For the Love of a Centaur
Centaur Agency Book 1
by A.S. McGowan
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Analise woke up in the hospital to find that her parents were dead. Her father’s business partner has inherited the ranch she grew up on. To make matters worse her father’s will stipulates she cannot receive her inheritance until she turns twenty-one. Now penniless and homeless, she agrees to a marriage of convenience with her father’s business partner.
After turning twenty-one and with her inheritance in hand, she no longer wishes to be trapped in a loveless marriage. Moving out she builds a life for herself away from the ranch and her husband. When her husband shows up on her door step asking to give their marriage a chance, she jumps at the idea of a marriage of love. The problem is: everyone has been lying to her, her whole life. Now those lies may very well get her killed.
Analise slowly awoke. Turning her head to the side, she heard the crinkle of a plastic pillow encased in the soft pillowcase beneath her head This was not her pillow. Slowly she took in her surroundings. This did not make sense. Where was she? Turning her head to the other side, she spotted Matt Duclain, sitting in a chair next to where she was laying. Why was her father’s business partner sitting in a chair? Wait, everything looked like a hospital room. Why was she in a hospital room? This had to be a weird dream, right?
“Matt?” she asked.
“You’re awake. How do you feel?”
“Everything feels sore. What happened? Why am I in a hospital room? What are you doing here?” She scanned the room again.
“Analise, there was an accident. The doctors said that you should be just fine. But you have a head injury and a few broken ribs.”
“Matt, where are my parents?” She did not like the look on his face. Something inside her sank, when he just stared at her. “Matt? Where are my parents?”
“Analise, I am so sorry.” He reached out and held her hand.
Sorry? No, no that did not sound right. Sorry was what you said when the news was bad. Like when someone dies. Her parents could not be dead. No, this could not be happening.
She tried to catch her breath. Her breathing became more rapid and shallow. She felt herself getting dizzy. She could see Matt standing by her bed. He was saying something but she could not hear him. Thoughts began to explode and swirl around inside her head. This was a dream, a terrible dream in which she would awake soon. Fight or flight instincts kicking in, she tried to get up out of bed. She felt hands push her back down. The dizziness increased, and she could feel her heart racing. The sound of her pulse pounding in her ears was the last thing she had heard before the dark oblivion began to pull her under.
When she came to, the reality of the situation sat heavy on her heart. What was she supposed to do? Matt, had to be mistaken, her parents could not be dead. It just did not make sense to her. She carefully wiped her palms on the blanket that covered her.
“I see you are awake again,” a voice next to her said.
Slowly turning her head, she saw Matt sitting beside her. She could not understand why he was still here. He was her father’s business partner, but why was he still here with her?
“Why are you here?”
“Because you are injured. I stayed to make sure you were alright. When you are ready we need to talk.”
“No time like the present. So, what could we possibly need to talk about?” She watched him as he sat there. Did the man really have to always look so good? Self-consciously, she raised the blanket a little higher across her chest.
“I hate to do this right now but things need to be put into place. Luther’s will left the ranch to me. The ranch needs to continue to operate, so I will be moving into the ranch house. Your parents left you a very sizeable inheritance but you cannot access it till you are twenty-one,” he began.
“What are you saying? That I not only lost my parents but that I no longer have a home?” Tears began to run down her cheeks. Angrily she wiped at them.
“No. Of course, you still have a home. I just wanted you to understand that I would be living at the ranch house as well. Geez, Analise, I would never throw you out of your home.”
“But you cannot live there. Matt, you are a single man, and I am a single female. We cannot live under the same roof. It would cause a scandal.”
“I thought about that. There is an alternative. It would prevent a scandal.” He smiled at her in a way that made her feel a little better.
“We could get married,” he started but quickly added, “on paper only.”
She shook her head. “Are you sure you are not the one with a head injury?” This man was out of his mind.
“Think about it Analise, it makes sense. I am moving into the ranch house. You still need your home. It would be the only way to protect your reputation. After all, you just said we couldn’t live under the same roof because it would cause a scandal.” He smiled at her again.
“Matt, please leave. I cannot deal with this right now.” She turned her head, looking away from him.
“OK but I will come back later and check in on you.”
She heard the door to her room close. This could not be happening. She is injured, lost her parents, and got a marriage proposal from her father’s sexy business partner all in one day. Only she could have such a screwed-up day. This would not be the first time she has had such a roller coaster of a day. Only before she always had her parents to turn to. Their sound advice and wisdom always helped guide her decisions. Now they were gone. Who could she turn to for advice on such major decisions as the one Matt, proposed to her?
There was always Stella. She loved their housekeeper just as if she were another mother. She did not want to discuss this with Stella though. In fact, she did not want to discuss this with anyone. She wanted to wake up from this nightmare.
Looking about she took in the room. Countless pieces of medical equipment so common for hospital rooms were in various locations in her room. Hanging from the chrome rail was a curtain that had been washed at least a thousand times. The colors so faded, they were barely there. Looking upward, she tried to distance herself from her thoughts by counting the cracks in the polystyrene tiles. It was no use; she could not shut off her thoughts. Too many of them, running around jumbled inside her brain.
