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Someone wants NYPD detective Angelina Ferrara dead…again.
Following her heart instead of her mind landed her in Witness Protection. Can she trust it and handsome detective Logan James to keep her alive this time?
As far as the world knows, NYPD detective Angelina Ferrara died in a violent firefight on Chelsea piers over a year ago. Living in the witness protection program as history teacher Lucy Taylor was supposed to save her life but being alive and living were two very different things. Until she meets detective Logan James when he goes undercover in the same private school where she works. Something about the handsome man with the gorgeous blue eyes piques her interest. There’s no doubt he has secrets… but then so does she. When the Ricci crime family discovers she’s still alive, can she trust the same heart that landed her in the witness protection program in the first place to let Logan to help her survive it?
A little excerpt...
"I so cannot do this again." Lucy groaned loudly and pulled her pillow over her head as the bright Virginia sunshine filled her bedroom. There was no smog, no skyscrapers, no anything to filter the light and give her a chance to ease into being awake.
A distant rooster crowed its early greeting to the sun. Five thirty in the morning, every freaking morning. If she stayed in this godforsaken town for a hundred years she would never get used to it. She missed horns blaring and tires squealing against heavy brakes that used to serve as her alarm clock back home in New York City. The whole chickens in the yard, cows grazing alongside the highway, thing didn't really work for her.
Teaching Catholic school wasn't so great either. Why the powers that be in witness protection felt a New York City cop would make a good Catholic school history teacher, she couldn't begin to fathom. In fact, she hated teaching almost as much as she hated chickens. The only thing she had in common with her students was being Catholic.
Yet here she was, all dressed up in her ridiculous teacher clothes, with her fake blue eyes, and disturbing straight blonde hair, trying to live a life she despised and be thankful for it.
"At least you are still alive, girl," she whispered to the sad reflection in the bathroom mirror.
Yeah, right. She might be alive, but living was another idea all together.
"If I could at least carry a gun..." Lucy said to no one in particular. Not carrying her trusty sidearm made her feel as naked as a jaybird, but there was no getting around it. Part of the terms of the contract stipulated she could do nothing reminiscent of her old life, including the concealed carry of her favorite type of accessory.
"Here we go again," she muttered, sliding behind the wheel of her little car.
The drive to St. Mary's took less than ten minutes. The parking lot looked exactly the way it did when she drove away the previous June, full of expensive SUVs and shiny convertibles that all made her aged sedan look much older than its nine years. The only noticeable change was a deep blue Jeep Wrangler—as about as out of place as a football team would be in the all-girls school—sat in the space where Lucy usually parked. Not a good way to start her morning when she was already so tense.
"Hey, Ms. Taylor!" a voice called to her from across the lot.
"Good morning, Sarah!" she called back a lot less cheerfully than she had intended. Her former student waved and walked on.
Another year was about to begin. Oh, how she missed her old life. Lucy was not born to be a teacher, not by any stretch of the imagination. But, it was a job. It kept her from going insane from the loneliness that had been a constant part of her life since she fled the city over a year ago and left her friends and family to believe she was dead.
"I'm so sorry, Mom," she whispered for the hundredth time since it had all gone down.
As she trudged her way to room 210, Lucy forced thoughts of death and funerals from her mind, replacing them with good memories of her life in the city. Such as the smell of roasted cashews and sauerkraut covered hotdogs from street vendors, taxis honking, New Yorkers telling each other to go to hell on every corner. Dark alleys hosting a multitude of crimes that beckoned to her like crack to an addict. No text books, no lesson plans, no parent conferences.
"Umpf!" Lost in recollection, Lucy slammed into a solid mass. As the man turned around, she came face to face with the bluest pair of eyes she had ever seen. A quirky smile lifted one corner of his lip as he reached out to steady her. His light touch on her forearm sent a shocking shiver down her spine. No one had elicited any sort of response from her feminine side since...well, in a long, long time.
"Excuse me, Miss. I'm sorry to get in your way. I...umm...I am a little lost. I guess my eyes were focused on room numbers instead of where I was walking."
Lucy couldn't help but smile back, despite her best effort not to.
"Oh...are you new here?"
"Yes, ma'am." The handsome stranger stuck out his hand. "Name's Logan Smith. I'm teaching World History."
Lucy eyed the man, instantly suspicious. Of course, lately she had become instantly suspicious of everyone. Lucy accepted his outstretched hand.
