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Authors: Katy Lee

Blindsided

BOOK: Blindsided
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UNDERCOVER RESCUE

When race-car track owner Veronica Spencer discovers stolen cars in a garage on her track, she knows she’s been framed. But before Roni can do anything about it, the criminals kidnap her. Undercover FBI agent Ethan Gunn shouldn’t break his cover to protect Roni, but he won’t watch her die, either. Despite his FBI information that says she’s involved in the crime ring, Ethan knows she’s innocent. So he risks it all to help her break free. But now, with killers and the FBI on their trail, Ethan must find a way to keep her safe…and clear her name.

ROADS TO DANGER: Family secrets resurface

“Do what I say if you want to stay alive.”

Ethan pushed her back into the convenience store. “Keep away from the windows. I’m going out. I’ll let you know when it’s safe.”

“And then?”

“Just follow my orders and no one gets hurt.” He hoped. The last time his orders were followed, a woman almost died.

He stepped out under the canopy. The helicopter’s motor blasted his eardrums, and the smell of gasoline mixed with his own scent of fear. One peek and he could be riddled with holes. But what else could he do? Call for backup, he supposed. But he worried his backup was in the chopper, ready to take Roni in.

Or down.

A car screamed into the parking lot, but all Ethan could see was the gun pointed out the window. Three shots wrenched the air, none at him. He wished he’d been the target when he saw what the shooter aimed for. A propane tank beside the store.

Ethan knew what was coming. But he was too late to stop it.

Katy Lee
writes suspenseful romances that thrill and inspire. She believes every story should stir and satisfy the reader—from the edge of their seat. A native New Englander, Katy loves to knit warm, wooly things. She enjoys traveling the side roads and exploring the locals’ hideaways. A homeschooling mom of three competitive swimmers, Katy often writes from the stands while cheering them on. Visit Katy at
katyleebooks.com
.

Books by Katy Lee

Love Inspired Suspense

Roads to Danger

Silent Night Pursuit
Blindsided

Warning Signs
Grave Danger
Sunken Treasure
Permanent Vacancy

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BLINDSIDED

Katy Lee

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ
hath made us free, and be not entangled again
with the yoke of bondage.

—Galatians
5:1

He hath made everything beautiful in his time.

—Ecclesiastes
3:11

To Brianna, the daughter my heart chose.

Acknowledgments

I’m the safest driver you will ever find on the road, definitely a following-the-rules kind of gal. So all these speed chases had to be researched and yes, tried in a safe environment. I am thankful to the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience and Gotham Dream Cars for their expertise and training. Honestly, I have loved the thrill of getting behind the wheel of so many different kinds of cars, from a stock car to a Ferrari. The pressure against my head as the race car careens around a turn at 120 miles per hour is not something I ever would have thought about—and definitely would never do on my own. Kids, don’t try this at home, either! But the experiences are out there to be had with organizations like Rusty Wallace and Gotham if you ever want to give it a whirl. Be safe. Drive safe. Enjoy!

ONE

V
eronica Spencer’s fuchsia patent leather boots, useless in the New Hampshire soggy spring, stalled on the backlot pavement of her racetrack. The sound of mechanical whirring and the clang of metal tools came from behind the closed bay doors of a dark, unused garage at Spencer Speedway. This was
her
garage, she silently staked her claim. She had a plan for it, and it didn’t include a squatter.

The damp, cold, night wind matched her bitter mood and fluttered her signature rose pink silk scarf, also not an accessory for functionality—but in the case of her scarves, glamour wasn’t their purpose either. Mutilated scar tissue from a car fire at three years of age covered her neck and right arm. It was the arm she’d used to reach for her mother, who’d sat in the front passenger seat before the flames killed her. Roni’s burns reminded her of the memory daily. The scarves?

They helped her forget.

They also had a way of putting people at ease when they saw her coming. Gave them something pretty to look at instead.

Roni had no intentions of putting her intruder at ease.

She smiled the first smile since she left her uncle grumbling at his dining room table earlier that night.

Perhaps taking the scarf off to show this trespasser what ugly looked like would make him second-guess squatting on her track again for...what? Just what was he doing here this late at night when the track remained closed for the season? The sounds told her he was building a car. He probably planned to race it in the Icebreaker, the first spring race, next week.

Not a chance, buddy. Not on my track.
And not anyone else’s after the sponsors heard what Roni Spencer had to say about him. He wouldn’t be the first man who underestimated her influence in the racing world.

The last one would never race again.

Her determined steps picked up, but at the door, deep, guttural voices filtered out and tripped her up again.

Someone gave an order like a drill sergeant breaking in new recruits, or more like threatening their lives. Her hand paused on the doorknob, and her gaze shot to the window a few feet to her left.

The square glass panes were covered with black paper. From afar it appeared dark and unused. Up close it all appeared...
criminal
. As much as she wanted to meet her trespasser face-to-face, perhaps barging in might not be the way to go. Her choice of weapon was her cutting tongue. Something told her she might not like theirs.

