Gunning for the Groom

By: Debra Webb

Chapter One

 Chicago, Illinois

Wednesday, April 6, 5:30 p.m.

 Victoria Colby-Camp rose from her desk and turned to her beloved window. She watched the gentle spring rain falling upon the city she would always call home. Evening lights twinkled, reminding her that it was time to go home. Home. A smile tugged at her lips. How had she considered for even a moment that any other city on earth could take the place of Chicago?

 The most wonderful years of her life, as well as the most painful ones, had played out here. Her son was here, as were her beautiful grandchildren. No matter how warm it was or how much sun south Texas had to offer, it would never be the Windy City.

 Sensing Lucas’s presence, she turned, her smile widening automatically. She had loved this man for so very long. Even when her first husband, James Colby, was alive, Lucas Camp had been her dearest friend. The two of them waited many years before allowing that lifelong bond to bloom into a more intimate relationship. Their wedding day had been one of the happiest of her life—in part because that momentous occasion came almost at the same time that her son found his way back to her. Jim Colby had been missing for twenty years when he came back into her life. So many miracles had happened that year.

 Victoria’s life had come full circle now. Her family was safe and happy and she was back in the city she loved.

 “You’re ready to go?” she asked, when Lucas remained in the doorway.

 “No hurry. I could stand here forever just looking at you.”

 “Lucas, you’re too kind.” Even after all these years as man and wife, she could feel her pulse react to his voice, as well as the compliment. “I’m ready.”

 Tomorrow was another day at the Colby Agency offices and she couldn’t wait to see what it held.





                       Chapter Two

 Savannah, Georgia

Thursday, April 7, 8:05 a.m.

 “Morning, Frankie!”

 Francesca Leone, Frankie to everyone who knew her longer than a few minutes, smiled on her way to the office she shared with two other people. It wasn’t much more than a converted storage space, but she didn’t mind. She’d worked in tighter quarters during her time with the navy. Life in Georgia had been good to her. Landing this job as an analyst with the Savannah Police Department gave her a healthy, long overdue sense of renewed purpose.

 The past eighteen months had been an arduous journey personally and professionally. An act of terrorism and the resulting injury had ended the navy career she’d loved. For too many months, her life had narrowed to a pinpoint focus on surviving the physical trials, only to be assaulted by the emotional upheaval that followed. She hadn’t realized how much of her identity had been tied to her military service until it was gone. But here she’d found a fresh start and was building a strong new foundation, far from the looming shadow of her father’s name and the constant worried gaze of her mother.

 Feeling her back aching a bit from yesterday’s extended run, she eased into the desk chair, setting her mug of tea to the left of her computer monitor and locking her purse in the bottom drawer. When her computer booted up, she wasted no time getting to work. A string of recent robberies crossed several precincts, and it was her job to find any connections to help the detectives create a list of suspect traits.

 Although the work didn’t rank as high in the elements of danger and thrill as her former SEAL team missions, she found tremendous fulfillment when her contributions helped close cases.

 She was making notes on the similarities between thefts when her desk phone rang, and she picked it up. “Leone.”

 “Francesca Leone?”

 She didn’t recognize the quiet male voice on the other end of the line. “Yes.” Pausing to glance around when someone called her by her proper name was a purely instinctive reaction. “How can I help you?”

 “I worked with your dad on several operations,” the man explained.

 Her heart stuttered in her chest. It never seemed to beat properly when the topic of her dad came up. She bit her lip, refusing to deliver the coarse response on the tip of her tongue.

 “I considered him a friend,” the caller said into the prolonged silence.

 And yet she noticed he didn’t offer her a name. She wasn’t an idiot. Since her father, General Frank Leone, had been accused and convicted of treason, no one claimed any kind of link to him. This couldn’t be an old friend who’d lost touch or wanted to leave the general’s daughter with a memorable photo.

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