Star Witness - By Mallory Kane
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Harte Delancey—This prosecutor finds that battling a deadly enemy and a savage storm to keep his star witness safe is easier than battling his growing feelings for her.
Danielle Canto—She’s afraid of nothing—except storms. Forced to flee her grandfather’s murderer, she trusts Harte to protect her from the storm and the murderer. But who can protect her heart from him?
Freeman Canto—The elderly congressman fought against illegal imports and drug-dealing through the Port of New Orleans, until his violent death.
Vinson Akers—This D.A. has tried for years to put Ernest Yeoman in prison. Now he has an excellent chance, if his prosecutor and their witness survive until trial.
Ernest Yeoman—The importer and owner of Hasty Mart convenience stores is rumored to have congressmen in his pocket. Did he kill Freeman Canto to keep Port of New Orleans tariffs and security low? Or is he just an innocent businessman?
Myron Stamps—The senior senator is implicated in Freeman Canto’s death. Is he an innocent patsy or part of Yeoman’s smuggling ring?
Paul Guillame—Harte’s cousin on his grandmother’s side is Myron Stamps’s political advisor. Paul swears he knows nothing about Canto’s death or Stamps’s involvement.
To Michael, for always.
Harte Delancey always felt like such a wimpy kid around his older brothers—probably because that’s how they treated him.
He looked up from the grill where steaks were sizzling. Lucas and Ethan were tossing long spiraling passes to each other in the football-field-sized backyard of their parents’ Chef Voleur home. If Travis were here instead of overseas somewhere, he’d be out there too.
Harte preferred more solitary forms of exercise—running, backpacking and biking. He chuckled wryly and flipped the steaks as Lucas made a spectacular leap and snagged the football out of the air.
“Steaks ready in five,” he called out as his mom brought a big bowl of her famous buttermilk ranch potato salad from the outdoor kitchen to the already laden table. Lucas’s wife, Angela, followed her carrying a massive casserole of baked beans.
“Everything looks great,” Harte said.
“I hope so,” Betty Carole Delancey said in her self-deprecating way. “The tomatoes don’t look very good.”
He eyed the plump, bright red slices with amusement. “If they were any better, the Times-Picayune would be on the story. What do you think, Dad?” he asked his father, Robert, who sat in his wheelchair watching Lucas and Ethan.
Harte’s dad turned his head slightly. “Everything good,” he said haltingly. It had been fourteen years since the massive stroke had left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak. With his wife’s help, he’d relearned how to talk.
Lucas and Ethan washed up at the sink, arguing about who had the more accurate throwing arm. Then Lucas kissed Angela on the cheek before sitting down beside her. Ethan grabbed the chair opposite the two of them.
Harte took the last T-bone off the grill and set the platter down in the middle of the table. He sat between Lucas and their mother.
“Want to play a game of three-team touch later, Mr. Prosecutor?” Lucas asked as he tousled Harte’s hair. Harte ducked but not in time. “Or should I call you Monsieur Chef?” he mused, stabbing a steak with his fork and holding it up for inspection.
“After you eat all that and can’t move? Sure.” Harte was used to Lucas ribbing him about his choice of career and his cooking.
Lucas was a detective with the New Orleans Police Department, as was Ethan, and Travis, an Army Special Forces operative, was stationed overseas. It was a sore spot with all three of them that their youngest brother had broken tradition and studied law.
As if reading his thoughts, his mom said, “I was hoping we’d hear something from Travis this week.”
“What’s it been—six months since you last spoke with him?” Ethan asked, then washed a bite of steak down with iced tea.
“September,” his dad said.
“That’s right, darling,” his mom said as she cut his steak into bite-sized pieces for her husband. “It’s been seven months.”
Harte saw Lucas and Ethan exchange a glance. He knew what they were thinking. It chafed them that their mother was so solicitous and gentle with her husband. Neither one—especially Lucas—had ever forgiven their dad for his drunken rages and punishing fists. It didn’t matter to them that Robert’s stroke had rendered him a docile wraith of his former self.
At that moment, the patio door opened. It was Cara Lynn, smiling and dressed in a casual floral dress that sported all the pastel