OK, so everyone’s been asking about Quin’s story, for quite some time. What can I say, it’s been through multiple rewrites, scrapped a whole plot and started over, rewrote the beginning so many times I lost count. Quin’s story originally started out in Ireland after Grammy’s funeral. He fell for Bridget Kirkdonnell, who believed in fairies. However, that didn’t end up working, I only figured it out about half way into it. Or what I thought would be half way. Ends up that was only about a third of the way.
Then the current version was born. Now we are mostly in New Orleans or New Mexico and a new Kinncaid is introduced. I hope you enjoy the excerpt below.
From the Prologue of Deadly Secrets (Kinncaid #5)
Unedited Excerpt (This book is currently with the powers that be. I will let you all know as soon as I have a date).
Quinlan Kinncaid sat in the hotel restaurant. The private party already grated on his nerves. His mother’s birthday. He loved Mom. Really, he did. Loved the whole damned group of his family, but honestly, he just wanted to go upstairs and…
Anxiety skittered under his skin, but then, that was really nothing new.
Where the hell was she? No word from the damned woman in almost six months and then bam, out of the blue phone call. A phone call he had not answered. Why? Because he hadn’t recognized the damned number. The story of his life, a continuance of fuckups it seemed.
He checked his watch again. She’d left a voice message and said she’d be here yesterday. She still wasn’t here and he had no idea how to get hold of her. The number he tried calling, went straight to voicemail, her voicemail. He’d called it several times in the last couple of days just to hear her voice. More than several times, actually, but hell, he missed her.
He ran a hand through his hair and jerked around at the sound of one of his brother’s laughter.
Several times he’d started to ask Ian to help him locate his wayward wife. Ian was half of K&B Securities and a whiz at many things, including finding lost and wayward…anythings. But.
But Quin had not asked his brother for that favor. His marriage, or lack thereof, was his mess, and he’d damned well fix it.
Somehow. If she ever showed up.
What if she ran again? What if she again decided that she didn’t want the whole family, marriage, life with him scenario?
What if she never called again?
Then he would damned well…
What? He would what?
Ask his brother for help. Choking on his pride, probably but that didn’t seem so important now, not like it had for the last few months. Yes, if she didn’t show up, if he didn’t hear from her again, he’d… he’d…
Find her. And… Bring. Her. Back.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
His family would kill him. Or his mother would anyway. He figured he could hear what all his brothers would have to say.
“What are you so glum about, sweetie?”
He jerked around to see his mother standing beside him. Fisting his hand on his cane, he leaned over and kissed her cheek. “Nothing to worry you about. Happy birthday, Mom. You look great.”
She ran a hand down her cocktail dress. Emerald green that faded and died into blues and purples. Reminded him of a beta fish. It shimmered as she moved and he’d noticed his dad hadn’t taken his eyes off of her all evening. A thought he did not care to contemplate further.
“Are you feeling okay? Do you need anything?” she asked, concern in her green eyes. Eyes he’d inherited along with her coppery red hair, though his was a darker, more muted color.
“I’m fine, Mom. Leg’s fine. Cane’s fine. Head’s fine.” He almost wished he had a glass of champagne. But he hadn’t drank any bubbly in almost a year. Not since that weekend in Vegas…
“Your social life is not fine. It could use some work…”
He just looked at her.
“Well, I worry. Mothers get to do that, you know.”
“You always worry. This way I give you something to worry over, even if you don’t need to.” And she would. He should just tell her, tell them. Tell them all, but hell he couldn’t. He’d planned to introduce Ella yesterday, or this morning before the party tonight.
But she wasn’t here.
So he hadn’t said anything yet. Again. Because part of him was more terrified than he wanted to admit that she might not show up, that she’d bolt and not come after he’d told them all—or rather fessed up.
What the hell would he say?
Hey, guess what?
I’m married. Really, two words. No big deal. Except in his family they were. The fact he’d always sworn to never marry was a family joke. The other fact he’d had a slight change of heart and plans as he’d floated in the here-after for several minutes almost two years ago, was a secret he’d only shared with one other person.
The person whom he thought about too damned much.
All. The. Damned. Time.
He dreamed about her. About her funky, weird hair. Her silly laugh. The way her eyes aquamarine would light up, darken or change like the water in the bay.
However, this was not something he was going to share with his mother of all people and on her birthday, no less. Or rather at her birthday party here at the hotel. Tomorrow he’d tell them and if he was lucky, introduce his strange and eccentric wife.
Right after he had plenty of time alone with her. He should have gone after her months ago instead of giving her her stupid space.
His brothers would give him hell for the secret he’d held for so long. His parents would definitely have other views.
“So? Will you?” his mother asked him and he realized she’d been talking to him and he hadn’t heard a word.
“Sorry, will I what?”
She sighed. “Meet Melanie’s d–”
She sighed again. Translation: What am I going to do with you?
“You do still like women, don’t you?” she asked tentatively after a minute.
