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Maddy Lawrence's Big Adventure, page 1


Maddy Lawrence's Big Adventure

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Maddy Lawrence's Big Adventure

  Table of Contents

  Cover Page


  Dear Reader

  Title Page

  Books by Linda Turner

  About the Author


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12


  “I’m not that kind of woman.”

  “And what kind of woman might that be?” he asked.

  “The kind who…one who…” Unable to force out the right words, she saw the glint of devilment in his eyes then and almost threw her sack of new clothes at him. “What are you laughing at?”

  “Me? Nothing,” he claimed innocently. “I just thought you might like to get a room and clean up. But if you’ve got sex on your mind…”

  “I never said that!”

  He arched a masculine brow at her. “Didn’t you?”

  He had her, and they both knew it, but she would rather die than admit it. “I told you—I’m not that kind of woman.”

  “But I’m that kind of man, right?” When she refused to answer, he chuckled and leaned close. “You’re damn right I’m that kind of man, sweetheart,” he taunted softly. “And with the right man, you’ll be that kind of woman.”

  Dear Reader,

  Wow! What a month we’ve got for you. Take Maddy Lawrence’s Big Adventure, Linda Turner’s newest. Like most of us, Maddy’s lived a pretty calm life, maybe even too calm. But all that’s about to change, because now Ace Mackenzie is on the job. Don’t miss this wonderful book.

  We’ve got some great miniseries this month, too.

  The One Worth Waiting For is the latest of Alicia Scott’s THE GUINESS GANG, while Cathryn Clare continues ASSIGNMENT: ROMANCE with The Honeymoon Assignment. Plus Sandy Steen is back with the suspenseful—and sexy—Hunting Houston. Then there’s Beverly Bird’s Undercover Cowboy, which successfully mixes romance and danger for a powerhouse read. Finally, try Lee Karr’s Child of the Night if you enjoy a book where things are never quite what they seem.

  Then come back again next month, because you won’t want to miss some of the best romantic reading around— only in Silhouette Intimate Moments.


  Leslie Wainger

  Senior Editor and Editorial Coordinator

  Please address questions and book requests to:

  Silhouette Reader Service

  U.S.: 3010 Walden Ave., P.O. Box 1325, Buffalo, NY 14269

  Canadian: P.O. Box 609, Fort Erie, Ont. L2A 5X3

  Maddy Lawrence’s Big Adventure

  Linda Turner

  Books by Linda Turner

  Silhouette Intimate Moments

  The Echo of Thunder #238

  Crosscurrents #263

  An Unsuspecting Heart #298

  Flirting with Danger #316

  Moonlight and Lace #354

  The Love of Dugan Magee #448

  *Gable’s Lady #523

  *Cooper #553

  *Flynn #572

  *Kat #590

  Who’s the Boss? #649

  The Loner #673

  Maddy Lawrence’s Big Adventure #709

  Silhouette Desire

  A Glimpse of Heaven #220

  Wild Texas Rose #653

  Philly and the Playboy #701

  The Seducer #802

  Heaven Can’t Wait #929

  *The Wild West

  Silhouette Special Edition

  Shadows in the Night #350


  began reading romances in high school and began writing them one night when she had nothing else to read. She’s been writing ever since. Single and living in Texas, she travels every chance she gets, scouting locales for her books.


  A cold wind raced down the dark, wet street, dragging soggy leaves and trash after it. Shivering, Maddy pulled the collar of her jacket closer around her neck, pushed her glasses farther up her nose and wondered if she dared close the newsstand early. After all, it wasn’t as if the world was beating a path to her little corner of Manhattan. She hadn’t had a customer in nearly an hour. The first cold front of the season had sent most people rushing home right after work, and those unlucky enough to live on the street had long since found shelter from the cold bite of the wind. There wasn’t a soul in sight. She could close up the place and head home and no one would notice or care.

