The Guardian (Mended Souls Book 1), страница 1
About the Author
Also by Jacquie Biggar
Copyright © 2016 by Jacquie Biggar
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Created with Vellum
I have so many people I’d like to thank. First, and foremost my husband, Robert John. Without you I wouldn’t have had the courage to pursue my dreams. Thank you, honey.
My mom, who has always been my guiding light and allows me to toss ideas with her. Thank you, I couldn’t do this without you.
To my daughter, Brandy, my inspiration to never give up.
To my critique buddies- you know who you are. Without you pushing me to better myself, this book might never have happened.
To my beta readers for their tremendous input, and the reviewers who are key to a writer’s success. Thank you.
And last but not least, to Kim Killion and Jennifer Jakes, for the beautiful cover I’m so proud of, thank you.
This book marks my first foray into the paranormal genre. I had a lot of fun world-building and hope you enjoy Lucas, Scott, and Tracy’s story.
Everyone is someone’s devil.
From Tidal Falls:
This was truly an enjoyable book to read with just the right amount of suspense, sexual tension, humor, and romance. The drama of the story sucked me in from the first page and the plot twists kept me reading until the thrilling ending that didn’t disappoint. Who wouldn’t love a book with a strong heroine (Sara), a sexy hero (Nick), an adorable, spunky little girl (Sara’s daughter Jessica), a gorgeous group of Navy SEAL team members, a devoted K-9, a sexy and smart DEA agent (Maggie), and a cold, manipulative villain (Tom) who wants to ruin everyone’s happiness?
I especially loved the threads of love, friendship, family, and comfort food woven throughout the book. A great start to an exciting series that I can’t wait to read!
* * *
Jacquie Biggar has a wonderful gift for writing hot and extremely likable military men! I couldn't decide who was my favorite: Nick, Frank, Jared or Adam. Luckily this novel is the start of a series so the good news is that I'll be seeing a lot of these men again in future books by Ms. Biggar. Hooyah!
#1- Mended Souls by Jacquie Biggar
The premise of this story is that of a couple of free living movie stars who have their lives changed forever when they are involved in a horrific car accident. One dies, Lucas Carmichael, and is left to seek redemption for his carelessness by vowing to help those he left behind.
Scott Anderson is lost and bitter without his best friend and blames himself for the accident. When the ME charged with investigating the case is harassed, Scott tries to help and finds himself caught up in a dangerous web of lies and deceit.
Cook County Medical Examiner, Tracy York, has seen the extreme violence humans can inflict on one another. Her sister was murdered when she was a teenager and it has made her wary of the male population. When she is tasked with the investigation into a suspicious crash that killed one mega-star, and injured the other, Tracy must put aside her reservations and accept the hand of a stranger.
Can two lost souls come together to stop a madman and find love and peace with the help of a sarcastic angel, or will fate deal them a losing hand?
If Lucas Carmichael had known he was going to wake up dead, he might have kept sleeping.
There was some sort of a thin sheet covering him from head to toe, but it didn’t do anything to stop his body from shaking or his heels from vibrating on the table beneath him. His chest pumped like a set of bellows on steroids. He blinked repeatedly to get his bearings, but still couldn’t see a fricking thing.
What the hell was going on?
A white-hot pain hit him between the brows.
He rubbed his forehead. Except—his palms were still on the cold metal of the table. He could feel them there. So, whose…?
Adrenaline spiked, shooting adrenaline though his system.
Terrified, he shoved off the choking hold of the sheet and threw himself to the floor, crouching for a moment to get his bearings, every muscle tensed. Reaction set in and perspiration broke over his naked body, rattling his teeth. A high-pitched whistle rang in his ears, and his heart pounded harder than his old base speaker beating out a Black Sabbath tune.
He squinted against the lights, blindingly bright after the darkness of the sheet. A man and a woman stood a few feet away behind another table with a blanket shrouded figure. Weird. They hadn’t even glanced up when he performed his gymnastics. Something strange was going on here.
“It’s too bad. She had her whole life in front of her,” the woman said as she took some sort of vise and lodged it in the poor sucker’s chest. “I heard they were headed from a party when it happened.”
The other guy in a white jacket shook his head. “These guys never learn. They think just because they’re the newest hot item and have more money than God, nothing’s ever going to happen to them.”
He reached into the cavity and carefully removed what looked like the heart and placed it in a pan resting on the corpse’s legs. “At least she’ll make a good research candidate.”
