Bones Don’t Lie by Melinda Leigh


Private investigator Lance Kruger was just a boy when his father vanished twenty-three years ago. Since then he’s lived under the weight of that disappearance—until his father’s car is finally dredged up from the bottom of Grey Lake. It should be a time for closure, except for the skeleton found in the trunk. A missing person case gone cold has become one of murder, and Lance and attorney Morgan Dane must face the deadly past that’s risen to the surface.

For Lance, the investigation yields troubling questions about a man he thought he knew. But memories can play dirty tricks. For Morgan, uncovering each new lie comes with a disquieting fear that someone is out there watching, because someone is killing every witness tied to this decades-old crime. Morgan and Lance follow in the shadows of a relentless killer and walk right into the cross fire.

Book Details

  • File Namebones-dont-lie-by-melinda-leigh.epub
  • Original TitleBones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane Book 3)
  • Creator
  • Languageen
  • IdentifierISBN:9781542049863
  • PublisherMontlake Romance
  • Date2018-03-12T16:00:00+00:00
  • File Size539.833 KB

Table of Content

  • 1. Unnamed
  • 2. ALSO BY MELINDA LEIGH MORGAN DANE NOVELS Say You’re Sorry Her Last Goodbye SCARLET FALLS NOVELS Hour of Need Minutes to Kill Seconds to Live SHE CAN SERIES She Can Run She Can Tell She Can Scream She Can Hide “He Can Fall” (A Short Story) She Can Kill MIDNIGHT NOVELS Midnight Exposure Midnight Sacrifice Midnight Betrayal Midnight Obsession THE ROGUE SERIES NOVELLAS Gone to Her Grave (Rogue River) Walking on Her Grave (Rogue River) Tracks of Her Tears (Rogue Winter) Burned by Her Devotion (Rogue Vows) Twisted Truth (Rogue Justice)
  • 3. Unnamed
  • 4. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Text copyright © 2018 by Melinda Leigh All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher. Published by Montlake Romance, Seattle Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Montlake Romance are trademarks of, Inc., or its affiliates. ISBN-13: 9781542049863 ISBN-10: 1542049865 Cover design by Eileen Carey
  • 5. To Rayna for ten years of pep talks, pats on the back, kicks in the butt, and plot hole fixes
  • 6. Contents Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty-One Chapter Twenty-Two Chapter Twenty-Three Chapter Twenty-Four Chapter Twenty-Five Chapter Twenty-Six Chapter Twenty-Seven Chapter Twenty-Eight Chapter Twenty-Nine Chapter Thirty Chapter Thirty-One Chapter Thirty-Two Chapter Thirty-Three Chapter Thirty-Four Chapter Thirty-Five Chapter Thirty-Six Chapter Thirty-Seven Chapter Thirty-Eight Chapter Thirty-Nine Chapter Forty Chapter Forty-One Chapter Forty-Two Chapter Forty-Three Chapter Forty-Four Chapter Forty-Five Chapter Forty-Six Chapter Forty-Seven Chapter Forty-Eight Chapter Forty-Nine Chapter Fifty Chapter Fifty-One Chapter Fifty-Two Acknowledgments About the Author
  • 7. Chapter One August 10, 1994 Bangs and muffled screams sounded from inside the trunk of the Buick. Standing in the weeds next to the vehicle, he stared at the closed lid. Still alive. Oh, well. A minor miscalculation. Didn’t matter. This would all be over soon. “Let me out. Help!” He scanned his surroundings. No one in sight. Inky black in the darkness, the murky water of Grey Lake stretched out for miles. The crescent moon cast a pale light on its rippling surface. Thick forest fringed its banks. There were no buildings nearby. But there was always a chance of someone camping in the forest. His gaze swept the bank of the lake, but he saw no flicker of campfires, no brightly colored tents. No sign of human activity. The public park, beaches, and boat ramp were two miles to the south. The wilder north end of the lake saw little activity. A mosquito landed on his arm, and he swatted it away. Three more took its place. The warm August day had cooled in the evening, but the summer stickines
  • 8. Chapter Two Twenty-three years later Some secrets were better left hidden. Lincoln Sharp stood on the shoulder of the road overlooking Grey Lake. He sucked in a hiss of air. The bitter cold pricked his lungs like a thousand icy pins. It was only the middle of November, but winter had hit New York State like a frozen sledgehammer. Fifty feet from the shoreline, a sheriff’s department dive team boat bobbed on the quiet water. Around the vessel, the lake’s smooth surface reflected the leaden sky like a mirror, hiding everything within its murky depths. The answer to a decades-old question lay just ahead of him, yet Sharp’s boots remained rooted in the snow-dusted weeds. What was wrong with him? He’d been waiting for a break in this case for more than twenty years. Now that it was here, he almost wished it would sink back beneath the water and stay there forever. The ripples of this discovery would spread in ever-widening circles, stirring up waters that had long ago stilled. Waking voices
