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Authors: Cáit Donnelly

Now You See It

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Now You See It
By Cáit Donnelly

Former Navy SEAL Brady McGrath has no trouble attracting female attention. But women never stick around long once they learn he can read feelings through touch. When an old Navy buddy hires him to protect his sister, he doesn’t need extra-sensory abilities to know someone wants something from Gemma Cavanagh—something worth killing for.

Gemma’s finally getting a handle on her own unique ability to make things disappear—even making them reappear on occasion. When someone breaks into her house and hacks into her computer, she’s certain her soon-to-be-ex husband is to blame—until the police show up on her doorstep with the news he’s been murdered. And she’s their number one suspect.

After barely escaping a firebombing, Gemma and Brady are forced into hiding—and forced to confront the chemistry between them. As they desperately search for the killer, can Brady help Gemma harness her abilities—and keep her from finding out about his own dark past?

85,000 words

Dear Reader,

Exciting things happen in November. It’s the month we first
announced the creation of Carina Press, the month of my Harlequin employment
anniversary and it’s the month when we in the U.S. get
gorge-yourself-on-bad-carbs-and-turkey day (otherwise known as Thanksgiving). We
also get Black Friday (I think they call it that because of the color of your
bruises after you’ve been run over by crazy shoppers).

This November, we’re excited to release our first Carina
Press book in trade print format.
The Theory of
Attraction,
an erotic BDSM romance collection featuring novellas from
Delphine Dryden, Christine d’Abo and Jodie Griffin, is on shelves and available
for order online.

We also have fourteen new stories in digital for you to enjoy
post-turkey coma, in that long, long line outside the mall on Black Friday or,
if neither of those is your thing, to enjoy just because you like a good book!
Try to avoid the crime and violence of some of those crazy holiday shoppers and
enjoy some on-page suspense instead. Marie Force is back with her popular Fatal
series and ongoing protagonists Nick and Sam, in her next romantic suspense,
Fatal Deception.
Also returning is author Shirley
Wells with
Dying Art,
the next Dylan Scott
mystery.

I’m happy to introduce debut author Jax Garren’s new trilogy,
which kicks off this month with
How Beauty Met the
Beast.
This novella grabbed my attention when I read it on
submission, with off-the-charts sexual tension, a wonderful, character-driven
futuristic world, a smart, sassy heroine and a tortured, scarred hero who yearns
for nothing more than to keep the woman he’s secretly falling in love with
safe.

Looking for something out-of-this-world to take you away from
the pre-holiday madness? J.L. Hilton offers up her next cyberpunk
science-fiction romance,
Stellarnet Prince,
continuing the adventures of futuristic blogger extraordinaire Genny. Meanwhile,
Cáit Donnelly’s
Now You See It
gives a paranormal
edge to a thrilling romantic suspense, while erotic fantasy romance
Dark Dealings
by Kim Knox is guaranteed to give you
that “take me away” feeling.

Joining Kim with erotic romance releases this month are Jodie
Griffin with her next Bondage & Breakfast novella,
Forbidden Desires,
and Lynda Aicher’s first of a BDSM trilogy,
Bonds of Trust.
All three books in this trilogy are
both smokin’ hot, while delivering a wonderful, captivating story.

We have two authors with male/male releases this month,
including L.B. Gregg’s contemporary romance
Men of
Smithfield: Adam and Holden.
Also in the male/male niche, author
Libby Drew has her first Carina Press release, paranormal male/male
romance
40 Souls to Keep.

Susanna Fraser’s
An Infamous
Marriage
is our lone historical romance offering this month, but one
that won’t disappoint. Anchoring us in the here and now are several
contemporary romance titles. Jeanette Murray’s
No
Mistletoe Required
aims to get you into a holiday mood and
December Gephart bursts onto the publishing scene with her debut, the witty, fun
and romantic
Undercover Professor.

And don’t miss the upcoming conclusion of Shannon Stacey’s
second Kowalski family trilogy,
All He Ever
Dreamed.

