Sampler: The Wrong Kind of Man by Lolli Powell

As a budding romance begins, Maggie stumbles into mystery, adventure, suspenseful circumstances, and a lifelong family secret.

At thirty years of age, Maggie Fields has had her fill of “bad” men. Unbeknownst to her, her investment counselor husband had paid for their luxurious Denver lifestyle by scamming his law-abiding clients and laundering money for his law-breaking ones.

He lasted two nights in jail before a client who didn’t trust him to keep his mouth shut had him silenced permanently.

Maggie fled to her hometown of Vichy, Indiana, and safe haven with her grandparents. Now all she wants is a quiet life as a reporter for a small-town newspaper.

That quiet is shattered when her ne’er-do-well uncle shows up on her retired doctor grandfather’s doorstep with a wounded and very sexy friend.

Did the friend really injure his shoulder while changing a tire, or is he the man shot by the homeowner during an attempted burglary of a house just outside of town?

Maggie soon has reason to believe the homeowner is not an innocent victim, leading her to wonder if her uncle and his friend are involved in organized crime.

But in spite of her suspicions, Maggie finds herself drawn to the wounded stranger and realizes the bad experience with her husband hasn’t dulled her taste for the wrong kind of man!

Laurel Heidtman, writing as Lolli Powell

Sampler: The Wrong Kind of Man

As she approached the house, she saw a blue sedan in the driveway; apparently Lee had returned from Indianapolis. The house was quiet when she entered. Through the screen door, Maggie saw her grandfather and Lee side-by-side in chairs in the back yard, glasses of iced tea in their hands. A father/son moment, she thought, and was happy for her grandfather.

She walked to the bottom of the stairs and stood for several minutes looking up. Was Seth waiting for her, she wondered? Was he ready to take her in his arms and love her the way he had the night before? She couldn’t let him distract her from the questions she had to ask. She knew if he touched her, all those questions would seem unimportant, but they had to be answered.

And she wasn’t going to get those answers by standing here at the bottom of the stairs. She began to climb.

She was raising her hand to knock at the closed door of the guest room when she heard the sound of running water coming from the hall bath. Seth must be showering. She hesitated for a moment, then opened the door of the guest room and slipped inside, closing it quietly behind her, deciding to wait inside until he was done.

Looking at the unmade bed, her thoughts strayed back to this morning. It had only been hours since Seth had held her in his arms and made love to her, yet it seemed ages had passed. Surely she must be wrong about him. A man who could be so gentle and loving could not be guilty of the things she imagined, but she had to know for certain.

Sighing, she turned and started toward the chair by the dresser when her foot caught against something. Looking down, she saw the corner of a suitcase protruding from under the bed. She hesitated for only a moment, then bent down and pulled the well-worn brown canvas bag from its hiding place and laid it on the neatly made bed. She took a deep breath and wiped her sweaty palms across her skirt, then clicked the double latches on the suitcase and opened the lid.

At first glance, the contents look normal enough. Maggie let her breath out in a sigh of relief. What in heaven’s name had she expected, she wondered, a machine gun in a violin case, a pinstriped suit with a white carnation in the lapel, what? She laughed nervously at herself, her hands trembling as she carefully removed the folded T-shirts and underwear, laying them neatly on the bed.

She was starting to feel embarrassed and more than a little guilty. Here she was spying on the man she had just spent the night making love to! Thanks to Tom, was she so jaded that she could no longer trust? She had already planned to ask Seth to tell her the truth about himself. Why did she feel the need to have corroborating evidence of whatever he might tell her? Sneaking and spying was not the way to start or conduct a relationship. Besides, she thought, as she laid the last pile of underwear on the bed, there’s nothing here anyway.

She picked up a stack of clothing, having carefully memorized its position in the suitcase, and started to repack when something caught her eye, something that didn’t look quite right. The suitcase was too shallow. It looked normal enough from the outside, but there was less room than there should have been on the inside. Maggie laid the underwear on the bed again. Reaching in, she began prying at the floor of the suitcase with her nails. It took only a few seconds to lift up the false bottom.

She stood there for what seemed an eternity, staring down at the exposed portion of the suitcase. Then she roused herself and replaced the cover of the false bottom. She quickly repacked the clothing, then closed the case and replaced it under the bed, taking care to leave one corner sticking out in exactly the same position as she had found it.

She’d been right in her suspicions after all. The two guns and extra clips hidden under the false bottom of Seth’s suitcase proved it. Maybe it was true that lots of people carried guns for lots of reasons, but the fact that it was hidden so cleverly indicated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the man she had spent the night with used those guns for no good purpose. Seth and Lee had been the burglars that the Smiths had surprised. Her grandfather had knowingly and willingly treated a gunshot wound suffered in the commission of a felony.

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