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About the author:
USA Today Bestselling author Hildie McQueen loves unusual situations and getting into interesting adventures, which is what her characters do as well. She writes romance because she is in love with love! Author of Highlander historical, western historical and contemporary romances, she writes something every reader can enjoy.
Most days she can be found in her pajamas hiding from deliverymen while drinking tea from her David Gandy coffee mug. In the afternoons she browses the Internet for semi-nude men to post on Facebook.
Hildie's favorite past-times are romance conventions, traveling, shopping and reading.
She resides in beautiful small town Georgia with her super-hero husband Kurt and three doggies.
What inspired you to write your book?
When I wrote the first book in the Laurel Creek series, Jaded, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew the heroes would be older (in their mid forties) and my type. Tall, handsome and muscular.
Another thing I planned was that they would each be damaged in a different way, but other than Luke’s PTSD, I wasn’t sure what the other hero’s back story was yet. I remember when Taylor first made an appearance and how much he stood out.
Knowing what I had in store for him, my heart broke and I almost didn’t write everything into his story that I’d plotted. However, a story goes where it wishes to go and in the end, Taylor suffers a lot of losses in this book.
It is my hope that regardless of the tragedies in this hero’s life, you feel hopeful and are smiling when you read the last page.
I feel it is realistic that after devastating loss and hurt, a person comes out stronger and realize that there is still hope for a wonderful life and bright future.
Spoiler Alert! Taylor’s cousin Eric’s story is entwined through this book. Eric and Mindy’s story will conclude in Tobias’ book, Ruined: Tobias, which will be published in mid 2018.
If you’re wondering what to expect in Tobias’ book, I will only say that you are in for a surprise or two. How do I know this? Because although I have no idea what is coming, several times while writing Broken, I know that certain things with Tobias aren’t as perfect as they seem.
So hold on to your Stetsons, there is much to come in the Laurel Creek series!! I’d love to hear back from my readers with your impression of Taylor’s story Broken: Taylor, The Laurel Creek Series.
Read on friends!
Here is a short sample from the book:
“It’s over. We’re not doing this again Taylor Hamilton.” Felicia’s barely held rage emanated through the gritted words. She slid from the bed stalking to the dresser.
Her lean, sinewy body, strong and slick with sweat, caught his attention. Disregarding Taylor, she darted about gathering her discarded clothing. The night before had been great, and the sex, totally physical, as always hit the right spot.
However, this morning after another round of sex, passion the mood was replaced by something totally different. Anger and even disappointment perhaps.
The female police detective gave him a flat stare. “This has been a mistake from the beginning. I don’t know why we even keep hooking up.”
“I don’t do weddings. Why is it such a big deal?” Taylor sat up in the bed, his back against the headboard.
It was surprising that he couldn’t see his breath when he huffed. The damn hotel room was like a meat locker that morning. Taylor pulled the blanket up across his chest. He’d hoped to stay under the blankets for a couple hours longer. Judging by how things were going, he decided it was best to get up.
Eyes narrowed, Felicia closed the distance between them. Pointing her index finger at his face, she shook her head. “It’s not just the wedding. It’s everything. I give no damns about the wedding. It’s that fucking self entitlement vibe you’ve got going lately.”
Not sure where the conversation was going, he blew out a breath. “You didn’t have to come here.”
“Your ass could have driven the extra half hour to my house.”
“I have to get up early. I’ve told you that. Plus I don’t want to be around if your family pops up. It would give the wrong message.”
Felicia threw her hands up in the air not seeming to care she was totally nude. “Oh. My. God.”
Instead of waiting for the explosion that was sure to come, he rolled to the other side of the bed and grabbed his jeans. Just as he yanked them on, Felicia stalked back toward him.
The first slap sent his face sideways, the second made his eyes cross.
“Kiss my ass Taylor Hamilton. I wouldn’t bring you around my family.”
Noting the telltale shine of unshed angry tears, guilt punched him in the gut.
They’d never made a commitment to each other. Their relationship consisted of hooking up a couple, sometimes three, times a month. It was sex only. That was the agreement.
Felicia and he had been partners up until he left the force. After he’d retired, they’d met on occasion for lunch or to shoot the bull. One night it changed, and since then they’d gotten together every so often. Mostly for sex.
Today she was angry. Something was up. Yes, he’d promised to come to her place, and then the next day to a wedding, but had decided against it at the last minute. Usually Felicia would have taken it in stride and not made such a big deal about it.
She was dealing with something and he was the easiest, closest target or letting out her frustration.
Before she could turn away, he grabbed her arm. “What’s really going on here? What happened?”
Her eyes shifted and shoulders fell. “I shot someone yesterday. Damn it. I killed a damn teenager.” Shrugging off his hold, she began yanking on her clothes. “Stupid punks think they are immortal.”
