After only three months together, J.T. is shocked when his lover, Detective “Brick” Brickman decides he needs a little “break,” in their relationship, just to figure things out. Heartbroken and angry, J.T. refuses to see Brick again or take any of his calls, and travels to Savannah with Penny, his friend and recently published new author to a romance writers’ convention in Savannah, Georgia. The old city is rife with stories of hauntings and mysteries and soon J.T. and Penny become embroiled in a mystery of their own. Who’s killing the bestselling authors at the convention and why has the killer suddenly targeted J.T.? With a hurricane bearing down on them and both Brick and his brother Scott trying to make it to Savannah before the storm hits, they’ll all be lucky to make it out alive.
Shannon West and Selena Cooper
Excerpt from Tempest
The weather outside the window was still bad, with rain pelting down now and thunder still making a racket outside. A waitress, who was refilling their drinks looked up, a worried little frown on her face.
“Bad storm coming in?” Penny asked her and she shook her head.
“Honey, haven’t you been watching the news? There’s a tropical storm just off the coast, headed toward the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We’ll just get a lot of rain out of it here in Savannah, thank goodness. Tropical Storm Lucille. Sustained winds are already up to forty-five miles per hour, and if it gets to seventy or so, it’ll be upgraded to a hurricane. Let’s just hope it goes on up the coast like it’s supposed to and doesn’t hit us.”
Penny’s eyes grew wide. “Well, amen to that.” She blushed and glanced over at J.T. “I swear I didn’t know anything about a storm, J.T., did you? Oh God, what if it hits Savannah?”
J.T. covered her hand with his. “It won’t, honey. These weathermen know their stuff. And I didn’t know anything about a storm either. I guess we both should watch the news more often, right?”
The waitress reappeared with their check and J.T. pulled out his credit card and slid it into the leather folder. “Let me pay for lunch and you run along to your workshop. And don’t worry. It’s just a bad storm—it won’t hit us here.”
“I’m sure you’re right.” She stood up and leaned over to kiss his cheek. “See you around six. If the weather clears up some, let’s go out somewhere for dinner. There’s a restaurant called the Pirates’ House that’s supposed to be haunted,” she said, giving him a little wink.
“Yeah, tempting as that sounds, I think I’ll pass. Go on, get out of here.” He watched her leave and the waitress came back to their table with a worried little frown.
“I’m so sorry, sir, but your card was declined.”
“There must be some mistake.”
“Mm, no sir, I ran it twice and got the manager to try too. The bank has a hold on your card.”
“I’m sorry, sir. Should I just charge this to your room until you can straighten it out?”
J.T. nodded tersely, his cheeks red with embarrassment. His card had a hold on it? There had to be some mistake.
“No, no mistake, Mr. Whitlock,” the customer service operator from his bank said when he called a few minutes later. “The Atlanta police department has placed a hold on your cards and your bank account. You’ll need to get in touch with them, I’m afraid.” Cold fury washed over him as he heard the words. The Atlanta P.D., his ass. This had Nathan James Brickman written all over it. It was exactly the kind of high-handed, arrogant, miserable, low-life, presumptuous, reprehensible kind of thing he would do. His hands trembling because he was so mad, J.T. punched Brick’s number into his phone.
A short silence and then Brick’s self-satisfied voice came across the line. “Julian, how nice to hear from you. I was beginning to think your phone didn’t work.”
“Is this going somewhere, Jules, or are you just upset with me in general?”
“You know exactly what I’m talking about, Brickman. You put a hold on my goddamn bank account! That has to be illegal, you son-of-a-bitch!”
“Actually, it’s not. I thought that maybe after not answering my phone calls for almost a week, and then disappearing from your apartment that you might be a missing person. I spoke to your mother last night, who also is quite concerned about you, by the way….”
“I guess so, if she got a call from the police! You stupid ass!” Several women passing J.T. looked at him with concern because of all the yelling, and he gave them a sickly smile and turned his back on them. “Why are you doing this, Brickman?”
