivity as the investigating officer.
“You know this woman?” the security guard asked.
Tom chuckled. “Yes, she’s known to the police.”
The guard nodded, his expression smug.
“Because I was the victim of an attempted murder,” Kate blurted. “Not because I’m a criminal.” She knew Tom was making light of the situation to put her at ease. But he wasn’t helping.
The guard’s jaw dropped, and a smidgen of recognition lit his eyes.
Tom cleared his throat, wiping the grin from his face. “What do you have? I’m sure we can clear this up.”
The guard handed Tom the money. “I believe you’ll find these are counterfeit, sir. They failed our light test. She used them to pay for her groceries. She claims she received them from her neighbor.”
Tom swung his attention back to her, one eyebrow raised.
“You can’t think that I . . . ?” At the amused twinkle in his eye, she let out a humph. “What kind of moron counterfeits ten-dollar bills? If I wanted to defraud someone, I’d at least go for twenties. More likely fifties or hundreds!”
The amusement in Tom’s bright blue eyes intensified, but he held his mouth in a firm line. “You’re not helping your case,” he murmured….
About the Author
Sandra Orchard is a Canadian author of several award-winning inspirational romantic suspense/mysteries, including Deadly Devotion, this year’s The Word Award winner for mystery and Critical Condition, the winner of a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. In addition to her busy writing schedule, Sandra enjoys speaking at events and teaching writing workshops. Learn more about Sandra’s books and check out the special bonus features, such as deleted scenes and location pics, at her website.
Buy the Book
Available at Christian bookstores and online in paperback and Eformat* at:
*Both Deadly Devotion and Blind Trust are currently deeply discounted in Eformat at most online retailers.