She's running from a nightmare...
Tess Sinclair must hide. Hunted by a powerful
man who wants her dead, Tess flees her Texas
home in search of anonymity, safety, and a new
life. While a flat tire and stormy weather slow
her escape, they prove the least of her worries.
Just hours after her getaway, a hired gunman
tracks her down. Grabbed in a parking lot, Tess
is certain she'll be killed ... until a handsome
hitchhiker intervenes. But can she trust the
blue-eyed cowboy who appoints himself her
He's chasing a dream . . .
Nothing can stop Justin Boyd from his pursuit of
a music career in Nashville--except a woman in
peril. Haunted by his sister's murder, Justin
can't walk away from Tess until he knows she's
safe. Justin puts his dreams of the music
spotlight on hold until he can make amends for
mistakes from his past. Yet the stakes in this
game of vengeance are higher than he ever
imagined, and the price for freeing Tess might
be his own life.
Awards and Honors
Finalist -- 2000 Golden Heart Contest-- Romance Writers of America
Finalist -- 2001 Booksellers Best Contest (Greater Detroit RWA)
Finalist -- 2001 Notable New Author Contest- (Ohio Valley RWA)
Finalist -- 2001 EPPIE - (Electronically Published Internet Connection)
Nominee-- Frankfurt E-Book Award for excellence in electronic publishing
"CHASING A DREAM is romantic suspense at its
best. ...An action packed tale with a surprising number
of twist that had me holding my breath at times. Five
Stars "--Darlene Kendall,
4 STARS! "If you like sweetly erotic love
scenes, poignant moments, and a bit of realistically
written violence, you'll enjoy this book. The author
deals sensitively with the issue of domestic violence,
and its psychological effect on survivors and those who
love them." -- Christine Chambers,
"CHASING A DREAM is Beth Cornelison's debut
novel and also a 2000 Golden Heart Finalist in Romantic
Suspense. With a plot full of fast paced action and
sweet tender moments, this tale is a highly entertaining
read. Ms Cornelison has penned a story full of powerful
emotions and pulse pounding conflict. The dialogue
was interesting throughout the story and I especially
enjoyed the moments when Justin tries to convert Tess
into a country music fan. CHASING A DREAM is a
wonderful and heartwarming read with lots of memorable
moments and definitely a cast of unforgettable
characters. I recommend this book to all lovers of
Romantic Suspense!" -- Leena Hyat,
The Best Reviews
"Beth Cornelison has written a suspenseful
Chasing A Dream. Action-packed and
overflowing with tension, this book reads at high speeds
all the way through. Issues including domestic abuse and
relationships between people of different backgrounds
are dealt with in a manner that allows the reader to see
the darker side of todayís society while still providing
hope, romance, and the ever-looked-for happy ending.
In all, I happily recommend
Chasing A Dream!"
-- Sally G. Laturi,
Tess hadnít seen the man coming.
One second she crossed the parking lot, keys in hand,
eager to get out of the rain. The next second a strong
hand clamped over her mouth, stifling her scream.
Another hand snaked around her waist, and a brutish arm
hauled her up against a stout body.
Panic surged through her. Fear squeezed her chest.
Her keys clattered to the pavement.
"Get in the car," a deep, menacing voice ordered.
Something hard jabbed her side. She heard a loud click,
like the cocking of a gun. The man thrust her toward a
Acting on survival instinct alone, she twisted and
fought as her captor shoved her toward the waiting car.
Adrenaline strengthened her, but her certainty that she
would die if she got in the sedan fueled her struggle.
The manís grip around her middle tightened. His gun
dug deeper into her ribs. The hand over her mouth
suffocated her, and her lungs burned with the need for
air. Clawing at his hand, she prayed for deliverance,
for oxygen. When he lifted her from her feet, she
thrashed wildly. She kicked the knees of her captor in a
desperate battle for her freedom.
Suddenly, his grasp weakened. Asphalt bit her hands
and knees as she crashed to the ground with a jarring
thud. Ignoring the pain that streaked through her limbs,
she groped frantically for her keys. Tears blurred her
vision. The rush of blood in her ears muffled all but
the drumming of her heartbeat.
She didnít waste time wondering how sheíd won her
release. Focused only on fleeing, she searched futilely
for her keys. Finally, her fingers touched metal. At the
same time, a muscled arm wrapped around her waist again.
The powerful man dragged her to her feet.
"No!" She wrenched around and flailed at the
assailant whoíd imprisoned her in his grip.
"Tess! Itís me!" Justin caught her wrists and held
off her blows.
Confusion stilled her momentarily. A groan called her
attention to the man sprawled on the pavement at her
feet. Clutching the back of his head, the wounded
stranger turned dark, feral eyes up to meet her stare.
With a growl, he swiped a hand toward her feet. Justin
jerked her by the wrists away from the sweep of the
She stumbled as her cowboy-savior tugged her toward
the parked Jimmy. Her gaze locked in terror on the dark
scowl of her would-be kidnapper. The face of evil. Her
living nightmare. A chill slithered down her spine.