Always known for her uncanny ability to escape trouble, on and off the track, Roni grabbed her cell phone from the back pocket of her white jeans and backed away. Sometimes Reverse saved lives.

Her black Porsche Carrera beckoned at thirty feet where she’d parked it, and now with each retreating step she wished she’d pulled up closer. But that might have alerted the intruders to her presence if she had.

This wasn’t the first time the track had seen illegal activity. A few months back the main office had been ransacked, computers stolen, windows smashed. She loved her little town of Norcastle, but she knew it had fallen on hard times before; many were still struggling. It was only realistic that crime would follow. She wasn’t naive. She was an intelligent businesswoman—despite what her uncle implied and what her ex-fiancé denied.

She’d approached her uncle Clay again tonight about opening a racing school at the track. And again, he’d scoffed. “No man will ever want to learn how to race from a girl. Especially one so...
pink
,” he’d said. “Didn’t you learn your lesson with Jared? Your own fiancé didn’t want his peers knowing you were the brains behind his driving. Why would anyone else?”

Veronica punched in 911 with a vengeance. She’d handle this without calling Uncle Clay. She’d show him she could manage the run of the place without
anyone else
. He was free to leave his CEO position anytime. With her brother Wade retiring from the army and finally moving back to New Hampshire with his new wife, Lacey, Uncle Clay’s days of being in charge since the car crash twenty-eight years ago that took her parents and baby brother, Luke, away from her were coming to an end.

Her thumb moved to the call button. Her decision to do this alone meant so much more to her than making a phone call. It meant independence.

But just as her thumb pressed the button, the phone disappeared from her hand. Just like that. One moment she held it in her grasp, the next it flew out into the night. Before she could fathom the occurrence, a yank on her scarf jerked her head back in a sharp, quick, painful snap. Roni’s throat closed to life-giving air. She felt a body behind her, but the identity of her assailant took a backseat. In her struggle, her red hair whipped across her face like a red flag of warning that had come too late.

“You’re in the wrong place at the wrong time,
chica
. Too bad for you.” The harsh voice of the drill sergeant spoke close to her ear as his hand twisted the scarf tighter.

Gurgles escaped Roni’s mouth, her long nails breaking as she clawed at her neck.
Useless
, her mind blared. But it also didn’t give her any other ideas in its fog-laden, asphyxiating state. Her vision blurred even as she felt her eyes bulge with each painful twist of her scarf, tighter and tighter. Her only thought was when would the pain finally end? How long must she endure the torture? It was the same question she’d asked herself since she was three, when the agony of her burns consumed her, and then, when the sting of being marred for life set in. When would the pain end? The answer was always the same.

Never.

Was that the answer for her tonight?

Roni grappled with the material of her scarf. Her scars beneath would never go away. But Jared’s success on the track under her tutelage these past couple of years had given her an idea. A hope.

The Roni Spencer School of Racing.

Roni had something to offer. She knew it now, and it was why she’d come to the garage tonight. There would be no more putting it off.

And she would not allow her dream to fall by the wayside along with her dumped body!

Roni bent her knees to drop her weight in a faux fall. Judging by the way her scarf pulled down, her choke holder stood shorter than her nearly six feet in heels. She used her tall frame against him. He would have to lift her or risk falling forward himself. As his knees bent, she brought a foot up and kicked back at him, heel first. In the dark, she could only hope she hit her mark.

His hold loosened and both of them fell to the ground, apart. Stunned, she continued to claw at her neck as air rushed back in. Her lungs heaved and spots brightened in her eyes, but she pushed her body to face her attacker before another attempt could be made. He got to his knees and spit. His hands shot out of the darkness for her.

Roni rolled away. She wished she could tell the loser he was messing with the wrong person, but her dented voice box blocked her sharp tongue. Anger surged within her. Had the man known her weapon of choice?

He reached for her again, and Roni kicked out. Her body flew back...right into an unmovable wall.

Her hand reached behind her.
No
, she realized,
not a wall.

The legs of a second intruder blocked her. The solid mass of a strong-armed, muscled man in a black tank and unbuttoned white shirt towered over her. So much taller than the other guy...and so much bigger. She scooted to her right and crab-walked back, outnumbered and outwitted without her voice.

“What do you think you’re doing?” the guy standing over her barked.

“Me?” Roni squeaked, her throat strained. Her hand fumbled on empty pavement in a last-ditch effort to find her phone. “You’re on...my...property.”

“I wasn’t talking to you,” he replied, his voice low and disgusted.

In the light of the moon, she watched her assailant step up to the tall, hulking man. She craned her neck to see them face off with each other.

“What does it look like I’m doing? Tying up loose ends, because
you
were sleeping on the job. Now get inside so I can finish it.”