  • 9. Chapter Three Morgan weaved through the crowded courthouse. At the other end of the hall, Private Investigator Lance Kruger stood with a woman in her early forties. Tall and jacked, Lance towered over her. The woman raised a crumpled tissue to her tear-streaked eyes. Lance’s blue eyes locked on Morgan’s as she approached. He gestured between Morgan and the woman. “Nina, this is Morgan Dane, the attorney I told you about.” “Thank you for coming.” Nina stifled a sob with her hand. “I didn’t know what to do.” “Nina’s son is Eric McCain, from my hockey team.” Lance coached a group of at-risk kids. “Eric and six other boys were arrested last night. I don’t have the specific charge, but it involved a video depicting classmates engaged in a sex act.” Most teens either didn’t know that messaging explicit images of each other technically violated child pornography laws, or they just didn’t think about it. Nina sniffed and blotted her nose. “They held him in jail overnight.” Morgan pressed a han
  • 10. Chapter Four Lance followed Morgan into the duplex in the tiny business district of Scarlet Falls. His boss lived in the upstairs apartment, while the two-bedroom bottom unit had been converted into office space for Sharp Investigations. Two months ago, Morgan had rented the spare room for her new law practice. They walked down the hall. “Is Sharp in?” Morgan asked. Lance ducked his head into his boss’s office. “No.” Morgan stopped in her office to hang up her coat, then joined Lance in the kitchen. She went to the sink, wet a dishcloth, and dabbed at a spot on her skirt. Lance pulled out his phone to check his messages. The battery was dead. He opened a kitchen drawer, took out a charger, and plugged in his phone. “Thank you again for helping Eric and his mom. They probably won’t be able to pay you much.” “I know, but it was only a few hours of my time, and I wouldn’t have let Eric sit in jail, no matter what.” “You can’t do all pro bono work.” “I know that too.” She scrubbed at the s
  • 11. Chapter Five Morgan watched Lance struggle, her heart breaking for him. On one hand, she wanted the closure for him and his mother. On the other, closure had a price. Old wounds would be reopened. The pain would be fresh. But hopefully, short-lived. Lance turned to Sharp. “I’m kicking myself for not opening the case file when you gave it to me back in September.” “It was the right decision at the time,” Sharp said. “You didn’t want to dredge up the past when there was little chance you could solve the crime, but now there’s physical evidence.” And the past was going to be stirred up no matter what Lance did. He crossed his arms over his chest and stared out over the lake. Morgan followed his gaze for a few seconds. With no visible moon, the water undulated in shades of black in the darkness. She shifted her gaze back to his face, now shuttered. A short while ago, they’d been embracing, happy and intimate. Now everything had changed. “Would you give Morgan a lift back to the office?” La
  • 12. Chapter Six Lance hesitated, his key an inch from the lock on his mother’s door. Once he went inside, there was no going back. No taking back the words he would need to say. No resetting his mother’s recovery train on its rails. But he didn’t have a choice. He unlocked and opened the door. “Lance? Is that you?” his mother called from the back of the house. He made his way through the tidy house back to her office. His mom had succumbed to anxiety, depression, and hoarding after her husband’s disappearance. At one point in Lance’s youth, clutter had filled the house, leaving them narrow pathways to move from room to room. She sat behind her L-shaped desk. A former computer science professor, she now taught online and performed freelance website design, security, and maintenance. Three monitors and a laptop stared back at her. A cat rubbed on Lance’s calves. The other feline ignored him from the windowsill. There was something different about his mom. Her eyes looked . . . She was wearin
  • 13. Chapter Seven JOHN H ROGERS CAPT US ARMY IRAQ NOV 14 1982 JUL 10 2015 BELOVED HUSBAND AND FATHER Morgan stared at the headstone. Half of her wanted to throw herself on John’s grave. The other half wanted to run away as fast as possible in case the sadness she’d recently shed caught up with her again. “Where’s Daddy?” Three-year-old Sophie frowned up at Morgan. “You said he’d be here.” Sophie’s misunderstanding added fifty pounds to Morgan’s mood. “I’m sorry, honey.” Morgan searched for the right words. Did she tell her daughter that John was in a box six feet under the grass? Thinking of his body decaying in a box, alone, all that time, she shuddered. Her grief turned claustrophobic. She looked to the open sky, the brilliant and glorious blue seemed like a betrayal, as if the world should not be so beautiful without John in it. There should always be some tiny, visible sign of misery to match the kernel permanently lodged in her heart. While she was determined to move on with her life,
