SECRET LOVER by Shawna Delacorte
Harlequin Intrigue #520
Original Print Release: June 1999
eBook Reissue: July 2011
eBook ISBN: #978-1-459-25131-1
Available at: (do search for author name)
Available at: for Nook Books
Available at: for Kindle

Andrea Sinclair found herself inexplicably drawn to Jim Richards -- mind and body -- as if she already knew him. His hair and face were wrong, but there was something about the man... Was he the one she'd been searching for ever since he left the Witness Protection Program with a price on his head?

Jim had been alone for too long -- alone and lonely. He couldn't help fantasizing about Andi, though she represented life-threatening danger to him. She knew everything about him -- everything he'd carefully tried to erase. Could he trust her to help him find the killer who pursued him...? He didn't have a choice. His heart wouldn't let him leave her.


Read G-rated Excerpt inside front cover
Read Excerpt #1 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #2 (G-rated)


Inside front cover:

What was there about Jim Richards that seemed so familiar?

Andrea focused on his eyes, his nose, the shape of his face. His athletic build -- broad shoulders, long legs and good looks. His bed-tousled hair. She recalled the warmth of his handshake and the moment of poignancy when he had placed his hand on top of hers. A tremor of desire shivered inside her. Why?

The man was an enigma, a puzzle with many layers and facets. Did she have the right to pry into his private life? Her sense of integrity said no, but her instincts kept tugging at her with a different answer. Every instinct she possessed told her he was not who he appeared to be, that he was hiding something.

Andi had to know who Jim Richards really was and why he had assumed a secret identity. The last thing she needed was to become involved with a mysterious stranger.

But she couldn't ignore his allure...


G-excerpt #1 (his fear)

She quickly withdrew from his touch. The potent jolt of reality caused her insides to tremble. She stepped back from him in an attempt to regain control of this unexpected turn of events. "You startled me. I certainly didn't expect anyone to be knocking on my door, especially in the middle of this snowstorm. I was just about to bring in some firewood."

"Let me do that for you." He loaded his arms with several pieces of wood and carried them to the fireplace, adding a couple of logs to the fire. His gaze darted around the room, taking in everything, including the typewriter and the numerous crumbled sheets of paper strewn across the floor.

He returned his attention to her. "Are you a writer?"

His manner was open and easy. Her wariness of this stranger lessened, but the unnerving sensual pull of the man refused to go away. A nervousness jittered through her insides, caused not by any concern for her safety but rather the result of far more primal instincts. "Yes, I am. For the past four months I've been heavily involved in researching my next book and now I have to write it. I'm trying something different this time and I'm having trouble with it. I'm basing a fiction novel on a real-life case that happened five years ago. This is the first time I've tried doing that type of book, and I wasn't making much progress at home..."

Her voice momentarily faded as she thought of the reason for her concentration problem -- the unwanted attentions of Nick. She quickly returned her attention to the problem at hand. Whoever Jim Richards was, he seemed to notice everything -- every detail that surrounded him. For some inexplicable reason she felt a sudden need to let this stranger know that someone knew where she was. "My agent thought a change of scenery might be helpful in breaking the ol' writer's block, so he sent me here -- lots of peace and quiet without any distractions."

He indicated the mess on the floor surrounding the typewriter. "Do you have as many completed pages as you do discarded ones?"

"Not exactly..." Andi allowed a soft chuckle. "In fact, I don't have any completed pages." She stooped down and began picking up the mess.

"Here, let me help you." Jim knelt down next to her. She smelled good. It was not a sweet perfume scent, rather a sort of crisp, clean fragrance -- the type that fit in with a snowy day in the forest. He reluctantly acknowledged the little tremor of excitement that her nearness caused. He looked over at her, his gaze capturing hers and holding it for a long moment. The tightness in his chest returned. He forced his gaze elsewhere. "What kind of books do you write?" He smoothed out one of the crumpled pieces of paper, then quickly scanned the typed page.

"I write mysteries... "

Jim heard her voice trail off in midsentence, but he was far too occupied with what he had in his hand to respond. The words leapt off the page at him -- Chicago... Buchanan Chemicals... dumping toxic waste... James Hollander... car bomb, wife killed... disappeared... government still searching for missing key witness.

A hard lump formed in his throat and his pulse raced almost out of control. It had been five years. He had changed his last name from Hollander to Richards and, four years ago, had finally settled into these isolated surroundings. And now this woman appeared out of nowhere, claiming to be a writer and in possession of notes about his past. Was this Andrea Sinclair who she pretended to be, and was all of this some strange, cruel quirk of fate, or was the truth a lot more sinister?

