Hi Geri and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Pregnant Colton Witness!
Hi Sara! Thanks for having me and the Coltons!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Patience Colton is a K9 veterinarian who witnesses a horrible murder–on the same day she finds out she’s pregnant with K9 Officer Nash Maddox’s baby! One night of sexy times turns into an all-out race for their lives, and along the way Patience and Nash find more than passion–they find love.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
The Red Ridge, South Dakota autumn morning sky streaked pink and violet across Black Hills Lake. Dr. Patience Colton, DVM, took a moment to soak it all in. Nestled in the northwestern part of the state, Red Ridge, and more specifically, the town’s K9 clinic, were home to her.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
I called upon one of my US Naval Academy sisters who is a veterinarian, to help me with some of the more specific dog questions. She’s even worked with Army K9 so I was able to rely upon her for any research that I had.
While I was writing this book I listened to a lot Chris Stapleton, the country music singer.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Nash is definitely a sexy law enforcement hero but he’s also the guardian of four younger step siblings. I was surprised at how caring and attentive he turned out to be as I wrote this.
Patience surprised me, too, because I thought a veterinarian would have a super soft heart. While she has compassion for all of her animal patients, she’s practical enough to be able to keep herself alive while a serial killer stalks her.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
I’m including a little more than a snippet, as this scene is when Patience not only has to let Nash stay with her to protect her from the Lake Killer, but she tells him she’s going to have his baby. And doesn’t need his help!
“I’m surprised you don’t have any pets of your own.” Nash sat on her sofa, where she’d laid out sheets, a blanket and pillow. He’d forgone the guest room, as it was too far removed from the rest of her house. He needed to be right near the front door and kitchen entrance, both within twenty feet of one another. Patience hadn’t argued, which clued him in as to how exhausted she was.
She sipped at a spicy smelling tea she’d made for herself, and assessed him from the kitchen island. Her open-concept house made it welcoming and easy to converse, but he wasn’t thrilled with the lack of walls. Fewer obstructions for the murderer to break through, less resistance to a bullet.
“I get my fill of animals at the clinic. I’d love to have my own dog and a few cats, but for now this is easier. I spend the majority of my time at work these days, so it’s like having my own pets.”
“Yeah, it’s been a busy year for Red Ridge.” He was too tired to mentally review all the criminal activity, but there had been plenty. Record-breaking, in fact. The Groom Killer was still out there, and now the Lake Killer.
“You sure you’ll be comfortable out here? I promise, the guest room bed is practically brand-new. Only one of my sisters slept there.”
“Layla, Gemma or Bea?”
“Layla.” She didn’t elaborate; in a place like Red Ridge, with Fenwick Colton as the energy mogul, everyone knew the entire Colton clan. Nash had had to revisit his prejudices against the wealthy family when he’d first started working with Patience. She was the exact opposite of having a sense of entitlement.
“Answer me one thing, Patience.”
“Why did a rich girl like you want to be a veterinarian? Have you always like animals?”
“I’m going to ignore your ‘rich’ comment. Why should my family’s financial history have anything to do with my vocation? Or with me choosing what I want to do?”
“Geez, I’m sorry. I was honestly curious. It seems to me you could have become whatever you wanted to. I’m impressed that you went through vet school and were hired to run the K9 clinic.”
The wall she’d erected over her expression fell, revealing the Patience he’d made love to for several hours just a little under three months ago. She made her way to the sofa, where she sat on the end opposite him. He tried like heck to not mentally revisit that night, at least not while she was so close.
“I’ve never been interested in finances or being an entrepreneur. Science and math were my mainstays through school. My counselors suggested med school, dental school, even joining the military to become a physician. But I knew how much I loved horses, and dogs, and it was natural for me to pick vet school.”
“Your parents supported it?”
“I’m sure my mother would have. She’s been gone a long while, as I’m sure you know. My father, he’s a tough bastard. I love him unconditionally, but he’s always made it clear what matters to him.”
“Right. The bottom line. That’s just not who I am.”
Nash watched, incredulously, as tears filled her eyes, making their normally brown hue a rich, dark amber. They matched the highlights in her hair. Holy hell in a hand basket, what was he doing, noticing her hair color? He was reacting like his twelve-year-old brother. Geez.
She held up her hand. “I know a lot of people probably think I got the clinic position because of my father’s endowment, in my mother’s name. But I competed fairly against applicants from all over the country, and even some overseas. I won my job fair and square.”