He was in a freaking morgue. How the hell did that happen? Last thing he remembered was cruisin’ down the highway in his new 911 Porsche with the music blaring so loud he could barely hear himself think. His best friend, Scott, with his younger sister, Natalya, on his lap in the passenger seat, had just glanced over her blond head and smiled the quirky grin that had won him instant box office success.
Lucas remembered thinking they were so freaking lucky—to come from where they had, to where they were now? A miracle.
He’d laughed and turned back to the curves of the road, but his vision went wonky for a second. When it straightened out his eyes had widened in shock. The sharp tang of copper flooded his mouth. The windshield was filled with the terrified faces of the family in a van hurtling straight toward them. Shit, he must have swerved over the center line.
They were going to crash.
Time simultaneously slowed to a crawl, and jumped to warp speed. The man was
A litany of prayers Lucas hadn’t uttered since he’d been a young child rattled off his lips while Scott’s “What the fuck?” vibrated with fear. He felt more than saw his friend bracing for impact, his arms tightening around Nat as he buried her face in his shoulder.
Then there was a horrendous screech of metal on metal. His chest slammed into the steering wheel with bruising force, knocking the breath from his lungs. The momentum propelled the car to skid sideways and collide with the van again, this time from the rear. The collision sent his body smashing against the driver’s door. Natalya’s scream reverberated and then was abruptly cut off. His head cracked hard against the window. The last thing he remembered was the suffocating sensation of the deployed airbags.
Lucas rose and backed away from those bloody gloved hands doing God knows what to whoever was on that table. He bumped into another tray filled with instruments of torture and froze at the resultant clang. He covered his privates and met the startled gaze of the doc. Except, she looked right through him, her pretty green eyes narrowed with suspicion.
“That’s not funny, Hank. I told you I don’t like your games.”
The man, Hank, threw his hands up in the classic ‘hold on there’ pose. “Hey, it wasn’t me this time, I swear.” He moved closer to the tools, as though to defend himself with a scalpel or something, the idiot.
The woman’s eyes pierced the shadows, only marginally relaxing when she found the room empty. Well, except for the stiffs and him of course. Lucas had a very bad feeling. The only reason for those two not to be able to see him was if he were invisible. And since he was reasonably sure he hadn’t received a bite from a radioactive spider, he must be a… ghost.
No sooner did the thought flutter wraithlike through his mind than Lucas’ feet lifted from the tiled floor, pulled up by a brilliant white light encircling his body. He groaned, the heat a benediction on his aching bones. So it was true, there was another realm after death. He’d always believed when he died, that was it. He’d become just another shit-stain on the fabric of mankind. It’s how he’d lived his life, no harm, no foul. But, this. This felt… divine.
If there really was a heaven, he didn’t deserve a spot. Not after everything he’d done.
It seemed like only seconds later the beam transported him to a textured surface sort of like the topping on his favorite dessert of lemon meringue pie. There were hills and hollows all in creamy shades of tan and white as far as the eye could see. It made him queasy.
He looked around but didn’t see another soul, living or otherwise. Nice to know he hadn’t lost his rather dubious sense of humor when he died.
He was dead.
The stark truth hit him and drove him to his knees. Little tufts of cloud bounced crazily, temporarily obscuring his vision. Not that he was missing much; he was the only freaking person up here.
Was this his fate then? To spend an endless eternity wandering around the perimeter between this world and the next, not allowed to enter either dimension? It was no more than he deserved, but he’d give anything to know what happened to Scott, Natalya, and that family. He didn’t care what lay in store for him as long as they were okay.
A sensation crept over his skin like a warm breeze. Someone was watching. His head flipped around like Beetlejuice, searching the ever-changing monochromatic landscape around him, but there was nothing.
And then, suddenly—there was.
A figure appeared out of the mist. Completely covered in a glowing white robe from head to toe, the ethereal body floated across the distance and came to a halt about a metre away. The… thing stood with its head bowed and arms crossed in front of him. He could have easily passed for an albino monk.
If Lucas wasn’t dead already, this place would have done the trick. He’d never been a fan of fun houses. The creepy mirrors, moving floors, and freaky characters appearing out of nowhere pretty much negated the whole fun aspect.
He rose on unsteady legs and waited, heart in his throat, ready to turn tail and run if that robe uncovered a creature from his nightmares.
“Who are you? Why am I here?” he demanded.
The guy rocking the bed sheet fashion accessories wasn’t talking. Why was this happening? Okay, he got it. He’d fucked up, but it was a little late to do anything about it. If he was dead, fine. Drop him in a hole somewhere and leave him the hell alone.
