Haunted Hearts excerpt

An excerpt from Haunted Hearts
by Kimberly Dean

“Callie, open up. It’s Chief Landry.”

Landry! She dropped the lamp onto the table with a clatter, and the phone bounced on the bed as she dove for the window. She pulled back the curtains, lifted the shade, and found herself face to face with him.

“Oh, thank God!”

“The latch,” he said, pointing at it.

He’d used her ladder. Bless him. Quickly, she undid the lock. The window stuck when she tried to pull it up, but her adrenaline surged. She gave a hard yank, and the window screeched although it only lifted a few inches.

“That’s good enough,” he said. He squeezed his fingers through the opening and forced the window open wide enough for him to climb inside.

Callie had never been so happy to see anyone in her life. Without thinking, she lunged at him.

“I’m locked in,” she babbled as she grabbed his shoulders with both hands. “The lock turned, and when I went over to open it, it wouldn’t move. I tried everything I could think of, but I couldn’t get out. But then it started shaking on its own.”

“Callie, breathe.” Landry dipped his head so he could look into her eyes. “Are you all right?”

“No! There’s someone in my house! They tried to get in my room!”

His look turned hard as he glanced at the door.

She dropped her voice to a stage whisper. “There were footsteps, but then this other noise came down the hall. I didn’t know what to do. I don’t know what it was.”

“You did exactly the right thing. You called me.” The muscles in his arms were tense, but his gaze gentled when he looked at her. “Let’s get you out of here.”

“Yes,” she said. That was an excellent idea.

His gaze ran down her form. Her pajamas weren’t sexy, just a Red Sox T-shirt and shorts, but she wasn’t wearing a bra. And her legs were bare.

“Here,” he said, plucking her robe off the foot of the bed. “Put this on.”

He slipped the robe over her shoulders and shoved the slippers he found on the floor at her, all while placing himself between her and the locked door.

“Did you hear anything after the noise?” he asked. “Any doors slamming? Which way did the footsteps go?”

Callie fumbled her slipper. He thought the intruder might still be there.

“Toward the kitchen,” she whispered. “I think.”

She suddenly realized how cold she was. The temperature in the room was freezing, and opening the window certainly hadn’t helped. She jammed the slipper onto her foot. All she wanted to do was take one more step toward her rescuer and absorb all the heat she felt surrounding him, but he was in full cop mode.

“We’re going out the window,” he said.

She nodded. Window. He was full of good ideas tonight.

“You first,” he said.

She cinched her robe tight and turned, but froze mid-step. It was jet black outside. Not even the moon was out. Shadow Valley was steeped in darkness.

“I’ll be right behind you,” he said, nudging the small of her back.

He’d better be. Taking a steadying breath, Callie crawled out the window. She gripped the ladder tightly as Landry held onto her arm and searched blindly for a metal rung with her foot. When she found it, it was so cold that her foot nearly cramped. She forced herself to make her way down the ladder. Wet grass clung to her legs when she touched the ground, and she shuddered.

Landry was close behind her. She stepped away to give him room, but the moment he was beside her, she reached out for him. Screw cop mode; he was big and tough, and she was scared. Her hand tangled in a strap of his bulletproof vest, and she held tight.

“Chief.”

Callie spun around and stepped back. She collided against Landry’s chest, and his hand automatically settled at her waist.

“It’s just Officer Raikins,” he said.

The flashlight pointed at them dipped, and a skinny, red-haired policeman approached them. “The front and back doors are secure,” the man announced. “Locked.”

Callie felt Landry’s look turn on her.

“I want you to wait in my truck,” he said.

“But…” She really didn’t want to be alone.

“Now.” He reached into his pocket and handed her the keys. With one hand planted firmly on the small of her back, he escorted her to the big black 4X4 he’d left on the street. “Lock the doors. If you see anything or anyone, lay on the horn. If somebody approaches you other than me or Officer Raikins, drive straight to the police station.”

“Chief—” she said weakly.

“I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

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