If You Hear Her: A Novel of Romantic Suspense by Shiloh Walker
The scream Lena Riddle hears in the woods behind her house is enough to curdle her blood—she has no doubt that a woman is in real danger. Unfortunately, with no physical evidence, the local law officers in small-town Ash, Kentucky, dismiss her claim. But Lena knows what she heard—and it leaves her filled with fear and frustration.
Ezra King is on leave from the state police, but he can’t escape the guilty memories that haunt his dreams. When he sees Lena, he is immediately drawn to her. He aches to touch her—to be touched by her—but is he too burdened by his tragic past to get close?
When Ezra hears her story of an unknown woman’s screams, his instincts tell him that Lena’s life is also at risk—and his desire to protect her is as fierce as his need to possess her.
Excerpt Language warning!
from the unedited copy
He was waiting on a date.
A fucking date.
What in the hell was he doing?
He didn’t need to be dating right now…did he?
Head was too fucked up and too often, he spent time lost in some black, black moments.
Bad date material. Very bad.
But even as he tried to convince himself of that, he couldn’t get up and leave. It was dinner. A meal, right? A meal with a pretty lady, and obviously going by the lasagna from yesterday, a pretty lady who could cook. They could share a meal, some conversation—should be easy, he figured.
His screwed up head didn’t even have to enter into it, right?
Food. Conversation. At the end of the night, they’d go their separate ways, and maybe, just maybe he could get her phone number. Nice and easy…nothing complicated about it.
And it was, he realized. Sitting there with her, sharing a meal and some conversation.
He hadn’t been lying when he said it had been a while since he’d asked anybody on a date—it had been months since he’d been on a date, years since he’d really asked anybody out.
But still, it was easy. Being with Lena? Felt easy. Felt…natural.
“You haven’t lived here very long,” she mentioned as she cut into the roasted chicken.
“Small town. I’d have heard the name before if you had been living here long…although the last name is familiar. You’re June King’s grandson?”
“Yeah.” Small towns were strange places. A guy could forever be known as somebody’s son, grandson. This was his particular identifier here—June King’s grandson. Not he minded. His grandmother had been one hell of a lady and it seemed like just about everybody who had known had loved her. “Did you know her?”
“Not so much.” Lena shrugged and took a sip of her water. “I’ve only lived here on nine years and I know her health started to slide the last few years she was alive. I met her a few times, though. She seemed like a wonderful lady.”
“It makes you sad,” she murmured. “I’m sorry.”
“Loss always sucks.” He scooped up some mashed potatoes and took a bite, swallowing despite the knot in his throat. “She was a hell of a cook, too, but I’ll tell you what, I think you could have given her a run for her money. How did you get started doing this—did you always want to?”
“You really want to know?” A smile tugged at her lips.
Something about that smile had him curious. “Yeah.”
“I did it to piss my mom off.”
“Piss your mom off?” he echoed. Baffled, he sat his fork down and asked, “Just how in the hell does becoming a chef warrant getting your mom pissed off?”
“Well, being a chef involves things like knives, and hot stoves,” Lena drawled. An amused grin curled her lips, amused…and just a little devilish. “In her eyes, it was a veritable death trap for somebody who couldn’t see. She’s the overprotective type.”
“And your dad?”
Lena sighed, that smile faded from her face. “He’s dead. Died in an accident when I was twelve.” Absently she reached up, rubbing at her eyes under her tinted lenses. “Dad was always pushing me to do whatever I wanted, whatever I could. Mom was more hesitant but Dad encouraged her to let me try. After he died, well…she reacted by hovering. Clutching me too close. Those overprotective moms you heard about on TV sometimes? My mom could have given them lessons.”
She turned her face toward his and grimaced. “Not exactly ideal date discussion we’re having here.”
“Says who?” He bumped his shoulder against hers and said, “I’m enjoying the conversation. Sure as hell beats some of the inane crap I’ve listened to in my life.”
“Inane.” The somber expression on her face slowly faded, replaced by a smile. “Points for using inane, Ezra. But let’s try to lighten things up a little. What brings you to Ash?”
Not the way to lighten things up, he brooded. Trying to keep the edge from his voice, he said, “I lived in Lexington until a few months ago and took some time away from my job. Since Gran left me the house, I decided to come here. Place is getting run down, needs some work on it and it’s easier to do if I’m here anyway.”
“That’s what I’m here to figure out,” he said softly.
There was something in his voice, Lena thought.
She didn’t know him well enough to entirely put her finger on it, but she could hear the strain. And sitting next to him, she had felt the way he’d gone rigid and stiff, even though he’d forced himself to relax almost immediately.
But she wasn’t going to pry.
At least, not yet.
Maybe if he asked her out again…
Why I’m excited
I love the blurb. The intrigue of where the scream is coming from piques my curiosity.