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About the author:
Reese Patton lives in the Midwest with her wonderful husband who provides all the inspiration she needs for writing romances with happy endings. They share a house on a lake with two giant yellow Labs who generously keep Reese’s feet warm while she sits at her desk writing.
What inspired you to write your book?
This is a continuation of Merideth and Ian’s story from Off the Record. Initially I wanted it to be Stones, story, but when I stated writing it, I realized Merideth and Ian needed more time together before I brought in another woman. (Not an Other Woman, but another female voice who complements Merideth.)
Here is a short sample from the book:
Merideth stood in the back of the Daily Herald elevator with Ian next to her and his friends standing in a protective line in front of them when her phone jangled out an old blues song. The four men in front of her turned their heads and looked at her singing bag.
Merideth reached into the side pocket and pulled out her phone while trying to ignore the sense of deja vu. She frowned at the screen. A blocked number usually meant bill collector or some solicitor in her experience. Before she could answer, the call moved to her voicemail.
“Who is it?” Ian looked over at her.
Merideth shrugged her shoulders. “No idea.” She tucked the phone back into the bag and followed the men into the large editorial room.
She looked around the room and thought that nothing had changed since the day the Daily Herald building was built. The elongated octagonal table with matching wood chairs, sat in the center of the book lined room. It was the antithesis of a corporate setting and Merideth wanted to look at the words on the spines of all the books instead of listening to the men and women drone on about future plans.
Merideth forgot about the voicemail until a brief moment of time between meetings. Phone calls needed to be made and assistants needed to be contacted. She followed Ian into his office and sat in his office with him. She pulled out her phone and listened to the voicemail.
She listened to it a few more times and pulled out her notebook, scribbling notes. Ian looked up from his report and before she realized what was happening he was in front of her and took the phone from her hand. He pressed the speaker button in the middle of the message.
‘…visas from England and ties to the mayor’s office.’
Ian looked up from the phone and stared at Merideth.
‘He’s powerful and rich. But she was my friend. Please Ms. Gardner, don’t just ignore this message.’
“Who is this?”
“I don’t know.” Merideth closed her notebook and slid it off her lap.
“Why is she calling you?”
“I don’t know. Honestly, Ian, I have no idea.”
Ian turned the speaker off and ended the message. He pivoted and strode out of his office, leaving Merideth alone. She pulled her notebook back out and looked over the notes she managed to scribble down. MAYOR’S OFFICE. MAYOR KNOWS. BUSINESS MAN FROM ENGLAND. VISA. DEAL WITH THE CITY? ESCORTS.
She circled the word VISA several times. Merideth didn’t have a contact at the state department but she did have access to the Daily Herald’s archives. At least she could slog through the old social pages instead of feigning interest during the business meetings.
Ian pushed open his door and walked into the room with Stone right behind him. Of all of Ian’s friends, Stone was the least talkative. He was also the most intimidating. Merideth decided there was a direct correlation between silence and scariness.
Stone sat down next to her and handed her a new phone. “I’m going to need to keep your phone for a bit.”
Merideth didn’t take the phone right away. Instead, she looked over at Ian. “Really?”
“You don’t know who called you, Merideth, and you didn’t stop to ask yourself how they found your personal number.”
“Not anymore.” Stone placed the phone down next to her.
“You can’t just take my phone.”
“Merideth, why did they call you? You don’t have a byline. No one knows you’re working here.” Ian listed off all the logical reasons for his skepticism and if Merideth was honest with herself, she had to admit they were valid.
“Alright.” She slid her notebook off to the side again, but didn’t close it. She didn’t want Ian to confiscate it as well. “But what if it is a story?”
“Then it will be yours, but we’re going to keep you safe.” Stone stood up and walked over to Ian’s desk. He picked up the phone and spoke quietly enough for Merideth not to be able to figure out the exact nature of the conversation.
“Oh please, I’m not in any danger.”
“Did you not hear the message? This girl’s friend is missing. She might have run away, but what if she didn’t, Merideth? And what if you stumbled on the reason why she’s missing and someone doesn’t want you knowing?”
Merideth watched the emotions flash across Ian’s face as she spoke. His response wasn’t the normal response of a publisher protecting one of his reporters. Or at least Merideth didn’t think it was. He was an iceman to everyone in the building. Even Tanya, the receptionist.
Stone hung up the phone and stared down at Merideth. She squirmed on the couch, feeling like she was under the scrutiny of the school principal when a teacher caught her passing notes.
“You’re going to have someone accompany you until we can determine the source of the call and the veracity of her statements.” He looked over at Ian and continued as though Merideth wasn’t even in the room. “I assume you don’t want a relative stranger living with you, so if she’s going to stay at your place, I’ll move in. Or she can stay at her place and I’ll assign someone to her at night.”
“She’s staying with me.”
Merideth’s head jerked between the two men. “Excuse me. She’s sitting right here and she gets to decide where she stays.”
“Not according to the agreement she doesn’t.” Ian leveled his steely gaze on her. It was worse than Stone’s.
“Fine.” Merideth lifted her chin and stared up at Stone. “What are you qualifications?”
Stone’s lips lifted into a tight grin. “You don’t have to worry about my qualifications, sweetheart.”
“Previous experience?” She wasn’t going to give up easily.
“Afghanistan then Iraq then back to Afghanistan.”
Merideth tried to hide her surprise. She never expected any of the men Ian was friends with to have actually served in the military.
“And before that the US Naval Academy.”
Well, that quelled some of her shock. Of course, he went to one of the academies, although she was more surprised he hadn’t said WestPoint. “Don’t say it, if I ask for any more, you can tell me, but then you’d have to kill me?”
Stone winked at her. “I don’t think Ian would be very happy with me if I put you in a position where I had to kill you.”
He didn’t deny it. Merideth knew her way around the non-confirmation confirmations. She also noted Stone’s comments about Ian’s feelings regarding her demise. “Fine.” Merideth stood up, grabbing her notebook and headed out of the office.
“Where are you headed, sweetheart?” Stone came up behind her.
“The archives.” She glanced over her shoulder at Ian and smirked at him. “Coming, Stone?”
Ian crossed his arms over his chest, but didn’t say anything to her. Merideth knew they would discuss her refusal to obey his authority when they arrived home at the end of the day, but that left her with plenty of time to pull the social pages from the last few months.