Wherever your reading pleasure takes you, enjoy this month’s
variety of releases as we gear up for the holiday season.

We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your
thoughts, comments and questions to
[email protected]
.
You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter
stream and Facebook fan page.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Executive Editor, Carina Press

www.carinapress.com
www.twitter.com/carinapress
www.facebook.com/carinapress

Dedication

For you, a Stór, who taught me about love and heroes.

Acknowledgements

Many patient and generous people shared their time and expertise in writing this book, advising me on police procedure, ‘cop-speak,’ hackers, the male mental process and all things SEAL.

My special thanks to technical advisors Steven Claassen, Jeremy Johnson, Thomas Mandeville, and Jamey McDonald for their help. Any mistakes are my fault, not theirs, and I apologize.

To the friends and fellow authors who suffered through endless readings and permutations and shared their sensitivity, talent and training: Mary Buckham, Amy Carrithers, Terrel Hoffman, Lindsay Johnson, Connie MacArthur—thank you!

Huge thanks to my terrific editor, Denise Nielsen, for her amazing guidance shaping the final story. And an even bigger thank you for believing in
Now You See It
and bringing it into the light.

Prologue

She’d left the lights on in the entry. Considerate of her. Maybe she was thinking of him. He slipped the scrap of paper with her alarm code back into his pocket. She’d even taken the fucking dog, so he had a free hand. He sauntered up the stairs, taking his time. Enjoying himself. No need to rush. She’d be gone all night.

At the top of the stairs he paused outside her office—he’d come back to that. Her bedroom drew him. The big bed she’d shared with her husband was gone. Good. Thinking of Ned in her bed made him clench his fists until his nails threatened to pierce his latex gloves. That fool didn’t deserve to be married to a woman like her.

The new bed was smaller. A flowered quilt covered it, tucked in on one side, but folded loosely on the other. That must be where she slid beneath the covers. His heart beat faster as he stepped closer. He raised her pillow to his face, breathing in the clover-and-spice scent of her hair and the smell of clean linen and smiled at the pleasant tightening in his groin. He wondered how her clothes would feel against his skin, and almost opened the closet, but that, too, would be a pleasure to save for another time. He lingered in the doorway, gazing again at her bed. She had no idea how often he had wanted to be here, watching her sleep, having her all to himself. When he decided it was time, he would tell her. Soon.

Ned’s office was empty now except for a box of books and a dog toy in the middle of the room. He laughed softly. Nothing could have said more clearly Ned was really gone. He knelt beside the box and searched through the books, fanning each volume. Nothing hidden there. Only a bookmark from a shop in Redmond. He replaced the books just as they had been.

His breath came a little faster as he headed back down the hall.

Her computer was turned off, but it didn’t matter. Ned had left her password in the top drawer of his desk, along with the spare house keys. She hadn’t even changed the locks when Ned moved out. All the better for him, of course, in so many ways. He wondered why Ned had backed up his files to her computer. Staking a claim, maybe. Certainly not caution. As far as Ned was concerned, caution was an alien concept.

He logged on with Ned’s password first. Child’s play. Carefully, he scanned the directories for the information he needed. He had to know for sure. He couldn’t afford to take foolish chances at this late date.

Nothing. He exhaled with relief, and logged off. At the dialog box he typed in Gemma’s password and hit Enter. A chime sounded, and a second dialog box appeared, with a polite message requesting he re-enter his password. He stared at the screen, annoyed, and entered the password again. The dialog box reappeared. He couldn’t believe it. She’d changed her password. What would the new one be?

He needed a little time to find out, but he would. He would. He enjoyed a challenge, and Gemma was all of that.

He smiled as he shut the system down. Time to go. He’d be back.

Chapter One

Shirts. How could any man need so many damn shirts? Gemma pressed her lips together and dropped another armload beside a half-full wardrobe carton. She pushed a box of her not-soon-enough-to-be-ex-husband’s winter sweaters away with one foot to make some room and slid to the floor. The mound of shirts rose past her waist, all plastic-wrapped and pristine, collars folded with the precision Ned demanded.