"Hurry, Tess!" Justin pulled harder on her arm.
The man pushed to his knees and grabbed for the gun
heíd dropped when heíd lost his hold on her.
Justin spun around at her cry. "Get in the truck!"
He ran back toward her assailant, but fear rooted her
to the spot. Her cowboy reached the pistol just before
the manís fingers could close around the weapon. With a
brisk kick, Justin sent the gun sliding across the
Another swing of his booted foot caught his opponent
in the jaw. The man howled with rage, collapsed on the
ground again, and held his injured face. Justin fled for
the Jimmy. "Tess, get in! Letís go!"
Jolted into action by his shout, she mashed the
remote button on the key chain that unlocked the doors.
She fumbled with the handle on the driverís door, only
to have him reach around her and yank it open.
He shoved her inside then followed, pushing her to
the passenger seat. "Iíll drive." Snatching the keys
from her, he jammed one in the ignition and threw the
truck into reverse. The Jimmyís tires slipped on the wet
pavement before finding some traction and squealing as
he peeled out of the parking lot.
The crack of a gunshot reverberated through the damp
air. Tess screamed.
"Are you hit?" He glanced over, his eyes dark with
Her body convulsed with fright. Her knees and hands
stung. She registered these facts on some level, but
shock rendered her mute.
"Tess? Are you hurt?" Justin asked again, his voice
She managed a quick head-shake then hugged herself to
suppress the shudders ravaging her body. "How did he
f-find me so f-fast?" Closing her eyes, she moaned. "Oh,
God, I knew heíd find me."
"What are you talking about, Tess? Are you saying you
knew that guy?" Incredulity filled his voice.
She chewed her lip, remembering the black, evil eyes
of her attacker. She rocked slowly, squeezing her arms
more tightly around her. "Not him. But . . ."
"But what?" Justin guided the Jimmy onto the
interstate, passing cars as he inched their speed up
well past that of the other traffic. "What did he want,
If the man had gotten her into the car . . .
If Justin hadnít come along when he did . . .
If sheíd been alone . . .
When she realized how close sheíd come to dying, a
whimper escaped her throat. What did it feel like to
die? Would the man have let her suffer?
Knowing Randall wanted her dead was a whole different
creature than actually experiencing a brush with death.
Drawing a shaky breath, she turned tearful eyes
toward Justin. Heíd saved her life. The reality of that
truth seeped in through the thick veil of her terror.
Should she trust Justin with the truth? Didnít he
deserve to know what heíd gotten himself into? If he
knew, she could convince him to save himself, to leave
while he could. Was that what she wanted?
With an effort, she forced her tongue to work. "He
was going to kill me. Randall sent him."
"Some guyís trying to kill you?" His
expression said he wouldnít have believed her if he
hadnít just witnessed her attack.
She nodded. "I donít understand how he found me so
fast. I knew he would come after me, butó"
"Christ." Justin ran a hand through his hair,
knocking off his Stetson, which tumbled to the floor of
the backseat. "No wonder you were acting so jumpy." He
tapped his fist on the steering wheel and expelled a
deep breath. "Maybe you should tell me exactly whatís
going on here. Why is this guy . . . whatís his name?
Tess fought a wave of nausea. "Randall."
"Who is Randall, and why does he want you dead?"
Several tense seconds ticked by before she answered.
"He wants to keep me quiet. Heís killed before. I just
found out about the other murders, andó"
With an abrupt jerk of the steering wheel, Justin
exited the interstate for a small two-lane road. She
grabbed the armrest on the door to steady herself.
Easing onto the narrow shoulder, he stopped the car and
"Who is Randall?" His blue gaze bore into hers.
Tears brimmed in her eyes. She thought of the naive
girl sheíd been when sheíd met Randall following the
loss of her family. Ironically, sheíd needed his
protection and the home heíd offered. Now the man whoíd
vowed all those years ago to help her, wanted her dead.
She filled her lungs with a reinforcing breath,
fighting a swell of shame. "My husband."
Calling Randall her husband, the role heíd claimed
without benefit of making the title legal, was easier
than explaining the truth.
A shadow crossed Justinís face, and he closed his
She jumped at the harsh sound of his curse, and a
tear trickled down her cheek. "You should go now. I was
wrong to put you in danger when I picked you up."
The rugged features of his face hardened, and he
narrowed his eyes. "Iím not going anywhere."
His declaration hit her in the stomach like a fist.
"But you canít stay with me. Itís too dangerous."
"No way am I leaving you alone with a killer after
you." His gaze, the resolve underlying his tone brooked
"This isnít your problem, Justin. I canít let youó"
"Iím making it my problem."
When she shook her head, he leaned closer and cupped
her jaw in his hand. Strong but gentle, his touch sent a
heady sensation spiraling through her.
