In Isabeau's Eyes288
In Isabeau's Eyes288
Danger is stalking Isabeau Boudreaux. After the deaths of her parents ten years ago during a violent attack that left her blind, remnants of her vision are returning. But a series of accidents has convinced her friends the Mackays of Somerset, Kentucky, that someone wants her dead. When a roadside blowout proves to be almost fatal for Isabeau and her good friend Angel, Angel’s brother mercenary Tracker Calloway knows this was no accident.
After a particularly bloody job, the last thing Tracker wants to do is get involved. But whoever is after Isabeau almost hurt his sister, and Isabeau is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. Tracker is determined to protect her but knows staying away from Isabeau is impossible. He begins a steady seduction to tempt the innocent woman into a world of hunger like she could have never imagined. And keeping her is the only option—if he can save her from an unknown enemy as her sight begins to slowly return.
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|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Series:||Kentucky Nights , #1|
|Sold by:||Penguin Group|
|File size:||2 MB|
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She'd almost died. Again. And this time, the near miss had nearly taken someone else as well.
Isabeau Boudreaux sat still and silent in the front seat of the pickup she'd been led to, the door open, fighting the misty blurriness of her eyesight and her own fear.
For ten years she'd been fighting to live, and for nine of those years it seemed bad luck was determined to kill her where her father had failed.
If it was bad luck, as her brother, Burke, was wont to say.
"Goddammit, Angel." A new voice, filled with anger and disgust, rose amid the others that had arrived at the site where Angel's truck had nearly gone over a sheer cliff after the tire had exploded. "What the bloody fuck is going on here? That was no convenient blowout. That tire was shot out, and you and I both know you're experienced enough to see it."
Isabeau froze, her fingers tightening on the handle of the cane she carried as the accusation drifted to her over the distance between the truck she sat in and Angel's truck a good fifty feet away.
She was guessing the unknown male was one of Angel's brothers, most likely the eldest brother, who they called Tracker. She'd met the younger one, Chance, and rather liked him. But even angry, his voice wouldn't sound like this.
She couldn't hear Angel's response, but the male didn't care if he was heard or not.
Rough, dark, and raspy, it was a sexy sound, despite the anger filling it.
"And you damned well know that woman is a walking target and has been for years," he snapped again. "Why didn't you stay the fuck away . . . ?"
Isabeau flinched; the pure fury in the man's voice and his words whipped across her emotions, pulling at the guilt she already felt and a fear she'd fought for years.
Unfounded fear, she was told often, but a fear all the same.
Of all her accidents in the past ten years, law enforcement hadn't found a single shred of evidence that they were anything more than bad luck. Even her brother, as strong and suspicious as he was, and the friends he surrounded himself with, couldn't find so much as a rumor that they were anything more than accidents.
She was blind. Shit happened. Right?
Her blindness hadn't been an accident though. The bullet she'd taken to her head when she was fifteen should have killed her. Instead, it had somehow lodged in her skull, taking her sight rather than her life.
And her memory of that night.
"Dammit, Tracker, I said shut the hell up." Angel's demand had come too late; the words had already been said. "Stop being an asshole just for the sake of it."
"I'm never an asshole for the sake of it, little sister," he countered with a snarl. "And you damned well know it. It comes naturally."
Isabeau heard the heavy sigh next to her where the door had been left open by the young woman keeping her company.
Annie Mackay was eighteen, and very sensitive for her age. That sound was heavy with sympathy, and Isabeau hated it. The girl felt sorry for her, when that was the last thing Isabeau wanted.
"Tracker is Angel's brother," the young woman told her. "Sort of. He and his family raised Angel after Aunt Chaya thought she'd been killed in a hotel bombing. He's like her foster brother."
"Angel told me," Isabeau said. "He has a right to be angry. She was almost killed."
"But it wasn't your fault," Annie stated, her voice soft. "Tracker's just really worried about her. He always worries more now that she's pregnant. And that would have been a really bad accident."
Isabeau tightened her fingers on the cane once again, the all-too-familiar feeling of helplessness, of dependence, strangling her. She couldn't even leave, not without asking someone to take her home. And how could she do that, after Angel had nearly died driving her to the remote location where the weekend gathering hosted by the few friends she made was being held?
