Title: Changed By You
Author: Kristin Mayer
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: February 4, 2019
I'm in over my head, and Teale Delaney is the reason why.
She's beautiful, sassy, and I can't stop thinking about her.
If I let myself, I could fall in love.
But I can’t. I won’t.
It’s to protect her, not me.
Someone out there wants vengeance. If I allow them to see my true feelings for Teale, they’ll stop at nothing to take her away.
I’m lying to everyone around me to protect the only woman who can bring me to my knees.
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“Fuck, it’s too cold for this shit.” I slammed the door of my truck before clomping up the snow-covered stairs. Skagway was having one of the coldest winters in history. We were getting so much damn snow, and no one could keep up with it.
I glared at the door of the cabin my friend Butch had rented out. He’d asked if I could help the tenant with any problems while he was away. Of course, there would be problems with some stupid city slicker renting it out. Butch owed me big.
I’d gotten twenty text messages that the heater wasn’t working. Twenty damn text messages. Who sends that many? I had just as many voicemails but hadn’t listened to one. I’d gotten the picture from one text. No need for twenty.
And it was some guy named Teske. What kind of name is that? I would have bet this guy wore some shiny-ass loafers with his fancy-ass business suit.
It was the middle of January. Normally, this was my chance to get away from all these jokers and recharge for the hunting season. Instead, I was here, dealing with a heating issue. Teske probably couldn’t find the pilot light to save his life.
I have too much shit to do.
The FBI was on my ass to find a potential serial killer. There had been a wave of unsolved murders all throughout Alaska. The last one had been in Juneau, which was too fucking close for comfort. In exchange for my help, the FBI agreed to leave Kory and Hayden alone. No more questions about all the shit that had happened. No more bothering them, period. They weren’t supposed to even look Kory and Hayden’s direction.
So far, the feds had been true to their word.
But now they wanted me to pull a rabbit out of my ass and make a murderer appear out of thin air.
News flash—rabbits aren’t found in people’s asses. At least not in mine.
I needed a fresh crime scene to track. The ones I’d been brought to so far were already tainted. In some cases, it had been four months since the murder. The Juneau incident was four weeks previous. By the time they brought me on board, the crime scene had been ruined. Even worse, the pictures they’d taken were shit. The whole case was a disaster. And they had no idea who was behind it.
The agents had nicknamed him “Lumberjack Killer.” Talk about being original and unique. It was hard to even say the name with a straight face.
What the fuck ever.
I pounded on the door of Butch’s cabin. In the next second, it shot open.
“Oh, thank goodness you’re here! I’m about to become a Popsicle.”
For a second, I was frozen in shock. I hadn’t been expecting a woman to answer the door. Butch had said there was only one occupant, and I’d assumed it was a guy. She had on so much fur it was hard to see anything else. Whatever was on her head looked like what Hollis, our local town doctor who’d relocated from New York, considered a Paul Bunyan hat on steroids. Time and time again, I’d tried to tell Hollis that Paul Bunyan wore a beanie, but Hollis was Hollis, and he stuck to his beliefs.
“I’m looking for Teske,” I said.
“Teske.” I took a deep breath; my patience was growing thin. “That’s what the text said.”
She laughed. “No, that was supposed to say Teale. But my hands were so cold my fingers probably slipped. And I can’t see much with all this fur. I’m freezing.”
I stepped inside the cabin and was disappointed to find it just as cold inside as it was outside. That wasn’t good. “Why didn’t you start a fire?”
The poor girl was shivering. “Umm… I couldn’t find the remote.”
The what? “Remote?”
“Uhh… yeah. At home, I push a button and voilà… let there be fire. There wasn’t a remote or button to push.”
I wanted to laugh, but I kept a straight face. A remote? Is she serious? Even Hollis would have been able to figure out the fireplace needed wood and matches.
“Let me check out the heater.”
I walked to the back of the cabin and found the furnace tucked away in a closet.
The thing was old as dirt. It looked like a rusted tin bucket. What the hell? Butch should have known better than to rent out his cabin without a properly working heater. I screwed around with it for a few minutes, but the damn thing was completely shot. We needed to come up with a Plan B.
