THE HUNTED SERIES Book Four
By: Jennifer Ryan
FBI agent Tyler Reed trusts only facts and evidence, until the day a beautiful blonde delivers a life-saving warning … based on nothing more than a vision. Five years later, the mysterious Morgan Standish has used her talents to help Tyler and the FBI bring down countless criminals. Still, Tyler knows next to nothing about her. She contacts him by phone—and by some sort of psychic connection he’s not prepared to admit exists—but has not shown herself once. Until now. Morgan’s gift may let her see things others can’t, but it comes at a price. Getting too close to anyone is dangerous, especially the gorgeous, moody Special Agent Reed. For she’s seen the future: if they meet again too soon, an innocent could be lost. But when Tyler’s latest case forces Morgan out of hiding, she is the one thrust into the path of a serial killer, the Psychic Slayer, who will stop at nothing to protect the secrets only Morgan can see.
Jennifer Ryan writes romantic suspense and contemporary small-town romances featuring strong men and equally resilient women. Her stories are filled with love, friendship, and the happily-ever-after we all hope to find. Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, three children, dog (Bella), and cat (Shadow). When she isn’t writing a book, she’s reading one.
Twitter: @JenRyan_author / https://twitter.com/JenRyan_author
Rafflecopter Giveaway (A Psychic Reading over the Phone)
Saturday night, the restaurant was especially busy. Tyler kept a firm grip on Maria’s arm as they made their way toward the large table at the back of the room. The entire family would be together tonight for Marti and Cameron’s baby shower. Marti was due to deliver their first baby in a few weeks. It had been too long since they’d all congregated as one group. He looked forward to seeing everyone, but his mind remained on work, the case, and the haunting thoughts of Morgan becoming the Psychic Slayer’s last victim.
Over his dead body.
Emma remained on his mind. He’d taken her out for dinner and a movie a few nights ago. Cameron and Marti were worried about her health. She didn’t eat well and slept even less. She dogged Marti’s heels constantly, afraid she’d die because of the baby. Her own mother had died after giving birth to her, and she was scared the same thing would happen to her stepmother. She loved Marti like her own, real mother. Understandable the little girl was anxious, but Emma’s health worried everyone.
He spotted the group sitting and standing around the table. He and Maria were the last to arrive. He and Sam had been going non-stop on the case since Sam returned from seeing Morgan two weeks ago. Maria saved his sanity, staying at his place most nights. He came home to dinner and company. He never got home at a decent time, but she’d adjusted, and they were in synch. Exhausted from working long hours and worrying about Morgan, he fell into bed and passed out, grateful he didn’t sleep alone.
After Morgan left him and he’d set his mind to building his relationship with Maria, he’d bought her a ring. He’d thought to propose while they were on vacation in Hawaii. Every time he thought the timing and setting were perfect, something stopped him. When they returned home, he’d never found the right moment.
Maria had become a real part of his everyday life these last weeks. What was he waiting for?
He planned to ask her to marry him after dinner tonight. He showed the ring to Sam yesterday. Sam offered his congratulations, even though he thought it a mistake. Tyler knew what he wanted. A wife and children. Pretty soon, he’d have them. Well, they’d have children if he got his mind off the case and mustered up the energy to make love to her.
Maria seemed happy about the marriage idea. They’d discussed it briefly. Her family wanted to see her married and settled, especially her father.
He’d met her parents. They were nice people and certainly approved of him. After all, he had a good job and would provide well for a family. That seemed to be their qualifications for their daughter’s future husband. Her father seemed to disapprove of her working and living on her own. Tyler found that old-fashioned for the times, but Maria seemed eager to please her father and gain his approval. She’d practically put Tyler up on a pedestal, gushing about his job and accomplishments, making him uncomfortable, but he appreciated the compliments.
Tyler spotted Sam and Jack standing together, each drinking a beer. He thought that sounded good and watched as the twin brothers leaned into each other to say something confidentially. Tyler hoped they weren’t talking about him and Maria. He wanted Maria to feel welcome.
Jack whispered into Sam’s ear, “I thought you said she was coming.”
“I talked to her yesterday after he showed me the ring. She said she’d be here. In fact, she already had her ticket.”
“I could have sent the jet for her,” Jack said and took another sip of his beer.
“It’s fine. She’ll be here,” Sam said adamantly.
“I thought Cameron was stubborn when he wanted to marry that horrible woman who faked being pregnant with his baby. Tyler might take the cake for stubbornness if he asks Maria to marry him. She’s nice enough, but she isn’t for him.”
