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Capturing Cleo
Linda Winstead Jones

Capturing Cleo
Linda Winstead Jones

Wary and weary, detective Luther Malone longed to get away. Until he strolled into Cleo's and thoughts of solitary nights flew away…. Sultry and seductive in her nightclub, alluring and adorable at home, Cleo Tanner was trouble - but Luther couldn't stay away. Although he doubted Cleo had killed her ex-husband, it seemed another had done it for her. And then a second murder occurred. Was someone after people who upset Cleo?Suddenly Luther had an idea. He'd get real close to Cleo, and then she'd spurn him. That should catch the killer's attention. Yet it also meant that Luther would be captured by Cleo. But would that be punishment…or the sweetest reward…?

“Malone is a macho jerk!”

Cleo told her neighbor. “But if he wasn’t a cop, and if he didn’t think I’d pushed my ex-husband off a tall building, I might think he was…relatively handsome.” Gorgeous, actually, if only his dark eyes hadn’t been so tired. “But the man has a serious testosterone problem,” she added defensively.

“Okay, on the Barney Fife–Bruce Willis scale of masculinity, where does this cop fit?”

Cleo sighed but didn’t hesitate. “Fifteen.”

Praise from New York Times bestselling author Linda Howard

“Damn, this book is good! I loved it.

I fell so in love with Luther, it’s ridiculous.”

Dear Reader,

They say that March comes in like a lion, and we’ve got six fabulous books to help you start this month off with a bang. Ruth Langan’s popular series, THE LASSITER LAW, continues with Banning’s Woman. This time it’s the Banning sister, a freshman congresswoman, whose life is in danger. And to the rescue…handsome police officer Christopher Banning, who’s vowed to get Mary Bren out of a stalker’s clutches—and into his arms.

ROMANCING THE CROWN continues with Marie Ferrarella’s The Disenchanted Duke, in which a handsome private investigator—with a strangely royal bearing—engages in a spirited battle with a beautiful bounty hunter to locate the missing crown prince. And in Linda Winstead Jones’s Capturing Cleo, a wary detective investigating a murder decides to close in on the prime suspect—the dead man’s sultry and seductive ex-wife—by pursuing her romantically. Only problem is, where does the investigation end and romance begin? Beverly Bird continues our LONE STAR COUNTRY CLUB series with In the Line of Fire, in which a policewoman investigating the country club explosion must team up with an ex-mobster who makes her pulse race in more ways than one. You won’t want to miss RaeAnne Thayne’s second book in her OUTLAW HARTES miniseries, Taming Jesse James, in which reformed bad-boy-turned-sheriff Jesse James Harte puts his life—not to mention his heart—on the line for lovely schoolteacher Sarah MacKenzie. And finally, in Keeping Caroline by Vickie Taylor, a tragedy pushes a man back toward the wife he’d left behind—and the child he never knew he had.

Enjoy all of them! And don’t forget to come back next month when the excitement continues in Silhouette Intimate Moments.

Yours,

Leslie J. Wainger

Executive Senior Editor

Capturing Cleo

Linda Winstead Jones

LINDA WINSTEAD JONES

would rather write than do anything else. Since she cannot cook, gave up ironing many years ago and finds cleaning the house a complete waste of time, she has plenty of time to devote to her obsession for writing. Occasionally she’s tried to expand her horizons by taking classes. In the past she’s taken instruction on yoga, French (a dismal failure), Chinese cooking, cake decorating (food-related classes are always a good choice, even for someone who can’t cook), belly dancing (trust me, this was a long time ago) and, of course, creative writing.

She lives in Huntsville, Alabama, with her husband of more years than she’s willing to admit and the youngest of their three sons.

She can be reached via www.eharlequin.com or her own Web site www.lindawinsteadjones.com.

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Epilogue

Chapter 1

He’d known when the phone started ringing well before sunup that it was going to be a long, bad day. He’d been right. On occasion, he really hated being right. Here it was seventeen hours later, and the day dragged on.

One last stop, and he could call it a night. Luther stepped from his car onto the downtown sidewalk. At this point in his career—in his life—nothing should surprise him. Little did. Except the worst and nasty surprises were few and far between. Luther stared at the building before him, wishing someone else had gotten that early morning phone call. He didn’t need this. He had a gut-deep feeling this weird case could be full of nasty little surprises.

He was due for a vacation. In fact, he was past due. He had the trip planned, in his head, he just hadn’t gotten around to requesting the time off. Two weeks in Florida, sleeping all day and walking the beach at night. The sound of the surf, seafood and bikini-clad women. What else did a man need?

But, no. Instead of those temptingly beautiful things, he had one dead body, heartburn from a too-quick, too-late barbecue supper, and a craving for a cigarette like he hadn’t had in months. He played with the cellophane-wrapped candy in his coat pocket, running a few pieces through his fingers. The candy had helped him quit smoking, but sometimes he felt like he’d traded one addiction for another. The February night air cut through his coat jacket, damp and chilling, making him long for Florida once again.

Detective Luther Malone quit fiddling with the candy in his pocket and stood perfectly still on the sidewalk while he glared at the blue neon sign over the single, shuttered window of the redbrick nightclub in downtown Huntsville: Cleo’s. Muted piano music and a woman’s voice singing something old and bluesy drifted to his ears. It was the kind of music that would be very easy to go to sleep to, and since he’d been up since 4:00 a.m. he was momentarily tempted. It was now past nine at night, and this really could wait until tomorrow morning. He’d already spent all day filling out paperwork, combing the scene for clues and talking to the victim’s hysterical girlfriend and his neighbors. And now this. Yeah, tomorrow would work just fine.

But why put off until tomorrow what you could screw up today? Besides, since this Cleo Tanner was a nightclub owner, the best time to catch her was likely at night. She probably wasn’t any more of a morning person than he was.

He threw open the door and stepped inside. The club was small. Cozy was a kinder word, and it suited the warm and welcoming place. A long bar stretched along the wall to the left, and a number of small, randomly scattered tables and chairs, half filled even though this was a Monday night, were arranged in a haphazard kind of symmetry. At the rear of the room a small stage rose above the dimly lit crowd. A woman perched on a stool there and sang. He recognized the song now: “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good.” A piano and a piano player shared the stage with the singer, but as he watched and listened, the instrument and the longhaired musician faded into the background, necessary but insignificant.
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