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Social In Books Feature: The Marked Bride

Vicki Hinze, The Marked Bride

 

THE SHADOW WATCHERS RETURN!

In Seagrove Village, former Shadow Watcher, Tim, receives a stunning text from his ex-fiancé, Mandy, on their secure phone. She’s in trouble and needs help. Against objections–she’d broken their engagement to marry another man–Tim responds, and discovers NINA, Nihilists in Anarchy, an international terrorist group the Shadow Watchers have faced before, is after the team again. This time, through Mandy.

 

The breakup had devastated Tim, but what he discovers now forces him to work with Mandy to reveal yet another layer of operatives in the NINA organization. A layer that, for Mandy, strikes close to home and makes her The Marked Bride.

 

Few are who they seem. Facts are mercurial. And even those fighting this enemy on the Shadow Watchers’ side are withholding vital information that endangers all the Shadow Watchers’ lives, leaving Tim and Mandy wondering. Can they reveal the truth and protect the nation’s interests? Can the team succeed at fighting the enemy and its own side?

 

When all is done, who will survive? And of the survivors, if Tim and Mandy are among them, will they stand together or be robbed of their future once again and be forced apart forever?

 

The Shadow Watchers were introduced in Crossroads Crisis Center series:

Book 1: Forget Me Not (Ben)
Book 2: Deadly Ties (Mark)
Book 3: Not This Time (Joe)

And continue in their own Shadow Watchers series:

Book 1: The Marked Bride (Tim)
Book 2: The Marked Star (Nick)

Coming Next:
Book 3: The Marked Witness (Sam)
 
 
 
A Quick-Take Excerpt
 
 
 
The grocery bag slipped.
 
Mandy pivoted on the sidewalk to keep from dropping it and, at the curve, spotted a flood of police cars in the street in front of her mother’s house. Her heart rate shot up. Her pulse throbbing in her throat, in her temple, she ran toward them, cut across the lawn, veered onto the walkway to the wide front porch, and then climbed up the bottom step.
 
 
A uniformed police officer in his fifties raised his hand, blocked her path. “Stop. You can’t go in there, ma’am.”
 
 
Mandy shook her shoulder, trying to shoot past him, letting the grocery bag bump against his chest. “Of course, I can go in.”
 
 
“Detective Walton.” He called out then motioned for a man in a gray suit to join him. “Over here.”
 
 
“Yeah, Hank.” The detective said to the officer.
 
 
Out of patience and fighting panic, Mandy interrupted. “What are you people doing here?” She let her gaze slide between the two men, hoping one of them would answer her. The detective was a good ten years younger than the uniformed officer but looked far more rumpled, worn and weary.
 
 
A guard slid down over the detective’s eyes. “Do you know Olivia Dixon?”
 
 
“Yes, I know her. She’s my mother.” Mandy frowned at him. “What’s going on? Why are you here–and where is my mother?”
 
 
“I’m Detective Walton. Maddsen P.D.” He reached for the two grocery bags she’d forgotten she held. “Let me take those for you. Why don’t you sit down, Miss . . .?”
 
 
She instinctively passed the bags. “Madeline Dixon–Mandy,” she said, a sinking feeling dragging at her stomach, broadening the growing fissure of fear inside her. All around them, officers went in and out of the house. One rushing past brushed against her back, mumbled an apology, but didn’t slow his steps. “No more questions. I want you to take me to my mother. Are you going to do it or not?”
 
 
“I can’t take you to her right now, Miss Dixon.” Regret flashed through Walton’s eyes and his tone softened. “Won’t you sit down here on the step? Please.”
 
 
If she didn’t, he’d tell her nothing. Clear on that much, Mandy sat down on the rough, top concrete step. “Is something wrong with her?” No. Please, no. Not her. Please, not her. “Is she sick?” She couldn’t let herself think anything worse. This many cops didn’t show up for someone sick, but she couldn’t wrap her mind around more.
 
 
“We didn’t know who to call.” Walton passed the bags to the uniformed officer, then sat down beside Mandy on the top step. “None of the neighbors knew her or your name, though some had seen a woman fitting your description come and go from here.”
 
 
Of course, she wasn’t sick. Something bad had happened. Cops swarmed like bees all around her, and one was stretching yellow crime-scene tape between the trees separating her yard from the next-door neighbor’s. Something wickedly bad. “She’s lived here a relatively short time–maybe a year.”
 
 
“A year, and none of her neighbors know her?” He clearly found that odd.
 
 
“Mom has always kept to herself.” She’s a recluse for good reason. Mandy shunned the thought, vowing she wouldn’t whisper another word until he told her what had happened. She stared at him, and then waited . . . and waited.
 
 
Realizing she would stay clammed up, he shifted on his concrete seat, resigned. “I’m sorry, Miss Dixon. There’s no easy way to say this. I wish there were.” Regret flashed through his eyes, genuine and sincere. “Your mother is dead.”
 
 
The bottom dropped out of her stomach. “Dead?” He had to be mistaken. Wrong. Dead? Impossible. “No. No, you’ve made some kind of mistake. She can’t be dead.” Mandy disputed him and shunned the shock pumping through her body. “We just talked a few hours ago. We’re having dinner together here tonight. I’m cooking. I–I brought the groceries.”
 
 
“There’s no mistake.” Walton spoke slowly, distinctly, giving Mandy time to absorb his words. “Your mother is dead. I’m so sorry for your loss, Miss Dixon.”
 
“No,” she insisted. “I talked to her. We’re having lasagna and a Caesar salad–”
 
 
Walton didn’t dispute her, just continued on. “The neighbor across the street called.” He pointed to the white house trimmed in yellow, one house over and opposite her mother’s. The neighbor who’d had an insane amount of flowers in her front yard last summer. “She was out winterizing her flowerbeds, heard shots fired, and phoned us. We responded right away, but we arrived too late. We found your mother inside the house. The coroner is with her now.”
 
 
Her mother? Dead? Dead. Oh God, dead! No. No . . . No! Spots formed before her eyes and her stomach pitched. Hot and cold at once, she broke into a clammy sweat and her trembling intensified to shaking. Her world tilted and fighting to clear her head, she screamed inside.
Outwardly, she took a moment and then forced cold-steel calm into her voice. “If you’re telling me she killed herself, you’re wrong. My mother would never do that.” She might want to; heaven knew she’d threatened to often enough over the years, but she wouldn’t do it for the same reason she never had: she wouldn’t deliberately leave Mandy alone in the world.
 
 
“No.” Walton let his gaze slide away. “She didn’t . . . hurt . . . herself.” He dragged his gaze to Mandy’s. “It’s clear to us,” he said, and then paused as if seeking the right words. Apparently deciding he wouldn’t find any, he leveled his tone and went on. “Your mother was murdered.”
 
 
 
******
 
 
 
This book is available in print at your favorite booksellers.  Digital copies are at Amazon.  Kindle Unlimited or purchase.
 
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