He regained his composure and tried to focus his attention on what she had been saying. "Mysteries, you say... Have you had any published? I read a lot, including mysteries, and I'm not familiar with your name."

"I write under a pseudonym." Something about his manner touched a note of discomfort and suspicion deep inside her. Maybe it was from having had twelve mysteries published. She paused in her thoughts as she realized that the James Hollander book would be her thirteenth. She dismissed the silly superstition and returned to her original thought. Perhaps it was from her degree in journalism and the year she spent as assistant to Steve Westerfall, a top investigative reporter, that caused her suspicions. Her mind jumped at the many possibilities, ticking off a list of five different plots in the space of about thirty seconds.

"Really? What's your pen name?" He was only half listening to what she had said. "Maybe I've read some of your work." A disturbing thought grew inside him. What if she was one of those investigative reporters? He tried to dismiss the idea. If the United States government had not been able to find him hiding out in the Canadian woods, how could some reporter track him down? Then an even more frightening thought occurred to him. What if she worked for Milo Buchanan? No one would ever suspect a woman of being...


G-excerpt #2 (we have to run)

"Andi -- " He turned his entire body toward her. His whole manner came alive as he aggressively grabbed her shoulders in his strong grip. His alert gaze quickly scanned her features, then settled on her eyes. Distress blanketed his features. "You mentioned the second attempt on his -- " The words caught in his throat as a bittersweet smile played with the corners of his mouth. "Correction -- the second attempt on my life." He regained his momentarily assuaged intensity. "How did you know about that?"

His words caught her totally off guard. She blurted out her answer, surprised at the nature of his question. "It was on one of my interview tapes. Why?"

He felt his eyes widen in shock, the same shock that flashed through his body like a bolt of lightning. "You interviewed someone who mentioned the second attempt on my life? Who? I've got to know, Andi. Who told you about the second attempt?"

His sudden aggressiveness seemed to bewilder her. "I don't remember exactly who it was other than the fact that it was one of the federal agents. I don't recall which agency he worked for. It's on one of the tapes at my house." She shook her head. "I don't understand what's so important -- "

"No one knew about it, Andi. Absolutely no one. I never reported that second attempt. I've never mentioned it to another living soul."

The realization slammed into her. Panic tried to take hold, forcing her to squirm out of his grasp and jump to her feet. "Jim -- my agent said someone broke into his office and stole the file with my name and address."

The shock and confusion completely cleared from her mind. Her thoughts came one after the other with remarkable clarity. "You! Someone thinks I have some kind of information that will lead them to you!" She grabbed his arm and tried to pull him up from the couch. "Come on. We've got to contact the authorities. Once you're safe they can get those guys and put them away."

"No!" He yanked his arm from her grasp. "Don't you understand? It was someone connected with the case who sold me out to Buchanan. How else could he have known where they were hiding me? That same person is probably still around, and he might not be the only one. There wasn't anyone I could trust then, and there isn't anyone I can trust now. If I turn myself in I'm as good as dead. Until I can identify the person who sold me out and see that he's put away, I'll never be able to see that Buchanan is brought to trial."

"Oh, no! I've put your life in danger." The alarm in her voice said almost as much as her words. "Even though there's nothing at my house or in my research that says I know who or where you are, I'm sure there are several things in my house that say where I went. Anyone desperate enough to break into my agent's office then go to my house would not stop there. They would come here looking for me -- and they'd find you." She grabbed his hand and again tried to pull him up from the couch. "Come on! We've got to get out of here!"

Her thoughts and realizations were moving at such a fast pace that she was not giving him an opportunity to respond to them. He pulled her back down on the couch, grabbed her by the shoulders and took control of the situation.

"Hold it!" There is no we in this matter. I'm the one they want. If anyone thought there was any tangible connection between us, then you'd be in real danger."

"There's no time to debate this issue. Let's get packed and get out of here. I have a plane reservation late tomorrow afternoon out of Seattle. We'll get out of here now and drive to Victoria. I made a reservation on the car ferry to Seattle and then -- " Suddenly a new thought hit her. "No, wait a minute. Anyone who traced me here in hopes of finding you would surely have the airports covered."

She pursed her lips for a moment as she thought about what she had just said, then her manner brightened. "We'll drive all the way. No one would be looking for a couple traveling by car all the way from Canada to San Diego."

He studied her for a minute. It was an odd turn of events,. She was actually talking about the two of them leaving together. If things were not so deadly serious it would almost have been amusing, the strange way the circumstances had changed. An odd sense of calm settled over him. It felt so good to have someone to talk to, someone to be around without constantly having his guard up while hiding behind a facade. Trust was a luxury he could no longer afford. Did he dare take a chance on her, or was it just wishful thinking?