Miranda Gibson will do anything to find her children after her abusive ex-husband kidnaps them whisks them off to parts unknown. The cops won’t help, because Harper comes off as a nice guy. A family man. He impressed the youth court judge with his fast talk, and the man gave him joint custody. So Miranda is forced to beg a private investigator to go after her kids.
Riley Magee started Bayou Bounty Hunters, Inc. because he likes helping people, but he isn’t a law breaker. So when a distraught mother asks him to find her kidnapped kids but tells him her ex-husband has joint custody, he refuses to help. Then he learns Harper has abused her in the past and changes his mind… only to balk again when Miranda insists on going with him.
Time is running out. Miranda fears Harper may take the kids out of the country, so when Riley refuses to help, she decides to go after them alone. A phone call from Miranda’s terrified son causes Riley to change his mind, as long as she promises to stay out of his way and let him do his job. To bring the children home safely, the two of them must forge a workable peace… a difficult, if not impossible, task.
The carved wooden sign nailed to the wall beside the door of the low-slung gray building told Miranda Gibson all she needed to know about the company she’d unearthed while researching private investigators online. She only hoped the men who worked here were as good as their reviewers claimed, because she desperately needed their help.
Was the strapping dark haired man who’d just roared away on a shiny silver Harley one of their sleuths? She hoped so. His muscular build and big hands told her he would be more than capable of taking on her spiteful ex-husband, as long as Harper didn’t arm himself with a gun.
Miranda drew in a shaky breath and climbed out of her car into the muggy summer heat. The sun blinded her, and she raised a hand to shield her eyes so she could reread the sign.
She’d never visited a PI’s office before, but maybe she should have consulted with one during her divorce. An investigation into her ex-husband’s affairs would have given her a lot more ammunition. If she had been able to prove Harper had hit her, the judge might not have given him joint custody of Audrey and Sam. The recollection of the ugly gleam in her ex-husband’s eyes the day they’d faced off in court churned her stomach.
She wiped a layer of sweat from her brow, sucked in another deep breath, and ordered herself to calm down. Getting upset won’t help you get the kids back.
Tears of frustration filled her eyes. She dashed away the unwanted moisture, steeled herself to the reality of her situation, and opened the door. A bell jingled above her head.
She braced herself to meet a smartly-dressed private investigator face-to-face, but the office was empty. The cramped space contained only two cluttered desks, a few battered folding chairs, and a wall rack topped by a lone Stetson hat. Miranda was tempted to bolt, but the enticing aroma of fresh coffee wafting from an opening behind one of the desks urged her to step inside and close the door. Her mouth watered. She’d skipped breakfast in her hurry to make contact with the man she hoped would find her children, and that had obviously been a mistake.
“H-hello?” Miranda filled her lungs with the heavenly scent.
A shadow preceded the tall, broad shouldered man in jeans who strode out of the back room carrying a dish towel and a mug filled with what Miranda presumed was the coveted coffee. She met his piercing blue eyes and the resultant jolt of recognition startled her. He looked exactly like the man who’d just roared away on the motorcycle. He couldn’t be here and on the bike, so she decided the two of them must be related. Either that, or she was losing her grip on reality.
“Well, hello.” The man’s deep baritone sent a fresh shiver skittering over Miranda’s skin. A shiver that had nothing at all to do with the stream of cold air blasting from the vent overhead. He set the mug on the desk, dried his big hands on the dish towel, and looped it over the hat rack. Only then did he turn to face her. “I’m Riley Magee, co-owner of BBH. May I help you?”
“Um, I hope so.” Her heart thumped. “I-I mean… I need some help.”
“You’re looking for a private investigator?”
“Yes. Someone who won’t go to the police.”
“Oh? Why’s that?” He raked his cool gaze over her from shoulders to knees before lowering himself into the worn leather chair behind his desk. “Are you in trouble with the law?”
“No. I’m not a criminal.” Heat suffused her face. To anchor herself, she gripped her purse strap in one tight fist and stared him down. “I-I need you to find my kids. They spent the weekend with my ex-husband, and he was supposed to bring them home yesterday at six. Only–”
“Exactly.” A fresh wave of terror splashed over Miranda as she recalled the horror of calling Harper repeatedly, with no response. “Later, I drove to his house — he lives in Biloxi — but no one was home. He’s gone. They’re gone. He took my children. Audrey and Sam.”