Between the responsibility for the care of her injured mother and straightening out her muddled finances, public health researcher Sarah Wright hasn't a minute to herself, much less time to repair a fractured romance. After a much loved aunt goes missing, Sarah is convinced it's a kidnapping but the police refuse to investigate. Former fiancé Dan flies to Sarah's side to help—and it looks like things might come back together for the two of them—until Sarah is arrested for her aunt's murder. As evidence stacks up against her, Sarah must find the real culprits as well as unravel decades old family secrets along the way.
A short time later, Dan opened the door to the hotel room. “After you.”
The cats stared at Sarah from the couch, eyes glinting in the low light. A galley kitchen to the right was set up with cat and dog bowls and a vase of flowers sat on the end of the counter.
“For me?” She put her arms around him and gave him a fierce hug. He hugged her back and just as she turned her face up for a kiss, her phone rang. The Caller ID showed Baltimore County.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I think I’d better take this.”
“Where are you?” Officer Mike said. “I need to talk to you.”
“I have nothing to say to you except this: Go to hell!”
Dan stared at Sarah. “Who is it?”
“Watch your language,” Officer Mike said.
“Watch yourself. I trusted you, Mike. You put me in jail. What kind of justice is that?”
“I need to speak with you in person.”
“Sarah—” Dan said.
“Get a court order or arrest me.” Sarah shouted. “This is harassment. I told you my aunt was missing and you did nothing, except to say she was an adult. The next thing I know you’re accusing me of murdering her. Have you looked for her housekeeper, or the creep in the white van that tried to run me down? What about the people who tried to drown me?” She took a long shuddering breath. “You’ve done nothing, nothing and nothing. It was easier to pin the supposed murder on me so forgive me if I say I don’t trust you.”
“I’m in mourning. Don’t bother me.”
Sarah slammed the phone shut, leaned back against the door, slid to the floor, and sobbed.
Dan knelt down in front of her, lifted her chin, and looked her in the eyes. “You should have let him talk you, Sarah.”
She pulled away and glared at him. “I thought you were on my side. Are you against me, too?”
“No, but you don’t seem to be thinking clearly,” he said. “Next time, see what he has to say before you start yelling.”
“You’re a great Monday-morning quarterback.”
He looked stung. “What are you talking about?”
“You always have a better way to do something. No matter what, I can’t ever do anything right, can I? But you, Mr. Perfect, you have the One Right Way. Your way. Maybe it’s time we just accept the fact that I’ll never be good enough for you. Go ahead. Walk out. It’s what you’re good at.”
“I’m a perfectionist? How about you, Ms. Control Freak? Your life is completely unmanageable and there’s nothing you can do about it. The only thing you can control is you. Not your mother, not Aunt Ida, not the police, not the criminals. You and I are a lot more alike than you want to believe. We both want it our way, because we’re smart, and we think we know what’s right.”
Sarah opened her mouth to argue, but before she could speak, he pulled her into his chest and kissed her hard on the lips.
When she pulled away, he said, “I am not leaving you. You can kick, scream, shove, and push me away all you want, but I’m not going anywhere. We have a second chance to make things right in our lives. How many people can say that? We’ll get through this. Together.”
She collapsed into his arms and sobbed. “I’m sorry, so sorry.”
“Shhh,” he said and held her tight.
The cats climbed onto her lap, and Winston leaned against her. “Dan?”
“I’m squished. Can you help me up?” As Dan helped her to her feet she sniffled and said, “I really missed you. I even missed our fights.”
“I missed making up,” he said sliding his arms around her waist. “Why don’t you show me how much you missed me?”
She pulled on his tie and began walking backward toward the bathroom.
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I'm currently writing a novella which will be included in a multi-author boxed set, due to be published in February 2019