The drive to the dingy bar outside of the city had been rough when the directions led him down a series of dirt roads before reaching what managed to loosely be called civilization. The bell above the door chimed a dull sound, barely registering his presence. He shook his rain-soaked umbrella, drawing a few curious glances his way before the three men at the bar decided their cold beer and stale peanuts were more interesting than him.
The bartender, a man in his late fifties with a marine tattoo on his bicep, asked him if he wanted anything. Though kind, if the bartender had offered him a bottle of the Alps’ finest water, he wouldn’t accept—not in a place like this—but he was trying to blend in.
“Whatever is on tap,” he said, and found a table in a back corner.
The location afforded him a certain level of anonymity, though he had no intention of staying longer than necessary. The front door, with its surprisingly clean window, opened and brought with it a strong wind and his associate. The new arrival scanned the room, nodded at the others, and crossed the dark bar.
“I’m here now. You have something for me, Hewitt?”
He’d made a mistake giving the man a name, even if it wouldn’t lead back to him. They’d agreed not to use names, not here, not ever. He removed a black, zippered deposit bag from the inside pocket of his rain slicker and slid it across the table.
The man across from him chuckled and unzipped the bag.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Hewitt asked, his whisper a low hiss. He quieted when the bartender set a beer in front of him.
His associate raised an eyebrow and continued to wear his smile. “You’ve seen too many movies.” He closed the bag and leaned forward. “Do you honestly think anyone here cares who you are or what you’re doing? At least you dressed for the occasion—kind of.”
Hewitt stared at the man across from him, confident that despite his off-balanced behavior at times, he’d get the job done. History had proven he was capable, if not entirely trustworthy, and willing to do anything—for a price.
“You’re forgetting something,” he said.
Hewitt hated this man. “It’s in the bag.”
Another chuckle. “In the bag, I like that.” He pulled the colored photograph from the deposit bag and studied the image. “How’d you find me?”
“Does it matter?”
“I like to know what I’m getting into.”
Hewitt studied him, unsure now of his idea but knowing he had to move forward. “All you need to know is I can make your other . . . inconvenience go away.”
“And what might that be?”
Hewitt pulled a folded sheet of paper from his inside breast pocket and slid it across the table.
“I’m not sure I believe you.”
“You know who I work for?” Hewitt asked.
“I checked it out.”
“Then you know I can do what I say,” Hewitt said, growing impatient. “Will it be a problem?”
“No, no problem.” Instead of returning the picture to the bag, he slipped it into the pocket of his dark, denim shirt. “You going to drink this?” he asked before he lifted Hewitt’s beer and drank deeply.
Portion of Chapter One
Jordan eased the rented SUV into the graveled parking lot of the lakeside lodge. Nestled in the thick pine forest surrounding Moosehead Lake, the Highlands Lodge reminded him of the fishing camp his family frequented in Alaska.
He stepped out and walked around to the back of the vehicle, breathing in the fresh northern air. Though nothing like his hometown of Stewart Crossing, which was tucked away on a remote Alaskan bay, Moose Creek, Maine, was a pleasant escape from the spring heat of North Carolina where he operated the main branch of Eagle Wilderness Journeys.
The parking lot was empty, but he heard voices coming from the back of the lodge, laughter carrying through the trees and echoing over the water. Adam, his college roommate and the reason Jordan trekked up north, ambled across the gravel and pulled Jordan into a big hug. Considering Adam stood four inches shorter than Jordan and weighed thirty pounds less, it wasn’t easy.
“Damn, it’s good to see you.”
Jordan returned the easy smile. “You look happy.”
“Wait till you meet her.” Adam opened the back of the SUV and lifted the duffel out before Jordan objected. “You’re going to love her. I mean, whoever thought I’d ever be monogamous.”
Jordan laughed, closed the back door, and followed Adam to the lodge. “If I recall, you didn’t know the meaning of the word all through our senior year.”
“Well, yeah, but could you blame me?” Adam led him around the corner of the lodge and stopped. “Wait, there she is.”
Adam had described her perfectly. Girl-next-door pretty and fresh off the cheerleading squad, Grace was only a year younger than his friend. Her pale, blond curls bounced as she walked on long legs across the lawn. “She’s something all right. I wouldn’t have expected—”
It wasn’t often when life’s unexpected moments stunned Jordan into silence or immobilized him, but none stopped his breath quite like his first glimpse of the woman standing next to Adam’s fiancée.
“Who is she?”
“It’s Grace, man, who do you think . . . Ah.” Adam nudged Jordan’s ribs with his elbow and laughed. “That’s Heather, Grace’s maid of honor.”
Jordan didn’t want to use the word “dumbstruck,” but at the moment, he couldn’t formulate another. His sister would have called him “twitterpated” and normally he would put her in a headlock until she cried “mercy” and take it back, but it had been a long time since she’d had cause to tease him about a girl.
“Hey, buddy, close your mouth before you start to drool.”
Jordan wiped his mouth before he realized Adam was messing with him. “Don’t forget, I can still kick your golf-playing ass from here to next Tuesday.”
“Why don’t I introduce you instead, and then you can owe me one.”
Heather nearly stumbled into Grace when she caught sight of the man standing next to Adam. She lived in an overpopulated city, and not once had she seen this man’s equal. He wouldn’t appeal to everyone with his rugged appearance. His face was unshaved, his dark hair mussed and curling around his ears. His long legs fit nicely in the loose, denim jeans, and Heather would have bet the torso underneath the white T-shirt and flannel shirt was solid.
The pair hadn’t moved since coming around the corner, and she thought he stared at her, but men like him didn’t lose their minds over girls like her.
“Heather, what is the matter with you?” Grace held up oneof the table centerpieces.
“Nothing. I’m sorry, what did you say?”
Heather’s gaze drifted back to Adam and the man next to him. “I’m sorry, Grace. Who is he?”
Grace turned—more liked twirled—until she glimpsed her fiancé and his friend. “Yummy, isn’t he? That’s Jordan Kyndall, one of Adam’s groomsmen. They went to college together.” Grace ran her tongue over her teeth. “Do you want an introduction?”
Heather considered for two seconds and almost nodded before Adam was flagged down by a member of the lodge staff. The pair left around the same corner without a glance back.
“Or a few hours alone with him,” Grace said in jest.
“No. What I want is to fix this centerpiece.” Heather York didn’t make a habit of evading the truth and rather prided herself on both knowing and speaking her mind. Instead, her mind was a jumbled mess and she refused to admit it was because of a brief glimpse at a handsome face.
End of Preview
Excerpted from SHADOW OF THE FORGOTTEN by McKenna Grey. Copyright © 2018 by McKenna Grey and Everly Archard. Published by Cambron Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author or publisher.
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