Got leave of absence sorted out, but, damn the boss, had to agree to a working holiday. Bad luck for me that Alan’s heard of Zavrekestan’s paranormal oddities, and will only let me have the time if I do some research while I’m there. Don’t give a damn about his new parapsychology obsession, only care about finding Nell. Still worried sick about her disappearance.
Made it to the capital, Zavrek. No sign of Nell, no leads from family. No leads to Rodion Kosar, the gangster she was last seen with. Still convinced this is the same man she told me about in Edinburgh before she left – the best sex she ever had. But everyone clams up if I mention his name, even in the seediest bars. Underlying sense of menace in this country. They’re building up for an election and their tyrannical president’s sick.
Been in dives you wouldn’t believe. Spent half my money on bribes and still no leads to Nell or Kosar. BUT have directions to an inn just over the Russian border – apparently safe refuge for the worst criminals because even cops afraid to go there. Wouldn’t go near it myself for anyone but Nell – it’s got to be my best hope so far of finding Kosar. Have taken sensible precautions – hired a guide and bought an unlicensed gun for my own protection.
This country just isn’t safe! Been to Russia, shot a man and re-entered Zavrekestan illegally with this guy I think might be Kosar. He’s gorgeous enough to be the best sex Nell ever had. Worse, I have the awful feeling he’d be the best sex I ever had. He’s rough and strange, and is the tiniest bit crazy – he actually seemed to enjoy being shot at and chased by the police. Also, he looks disarmingly like Jesus Christ, and somehow when he touches my hand I stop being afraid. Weird, right? Especially when I want him to touch a lot more than my hand. And now I have to share this shabby motel room with him. No time for more, he’s coming to bed…
Anyone care to guess Jen’s next diary entry?
Excerpt from Hearts and Minds:
Darkness and light in one dangerous, irresistible stranger…
Down to earth psychologist Jenna Hunt arrives in obscure Zavrekestan to find her missing friend, Nell, last seen with notorious gangster Rodion Kosar. But nothing goes the way Jen intended. Complete strangers want to harm her. She shoots one man and travels with another who may or may not be the elusive Kosar, but who’s constantly pursued by armed secret police. Dangerous attraction flares, adding excitement as well as unexpected fun to her search.
But Jen’s dark, mysterious travelling companion is both gifted and cursed. A powerful healer with blood on his conscience and a terrible tragedy in his past, he’s now suffering agonies whenever he exercises his gift, and in this he’s not alone. As Jen is drawn deeper into his world of radical dissidents and the paranormally gifted, she discovers the terrors of a ruthless government which will stop at nothing to hold onto power. She finds herself risking all to help the very people she came to rescue Nell from, and neither common sense nor principles can keep her from the arms of the sexy, tormented Nikolai.
She clutched her hair in one shaking hand, staring down at the still figure. Fuck, I’ve just killed a man. With a gun I’m not supposed to own.
Easing herself away from the body, she stared at the gun, wondering wildly if she should ditch it. Wipe her fingerprints off it, drop it on the body, and run.
But all those people in the bar had seen her leave with him. She stood out like a sore thumb. And they must have heard the shot. She had only moments before they came charging out to investigate and discovered her standing over their friend’s body with a gun…
Self-defence, she reasoned with herself. Self-defence, reasonable force. All right, so she’d killed him, but no force less than killing was really going to stop him raping and murdering her.
So I’m in the clear…
At home, maybe. This was rural Russia. A lawless, no-go border region where places like this were allowed to exist.
“I’m toast,” she whispered.
“Nonsense,” a man’s bracing voice said in English. “If you had to shoot the bastard, this is the best place to have done it.”
Jen whipped around to face the voice—which was deep, a little husky, and spoke with a faint but definite Russian accent. Or perhaps Zavreki; Jen couldn’t always tell the difference.
The voice’s owner stood just outside the pub door, regarding her from inside a dark hoodie. He seemed tall, and when he walked toward her, his movements were loose and easy, those of a young man. But Jen had learned a lot in the last half hour. Basically, this place operated on different rules from the ones she was used to. All the brains, effrontery, and psychological knowledge in the world couldn’t save her from these people. They would rather harm her than not.
She backed away as he advanced, gripping the little gun convulsively. She really didn’t want to have to use it again. Maybe she could just edge away to her car and drive like hell away from here. She needed more than her own wits to find Nell. She needed the British embassy to gain the cooperation of the Zavreki police, and maybe the Russians too. So she couldn’t wait around to face a murder charge, even in self-defence, could she?
She edged back from the approaching man, her gaze flickering to where her hired car waited several yards away like the Promised Land. The man, however, surprised her by stepping over the body before turning his back on her and crouching down to examine the man she’d shot. She glimpsed the newcomer’s hands, pale in the moonlight which gleamed down from the cloudless night sky, as he turned the body and ripped open the dead man’s shirt. Jen didn’t need to look away. She couldn’t see past him to the wound.
The newcomer in the hoodie flexed his long fingers on both hands, then shoved up his sleeves and seemed to do something with the body—perhaps straighten the clothes he’d just disarranged, it was hard to tell, for Jen’s attention was riveted now to the newcomer’s wrists and arms.
Tattoos. She couldn’t make out the designs, just splashes of colour, but undoubtedly they were tattoos. She could see brightness snaking up the paleness of his skin and disappearing into the sleeves of his hoodie.
Kosar. This had to be Rodion Kosar himself. He must have been here all the time, listening to her conversation with the bald man. She wished like hell she’d known that before she’d tried to get useless information from the poor bastard she’d just killed. She shuddered, then refocused on the man in the hoodie, from whom a weird sound was emanating—a cross between a hiss and a groan. His back was rigid. He gave another, almost inaudible grunt, and she stepped forward in instinctive concern more than alarm. But then he only breathed deeply and rose to his feet before turning to face her.
“You want Kosar,” he said casually. “I’ll take you.”
Jen closed her mouth. “Oh no. That’s what he said.” She jerked her head at the body behind him.
“Well, you’ve still got the gun,” he pointed out. “Come on. You can drive.”
Jen swallowed. Her gaze flickered down to the body. “What about him?”
“He’ll be fine.”
Jen stared. “I shot him! And I doubt he’s going to heaven.”
About Marie Treanor
“Marie Treanor lives in Scotland with her eccentric husband and three much-too-smart children. Having grown bored with city life, she resides these days in a picturesque village by the sea where she is lucky enough to enjoy herself avoiding housework and writing sensual stories of paranormal romance and fantasy.
Marie is the award winning author of over forty sexy paranormal romances – Indie, New York and E-published.”
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