  But even as she toyed with the idea, she knew she couldn’t do it. Maddy Lawrence didn’t take chances. Ever. She didn’t cheat or fudge on her taxes or even nibble on the grapes she bought at the market before going through the checkout. She was dependable right down to the tips of her plain brown hair, which was why she was working at the newsstand in the first place. Tommy Lazear had needed someone he could depend on to run the place in the evenings without supervision, and she’d been in desperate need of a second job. The salary she made as an elementary school librarian hadn’t been enough to help support her mother after she’d fallen last month and broken her hip, and she couldn’t jeopardize the much-needed money Mr. Lazear paid her just because the night was cold and she wanted to be home in bed, curled up with the newest Ace MacKenzie book she’d bought on the way to work.

  A wistful smile curled her mouth at the thought of her favorite fictional character. The creation of Susannah Patterson Rawlings and the star of his own wildly successful series of men’s adventure novels, Ace MacKenzie was an irreverent hero and everything that Maddy was not. Bold, daring, courageous, outrageous. From page one of his books, she lost herself in his exploits and dreamed of one day meeting a man just like him. The only problem was that men like Ace MacKenzie didn’t exist, at least not in her tame, uneventful world. And even if they had, they wouldn’t have spared her a second glance. She was too plain, too ordinary, too shy. So she had to be content with reading about a man who didn’t exist…and dreaming.

  Casting a quick look around to make sure that she was still the only one crazy enough to be out on such a lousy night, she grabbed the new paperback from where she’d stuffed it in her purse. Mr. Lazear wouldn’t care, she assured herself as she settled down on a stool behind the counter and once again pushed her glasses into place. What harm could it do? Turning to the first chapter, she began to read….

  She was one of those women who shouldn’t have been let loose on the street alone. Dreamy and innocent and lost in her window-shopping, she didn’t have a clue as to the kind of danger she was in. Golden eyes watched her from the shadows, following her every movement, waiting…just waiting. She was his—she just didn’t know it yet. But she would. Oh, yes, she would know it any second now. The alley was just ahead, the one she took every day on her way home from work when she cut across to Broadway. Anticipation burning like a fire in his belly, he slowly, patiently, began to eliminate the distance between them. And still she had no idea that she was being hunted like a lamb by a big cat.

  Her thoughts on John and the special dinner she was going to cook for him at her place, Cheryl turned into the alley and hurried past a Dumpster. She would wear something that would knock John out of his socks, she decided, her dimples flashing at the thought. Maybe that new angora sweater that she’d been saving for a special occasion….

  Lost in her thoughts, she heard the footsteps behind her too late. Her heart suddenly in her throat, she started to turn. She never had a chance. In the next instant, pain exploded at the back of her head. Without a sound, she crumpled like a broken doll.

/>   An eternity later, it was the pain that she became aware of first. Burning hot, it throbbed unmercifully, dragging her slowly, ruthlessly, back to consciousness. Afraid to move and possibly increase the pain, she lay perfectly still, tears stinging her eyes and her breathing tense and measured as she tried to collect herself and get her bearings. It was then that she realized she was in a moving car. Surprised, she gasped and struggled to sit up. But she was tied, her arms bound behind her. And from out of the darkness that had fallen while she was unconscious, sinister golden eyes watched her every move—

  At the far end of one of the racks that formed narrow aisles across the width of the newsstand, a sudden gust of wind caught a magazine and knocked it to the floor. Pages fluttered wildly in the silence. Startled, Maddy jumped, her heart thundering in her ears. “Silly,” she chided, shaking her head over her own foolishness. “Don’t be such a baby. It’s just the wind.”

  The words were hardly out of her mouth when another gust, this one accompanied by an unexpected deluge of rain, sent two more periodicals to the floor. Within seconds, they were soaked through.

  “Oh, no!” Tossing her book on the counter, Maddy hurried toward the fallen magazines, her only thought to pull down the overhead metal door on that side of the shop before any other merchandise was ruined. But the thick cord attached to the end of the garagelike door was out of her reach. Jumping for it, the wind whipping her long brown hair in her eyes, she didn’t see the magazine-laden rack behind her start to topple toward her. A heartbeat later, it slammed against her unprotected head. She never knew what hit her.

