Shannon here: Romantic mystery author, Lynette Sowell shares an excerpt from, State Secrets, her contribution to Cherry Blossom Capers, a 4 in 1 collection. Every time you comment, your name goes in the drawing for a copy. Deadline Feb 4, 11:59 central time. Here’s Lynette:
Jack Courtland. Ten yards away, standing with the chief usher and another guy in a suit. One of Jack’s fellow agents, probably. Agents had a look about them, even when standing in plainclothes at a barbecue. Now, wearing their dark suits, standing in the ground floor hallway of the White House Something was up.
“Jack,” she heard herself say. She almost cringed at the sound of her voice, sounding almost as pathetic as poor Rose did on the movie Titanic, as she released Jack’s frozen form to the depths of the North Atlantic. Her own heart had released Jack Courtland years ago. She’d had to.
Maybe Jack didn’t hear the squeak in her throat. He had no reason to speak to her, and she had no reason to approach him.Those six months in Paris might as well have been a lifetime ago. She’d been kidding herself to believe the whispered promises would mean anything now. People changed. People moved on. So had she, until now. Jack had moved on a long time ago, in Paris.
Tara fled to the security of the kitchen, its usual hum of activity, pans clattering, the voices of sous chefs and prep cooks bouncing off the walls. She caught up with Adelaide who was already at her computer, plugging in the rough menu for the State Dinner in two weeks.
“Tomorrow we have the Governors’ Lunch,” said Adelaide.“I’ll pull the list and make sure the prep work is under way.”
Tara reached for a folder on Adelaide’s desk. Finally, the head chef had pulled Tara into more of the planning and supervising. She loved coordinating the meals. Not that she wanted her knife skills to suffer, but there was something to be said for orchestrating a meal for governors and other heads of state.
Her job involved simpler events, such as planning a birthday party for one of the president’s sons, who celebrated his tenth birthday on the South Lawn last summer. The day had made her miss her nephews in Texas.
“Yes. Mr. Kanaday has already confirmed the table setup for eleven tomorrow morning.” Adelaide looked up from the computer. “Hey, you here with me?” She moved her hand in a slow wave.
“I’m here.” Tara opened the folder. “I got distracted for a second. So the barbecue’s already been pulled?”
“You bet. Maybe I can finagle a seat for you at lunch.” The head chef ’s tone held a teasing note. “You want to meet the Texas governor?”
Tara shrugged. “It might be fun. I wouldn’t dream of crashing the lunch, though.”
Adelaide glanced past Tara. “Excuse me, may I help you?”
Tara turned to see Jack strolling into the kitchen. He pulled out his badge in a fluid movement. She used to tease him about the stance.
“Chef, I’ve been working with Mr. Kanaday on the State Dinner preparations.” He nodded at Adelaide. “I need to speak with Chef Whitley.” He stared at Tara, who bit her lip and pulled a strand of hair over her right ear.
“I think I can spare her for a few minutes.” Adelaide’s eyebrows had shot up, her eyes full of questions. “Go ahead,Tara.”
Tara wanted her to say, “I’m sorry, we’re busy. I can’t spare Tara right now. We have a lot to do.” Moments were ticking by,and they’d end up on the prep line themselves making up time for the Governors’ Luncheon tomorrow for twenty-five. Then there was the president and First Lady’s anniversary dinner. Just the two of them, candlelight, with pizza for the kids in their room.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can. You can count on that.” Tara ground out the words and followed Jack from the kitchen. No one else seemed to notice them leave, and Adelaide had already turned her focus back to the computer. People came and went all the time from the White House, and whoever came through the halls had a good reason to be there. So why was the FBI talking to Chief Usher Kanaday?
About the Book: State Secrets
Tara Whitley, an assistant White House chef, doesn’t expect to become an amateur investigator. Then old flame and FBI operative Jack Courtland steps back into her life and recruits her to help uncover a plot to sabotage the next State Dinner.
But she doesn’t expect Jack to uncover feelings for him she thought had long since died. Can she trust him with her heart, or will secrets separate them again?
About Lynette: Lynette Sowell is the award-winning author of five novels and six novellas for Barbour Publishing. When Lynette’s not writing, she divides her time between editing medical reports and chasing down news stories for the Copperas Cove Leader-Press. Lynette was born in Massachusetts, raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas hill country with her husband and a herd of cats who have them well-trained. She loves reading, cooking, watching movies, and is always up for a Texas road trip.