The Truth by Heather Slade
Butler Ranch Book 5
Release Date May 14, 2018
He promised to protect her…
Not to love her.
Head of a private security firm, Mercer Bryant promised his partner, Kade Butler, that he’d secretly protect Quinn Sullivan at any cost. As a former CIA operative, Mercer knows his way around intense and stealthy operations. Trained in combat, he can get out of any situation—and into any woman’s bed. But when he starts to feel something more for the innocent and stunning Quinn, he can’t stay away.
Shipped off to a boarding school at a young age, the independent and feisty Quinn doesn’t need a man to watch over her. But when she finds herself in danger, the only place she feels safe is the arms of the irresistible and rugged Marine.
Hell bent on protecting her, Mercer takes on the vengeful Russians who are responsible for his partner’s disappearance. With peril imminent and time running out, can Mercer save Quinn before the truth destroys their chance at a future together?
New Year’s Eve
This was definitely going down in the annals as the worst week of Quinn’s life. And instead of going home, she was continuing the misery-fest by spending the best holiday of the year in New York City, where she lived—here, and alone, just like she’d spent Christmas.
The last time they’d spoken, her mother had told Quinn she was leaving town and would be unreachable until, at least, Thanksgiving. That holiday came and went without a word. She’d remained hopeful, and every day in December, she’d thought for sure her mother would call, or text, or something, but she hadn’t. The countless messages, texts, and emails Quinn had sent went unanswered.
As morose as she felt, standing in the kitchen of the rental house, and staring out at the dark, dreary, and frigid-looking Pacific Ocean was only making things worse. Maybe if she went for a run, she’d feel better. And if not better, at least less pathetic.
Quinn changed her clothes, went outside, and stretched, only to go back in and put another sweatshirt over the one she was already wearing. She’d lived on the East Coast most of her life and was used to cold weather, but this felt different—this cold was bone-chilling.
Her start was slow, but as her muscles warmed up, she got into a rhythm. Instead of her usual two-mile run to the park and back, she kept going.
Once she got to the boardwalk, she took the wooden steps down to Moonstone Beach and continued her run. Surprisingly, there were quite a few people out walking, considering it was cold as hell.
When she got to the cliffs at the far end of the beach, she stopped and sat on a rock, checking her phone like she had every waking hour of every day for the last month and a half. Still nothing, not that she’d expected there to be.
She stood, stretched again, turned around to run in the opposite direction, and smacked right into the back of someone who had just come around one of the big rocks.
“Ow, shit. I’m so sorry. I wasn’t watching where I was going,” Quinn said to the woman she’d slammed into.
“It’s okay, probably my fault. I wasn’t looking either,” the woman answered.
Something about her seemed familiar.
“You look familiar,” the woman said to Quinn, which made her laugh.
“I was just thinking the same thing.”
“Really? How funny. Do you live in Cambria?”
“Nope. Just visiting.”
The woman studied her, and then pulled her hand out of her pocket, extending it. “I’m Ainsley Butler. It’s nice to meet you…”
What were the odds that she’d run into a Butler today of all days?
“And you are…”
“Oh, um, sorry…I’m Quinn. Quinn Hess.”
When she reached out to shake her hand, Ainsley didn’t let go, and by the look on her face, she was feeling the same way Quinn had been a moment ago.
“Hey, Ains. What’s up?” A very tall and insanely good-looking man jogged over to them. “Who’s this?” he asked, looking at their still-clasped hands.
“Cris, this is…” Ainsley shook her head, like maybe she’d forgotten her name.
“I’m Quinn,” she answered for her.
“Cris Avila, nice to meet you…wait a minute. Quinn?” He looked at Ainsley, who nodded.
“Quinn,” she said, linking their arms, “this may sound crazy, but there’s a family I want you to meet.”
Grabbing the arm of a person she’d just met probably wasn’t the most polite thing Quinn had ever done, but it had been a reflex. She’d grown so accustomed to being kept a secret, that someone knowing who she was, stunned her so much she felt light-headed.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to put fingernail marks on your arm.” Quinn dropped her hand, shook her head, and looked out at the ocean. “How’d you know?”
“My brother Naughton told me you paid him a visit.”
Quinn nodded. “Did he tell you anything else?”
It was Ainsley’s turn to nod. “That you’re my older brother Kade’s daughter.”
“Daughter—that’s an interesting way to put it.” Quinn regretted her words the moment she spoke them. There was no reason for her to be a bitch to Ainsley. The woman had been nothing but nice to her. “Sorry,” she mumbled.
“It’s okay. Tell me what you know about Kade.”
“Other than that his name is on my birth certificate, not much.”
About the Author
My books are filled with things that bring me joy: music, wine, skiing, families, artists, and cowboys. Not always in that order. I’m an Amazon best-selling author, and a PAN member of Romance Writers of America. I speak, teach, blog, am an executive sommelier, and all-around entrepreneur. I grew up an east coast girl, and then spent half my life on the west coast. Now my husband, our two boys, and I happily call Colorado home.