Being a Brit, I tend to base my stories in England. This time, With Silver Lining released today by SirenBookStrand, in the spirit of international relations, I've added a hunky American investigative journalist as hero!
Lauren Miller, jailed for embezzlement, survives her sentence by plotting revenge against the man who put her there. Once released, she’s content to bide her time—until a contact is murdered and she becomes the prime suspect.
Nate Black, an American journalist, offers to help Lauren clear her name by trapping the mastermind behind her crimes in a daring sting operation. Thrown together, Lauren and Nate are drawn toward one another and make passionate love. But still, a vital question remains unanswered, driving a wedge between them.
What happened to the money she stole…
Here’s how Lauren reacts to her first sight of Nate.
As she approached the shack, she saw a strange man sitting on her doorstep, reading a book like he had every right in the world to be there. She slowed her pace, her heart hammering in her ears, and did a quick mental revision of the rules. Which one had she infringed this time? Being incarcerated at Her Majesty’s pleasure did that to a person.
Then the anger kicked in. She was free to do as she bloody well pleased, and having strangers foisted upon her did not please her one little bit.
“Who the hell are you,” she demanded belligerently, “and what are you doing on my property?”
The man stood up. He was tall, probably over six foot and well put together with thick brown hair falling across his face, a half-day’s growth of stubble on his chin and intelligent grey eyes. The sort of man a woman would look at twice. Well, any woman except Lauren, perhaps.
“Hi there,” he said, speaking in a soft American drawl. “You must be Lauren.”
Lauren froze. How had an American fetched up in her isolated spot in the forest, and more to the point, how did he know who she was?
“Not that it’s any of your business, but my name’s Louise,” she said shortly, playing for time whilst she tried to decide what to do.
“Hi, I’m Nate Black.” He took a step toward her and held out his hand, but she ignored it.
“Don’t come any closer.” She could hear the panic in her own voice. He obviously could, too, because he backed off, palms spread outward in a non-hostile gesture. “Right now, just get out of here before I set my dog on you.” Kermit obligingly growled but didn’t move from Lauren’s side.
“Hey, I don’t wanna bother you. I just hoped that we could have a chat. I tried to come and see you inside, but you wouldn’t send me a V.O.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But Lauren could see that she wasn’t fooling him. This guy knew who she was, and she instinctively trusted him. But then she’d instinctively trusted a man before, and look where that had landed her. When it came to men, her instincts weren’t worth diddly-squat. She needed to shut herself away in the shack until this particular one got fed up with being blanked and legged it. Unfortunately, it didn’t look as though it was going to happen any time soon since he was still blocking her path to the door. “Just leave me alone, okay,” she said, trying to sidestep him.
“Look, I’m an investigative journalist, writing a book about miscarriages of justice, and I’d like to talk to you about what happened to you.”
It was pointless continuing to deny her identity, but that didn’t mean she had to talk to him. “There was no miscarriage of justice in my case. I was guilty. I’ve served my time,” she said, thinking that sounded like a line from a bad movie and, against all the odds, feeling a wild giggle building inside her. “I just want to be left alone.”
“I think there was more to it than that.” He smiled at her, and for the first time, Lauren actually considered talking to him. There was just something about him. Something in his expression that made her think he might understand what she’d been through. But no! She had nothing to say to him and made a fresh attempt to reach her door. Once again he blocked her path. “Part of my book will concentrate on women who commit crimes that are out of character, and the forces in their lives that compelled them to do it.”
Lauren stared at him. “Got your insurance up to date, have you?”
He blinked. “Sorry, I’m not with you.”
“Unsubstantiated written allegations are known as libel in the legal world, in case you didn’t know it, and people tend to get sued for that sort of thing.”
“They told me you were smart.”
“Don’t patronise me.”
“Hey, that’s not what I’m doing.” He smiled in an infuriatingly lazy manner that she found strangely disquieting. “And I don’t intend to publish anything that’s libellous. The book’s been commissioned by one of the big American publishing houses, and their legal team will make sure I don’t get carried away and cross that particular line. But, about your situation, you can’t substantiate your allegations about Williams on your own, but perhaps together we could—”
“How did you know I made any allegations about him?” she asked, her suspicions on high alert. “It was never made public.”
“I’m an investigative journalist,” he said, flashing a set of perfect white teeth, his air of total confidence almost, but not quite, compelling, “and I have sources you can only dream about.”
“This might upset your delicate male ego, but I really don’t give a damn.”
“You can’t fight powerful institutions on your own, Lauren,” he said. “But with the might of the press behind you, anything’s possible.”
“Just go away,” she said wearily, aware that she’d already said more than she’d intended to.
“Come on, Lauren, what have you got to lose by just chatting to me? I promise I won’t use anything you say without your prior knowledge and consent.”
Lauren rolled her eyes. “And when a man gives me his word, that’s supposed to make me feel better?”
“He really hurt you, didn’t he?”
The compassion in Nate’s eyes almost floored her. She could cope with just about anything life threw at her, expect sympathy.
“Just leave me alone.”
“If it’s any consolation, I know what you’re going through. My mom was thrown in jail back in the States for something she didn’t do. That’s why I gave up my column on the Sunday Inquirer to go and help her out.”
Lauren nodded without realizing she was doing so. She thought he looked vaguely familiar, and now she understood why. He’d written a popular column in the Inquirer for some years, doing exposés on the rich and famous, his picture accompanying his byline. “Did you get her off?” she asked, regretting showing any interest as soon as the words left her mouth.
“Yeah, eventually. The police thought she was an easy target so didn’t bother to look any further.” He paused to cock one eyebrow. “Sound familiar, does it?”
“Just go away and don’t come back. I’ve got nothing to say to you.”
Pop across to my website at http://www.wendysoliman.com where you can read the entire first chapter of Silver Lining.
Silver Lining by Wendy Soliman Available now from SirenBookStrand discounted until November 29th to $4.49