(Rocky Mountain Romances, Book 1)
Date Published: 11.15.2022
Publisher: Dragonbooks Publishing House
A little romance, a dab of suspense, and a whole lot of fun await you in
the first book of the genre-skipping Rocky Mountain Romances series.
What’s a big-city girl to do when she finds out her boyfriend is
dealing shady business out of the apartment they share in Seattle? She grabs
her big standard poodle named Rambo and runs to granny in small-town
Colorado, that’s what!
The dog fits in just fine, but Jasmine’s ways of vegetarian eating
and yoga are a bit different for this little mountain place. Meanwhile, the
hunky sheriff—single, with a reputation as a player—won’t
stop poking his nose into Jasmine’s past. Plus, he’s a bit too
fond of the way she looks in yoga pants. Her boyfriend isn’t ready to
let go, or forget that she knows about his illegal activities. Grandma, the
colorful townsfolk, and the pets who populate the town are in for some
thrills, chills and romantic double plays until Jasmine sorts her life out.
Grab the popcorn!
This is the first book in the romantic, Rocky Mountain Romances series. Set
in an idyllic Colorado landscape with a cast of characters who feel like
instant friends, the author captures the essence of a life that with stories
that mix romance, suspense, some mystery, a whole lotta fun, and lots of
Virginia Fox dazzles with a writing style that brought her thousands of
5-star reviews and bestselling status in the European market. Now it’s
your turn to revel in it. So pour yourself a cuppa and settle for a real
“Why can’t I find anything in this purse!” For the third time, Jasmine shook her large shoulder hobo for the key to the yoga studio. But there was no teltale jingle. Her boss, Keith, would be cranky if she opened late. As a wannabe social media influencer in the yoga world, Keith was on top of his clients’ every desire.
Jasmine resisted the urge to dump her purse out on the sidewalk and sift through the jumble. But that wouldn’t do, not on this prime shopping street in the lower Queen Anne district of Seattle. No, she had to head home and hope the key was on the entry table in her apartment.
Just great! Now she had to pray that the traffic gods of GPS would be merciful. She turned on her heel and ran back to the parking garage. At least it wasn’t drizzling for once; a pleasant exception in rainy Washington state.
Rambo, her black standard poodle, had already been dropped off at the dog sitter. That was one thing to be thankful for. Fifteen minutes later, she pulled up in front of her apartment building. Ignoring the no parking sign, she left her emergency lights flashing and sprinted up the stairs. On the third landing, she stopped briefly to catch her breath. You should be used to living on the fourth floor by now, she scolded herself. Not to mention that she taught yoga for a living.
She straightened her back, ready to tackle the last flight of stairs.
Thump! The noise came from overhead, the direction of her floor, followed by the murmur of voices. She narrowed her eyes. Her boyfriend Gavin was home, that was expected.
But company this early? It was a miracle Gavin was out of bed at ten a.m. A thought popped into her head; was another woman with him? Please, please no. She fervently hoped there was an innocent explanation for the noises coming from her apartment. The last thing she wanted was to catch Gavin cheating.
With a queasy feeling in her stomach, Jasmine crept up the stairs. She was glad she was wearing sneakers as usual. Not very fancy, perhaps, as Gavin always liked to remind her, but unlike high-heeled shoes, the sneakers didn’t make a sound on the floor of the stairwell. She could make a near-silent approach. When she arrived on her floor, the voices were clear. They didn’t sound female. Those were men’s voices. Maybe Gavin’s friends had made an uncharacteristic early call. Her inner clock chimed, reminding her there was no time to lose if she wanted to make it back to the yoga studio on time. Going to open the door, she noticed it was ajar. That’s why she could hear the voices so well. What the heck? Her thoughts were interrupted when Gavin spoke up.
“I told you, no personal contact. The risk—someone who knows me could see you.
Surely you’re aware of that.”
“That was before you failed. We don’t like fails.”
She did not know this voice.
“Not printing on time—big fail,” agreed a second unfamiliar voice. “You made this a personal visit, dude.”
The uneasy feeling in her stomach intensified, and hairs on the back of her neck stood up.
“Listen, you’ll get the real money.” That was Gavin’s voice and he sounded nervous. “I just need a few more days and I’ll have my girlfriend soft-boiled. I know she has cash, the real stuff, sitting in an account that she doesn’t need.”
