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by S. M. Harding
With their first wedding anniversary just passed, retired Marine Corps Colonel Win Kirkland and Sheriff Sarah Pitt are more in love than ever and making plans to adopt two orphaned girls from Afghanistan. With their most challenging case behind them, the only threat on the horizon seems to be the approaching blizzard. But a much more dangerous storm is about to hit with a force that will exact a terrible toll on Win and Sarah’s loved ones, their love and their lives.
A shadowy network has chosen McCrumb County, Indiana, as a testing ground for one of the deadliest threats facing the United States. Their ruthless psychological and physical attacks quickly escalate to murder, but who are these people? And what is their end game? Even Win’s former intelligence colleagues seem stumped.
As Win and Sarah risk everything to identify and stop the perpetrators, they are quickly learning that what doesn’t kill you…is waiting to try again.
Speak in Winter Code is the eagerly awaited sequel to S. M. Harding’s best-selling Kirkland/Pitt romantic thrillers I Will Meet You There and A Woman of Strong Purpose.
Lex Kent's Reviews - Lot's of excitement, and some good relationship drama. If Harding comes out with book four, I will absolutely read it. I would recommend this to people who like mystery/crime books with some action, but still want some romance.
stood like a statue of a Civil War hero and remained unmoving as he viewed the
fence-lined paddocks before him. The Blue Ridge Mountains rose to the west. He
controlled his breathing but he couldn’t control his anger. The wide-planked
floor creaked as he turned and walked to the head of the table. He examined
each of the ten men who sat stiffly around the long, polished table. “Can any
of you tell me how this goddamn disaster happened?”
looked down at their clean writing pads.
except one, a trim man with a full head of dark hair shot through with gray.
“An unfortunate convergence of circumstances—”
had no intel that this sheriff had connections to MCIA, none. Nor did we have
any idea that Mohan Shamsi stored his arsenal there. He left us quite blind to
intel is not acceptable, nor is dealing with an arms dealer without knowing his
every move.” He turned to the man on his right. “Is McCrumb County on our test
it on the top of the list. Do we have any associates there?”
sir.” The gray-haired man flipped through his files. “The McCrumb County
Rangers. ‘An undisciplined group of loudmouths’ was the description I was
given. They’re in our network, but mostly re-post our articles. No incentive of
Waterstone from the training camp. Tell him to sniff around, hook up with this
group. If there are men there worth training, take them back to camp. Train
them. Get eyes on the sheriff and anyone else concerned.” He put his fists on
the walnut dining table and glared at each man in turn. “We spent a year and a
half and over four million dollars to obtain those weapons. We have nothing
to show for that investment. This will not happen again or heads will roll.
Your heads, gentlemen.”
statement was rendered more threatening because it was delivered in a soft
more item. We have found a candidate for the office of president. He is an
egotistical rabble-rouser and an imbecile. However, he listens to whispers. Get
our media concerns in touch with him.
cannot stop now, we cannot postpone. The time is here for revolution.”
watched the snow swirl down outside the window, beautiful in its dance for now.
The flames in the fireplace moved to a different song, a different rhythm, as
the increasing winds gathered the force of the impending storm.
left work early knowing I’d be on duty when the blizzard hit, directing the
McCrumb County Sheriff’s Department to help the fools out on the roads. I also
wanted to be home when Win arrived from her teaching job in Bloomington at
CELI, a language institute run for the military and spies. Our weekend together
at home would be shortened by the snow emergency and with our first wedding
anniversary just past, I wanted to be at her side and feel her by mine.
put another log on the fire and paced from one front window to the other. “Come
on, Win, get your beautiful butt home.”
an army-trained Belgian Malinois who in a past life had been named Destroyer,
paced beside me. She whined. I went back to the couch and plopped my feet on
the finished slab of black walnut that served as a coffee table. She jumped up
beside me and I threw my arm around her and let her nuzzle my neck. “Your nose
is too cold to be Win, so you better watch yourself.” She snorted.
