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The Promise

The Promise

The Protectors, BOOK 4

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 205 5-Star Reviews

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Ashley Fisher’s job as a reporter at The Daily Times is a stepping-stone to greater things. When she uncovers a story that wraps one of America's richest families in a web of lies and deceit, she runs for her life. Someone wants to stop her from exposing the truth and they’ll use whatever force is necessary.

Three years ago, Matthew Gray made a promise that’s about to turn his life upside down. When he’s sent a silver ring in the mail, he knows Ashley’s in trouble. Dropping everything, he travels halfway across the country to bring her back to Montana—and the one place she never wanted to call home.

Chapter One Look Inside

“What literary masterpiece are you writing?”

Ashley pounced on the cup of coffee her friend and fellow journalist, Bonnie, left on her desk. She sipped the heavenly brew and waved her hand toward her computer. “What do you think?”

“Wow. “20 New York Socialites You Need to Know.” You must have spent all day planning that column.”

“I know it’s not ground-breaking journalism, but a lot of people will enjoy reading it.”

Bonnie grinned. “You don’t have to convince me. I believe you. I’m surprised you could narrow the list down to 20.”

“This is New York. Anything is possible.” Ashley peered over the partition separating her cubicle from the next.

“Harry’s gone home,” Bonnie said. “He told me he’s got a social life, unlike the reporters he works with.”

Ashley choked on her drink. “And you believed him?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“It’s Thursday night.”


“There’s a Twilight Zone marathon on TV.” She tilted her head to the side, waiting for Bonnie to remember the only thing Harry had talked about all week. “You can’t have forgotten that quickly.”

“I have a short-term memory when it comes to Harry.” 

The blush on Bonnie’s cheeks told Ashley a different story. “It doesn’t matter. I’ve got something else to tell you.”

Bonnie’s eyes widened. “You were employed by the catering company?”

“It was the only way I could get into Jasmine Alfredo’s dinner party.”

“No one knew you were working undercover?”

Ashley shook her head.

“That’s so exciting. Did you take any photos?”

With one click of her mouse, Ashley opened a folder she’d saved on her desktop. “Harry worked his magic on some of the images before he went home.”

Bonnie pulled her chair closer. Her eyes widened when she saw the photos. “Why are you writing about socialites when you’ve got the story of the year sitting in front of you?”

“The story of the year still needs some work. I’m not telling anyone that Jasmine Alfredo could be defrauding her nonprofit charity until I’ve got more proof. Otherwise, her lawyers will come down like a ton of bricks on our esteemed leader’s head.”

“Spelling the end to your illustrious journalistic career.”

“Exactly. The Daily Times needs reporters like us, even if I am writing for the society pages.”

“Just remember this isn’t your forever job. It’s a stepping stone to greater things.”

“Where have I heard that before?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Bonnie said with a smile. “You’ve only said it a hundred times. And on that bright note, I need to go home. Are you coming?”

Ashley glanced at her watch. “Not yet. I want to finish my story on the socialites.”

“They’ll wait until the morning.”

“I wish.” Ashley sighed as she reopened the file. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Bonnie pulled out her bag from under her desk. “Okay. I’ll tell security you’re still here. Don’t stay too late.”

“Thanks for the coffee.” 

“You’re welcome. Bye.”

After Bonnie left, Ashley kept typing. Most of the socialites were the wives, children, or grandchildren of billionaires. Even though they had the pick of what they could do with their lives, they somehow seemed lost. Making a career out of attending luncheons, galas, and concerts wasn’t her idea of fun, but what she thought didn’t matter.

She found stock photos of each person and added them to the article. If she was totally honest with herself, the photos were more interesting than her text. As long as her editor didn’t think the same thing she’d be okay.

Before she went home, Ashley checked her emails. Harry had been busy. He’d sent through more photos from last weekend’s dinner party. She flicked through the images. They weren’t bad considering the camera she’d used had been hidden in her necklace. 

She stopped at a picture of Jasmine Alfredo. With her jet-black hair coiled on top of her head and a scarlet dress draped across her body, she was stunning. But it wasn’t Jasmine who made Ashley frown.

A man wearing a navy pinstripe suit stood on one side of the picture, almost lost in the cropped image. 

Ashley went back to the other photos. He wasn’t there. She opened another file, this time from Jasmine’s charity gala for The Reaching High Foundation, another nonprofit she managed. The same man was there. She’d seen his face before, but where?

If anyone knew who he was, it would be Harry. She picked up her phone and called him.

He answered after the second ring. “You didn’t give me much to work with, so no grumbling about the quality.”

Ashley smiled. “I thought you’d be watching The Twilight Zone.”

“I am, but you’re lucky. An ad break has started. What do you need?”

“One of the photos you sent through has a man almost cropped out of the image. Can you send me the original and tell me who he is?” 

She heard Harry moving across his apartment. 

“Shouldn’t you be home by now?” he asked. 

“I’m leaving soon.”

Harry laughed. “That’s what you always say…Okay…I’m at my computer. What photo are you talking about?”

“The one with Jasmine standing on her own. She’s holding a glass of wine.”

“Got it. I’m sending through the original now.”

Ashley reopened her email account and waited for Harry’s photo to arrive. “What season are you up to in The Twilight Zone?”

“Two. I’m sending you the rest of the images I downloaded off the camera. I haven’t retouched them yet, but it will give you an idea of what it takes to make them brilliant.”

“You’re just showing off.” She clicked on the first email Harry sent through and studied the man. “I still don’t know who he is.”

“Have you been living under a rock for the last six months?”

“Come on, Harry. Don’t hold out on me. You’ll miss some of your TV show.”

The Twilight Zone is not a TV show. It’s a cult classic.”