Money she didn’t need? Jasmine’s cheeks grew pink with anger. That money was exactly three thousand dollars and eighty-seven cents. She’d saved it over two years of working nights, weekends, and days off at the homes of well-heeled clients, teaching them yoga and relaxation techniques. It was a little nest egg for herself and Gavin in case things got tough. Or they wanted to start a family. Which Gavin obviously didn’t want, if he was so free about dispensing her money to strangers. Fortunately, she’d had enough sense to follow her grandma’s advice to save it in a separate account.
The first strange voice snapped her out of her thoughts and made her blood run cold.
“We launder at flea markets and farmers markets, dude. The stuff needs to be printed in time before the weekend starts. You want to walk in with a twenty, buy something for a buck, and get the real stuff in change. If you’re gonna launder, you got to make the stuff on time.”
A twenty? Launder? Did he mean money laundering? Fake money? As in counterfeiting?
How had Gavin gotten involved in this? She leaned forward to listen. The overstuffed hobo on her shoulder tipped forward and bumped into the door. It swung open. Three pairs of men’s eyes shot over at her. Two bull-necked strangers radiated malice out of every pore. They didn’t look like they’d shaven for a couple of days. Maybe the last time they’d seen a shower was even longer. Gavin looked annoyed.
“Oh, hello everyone. I’ll be right back, just have to get something,” she said in a put-on cheerful voice. Friendly. Naive. Harmless. They had to buy that, didn’t they?
“What are you doing here? I thought you’d be at work by now!” Gavin’s frightened voice offered no reassurance.
“That’s no way to talk to your girlfriend,” Stranger Voice No. 1 chided Gavin, giving a snarling smile that made Jasmine’s stomach turn.
“What a happy coincidence,” Stranger Voice No. 2 agreed. “Now we can settle the real money thing. Always happy to help solve problems.” He cracked his knuckles to demonstrate.
Uh-oh. Retreat! screamed all the alarm systems inside Jasmine. The key to the studio lost all importance. She took two cautious steps backward.
“Hey! This little one’s gonna split! Stop her!” shouted Stranger Voice No. 1, reaching behind his back to pull a frighteningly real-looking pistol from his waistband. Gavin seemed frozen, he made no move to stop anything. Jasmine never expected Gavin to be a knight in shining armor, but she never expected a wet dishrag either.
It was one against three and every woman for herself. Jasmine dashed out of the apartment and raced down the stairs as if all the hounds of hell were on her heels. She was quick and agile thanks to years of training and her small, slender stature. Unlike the two gorillas chasing her, who were cursing loudly and bumbling on the stairs. She covered the four floors in no time, gaining precious seconds.
On the ground floor, she flew out the door and jumped into her old car, which she had fortunately forgotten to lock. As the two thugs piled out of the building entrance, she drove off, tires squealing.
A few streets away, Jasmine slowed to the legal speed limit and tried to get her thoughts in order. She still couldn’t quite grasp what she had just witnessed. Her live-in boyfriend, Gavin, involved in a counterfeit money scheme? She broke out in a sweat thinking of his cold stare while the two guys were about to grab her. But what if this wasn’t anything like it seemed?
Gavin was her boyfriend. Maybe there was a reason for his reaction.
While she was driving along, torn with conflict and confusion, her phone started to ring.
With one hand she dumped the hobo upside down so everything tumbled out on the passenger seat. The cell phone buzzed at her, its screen blinking “Gavin.” She pushed Speaker, but all she heard was scuffling and static. Then the signal died.
Her attention turned back to the road. In a panic, she had blindly crisscrossed the neighborhood. Should she contact the police? At the next street corner, she saw a sign for a police station. An empty parking space seemed waiting for this occasion and helped her decide.
She pulled the car in and sat for a moment with the engine running, taking a deep breath. It was like being in the wrong movie!
Jasmine shook herself like a wet cat and reached for her purse. Before stepping out, she took a good look at the entrance to the police station—and stopped. Out the door came none other than Gavin, engaged in a friendly conversation with a police officer. She took her hand off the door handle and huddled deeper into the car seat. She was half a block down—it wasn’t like her car was directly in sight. She watched as the two patted each other on the back in male solidarity. As the officer stepped back inside the building, Gavin’s gaze roamed the area, looking for something. Her? Had he known she’d go to the police? If what just happened was innocent, what was Gavin doing schmoozing a police officer? The timing was odd, very odd.
Jasmine pulled her head down even further. A surge of adrenaline made the blood rush in her ears. Cautiously, she peered over the dashboard and saw Gavin walk over to a waiting car.