"I wonít turn my back on you. I canít walk away. This
is something I have to do. Not just for you. For me. I
made a promise to Rebecca . . ." He ducked his head, and
his expression grew stormy. "Look, I donít expect you to
understand. But the thing is, youíre stuck with me." His
thumb swiped at a tear clinging to her chin. "Weíll be
all right, Tess. I wonít let anything happen to you."
His words stirred a warm reassurance inside her that
battled with her icy fear of Randallís power. She wanted
to believe Justin, wanted to think she might survive
Searching the bright promise in his eyes, she curled
her bottom lip in and worried it with her teeth. His
blue gaze dropped to watch her abuse her lip. Smoky
desire filled his eyes. The muscles in his jaw tightened
and flexed, and he slowly lifted a finger and dragged it
over the roughened skin. His breath hissed through his
teeth as he caressed her chapped lips with his
fingertip. When he raised his penetrating stare to meet
her eyes, the air stilled in her lungs. He intended to
kiss her, she knew.
The simple idea of his kiss sent a tremor racing from
her head to her toes.
Sliding his hand from her chin along the line of her
jaw, he settled it at the nape of her neck. He drew her
nearer, angling his head.
She tensed and pulled away. "No." Raising her hands
to his chest, she pushed at him and averted her head.
Unable to meet his gaze, she squeezed her eyes shut
and pressed a trembling hand to her lips, left tingling
from his touch. She heard his tired sigh, and a cool
draft swirled around her, telling her heíd backed away.
"Please," she whispered, "we need to keep moving. Can
She heard the crunch of gravel as Justin pulled back
onto the two-lane road. Her head already swam with the
lightning speed of events that had changed her life and
set her on the road. His attempt to kiss her gave her
mind too much to process. She shoved thoughts of it
aside so she could think more clearly about her
situation and what she must do to shake Randallís
"Iím sorry," he said. "I know I shouldnít have done
She heard self-reproach in his low murmur. Peeking
over at him, she found him staring out the windshield
with a hard, worried frown darkening his face. The
concern and determination reflected in his expression
reminded her of his vow to stay with her. She couldnít
fathom why he would want to put his life in jeopardy to
help her. While his motivation puzzled her, she couldnít
deny a twinge of relief. The promise of his protection
enticed her to ignore the doubts about his reasons for
involving himself in her problems. But how could she
justify putting him in danger? Heíd already risked his
life to save her from Randallís man.
"The first thing we have to do is figure out how he
found you." Justin glanced at her. "Have you used a
credit card or seen someone he knows? Did you tell
anyone your plans?"
"No. Except . . ."
His brow furrowed, and she swallowed hard.
"There was the guy at the car dealership where I
traded in my car." Shaking her head, she rubbed her
arms, fighting the damp chill that seeped to her bones.
"Someone could have followed me, I guess, but I didnít
see any one specific car behind me."
Justin dragged a hand down his cheek. "We should go
to the cops andó"
"No!" Alarm sharpened her tone. "No police. Randall
might have . . . he has contacts everywhere. Probably
within the police department. I canít be sure, but I
canít risk it either." She bit her lip and shivered.
"You donít understand about Randall. Heís a powerful
man, and he holds a lot of influence overó"
"The phone," Justin said as his gaze swung from the
road to Tess. Glancing down at her cellular phone, he
slapped the steering wheel. "Of course! They traced the
phone. You had it on. It rang earlier."
Tess gaped at him as his assertion sifted through her
mind. A knot formed in her stomach and she groaned in
despair. "How could I have been so stupid! I thought Iíd
been so careful!" Frustration and anger over her slip-up
churned inside her, and she balled her fists.
In her mind, she heard Randallís scornful laughter.
Dumb bitch! You thought you could get away from me? You
donít have the nerve or the brains to out smart me!
A rock lodged in her chest, and she sighed. "Stupid,
"Hey!" Disapproval colored Justinís voice. "You were
scared. You made a mistake. Now let it go."
"But nothing." He snatched up the phone, jerking the
recharging cord from the cigarette lighter and rolled
down his window. In a smooth motion, he flung the phone
out of the car. "There. Problem solved. I donít want to
hear any more about it."
The tension in her stomach uncoiled a fraction, but
she couldnít forgive her screw-up easily. Her mistake
may have blown her best chance at escaping Randall. Her
carelessness endangered Justin, an innocent in her grim
situation. Neither was forgivable.
So why did Justinís eyes hold such tenderness and
absolution when he glanced to her from watching the
"Tess, I meant what I said before. I wonít let anyone
hurt you. Not Randall. Not his flunkies. Nobody."
Her uncertainty must have been written in her
expression, because he gave her a half smile, adding, "I
know you donít believe me. Things probably look pretty
hopeless right now. But youíve only lost when you quit
fighting. Remember that, okay?"
His attempts to encourage her touched her, though she
couldnít quite muster even part of the optimism he had.
Justin didnít know Randall.
He didnít know Randallís capacity for cruelty or his
relentless and ruthless tactics for getting what he
wanted. He didnít understand the scope of Randallís
power or the terror his wrath caused. And Tess could
only pray that he never did.