Book: Like Arrows
Series: Cedar Tree #6
Author: Freya Barker
Cover Designer: Margreet Assleberg
Hosted By:Francessca’s Romance Reviews
An assignment has just turned interesting for GFI investigator Malachi Whitetail. When a shy, mousy woman walks into his local diner, it takes him a minute to recognize her as an employee of the real estate office he’s been monitoring. Not a believer in coincidence, Mal decides a closer look at the short brunette might be warranted. It will be the first, but certainly not the last time, he finds himself coming to her rescue.
Kimeo Lowe leads a pretty quiet existence, which is why, when she ends up a witness to a crime, her curiosity into her boss’s suspected shady dealings gets kicked into high gear. She may not be the most sociable of people, but she’s always been independent and industrious, so when an opportunity to dig a little deeper arises, she doesn’t think twice. It would seem that this time she’s bitten off a bit more than she can chew, and when a freakishly tall Native American Adonis intervenes not just once, she decides sleuthing may be best left to professionals. But it’s a bit too late.
Just when life has settled into a comfortable routine, Kim finds herself dealing with not just one, but two threats on her life. With every turn there are new challenges to face, and Mal is not about to let her face them alone. Not even when he turns out to be no match for her most dangerous enemy.
“I’ll have a chicken salad and a glass of water, please.”
Her voice is as timid as her appearance. Like a little mouse, she slipped in behind me and sat down at the furthest booth. Shocked, I tried my best not to display any reaction to her showing up here. I never expected to have one of the people I’ve been keeping an eye on show up at Arlene’s Diner. Sure, it’s popular around these parts, but given that I live in the apartment above and take most my meals here, it feels like more than a coincidence. This is why I’m keeping my back turned and my ears perked.
Arlene tags her the minute she comes out of the kitchen and is taking her order. Fucking chicken salad and water, who lives on that? I’ve had reason to keep her in my sights since taking on this assignment, and the woman rarely eats more than that from what I’ve seen. Seems to feel comfortable in the real estate office she works in, but the moment she steps out, she seems to want to disappear in the shadows. Head always low, never making eye contact and wrapping herself up in that godawful blanket thing—some kind of poncho.
It’s her boss I’m really keeping track of. Gus got a call from the Ute Reservation a few weeks ago. The council had concerns about two farms backing onto reservation lands. The chief mentioned that both had sold within a month of the other through Martin Vedica, the little mouse’s boss, and they had moved out within days. A third farm, owned by an older couple, was being targeted as well. The couple, Ezhno and Tiva Walker, had moved off the reservation some thirty years earlier to raise their family. They didn’t go far, since their property backs right onto McElmo Creek near Finley Canyon, which is on reservation lands. In fact, it is wedged between reservation boundaries and the southern border of Canyons of the Ancients National Park.
Gus asked me to keep an eye out and I have, but with Vedica out of town since yesterday, I’d been using the time to do some online digging. So far, I have come up with little to nothing.
Keeping my eye on the stainless steel backsplash behind the counter, I can see in the reflection that her face is turned my way. It isn’t busy in the diner right now, being lunchtime, but there are still a few booths occupied. Still I know they are her eyes burning in my back, and I wonder if she could possibly have spotted me before.
Kimeo Lowe. A rather exotic name for the pretty, but unassuming little thing hidden under layers of dark clothing. Soft voice, soft brown eyes, and from what I’ve been able to distinguish, a soft rounded body. Hardly the description for anyone associated with some kind of nefarious real estate deal, but you never know. Looks can be deceiving.
The moment Mal walks out the door the reality of what happened earlier tonight sets in with a vengeance. Memories of crouching down in the pitch dark, fists stuffed in my mouth while Martin was being murdered on the other side of the door cause my stomach to roll. So much blood.
I barely make it to the powder room where I drop to my knees beside the toilet and heave until nothing is left in my stomach. When I sit back I notice it’s dark, not only in the bathroom but there is no light at all. I can’t remember if I turned the lights on or not. I thought I did. At least in the kitchen, but there is no glow under the door.
The shivering starts up again in my limbs and I’m struggling not to hyperventilate.
A noise somewhere in the house startles me and my heart starts hammering in my chest. Afraid to move, I wedge myself further between the toilet and the wall. All I can hear is the sound of my blood rushing in my ears. I squeeze my eyes shut and wrap my arms over my head protectively. When the door opens I make myself even smaller.
“Fuck,” I hear, before I’m yanked up on my feet. I struggle against the big arms surrounding me, but they won’t budge.
“Hush, Kimeo. You’re safe.”
The whispered words finally penetrate when a wet nose presses against my hand. “Boo?” The responding licks and distressed doggie whimper pulling me all the way into the here and now. Back into the hallway just outside the bathroom, with Mal holding on tight and Boo pushing his head against my side. I’m home—safe. There are no guys wielding guns here, just Mal and Boo coming back from a walk.
