Anniversary excerpt: Brilliant Disguise (one of my favorites)

In 2008 my book, Brilliant Disguise, released in digital form. This is one of my favorites because it's set in my home town and it features people I know.

Setup: undercover FBI agent Nick Baxter has been sent to New Providence, Iowa to investigate recent widow Shannon Delgardie. Shannon's husband was suspected of treason. What Nick doesn't know is that Shannon (and just about everybody else in town) knows who he is because Shannon's father was in the CIA and she has 'contacts' who have helped her research Nick.

As they entered the vestibule of the church, Shannon started to move toward the balcony steps but Katherine firmly took her arm. “We’ll sit downstairs today, not in the balcony.”
Shannon rolled her eyes and let her mother lead them down the main aisle. A hush fell over the room and dozens of pairs of eyes swung to Shannon, then Nick, then back to Shannon. “Everybody’s staring,” Shannon whispered.
“I know, dear. Oh, let’s sit with Joan. She and Matthew are right there.” Katherine darted into a pew. Shannon and Nick followed, Nick taking the aisle seat.
He settled himself, reaching behind to adjust his holster. He looked up and met several curious eyes. He smiled and turned to Shannon. “I wonder what they would do if I kissed you right now.”
Shannon looked up at him, eyes huge. “Kissing in church? Not allowed.”
“It is at the end of wedding ceremonies,” he said, bending down and brushing her cheek with his lips.
She rapped him on the leg with her church program. “Behave.”
“I love you,” he murmured.
Shannon was aware of the fact her family, as well as about a fourth of the town, was watching their interplay. Oh, well, she thought. In for a penny, in for a pound. “I love you, Nick,” she said.
He leaned back satisfied and the people in the pew behind them leaned back and relaxed, too. A gentle buzzing erupted in the congregation.
As services go, it wasn’t long, but it was to the point, and the point had Shannon squirming. The minister’s sermon discussed courage, bravery and calling on people we love in times of adversity. There wasn’t much Bible in it, except for a few cryptic references to the Song of Solomon that at first perplexed Shannon, and, once the import sank in, embarrassed her. In fact, Shannon thought, the minister strongly implied God had intervened and brought Nick to town with the express purpose of (1) rescuing Shannon from thugs and (2) rescuing Shannon from her unmarried and possibly licentious state.
Shannon, however, found it hard to concentrate because Nick was sitting next to her and she was remembering the feeling of him in the shower. She remembered his husky voice when he said certain things at certain times, and the way his hands could move over her and excite her to riot with just a touch. Then she remembered the feeling of him in her hands…
Shannon broke off those thoughts and fanned herself with her program, smiling at Nick when he looked at her with a quizzical expression. “Warm,” she explained.
Nick, of course, looked fine in his lightweight sports coat and black jeans. Actually, Shannon thought with many sidelong glances, he looked more than fine. He looked good enough to eat. Then she blushed at that thought and fanned herself some more.
When the service finally ended, she shot to her feet to bolt out of the church. It was not to be, though. Everyone in the room wanted to chat, either with Katherine, Nick, or Shannon. Consequently, they were one of the last ones to shake hands with the minister after the sermon.
“Very nice sermon,” Katherine said. “I especially liked the part about smiting the Philistines. So pertinent.”
The minister nodded. “Thank you, Mrs. Dalton. Glad you enjoyed it.” He turned to Nick. “Don’t believe we’ve met. I’m Reverend Somerset.”
“Nick Baxter.” Nick looked down at Shannon. “I’m with Shannon.”
“I gathered that.” The minister smiled at Shannon. “Haven’t seen much of you.”
“I’ve been in California,” Shannon said, cheeks turning pink.
“Perhaps we’ll see more of you now that you’re home.” The minister looked at Nick, then back to Shannon. “Both of you.”
Shannon muttered a reply and started to move on but noticed Nick wasn’t with her. She looked back. He was in low-voiced conversation with Reverend Somerset. Katherine smoothly took her arm. “Help me down those front steps, honey. I hate going down concrete steps alone.”
“You could probably run up and down those steps all day.”
“Perhaps, dear, but Nick wants some privacy so let’s just accommodate him.”
“You guys are determined to get me married, aren’t you?”
“It seems like such a good idea,” Katherine said. They looked up as the Man Van skidded to a stop in front of the church. Evie, Chris, Beth and Marty grinned out at Shannon.
“Hey, how are you today?” Evie asked. “Hey, Mrs. D.” Katherine nodded. “I heard Nick expressed undying love to you in church.”
“How did you hear about that? You guys go to the Catholic Church.”
“Oh, Walter the janitor here at your church called Danny the janitor over at our church, and the word just got around.” Evie grinned and winked. “So when’s the big day?”
“Can I be in your wedding?” Beth asked, almost falling out of the back window in excitement. “I wanna throw flowers! I can do that good!”
Marty shoved Beth aside. “I’ll do the cake. Or the presents—I’ll unwrap presents.”
“I’m not getting married,” Shannon said with all the firmness she could muster.
“Right. Don’t forget, Beth wants to be flower girl and Marty wants to help cut the cake,” Evie said. “I promise they’ll be on their best behavior.” She smiled at Katherine then said to Chris, “Let’s go, honey, lunch with your folks today. Bye!” And then they were gone, arms waving.
“People in this town need more to occupy their attention than my love life,” Shannon muttered.
Nick came down the steps and once again, her heart skipped several beats at the sight of him. She knew she had a sappy grin on her face but she couldn’t help it. “But your love life is so interesting,” Katherine said, watching.

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