“So is The Princess Bride and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but you’re not watching them.” She could imagine Harry shuddering. The thought of his beloved television series being compared to a movie about a princess would be too much. 

“Your small town background is showing. The man in the picture is Gareth Welsh.”

“Congressman Gareth Welsh?”

“The one and the same. He’s the poster boy for social reform. Wait a minute.”

Ashley heard Harry typing on his keyboard. 

“He’s also one of the board members for The Reaching High Foundation, the nonprofit charity Jasmine started.”

“Maybe that’s why he was at her dinner party.”

“Probably. Check the other photos I sent through and call me tomorrow. Ad break is over.”

Before Ashley could thank Harry, he was gone.

She opened the other files and peered at the photos. Over the space of three hours, she’d photographed most of the people at the dinner party. All she had to do now was figure out who they were, how much money Jasmine had stolen from her nonprofit, and why she’d done it.

Her cell phone beeped and she read the text. 


She smiled as she typed a reply to Bonnie. The best thing about her job was that she could do it from anywhere. In no time at all, she’d emailed Harry’s photos to her personal account and shut down her computer. With a little research, she should be able to identify most of the people at the dinner party. Then, if everything went to plan, she would be ready for phase two of her story. 

* * *

Matthew parked his truck as close to the Gallatin County Fairground as he could manage. Each summer, people from all over Montana came to enjoy seven days of horse and livestock shows, markets, exhibitions, and the sunshine. This year, he’d driven to the fair with Sean, his twin brother, and Catherine, their seven-year-old niece. 

“Can we buy some cotton candy, Uncle Matthew?”

He looked over his shoulder as Catherine undid her seatbelt. “Sure. Just don’t tell your mom.”

A cheeky grin lit her face. “Dad says the same thing.”

Sean laughed. “If your mom discovers the secrets we’re not supposed to tell her, we’ll all be in trouble.”

Matthew knew for a fact that Amy, their sister-in-law, knew almost everything there was to know about the Gray family. It was just as well she chose to ignore most of it.

“Oh, wow!” Catherine jumped out of the truck and grabbed Sean’s hand. “Look at the Ferris wheel. We gotta go, Uncle Sean.”

Matthew pushed his hat to the back of his head and stared at the huge wheel. “That’s a mighty impressive piece of machinery.”

“It’s a death trap,” Sean grumbled. 

Catherine pulled Sean’s hand. “Come on, let’s go together. It will be fun.”

Sean turned a delicate shade of green. “Uncle Matthew wants to take you on the Ferris wheel.”

“Don’t mind if I do, little lady. Where is your sun hat?”

Catherine rushed back to the truck. “Here it is.” She pulled on her hat and handed Matthew a small bag. “Mom gave me this, too. There’s sunscreen inside. She said I have to use it or I’ll end up all wrinkly like you.”

Sean laughed. “Your mom is a wise woman.”

“She’s a doctor,” Catherine said proudly. “Dad says she’s smart as well as beautiful.”

Matthew squirted sunscreen onto his hands. “We’d better do what she says or she won’t let us take you to the fair again.”

Catherine scrunched up her face as he rubbed the lotion into her skin. “Can we go now?”

He tweaked the front of her hat. “I don’t see why not. Did Uncle Sean print off the timetable of what’s happening today?”

Sean’s eyebrows rose. “Of course, I did. One of us has to be organized.” He pulled three copies out of his back pocket and gave one to Matthew and another to Catherine. “The barrel racing starts in thirty minutes. You should have time to go on the Ferris wheel first, depending on how many people are waiting for a ride.”

Matthew walked toward the main gates, holding Catherine’s hand and trying to read the timetable. 

“Watch out for the dog,” Catherine squealed as he nearly stepped on the smallest excuse for a four-legged canine he’d ever seen.

“Thanks for the warning, short stuff.”

“You’re welcome. Are you sure you don’t want Uncle Sean to be in charge of the map? He doesn’t get lost.”

Matthew knelt down and smiled into his niece’s upturned face. “Sometimes when you’re lost, you end up in a better place than where you thought you’d be.”

“Not in the supermarket parking lot, you don’t. Dad melted a huge tub of ice cream when he couldn’t find our truck.”

“You’re safe with me,” Sean whispered. “Uncle Matthew and your dad share the same type of challenges.”

“Yeah,” Matthew laughed. “And our biggest challenge is called Sean.”

“Very funny,” his brother muttered. “It won’t be so funny when you can’t find the barrel racing.”

“Or the line for the Ferris wheel,” Catherine added. 

Matthew nodded at the solemn expression on his niece’s face. “We’d better hurry. If we don’t, Uncle Sean won’t be happy.”

Sean handed Matthew his ticket. “Just remember, if you get lost you’ll miss out on cotton candy.”

Catherine gripped Matthew’s hand tighter. “Don’t worry. I’ll look after you.”

He looked down into her trusting eyes and smiled. That was the nicest thing anyone had said to him in a long time.

Fans of Netflix’s Virgin River series will love this small-town, feel-good romance!

Ashley Fisher’s job as a reporter at The Daily Times is a stepping-stone to greater things. When she uncovers a story that wraps one of America's richest families in a web of lies and deceit, she runs for her life. Someone wants to stop her from exposing the truth and they’ll use whatever force is necessary.

Three years ago, Matthew Gray made a promise that’s about to turn his life upside down. When he’s sent a silver ring in the mail, he knows Ashley’s in trouble.

Dropping everything, he travels halfway across the country to bring her back to Montana—and the one place she never wanted to call home.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “This series was hard to put down! Lots of drama, love, and laughter.”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "I fell in love with the town, the characters, and their sweet love story."

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "The characters and setting felt so real. I was transported to a charming little town with every turn of the page."

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