Courting Juliet:Brotherhood Protectors WorldBy: Pam Mantovani
My profound thanks go to Elle James. Your unrelenting support and encouragement is valuable beyond words.
To the readers who take time out of their busy lives to read my books. Thank you. I hope my words bring you joy and pleasure.
To my brother-in-law Jon, who has always insisted that I’d sell more books if I just killed someone. It seemed only fair that I named the villain after him.
To my family who continue to believe in me. I love you all more than there are words.
As always, to Denny, my life would be empty and incomplete without you. I’m so grateful you made that third phone call.
With a mug of hot tea cradled in her hands, Juliet Ethridge watched dawn lighten the big sky Montana was famous for. Her body clock was still on New York time.
She didn’t regret the move here – only the reason for it. What she did hate was admitting she’d run from a man. She’d tried for months to ignore the stalking, had followed all the advice to alter her schedule to make it harder for him to keep track of her. When she’d found herself ignoring invitations and staying in her apartment for days on end, she’d known something had to change.
In spite of the fear he’d brought into her life, she would miss the impromptu dinners and shopping excursions with her mother, the occasional date, attending the theatre where she’d all but grown up. With a small smile, she admitted she would also miss the luxury of take out and dining in her favorite restaurants. She also believed this move would prove good for her, giving her time to reflect on where she was in her life.
With that in mind she took in her surroundings. As if on cue, an elk stepped out of the woods that ringed the undulating grassy perimeter.
“Oh,” she whispered. “Look at you. Don’t move.”
Keeping her gaze on the grazing elk – and she’d have to rethink her initial plan of putting a garden in that spot – she set down her mug and reached for her cell phone.
“I promise this is the only way I’ll shoot you.”
With a few swipes, she zoomed in and clicked off a succession of photos. Delighted, she sent them in a text message to her mother. In less than thirty seconds, her phone chimed, the sound chasing the elk back into the woods.
“Momma,” Juliet laughed. “Your call chased him away. But wasn’t he just beautiful?”
“And here I was worried about how you were handling your first morning in the wild.”
Juliet laughed again, sipped her tea. “Montana is hardly the wild.”
“It’s not New York,” her mother said. “And it lured my baby girl far away from me.”
Of course her mother, a Broadway legend, wanted to protect her. But Margot Ramsey Ethridge’s fame couldn’t keep the stalker from continuing to hound Juliet. “We both know that’s not true.”
“You’re right, that crazy author is what sent you there.”
As much as it pained Juliet to admit author Jon Hock’s obsession with her was responsible for her new living status, she didn’t want her mother to worry. “You know I wanted a change of scenery. Somewhere I could set up my own recording studio, somewhere I can focus and work on the current books I’m contracted to narrate. A quiet place to prep my voice and hone my technique if I hope to get cast in the upcoming animated movie.”
“Of course they’ll want you.”
“I love you, Momma.”
“Maybe you’ll meet a handsome cowboy while you’re there.”
“Think again.” Juliet’s protest echoed with laughter. “I’m here to work, not have a romance.”
“I was working, not looking for a romance when I met your father.”
Juliet pictured her father in one of his tailored business suits, so quiet and steady in contrast to her mother’s outgoing personality. “I tell you what, if I run across a cowboy who can show me the kind of love you and Daddy share I’ll snatch him right up.”
“There’s nothing I’d wish more for you my darling.”
Hanging up a short time later, Juliet drained her cup of now-cold tea. And had her second surprise arrival of the morning.
Her heart thudded hard in trepidation, her breath backed up in her lungs, and her legs quivered so hard that she knew she couldn’t stand. Or run. Her hand reached for her phone, only she didn’t lift it. She held on, her thumb poised over the emergency button. She hated knowing she did so out of a sense of unease. There’d been a time when she would have welcomed without hesitation the chance to meet someone new, a time when her first thought didn’t center on fear or thoughts of her safety.
Then, as the arrival came closer, as she got her first good look at him, everything within her calmed. Except her heart, which continued to pound. For very different reasons. . .