Authors: Katie Jennings
Along Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail lies a distillery that’s a cut above the rest. For years, the Brannon family has perfected their signature whiskey.
Ava Brannon, the new face of Lucky Fox Whiskey, dedicates her life to preserving that legacy. When Special Agent Cooper Lawson comes to investigate her father for his ties to the Irish Republican Army, she has no choice but to face the deadly secrets of her family’s past.
Only nothing is as it seems, and her burning attraction to Cooper could either be a recipe for disaster or her saving grace.
FOR LOVE & BOURBON
Copyright © 2015 Katie Jennings
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Sapphire Royale Publishing
Print edition ISBN numbers:
ALSO BY KATIE JENNINGS
THE VASSER LEGACY
THE DRYAD QUARTET SERIES
Keep your friends close, and your bourbon closer.
~ Old Kentucky Proverb ~
Belfast, Northern Ireland
ine Irish whiskey fueled his temper. That same whiskey kept him from hurling his glass into the wall, the drink too precious to waste. Even in this state of rage he maintained control, a skill he was well known for. A skill he utilized now in the face of this most disappointing news.
Ned Brannon released a slow, measured breath to relieve the tension in his shoulders before facing his oldest son.
“Killian will be free by mornin’.” He lifted the whiskey to his lips and settled back in his desk chair. The office around him was orderly and sparsely decorated, with brick walls and industrial metal furniture. It suited his needs just fine. “The Gardaí have only suspicions, no proof.”
Rhys Brannon clasped his hands at his back, his stance rigid and unyielding. The dim light of the single bulb above the desk cast shadows over his sharply honed, emotionless face and accented the copper in his russet hair. “We were careful. We left no witnesses.”
“The car bomb in Dublin killed three guards and seven civilians. Under other circumstances I would consider that a grand success.” Ned peered into his glass, considering. “But two of those seven were Americans.”
A light sheen of sweat appeared on Rhys’ forehead. “The goal was to hit the Garda Headquarters. Additional casualties were expected.”
“Yer brother sits in custody right now because the Americans want blood.” Another rush of anger, cooled before it could surface. Ned leveled his gaze with his son, his bronzed eyes unforgiving. “Some in The Irish Republican Army may disagree, but the added pressure to make arrests will weaken our ranks. They will try and scare Killian into givin’ them information, which he will not do. I cannot say the same about any others they lift.”
Rhys bowed his head in acknowledgment. “Either way, our message has been heard, Da. The fight continues.”
Ned gave a slight nod and took another drink of whiskey. It was his family’s two hundred year old recipe, the one that had made Brannon a household name. Unknown to many and certainly unproven, that same whiskey brought in money he then shared with his IRA brothers. For years the cause had been funded by Brannon Irish Whiskey—a proud product of Northern Ireland, a symbol of rebellion.
A catalyst for revolution.
“Boss?” The door opened to reveal Ned’s oldest and most loyal associate, Ronan Campbell. He slipped into the room, a piece of paper clutched in his hands. He nodded to Rhys before facing Ned. “Can I have a word?”
“Aye.” Ned motioned for Rhys to leave them. Once alone, he studied the man before him. Ronan’s bald head caught the light, his brown eyes sunken in a gaunt face prone to scowling. Of a wiry build and nearly too tall for the room, he looked younger than his fifty-one years but every bit as shrewd.
Ned set aside his drink. “Ye will arrange to get my son out of custody.” It was spoken as an order, not a question.
“He’ll be out this time tomorrow,” Ronan confirmed.
“Good.” One eyebrow lifted as Ned surveyed his old friend. “What is it, then?”
“I found somethin’ ye need to see.” Ronan offered the paper he held, paused as Ned looked it over.
First came the shock, then the distinct flicker of wrath. The page crinkled under Ned’s fingers, almost tearing the image of a red-haired woman smiling with a glass of whiskey in her hand. His careful control nearly shattered as he stared into the eyes of a traitor.
Forcing back the urge to rip apart the woman’s face, he turned his attention to Ronan. “Where did ye get this?”
“The webpage for Lucky Fox Whiskey. It was added yesterday.”
Another wave of surprise hit Ned as he swallowed this new information. “She’s in Kentucky.”
“It would appear so.”
The woman smiled up at Ned, mocking him. His hand shook as he downed the last of his whiskey, a sneer forming on his lips. “Me cousin has been keepin’ secrets from me.”
“Money has been the only sign of his loyalty for years,” Ronan reminded him. “His da had a traitorous heart. The son may be no different.”
“Aye.” Ned tossed the paper on the desk, rubbed the golden-brown stubble on his chin. “Ye know what needs to be done.”
Ronan lowered his head a fraction, dark eyes blazing. Without a word, he left the room.
Turning the empty glass over in his hand, Ned glanced at the woman once more. Violence and betrayal exploded within his heart and inspired him to at last launch the tumbler at the wall.
As shards of glass dripping with the remnants of his family’s whiskey fell to the floor, a cruel smile deepened the hard lines of his face. He likened himself to a bloodthirsty hound, hot on the scent of a wily fox. Before long the hunt would come to an end and he would, at last, make her pay for what she had done.
I have never in my life seen a Kentuckian who didn’t have
a gun, a pack of cards, and a jug of whiskey.
~ Andrew Jackson ~