  Chapter 1

  The second-floor apartment was small and cold and bare. A naked light bulb hung from the ceiling, but the man who stood at the window preferred the obscurity of darkness. As comfortable with the night as a thief who silently scurried down unlit side streets and alleys, he stood in the shadows at the window and watched, with gathering rage, the scene unfolding at the newsstand across the street.

  Maddy Lawrence lay in a soft, unconscious heap on the cold floor of the shop, her beige, colorless clothes darkening in the rain. And over her stood Cement Johnny Dempsey, the lowlife scum who had knocked the magazine rack over on her unsuspecting head.

  A man of many faces, many names, the watcher at the window swore long and low. He’d been scoping Tommy “Sneakers” Lazear’s newsstand for weeks now, recording every transaction on his surveillance equipment, and there was no question that the place was a front for something far more sinister. The word on the street was that Lazear was into fencing, and he didn’t mess around with penny-ante stuff like hot TVs and VCRs. Oh, no, Tommy had a taste for museum-quality jewels and precious art, and the word was he had a whole warehouse full of the stuff for sale to those who could afford the price.

  And the watcher wanted the contents of that warehouse. As did Cement Johnny, who was Sneaker’s sworn enemy. Only one of them knew the location of the warehouse, and it wasn’t Johnny.

  His dark blue eyes as cold as ice, the watcher never took his gaze from the thug across the street as he hunkered down beside Maddy Lawrence, rolled her to her stomach and efficiently tied her hands behind her back. Still out cold, she never knew when her attacker lifted her limp form and carried her around the corner to a black Riviera that was nearly concealed by the shadows of the night.

  It didn’t take a genius to figure out what the man was going to do next—kidnap Maddy and force her to tell him where the warehouse was. It was, the watcher had to admit, a smart move. If he hadn’t already figured out the location of the warehouse, he might have considered doing the same thing himself. He’d been studying the lady for weeks now and there was no question that Maddy Lawrence was as much a part of the front as the newsstand itself. And she was good. Damn good. As prim and proper as an old-maid schoolmarm in her long brown dresses, ankle boots and wire-rimmed glasses, she had Innocent stamped all over her. But innocents didn’t work for known Mafia bosses. And Mafia bosses didn’t put innocents on duty right in front of a multimillion-dollar illegal operation.

  No, she knew what was going on, all right. And Cement Johnny had her. The watcher was well acquainted with Johnny’s reputation, knew what he was capable of. He hadn’t earned his nickname for nothing, and had, according to reliable rumor, dropped more than one poor sucker in the East River with a pair of concrete shoes for not giving him what he wanted. If Maddy Lawrence decided to be loyal and hold her tongue, she was in for a long night and a lot of pain. And it would all be for nothing. Because in the end, she would talk. Johnny would make sure of it. And when he had what he wanted from her, the lady would go for a nice, cold, permanent swim.

  The watcher swore long and low in the darkness and told himself that Maddy Lawrence’s health and well-being were none of his concern. Anyone who had the guts to be in cahoots with Sneakers Lazear had to be a tough cookie. She could take care of herself.

  Oh, yeah? his conscience jeered. Then if she’s so tough, why did she let a lead foot like Cement Johnny creep up on her and knock her into next week?

  The taunt struck a nerve, irritating him no end. His gaze lingering on the slumped figure in the front seat of the darkened Buick, he grimly reminded himself that there was too much at stake for him to leave his post now. It had taken him months to figure out that Sneakers was behind all the museum thefts, then longer still to discover the whereabouts of the warehouse. Through careful, round-the-clock scrutiny, he’d learned the movements of everyone connected with the place, waiting for just the right time to strike himself. And tonight was the night, dammit! He wasn’t blowing months of work to play a goddamn knight to Maddy Lawrence’s damsel in distress. She’d gotten herself into this mess; she’d just have to get herself out of it.