He finally turned back to her. “What?”
“Well, I know you’ve always said you wouldn’t marry and that you wanted… That is…” She took a deep breath. “I was talking to my therapist and she says I should leave you alone. But I’m your mother. I want you happy. I don’t want that that woman did to have ruined other women for you. And you haven’t even dated.”
“That you know of,” he interjected.
“Well, I just want you to know that I’m supportive, and if you want to meet some of my friend’s daughters, I can help you and if you…” She took another deep breath and he noticed her knuckles tighten for an instant on her champagne glass. “Well, if you’re gay, I just wanted you to know that’s okay too.”
He could not think of a single reply. He opened his mouth and shut it.
“Dottie’s son is gay,” she rushed. “Just got over some doctor that broke his heart. He’s a lawyer. Dottie’s son, not his ex-partner and–”
“For the love of God, Mom.” He took her shoulders in his hands. “I am not gay. But if I was, thank you for trying to set me up.”
A frown marred her brows and he smoothed the crease away. “I worry about you, Quinlan.”
“Well, you shouldn’t.” Clearly.
She snorted and he kissed her cheek. “You’re my son. We almost lost you, twice in this life time is two times too many, thank you very much. I’m your mother I will always worry about you. I’ll always worry about all of you, but I’ll strive not to try and run your lives.”
“No, that’s always been Dad’s forte.” Did his father worry about his lack of dating as well?
One of his brothers laughed and drew their attention. Aiden.
“We both worry, you know.”
He sighed and leaned against the column behind him. “I know you do, though I, and my brothers, wish you would not. We don’t want you guys to worry.”
She rolled her eyes and strolled away to–Dottie. One of his mother’s long-time friends.
Past time to get out of here. Way pastime. Set him up with a man? Holy hell. He didn’t know if he should be completely insulted, baffled or thankful for having such a supportive mother. He shook his head again.
One of his brothers walked up, so did his cousin, Brody. Broderick Kinncaid II was a partner in Kinncaid, Kinncaid & Stripling Law Firm out of New York. Brody looked like all the Kinncaids and could, in fact, pass as one of his brothers. Tall, dark haired, deep blue eyes, and the Kinncaid smile. Brody had never had a problem with the ladies.
“What put that look on your face?” Aiden, the oldest of their brood, asked.
“Mom.” She’d thought he was gay? Then again, he hadn’t dated, hadn’t seen a single woman after he’d basically died and got out of the hospital, two years ago as far as his family knew.
Not until her. Not until Ella.
Now, no other woman interested him.
And he couldn’t, wouldn’t date until something was settled between them and…
“What did she do now? Set you up with one of her friend’s daughters? Nieces? Granddaughters?” Ian asked, coming up on the other side.
“Oh no, much better.”
Aiden cocked a brow. Brody mumbled something about idiots and cowards. Quin did not take the bait. He glared at the guy. Brody, as Quin’s lawyer, had kept Quin’s secret, but then that was attorney client privilege.
“Come on. We’ll only ask Mom,” Aiden said.
They would and she’d tell them, try to see if they thought he was gay. “She offered to set me up with Dottie’s son.”
For a solid second there wasn’t a sound from any of them. Then the laughter started, grew and rolled out around him. Several people turned and looked at them. Quinlan frowned but soon was smiling and chuckling with his brothers. “At least our mother is always supportive.”
“You could always tell her the truth,” Brody said.
“Really and what, exactly, would what be?” Ian asked.
They all turned.
Not a uniform, but one Lieutenant Gabriel Morris.
“Hey, you made it,” Aiden said, slapping the new arrival on the back. “Mom was asking about you earlier and I said we’d said we’d sent the invite. You know she worries about you now too? She considers you one of us at this point.”
Gabe didn’t say anything.
“And if you don’t take her up on the women she tries to set you up with, she’ll start on her friends’ sons,” Brody added, chuckling.
Gabe didn’t smile. He only stared at Quinlan and something shifted and iced within him.
“What?” Ian asked.
“Quinlan, we need to talk. Now.”
“About what?” Brody asked, knowing who Gabe was and picking up the vibes that this was not a social call.
Gabe wasn’t dressed for the party, not really. He still wore his firearm from the crease in his jacket and his badge was clipped to his belt. “Can we go somewhere?”
Quinlan knew. He couldn’t move. She wasn’t here. She was supposed to arrive yesterday…
“She’s supposed to be here. She never showed. Where is she?” he asked quietly, as goose bumps skittered over him, tingling along his scalp.
Gabe’s eyes grew. “Well, if you’re talking about one Ella Kinncaid, she’s in a hospital in Santa Fe.”
“There’s no Ella Kinncaid,” Aiden said.
Quinlan stabbed his cane into the tiled floor and stepped closer to Gabe. “What happened?”