She looked down at the tan Brooks Brothers shirt she was holding. Ned had thrown a huge tantrum when the cleaners had folded its collar a fraction aslant. Almost by itself her hand crunched into the cardboard collar support.
Let the son of a bitch have a fit about
that
!
Satisfaction flooded her, and she crushed a couple more for good measure. He could take it up with her attorney. Or come pack his own damn stuff.

The email alert on her phone sounded a
tada!
With any luck, Lubbock State College had finally—maybe—sent the information she needed to get their grant proposal done.

She tugged her phone out of her shirt pocket. As she read the new email, she grinned and pumped her fist into the air. Yes! They got it right! The little school on the dusty edge of nowhere had won her heart, and she wanted the project for them as much as they did. She stacked the shirts in the packing box and glanced over at the sleeping malamute who lay like a gray and white puddle on the cool wood floor.

Gemma stood and stretched. The dog rose, shook herself, and padded to the door, where the box of sweaters now blocked them both in.

“Okay, Nikki. Just a second.” Gemma nudged the box out of the way with her foot, again. And again. Before she knew it, she was kicking it down the hall toward her office, chivvying it along like a rock on the sidewalk.

She stepped into her office and winced as searing August sunshine glinted off the mullioned windows of the almost identical neo-Georgian twenty feet away. Gemma paused to pat the damp skin at her nape and swallowed a little flutter of nostalgia. This house was supposed to have been for the baby. She closed her eyes and swallowed as she shut that thought down. Don’t think about the room that should have been a nursery, or the days of lovingly painting the walls and cutting out big felt daisies to mount on them.
Funny how life works.
Deep breaths
,
Gemma
.
Deep, deep breaths.
It was over. Done. She had to move on.
Right.

She lifted her hair off her neck and twisted it into a knot, snatched a pencil from the desktop and jammed it in to make a casual chignon.

Whatever happened to Seattle’s soft, mild summers? This hot, dry weather wasn’t supposed to be part of the package. Gemma straightened the stacks of papers she’d been working on earlier—budget pages, staffing charts, narratives.

She blinked. A corner of an old paperback poked out from under a page of personnel charts. Even half-buried, she could recognize it. She caught a happy breath as she pulled the book free.
When did that come back
? she wondered
.
The historical romance was worn and creased, the edges of the five-hundred-plus pages soft and furred with many readings. “It’s about time something wonderful un
filed
itself.”

Filing
. As good a name as any for sending something into the Twilight Zone.
Everybody mislays things when they’re preoccupied
, she had temporized for years, even though she knew what she did was something really,
really
different. It wouldn’t be so bad if she just knew when things were going to show up again.

She laughed and gave the battered novel a two-handed squeeze. This was golden. It had to be a sign she was finally getting herself unscrambled. These last few years, she’d begun to feel as if she’d been
filing
pieces of herself, afraid one day she would disappear altogether.

She put the book on top of the pile of spreadsheets, and watched it for a few seconds to make sure it didn’t go back to wherever it had come from. Maybe all the hours of practicing she’d put in over the past couple of months trying to learn how to control her wacky ability were beginning to pay off, after all. Trouble was, she had no idea what had actually worked this time. Or even if it really had worked. She’d been trying to bring back a screwdriver that took off when she was working on a bookcase downstairs and got distracted. Instead, this book had come back, after all these years. No complaints—it was a great trade-off for the screwdriver. But still... Things went away when she was stressed or unhappy, came back whenever they felt like it. At least that’s what it seemed like—no pattern, no order. And no control, dammit, no matter how hard she tried to change it.

The dog rolled into her stomach and gave a huge yawn that started with a squeak and ended with a great clashing of teeth.

“Okay, Nikki. That’s it. If I don’t get some food, I’m going to implode like one of those buildings on TV.”

There was some roast beef in the fridge, and a little potato salad to smooth the way for the fudge brownie she’d saved from last night. Her mouth began to water.