“Of course you did. It’s obvious in how well you do it. I’m sorry, Patience, I didn’t mean to come across so tough.”
The air between them shifted and he felt the intimacy of that special night return, at about the same time he noticed trepidation in her eyes.
“Nash, I have to tell you something.” He’d heard that tone before—when a woman meant business. Usually the breaking-up kind, not that he’d had anyone to break up with these last several years.
“Save it, Patience. I know what you’re going to say. And I get it. Please don’t mistake my professional concern for personal interest. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to go out again. We made a deal that night—and I understand you don’t want to break it.”
Her eyes not only filled with tears, but he saw one, two, three overspill her long dark lashes and track down her creamy cheek. “Aw, Patience, I didn’t mean for that to come out so rough.”
“You don’t get it, Nash. This isn’t about us getting together again, but it is about that night.”
He felt a kind of tingly awareness in his gut that had nothing to do with his attraction to her. His inner prescient warning system, the talent that helped him as he and Greta sought out evidence or conducted rescue, was going full-bore. What was she trying to tell him?
“What is, Patience?”
“I didn’t want to tell you like this.” She wiped at her cheeks.
“Tell me what, like how?” Was she going through an adrenaline letdown? He felt low after a hard call, but never wept.
“Like this—at eight o’clock in the morning after we’ve been up all night, after I saw a murder, or at least the last part of it, and Greta had to dive to find the body—”
“Spit it out, Patience.” He heard the growl in his voice and it was like when frigid lake water hit his face. He stood up and paced away from the sofa, giving them both needed space.
Greta remained unruffled, lying on her side and only thumping her tail when Nash walked by. She’d also had a long night.
“I’m trying to.” Patience wiped at her eyes with the sleeves of the fuzzy sweater she’d donned over her pajamas the minute they’d arrived.
“I hate this, Patience. It’s as if you’re afraid of telling me because of my reaction. As long as we’ve worked together, have you ever known me to overreact to anything?”
Clear brown eyes met his. “I’m pregnant, Nash. The baby’s yours. I mean, you fathered the baby. But it’s my baby. I’m going to raise it on my own. I completely understand that you have four siblings to raise and your kid calendar is booked for the next half-dozen years. But you should know it’s your baby, and again, you’re free to not worry about it.”
Nash heard nothing more after Patience said “I’m pregnant.” Of course he knew in his gut it was his kid. Unless Patience was more social than she’d let on, she’d been on her own and single for quite some time. If he could trust her, he’d been her first in a long while, and he doubted she’d been with anyone since. Not just because he hadn’t, but because he knew how busy the K9 unit had been, which spelled extra hours for the clinic.
Looking around her great room, he decided her sparse furnishings, and stacks of magazines and unopened mail on the kitchen counter, validated her assertions and his assumptions. She was a loner in every sense of the word, except for their foray into unbridled passion three months ago.
“I believe you. I know it’s my baby.” Only then did it hit him, really register. He was about to become father to a fifth child.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
That there are no coincidences in life. If someone like Patience, who is very thoughtful and purposeful in her life, allows herself to spend one night with the man she’s been attracted to for forever, it’s for a reason. She finds out that reason as the story progresses.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I’m in the middle of deadline week for another Colton’s book, out in July 2019. I have two new books coming in January 2019: Bayou Vows, Book 3 in the Bayou Bachelors from Kensington Lyrical Caress (a sexier line), and Snowbound with the Secret Agent, Silver Valley PD 7 from Harlequin™Romantic Suspense. I’m so excited about both of these books!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: 5 ebook copies of Bare Devotion, Bayou Bachelors Book 2, open to all
3 signed print copies of The Pregnant Colton Witness, USA only, please
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: When have you had something happen that you wanted to call a coincidence, but knew it wasn’t?
Excerpt from The Pregnant Colton Witness:
Patience wanted to grab the words and shove them back down her throat the second she said them, right before Nash’s features froze and his eyes glazed over. Relief soothed her upset stomach, though, indicating she’d done the right thing. Of course she had—Nash and she were adults, and they’d both made the decisions that led to now. To a baby.
“This was a terrible time to tell you. I’m so sorry.” She wasn’t sure if he felt the constant pressure she had since she’d witnessed the murder, if he felt like someone was continually watching them.
“There’s never a great time to drop news, is there? How long have you known?” He stood there, hands on hips, clearly processing.