  The decision made, he deliberately turned his attention back to the abandoned newsstand, ignoring the well-tuned car that quietly roared to life. In the darkness, brake lights flashed for just an instant, then went out as the Buick pulled away from the curb and headed north. For the span of a heartbeat, the watcher stood his ground, fighting his conscience. But it was a battle he couldn’t win. Snarling an oath, he rushed for the door, cursing Maddy Lawrence all the way.

  The blackness of the night pressed down on Maddy, weighing her down, swamping her dulled senses. Her breath hitching through her parted lips, she frowned and tried to open her eyes, but that simple motion set the pain at the back of her head throbbing like a red-hot blinking light. Stifling a moan, she lay perfectly still, trying to remember what had happened. The wind…

  The lines furrowing her brow deepened as her memory returned in bits and starts. The wind had knocked some magazines from the rack and it had started to rain. The garage door…She’d tried to shut the one on that side of the building, but something had hit her. The rack, she thought dully. The wind must have sent one of the racks crashing into her and knocked her out. She had to get up—

  But when she tried to move, the fog shrouding her brain abruptly lifted and for the first time she became aware of the unnatural position of her arms behind her back and the rough bite of the rope around the tender skin of her wrists as the car she had somehow been spirited away to hit a chughole. Horrified, she froze, her blood turning to ice as realization hit her like a slap in the face.

  She’d been kidnapped.

  Her eyes flew open, panic seizing her by the throat as questions backed up in her bruised brain. How? Why? Things like this didn’t happen to women like her. She was a thirty-four-year old virgin with no man in her life, an elementary school librarian who was timid and bookish and spent most of her adult life looking after her frail mother. The only exciting thing that had ever happened to her was when she got lost on a trip to D.C. for a librarian workshop and ended up in Richmond without quite knowing how.

  This had to be a dream, she told herself in growing desperation. That was the only logical explanation. She’d slipped and fallen at the newsstand and knocked herself senseless. Even now, she was probably lying in a wet heap on t
he floor, out cold.

  But her eyes were open.

  She slammed them shut, telling herself to calm down and think. Her imagination was just working overtime. But when she opened her eyes again, nothing had changed. She was still in the front seat of a strange car and slumped against the passenger door. Her vision blurring, she stared unseeingly at the distorted, shadowy buildings that flew past her window as the car raced down an unknown street. Frowning, she tried to focus and only then realized that both lenses of her glasses were a web of spidery cracks.

  “Well, well, looky here,” a gravelly voice drawled out of the darkness beside her. “Sleeping Beauty awakes. Turn over, sweetheart, and meet Prince Charming.”

  Startled, Maddy froze, her blood turning to ice in her veins. Afraid to breathe, to move so much as a muscle, she squeezed her eyes shut, desperately promising herself that any second she was going to wake up and the nightmare would be over. It was just a bad dream. It had to be!

  But the car continued to race through the night, and the man at the wheel refused to fade into her subconscious where he belonged. Not the least concerned that she refused to even acknowledge him, he laughed softly, menacingly, and said, “So you don’t want to talk, huh? That’s okay. You will later. In fact, by the time I’m through with you, sweetheart, you’ll beg me to let you spill your guts.”

  His words were oil slick, his tone confident enough to strike fear in the bravest heart. And bravery was something Maddy had never had in spades. She wasn’t one of those adventuresome women who struck off on her own to explore the world, afraid of neither man nor beast. Oh, she dreamed about doing such things every time she read an Ace MacKenzie book, but those were just the dreams of a fanciful woman who preferred the pages of her favorite books to the harshness of the real world. She could deal with children, with a sick mother who complained about every ache and pain and worried when she was more than a few minutes late, but she had no experience with men who broke the rules at their own discretion, men who cavalierly made threats and wouldn’t bat an eye at carrying them out.

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