Christmas Data Breach
West Investigations Book 3
by K.D. Richards
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Thriller
mysterious fire is set at Christmas…
Forcing a security expert to reunite with the woman he never forgot
Mya Rochon had a bounce in her step as she strolled the short distance back to her laboratory. She sipped her gingerbread latte, enjoying Christmas lights draping the topiaries in the office complex. The starry Sunday night wasn’t the reason for her upbeat mood, however. She’d spent the last several weeks subjecting the final part of her cancer treatment to rigorous testing, and at every turn it had responded as she’d hoped. After years of study and research, it finally looked like she’d successfully developed a treatment for glioblastoma brain cancer.
The building that housed her laboratory sat at the back of the office complex and was smaller than the other office buildings. Dr. Timothy Ott’s office took up the first floor. TriGen Labs, which she helmed, occupied the second floor.
She headed around the building to the side entrance. There was no security guard on duty on weekends and tenants could exit from the lobby door on the weekend, but there was no entry from that door. She swiped her building identification, which doubled as a keycard, over the security panel by the door and headed down the hall to the elevators.
A man’s deep baritone voice from just around the corner in front of her had her pausing. Tenants had twenty-four-hour access to the building, but she couldn’t remember Dr. Ott ever coming in on a Sunday night. Nor did the voice she heard sound at all like the tenor of the kindly sixty-three-year-old dentist she knew. No, the tone of this man’s voice was chilling.
A shiver snaked down her spine. There was no doubt in her mind that he was dangerous.
Definitely not Dr. Ott.
Curiosity demanded she peek around the wall, but fear rooted her to the spot. She chucked the nearly empty coffee cup and listened.
“I’ve looked all over for her. Her car is in the lot, but she’s not here.”
Mya glanced back at the door through which she’d entered. Entry from the outside was granted electronically, but the door opened from the inside by a metal bar that clanked loudly when pushed. She doubted she could make it out the door and away from the building without being heard.
"I've already started a fire in the lab. I need to get out of here before this place goes up in flames."
Heavy footsteps moved away from where she stood. She waited until she couldn’t hear them any longer, then bolted for the door to the stairwell, the laptop in her oversized messenger bag bouncing against her hip.
There were years of work in that lab, not just hers, but her mentor’s life’s work too. She couldn’t just let it all go up in flames.
Missing at Christmas
West Investigations Book 2
bring her sister home for the holidays
They’ll put everything on the line.
Private investigator Shawn West is stunned when the attack victim he rescues is Addy Williams—the one woman he never forgot. She’s turning a quiet upstate New York town inside out to bring her missing sister home by Christmas. Shawn offers to help if she'll provide a cover for his own investigation into a suspicious company in town, but can they work together to find Addy's sister…or are they already too late?
From Harlequin Intrigue: Seek thrills. Solve crimes. Justice served.
Discover more action-packed stories in the West Investigations series. All books are stand-alone with uplifting endings.
Adelaide “Addy” Williams’s feet ached, and a headache throbbed behind her temples as she pulled the restaurant door open. The bells above the door jangled, drawing the attention of the middle-aged man behind the host podium. The smell of fried onions and beef slapped her in the face as she stepped toward the man.
He gave a tight smile, probably annoyed to have a customer come in less than an hour from closing time. “Dining in or taking out?”
“Neither.” Addy pulled the photograph of her sister from the oversize purse she carried. The bottom edges were creased from having been taken in and out of the purse all day, but Cassie’s effervescent smile remained unblemished. “I’m looking for my sister.” Addy thrust the photo at the man. “Have you seen her?”
The man flicked a glance at the photo then back to Addy. “No.”
Addy fought back the annoyance swelling in her chest. She’d gotten the same reaction from at least half the people she’d shown Cassie’s picture to over the last two days. Indifference or outright irritation was the most common reaction from people when she explained her nineteen-year-old sister was missing. She couldn’t help but wonder if she’d have gotten the same reaction if Cassie had blue eyes and blond hair instead of caramel skin and coarse coils.
“Please, look again,” she said, thrusting Cassie’s photo closer to the man.
He sighed, but pulled a pair of glasses from the pocket of his suit jacket and slipped them on before taking the photo from Addy. A lock of dark brown hair fell over his forehead as his studied the picture. After a moment he said, “I’m sorry. I’ve never seen her.”
“Are you sure?” Addy pressed, taking the photo back. She’d been in the restaurant earlier that day and had gotten the same response from the young woman behind the podium at the time, but she’d hoped she might have better luck with the evening staff.
The man sighed. “Yes, I’m sure. Now, I’m sorry about your sister, but if you aren’t going to order something, I have to ask you to leave.”