“Once he sees Morgan in person, he won’t go through with it.”
“I hope you’re right,” Jack said and took another sip of his beer.
Cameron joined Sam and Jack. “What’re you two whispering about?”
“Tyler and Maria. They just arrived.” Sam said and tilted his beer in their direction.
“She’s nice,” Cameron said and glanced at the couple. “She came with Tyler to pick up Emma for dinner the other night. She didn’t say much. I wouldn’t peg her as Tyler’s type, though. I thought he had a thing for his psychic ghost.”
“He does. He just doesn’t want to admit it. He won’t have a choice tonight. Morgan’s coming.”
“You’re kidding me.” Cameron couldn’t wait to meet Morgan. As president of Merrick International, he worked with Jack’s wife, Jenna. He heard all kinds of stories from her about Tyler and his psychic ghost. What he didn’t hear from Jenna, he got first hand from Sam and Tyler. The woman was intriguing if nothing else.
Cameron had spent the last several weeks worried about his wife and daughter, Emma. He hoped tonight would bring some fun into their lives and all the gifts would make Emma interested in the baby and less fixated and concerned about the birth.
“I talked to Morgan yesterday,” Sam said. “I told her we’d be here. Don’t tell anyone else. I don’t want Tyler to overhear. Here he comes.”
They all greeted each other and spent time talking and catching up. The children grew restless, so the menus were opened, the orders placed, and dinner served. They enjoyed their meal and each other’s company. Everyone included Maria in the conversation. They added to the cacophony of the restaurant, and Tyler relaxed into the evening like he hadn’t done in a long time. Seated next to Sam, who sat next to Jack, he noticed the two men look down the aisle and simply stare. Then, he heard Sam say, “She’s here.”
More beautiful than Tyler remembered. He’d only seen her once and even that time had only been for a few minutes. Five years ago, her hair had hung down her back in a long braid. She’d worn old jeans and a well-worn navy blue t-shirt. Radiant tonight with her hair unbound. The thick mass waved over her shoulders and down her back. Lovely, it seemed to glow. Tall and slender, her white flowing blouse and blue floral skirt hugged her curves in all the right places.
Her eyes caught him off guard. Blue as the Colorado sky. They looked softly upon him and made him want. She simply took his breath away.
Five years spent talking on the phone and in his mind and she’d left him, only to come back into his life to torture him in person.
He wanted to grab her. To shake her and ask her why she’d come back tonight. After all this time, she’d returned on the night he planned to ask another woman to marry him, when all he wanted to do was take Morgan to his bed. His emotions were everywhere. Angry she’d left, happy to see her, he wanted to strangle her for calling Sam and not him about the case. He wanted to beg her to stay and alternately push her away, so he could have the life he’d been carefully working toward with Maria.
She messed up his mind, and she wasn’t even inside it anymore.
Morgan took a step back. So many emotions ran through her and came from the people in the restaurant and this group in particular. Her carefully constructed walls blocked out a lot, but with so much coming at her, they cracked.
Seeing Tyler rocked her.
The sadness hit Morgan hard. She couldn’t feel anything but anger from Tyler. His dark eyes simply stared at her, no light in them. No joy at seeing her. It hurt to think that after all these years he’d completely closed her out of his life.
She knew why. The pretty woman sitting next to him radiated nice. The exact opposite in appearance as Morgan. Dark hair and eyes, her skin a lovely olive brown. She had a pretty figure and showed as little of it off as possible in her demure green dress. The dress color did show off her lovely skin tone, though.
Morgan felt like the ugly stepsister to the beautiful ladies around the table. Compared to Jenna, Elizabeth, and Marti, she felt like an ugly duckling. Tyler’s girlfriend fit in far better than she, or so she thought.
She weaved her way to the table and stood behind Jack’s wife, Jenna.
“Is it going to happen tonight? The event you warned me about. Who’s going to be hurt? Can we stop it?” Jack asked in rapid fire succession.
“Jack, who is this? Why are you so upset.” Jenna didn’t like seeing her husband’s distress.
Tyler answered the question for everyone by simply saying her name. “Morgan.”
Morgan finally came to her senses and answered Jack’s overflowing concern and urgency. “Jack, sit down. Everything is fine. We have some time. I came here for another reason.”
Sam smiled and she directed her next statement to him. “He is not going to thank you for this.”