  • 14. Chapter Eight Lance parked his Jeep in front of the medical examiner’s office in the county municipal complex. He had been to the ME’s suite in his days on the police force, but this time, his role was as a member of the victim’s family. It was a new part for Lance and about as comfortable as a suit made of poison ivy. Inside, the smell of burned coffee in the waiting area didn’t help his nausea. He gave his name to the receptionist. “Dr. Jenkins left a message on my phone asking me to stop by today.” The call had come while Lance had been in the shower. Stop by if you can. I have a few questions for you. Did that mean Frank needed more information to ID his dad’s remains? “Dr. Jenkins is in autopsy suite three,” she said. “He said you could go on in.” Lance swallowed. He’d hoped the ME would be in his office. He reminded himself that all he’d see would be bones. There would be no putrid smell. No rotting flesh. No bloated body. It couldn’t be that bad or Frank wouldn’t have invited hi
  • 15. Chapter Nine The wind whipped at Morgan’s face as she crossed the parking lot from the diner to her minivan, where Mac was leaning into the open door of his SUV. “Thanks, Mac.” She rolled the top of the brown bag down. Inside were her blood-soaked, now-crusty jeans. Mac had brought her a clean pair. “You’re welcome.” Mac had transferred the girls’ safety seats to his SUV and was securing them in the back seat. “It’s a little tight, but we’ll manage. What are you going to do with the van?” “I called a tow truck.” There was no way she was sitting in a pool of blood to drive it to a garage. Besides, she wanted a mechanic to give the van a thorough once-over in case some other damage had been done. “Whoever broke into your vehicle damaged the locks.” Mac tugged on a child safety seat. Morgan pressed a hand to her forehead. “I didn’t notice when I opened the van.” Seemingly satisfied with the car seat’s fit, Mac stepped away from the open SUV door. “That’s because your fob still chirps when
  • 16. Chapter Ten Lance turned to the whiteboard mounted on the wall. The board was empty, but what would they find when they dug in to the case? Whatever it was, it was high time he faced the truth. Morgan offered Sharp the file, but he clearly didn’t need it. He leaned back in his chair and started talking. “We know that Vic left his house at approximately nine p.m. to go to the grocery store. When he hadn’t returned at eleven o’clock, your mother called his closest friends, Stan Adams and Brian Leed, hoping one of them would help. Neither was at home. So she drove the route between the store and house in case Vic’s car had broken down. When she didn’t find him, she drove to PJ’s Sports Bar, where he sometimes hung out with Brian and Stan. She didn’t see Brian or Stan there. No one had seen Vic.” Restless, Sharp got up and paced in front of the whiteboard. “Jenny called the police a little before midnight. A uniform drove out to the house and took the initial report. Victor had no concerni
  • 17. Chapter Eleven Morgan filed her discovery motion, then took the elevator to the ground floor and navigated the maze of hallways that led to the wing of the courthouse that housed the county clerk’s office. Walking briskly, she turned down a corridor. A man stepped out in front of her, and she bumped into him. She stumbled and dropped her tote. Thankfully it was zipped, and its contents remained secure. “I’m sorry.” She drew back. Esposito. The last person she wanted to see. She stooped to recover her bag. Standing, she said, “Excuse me.” He blocked her path, hogging the hallway. “You’re always so focused. What are you doing here, Ms. Dane?” She swallowed a smart retort. Antagonizing Esposito would not help matters. But his arrogant attitude slid under her skin like a big, fat splinter. Morgan settled for, “I’m in a hurry. Is there something you need to discuss?” “You should check that attitude.” “I should check my attitude?” Esposito’s black eyes went beady. He glanced up and down the
  • 18. Chapter Twelve Lance sat across the kitchen table from his mother, relieved that he and Morgan had arrived before the sheriff. Dark circles hung beneath his mom’s eyes, and her skin was papery, as if she was dehydrated. He glanced up at Morgan. “Would you get her a glass of water?” “Of course.” Morgan filled a glass at the tap and brought it to the table. She sat next to his mother. “Have you eaten lunch today, Jenny?” His mother nodded. “Yes. I ate lunch at noon. Today is Tuesday. I had a tuna salad sandwich.” “Sheriff King is on his way here to ask you some questions about dad. Before he gets here, I have some news for you.” Lance reached across the table and covered her hand. “The skeleton in dad’s trunk wasn’t him. It belongs to a young woman.” Shock filled her face for a few seconds. “Why would a young woman be in your father’s trunk? And where is he?” “That’s what we’re all trying to find out,” Lance said. “Do you remember a woman by the name of—” The doorbell rang. Leaving Morga