She reached for the button to her pain pump. She could lay here and think about all that has happened, or she could just push the button. In the end, the relief offered by the pain medication won. She pressed the button and waited for the medicine to take over her brain. There could be worse things in life than being married to a sexy man that she already had feelings for, she thought, just before the pain meds pulled her under.
When she awoke later, she saw Matt was back in the chair. Well, she decided, guess it was time to face what life had thrown at me.
“Alright, Matt. I will marry you” she said.
“Good that settles that problem. You do realize this will not be a real marriage? Don’t get me wrong I will financially take care of you. Once you get your inheritance we can end the marriage and go on with our lives.”
“Of course, I understand. This is just something on paper to keep people from gossiping. After all, my mother’s country club friends sure do love to spread gossip.”
“I will take care of everything and we can get married as soon as the doctors release you.” Matt stood and left the room.
Two days later, Matt returned with clothes for Analise to change into. The doctors finally said she was free to go home, as long as she promised to come back in a week for additional tests. Ready to finally be free of the hospital with all its constant sounds and nauseating smell of disinfectants, she dressed as quickly as she could.
The nurse insisted on wheeling her out of the hospital. Sitting in the wheelchair, she took in the hospital with cautious eyes. The walls were the same color as those in her room. The same polystyrene tiles with various cracks made up the ceiling. Bland artwork decorated the walls. Someone must have thought the art would liven the place up. They were wrong. There was no way in which to liven a place up that was intended for the sick and the dying. It was here she was brought to recover. It was also here her parents’ bodies had been brought. There was no way art, framed and hung on a wall could change that.
The Ghosts of a Centaur
Centaur Agency Book 2
Stella left one life behind for another. Finding happiness in a new world, Stella never thought anything could destroy her new life. Until a package arrived containing a severed head. The threat was clear and the stakes were high. Leaving her new life behind, Stella hoped her choice would protect her loved ones.
Now twelve years later, someone had discovered Stella’s identity. People she loves are starting to die at the hands of a very cold and calculated killer. Forced out of hiding, Stella moves fast to protect her family. Can the Centaur Agency discover the identity of the killer in time? Or will Stella lose everyone she has ever loved?
After Analise had calmed down, Stella sent her upstairs for a nap. Alone in the kitchen, she went through the stack of mail that had been needing her attention. She came across a manila envelope simply address to her. No return address and no indication what it was. Opening the envelope, she found a plain disc. Curiosity got to her, and she went upstairs to her bedroom. Sitting at the desk, she turned her laptop on. She could not contain her curiosity over what this disc could contain.
Popping the disc into her laptop, she sat back in her chair. One the screen was a small dark car, that appeared to have crashed into a tree. She watched as someone approached the wrecked car. The angle appeared as if it were filmed on a body camera.
The image of a woman appeared on the screen. Blood streaked her face and she was mouthing something. The video provided no sound and Stella was unable to make out the words.
Leaning forward Stella’s mouth dropped open. Even after all these years, she recognized the woman. It was her sister-in-law, Brenda. In horror, Stella watched as the person wearing the camera raised a metal bar.
Stella’s screams filled the silent room as she watched the figure on the screen begin to bash the metal bar against Brenda’s head. This was cold blooded murder. Whoever did this not only filmed the horrendous act but mailed her a video of it.
Why? How could anyone have discovered who she was? This couldn’t be happening. It was not real. She must have fallen asleep at the kitchen table while drinking tea. Yes, that was it. It was a dream and soon she would wake up. The man from her past was gone. He had died in prison and with him so had her secrets.
Matt came into the room just as the words appeared on the screen.
Your husband and son are next, Emma.
“Stella, what is going on?”
“Is Savannah still in town?”
“She said she was staying until tomorrow.”
“Call her. Get her here now!”
“Just call her, Matt. I will explain everything when she gets here. Hurry.” Reaching out, she turned off the laptop. The ghosts from her past had always haunted her. Now they were about to become a very real part of her present.
The Making of a Centaur
Centaur Agency Book 3
Severely beaten, "Lucky" wakes up with no memory of who she is or where she came from. Rescued by the Centaur Agency, she sets out to discover her identity. Plagued by violent flashbacks, she finds herself afraid of the men around her.
There is one man though that makes her feel safe. However time is running out for all of them. Will "Lucky" get her memories back in time to stop a madman? Or will her past catch up with her, leaving the most important person in her life to pay the price?
I am a wife and mother, who lives in a small Southeast Missouri town. I am the author of the Centaur Agency series. Currently I am working on book 3 in the series The Making of a Centaur which will publish in July 2017. I also have plans for a vampire trilogy that I am working on. I will be publishing the trilogy after I finish the 4 book Centaur Agency series. From there I also am working on a Werewolf series. So much planned with a little bit for everyone.
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