“Since this morning. I mean, yesterday.” Had it been only twenty-four hours ago? “I thought I’d skipped my period from stress, like I used to during college and vet school. I should have known better. I’m a vet, for heaven’s sake. But I never thought to do a pregnancy test until the last few days. The stomach bug I thought I couldn’t get rid of, the exhaustion, the bloating—it’s been the baby all along.”
“I’m not blaming you for not telling me sooner.” He sounded sincere, looked…calm. Too calm.
“I didn’t know sooner! Look, I told you, you don’t have to worry about me coming after you for support of any kind—financial or otherwise. You know I’m able to support this child with my job.” She refused to mention her trust fund—that wasn’t on the table. Patience prided herself on being able to fully support her life, and now the life of her future child. Without any of her family money, other than her reserve for an extreme emergency, or to maybe pay for her child’s college.
“Of course you can support a child.” He looked stymied, speaking in the most general terms. “This isn’t about finances, though, is it? We both have good jobs. And security, more than if we were running our own businesses.”
“And I’m planning to work right up until the baby comes, take some maternity leave, then go right back to working at the clinic.” She realized that while she hadn’t consciously thought it all out, some part of her had been sifting through her options since yesterday morning.
“You’re keeping the baby? For sure?” He looked at Greta as he spoke. The dog had perked up, her ears alert. As if she expected them to have a fight about it.
“Yes. Yes, I am. Have you heard anything I’ve said?” Hadn’t he listened? Anger flooded her as she watched him, finding his attention was clearly not on her words. He was totally focused on Greta now, and the dog was issuing a long, low growl.
A loud rattling at her door, followed by a gunshot, was Patience’s only warning before she was thrown by Nash onto the carpeted floor beside the sofa, then covered by Greta’s body. The dog lay alongside her, shoving her up against the couch and placing herself between her and any bullet. Patience shoved her head under the upholstery skirt, the one place she could breathe freely without Greta’s coat in her face.
She heard Nash shout, heard him fire his weapon, then a return shot and the sound of glass hitting the tiled foyer. Not again.
Nash had fired at an intruder.
“Stay down!” He gave the order to Patience. Greta knew to keep Patience covered until he released her; they trained for this all the time.
He caught a glimpse of a tall male figure with a knit watch cap running from the front door. The dark hat contrasted sharply with silver hair, matching Patience’s description of the Lake Killer. Nash quickly approached the door, weapon in front of him, constantly sweeping the foyer, the doorway and then the front porch. There could be more than one shooter.
A dark, beat-up sedan was peeling off onto the suburban street, too far away for Nash to make out the license number. He watched as it turned the corner out of the subdivision, and memorized its profile. He stepped back through the front door, and he pulled the SUV keys out of his pocket.
“Greta, release.” He paused to make sure the dog stood up and that Patience followed. Their eyes locked across the great room. “You okay?”
“I’m good. You?”
“Same. I’m going to call this in—stay in here with Greta, away from that back sliding door.” He knew that as much as he’d spooked the intruder, if it was the murderer, he’d be likely to circle back and come at the house from the rear. “Do you have a weapon in the house?”
“No, only the one at the clinic.”
“Fine. I’ll be right back.” He was going to have to talk to her about keeping a weapon close by. At least as long as she was targeted by this nut case.
“Of course.” Patience lay her hand on Greta’s head. “Want to come help me make some tea, girl?”
Satisfied that they were okay, for now, he went out to the K9 vehicle and called in to dispatch. He kept the SUV running in case the assailant returned.
Frank’s voice sounded over the hands free system., Normally cool as a cuke through all kinds of situations, the dispatcher sounded shaken. Everyone at the RRPD adored Patience, and he was no exception. “We’ll have a forensic team out there ASAP, Nash.”
“I doubt they’ll find anything.” If there’d been snow or ice on the ground, tire tracks would have been a great lead. But with the streets still dry after the unexpected cold snap, there was little likelihood of any kind of imprint.
“Give me a description of the vehicle again,” Frank said
“Black sedan, late model but a little beat up, not something you see around here a lot.” In this part of South Dakota folks opted for four-wheel drive, or at least all-wheel drive, especially this time of year ,when a sudden snow squall could leave you stranded without the extra traction power.
“Copy. And Nash—is our favorite K9 veterinarian okay?”