“The cops there were hoping you could shed some light on that issue. They called and the call was patched through to me considering who you are and everyone knows I’ve worked with you before. The feds are already all over this and–”
“Out. Now,” Brody snapped, suddenly all business. “We are not talking about this here. Let’s go to one of the offices.” Brody’s hand on his arm pulled him back.
Ella. Ella was in the hospital? She wasn’t here. She was supposed to be here. “Why? Was she hurt? Is she okay?”
No one answered him.
“What happened to her?” he asked as Brody lead him from the ballroom.
They strode out the door, through the lobby and back into the hallway to the administration offices. Gabe and Brody walked beside him.
Ella was hurt?
Aiden led the way and Ian brought up the rear.
No one said a word as they traversed the halls to the admin offices on the ground floor. Aiden led them into the conference room. It always smelled the same. Lemon oil or orange maybe. Either way the long oval table gleamed to a high shine and the low lights cast an eerie glow on it. As the door shut, he looked at Gabe. “Tell me.”
“That was actually my question to you. I don’t know much, Quin. I hope to hell you can clear this up, or some of it. The call came through. They found a woman in Santa Fe. Wandering around. Half out of her mind, the cop said. She said she was Ella Kinncaid, gave them your name. They contacted us to contact you.”
“That’s it? That’s all?” Quin asked, his heart beating hard against in his chest. That couldn’t be all. He had to know more.
“That’s all I’ve got,” Gabe said.
“No,” he shook his head. “There has to be… Santa Fe? I thought she was in Taos?”
“Who the hell is this woman? We don’t know an Ella Kinncaid,” Aiden said again, leaning on the edge of the long table. “Only Ella I know of is that cotton candy-haired chick in New Orleans that you….” Aiden trailed off.
Brody cleared his throat.
“That you… Holy shit, you’ve got to be kidding me—“ Aiden started.
“What aren’t you telling me?” he asked Gabe, interrupting his brother.
Normally, the cop was open with their crew. He’d spent enough time with them. Hell, even went on the boys’ weekend in New Orleans, and Mom and Pops had basically adopted him into their clan. He was invited to all the family functions. He was practically one of them. Now those dark eyes were flat. Cold.
Gabe swallowed and took a deep breath. “They don’t know, Quin. She was covered in blood, traumatized and hurt. Muttering about you and babies. The state police are out there, looking into it. The feds are also in on it. At this time, it’s looking like a kidnapping and an Amber Alert has been issued for a newborn forcibly taken early.”
He shook his head. “Kidnapping? Who? Ella? No wait, you said Amber alert. A kid’s been kidnapped? An infant?”
“Is this the same Ella from New Orleans?” Aiden asked.
Quinlan ignored him. His mind was already racing. “I have to get out there. I have to…” He shook his head. “Babies? Infant?” No. No. She wouldn’t have. Babies.
The phone call. I have to see you. I should have left a long time ago and come to you, but they talked me out of it… I’ll explain when I get there. I can’t tell you over a damned voicemail. Or text or email. I have something important to tell you, really important. You’ll probably hate me, but I hope you’ll let me explain. We need…I wouldn’t bother you, but we need a safe place. Please… We need help….” Her phone message hadn’t made a lot of sense at the time.
Unless… she was pregnant.
No, she wouldn’t keep that from him. Would she? And if she did, why?
“Damn it. Baby? My baby? Our baby?”
Gabe just looked at him. “You’re asking me? You’re the one everyone is going to be asking. Tell me what you know. Now.”
He didn’t realize he’d all but gotten into Gabe’s face, as he was only focused on the man’s eyes. Not until his brothers pulled him back.
“Look,” Gabe said, raising his hands, palms up. “I know you had nothing to do with this, but others won’t. All I know is that the woman was found, wandering around, dazed, confused, massive blood loss and trauma. The law enforcement out there is looking for the baby as well. They all want to talk to you. I’d take a lawyer.”
He was going. He should have…should have….
“I’m going with you,” Brody said, breaking in.
He shook his head. “I need…I’ll need a copy of the papers I sent you.”
Brody nodded. “No problem. I’ll print them out right here from my phone.”
No one said another word. “Plane. I need a ticket… I need.” Ella was hurt.
Baby… His? Missing? Kidnapped?
“Massive blood loss? Trauma?” he whispered and realized his hands shook. “I have to get there… I have to…” He just stared at the dark red and blue carpet. “Why wouldn’t she tell me? Was it mine?”
“Fuck the ticket. Take the plane,” Ian said. “I’ll start looking into things. I’m coming too. We’ll figure this all out.” Ian put his hand on Quin’s shoulder.
He only looked at his brother who’d probably always known since the trip to Vegas. “You’re not going to ask. You knew?”
“You think I wouldn’t find out?” Ian only stared at him.
“I’ll damned well ask,” Aiden said. “Is Ella the chick from New Orleans? Or someone else?”
He turned to Aiden. “I hope and pray to God I ‘m not too late. As far as Ella–she’s my wife.”