The Sin Factor<br/>

Author: Sandy Loyd
Publisher: Sandy Loyd
Published: 2013-03-13
ISBN(s) 978-1-941267-05-9
Editor: Pam Berehulke
Illustrator: Kelli Ann Morgan
Language(s): english
Category: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Genre(s): Romantic Suspense, Mystery, Romance Read Excerpt >

Tree branches swayed, bending to the will of a brisk breeze. Dusk prevailed—that moment in time when it was neither dark nor light.

Avery Montgomery slowly turned to peer at the surrounding landscape, scrutinizing the trees and brush to her left and directly behind her where the gravesites ended. In front of her and still visible in the twilight row after row of pearly headstones fanned out in precise lines.

Shivering, she rubbed her arms.

She waited.

As if her thoughts had ordered the air to still, the leaves stopped their movement. For endless minutes all was calm, until a prickly sensation at the back of her neck indicated his presence, a feeling she’d had before.

Every nerve ending in her body stood at alert. Still waiting. For what, she had no idea.

She closed her eyes and chastised herself. After all, she stood in a cemetery—Arlington, at that. She took a deep breath. The smell of fresh-cut grass eased the eeriness of standing so close to the remains of dead soldiers.

Yet, the feeling of being watched didn’t dissipate. Did he realize she sensed him watching? Why assume it was a he? She pretended not to notice. If she pretended hard enough, then he wasn’t real. Pretending had become a huge part of her life in recent years. She had no reason to doubt her pretense wouldn’t work. It had all those other nights she’d stood staring at the graves of two men who’d died almost two months ago.

Avery’s focus returned to the headstones. She concentrated on the chiseled words.

Major Michael Andrew Montgomery.

Major Marshall Compton Crandall.

One had been her husband for most of her adult life and the other had been his best friend. Both died serving their country, a sacrifice honored with an Arlington burial.

She glanced toward the heavens. If only she could go back in time and undo her past. Unfortunately, it was written, never to be undone, and she would have to live with the consequences.

“You look so sad.”

She pivoted and leaned toward the voice. The soft sound penetrated her ears and reached into her soul, as if directed solely, intimately to her. Squinting, she could only see shadows of trees in the now moonlit darkness.

Ignore it. It isn’t real.

Avery shrugged it off and sighed. She was obviously hallucinating. She stood alone in the middle of a cemetery, and cemeteries were notorious for evoking weird feelings.

 “I guess I am sad,” she whispered, going against her mind’s reasoning because she felt compelled to answer. Oh dear God. She was going crazy. Why did she have this overwhelming need to hear his voice again? Avery’s narrowed gaze searched the darkened brush once more. She spent a moment listening. When no other noise sounded, she turned back to the two graves.

In seconds, tears emerged, and it dawned on her that she was sad…grief-stricken…for what would never be…for what her transgressions had manifested.

“I’m so sorry, Mike. I never meant to make such a mess of things.” More tears trickled. Her husband had gone to his grave with no other word than the confusing letter he’d sent right before he died. She’d never know if he’d forgiven her or not.

Stop it. It’s too late for forgiveness.

She wiped away her tears.

A ping sounded a few feet away. In the next instant, a force hit her from behind, throwing her off balance. Her legs buckled from the weight. Too stunned to do anything but put out her hands to soften the fall, she hit the ground with a hard thud.

Oomph,” she cried out none too gracefully as the air escaped her chest. She slowly gained her wits and tried to move, but couldn’t. Something…or someone…hampered her. A man. He rolled with her, using the headstones as a shield. A chunk of earth bounced off the ground only inches away and she identified the ping.

“My God! Those are bullets.” Arms flailing, she struggled to get up.

“Stay down,” he said, his voice low but urgent.

She couldn’t do much else with the man sprawled on top of her. She recognized her figment’s voice. A living, breathing human voice.

“This is Arlington,” she whispered, fighting to rein in her out-of-control imagining of a gun-toting terrorist hiding in the bushes taking potshots. “Why is someone shooting?”


Jeffrey Sinclair caught the panic in her voice. “I don’t know why, but I intend to find out.” He shifted and covered her more protectively. Through layers of clothes, he felt her heartbeat race. Or was it his?

He managed to yank his radio out of his pocket and hit the button just as another bullet ricocheted off a headstone to his left. “Three shots fired.” With his lips next to her ear, he kept his voice low. “As far as I can tell, from northwest of my position.”

“On it,” came the reply.

