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Publishers Weekly called Misleading A Duke "high-octane" and said, "This immersive, fast-paced novel will have readers on the edges of their seats."


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Excerpt of Shadow Force by Linda Conrad

Purchase


Night Guardians
Silhouette Intimate Moments
April 2006
Featuring: Kody Long; Reagan Wilson
256 pages
ISBN: 0373274831
Paperback
Add to Wish List

Romance Series, Romance Suspense, Romance Paranormal

Also by Linda Conrad:

Last Chance Reunion, August 2013
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Christmas Confidential, November 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Texas Manhunt, May 2012
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Texas Baby Sanctuary, April 2012
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Rancher's Perfect Baby Rescue, February 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Desert Knights, June 2011
Paperback
Secret Agent Sheik, April 2011
Paperback
The Sheik's Lost Princess, January 2011
Paperback
Covert Christmas, October 2010
Paperback
Covert Agent's Virgin Affair, August 2010
Paperback
Her Sheik Protector, July 2010
Paperback
In Safe Hands, April 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Safe By His Side, March 2009
Mass Market Paperback
The Sheriff's Amnesiac Bride, November 2008
Mass Market Paperback
Safe With A Stranger, June 2008
Paperback
Shadow Whispers, September 2007
Mass Market Paperback
Shadow Warrior, May 2007
Paperback
Shadow Surrender, March 2007
Paperback
Shadow Hunter, January 2007
Paperback
Shadow Watch, May 2006
Paperback
Shadow Force, April 2006
Paperback
The Cowboy's Baby Surprise (Silhouette Desire), June 2002
Mass Market Paperback

Excerpt of Shadow Force by Linda Conrad

Reagan Wilson took one quick last look at the crappy rental car, jumped in the shallow creek and ran for her life through the terrifying night.

This was one hell of a way to die.

She could just picture her obituary: "Noted mathematician dies in swarm of killer bees." Her cold, lifeless body would be found swollen up to twice its size. It could take days to identify her corpse.

What had she done to piss off bees this much? All she'd needed to do was get into the trunk and retrieve the spare tire and tools to change her flat. And hadn't she read in Scientific American that bees didn't swarm at night?

Now she would never have a chance to do anything, not research bee swarms or even lodge a complaint with the rental car company. She'd be dead, and those no-good jerks would simply rent that piece of junk to someone else.

The angry noise the bees made as they closed in around her bored into her brain like the nasty buzz of a dentist's drill. Batting them away and gulping for breath, Reagan cursed her shoes as she slipped on the sharp rocks of the creek bed. She loved these old Bruno Magli loafers, but they weren't worth a dime when it came to running for her life.

God, what was she thinking? She wasn't a trained marathon runner. She could never outrun bees. And her brand-new athletic shoes were packed away in her suitcase. The only sport she knew anything at all about was golf. And that probably wasn't going to do much to save her life.

Funny what went through a perfectly reasonable brain right at the moment of death.

Panic must be setting in and turning her scientific mind to mush. The mind that she'd inherited from her father.

Oh, Dad, are you out on this Indian reservation somewhere, battling for your life, too? Am I going to die never knowing what really happened to you?

Reagan brushed bees out of her eyes and stumbled up to her ankles in the frigid water. Water. If only it were deeper.

A blinding flash of light coming from her right made her trip over her own feet. Was it an hallucination?

"Drop into the water!" a deep male voice demanded. Water? What water? The tiny trickle in this creek wouldn't even cover her big back end. Confusion caused her to miss a step, and she hesitated long enough to feel the nasty jolt of several stings.

Out of the black cloud of bees surrounding her, a huge fist grabbed her by the forearm and yanked her right off her feet. She was pulled — hard — and went down on her knees. The next thing she knew, something jostled her from behind and, just as the bees began to enter her nostrils and cut off her air, she was fully submerged in the iciest water imaginable.

The shock took her breath away.

Was she dead? For several seconds, Reagan couldn't feel a thing. Even her brain became numb from the cold.

She lost track of how long she was under the water, but knew humans could only hold their breath for a couple of minutes tops. When she lifted her head to take a gulp of air, a rough hand grabbed her by the back of the collar and dragged her to her feet.

"Can you stand?" The dark shadow of the man who had saved her life stood there, holding her shoulders with a firm grip.

Could she? Still waist deep in cold water, Reagan's whole body was beginning to quake as the gentle night breezes blasted through her soaked clothing.

Could she stand alone? Hell, could she breathe? "I...I..." As cold as she felt, scientific theory would suggest that her body should be shrinking as her blood vessels constricted. But her tongue didn't feel smaller. No, her tongue felt swollen and unmanageable.

"Anaphylactic...shock...bees..." She was fast becoming light-headed as her airways swelled and closed.

"Hang on."

All of a sudden she felt as if she were flying. Her savior had picked her up and was splashing through the black night closing in around them.

Minutes passed. Or maybe hours. Her own raspy breathing grew fainter in her ears.

She was lying on solid ground.And from above, she heard vague mumbling through the fog in her brain. The notes coming from a deep male voice sounded just like singing.

A lullaby? Or a funeral dirge?

As the light-headed feeling began to shut down her brain, she gave up and let a new warmth surround her. If this was to be her end, it wasn't so bad.

At least, for the very first and last time in her life, there was someone there to hold her hand.

Kody Long cursed the cold as he forced his fingers to do what he wanted them to do. He had already scraped off all the stingers he could find, and he'd applied the whitewash paste to every inch of uncovered skin on the Anglo woman's hands, neck and face.

She wouldn't be pleased to know he'd stripped her down to check her entire body, but fortunately, the skin under her clothes had appeared unscathed. Thankfully, she'd worn long pants and a jacket against the late winter chill.

The black lace bra and panties had been a real surprise to him. It made him curious about her.