Fuck, I’m losing it.
“Let’s go clean up,” Mal’s deep voice rumbles. I finally open my eyes and tilt my head back to find his eyes warm and concerned.
Right. I’m suddenly very aware of the fact I probably have puke-breath. That thought alone is mortifying enough, but add that to my smelly shirt, stringy hair and whatever my face looks like now, and I want the ground to open up and swallow me. Determined to create as much space as possible, I push hard against his chest. He immediately releases his arms and allows me to step back.
“I’ll be okay now. You can go home.” I try to make my voice sound firm, but the little hitch in my breath at the end ruins the effect.
“Not happening.” Mal doesn’t seem to have a problem sounding firm. I have no energy to fight him and without another word, I turn and walk to my bedroom, close the door and peel out of all my clothes, tossing them in the hamper on my way into the bathroom. There I turn on the tap until the water runs hot and I numbly step into the shower where I scrub myself raw, the faint light of dawn slipping through my window by the time I’m done.
“Kimeo, you’ve gotta snap out of this.”
At the mention of her full name her eyes finally snap open, looking wild and disoriented. It’s Boo’s soft whimpers from where his head is perched on the pillow next to hers, that seem to pull her back into the here and now.
“What?” Her voice sounds hoarse from the screaming. Turning her face away from Boo, her eyes finally focus on mine and she repeats, “What?”
“You were having a nightmare. Pretty bad from what I could tell. Do you remember?”
The confusion seems to disappear from her eyes only to be replaced with horror as she scans my face.
“Oh my God…did I do that?” Her shocked whisper has me raise a hand to my cheek where I feel a slight burn. It comes away bloody and instantly Kim’s eyes fill with tears. “I am so sorry…” Her fingers skim over my face, leaving a cool soothing trail in their wake.
“It’s fine. Just a scratch, honey. You did worse damage to yourself. Let’s get you cleaned up.” Without waiting for an answer, I reluctantly push up from her body and get off the bed, before pulling her off too. My hand firmly on the back of her neck, I guide her into the bathroom where she stares in shock at her reflection.
“I did that?”
“Mmm.” I grab a washcloth from the shelf and wet it under the tap before gently wiping her throat while lifting her chin up with my other hand. “It’s not that bad, have a look. Just a scratch,” I reassure her.
“I was in the supply closet and the door opened, but it wasn’t you. Just two eyes behind a mask. He had a knife.” Her body does a full on shiver and against my better judgement, I dump the washcloth in the sink and wrap her tight in my arms. “Just a dream,” I mumble in her hair.
“Yeah, but you rescued me again,” she whispers in my chest before tilting her head back to look at me. “Thank you.”
Fuck me. Those big liquid eyes, plump pouty lips, hell even the red blotches on her nose are impossible to resist. Keeping her gaze trapped with mine, I slant my mouth over hers and on her gasp of surprise, sweep my tongue inside for a taste. Sweet, hot, with a hint of spice—damn.
When I feel the vibrations of her moan against my tongue I know I have to pull back or I’ll lose all control. That moan travels all the way down to my cock and I know there’s no way she missed that pressing in her belly.
Rather abruptly, I push her back by the shoulders. She has a dazed look on her face and I know exactly how she feels. In a last indulgence I run my thumb over her soft bottom lip before completely letting go of her.
“Have a shower. It’ll make you feel better. I’m gonna whip us up some dinner.” With that, I leave a not quite coherent Kim in the bathroom. So much for staying away from her…
This is not going to be a very long, drawn out review but only because there are only so many ways to say how much I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Freya Barker is one of my favourite authors…ever. I adore her writing style and LIKE ARROWS is now my favourite book in her Cedar Tree series. ~ Kez Korner
After reading Like Arrows by Freya Barker I have now added a new author to my “To be read” list. Kimeo and Malachi’s story sucked me in from the start. I love how she had these characters evolve in a way that brought them together as a strong couple with flaws, but who complimented and boosted each other up. ~ Alphas Do It Better Book Blog
I have read all of Freya Barker’s books in the Cedar Tree series and Like Arrows was freaking amazing. The story was fast paced and easy to read. I was hooked from the first page to the last. ~ Goodreads Review
About The Author
Author of the popular Cedar Tree series, as well as the critically acclaimed standalone “From Dust,” Freya Barker is driven to make her stories about ‘real’ people; with characters who are perhaps less than perfect, but just as deserving of romance, thrills and chills, and some hot, sizzling sex in their lives.
Recipient of the RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for best first book, “Slim To None,” Freya has hit the ground running. She loves nothing more than to meet and mingle with her readers, whether it be online or in person at one of the signings she attends.
With her kids grown and out in the world, Freya has poured her creative energy into spinning story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!
Other Books In The Series
Slim To None
Hundred To One