On the fourth stair, she reached into her pocket for her phone, and flipped it open just before it lit up to ring.

“Hi, Mike.” She could picture her brother’s grin on the other end of the line.
Gotcha
.

“Hey, Brat. How’s it going?”

“Plugging away at these proposals. I’ll be so glad when they’re submitted and I never have to see them again.”

“You wanted to freelance.”

“Yes, and I love it. Mostly. Except the part where I never have time to turn around. Anyway, I want to thank you again for last night. I can’t remember when I’ve felt so relaxed. And tell Mary Kate I really do want her recipe for brownies.”

“Any time, Kiddo. It’s great to have you back. Play your cards just right, and I might even be induced to part with the formula for my super-secret barbecue sauce.”

Gemma caught her lower lip between her teeth, as she tried to think what to say. Their reunion was too fresh, still so tender around the edges sometimes she felt overwhelmed by her sense of loss. She’d been so stupid to let Ned close her off from her family. She took a deep breath. “Hey!” she said, changing the subject. “I actually un
filed
something awesome today!”

“How awesome?”

“Just one of my all-time favorite novels ever. I haven’t seen it since college! I can’t wait to read it again—starting tonight.” No need to tell her brother she’d be in a tub full of bubbles with a big glass of wine. Some details a big brother did so not need to know. “The toothpaste this morning went away for a while, but it showed up later in the silverware drawer, so that almost doesn’t count.”

“If we could ever figure out how to control that, it would really be something. Like a portable hole for storing stuff.”

She smiled. “I’ve missed being able to talk to you.”

“Me, too. You’re my favorite little sister.”

“I’m your only sister, and if that was a short joke, you’re in a lot of trouble.”

Mike’s laugh hadn’t changed. Gemma’s heart clenched and she took a deep breath so she wouldn’t start crying.

“Say, Brat, did you get my email?”

“I haven’t turned my computer on yet today. I got sidetracked with packing. Give me a sec?”

“If it’s quick,” he said. “I’ve got a client coming in just a few minutes.”

Gemma jogged back up the stairs to her office. Her empty stomach snarled at her as she half sat in the gray office chair. With one leg extended for balance, she reached down to start the computer.

“Hey, was that your stomach growling or was it the computer?”

Gemma snorted. “I don’t call it the Beast for nothing.”

“Your stomach?”

The
Flight of the Valkyries
burst out of the computer speakers and her laugh stuck in her throat.

“Mike?
Mike!
Oh my God! The computer. It’s Ned’s music. He was here. That slimy bastard was here while I was gone.”

“Damn. I told you to get the locks changed. Get out of the house, right now. Don’t touch anything, don’t do anything. I’m sending somebody over there. Get out.”

Mike’s urgency made her stomach tighten. He was usually the steady one, but not where her divorce was involved. The best she could do was try to reassure him. “He’s not here now. Nothing’s missing.”

“Okay. He didn’t take anything. But what did he leave? A nanny cam? A computer virus? Gemma, for once please just do as I ask and get the hell out of the house until it’s been swept.”

Mike was right. Ned was capable of just about anything, and spying or planting a virus would be right in character. She stormed down the stairs, snagging the strap of her purse as she ran, the delighted dog barreling along at her heels. Damn Ned and his sick games. She took Nikki’s collar in one hand, and they decamped to the front lawn and the shade of a large flowering cherry tree to wait for Mike’s reinforcements.

Mike had warned her not to trust Ned, that divorce proceedings changed people. And he had told her to get the locks changed. But no, she wanted to take the moral high ground. And not take advice from her big brother.

Now here she was on her high ground, sweating and shaking all over and trying not to throw up. Even though her breathing slowed, her hands and midsection still vibrated with anger. What if she’d been in the house? Had he even rung the bell, or had he just waltzed in? She rubbed the goose bumps rippling along her arms. This was seriously creepy, even for him.