And, ah, how like the soft side of a rabbit's fur her skin had seemed when he'd touched her body. He had to admit it had been much more difficult to dress her again than it should've been for a man who prided himself on being a stoic.

There was nothing more he could do for her now but continue the chants that would complete the healing ceremony and ward off the evil venom. He had found her in time.

When he'd first picked up the familiar vibrations of pre- attack this evening, he had worried that somehow he'd missed warning a member of the Dine. Tonight's regular surveillance had been interrupted hours ago with the classic high-pitched whistles that usually signaled an imminent attack by the evil ones.

He'd notified everyone to stay inside with their families. The enemies' vibes came as a complete surprise. Just as it had been a surprise to arrive at the point of attack to find a stranger — an Anglo woman — was the target of tonight's assault.

Who was the bilagáana woman who dared to venture alone across a desolate section of the rez at this late hour? Why had the enemy chosen to go after her?

Kody reached down to run a finger across her soft, pale cheek. Warm. And so full of life.

Without knowing why, he quickly glanced at her left hand and checked out her ring finger. Bare. And just why would that be any of his concern?

Kody would have to watch his step around this one. But she would answer his questions before he escorted her out of Navajoland. No doubt about it.

Reagan opened her eyes to find herself looking into the deepest, warmest, dark brown eyes she'd ever seen. As she came to her senses, she noticed a warmth spreading through her entire body.

She almost purred.

Trying to sit up, she was blocked by a huge hulk of a man and realized the warmth was coming from him as he rubbed some kind of oil on her hands. The strong smell of eucalyptus filled her nostrils. There were other, sweeter scents as well, but she didn't recognize those.

She tried to focus on her savior's face, but though the moon and stars illuminated most of the area, the stranger stayed hidden in shadow. She got an impression of darkness. Thick ebony hair and brown eyes. Dark clothing.

"Uh..."

"Ah, you are back with us," he said with a grunt. "Good.

How are you feeling?" He dropped her hands and sat back on his heels.

"I'm..." She took a quick inventory. All her parts seemed to be in working order. But without his hands on hers, the cold seeped inside her skin and began to chill her bones. "...cold. But otherwise, I think I'm okay."

"Are you feeling well enough to get up?"

"I don't know. Should I try?" Now that was a weird thing to say. Why ask a complete stranger for permission to stand on her own two feet?

Without answering, the stranger stood and reached down to help her up. He waited until she made sure she was steady.

She checked out her clothes and discovered no broken bones. "Bummer. I ripped the knees of my pants. Must've happened when I went down on the rocks."

"Pants can be repaired. But you didn't break the skin on your knees." He looked down at her with a strange expression on his face. "Who are you? What's your name?"

"Reagan. Uh, Dr. Reagan Wilson."

"Dr.?"

"I have a Ph.D. in mathematical theory."

"Well, Dr. Reagan Wilson, you may have a bruise or two, but you will heal from this attack quite nicely."

Attack? Oh, yes, he must mean the bees.

That reminded her. "You pulled me down. Where did you come from? And how did that creek suddenly have enough water in it to cover me?"

Ignoring her questions, he took her arm and turned her around. "My truck is right over here. The heater should warm you up in no time."

Keeping a firm grip on her arm, he marched her toward the outline of an old pickup sitting by the side of the highway. "I heard your screams when the bees attacked. Luckily, you were running toward the beaver pond. I just helped you into deeper water. You weren't stung very many times, and I scraped away all the stingers. You'll be fine."

She did feel fine. Amazing. She didn't seem to have any ill effects from her run-in with killer bees, but she also didn't remember screaming. The bees would've been inside her mouth if she'd opened it that far.

"How did you avoid getting stung?" she asked.

"The bees knew better than to attack me. When you went under the water, they grew tired of the hunt and disappeared."

The bees knew better? What kind of man was this?

A shiver of unease ran through her. He walked her up to the truck and opened the passenger door for her. The interior light went on and she caught her first glimpse of her savior's face.

She already knew he was a big man. Broad in the shoulders and narrow in the waist, he was probably six-three or six- four. Though she usually felt tall standing next to men, she was amazed that he towered over her.

Now, in the light, she also realized that he was Native American. His hair was almost black, though it was cut shorter than most pictures she'd seen of Indian men in magazines and in the movies. His prominent nose fit his other strong and chiseled features.

Wearing a black T-shirt under a jean jacket and dark denim pants, he resembled a shadow. But she noticed the shadow had a cell phone, several suede bags and a huge sheathed knife dangling from his belt.

It made her more ill at ease than ever. Who was he? He helped her up into the seat and then went around to the driver's side. When he had the heater turned up at full blast, he put the truck in gear and started it.

"Where are we going? Who are you, and what about my car?"

He paused at the edge of the highway and turned to her. "My name is Kody Long and I'm an FBI special agent assigned to this area of the reservation. We're going to my brother's office. He's a local tribal cop.

"Your car will be safe until daylight," her rescuer continued. "Would you like to stop and lock it up?"

"Yes. And get my luggage, too, please."

He nodded and pulled out onto the highway.

An FBI agent? He worked for the government. She wasn't exactly crazy about the U.S. government at the moment. They had tried to hinder her search for her father at every turn. It made her wonder if this man would try to get in the way as well. Or if he'd been sent to follow her and report on what she was up to.

Whatever his real motives, she was suddenly no longer afraid. "Are you from this reservation originally?" she asked.

"Yes. I am a member of the Dine."

"Dine?"

"That's the name the Navajo use to refer to themselves. It means 'family' or 'clan." This is our homeland."

"Oh." She should've thought to do some research before dashing madly out to a Navajo reservation. It really wasn't like her to be so rash.

Excerpt from Shadow Force by Linda Conrad
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