Stranger Voice No. 1 and 2 were in the front seat. Gavin got in the back.
What was she supposed to make of what she had just seen? She had no idea if corruption was an issue in the ranks of the Seattle Police Department. But seeing Gavin speaking directly to a cop as thugs 1 and 2 looked on halted her decision to report the incident right now. Especially parked right outside the police station, where they seemed to be waiting for her to show up.
Jasmine rubbed her temples; the whole thing was crazier by the second. She was a peace-loving person, she abhorred violence. Nor did she have any secret fantasies of being a heroine.
She was absolutely not made for that. She gritted her teeth. Time for a new plan.
When the gun guys and Gavin left the parking lot and disappeared around the block, she picked her cell phone out of the pile underneath her purse and called Pat, a longtime friend whom she trusted one hundred percent.
When Pat answered on the other end, her heart lifted. “Hey Pat, listen, I need your help. Can you pick up Rambo for me at Kathrina’s Dog Sitting?”
“Sure,” he answered promptly. Fortunately, Pat was self-employed and had the freedom to slip away now and then. “What’s the matter? Your voice sounds like you just finished a sprint.”
“Almost. I’ll explain everything later. Meet me at Westcrest Dog Park in two hours?”
Pat seemed to accept that he’d get no more info out of her for now. Relieved, she lowered her shoulders, which, she noticed, were pulled up almost to her ears from the tension.
“See you later.” She ended the call. Whew. Time to move on to the next problem. Soon, she was on the freeway heading south. The destination was a shopping center on the outskirts of Seattle. Gavin would certainly not expect to find her there.
A few impulse purchases later included a big sack of dog chow with rice, sweet potatoes, and wild game, plus an important visit to the bank, Jasmine collapsed on a bench outside the shopping center eating a veggie dog. After devouring the last bite and wiping her hands on a napkin, she reached for the phone again.
“Granddaughter! Jaz! Well, this is a pleasant surprise!”
Jasmine laughed tensely.
“When are you coming to visit me? The weather is getting nice.”
“I was thinking, like, two, three days.”
When her grandmother didn’t answer right away, she added the question, “I can sleep on the couch. Any spot will do. Or is now not a good time?”
“It’s always a good time,” her grandmother hastened to assure her. Jasmine heard Nana take a deep breath on the other end. “It’s just that I don’t live at my house anymore. The place got lonely over last winter, and Nadine invited me to come and spend a few weeks at her place nearby. I guess you could say staying with her got to be a habit.”
“That was the smart thing to do, Nana.”
“My house has been empty but I never turned off the power. I was just waiting for . . .
well, I don’t know what I was waiting for. You’re welcome to stay there. The keys are where they’ve always been. Come whenever you want.”
“Thank you, Nana. It wil be so great to get away.” She made a face at the double meaning of “get away,” glad her grandmother couldn’t see her in person. If Nana only knew the getaway she was making! Jasmine made a bit more small talk and ended the call.
Her thoughts jumped to Keith and the studio. It was way past opening time, he’d be in soon. She made a quick call to Caitlin, the next instructor on the schedule, and fudged a bit of truth, saying she’d been called away suddenly by a family mat er. Could Caitlin go over to the studio early and meet Keith there? He had his own key, and the boss would have to figure out what to do after that. He was constantly complaining about the rising cost of contractors, so unfortunately he could pay her little more than minimum wage. Yet he wouldn’t have a business at all if she didn’t take care of all the lessons while he gave private sessions to female customers in particular need of enlightenment—mostly married women. She was just a part-time freelancer at the studio, no employment contract, therefore no notice period.
Truthfully, Seattle was starting to lose its appeal. Not its proximity to the Pacific, of course. She was sure she would miss the ocean. But the city and its accompanying hustle and bustle were getting on her nerves. A change of scenery might do her and Rambo some good while she got to the bot om of this Gavin fiasco. Whether she was in real danger or whether she wasn’t, Grandma had always said never to take chances. Get to a safe place first and let everything else take care of itself.
So, off to Independence, Colorado—a small town in the Rocky Mountains.
Will you fall in love with this Rocky Mountain town like Jasmine and
About the Author
Virginia Fox, born in 1978, was already infected at the age of four with
her two main passions: the love for books and texts in all forms and the
love for horses.
After reading numerous books and writing various short stories and essays,
she started her biggest project to date: The Dragon Sisters trilogy. After
completing the trilogy, she realized that the writing virus could not be