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You can reach me at KatieAshleyRomance at gmail dot com

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Atlanta, GA, United States
I am the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best Selling author of The Proposition, Proposal, Music of the Heart, and Nets and Lies. I am represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel and Goderich for all books except for Proposition and Proposal.
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The Proposition

The Proposition



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Teaser Tuesday from Search Me

Hey guys,

Long time, no tease, huh? This one is coming to you from late June's release of Search Me. I like to call it a New Adult Romancing the Stone mixed with National Treasure with a little Goonies thrown in. Here's the blurb in case you missed it before...

Twenty year old Lane Montgomery never imagined her usually boring summer in the boonies would require her to trade her toe shoes for hunting boots or her monotonous college textbooks for treasure map deciphering. Never would she have imagined after breaking her grandmother’s precious Native American statue, danger, a lost treasure of Cherokee Gold and a hostage situation would arise. Nor could she predict that the one man destined to protect her and her family was her childhood nemesis and former crush, Maddox Diaz.

Returning after three years in the Army, twenty-three year old Maddox Diaz is confronted with more than he bargained for when agreeing to help his childhood buddy and deepest regret, Lane. Suddenly he is thrust into a dangerous game of cat and mouse with armed and ruthless treasure seekers that results in car chases and gun battles all in the presence of the one girl who still manages to haunt his dreams and drive him wild with desire.

Lane is determined to deny the sizzling chemistry with the man who stole her virginity and broke her heart. She just wants to stay alive with her heart intact. Will she be able to resist the man whose body sets fire to all her senses?

When I reached to knock, the back door creaked open. Huh, that was strange. Maudie usually kept everything locked up tight, especially after hours. Even though it was only supposed to be the two of us working, I glanced around to see if one of the other workers might’ve left it ajar. Shifting our salads in my arm, I stepped inside. “Maudie?”

From across the store, I could hear raised voices and the sound of boxes crashing and falling. I fumbled in my purse for my phone to call 911. After I jerked it out, I started slowly making my way towards Maudie’s office. I’d gotten half-way down an aisle when I heard a man’s voice. It only took a second for me to register it as the Creep aka Mr. Jensen from earlier in the day. “I know you’re lying. The damn frame is busted on the painting, so don’t try to tell me you don’t know anything about the map!”

“I’ll tell you one more time, Mr. Jensen. The frame got damaged when the painting was shipped to me. I can assure you I have no idea about this silly map you speak of.”

The sound of breaking glass caused me to jump. “Stop lying! If I have to tear apart every single item in this store, I will! I’m not leaving here without the map!”

While my heart rattled in fear, my entire body started trembling all over. I tried to stop my hand from shaking as I dialed 911. In a hushed voice, I said, “There’s been a break-in at 259 Mountain Laurel Blvd—or Miss Maudie’s Brewery. Send someone as soon as you can! The man is still here!”

“Okay, ma’am, I need your name and for you to stay on the line while—”

I tuned out the dispatcher as Maudie’s raised voice floated back to me. “I don’t know who you think you are, but you’re not going to come in here and destroy my business! You better leave right this minute, or I’ll call the police!”

A gun blast caused me to jolt back. The salads and my phone went flying through the air as I tipped to the side and knocked over a display before grabbing hold of some metal shelving to keep my balance. My heartbeat pounded in my ears as an ice cold panic washed over me. Staggering back to my feet, I focused my eyes that were already blurring with tears back on Maudie’s office. 

My mind raced in thought, but the main one screamed, “No, no, NO!” This couldn’t be happening. It had to be just a dream. If I just closed my eyes, I’d wake up back at the cabin to find this whole day had been just a weird dream. Pinching my eyes shut, I willed myself back home. But it was no use. It was all real.

Through my emotionally overloaded fog, I heard the dispatcher’s far away voice calling, “Hello? Was that a gunshot?”

I groped along the floor to find my phone. “Yes! Maudie’s been shot! Send an ambulance!”

A hand cupped over my mouth and jerked me up out of the floor and back against a body of solid rock. I immediately began kicking and thrashing against the person.

“Shh, it’s just me,” Maddox whispered, his breath warming my ear. 

I relaxed in his arms, and he took his hand away. Tears streamed over my cheeks. “Maudie…that guy Jensen…shot her,” I gasped incoherently through my sobs.

His face contorted in agony. Although he remained rooted to the spot, I could tell he wanted nothing more than to go busting into the office. “Dammit to hell! I left my pistol in my Jeep back at the house!” he growled.

With an ashen expression, he appeared to be weighing in options about going back to get it when two heavy-set men came out of Maudie’s office. Maddox jerked us down to the floor.         

Jensen stalked out of the office and started barking orders. “All right boys. Fan out. I want every inch of this place gone over thoroughly! There’s no telling where she could have hid it or where she might have a safe.”

One of the men remained rooted to the floor. “Search the place? You promised us this would be an easy score. There sure as hell wasn’t anything mentioned about killing people or having to hunt down the map!”

Whirling around, Jensen narrowed his eyes. “Look Parker, this isn’t just some hacking scheme that you do from the sidelines. You knew when you signed on that this entailed leg work. So either shut the fuck up and start searching or take a walk!”

Parker grumbled under his breath before reluctantly following Jensen. When they had started out the backdoor to the warehouse, Maddox and I raced into the brightly lit office. The room appeared ransacked. Papers and books littered the floor while the drawers of the filing cabinets were opened and files strewn about. “Maudie?” I called softly.