Silence prevailed. In those quiet seconds, the alert edge left his body in an exhale, but she remained as immobile as stone.

 You’re safe,” he assured her in a soothing tone. “I won’t let anything happen to you.” Sin wasn’t the protecting type, but as the promise escaped his lips, he realized he meant every word.

She nodded and seemed to relax a bit. Her lemony scent blended with the dampened earth and invaded his nostrils. An inconvenient blast of awareness shot through him. As the danger diminished with each passing minute, leftover adrenaline had his heartbeat quickening, pumping more alertness through every vein and artery. He felt trapped in some kind of suspended time warp, intensifying the craziness of lying prone over some stranger. Well, not exactly a stranger. He knew enough, and though he couldn’t deny an attraction to her, he damn sure hadn’t expected Avery Montgomery to affect him like this.

Hold it together, Sin.

Remember why you’re on top of her in the first place. Someone shot at her. Unfortunately, his mental commands couldn’t extinguish her warmth radiating beneath him. The hard contours of his body dug into her softness, adding to his awareness…and his discomfort. He closed his eyes, willing Des to hurry, and forced himself to relax. To keep breathing.

Five…ten…twenty seconds ticked by and still nothing happened.

Finally, he lifted off her enough to let her roll onto her back but he wouldn’t relinquish his protective posture. Damn. Not his smartest move because now she lay underneath him face up. Darkness obscured her full features, but he didn’t need to see her to know she was gorgeous.

The rapid thumping of his heart continued to override the silence. With her head inches from his, the soft air of her even breathing caressed his neck. His blood pounded faster.

Don’t think about it. Think about the situation. Where in the hell is Des?

Finally, the radio came alive again. “All clear. Whoever was shooting is long gone. I’ll scout around a little more, see what I can find.”

“Thanks, but be careful. It ruins my night when someone uses me for target practice,” he answered.

Sin pushed up onto his forearms and looked down to see Avery suck in air and open her eyes. At the same time, the full moon came out of hiding and a bit of light reflected off her face, highlighting a frightened brown gaze. He began to pull away, but the glimpse of sadness he also saw stopped him cold. For long seconds their stares locked. Peering into such vivid, expressive eyes was the wrong thing to do, but he couldn’t look away.

Her turbulent gaze spoke volumes, created a bond of sorts. A mental connection, for lack of a better term, that was damned unwelcome and tossed his thoughts into chaos. Questions that had rested on the tip of his tongue scattered to the far reaches of his mind.

Whoever said the eyes were the windows to the soul had it right. He didn’t know her—they’d never met—but it was as if he’d known her forever. How stupid was that? Or maybe surreal. This entire scene had a dream-like quality to it.

Of its own accord, his gaze dropped inches lower, to her mouth. An incredibly beautiful mouth. He certainly wasn’t considering doing something so stupid like kissing that mouth, was he? Yeah, because even as his brain shouted no, his body had other ideas. At that point, stupid just didn’t seem to matter.

In slow motion, he lowered his head, giving her plenty of time to turn away.

Avery didn’t move, yet that expressive gaze seemed to beg him for something, which spurred him to continue. She still didn’t pull away even when his mouth hovered over hers before grazing back and forth. The not quite kisses sent searing flashes of heat straight through him. When her lips connected with his, he wrapped his arms around her in an effort to bring her closer. Never had a kiss seemed so elemental…like breathing. Like being in heaven.

“I don’t see any shell casings. I’m betting the bullets came from a high-powered rifle,” his radio squawked. “So, I’ll try to find the bullets.”

Instantly, he broke the kiss and felt a twinge of regret.

Whether it was for the interruption or his impulsive act, he wasn’t certain.


The Sin Factor   by   Sandy Loyd   |   See Bio >
Book 1 of 3 in the DC Badboys Series.
His quest to solve the treasonous theft turns deadly, and she's smack in the middle of it.

In this intriguing mystery, Jeffrey Sinclair has a thief in his midst. One of his highly sensitive prototypes has gone missing and in his search, he finds himself in the middle of a deadly game, where trust is a luxury he can’t afford. The last person to have the devices has been killed, and now, his only link to the stolen property is the man’s widow. 

Avery Montgomery is a woman heroes marry and protect for life, but Sin’s never been the protective, hero type--not like her late husband. When her life is put in danger, Jeffrey must follow the twists and turns to uncover the truth before it’s too late. It doesn’t take him long to realize he wants the be her hero. 


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