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I originally wrote this book to be included in a box set about stories that involved some sort of hidden identity. Doing a character in witness protection was an easy choice. When I sat down to start writing, this story just flowed out of me and enveloped me from the very first day.
I fell in love with Ruth’s protector, the German Shepherd named Major. I rooted for Victor to win the love and trust of Ruth. And, I felt every tear as Ruth struggled with her new identity in the wake of the event that launched her into witness protection.
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The Back Cover:
Doctor Ruth Burnette has everything she has ever dreamed possible: the perfect job, a twin sister who is her best friend, and a fiancé who is retiring from professional boxing as the middleweight champion of the world.
Then came that fateful night when she witnessed a mafia execution. When her sister is murdered she knows she’ll battle to the last round and never, ever throw in the towel. Now she’s down for the count, in witness protection, anxious, alone except for the faithful company of her German Shepherd at her side.
As the time draws near to when she has to leave her safe little corner she stays on her toes. She has to testify against one of the darkest criminals in New York, she shores up the courage to face the accused from the witness stand. Unexpectedly, he’s not the one who worries her. She wonders what coming face-to-face with his son, VICTOR KOVALEV…her former fiancé …will bring.
Will Ruth have a fighting chance against the Kovalev family, or will Victor keep her pinned ON THE ROPES?
Excerpt from the Book:
Brenda dashed up the steps to the podium. “Oh, Mara, thank God I found you.” She held out yesterday’s newspaper. “Jeremy told me that a reporter came and talked to him, but he didn’t tell me that he’d given her pictures, too!”
Her stomach turned to water and her pulse pounded in her neck painfully. She stared at a picture of her face taken while she tied the tank top onto Jeremy’s leg, right there on the front page of the lifestyle section of the Gainesville newspaper. How many thousands of people got that newspaper daily? How many online sources ran the headlines?
Brenda said something, but she couldn’t hear her through the roaring in her ears. The safety she had felt moments earlier vanished as if it had never existed. “I have to go,” she whispered, dropping the cord she clutched in her hand. Leaving her friend standing on the stage, she jumped down and ran down the aisle.
When she burst through the doors and into the hot Florida sunshine, she felt the world start spinning around her. “What to do, what to do, what to do?” she whispered over and over again. Seconds later, the phone in her hand vibrated, startling her so that she nearly dropped it. She recognized the number and answered, saying by way of a greeting, “Get me out of here.”
“I’m on my way,” Federal Marshall Dean Tucker replied. “Forty minutes.”
“That’s too long,” she sobbed.
“Do you want me to send local law enforcement?”
“Yes, yes.” Disconnecting the call, she rushed across the street. Bursting into her house, she ran to the bedroom, grabbing a bag from the closet floor. It contained her life. Her entire thirty-year life was in one leather satchel. She went into the kitchen and put two days’ worth of dog food in a plastic bowl, sealed the lid, and added that with a couple bottles of water and an empty bowl to the bag.
When she looked at her phone, she saw that only five minutes had gone by. Major followed close at her feet as she went into the living room, whining as he clearly sensed her distress. “We’re okay,” she said to the dog, not even sounding convincing to her own ears. “We’ll be okay.”
At the knock on the door, Mara’s heart stopped, but Major jumped up and ran to the door, wagging his tail frantically. Ben must have seen her run across the street, or Brenda found him and told him what she’d said about hiding from an ex. She opened the door and Major burst past her, throwing the screen door open with his weight and launching himself at the man standing on her porch.
After meeting Major on the ground and petting him and hugging him to him, the man greeted her in an all too familiar voice, saying, “Hello, Ruth.”
Her heart felt like it stopped beating. Victor Kovalev rubbed Major’s fur and looked up at her. He hadn’t changed in six months. He still wore his black hair cut short to combat the natural curls. While his mouth smiled, his light brown eyes looked at her with a serious, almost cautious, expression. She licked her dry lips and looked past him, expecting to see a car full of hit men unloading on her lawn.
Clearly, Major offered no protection against her enemy. Feeling betrayed, she stepped out onto the porch. She’d known this day would eventually happen, hadn’t she? “Major, down,” she said sternly. Immediately, Major stopped dancing and jumping around Victor, and lowered himself to the ground, his entire body vibrating with excitement. Should she run? Should she wait for the police that Marshal Tucker called?
She couldn’t outrun him. Instead, she would stay outside, surrounded by neighbors who would hear if she needed help — witnesses to her coming death. She clenched her fists so he wouldn’t notice her hands shaking. “The police will be here any moment.”
“Well then,” he said in his rich baritone voice, “I guess I better get this over with.” He reached into his pocket and she opened her mouth to scream.Pin It