Death threats and a broken heart…
First grade teacher and single mother Alexa Harris is no stranger to struggle, but for once, things are looking up. The school year is over and the lazy days of summer are here. Mini-vacations and relaxing twilight barbeques are on the horizon until Alexa’s free-spirited younger sister vanishes.
Ransom calls and death threats force Alexa and her young daughter to flee their quiet home in Maryland. With nowhere else to turn, Alexa seeks the help of Jackson Matthews, Ethan Cooke Security’s Risk Assessment Specialist and the man who broke her heart.
With few leads to follow and Abby’s case going cold, Alexa must confess a shocking secret if she and Jackson have any hope of saving her sister from a hell neither could have imagined.
~Cate Beauman’s newest release is available now through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Visit www.catebeauman.com for more information and to read excerpts from her best selling series The Bodyguards of L.A. County.~
The Unofficial Forever Alexa Soundtrack
By Cate Beauman
Music is a huge part of my writing process. I typically listen to Pandora or YouTube and compile a collection of songs that I feel represent my characters or the situations they face as the novel unfolds. It’s a rare occasion that my creativity demands quiet (And that’s a good thing. I’m a mother of two boys. Quiet doesn’t happen in my house.). Here are a few of the songs that ‘spoke’ to me while I created Jackson and Alexa’s story!
The soundtrack, of sorts, for Forever Alexa:
- All I Ever Wanted by Brian Melo
- Beautiful Words by The Afters
- By Your Side by Lifehouse
- Chances Are by Five For Fighting
- I Still by Backstreet Boys
- Let Me Love You by Ne-Yo
- Inconsolable by Backstreet Boys
- Breathe Me by Sia
- The Mess I Made by Parachute
- All This Time by One Republic
About the author:
Cate currently lives in Tennessee with her husband, their two boys, and St. Bernard, Bear. She is the author of the best selling romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Before her career as an author, Cate worked in special education for 12 years.
“I’m a pretty lucky girl; one day I woke up and my entire life changed. I saw the light, so to speak, and decided I was going to be a writer. Now, two years later, I’m working on my fifth novel and I’m an Amazon best selling author. I’m very grateful for the support and success I have had. - Cate “
Amazon Author Page
It's in my opinion that Cate does another wonderful job with Alexa and Jackson's story.
The pages keep you on your toes. You are apart of their rollercoaster and you NEVER want the ride to end.
With the characters so down right real feeling......you can't help but long for more!
Anyone who has yet to read one of the FOUR books, it's about time! The Bodyguards of L.A. is a series that is packed full of twist, turns, and endings that you are suprised they got there...As if I'd tell you the ending of a book....LOL
Because Cate's so awesome.....
Here's an excerpt to get you craving Forever Alexa
Alexa stared out the living room window, watching the sun hover closer to the mountains in the distance. The deep country dark would soon surround her house. The dread of another long, sleepless night tightened the muscles of her shoulders and jaw until they ached. She eyed the Louisville Slugger, now leaning against the side table, as she listened to Olivia’s happy chatter filling the small space. Livy and her dolls were enjoying the tiny glass teapot Alexa had filled with milk, the apple she had quartered, and the graham crackers she set out for an impromptu after-dinner tea party.
“Mommy, come play with us. You can sit by Lucy.”
Alexa turned and gave Livy what smile she could. “Maybe in a little while, sweetie.”
“The graham cracker is very yummy.” Livy held up the golden half of cookie, dangling it like a token bribe, before she took a big bite.
“It looks wonderful, but I have more work to do on the computer.”
Livy turned back to her life-sized baby doll and bit Lucy’s cracker too as the party began again.
Alexa desperately wanted to join in on the fun but couldn’t. There wasn’t time. She had just over twenty-four hours to collect an unattainable amount of money. Sighing, she twisted the blind closed and turned away from the window, wishing the media vans were still parked along the dirt road out front. At least someone would’ve been close by while she waited for daylight again. The fifteen-car pile up on I-81 North sent the reporters and their news crews scattering several hours before. The knocks at the door had ceased. Abby’s disappearance had already been forgotten, and she had no choice but to keep it that way.
Alexa glanced at Livy before she sat down to the laptop she’d left on the coffee table. She’d spent the last two hours researching ransom and hostage situations while dodging non-stop phone calls from concerned friends, co-workers, and of course the press. She’d let the answering machine pick them up until the message box was full. She couldn’t deal with the questions.
She stared at the article she’d read before she had to put the computer down and walk away. The information had been so troubling, so depressing, she’d had to stop. The odds of Abby coming home were dwindling with every minute passing. Mr. Macabee had been correct; if she could get the money and pay the ransom, the kidnappers were likely to demand more and kill her sister anyway.
Alexa closed her eyes and rubbed her fingers against the throb in the center of her forehead. What was she going to do? The media wasn’t an option. The police weren’t either. So where did that leave her? She glanced at Livy again, wiggled her mouse, and typed Evan Cooke Security, LA into her search engine.
Hits for Ethan Cooke Security popped up instead. She followed the link to the website and studied the company’s bold red and black insignia. World renowned security firm, offering the best in close protection. Alexa clicked the mouse again and her heart stuttered.
There he was among several other well-muscled men in the professional group photo. She moved her finger to his handsome face and traced it as she clutched the charm dangling from her necklace.
“Excuse me. Can you help me?”
Alexa glanced up from the books she was checking back in to the college library computer system and lost her breath as she stared into fantastic blue eyes. “What can I do for you?”
“I have a ten-page paper due for one of my criminal justice classes in—” he glanced at his watch, “less than twelve hours.”
