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Murmer Cover
Author: Anne Conley

Valerie Dunaway is a former socialite who has hidden from the public’s eyes for years due to a horrific attack that left her scarred—physically and emotionally.

When a strange masked man makes himself at home with her, she’s unable to run, so she calls the cops. But the agoraphobiac won’t go into protective custody, so Detective Hollerman calls the only people he trusts with his last case: Pierce Securities.

Quinten Pierce is a Renaissance man—artist, lawyer, fighter—but his latest assignment has him losing his ever-present control. He’s got one fight left in his career, and can’t wait for it to be over, but when his opponent seems to have ties to Valerie, he can’t let go until he finds out exactly who he’s working with.

With the help of the Pierce team, the scarred princess and the rough and tumble street fighter must silence the murmurs of the past that threaten their future.

Unedited Excerpt from Murmur:

The more Quinten learned about the reason for Valerie Dunaway’s agoraphobia, the less he liked it. Quinten looked over Evan’s shoulder at the three massive monitors.

“She doesn’t appear to have left her house in three years, dude. She shops online, doesn’t have a car registered to her, nothing.”

Quinten rubbed his jaw in thought. “Who comes in and out?”

“A therapist comes once a week. She pays a house keeper and a man who does gardening and errand-running type stuff. But it looks like that’s about it. She cut all ties with friends and family after the incident. Maybe they took sides?” Evan’s eyes pored over the screens in front of him, faster than Quinten could process what the man was reading.

“What exactly did her husband do to her? You said sliced and diced?” Evan’s choice of words churned in his stomach. Quinten peered at the screens, desperate to find the one that made sense.

“She was a model when they met. She came from old money. The Dunaways? They married into the Stadlers and created a dynasty.” Quinten nodded. That’s why she sounded familiar. He was pretty sure some of his parents’ dinner parties had involved the Dunaways and Stadlers. “Well, she was their face. Apparently, when she married Argyle Ford, he wanted her to stop being her family’s face piece, and when she wouldn’t, he tied her to their marital bed and sliced her face up with a straight razor.”

Quinten’s stomach churned at the prospect of a man doing something like that to the woman he vowed to honor and cherish. “When you say, ‘sliced her face up,’ what exactly, do you mean?”

“Put her in the hospital for two weeks. There were other injuries, mostly from the restraints he used. Her lawyer wouldn’t let her do any reconstructive surgery except the bare minimum until after the trial.”

Evan’s fingers flew over keys and he pointed at one of the monitors. There, displayed larger than life, was the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen, on the arm of some guy, in a newspaper article.

Quinten sat back in his chair. So she’d put the man who’d sworn to love her in prison after he’d taken away her identity as a woman in the worst possible way. She was a model, at least for her family’s enterprises—her mother’s clothing company, and her father’s golf club. Quinten had been there with his dad. She also was a spokesperson for numerous charities. She used her beauty for good, it seemed. And it had pissed off her husband? Was she hogging all his attention? Quinten shook his head, unable to understand it.

At least she’d taken a stand against her attacker. That should have been a step toward recovery. What would be so bad that a woman who lived in the limelight would suddenly disappear from it?

“Tell me if the bastard’s still in jail,” Quinten murmured as he leaned forward to try to make sense of Evan’s screens again. The computer wiz was clicking through them so fast, even Quinten couldn’t keep up. “Well, I’ll be damned…” Evan mused, his fingers clicking on keys.

“What?” Quinten growled.

“Looks like he got out last month.” Another couple of clicks and something whirred to the left of Quinten. “I’m printing out his address for you. It seems he’s living with an uncle on the other side of the lake from Ms. Dunaway.”

That news didn’t make Quinten happy at all.

“I’m going to her house. See what you can get as far as backgrounds on friends and family, especially his. Find me some trial transcripts. And we’ll go from there.”

Evan nodded, still absorbed in the data on his monitors. “Will do.”

About Anne Conley

Anne Conley lives in a small town in East Texas, with her husband, two kids and numerous goats. She brazenly stole her pseudonym from her great-grandmother, a true pioneer woman who raised seven kids alone: churning butter, plucking chickens, knitting clothes, and putting coal oil on every visible wound. Anne’s Stories of serendipity feature real people, living life and finding love in a small town. She also has a Paranormal Romance series, the Four Winds about archangels “falling” in love and coping with turning into humans her writing is escapist therapy, and she succumbs to it every chance she gets.