As if on cue, Addy’s stomach rumbled.
The man’s dark eyebrows rose, making it clear he’d heard her body’s protestations. She’d forgotten to stop for lunch, propelled by the ticking clock metaphorically hanging over her head. Addy knew the statistics. The longer a young woman was missing, the less likely it was that she’d be found alive.
“Kitchen is closing in five minutes, but the dining area is open until nine.”
Addy glanced at her watch—8:25 p.m. Living in Manhattan, it was nearly impossible to imagine a restaurant closing up shop so early. But Bentham, New York, was no Manhattan.
“Miss?” the man said.
“I want to order. I’ll take it to go.”
The man grabbed a plastic-clad menu from the top of the stack on the podium and thrust it into her hands. It listed traditional Mexican fare. She ordered a chicken burrito.
“Have a seat.” The man waved vaguely toward the nearest cluster of tables. “Your order will be out momentarily.” He dropped the menu back on top of the stack and turned.
“Do you mind showing this photo to the kitchen staff? Please?” Addy added at his frown. “She’s my sister.” She fought to get the last words out around the sob lodged in her throat. Showing vulnerability in front of a complete stranger was not something a tough-as-nails corporate attorney from Manhattan did. But if she had to beg this man to help her, she would. She couldn’t leave any stone unturned.
The man’s eyes finally softened. He took the photo from her hand. “I’ll see what I can do.”
Pursuit of the Truth
West Investigations Book 1
skills can keep her safe
Her secrets could get them killed…
Security expert Ryan West’s worst fears come to life when hotel CEO Nadia Shelton is pushed in front of a taxi and nearly killed. Someone will do whatever it takes to find the brother Nadia thought was dead, and the only way Ryan can protect her as they uncover the truth is to stay strictly professional. But the sparks igniting between them are nearly impossible to ignore.
From Harlequin Intrigue: Seek thrills. Solve crimes. Justice served.
Goose bumps tingled over Nadia Shelton’s arms and neck as she exited her apartment building. She scanned the morning commuters looking for signs of someone watching her. And like every previous morning, all she saw were fellow New Yorkers hustling along the sidewalk, somewhat faster this morning than the morning before, as the gray clouds overhead pelted them with rain.
Nadia pulled her purse and briefcase closer to her body, hoping to shield them from the worst of the rain, and tightened her grip on her umbrella. The hairs on the back of her neck stood at attention as she entered the flow of bodies on the sidewalk. There was no time for paranoia. She was already ten minutes late getting to work. Granted, that was not typically a huge deal since she was her own boss, but this morning she had a meeting she did not want to be late for.
Should have thought of that while you were primping for a certain security specialist with sexy hazel eyes.
Nadia caught a glimpse of herself in the large front window of the corner bodega. She slowed and examined her reflection as she passed by. Her plum-colored sheath accentuated the curve of her hips and popped vibrantly against her dark skin. The dress showed just a hint of her ample cleavage—sexy, but still work-appropriate. The off-white trench coat she’d slid into on her way out the door completed the look. She’d dressed to feel good about herself, and looking into the storefront window, she felt as if she’d succeeded.
Goodness knows she deserved some happiness. The last several months had been the most trying of her life.
She took a step away from the window, then jerked to a stop once again when the reflection of a man on the other side of the street caught her eye. He huddled under the awning of a bookstore, its interior lights still darkened.
Nadia strained to make out his features, but the window distorted his image, even as scores of people hurried by, making it even more difficult to get a clear view. She mentally noted the dark hoodie, navy jeans and black work boots before starting down the sidewalk again, her heart rate picking up its pace.
She shot a glance over her shoulder, but the man had moved from the doorway.
You’re being paranoid. He was probably just taking a reprieve from the rain.
There was absolutely no reason for anyone to be watching her, and any other day, she probably wouldn’t have even noticed the man. But this hadn’t been the only odd occurrence lately. An image jumped into her head. Born and raised in New York, she’d seen her fair share of rats, even dead ones, but never mangled so horribly.
She shook her head to clear the memory of the rat from her mind. Her neighbor’s cat had most likely left that little gift for her—it couldn’t be anything more sinister than that.
And her keyed car and the late-night hang-ups? Was the cat behind those things too?
It wasn’t as if the garage she parked her rarely used car in was Fort Knox. Teenagers had probably keyed the car. And the hang-ups could be teenagers too. Or telemarketers. Or simply a wrong number. Repeated every night for the last two weeks?
K.D. was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs just outside of Washington, D.C. A writer since a young age, after college she earned a law degree and worked as an attorney and legal instructor for fifteen years but never stopped writing fiction. She currently lives in the Toronto area with her husband and two sons.
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