The first time he’d killed someone, it was during his second year as a police officer. The time he’d shot an armed robber. At first Taylor had been satisfied because he’d saved the convenience store clerk’s life. But when they’d removed the robber’s mask to the face of a dumb kid, his guts had been in knots for weeks.
He pulled Felicia against his chest ignoring her struggles until finally she went limp, her tears wet on his bare skin. “When you go and meet up with the shrink, be honest. Don’t hold back. I know it seems stupid, but it’ll help.”
“Shit.” Felicia pushed away, wiping at the tears. “I better go.” Her dark brown eyes met his for a long moment. “Sorry about the slap. You’re a good man, Taylor Hamilton. Give yourself a chance to meet the right woman and settle down.”
“You got a hell of a swing. It was two slaps.”
Taylor studied the pretty woman. Hopefully she wasn’t about to suggest a relationship between them. There was nothing in him to give and he wasn’t about to allow anyone, including Felicia, to settle for him.
She was young and beautiful. Had just turned thirty-four. Smart and a go-getter, she had a bright future ahead of her. He was glad she’d not grown to want more from him. The last thing she needed was to be saddled with a forty-six-year-old broken man.
“Hey.” He took her arm and tipped her face up to meet his gaze. “I am sorry about being selfish and shit. You deserve better….”
“Get ahold of yourself Hoss. I don’t want more from this…from you. We are and will always be friends. But this.” She motioned toward the bed. “This part is over.”
“Okay. Yeah. As long and we continue to be friends I’m cool with that.” Relieved they could always be frank and upfront Taylor hugged her again.
Both finished dressing while talking about the week ahead. It was as if a cloud lifted and they were back to being partners, friends.
“See you around Hamilton.” Felicia picked up her overnight bag and walked to the door.
Three weeks later
The house was too quiet. Tobias, his roommate and cousin, was gone. That morning it was just Taylor and the noisy silence of an empty house. Although there were two dogs in the house, the dogs were probably still asleep.
The clicking sounds from whatever appliance may as well have been a snare drum, the sound emanating from the kitchen into Taylor’s bedroom.
Even with a forearm across his eyes and the pillow cushioning his ears, the clicks and occasional sound of a toilet’s water running made him want to scream.
Silence normally didn’t bother him. However, on mornings when his entire body came to life with blinding pain, every sound pinged directly to the left side of his body. The shattered fragments of his hip that had been pieced together by some talented surgeon never did come to an agreement and work in conjunction. Instead the fuckers staged a daily parade of pain and agony up and down his leg.
Taylor groaned and turned to his right side in hopes of relieving any pressure to the throbbing left hip.
While the damn aches hip-hip-hurrahed in his honor, Taylor clenched his jaw and moaned.
There were only four pain pills left. The next refill would not be available until later that week. The promise of relief killed any thought of saving some pills for the next couple days.
Carefully avoiding moving his left leg as much as possible, he reached into the nightstand drawer.
Without looking, he grabbed the plastic pill jar and popped the lid off. He couldn’t take them all. The prescribed dosage was one, two at the most in one day.
Yeah, like that would do a damned thing.
The lid bounced on the floor and tipping the jar up, three pills slid into his mouth. He saved one for later.
The last thing he needed was to become a prescription drug addict on top of everything else. At least that’s what he told himself. As of late, the one-month dosage only lasted half the time.
He maneuvered the pills under his tongue. They would work faster that way. In about fifteen minutes, he could get up, probably not pain free, but with enough of an edge off to make it through another day.
One hour and two cups of coffee later, Taylor was about as ready as he could be to face the day.
It was still early, not quite eight in the morning. However, work could not wait. There was much to do and not enough time for it. The two ranch hands would be there soon, so he didn’t worry about the horses being let out to the corrals. However, there were cows to check on and several new additions to the herd that needed tending.
Tobias was gone for two weeks. First week, he’d gone on vacation with his sister and parents. The second week, he and Luke were going to a ranching convention in Billings.
His aunt and uncle had invited Taylor to go on the cruise with them, insisting they could let one of the ranch hands cover the work.
Oh hell naw. Each time they’d brought it up, he’d declined.
The last thing he needed at the moment was to be in close quarters with anyone. It would be too hard to keep from letting them know how hard things had become lately.
In a way, he was on a vacation of his own. Not having to put up a front, to make excuses for being slow to do things, or his continuous bad temper.
Tobias’ dogs, two tan Labradors, trotted to the front door and he opened it to let them out. He was glad for the company, although the dogs preferred being outdoors, which he didn’t blame them for.
Bursting with fall colors, the scenery outside made Taylor hesitate and take it all in. Trees of differing heights, rolling hills, and land for as far as he could see with the backdrop of snow capped mountains was breathtakingly beautiful.
Just over a hill to the left, was where his other cousin, Luke, lived with his girlfriend Leah. However, to see the house, he’d have to go about half a mile out to the edge of the property.
