Hidden Fire by Terry Odell

I promised a look at "Hidden Fire", the sequel to "Finding Sarah" (which is excerpted in Sept. 12th's post). It's not all that common for romance books to continue in a series with the same hero and heroine, but I read a lot of mystery, and I think my books are as much mystery as romance. And since there are a lot of series mystery, I figured, why not give it a shot? I loved working with Randy & Sarah and was glad to have them back.


Returning from a stint as part of a task force on violent crime, Randy Detweiler is eager to reunite with Sarah Tucker in Pine Hills, but she’s having second thoughts about their relationship. Can she deal with a cop who gets called away at a moment’s notice, especially one who won’t talk about his job?

Their reunion is cut short when a body is discovered and rumors fly that it’s the work of a serial killer. To make matters worse, the Town Council might disband their police department, and Randy's under added pressure to solve the murder before they take action. Forced to work under the radar, Randy struggles to balance work with a shaky relationship.

Sarah can’t cope with apparently meaning less to Randy than his job. Should she force him to choose between his job and the us she envisions for the two of them? All bets are off when Sarah herself becomes a suspect in Randy’s case. Before long, it’s more than their relationship that’s in danger.


Under the table, Sarah’s toes found the cuff of Randy’s pants and inched their way up his calf, the coarse hair tickling her foot. His eyes widened, his eyebrows arched and the standard restaurant candle-in-a-jar caught the hazel flecks in his otherwise brown eyes. He brushed a lock of hair from his forehead, but it flopped back the way it always did.

She smiled at the hovering waiter, placed her hand over her empty coffee cup and shook her head. No more, Tony. Thanks.”

Tony refilled Randy’s coffee cup and whisked away his empty pie plate. Randy’s eyes returned to Sarah, moving between her dessert and her face. He smiled, but she could sense his impatience. She continued her torment by dipping her spoon into the chocolate mousse in front of her. Slowly, carefully, she filled the spoon with the rich delight.

His call had surprised her yesterday, when he announced he’d be coming back from San Francisco a day early. She wriggled her toes higher up his leg, trying not to laugh as he squirmed. She’d chosen her outfit very carefully this morning. Demure didn’t begin to cover it. Prim? Prissy? That was closer. Navy blue slacks, a pale blue silk blouse buttoned to the neck and a navy blazer. Not quite a suit, but close enough. Of course, the thong beneath the slacks and the lace demi-bra under the blouse were anything but prissy. She’d sensed Randy’s eyes on her behind as they walked up the steps to the restaurant. And maybe his hand had slipped a little lower than the small of her back as he’d guided her to their booth.

She poised the mousse-laden spoon in front of her mouth, parting her lips a fraction. With her other hand, she fingered the pearl button at her neck.

“It’s warm in here, isn’t it?” One button, then a second, slipped through its hole. Randy leaned forward.

“You’re killing me,” he whispered.

Her tongue wrapped around the mousse. Her eyes closed. She sighed.

“You’re going to finish that, aren’t you?” he asked, resignation in his tone.

Without opening her eyes, she said, “Every bite.”

He blew out a long, slow breath.

She met his gaze and smiled at his obvious annoyance. “It’s chocolate. Some things shouldn’t be rushed.”

She slid her foot out from inside the restriction of his slacks and worked them up his thigh. He reached for his glass and swigged gulps of water. When her toes met his lap, he choked. Coughing, eyes watering, he reached down and encountered her waiting foot. Still choking, he clutched it closer to his groin and she felt his hardness. She lowered her eyes to her mousse and took another bite, swirling her tongue around her lips.

Tony appeared and refilled Randy’s water glass. “Are you all right, Detective Detweiler?”

Randy nodded and waved him off, gesturing for the check. Sarah covered her mouth with her napkin, trying to erase her grin.

“So, tell me all about your violent-crime work,” she said. “Not much call for that in Pine Hills. Or do people get violent when they get parking tickets?”

He wiped his mouth and set the napkin beside his plate. “Right now, Sarah Tucker, I’m thinking about all the gruesome pictures, which is the only thing keeping me from embarrassing the hell out of myself right here.”

Heat burned in his eyes. Her nipples pebbled behind the lace of her bra and moisture pooled between her legs. She scraped the remnants of the mousse from her dish, the clicks of metal against glass barely audible over the blood pounding in her ears. She wanted him. Now.

Tony returned and dropped the check on the table, not meeting Randy’s eyes.

“Whenever you’re ready, Detective.” He pivoted on his heel and left.

“All finished,” Sarah said, smiling. “You want to go, or have more coffee?”

In response, Randy dumped some bills on the table, angled himself out of the booth and extended his hand. She fumbled, trying to get her foot back into one of the sensible pumps she’d worn to complete her stodgy look. Grasping his fingers, she scooted across the vinyl bench. He gave her the leverage she needed and she rubbed against him as she stood.

He squeezed her hand. “After you.” His aftershave wafted to her nostrils, counteracting the myriad cooking aromas.

He quickened his pace. By the time they hit the porch surrounding the rustic restaurant, he half-dragged her down the steps and elongated his stride across the unpaved parking lot. Earth and pine scents mingled, still unable to compete with his special scent. Spice and Randy. A lethal combination.

“Hey,” she said with a laugh. “You in a hurry? I’m not six-six, remember? Short legs.”

In response, he simply scooped her up and covered the rest of the distance to his pickup. “If I hurry now, maybe I’ll be able to take it slow when it counts. Damn, woman, I’ve missed you.”

“Me, or the sex?” she said.

He paused, as if he wasn’t sure. “You,” he said at last. “You, you, you.”

“Oh, so you don’t want the sex?”

He unlocked the doors to his truck and worked the passenger door open, then lowered her onto the seat. “You're going out of your way to torment me, aren’t you?”

She ran her tongue across her lips. “Maybe.”

“No maybes about it.” He wrapped his arms around her, buried his face in her hair. She reached around him, his wool sweater rough against her cheek.

“I missed you, too.” She raised her face and parted her lips. “Welcome home.”

He leaned into the cab, meeting her mouth with his own. He cradled her face in his hands and she surrendered to the warmth of his kiss. She ran her fingers through his hair, sending tingles all the way to her toes. Tongues teased and danced with promises of more to come. He tasted of apples and cinnamon, of coffee and Randy. A vague impression of couples passing, of headlights coming and going, of car doors opening and closing hovered at the edge of her consciousness. A whistled cat-call broke through the final barrier.

“Guess we should go,” she said. “I’ve got a few surprises for you at my apartment.”

“My place is closer,” he murmured between kisses.

When his pager went off, he swore.

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Cathy said...

This sounds like a great romantic suspense story and it's been getting some top reviews too. I like Terry's storytelling and have this book on my wish list already.

Estella said...

This book is on my ToBuy list.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Cathy & Estella. And I hope you'll check my website for a chance at a sneak preview of my next release!

Cherie J said...

Sounds like a wonderful story! I enjoyed the excerpt and think the cover is great!