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      Sam wished he could tell Kristen what he was doing.

      Lying to her about the mysterious text message had bothered him a hell of a lot more than keeping it a secret from the rest of the police. She’d put herself on the line for him and his daughter, more than once. She deserved his trust.

      She deserved the truth.

      But he couldn’t tell anyone what he had planned. Not until he had his little girl safely back in his arms. The past few days had turned their lives upside down, but one thing hadn’t changed: he would do anything in his power to protect his child, whether it was from a mystery assailant or a mercurial, enigmatic police detective with a troubled past.

      If only the phantom touch of Kristen’s mouth wasn’t still lingering on his lips.

      Chickasaw County Captive

      Paula Graves


      MILLS & BOON

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      For Melissa, who surprises and challenges me daily.

       I’m lucky to be your aunt.


      Alabama native Paula Graves wrote her first book, a mystery starring herself and her neighborhood friends, at the age of six. A voracious reader, Paula loves books that pair tantalizing mystery with compelling romance. When she’s not reading or writing, she works as a creative director for a Birmingham advertising agency and spends time with her family and friends. She is a member of Southern Magic Romance Writers, Heart of Dixie Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America.

      Paula invites readers to visit her Web site, www.paulagraves.com.


      Kristen Tandy—The small-town detective’s tragic past comes back to haunt her when she’s assigned to protect a child who has become a pawn in a deadly game of cat and mouse between the child’s father and a faceless enemy.

      Sam Cooper—The county prosecutor has more than one enemy. But which one is trying to use his four-year-old daughter against him? And can he trust Kristen, whose aversion to children is apparent, with his daughter’s fragile heart?

      Maddy Cooper—A mysterious assailant almost takes the four-year-old from her home, gravely injuring her babysitter in the process. Does Maddy’s memory of the night in question hold the key to the kidnapper’s identity?

      Jason Foley—Kris’s work partner worries that she’s not cut out for working with children like Maddy. Will his doubts put Kris’s bodyguard assignment at risk?

      Carl Madison—The captain of detectives is also Kris’s foster father. Has he let his love for his foster daughter cause him to give her a job she’s not prepared for?

      Nora Cabot—Sam’s ex-wife hasn’t seen their daughter in four years. Why is she suddenly so interested in visiting the child she abandoned as a baby?

      Graham Stilson—The Maryland attorney is up for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Could the attempted kidnapping of his new wife’s daughter be connected to his campaign?

      Carlos Calderon—Years earlier, Sam successfully prosecuted the Sanselmo drug lord’s eldest son, who was recently murdered in prison. Is Calderon out for revenge?

      Darryl Morris—When Morris’s son was killed in a collision, he urged Sam to throw the book at the man responsible. Has his anger at Sam for taking a plea deal instead driven him to desperate measures?


      Chapter One

      Chapter Two

      Chapter Three

      Chapter Four

      Chapter Five

      Chapter Six

      Chapter Seven

      Chapter Eight

      Chapter Nine

      Chapter Ten

      Chapter Eleven

      Chapter Twelve

      Chapter Thirteen

      Chapter Fourteen

      Chapter Fifteen

      Chapter Sixteen

      Chapter Seventeen


      Chapter One

      Blue and cherry lights strobed the night sky as Sam Cooper muscled his Jeep into a tight turn onto Mission Road. Ahead, a phalanx of police cars and rescue units spread haphazardly across the narrow road in front of his house.

      He parked the Cherokee behind the nearest police cruiser, his pounding heart outracing the pulses of light. Ignoring the gaggle of curious onlookers, he took the porch steps two at a time and pushed past the uniformed cop standing in the doorway.

      “Sir, you can’t—”

      Sam ignored him, scanning the narrow foyer until he caught sight of his older brother’s terrified face. “J.D.?”

      J.D. Cooper turned at the sound of his name. The look on his face made Sam’s stomach turn queasy flips. “Is Cissy okay?” he asked J.D. “Where’s Maddy?”

      J.D.’s gaze flickered back to the paramedics working over the unconscious body of his teenage daughter lying on the woven rug in the middle of the foyer. “Cissy’s alive but they can’t get her to respond.”

      Sam’s heart skipped a beat. “What the hell happened? What about Maddy?”

      J.D. looked at him again. “We don’t know.”

      The panic Sam had held in check broke free, suffocating him. He started toward the stairs up to the bedroom, where he’d last seen his daughter when he kissed her good-night before leaving for his business dinner.

      J.D. caught his arm, jerking him to a stop. “She’s not up there. We looked.”

      Sam tugged his arm away. “Maybe she’s in another room—” J.D. gestured at the obvious signs of a struggle. “Cissy didn’t just fall down and hit her head, Sam! Someone did this to her! Someone took Maddy.”

      Sam shook his head, not willing to believe it.

      A pair of detectives moved toward them, their badges hooked to their waistbands. All that broke through the haze of Sam’s panic was the sympathy in the man’s eyes and the complete lack of expression on the woman’s face.

      The female introduced herself. “Kristen Tandy, Gossamer Ridge Police Department. This is Detective Jason Foley. You’re the home owner?”

      “Sam Cooper.” He bit back impatience. “My daughter’s missing.”


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