This is bullshit.
The words, spoken in a soft baritone, seemed to enter his head without ever being uttered. Lucas raised his hands for protection against he knew not what. His heart threatened to bounce from his chest. He closed his eyes and prayed to a God who’d never listened that he was just in shock and this was all a bad dream. It had to be. But when he chanced opening them a few moments later, nothing had changed. It seemed this was to be his new reality.
“Come,” the voice said. Without waiting on his compliance—though really, where was he going to go—the figure turned and drifted over a nearby peak.
Lucas hesitated, torn between throwing himself over the nearest cloud-bank, and trailing behind to see just what the future held in store for him.
Curiosity won. He followed.
Cook County Medical Examiner, Tracy York, finished writing up the last of her reports and leaned back in her ergonomic office chair. Stretching her aching back, she contemplated the Chicago city skyline. It was her job to determine cause of death and bring closure to families grieving the loss of loved ones, but today had been tough. She was beat.
Some cases were harder to handle than others. Today she’d stood aside and bore witness to a woman’s gut-wrenching pain at the loss of her husband and unborn child while the man who caused the injury lay just a few feet away. No one had stepped forward to mourn his death. Tracy couldn’t say who she felt sorrier for—okay, yes she could. It angered her that a family had been torn apart all because some idiots who were too stupid to know alcohol doesn’t mix with driving had decided to take their party on the road.
Scott Anderson and Lucas Carmichael.
Of course she’d heard of them. Who hadn’t? Both were riding a wave of success from their latest action movie. Both were notorious playboys the paparazzi took pleasure in chasing. Now one was dead, and the other… well, he wouldn’t be performing his own stunts for quite some time.
She didn’t get out to the movies very often, but she had a DVD player and her own stash of late night indulgences starring Scott Anderson. Her lips quirked over her teenage-like crush on the man. She remembered her relief when he and his super-model wife divorced last year. As if he’d ever have an interest in someone like herself, a science nerd.
Lucas had a blood alcohol level of .07 at the time of the crash. It was enough to mess with his depth perception, reasoning, and peripheral vision; all of which probably slowed his reflexes to the point that he couldn’t react fast enough to correct his mistake when he crossed the center line of the highway. Eyewitness testimony and evidence on the scene corresponded with Tracy’s analysis, not that it made her feel any better. This was one time she could have gone without being right.
The woman they’d performed the autopsy on yesterday was said to be Anderson’s sister, out from California for a visit with her movie star brother. Guess she got more than she’d bargained for with these two. She didn’t have a chance; at the moment of impact she’d flown through the windshield and died of internal hemorrhaging.
Tracy sighed. The media attention outside the office was crazy and her boss was not a happy camper. There was a lot of pressure coming down the pipeline to make her findings disappear. It wouldn’t look good for the movie’s
She knew Gil wouldn’t bend under the pressure. He swore by the integrity of his office. But there’d been some threats lately that neither of them could take lightly. From prank phone calls warning them to change the outcome or else; to typewritten notes left on generic paper with no prints, pasted to the windshield of her car while parked in front of her home. The police were looking into the matter, but without hard evidence there wasn’t a lot they could do.
She slipped her heels back onto her aching feet and rose to wander around, not anxious to go home to her sterile condo. Life in the city might be exciting, but it was also damn lonely. Besides, she liked being in the office when everything was soft shadows and cool silence.
Drawn to the drawers where they stored the decedent’s bodies, she tugged on the second one from the end, the one where Lucas Carmichael lay at rest. She carefully turned back the white sheet from over his face and chest. Other than a nasty gash from where his head hit the side window, he seemed as though he were simply taking a nap. His hair glinted a rich coffee brown with streaks of bronze that picked up the light and complimented his Hollywood tan. There were deep lines at the corners of his eyes that suggested a hard life. A tribal tattoo covered his left pec and a vine of thorns wrapped his arm from elbow to shoulder. No wonder he’d been so successful. Even dead she could feel his charisma.
Where Lucas had come across as sarcastic and intense, Scott was the ever light-hearted counterpart. The contrast played well on the big screen and the two were often paired up in movies. With Scott’s wavy blond hair and crystalline eyes, it was easy to see why the women flocked to his side. There was a certain way he had of gazing out from the screen that made every female under sixty believe that look was solely for them. Even though she knew better, Tracy had felt the flutter of her pulse more than once over a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and a certain surfer guy movie star. Nothing said a girl couldn’t dream.