And dammit, this time he’d gone too far. With all the work she still had to do this afternoon—she’d have to work into the night to catch up. Maybe longer. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and punched in Ned’s cell number, wishing for a few seconds she hadn’t deleted him from her speed dial. The phone went straight to voice mail.

Gemma tsk’ed and dialed Ned’s office. His assistant answered, her voice dripping liquid nitrogen.

“Dori, I need to speak to Ned, right now,” Gemma began without preamble.
You’d think now his worthless ass will be back on the market, she’d stop snarling into the phone whenever my number comes up on her caller ID.

“He’s not in, Mrs. Cavanagh.”

As a rule, Dori’s exaggerated politeness made Gemma feel every one of the seven years between their ages. Today though, it only brought Gemma’s chin up a notch higher. “He isn’t answering his cell. When is he due back?”

Dori hesitated so long Gemma’s jaw clenched.

“He hasn’t been in all day.” The girl sounded almost as tense as Gemma felt.

“Thank you.” Gemma mashed the End key. The son of a bitch was more than likely shacked up with one of his playmates.
Keep breathing, Gemma.

Her divorce attorney
was
on speed dial. It irritated her brother she’d gone to someone else, but Mike was a corporate attorney. And when it came to divorce law, Mark Taylor was the best. Thin as a cormorant, with soaring intelligence and the tender instincts of a pit bull.

By the time an unfamiliar dark blue Audi zipped around the corner and pulled up short in front of the house her breathing was almost back to normal, and she was feeling reassured by her attorney’s promise of a restraining order.

The driver unfolded from the front seat and started toward her, stuffing his sunglasses into his breast pocket. A hank of straight black hair fell just above his eyebrows—Italian, she guessed, or maybe Black Irish, with those cheekbones. He stopped a few feet from her, just beyond arm’s reach. Their gazes met and held. The contact jolted along her skin all the way to her fingertips, and she saw a quick answering flicker before his expression flattened into polite and bland.

“I’m Brady McGrath,” he said. “Mike sent me. Are you all right?”

Gemma pushed off the ground and swiped one hand across the seat of her pants to knock off the grass and dust. As he stepped closer she got a whiff of leather, sandalwood and oak, subtle and expensive.
Richard James
.
Wow.

The hand he offered was warm and firm, and his down-curved eyes were the color of dark toffee. She started to salivate, and had to swallow. She wasn’t sure what to say without sounding like a complete fool.
“I’m glad you’re here, you smell great?”
That would be just charming
. “Do you taste as good as you smell?”
Even worse.

He didn’t seem to notice she hadn’t said anything. “You were smart not to go back inside alone,” he said. He turned and walked back to his car. She followed as if on a tether. “Even if you’re reasonably sure it’s safe, it’s a good idea to stay out until someone’s checked the premises.”

“Yes, Officer,” she said, trying to lighten the mood. The corners of her mouth were fluttering, and she ordered her face to relax. Her face ignored her. Worse, her voice wobbled, like a scared little kid’s.

Nikki sat with her head tipped to one side, watching him. Gemma reached down to stroke her head, but the dog had already moved forward to give Brady a preliminary sniff-over.

He scratched Nikki’s ear absently, his eyes still on Gemma. “Did you see anyone?”

“No. It was just the computer—”

“Wait one.” Brady took the few steps back to the car, reached through the passenger side window and took out a small leather bag. “You should probably wait out here.”

“No.” She took a breath through her nose, let it out. “I’m going with you.”

He looked at her for a long moment, as if he were weighing her request.

“He’s not in the house. I won’t get in the way, but I’m going with you.”

His long, flexible mouth firmed. “Let’s do it.” He took off up the walk.

“Could a power spike have switched it over to Ned’s stuff, like that?” she asked, practically jogging to keep up with his long-legged stride. She was
not
going to trot along behind him like Nikki.

“No.” He looked back at her. “Am I going too fast? Sorry.”

“No.” If he wanted to be monosyllabic, she could do that, too. She just had one more question. “Are you sure it couldn’t be some kind of glitch?”

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