Nash smiled at Frank’s fatherly concern. Everyone at the police department and training center seemed to get that while Patience had a biological family in town, they weren’t very loving or close. Fenwick Colton, mayor of Red Ridge and billionaire energy tycoon, had a reputation for treating his children like stock assets. The RRPD knew this and wrapped its arms around their prized veterinarian. The department was its own family.
“She’s fine, Frank.” As he replied, the reality of what Patience had blurted out just before the gunshot hit him. He could have lost both her and his unborn child with either of those bullets. It’s okay. Patience and the baby were fine. But Nash’s stomach felt as if he’d swallowed a lead weight. He’d just found out he was going to be a father, was a father, and it all could have been irrevocably shattered in the blink of an eye.
“Good to hear. You staying with her for now?”
For now? Heck, he was in it with Patience for at least the next eighteen years. No, scratch that. He was learning with his stepsiblings that being a parent wasn’t something that would end once they left the house. He’d always care, no matter their age or place in life.
And now he had a biological child—his son or daughter—to care about. And Patience to work through it with.
“Nash, you there?”
“Yeah, copy that, Frank. I can be reached on my cell phone.” He shut the SUV down and stared at the dash. He hated cutting Frank off, but he had to think.
Nothing was going to be the same again. He knew he needed time, but no matter how long it took him to process the news of a baby, and his now permanent attachment to Patience as its father, life went on. The baby was going to be born, and need parenting.
He’d been here before, right after his parents had died in that awful car accident. That had been tragic, unexpected, the sorrow reverberating still through him and his siblings with each holiday and school benchmark that passed. Another opportunity to remember his parents would never be there to see the kids graduate, date for the first time, get into college.
Patience being pregnant wasn’t tragic. A surprise, sure. A major life change, definitely. But Nash would be damned if he’d let anyone, including a cold-blooded murderer, take from him the joy that the baby would undoubtedly bring.
He wasn’t sure how Patience felt about it, but there was no time like the present to ask.
Patience’s hands finally stopped trembling as she stroked Greta’s thick fur. “You’ve been through a lot in less than twelve hours, girl.”
Greta leaned into her as they sat on the kitchen floor between the island counter and the sink. They’d gotten up from the living room floor and the dog had sniffed around the entire house until, satisfied they were alone, she’d resumed her protective stance.
Nash didn’t have to tell Patience that it had been the murderer who had found her, and wouldn’t hesitate to break in via her patio and garden area. She was safest here behind the kitchen island, away from the line of sight of the sliding door and yard.
Greta’s ears perked up and her body stiffened, indicating that Nash was coming back in. Sure enough, Patience heard the front door open and close, his footsteps as he walked over to them. He stood in front of them for a full minute before he spoke to Greta. “Move over, girl.”
Greta complied, lying down in the narrow space left, and Nash sank down next to Patience. It would have been too close even five minutes ago, but right now the solid, warm length of his body alongside hers felt good.
“The front door’s going to need to be replaced.” His voice was low and comforting.
“Is it functional, for now?”
“Not really. But I’ll get it boarded up. And we need to move you out of here. I know we’re both exhausted, but we can’t stay here. You won’t be able to until we catch the murderer.”
“Did you see him? You’re sure it was the same guy?”
“He matched your description, at least his height and the color of his hair.” Nash’s hands were hanging between his bent knees. He lowered one to hers, on the floor, and squeezed. “You’re not alone in this, Patience. I’m not going to let anything happen to you or our baby.”
She couldn’t speak right away. What they’d been through, this latest attack, the enormity of figuring out they were going to be parents—it was all overwhelming.
They sat with his hand over hers, Greta’s soft pants filling the silence, for several moments. Patience was beginning to realize that when she was with Nash, time seemed to stand still. When they were together, whatever connection they shared beyond parenthood was uniquely soothing. As if nothing else mattered and she had all the time in the world to get to the next task. Just being with Nash was enough. This wasn’t a place she’d been before. Seeking the next career goal, striving to hit the next benchmark were traits she’d gained from her father. With Nash, they didn’t seem as urgent.
Finally, her voice returned.
“That was quick. You calling the baby ‘ours.’” She shifted her hand out from under his. And immediately missed the warmth.
“It, I mean he or she, is ours. I’m in this with you. We need to hash it out, but this isn’t the time to talk about it.” As if on cue the siren from the RRPD unit reached them.
She stood up. “I think we’re safe for now. That man I saw on the lake is too calculating to come back when he knows the police are here.” Yet her hands still shook, and the weight of knowing she was a target zapped her energy.
