Then You Hide - Roxanne St. Claire Page 0,1

be the truth in a deposition. She didn’t have a baby. She’d had three. But he didn’t know that. No one in Charleston knew that.

“You have a child,” he said in a patronizing tone. “‘Course, you sold the poor li’l fatherless bastard. But anyone can be…” He took out a handkerchief, blew his nose, let the unfinished sentence hang in the air. “…found with the right people pulling the strings.”

She stared at him.

He folded his hanky and stuffed it into a breast pocket. “And you know, sweetheart, those black-market babies are not always the healthiest. They’ve been known to just die in their li’l cribs.”

That murdering, lying son of a bitch. Would he kill his own daughter?

Of course he would. He was capable of anything. He bought cops like this sleazebucket, bought juries, bought witnesses, bought loyalty. Hell, he’d bought her.

But he only knew she’d gone to the farmhouse on Sapphire Trail to have a baby. No one except the nurse, the lady who owned the place, and one of the sets of adoptive parents knew she’d had triplets that night eight months ago.

Three tiny, helpless baby girls who were all sold to strangers. He only knew of one, but she didn’t know which one. Any of those tiny babies could be his victim, unless she…

“Make this deal.” Impatience edged his voice. “Or she dies.”

Right now, her daughters were safe and loved. And marked. If they ever found one another, would that tell them the story of what their mother did and why? All that mattered was that they lived. Her life was worthless without them, anyway.

“Okay,” she said in defeat.

He pushed away from the table and sauntered to the door with a lazy, cocky grin. “I heard you were a very smart girl, Leenie. Guess it’s true.” He pulled the door open, and she heard him say, “The suspect is ready to bargain.”

Eileen dropped her head into her hands. Maybe someday, her babies would forgive her for selling them to strangers. And if they ever discovered who gave them birth, maybe they’d understand why, eight months after they were born, she’d shouldered the blame for a crime she didn’t commit.


Astor Cove, New York

The Hudson River Valley

Summer 2008

“I’M NOT IN the business of killing people anymore.” Wade Cordell slid the contract across Lucy Sharpe’s writing table, his defined jaw and steel-blue eyes hard in contrast to his soft Southern drawl.

“Bullet Catchers don’t kill people, Wade. We protect them. If pushed to the absolute limit and forced to save the life of a principal, we do what needs to be done. And we do it better than any other security and investigation firm in the world.” She slid the paper right back and tapped the signature line with one red nail. “That’s why I want you on my staff full-time.”

“Call it what you like, ma’am, but killing is killing, and I have murdered my last person.”

“It’s not murder when the world is a better, safer place and thousands of people are alive because of your skills.”

He shifted his muscular frame in the antique chair and nailed her with his deadly sniper’s gaze. “I had no problems pulling that trigger as a Marine, Lucy. It was my job, it was war, and it was right. But those other times…”

“Special assignments for the CIA are as much an act of war as anything you did in Iraq, and you know that.”

“Spoken like a true former spook.”

She acknowledged her background with a nod. “But you aren’t in the CIA, you’re a free agent. And I want you as a Bullet Catcher. Not because you’re the best damn sharpshooter the Marines ever produced but because your overall instincts are masterful.”

He snorted softly. “Yeah, that last kill was pure genius.”

“You did what had to be done. I heard the details from the top of the agency, and you may think it was a mess, but—”

“It was a mess.”

“They were pleased with the outcome. But not so pleased that you’ve refused every assignment since. I, however”—she picked up the pen and offered it to him—“am thrilled.”

He leaned back and stretched out his long legs. “I like consulting occasionally for you, Luce. It suits me to drop in quickly, then disappear. I don’t want to get too…close to anything.” He treated her to a grin as sweet as pecan pie. “That’s just the hunter in me, I guess.”

“That’s just your inability to commit to anything but a clean shot,” she replied, instantly erasing his smile. “You need