Jill Sorenson

Dangerous to Touch

© 2008

Dear Reader,

June brings you four high-octane reads from Silhouette Romantic Suspense, just in time for summer. Steaming up your sunglasses is Nina Bruhns’s hot romance, Killer Temptation (#1516), which is the first of a thrilling new trilogy, SEDUCTION SUMMER. In this series, a serial killer is murdering amorous couples on the beach and no lover is safe. You won’t want to miss this sexy roller coaster ride! Stay tuned in July and August for Sheri White Feather’s and Cindy Dees’s heart-thumping contributions, Killer Passion and Killer Affair.

USA TODAY bestselling author Marie Ferrarella enthralls readers with Protecting His Witness (#1515), the latest in her family saga, CAVANAUGH JUSTICE. Here, an undercover cop crosses paths with a secretive beauty who winds up being a witness to a mob killing. And then, can a single mother escape her vengeful ex and fall in love with her protector? Find out in Linda Conrad’s Safe with a Stranger (#1517), the first book in her miniseries, THE SAFEKEEPERS, which weaves family, witchcraft and danger into an exciting read. Finally, crank up your air- conditioning as brand-new author Jill Sorenson raises temperatures with Dangerous to Touch (#1518), featuring a psychic heroine and lawman, who work on a murder case and uncover a wild attraction.

This month is all about finding love against the odds and those adventures lurking around every corner. So as you lounge on the beach or in your favorite chair, lose yourself in one of these gems from Silhouette Romantic Suspense!


Patience Smith

Senior Editor

To my agent, Laurie McLean, who finally agreed

to represent me after reading the first three chapters

of this book.

To my editor, Stacy Boyd, who writes brilliant editorial

comments and draws cute little hearts in the margins.

To my daughters, without whom I never would have

started writing this book.

To my mom, without whose incredible generosity and

superior babysitting skills I never would have finished

writing this book.

And to my husband, who will have to wait for another

book (he knows which one) to get his rightful dedication.

Chapter 1

Sidney woke to the sound of a dog barking.

For a moment, she thought she’d fallen asleep in the office at the kennel again, but when she opened her eyes she saw the pale yellow paint and outdated light fixture gracing the ceiling of her own bedroom. Her cat, Marley, was curled up into a soft tortoiseshell ball at the foot of the bed, unperturbed.

She threw back the rumpled sheet and climbed out of bed, wondering who had gotten a dog. In this neighborhood, just steps away from Oceanside City Beach, everyone owned or rented tiny two-story houses, like hers, each with the same nonexistent yard space. Dogs weren’t allowed on the beach, either, so most area residents didn’t own them.

Especially not large, menacing dogs with deep, resounding barks, which was most assuredly what she’d heard.

Yawning, Sidney strode over to the open window in her underwear and pushed aside the gauzy curtains to catch a glimpse of heaven. She inhaled the salty ocean scent, studied the play of the early morning light off the rippled water, listened to the rhythmic crash of waves breaking against the shoreline.

There was no dog barking.

Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, she stepped away from the window, dismissing the noise as a remnant of a particularly vivid dream. Visual illusions, unfortunately, were not an infrequent occurrence for her. Now she was going to have to add auditory hallucinations to her list of oddities.

With a wistful glance at her comfy wrought-iron bed, Sidney grabbed a pair of jeans off the floor and pulled them up her slender hips. Shoving her feet into old sneakers, she performed a hasty morning toilette that consisted of washing her face and brushing her teeth.

As she left the bedroom, Marley let out a staccato farewell meow, indicating that she was sleeping in.

Downstairs, while Sidney waited for a bagel to toast, she turned the knob on the ancient ten-inch television atop her kitchen counter, more to distract than entertain herself. She only had three channels, and all of them were broadcasting news, the Sunday morning variety, high-fluff, low-violence. As she sipped hot coffee, enjoying the jolt of caffeine to her system, Crystal Dunn-a petite blond reporter whose sweet countenance and angelic blue eyes couldn’t mask a cutthroat nature-broke in with an important newsbreak.

“Hal and Sandra, I’m on location in a quiet residential neighborhood known as Sunshine Estates. Candace Hegel, who lives in the area, was last seen walking her dog here early yesterday morning. Her sudden disappearance has caused a local panic. Friends and family fear Miss Hegel may have fallen into the hands of a serial killer.”

At the news desk, even the coanchors appeared skeptical. “Crystal, has law enforcement given any indications of foul play?”

Crystal batted her dark lashes engagingly. “No, Hal, they have no comment, but if you remember Anika Groene, the killer’s first victim, you’ll note the similarities. Anika was presumed to have been taken while walking her dog, a dog which was never found. Miss Hegel’s dog is also missing.”

Sidney’s half-eaten bagel transformed into a hard lump in the pit of her stomach. Photos of Anika Groene, a fresh-faced college student, and Candace Hegel, an attractive woman in her thirties, flashed across the screen, along with home-taken snapshots of both dogs.

“Anyone with information should contact the Oceanside Police Department…” Crystal continued, reciting a hotline number.

Anika Groene’s dog was a goofy-looking Doberman with a poorly done ear crop. Sidney felt a rush of sympathy at the sight of his sweet, lopsided mug, sure the dog had met the same fate as his owner.

Candace Hegel’s dog elicited a very different reaction. He was an Australian Shepherd mix, by the look of him, although he didn’t appear to have the friendly personality typical of the breed. With his mottled blue-gray coat, mangy appearance, and fierce, colorless eyes, he was the kind of dog you crossed the street to avoid.

He also looked perfectly capable of making a loud, insidious bark-just like the one she’d heard that

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