Finally, I saw her body crumpled behind the desk. Her eyes were closed, and I’d never seen her so pale. My hand shook as I reached out to touch her shoulder. “Maudie, can you hear me? It’s Lane.”

Her eyelids fluttered before she finally opened them wide. “You have to get out of here!”

I shook my head. “We’re not leaving you like this. The police and an ambulance are on their way.”

“No! Leave now."

Maddox made a strangled noise in his throat. When I glanced up, tears shone in his eyes. “We won’t leave you to die!” he argued in a strained voice.

Her breaths started coming in raspy pants. “Get the map. It’s in the safe. The one behind the bedroom painting.” I nodded, and she drew in a ragged breath. “The combination…the commission date on the back… of the painting. Inside are the map and my will." She glanced up at Maddox and grabbed his arm, her eyes filled with desperation. "Don’t let anything happen to Lane. Protect her with your life. Promise me!"

He bent down beside me, taking Maudie’s hand in his. His jaw clenched and unclenched, and I could tell he was fighting to keep from truly losing it. As for me, the tears streamed freely down my cheeks. “I promise I will,” he said.

“Keep yourself safe, too. And your sister.” She tenderly stroked Maddox’s cheek. “I love you with all my heart, sweet boy! You are my son.” She then gave us a weak smile. “I love both of you so much. Remember that…always.”

Maddox squeezed Maudie’s hand. “I love you, too.”

Sobs rolled through my chest so hard that I could barely murmur the words. 

“Now go before they come back! Hurry!”

“No, I won’t leave you!” I protested.

Maddox’s Army training took charge, and he pulled me up off the floor. “Maudie told us to go, Lane, so come on!” He dragged me kicking and flailing out the door. “Stop it! We can’t do anything else for her. She wants us to get the hell out of here and get the map, so that’s what we’re going to do!” His fingers jerked my chin up to meet his intense glare. “Got it?”

 I nodded weakly while wiping my eyes and trying to clear my head. It obviously wasn’t fast enough. Maddox grabbed my purse strap wound around my shoulder and gave me a harsh tug.  “Move!” he barked.
We then started running through the darkened store. Before we got to door that led outside, Jensen and his men huffed inside, and we had to duck behind some shelving.

“I’m telling you that I heard voices in here when I stopped to take a leak!” one of the guys said.

Jensen growled in frustration. “We should’ve split up better. This place is big enough that someone could easily hide out.”

As they broke apart and started spreading throughout the store, Maddox motioned his head to the backdoor.  We ran, hunched over, so that we could remain as hidden as possible. My heart was beating so loud in my chest that I was sure Jensen and his thugs would be able to hear it. As I hurried ahead of 
Maddox, I plowed through the backdoor with such an adrenaline rush that I thought I would knock it off its hinges.

The door flew back, sending the metal bar careening into Maddox’s crotch. He gave an agonized groan before pinching his mouth shut.

“What was that noise?” Jensen demanded.

“It came from the warehouse.”

“Dammit!” Maddox hissed. He closed the door behind us and pushed a crate in front of it. 

In a whisper, I replied, “I’m so, so sorry about your…your…” When I realized that I would have to acknowledge his balls, I pinched my lips together.

“Whatever. Come on!” He grabbed my arm and dragged me to the far side of the warehouse. When we heard the door open again, we dropped down behind a tall stack of crates.         Maddox peeked around 
the side, trying to catch a glimpse of Jensen.

It seemed like only a second before a voice rang out, echoing off the metal walls to close in around us. “All right, whoever’s there better come out right now!”

I held my breath, trying not to move a muscle, while Maddox crouched just as still.

“Now listen. I know somebody is out here. I have a feeling it’s that pretty young girl from this afternoon.”

Maddox tensed and edged himself closer to me. If we hadn’t been in such a scary situation, I might’ve felt a little tenderness towards his reaction. I was brought out of my thoughts by the sound of crashing boxes. The only thing that separated us from Jensen, his thugs, and the same fate as Maudie were wall to wall crates of jams, jellies, and drinks.

It wasn’t a comforting thought.

Jensen’s voice rang out again. “All right, be as stubborn as that old bitch! There’s three of us and one of you, so we’ll turn over every crate and box until we find you!”

Maddox grimaced. In a low voice, he said, “We’re so screwed!”

“Can’t we just go out the backdoor and try to outrun them?”

He shook his head. “It doesn’t have a silent alarm. The minute we go through it everyone in a mile radius is going to know exactly where we are. So there’d be no way we could get up the hill to Maudie’s without them seeing us. We need a distraction until the cops get here, but I seem to be lacking a plan that’ll keep those assholes and their guns away!”

I wracked my brain about what could cut us off from Jensen and his men. Something that would buy us enough time to get the map from Maudie’s safe. My eyes honed in on the box in front of me. Two words stood out to me among all the ingredients. Contents Flammable.

“Got a lighter?”

Maddox gave me a look like I’d completely and totally lost what was left of my mind. I rolled my eyes and jerked my head towards the box. When I could tell my plan had was registering in his mind, I asked, “Too much of a distraction?” 

He gave me an incredulous look before grinning. “No, actually I think it’s batshit crazy enough to work! I’m impressed with the wheels turning in that head of yours, Squirt!” I shot him a death glare before he peeked his head over the top of crate. “Okay look. There’s a box of matches and some lighter fluid in the tool drawer. You start pouring some Mountain Brew while I go get them.”

I nodded.

“If Jensen or any other of those ass-clowns get close to you, don’t wait for me. You just start running like hell. Got it?”
Okay,” I whispered.