"Lucy Taylor. I teach U.S. History. What room were you looking for?"
"Oooohhhh, Ms. Taylor! Who's the hottie?" The same girl from the parking lot called out, openly eyeing the school's newest instructor. Lucy flushed a deep crimson. They were standing in the middle of the main hallway practically holding hands. Quickly letting go of Mr. Smith's hand, she shoved her own into the pocket of her corduroy skirt. It irritated her that she missed simple human contact way more than she should.
"Don't you have a class to get to, Sarah?" Lucy used her sternest teacher voice to redirect the young lady. Sarah was all smiles as she waved to the new teacher. Lucy could see why, Mr. Smith was definitely nice to look at, a fact that was going to cause some unrest in the all female population. "The bell is about to ring, you know."
"Yes, Ms. Taylor." The girl scurried off giggling, her plaid skirt flipping around her legs as she moved. Lucy turned back to Logan. The man was definitely way too handsome for his own good. His students were never going to take him seriously. Why did she even care anyway?
Because that man is fine with a capital F, and you have been alone and lonely for way too long.
Lucy pushed thoughts of how handsome Mr. Smith was out of her mind and focused on the task at hand.
"Now, Mr. Smith, which room were you looking for?"
He checked the crumpled piece of paper in his hand. "Um, looks like room 212."
"Oh, that's easy. I can take you there. It's the room right next to mine. Follow me."
Damn! He's right next door.
The new teacher unnerved her, and she didn't need anything throwing her off her game. Suddenly very self-conscious, Lucy took off down the hall and through the throng of girls eagerly greeting each after a summer of camps and vacations. Without looking back even once to see if Logan Smith followed her, Lucy stopped short in front of her classroom.
"Your room is right there." She pointed to the open door about ten feet away from her own.
Logan flashed her a smile that lit a playful light in his eyes. That little shiver traveled the length of her spine once again. What the heck? Since when did the smile of a good-looking guy have any effect on her at all? Nothing had penetrated her shell since Salvatore.
"Thank you. I feel as lost as I did my freshman year of high school! Of course, back in those days I didn't have a pretty escort to show me around, so maybe this time around won't be quite so bad." He winked and then chuckled when Lucy blushed.
She averted her eyes, not accustomed to having conversations anymore with anyone, especially flirty, handsome men. In five minutes she would have thirty expectant teenagers waiting to see if she could teach them a thing or two. She didn't have time to wonder where Mr. Smith had come from or why he was stirring feelings deep inside her that she was absolutely certain she had locked away a long time ago.
"Well, everyone gets the jitters on the first day. You'll be fine. Let me know if you need anything." Lucy disappeared inside her room. She could feel his eyes on her as she walked away. Her abrupt departure was on the rude side, but she was a little rusty on the personal interaction front. Mostly, she just talked to her students, and occasionally the television. She hadn't made a single friend in all the months since leaving New York.
She had no desire to get comfortable in this place and certainly didn't intend to die in the mountains of Virginia, no matter what the feds had to say about it. Lucy sighed heavily and dropped her bag on her desk. The mess that was her life would never be resolved. Not as long as a single member of the Ricci family was alive.
The shrill bell announcing the beginning of her school day filled the classroom and made her jump in her seat. Everything had her jumpy anymore. She had to give away her cat after she almost shot the poor feline in the middle of the night just for jumping off the windowsill. It had probably been a year since she last slept through the night.
"Good morning, Ms. Taylor. Did you have a good summer?" A young lady with big green eyes and tight ginger colored curls stood over her. Lucy looked up from her desk.
"Hello, Hailey. It was just fine. Thank you for asking. How was yours?"
"Umm, it was okay."
"Spent most of it watching my two little brothers. Not much fun in that."
Lucy smiled, memories of her own large family filling her with warmth and then a hint of sadness. "Little brothers aren't so bad, really. Some day when you are all grown, they will be your best friends."
"I guess. Whatever." Hailey shrugged and headed to an empty desk in the front row. She was a good student, somewhat shy and reserved but friendly. She reminded Lucy of herself at that age. Lucy had two brothers also, but they were older than her. Another twinge of nostalgia stung in her chest before she pushed all memories of her former life into the deep dark spot in her brain where she had forced them over a year ago. This was her life now. She'd done the right thing, and she could live with that.
For now.Start this new series today!