I walked into the living room where Teale sat with another blanket wrapped around her. There was a hell of a lot of luggage stacked at the door. Maybe she hadn’t had time to unpack. I thought she’d been here for a week or two already. Oh well. I couldn’t concern myself with that.
“Well, the heater is shot. Let me see if I can find some space heaters. Then we can get a fire going. You should be good to go until I can get the parts to fix it.”
I went to search the different closets, and I heard the front door open and close. When I walked back into the living room, Teale was gone. From the window, I saw her heaving one of her suitcases into the bed of my truck.
No. No. No. This isn’t going to happen.
I opened the door and yelled, “What are you doing?”
She folded her arms over her chest. The damn fur obscured her face even more. “I’m going anywhere but here. I’ll freeze to death here. You do not want my death on your conscience. I’ll come back to haunt you. I can be very scary.”
For the second time that day, I’d wanted to laugh, but I refused to allow it. Me laughing out loud in front of strangers never happened. She wasn’t coming with me. No way. “No, we’ll start a fire and get you a space heater.”
She opened the passenger door. “Hey, puppy. Don’t bite me. I just don’t want to freeze to death.” Mariah looked at me, her big blue husky eyes asking what was going on. I closed my fist to my side to let her know it was okay. I’d trained Mariah personally, and she was the best damn dog I’d ever had.
“Teale, be reasonable.”
“Nope. I’m going with you.”
This was getting us nowhere. I just had to get her back in the cabin and show her how warm I could make it. Calmly, I walked toward the truck. As I reached the door, the locks engaged.
She yelled through the window, “I need you to get the rest of my luggage first. Then I’ll let you in the truck.”
“Teale, get out of my truck.” This was ridiculous, and I was tired of playing games.
“Nope. Sorry. Luggage first. I’m coming with you.”
“Teale, I will get the cabin warm again.”
She cocked her head to the side and smiled at me. “Will you please get my luggage, Mr. Foster? Then you can take me into town. The one thing I do know is that I’m not staying in this cabin a second longer.”
I’d known her for five minutes, but this woman was going to be the death of me. Fine. I’d take her to the hotel and be done with this shit. The roads out to my cabin and Butch’s were still terrible. It had taken me nearly ninety minutes to make it out there. Normally it was only about a twenty-five-minute drive. I gritted my teeth and hoped the main road into town had been cleared enough for me to manage it. However, I knew I would be stuck in town for a minimum of a few days. From my cabin, it was still a thirty-minute drive to my parents’ on a good day. If I had to, I could stay with Mom and Dad. Butch, you owe me.
I pulled out my phone and texted Dad. My parents’ house was only about ten minutes or so from town.
Me: Heard anything about the roads in town?
Dad: If you’re thinking about coming into town, I wouldn’t. They’re still bad. One of the plow trucks broke down and the other needs a new blade.
Just my luck. Skagway had two plows and both were out of commission.
Me: Okay, thanks.
Dad: Everything okay?
Me: Yep. Just had a few errands to run.
If my brothers got wind of this… well, it wouldn’t be good. I had to talk sense into this woman. “Teale, let’s talk.”
She shook her head and pointed at the cabin. This woman was so damn stubborn. I grabbed all fifty million suitcases and threw them into the back of my truck.
Who the hell packs this much?
When the last bag was loaded, the locks disengaged, and I climbed in.
Teale pulled back her fur hat and looked at me. I was stunned momentarily in the deep dark pools of her eyes. They were gorgeous.
Well, fuck me.
I was in way over my head.
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Books by Kristin Mayer
The Trust Series
Full-length novels in the TRUST series are also available in audio from Tantor Media.
An Exposed Heart Series
Intoxicated By You
Changed For You
Wrecked By You
Full-length novels in the Exposed Heart Series are also available in audio from Audible.
The Effect Series
The Twisted Fate Series
Timeless Love Series
Stand Alone Novels
Predestined Hearts (co-written with Kelly Elliott)
Unexpected Love – Coming May 2019
Play Me – Joint Collaboration with Kelly Elliott – Coming March of 2019
Complicated Love – Coming Fall of 2019