The dogs raced back inside and stood by their food bowls with expectant expressions.
“Your wish is my command,” Taylor mumbled, getting out the dog food and scooping out kibbles.
Just as he placed the full bowls down, the doorbell rang. Chaos ensued.
Bark. Bark. Bark.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Bark. Bang. Bark. Bang. Tails wagging, the dogs ran in delighted circles by the front door.
Taylor blew out a breath and stared at the door without moving.
“Hey.” His cousin Eric, a police officer, walked in. Dressed in uniform with radio crackling on his shoulder, the guy reminded him of his past. Eric was his aunt’s son, he and his brother Ernest, the local defense attorney, both lived in Laurel Creek.
Just as tall as him, but with less grey hair, the guy was in peak physical shape. Although in Eric’s case, it was all gym since there was little to no crime in Laurel Creek.
Eric petted the dogs and then without asking went straight to the kitchen and opened the cabinet.
The happy dogs raced back to their breakfast.
“Come on in. Make yourself at home,” Taylor said, tracking his cousin’s movements. “Why’d you even knock? You made the dogs crazy.”
Eric ignored him and poured coffee into a chipped cup. “Came by cause I was just up the street. Seems the Davis’ daughter ran away. Seen or heard anything last night?”
Even if fireworks had exploded outside, he would have slept right through it thanks to his pills.
The girl was trouble. Always up to something or another. Although he didn’t know the family well, they seemed like normal, nice folks. Taylor wondered why the girl was so desperate to get away.
“Just got up. You can go check the stables if you want. I haven’t heard anything.”
Eyes narrowed, Eric moved closer to Taylor. “What’s wrong with your eyes?”
“Just took my pain pills a bit ago.”
Shit, the last thing he needed was his cop cousin deciding to be nosy. “One. The normal dosage.”
“I thought you were here to look for a girl. Get out of my face.”
Of course the asshole didn’t budge. “When was the last time you went to the doctor? Have you been to the pain clinic?”
He’d stopped going. It was a waste of time and the last thing he had time for was to waste it. “Last week.”
“Will you stop saying it like that? It’s bullshit. One word.”
Instead of replying, Eric lifted his cell phone up and punched in a number. “Hey Louis, this is Eric Hamilton. Do you have an opening for Taylor Hamilton? He needs to come in today if possible.”
“I’m not going.”
“Two o’clock is fine. He’ll be there.”
“I’m not going. There is too much shit to do around here. Tobias is gone. You want to go out there and explain to the cows why they’re not getting fed?”
Eric lifted a shoulder. “I get off at three, I’ll come give you a hand.” His index finger pressed into his left shoulder. “You’re going to see the doctor. If I have to punch your lights out and drag you there, so be it.”
“Yeah, like that’s going to happen.”
Taylor decided to let the discussion go for the moment. “I’ll go with you to check the stables. Other than that, I don’t know where else the girl could hide. Maybe the old cabin.”
The air on his face was just what he needed. Taylor’s four-wheeler crested a small hill and his great-great-grandfather’s cabin came into view. The home had once belonged to Marcus Hamilton, his namesake, was the only structure that remained mostly intact.
Although his family called him Taylor, his first name was actually Marcus. His mother had always called him by his middle name and it had stuck.
Eric came up on his right. “Think someone’s in there?”
“Nah. The door is hard to open and unless she’s industrious, there is nothing in there that makes it remotely accommodating.”
“This window is broken,” Eric said inspecting a small side window. “Didn’t Tobias empty it not too long ago?”
Taylor nodded. “Nope. He hates snakes and a mama snake decided it was the perfect home for her family.” It was hard not to laugh of the memory of Tobias running out and doing some sort of freak-out dance after spotting the nest of snakes.
They pulled up and cut off the engines. Taylor allowed Eric to go first. Although he’d medically retired from law enforcement, he was not in the mood to play cop.
“Stay back,” Eric said, holding his hand up. “Someone’s in there.” The change in his cousin was obvious. All cop. He pulled out his weapon and stood to the side of the door. “Police. Come out.”
The perpetrator turned out to be a raccoon, which wasn’t at all impressed by Eric’s tone. They decided to let it be and turned back to the stables.
Taylor could tell by his cousin’s grim face, the guy was worried about the girl.
“You know at sixteen, she’s old enough to know better. If the girl wants to disappear and not be found, there isn’t much that can be done.
“I know. Hate to go back and tell the parents she’s gone. My guess is probably left in the middle of the night. Someone had to have picked her up. She could be anywhere by now.”
“I better get on.” Eric met Taylor’s gaze for a long beat. “Go to that appointment.”
Taylor nodded, knowing he’d call and cancel. So yeah, he had to go eventually and be seen so that the prescription would be refilled. However, he’d go when it suited him.