The invitation to the Mackay reunion weekend had filled her with such excitement when Angel had extended it and told her she could ride to the property with her. Three days and nights at the lake house getting to know the rest of the Mackay family amid good food, music, and bonfires.
Now she just wanted to hide in the small house she owned in Somerset, Kentucky, and decide if she should call her brother and tell him about this latest incident.
One more time, he'd warned her, and she was returning to the ranch with a bodyguard. He was tired of the accidents that made no sense and defied explanation. He'd protect her himself if he had to lock her in the ranch house to do it.
A miserable existence.
She didn't want to go back to Texas.
She loved her brother, Burke, and his father and stepmother. His half sister, Kenya, was fun to be around, but Texas wasn't home. It was dusty and too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter. The sound of cattle filled the air constantly, along with the shouts of the cowboys on horseback who worked them.
But she didn't want anyone else hurt because of her either. This accident had been too close. If the truck had gone over the cliff, she, Angel, and Angel's unborn child would have died.
"It was an accident." Annie broke into her thoughts with the assurance, but Isabeau heard the doubt in her voice.
Like the truck that nearly ran her over in Beaumont, the attempted abduction outside her college dorm, the gas explosion in the empty apartment next to hers when she'd moved to Dallas-and those were just the highlights of her bad-luck adventures, as she'd been calling them.
Just an accident.
But evidently, this one hadn't been.
Tracker Calloway had told his sister that she had enough experience to know that the tire was shot out. That meant it had been deliberate. Someone had shot it as Angel rounded the sharp curve in the narrow mountain road.
It was no accident, Isabeau thought as she fought back the sudden terror that wanted to rise inside her.
Had someone really been causing the "accidents," and had they finally grown tired of failing and decided to use a bullet?
She rubbed at the side of her head, her fingers finding the scar beneath her hair that marked where the bullet had struck her the summer she turned fifteen.
"Uh-oh, here comes Tracker," Annie murmured. "And Dad and Duke."
Dad being Rowdy Mackay, and Duke being Angel's husband.
"Annie, go with your mom," Rowdy directed his daughter, his tone warm and caring when he spoke to the teenager, but Isabeau heard the undercurrent of tension. "We're going back to the lake house now."
"Okay, Dad." Annie moved back, the blurred shadow of her form hesitant as she moved.
"Isabeau, this is Tracker Calloway with me," Rowdy told her as Annie left. "He'll be driving you back to the lake house."
Isabeau's felt the lash of trepidation as it rushed through her.
"Ms. Boudreaux," Tracker said as he opened the driver's side door and slid in.
She jerked, flinching away from him a second later as the huge shadow suddenly moved closer, his arm reaching across her.
"Seat belt," he seemed to bite out as he grabbed the latch and pulled it across her.
The complete lack of respect the move indicated was like a slap in the face.
"I'm blind, not incompetent." The words burst free from her before she could hold them back. "And I can buckle my own damned seat belt."
It snapped into place even as she spoke.
"Tracker." Duke spoke from behind Rowdy, his voice holding a warning. "Politeness counts."
It seemed to be a repeated order, if Duke's tone was anything to go by.
"As does common sense," Tracker snorted. "Now close the damned door so I can get her to the house. Hopefully without either of us going over a cliff."
Isabeau barely stilled a gasp at the not-so-subtle accusation in his tone and her own surprise at how deep it seemed to hurt.
"Why don't you let someone in possession of that common sense drive instead," Rowdy snapped as the tension shot up by several degrees.
"Because the rest of you actually give a damn if you live or die," Tracker growled, his voice deepening, becoming more graveled as Isabeau felt anger beginning to burn between Tracker and Rowdy. "Looks like me and Ms. Boudreaux are the only two here who don't give a flying fuck. Now close the goddamned door so I can leave."
"Like hell . . ." Rowdy snapped, his body shifting closer to her as though he intended to jerk her from the truck.
She actually wouldn't have put it past him.
"Rowdy, I'll be fine," Isabeau hurriedly injected as she lifted a hand helplessly, looking between the two men, the fiery tension building around them too much for her to take in or to deal with.
The shadows of both men standing beside her suddenly seemed far more dangerous as they'd stepped closer to where she sat.
"Get out of the truck, Isabeau," Duke ordered. "Some of us aren't nearly the asshole Tracker's making himself out to be. . . ."
Making himself out to be?
