Cecily Brown lands in Branson, Missouri after a rough divorce. She plans to start over and make her long-standing dream of owning a boutique called ‘Pink Neon’ come true. She needs to forget the decade she spent trapped in a hellish marriage to millionaire Willard Bradford VI—who she later discovers was murdered on the steps of his mansion.
Her first customer at Pink Neon is the dark and mysterious Daniel Padilla. Their attraction is intense and their passion undeniable. Life’s good until Padilla admits he’s an FBI agent sent to check out Cecily. She reacts with anger but as she learns she’s become the FBI’s top suspect in her ex-husband's murder, she has to trust Daniel if she can trust anyone at all.
As the investigation heats up, she ends up heading south with him to Texas. Cecily and her FBI lover try to discover who the real killer might be. But danger lurks and it’s going to get rough before they straighten things out….if they can.
Read an excerpt:
Electricity ignited when he touched her, a vibrant current almost tangible enough to sting. He hadn’t intended to do anything but prevent a mishap, but he left his arm in place as they walked out to the pier in tandem, the slender space wide enough for two. Cecily leaned into him and Daniel thought if he didn’t kiss her soon, he’d explode into shattered bits. When they reached the structure, she put down the bags on the single picnic table and he followed her lead, removing his arm. Permanent benches flanked the table and shrunk the space. Cecily turned to him, her face in shadow and met his gaze.
God, he thought he’d drown in the depths of her deep, dark eyes. Somewhere he’d read eyes reflected the soul and if true, this lady had to be beautiful deep within, inside as much as out. He thought he could read old sorrow combined with hope and a healthy dose of desire. Neither spoke as a moment stretched out into two, then three. Cecily moved first. Her left hand rose with the slow motion of a sleepwalker to touch his cheek, her fingers separate. She stroked his face, lighter than a soft wind. Their eyes remained locked as she traced his lips with a single finger. She spoke his name aloud, her tone rich and resonant.
Her voice became a knife, sharp enough to cut away some of his emotional baggage in catharsis. With a vulnerable corner of his heart laid bare, Daniel didn’t think, he acted. He grasped Cecily in his arms and bent for a kiss. His lips burned fever hot as need rippled through his body like cold chills. The overall effect made him almost physically sick, but he sought healing and as their mouths merged into one, he thought Cecily offered the cure.
Dan snared her lips with his and used his mouth on hers, more caress than simple kiss. He’d forgotten the taste of lipstick on his tongue or how soft a woman’s skin could feel beneath his hands. As he inhaled her fragrance, a blend of perfume, cosmetics, peppermint, the potpourri from her shop, and a few elements Daniel couldn’t define, he thought he’d die happy smelling something so sweet.
Cecily’s hands made a circle around his neck and her fingers trespassed into his hair, plowing through his short strands with slow deliberation. Her breath lifted into his face and he sucked in the air she expelled, an intimate exchange. Daniel caught her bottom lip between his and almost nibbled. Her tongue darted into his mouth via the small space and the sensations of a French kiss, delivered with sexy style, rocked his body. Her tiny braids – cornrows, he thought, they call them cornrows, shifted with enough momentum to touch his arms and tickle.
As he fastened his mouth tighter onto hers, his senses developed an acute awareness. Everything enhanced until Daniel experienced touch, taste, and smell with intimate power. Eyes open throughout the kiss, he saw with a stark clarity and despite the darkness enveloping them, the subtle beauty of her silhouette stole his breath. He heard each tiny sound, the smack of his lips against hers, the faint rubbing of his T-shirt against her blouse, even the crickets singing in the weeds along the lakeshore. Her increased heartbeat rang in his ears, and he swore he could hear her blood flow through vein and artery. When Daniel deepened the kiss, Cecily’s low moan echoed in his ears and he realized seconds later, he made a similar sound of pleasure.
Everything shifted as they kissed, mouths fused together, and he knew this ranked as significant. A living force sprang into being, fueled with their unbridled desire and consuming need. He’d never experienced anything so deep or profound, strong enough to turn his head with dizziness, terrifying enough to shake his foundations. Whatever it meant, wherever it might lead, Daniel couldn’t begin to guess, but he planned to follow until he grasped the meaning.
Blindsided by the last thing he expected when he left Kansas City, mind reeling from the possible implications to his career, heart pounding, and the doorway to his inner self open to another human being for the first time in years, Daniel hated to let go.
Growing up in historic St. Joseph, Missouri, Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy scribbled her stories from an early age. Her first publication – a poem on the children’s page of the local newspaper – seems to have set her fate. As a full time author, she has more than twenty full length novels published along with assorted novellas and short fiction. A contributor to more than two dozen anthologies, her credits include Chicken Soup For The Soul among many collections of short fiction. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Missouri Writers Guild, and the Ozark Writers League. Lee Ann earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Missouri Southern State University as well as an Associate Degree from Crowder College. She has worked in broadcasting, retail, and other fields including education. She is currently a substitute school teacher. As a wife and mother of three, she spends her days penning stories, cooking, reading, and other daily duties. She currently makes her home in the Missouri Ozarks, living in what passes for suburbs in a small town.