The tall man didn’t make a move. Just crossed his arms at his chest. “You can’t kill her. She’s Veronica Spencer, the
owner.
Do you have any idea of the media frenzy you would cause? She’s high profile. Her family wouldn’t stop until they got you and every person who knows you.”

“Well, she sure ain’t walking out of this place. Now get inside.”

Hanging around to see who won the battle wasn’t Roni’s style. She made a run for the moonlit outline of her Carrera, Spanish for
race
and
career
, but the loss of her career would be the least of her worries if she didn’t get her feet in gear.

Her breath hitched with each rapid footstep, one in front of the other. Her car closed in, her arms reached out. The door handle brushed her fingertips just as her scarred arm was yanked back in a vice grip. Instantly, her legs flew out in front of her as her body smacked hard into the shorter guy’s chest.

He held her with both arms this time. She couldn’t budge in any direction or with any part of her body. Her squirms and painful screams did nothing as he dragged her back to the garage.

“Open the door, Gunn.”

“I told you, you can’t kill her.” It was the big guy talking. Would he help her?

“And you’re not in charge. I am. You keep forgetting that.”

She took that as a no.

Gunn opened the door as instructed, and Roni saw her first real glimpse of him as the short guy carried her over the threshold. Blond hair, curls at his nape and eyes that tripped her up. She went for Gunn’s baby blues, demanding he look at her.
See me
, she wanted to say.
Look at me. I’m a person
.

Conflict resided in their depths, but no compassion.

He turned away, and she knew he would be of no help. What a waste of a handsome face, she thought. He obviously lacked brains in exchange for it.

Roni accepted her solo fight, but that would mean coming up with some fast thinking on her part.

First off, who were these men?

Were they friends of Uncle Clay? It would explain their presence in her garage if it was her uncle who let them on the property. Uncle Clay may have fooled the rest of her family into believing his innocent spiel about his involvement in the car crash that killed her parents, but he didn’t fool her. He knew more than he let on, and she wouldn’t stop digging until she discovered everything.

But just how far would he go to stop her?

Would he invite criminals to her track to do his dirty work?

The door slammed behind Roni, cutting her off from the world and locking her inside with killers.

She craned her neck to see how many closed in on her. She swallowed past the burning pain in her throat and spoke as strong as she could muster. “You’re not going to get away with this. I have family in the CIA.” Not a total lie, just not sure if her grandfather could be contacted fast enough to save her. The man lived a secret life.

Her peripheral vision showed four men approaching, tools in their hands. Big metal crowbars and wrenches no doubt meant to silence her.

“You were saying?” The small but extremely strong man holding her spoke into her ear, his breath hot and putrid.

Roni turned her face away to Gunn, the man who had saved her outside,
if
she could call it saving. In the full garage light, she thought his baby blues and blond curls warred against this whole lethal scene. He didn’t look like the other guys with their shaved heads and tattoos etched into the sides of their necks, heads and arms. He also carried no wrench or any other tool to be used against her. But perhaps his weapon of choice wasn’t of the visible kind.

No weapon formed against me shall prosper
. The scripture popped into Roni’s mind from someplace deep and forgotten. Cora had prayed it over her as a child, but it had been years since the Spencer family’s maid had repeated the words. Roni had made it clear to Cora that when it came to God, she didn’t want to hear about anything He had to say. But in these dire moments, Roni didn’t question why His words came to mind now...only the fact that they brought on a sense of empowerment.

Power that she would need against these men.

They looked at her with such hatred. Maybe they weren’t friends of Uncle Clay’s, but of Jared’s. That would really explain the flaming eye-daggers coming her way. Jared Finlay still sulked about her terminating their relationship.

Roni lifted her chin. Jared used her to jump-start his racing career. He got what was coming to him, exactly what he deserved.

And so would these lowlifes.

“What are you doing in my garage?” she demanded and glanced around the bays. Three vans, painted white, rear windows replaced with metal inserts to block the view to inside; car parts strewn about.

She had her answer but didn’t want to believe it. Maybe she was wrong.

Yeah right, like these guys were legit.

“You’re using my garage to clone cars?” she rasped angrily.

Car cloning was a federal offense. Stealing the identity of a legitimately owned vehicle and slapping it onto a stolen car in a chop shop gave the car a new identity so it could be used for criminal activity. Drug deals, mafia jobs, drive-by shootings, you name it. Criminals could get away with a lot when their cars didn’t out them.

Roni sneered at the men. “How dare you use Spencer Speedway as your chop shop. I will not allow you to link my business to your crimes.”

Gunn’s eyes narrowed. His arms crossed at his front as they had outside.

“How did you know that’s what we’re doing here?” he said.

“I didn’t, but thanks to your confession, I do now.” She gave his formidable physique a quick once-over and continued, “Such a shame.”

Roni’s neck wrenched back in pain. Her original attacker grabbed her scarf again, tilting her head until she felt his prickly, unshaven cheek against her. “I should have killed you immediately,
chica
. You talk too much.”

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