“Out of concern, sweetheart. I asked your mother if she wanted to take out a missing person’s report. We both tried to call you first thing this morning, but couldn’t reach you. I guess you ignored us or had the phone turned off. I explained that you could be in some kind of difficulty, and this might help me find you.”
Lowering his voice, J.T. stepped out onto the patio. He was under an awning, but the cold rain still blew in on him, soaking his shirt. It was raining hard, and J.T. peered up at the dark blue clouds overhead. “Get it off me right now, Brickman! I mean it. I’ll-I’ll report you! You can’t do something like this!”
“Get what off you, baby?”
“Don’t you dare ‘baby’ me! Get the hold off my credit cards.” He was breathing so hard he had to pull his inhaler from his pocket and take a hit off it before he could continue. Once his heart stopped racing, he tried to make his voice calmer. “You can’t do this, Brickman.”
“Apparently I can,” he said dryly. Then in a quieter tone, “Don’t ignore my phone calls, Julian. We need to talk.”
“I have nothing to say to you!”
“Well, that doesn’t sound reasonable to me, Julian. For all I know, you’re being held against your will. Hey, is someone forcing you to act this way? Can you give me a sign if you’re not okay?”
“I’ll give you a sign, you lunatic.” J.T. took a long, shuddering breath. “Call my mother and explain things. Tell her everything is all right.”
“Where are you, sweetheart?”
“Don’t you dare ‘sweetheart’ me. And I’m in Savannah, if you must know.”
“Savannah? You gotta be kidding. You’re going to get a lot of rain over the next few days with that tropical storm headed toward North Carolina. Don’t you watch the news? Damn it, Julian, you need a keeper and to get out of there, in approximately that order.”
“A little rain isn’t going to hurt me, damn it. I’m inside a hotel—not camping out.”
“Smart ass. Who are you with, anyway? I know you’re not there by yourself. Are you with some guy just to try to piss me off?”
“I don’t owe you any explanations. And why should it piss you off anyway, if you need some time away from me?” J.T. said, in as dignified a manner as he could manage. Let him worry, damn him. They were “taking some time” away from each other—isn’t that what he said he wanted? He took another deep breath and reminded him.
“We’re on a break, Detective. Now please take the hold off my credit cards. And call my mother—I’ll call her too, but you probably scared her half to death, so you owe me.”
“She’s not the least bit scared. She’s surprisingly level-headed considering who her son is. I guess in your case, the apple fell pretty far from the tree, huh? Anyway, I explained to her that we’d been seeing each other—she wants to meet me by the way—and that we had a little tiff. She was very sympathetic, as a matter of fact.”
“A little tiff? Really? You broke up with me!”
“I did not. I tried to discuss taking a little break, just a little time to get our priorities straight and figure things out, and you totally freaked out and overreacted. As usual, I might add. It’s a bad habit of yours, Jules, and one you need to work on. I’d be glad to help you.”
“I don’t need your help, thank you very much. And my ‘priorities’ are just fine.”
Brick huffed out a huge sigh and he lowered his voice. “Damn it, Julian, you know how I feel about you.”
“No, I really don’t. I thought I did, but I guess I was wrong.” J.T. leaned up against the building with a trembling hand—by this time he was about as wet as he could get anyway, so fuck it. He was so tired and discouraged, and just hearing Brick’s voice again had set his pulse racing out of control. Damn it, why couldn’t Brick leave him alone so he could get over him?
“Look, just give me a few days to think things through, Brick…please. I promise I’ll call you when I get back to Atlanta, and we can—we can sit down and talk things over if you still want to.”
Before Brick could say another word and confuse him even more, he ended the call and slipped the phone back in his pocket, peering up at the sky. It was even darker than it had been a few minutes before. Maybe he should watch the Weather Channel, just in case. Wet, cold and miserable, J.T. went back in the hotel and up to his room. It looked like it was going to be a long, long afternoon.