"It's not an act, Duke. You of all people should know that," Tracker snorted, the complete assurance in his tone almost amusing as he voiced her own thoughts.
Amusing if the situation hadn't had the potential to be so disastrous.
"I'm certain it isn't," Isabeau assured him as she did the unruly students she occasionally dealt with. Despite his gruff words, she sensed he wouldn't hurt her. "And you do it very well." She turned back to Duke and Rowdy. "Mr. Calloway and I will get along fine, I promise. Tell Angel I'll talk to her later."
Reaching past Duke, she felt for the door handle, gripped it, and eased it toward her slowly. She was rather surprised when the two men shifted back and allowed her to close the door.
The truck slid into gear and moments later began backing along the road, only to swing into what she assumed was a wider spot to turn and continue along the steep incline of the mountain.
Folding her hands in her lap, Isabeau faked composure. She'd learned how to do that years ago, after first losing her sight, to appease Burke, who had been enraged for more than a year because of their mother's murder and Isabeau's father's attempt to kill Isabeau as well before he'd killed himself.
That was what the official police report concluded, as had the coroner. That her father, Carmichael Boudreaux, had killed his wife, Danica, and believed he'd killed his daughter, then turned the gun on himself.
Her gentle, laughter-filled, loving father had seemingly found some reason to believe they should all die.
There had been no suicide letter, no indication that he harbored such darkness inside him. Friends hadn't noticed anything unusual in him, no hint of depression or financial worries. Yet he'd killed his wife and attempted to kill his daughter.
Isabeau's accidental survival had amazed the doctors and surgeons. The fact that she'd recovered, with only the loss of sight, had astounded them.
"I'm not one of your teenage students." Tracker's voice interrupted her thoughts. "I don't like being patronized, Ms. Boudreaux."
She'd known all that offended male pride would escape soon. Most men dislike being talked to as though they were teenagers. Especially when they were acting in that age group.
"Then don't act like a schoolyard bully," she suggested calmly. "As I understand it, you know both Duke and Rowdy fairly well. Infuriate their protective instincts, and fists are going to start flying. You should be old enough to realize that."
Not to mention experienced enough. According to Angel, he specialized in rescuing hostages and protecting high-level clients. He should know when to put aside the more prickish aspects of his nature.
"Wouldn't be the first time with either of them," he assured her, the dark, brooding tone of his voice deepening. "Neither of them should have allowed Angel to transport you to the lake house. If I'd known what was going on, I would have brought you in myself."
She glanced over at him. For some reason, the dark form of his body was easier to distinguish than others that day. She wished this were one of those times when her sight was a bit clearer and hints of color could actually be seen.
"If I had thought anyone would be in any danger, I would have kept my ass at home." She reminded him of his furious words as he'd spoken to Angel earlier. "My bad luck has never involved anyone else before. I never imagined it would now."
Which left her wondering how the hell she was going to have a normal life now.
"Lady, did that bullet you took at fifteen shear off the simple-logic-forming brain cells or what?" The cold, furious snap of his tone had her freezing. "That was no goddamned back luck; nor was it an accident. A bullet took that fucking tire out. The fucker that shot it out just didn't know who he was dealing with at the time. But he's getting ready to find out."
She shook her head. What reason would anyone even have to try to kill her?
"That's crazy, Calloway." She turned to him, glaring at his dark profile, her fingers curling into fists as she fought her own fears where his suspicion was concerned. "Who would want to kill a blind teacher? Hell, who would have to go to such extremes to do it? I'm about the easiest target to kill that I can think of."
"Evidently you're not." That dark tone too closely resembled a growl. A dangerous, far too sexy sound for her peace of mind. "A bullet to the head didn't take you out, whoever tried to run you over in Beaumont was foiled at the last second by some drunk cowboy, an attempted abduction was countered by two party girls walking with you, and you barely escaped a gas explosion in the apartment next to yours when you made an unplanned visit to a neighbor downstairs. Did I miss anything?"
"Well, you hit the high points at least," she muttered, actually trying to hold back her sarcasm. And failing.
"Lady, you're not a bad-luck magnet. Quite the opposite. Your guardian angels are haggard and exhausted trying to keep your ass alive. And because my sister has become so damned attached to you, it looks like they're finally gonna get a break at least. Because I intend to find the bastard trying to kill you and put him out of his misery."
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