a tumultuous year it had been. I’d come out to the county in a newspaper
interview with the Greenglen Sentinel for a series Zoe had been doing on
marriage equality. The initial responses had crashed both the paper’s website
and Facebook page. Twitter had hit national trending. The same old haters were
still out there, their vitriol uncontrolled and damn wounding. But I’d been
surprised by the support I’d received from unexpected quarters, including some
clergy and their congregations.
those turbulent times hadn’t been enough, Win had proposed adopting Bahar and
Dorri, two gorgeous little girls from Afghanistan where she had served multiple
tours with MCIA. We discussed it and argued about it. I kept asking how we were
going to manage and Win kept saying we could and would. She settled the
argument when she’d said, “They have no future there. None.”
parents were dead and their extended family stretched very thin to care for
them. Win had been sending money, but conditions for the whole family had continued
a downward spiral.
Skype I’d fallen in love again. I relied on Win to translate
the words, but all I really needed to see was how their eyes lit up when they
saw her. And how Win’s face softened when she talked with them. What could I
say but okay? Win had started the process. We still had issues to iron out like
who was going to care for them when Win was in Bloomington. Dad had offered to
babysit, excited at the prospect of grandkids when he’d given up hope. We
expected them to arrive by early summer. I was scared to death that something
awful would happen to them in the interim.
barked and I heard Win’s truck coming up the hill. Her headlights flashed
across the room and I went to the door to welcome my wife home.
trucks aren’t out yet,” she said on the porch as she stamped the snow from her
boots. She kissed me, then stooped to take off her boots and put them in the
boot tray. “You have to go back to work?”
I need to leave before the storm hits. But according to the weather reports, I
have about two hours.”
time for dinner and dessert?” she asked with a wicked smile.
soon as she had her parka off, I moved into her arms. “Shall we have dessert
* * *
beat the first squalls of the storm to work by ten minutes and shook the snow
off my parka as I entered the station by the back door. As I walked to my
office, I saw Dory, our dispatcher, scurrying around with five pencils stuck in
her white hair. Disaster time for sure.
are you still doing here?” I asked her when she stood still momentarily.
for the weekend Sarah, ’cause we’re gonna need extra people for dispatch,” she
said. “We got food in, most of patrol brought sleepin’ bags. Did you?”
got one in my truck, part of my emergency kit.”
better go get it in, Sarah, they’re talkin’ a foot an’ a half. Win get back
safe from teachin’?”
and she said she didn’t see a salt truck the whole way. I sure hope Roads get
their butts in gear or we’re going to have people stranded all over the
set up a line with Roads so we know where they are. They ain’t usin’ salt, said
it wouldn’t do no good. Trucks are gonna go out when we got six inches.”
After I got my sleeping bag from my truck, I found my dad in my office.
grinned up at me. “Reckon my electric ain’t gonna last the storm an’ I’m too
old to make do. So I come to town.”
you thought we might need a few more hands on deck?”
hurt,” he said with a shrug. “Win get home okay?”
We had time for dinner,” I said as I sank into my chair.
sat up straighter on the couch and leaned forward. “How’s them little girls?
You talk with ’em recent?”
They have such incredibly beautiful spirits, Dad. I mean, they just emit joy.
They make me feel better every time we get to talk with them.”
grinned. “Can’t wait ’til they get here. Gave up on grandkids a long time ago.”
did I when Hugh died.” I’d spent fifteen years in an arid wasteland, lost,
until Win had come back into my life to show me spring’s fresh growth.
know, I used to worry ’bout Win when she was a kid. Fred was always workin’ an’
Marjorie had her heart set on a little frilly girl after birthin’ them boys,”
Dad said with a shake of his head. “Always thought Marjorie was a tad on the
cold side to Win.”
told him how the family had turned their backs on Win when she came out to
them. “Fred Junior wouldn’t let Win near her nieces and nephews.”
shook his head again. “What amazes me is that Win can be such a lovin’ woman
with that kinda growin’ up.”
we were part of it—she spent a lot of time at our house and you and Mom were
always good to her.”
hard, Sarah Anne. We always thought highly of her once she got over her darin’
the boundaries.” He pushed himself off the couch. “You get any more of them
shook my head and took a deep breath. “Maybe the sender’s getting tired of
screwing around with me.”
it,” Dad said.