She measured his charming smile and ball t-shirt stretched over broad shoulders and mounds of biceps. Her smile dimmed—another dumb jock. Why were the cute ones always a disappointment? She knew her eyes chilled as she answered. “Sounds like a personal problem. The Criminal Justice section is along that wall.” She pointed across the room.
At ease and clearly unaffected by her scolding tone, he edged himself along the enormous desk. “So, do you practice that disapproving librarian look in the mirror?”
She refused to give in to her smile. “I might.”
“You’re too young to have that mastered. What are you, a freshman? I’ve never seen you before.”
“I’m a sophomore, and I imagine you haven’t. I spend a lot of time in the library.” But she’d seen him—Jackson Matthews, junior, football star, frat boy, Mr. Popular with the ladies. Definitely not her type. Not that she actually had a type, because she’d never been on a date. Her grades were too important. Her scholarships were vital.
He grinned. “I believe I was just insulted.”
She smiled this time and shrugged. “Maybe.”
“You’ve gone and hurt my feelings, and I don’t even know your name.”
“Alex,” he held out his hand. “Jackson Matthews.”
Her brow shot up as she stared at him. “I know who you are. And it’s Alexa.”
He stood and glanced at his watch again. “I guess I should get to work. Maybe I’ll see you around some time, Alex.” He flashed her another heart-stopping grin and walked toward the stacks she’d pointed out.
She let out a long, shuddering sigh and looked down quickly when he glimpsed over his shoulder and smiled.
The flip-top phone rang, startling Alexa out of her memories. She jumped and caught the laptop just before it crashed to the floor. Licking her lips, she set the computer on the coffee table and picked up the phone. “Hello? Abby?”
“Wrong again, Sister Alexa,” the familiar mechanical voice said.
Her stomach clenched with dread. “What—”
“I said no press.”
“I didn’t talk to them. I swear I didn’t. They followed me. Please don’t hurt her. Please don’t hurt Abby.”
“I saw you on the news, Sister Alexa. Grocery shopping. You look just like her. I had no idea we could’ve gotten two for the price of one.”
She rushed to her feet, grabbed the heavy wooden baseball bat with a trembling hand, and hurried to the entryway to check the lock as her heart rate soared.
“You broke our deal. I’m docking you six hours. You’re down to twenty. Tick tock.”
“No, I didn’t—”
“Twenty hours or we take Olivia next.” The line went dead.
Alexa gasped for breath as a terror like she’d never known constricted her chest. Not Livy. Not her Livy. She collapsed on the bottom stair in the landing, listening to her daughter’s sweet voice as she continued to play in the next room, oblivious to the danger and turmoil destroying their lives.
Alexa struggled to her feet as her body racked with uncontrollable shudders and tears rushed down her cheeks. They had to go; they had to get out of here. She shoved the heavy bench in front of the door as she had last night and dashed up the steps, yanking a suitcase from the small walk-in storage space. She rushed into Livy’s room and pulled clothes from drawers and the closet at random, then hurried into her own room and did the same. She headed for the bathroom next, scooping toothbrushes and toothpaste into the travel bag she had yet to fully unpack from their trip to Virginia Beach.
Alexa started back downstairs but stopped when Gordon, the mournful-looking stuffed frog Livy had slept with every day since her birth, caught her eye. She snatched the melancholy creature off the bed and bolted down the stairs with the cumbersome luggage, setting it by the door. “Livy, we have to go somewhere, sweetie,” she struggled to say, still fighting for each breath as adrenaline coursed through her veins.
Livy looked up from her spot at her small pink table. She was dressed in the princess costume Abby had made her for Christmas. “I’m having a party, Mommy.”
“I know, honey. I’m sorry, but we really have to go right now.” She flipped her laptop closed, dropped it into its case, and grabbed her purse. Next she took several of Livy’s books and shoved them into a small canvas bag. “Come on. Let’s go.”
Livy’s bottom lip turned down and her eyes filled with tears. “Lucy wants to eat her apples. I want to play tea party.”
“Later, honey.” Alexa glanced out at the darkening sky through the edge of the blind. She wanted them long gone from their isolated home. “You can bring your princess dress with you.”
Livy’s eyes brightened. “Okay.”
She held out her hand. “Let’s go.”
Two hours later, Alexa clutched Olivia’s hand as they walked through Baltimore-Washington International, rolling the suitcase and booster seat behind them. She glanced around as they made their way to the ticket counter, fearful Abby’s kidnappers were somewhere close, watching for the perfect opportunity to snatch her daughter away.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” The pretty blonde smiled from behind her computer.
Alexa peered behind her, spotting the two men dressed in black pants and short-sleeved tops standing by the enormous panes of glass, staring in her direction. She picked up Olivia and clutched her tight. Were they here for Livy? “Yes. I need to buy two tickets.”
“And your destination, ma’am?”
What was her destination? She hadn’t thought that far. Her only instinct had been to flee. There was nowhere to go and no one to pick her up on the other end. She and Abby had always had each other, but now she was on her own. She moved her free hand to her necklace and rested her palm against the triangular charm. “LA,” she said in a rush. “Two tickets to Los Angeles, please.”
“We have a couple of open seats on a redeye leaving in an hour.”
She glanced over her shoulder. The men were gone, but that didn’t mean Livy was safe. “Okay, we’ll take them.”
The agent told her her total, and she tried not to wince. This was going to eat into her already strained budget, but what choice did she have? Money meant nothing with Livy’s life in danger. She pulled her credit card free and her heart ripped in two. To save her daughter, she was leaving Maryland and her sister behind.
Did you enjoy the excerpt? You can read the first three chapters on my website, www.catebeauman.com, or you can finish the whole book here!
*Disclosure of Material Connection:No payment was received by me in exchange for reviews. There was no obligation to write positive reviews. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising*