Book 2 in the Mafia Sisters Series
Part of the Melissa Schroeder Instalove Collection
Part of the Melissa Schroeder Instalove Collection: Same World, Any Order, Individual Love.
As sheriff of my small Virginia town, it’s my duty to protect and serve the citizens. So when I’m called to the hospital after they find an injured woman in the snow, I figure it’s just routine. That is, until I see her and once I do, my life will never be the same. She’s an angel sent from the heavens and I will do anything to keep her safe.
When I wake up in the hospital, I don’t remember anything—and I mean ANYTHING. What happened to me, or even my name. My memory is a blank canvas, and the only clue is a bracelet with my name on it. The only thing I do know is that Leo makes me feel safe and loved. He’s a giant of a man, but he’s gentle with me. But our idyllic existence is threatened when my dark past comes rushing back to exact revenge.
Author Note: This is another instalove romance with a protective hero, a woman running from her past, and some bad dudes bent on stealing our heroine. Don’t worry. Mel promises an HEA.
This book was previously released under the name Maya Reed.
Reader Interests in
Book 2 in the Mafia Sisters Series
Part of the Melissa Schroeder Instalove Collection
I bolt out of bed, my lungs on fire. Sweat trickles down my back as I drag air into my lungs. It’s been two months since I had one of my nightmares. I thought I had finally conquered them. Two years since I left the Air Force, and while I feel at peace most of the time, I can’t escape my memories in my dreams.
My phone buzzes on the table next to my bed, and I shake off the last dredges of my nightmare and get into work mode. I’m the sheriff for a small town in the Shenandoah Valley, the place of my youth. The text is from my deputy on duty tonight.
Frank: We found a woman off route 33. Barely conscious, no belongings.
Frank: On the way to County Hospital.
Me: Meet you there.
Our department doesn’t get much business. Most of it is either domestic disturbance or something dealing with drugs or alcohol. There are only a little over two thousand souls I keep watch over, so most of the job is about dealing with natural disasters. We have a lot of flash floods and snowstorms through this area. Something this odd needs to be handled just right and that means I need to get there.
I get out of bed and start to get ready. Ten minutes later, I’m out the door of my cabin, a freshly brewed cup of coffee in my hand, and my mind on the task. As I head down the mountain road, I think about what could have brought the woman here. We’re not a tourist destination. Most of the inhabitants are farmers or ranchers. We use the County Hospital because we don’t even have a clinic other than Doc Walters’ office. And if Frank, who was a year behind me in school and knows every flipping person in town, doesn’t know her, she is a stranger.
Less than twenty minutes later, I’m parking my truck in front of the hospital and making my way into the ER. Frank is standing at the desk, gossiping with the nurse. She looks vaguely familiar, but that’s the thing about living here. We all know each other, even if we move out of town. My high school class only had fifty people.
“Hey, Leo,” Frank says with a smile.
“So, any information on the woman?”
He shakes his head. “She had a gash on her head, so the doctor wanted to check for a concussion.”
I nod. “Anything else?”
“Nothing much. She can’t weigh more than a hundred pounds soaking wet. I figured you would want to put out a statement about her, so I posted it on our page. Thought maybe someone might have family visiting or something.”
“But nothing else? No car?”
“Nope. She was found by the side of the road by Sandy Jenkins.”
Great. Ms. Jenkins is a gossipy old woman. “Okay.”
The doors that lead back to the treatment rooms open and a nurse steps out. “Hey, Frank. Sheriff. The doctor wants to talk to you.”
I look at Frank. “Did you put a picture on the post?”
Frank shakes his head. “I didn’t have a good pic of her. Do you want me to take one?”
Normally, I would, but something in my gut tells me not to. “No. Until we find out what’s going on, I don’t want her pic out there. Get back to the office and check to see if there have been any missing persons reports filed with someone fitting her description.”
He heads out as I follow the nurse back to the doc. I’ve had one other dealing with him before this for a DUI crash. He’s competent, but he always looks exhausted.
“Hey, Sheriff Nilson. I wanted to talk to you about the woman we found. She had a really hard hit on the head and has a slight concussion. I want to keep her at least a day to keep an eye on her. She’s dehydrated a bit too.”
“Anything else? Did you do a rape kit?”
He shook his head. “She refused.”
I frown, but we can’t force her to do it. “Can I talk to her?”
“Yes. Just remember to be gentle.”
I want to roll my eyes, but I let it go. He’s never acted like this before.
“Did she tell you her name?” I ask as we walk down to the treatment room.
“No. That’s why I want you to be careful. She has temporary amnesia.”
He stops outside the room.
“You should have led with that.”
He shakes his head. “Sorry. Long shift.”
He opens the door and steps into the room. I step in behind him and come to an abrupt stop.
It’s the only thing I can think of when I see her. She looks like an angel from above. Flawless skin, dark hazel eyes, and long damp chestnut-colored hair. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such beauty in my life. No, I know I haven’t. There’s a cute sprinkle of freckles dancing over her upturned nose.
I don’t know why I think that, but it is the only thing that hammers in my blood. My entire body heats, and there’s a lump the size of a boulder in my throat. Or it could be a reaction to the fear I see in her eyes.
“Miss,” the doc says, using a softer voice. Anger surges through me. If he thinks he can touch her, he better think twice about it.
“I have the Sheriff here to talk to you.”
She nods, and then her gaze shifts to me. Her eyes widen at my height. I’m a big man, six-four, and while I’m not as big as I was when I was in the military, I still have a bit of bulk on me.
I walk to the bed, never taking my gaze from hers. Her tongue slips out and wets her rosebud lips. Lips I would love to see wrapped around my dick. I feel like a perv for even thinking it. The poor woman is sitting in bed, injured and confused, and all I can think about is her sucking me off.
“Have you remembered anything?”
Distress fills her expression. “No.”
The soft answer sends need dancing through my blood.
“Don’t worry. I’m sure doc here told you that your memory will come back soon.”
“I know. It’s just…weird.”
“She was wearing this when she came in,” the doctor says as he hands me a plastic bag with a bracelet.
I frown and hand it to her. “Does this mean anything to you?”
She looks at it, blinking down at the bag. She shakes her head and looks up at me. Right then, the image of having her under me as I ride her to completion hits me so hard that I have to fight back a shudder. Fuck. My cock is throbbing.
“I think that might be my name,” she says softly. Confusion still mars her beautiful face, and she frowns.
“Don’t think too hard,” the doctor says. “You’ve had a head injury and have been through something that is obviously traumatic. You’ll give yourself a whopper of a headache.”
She nods and offers him a small smile. I hate it. I hate that she is even talking to another man. It’s stupid, especially since he’s the doctor and I don’t even know this woman.
“Is it important that she stay here tonight, really?” I don’t like the idea of her being here without me. Or being around this asshole. Again, totally stupid, but something tells me not to leave her here.
“She needs someone to at least be there to keep an eye on her. She has nowhere to stay. I thought maybe she might have some relatives in the area who would come looking for her.”
“She is right here and can be part of the conversation about where I stay tonight.”
The sass in her voice makes me smile. “I got somewhere we can keep you if you’re interested. There will be someone there to keep an eye on you.”
She studies me for a long minute, flicks a look at the doctor, but her gaze returns to me. When she looks directly at me, I cease to have any thoughts. It’s like my brain just melts out of my head and ends up with a plop on the floor.
My gut churns. This angel might not know what happened, but she knows it wasn’t any good. She’s a tiny thing, and the thought of someone hurting her leaves my gut boiling.
“I can guarantee it.” Namely, because it’s my cabin.
“I-I think I would like that.”
I turn to the doctor, who isn’t happy with the situation from the sour look on his face. Too bad, loser.
I step out into the hallway with him. “Are you sure she will have care?”
“Yes. And before you argue with me, she’s had a cat scan that showed nothing, right?”
“I don’t know what that woman has been through, but it might be something nasty. There are too many people in this hospital. I want her somewhere safe. If her concussion is mild, I’ve had one or two of those while I served. I know what to look for.”
He studies me for a moment as if appraising my worth. “What did you actually do in the military?”
“I was a PJ with the Air Force.”
The tension seems to drain from him. “So you’ve had medic training?”
“Okay. I feel better about letting her go with you. You can just never know what’s going to happen with head injuries.”
That’s when I realize he was just worried about her health, and I relax a little. “Yeah. I’m also certified to fill in for the EMT in town. Pottsville doesn’t have a lot of people, and we all have to help each other.”
“Good. I’ll get the discharge papers, and I’ll put my private cell on there. I’m headed home, but my husband will wake me up if anything happens.”
“Of course,” I say, smiling. Now I know my idiocy was unfounded.
The nurse comes out of the room and smiles at me. “I gave her a pair of scrubs. Her clothes were soaked through, and they were taken into evidence.”
I nod and send a text to Frank telling me she’s coming home with me, and we need to make sure that we do keep her picture off anything.
I don’t know why she ended up here or what kind of trouble she’s in, but I will make sure that nothing bad will happen to her for the rest of her life.
End of Excerpt
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