“We’re not done with the baby conversation. First, we have to get you to a place where you’ll be safe. Somehow this jerk figured out where you live, so he knows your name. Going to your father’s isn’t an option, either. He’ll find you there.”
Which was a relief as far as Patience was concerned. Her dad’s autocratic attitude was the last thing she needed. “My father lives in a very secure compound, but you’re right, I don’t want to put him at risk. Or any of my siblings.”
“I’ll figure something out.”
“You don’t have to—I have a place up in the mountains. No one knows about it.” She didn’t even tell the clinic staff about it. It was her private escape, the one nod to her healthy bank account that she didn’t feel bad about. “It’s a two-bedroom cabin.”
Nash’s eyes lit up. “How far away?”
“Twenty miles. A forty-five minute drive on a clear day. It’s really up there, with lots of twisty turns.” The thought of the drive to her mountain hideaway made her queasy, but that was her pregnancy talking. Mentally, the respite was irresistible. As long as Nash would be there; she didn’t want to be alone. “To be honest, I forgot about the length of the drive, or how twisting it is. I’m not so sure I’ll enjoy it right now, but we don’t have a choice, do we?”
“You’re having morning sickness?” Compassion smoothed the rough edges of his voice and his expression was one she wanted to drown in.
“What does a single dude like you know about morning sickness?”
“I remember when my stepmother was pregnant with the kids. I was already thirteen or fourteen when she had the oldest. She’d throw up for, like, the first three months with each baby.” He shook his head. “I decided then and there I’d never get a woman pregnant.”
“Well, that’s a resolution you’ve busted. And I’m okay. I feel nauseous here and there, but it’s not been as bad as I’ve seen my friends struggle with. Plus now I’m pretty sure I’m at least twelve if not as much as fourteen weeks pregnant. The worst time for morning sickness has passed.”
“I’m so sorry, Patience. I haven’t been here for you for any of it.”
“I haven’t been here for myself! I ignored the symptoms until the last few days.” When they’d become impossible to overlook. “If anyone’s failed in responsibility to the baby so far, it’s me.”
“I am an equal partner in this pregnancy.” He spoke as though he were taking his oath to be a police officer.
“You didn’t mean to. Get me pregnant. It happens. We were careful.” She tried not to think about how careful they’d been, how huge he’d been as she’d rolled the condom over him, begging him to take her again. Do not look at his crotch. It would be the ultimate humiliation—trying to console him that this wasn’t entirely his fault, as he was taking it, yet coming on to him in such a blatant way.
“But not careful enough.” His mouth was a straight line and he stood with his hands on his hips, looking out the kitchen window. She’d expected him to regret that night; he hadn’t signed up to be a new father. He had enough with his siblings. No doubt the reality of her pregnancy was hitting him. She decided to let it go, for now. Meanwhile, no matter what he said, she wasn’t going to have any expectations that he’d be a fully participating father. It was better for her heart to not go there. Nash Maddox was a heart stopper of the highest caliber.
She nodded at the window, where they could see the patrol unit pulling up in front of her house. “That was quick. I’ll make them a pot of coffee.”
Nash went out to greet the officers and Patience immediately felt the loss of warmth from his nearness. If her hyperawareness of him affected her this much, after only a very long night and part of a day together, how was it going to be when they were holed up at her cabin?
There was no use squelching the thrills that fluttered in her gut, sending heat over her breasts and between her legs. Her desire for Nash was undeniable. And welcome.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
One night of passion with Officer Nash Maddox left Dr. Patience Colton breathless—and pregnant! The two are unexpectedly reunited when Patience becomes a witness to a murder and K-9 cop Nash rushes to her rescue, along with his canine companion. The two will stop at nothing to protect their growing family, but a killer has other ideas…
Meet the Author:
Geri is the bestselling author of the Silver Valley, PD for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, where she also contributes to the Coltons continuity series. She writes The Bayou Bachelors series for Kensington Lyrical Caress. She also penned the Whidbey Island series for Harlequin Superromance. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Naval Intelligence Officer, Geri left her Naval career to pursue a writing career two decades ago. Geri enjoys creating sexy contemporary romances and tingling suspense, preferably with settings that she has personally experienced in her global travels. Geri loves to connect with readers! Please find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and at her website, where you will find a complete book list and can sign up for her newsletter, at www.gerikrotow.com
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