  • 19. Chapter Thirteen “Should I call Stan and Brian?” Morgan asked, checking the time on the dashboard. “It’s only three o’clock. They might be at work.” “No.” Lance shook his head. “Let’s surprise them. If they’re not home, we’ll come back. We can start with Stan. His house is the closest.” As he drove, Morgan read from her copy of Sharp’s original interview notes and gave Lance the highlights. “Stanley Adams is fifty-eight years old. He’s a founder of the accounting firm of Adams & Booker and a Scarlet Falls native. Ten years ago, he married Abigail Snyder. She is thirty-six years old. They don’t have any children.” Lance turned into a new development and parked in front of a McMansion. “Looks like Stan has done well for himself.” A late-model black Mercedes occupied the driveway. They got out and walked up to the front door. Black iron railings flanked red paver steps. Ornamental plants and precisely trimmed shrubs screamed professional landscaper. Morgan reached for the doorbell, but th
  • 20. Chapter Fourteen “That’s Brian Leed. He’s a sales rep for a dental equipment manufacturer.” Lance recognized the man raking leaves in front of a Cape Cod–style house in a middle-class suburb. Morgan checked the photo in her file. “How old is he?” “Too old to be wearing skinny jeans,” Lance said. Brian had buttoned the tight pants below a small paunch. “Maybe his kids bought them for him.” Lance parked at the curb, and they got out of the vehicle. The man stopped raking and approached them. “Can I help you?” “Brian Leed?” Lance asked. “That’s me.” Brian leaned on his rake. His eyes narrowed. “Do I know you?” “I’m Lance Kruger.” Brian straightened. “Geez. You got big.” Lance shook his hand. “This is my associate Morgan Dane. We’d like to ask you a few questions about my father.” “Of course.” Brian turned, gesturing them to follow him. “Come inside.” The garage door was up. He hung his rake on the way past a long, low car covered in a tarp. One corner had been folded up, revealing the shi
  • 21. Chapter Fifteen Secrets. So many of them. Whispering in the woods. Sitting on the bottom of the lake. Threatening to rise from the past and grab him by the ankle. He would not go down. He’d worked too hard to cover his misdeeds. But frankly, there were too many to bury in one place. He’d thought he’d snipped off all his loose ends. But some threads had been pulled free. He must cut them off immediately or they would continue to unravel. But which ends needed to be severed? Who remembered what? He couldn’t risk it. They all had to die. Starting with . . . He drove past her house one more time. Not too slowly. He couldn’t attract attention, not that he’d seen another car for at least a mile. He lowered his window. The sound of a dog barking floated on the morning breeze. He fucking hated dogs. A quarter of a mile down the road, he slowed the car, then turned it around. He needed a plan. No impulsive decisions. No acting without considering the consequences of his actions. He would not le
  • 22. Chapter Sixteen If Sharp closed his eyes, he could picture everything as it had been in 1994. Jenny becoming more hysterical as the hours passed. Ten-year-old Lance trying to calm her. He’d been just a boy, but he’d become his mother’s caretaker that night. Sharp had helped as much as he could. His only other option had been to put Lance into foster care, and Sharp had seen too many kids destroyed by that system. In his opinion, unless a kid was in major danger, he was better off with his own family. They’d survived, but neither Jenny nor Lance had lived a full life. Until now. Until Morgan had entered the picture. It had taken Lance bringing a woman around for Jenny to see that her illness had a death grip on her son as well as herself. Morgan had made all the difference. And Sharp would be damned if he’d let Vic Kruger’s disappearance put Lance’s newfound joy in jeopardy. This time, he was going to find the truth. This time, he would not fail them. But what if the truth was more pain
  • 23. Chapter Seventeen Two hours later, Morgan was relieved that neither Sharp nor Lance were in jail, though she wasn’t ruling out that possibility for the near future. In her office, she made a cup of coffee. While the machine gurgled, she dug through her desk for a candy bar. Sharp walked into her office, a grayish-green shake in his hands. His hair was damp. He’d gone upstairs to his apartment over the office for a five-minute shower and change of clothes. “Are you sure I can’t make you one?” Sharp took a huge gulp. “When was the last time you ate?” “Lance and I had sandwiches on the way to Crystal Fox’s house.” Her coffee machine beeped. She swiveled her chair to retrieve her steaming mug of energy. “One liquid meal a day is my limit.” “That stuff will kill you.” Sharp shook his head. “You need to eat better, sleep more, and stop relying on caffeine to get you through the day.” But the hot coffee smelled and tasted like heaven. “Spoken like a person who doesn’t have three kids under th
  • 24. Chapter Eighteen Lance parked in front of Morgan’s house just as the school bus pulled away from the curb. Ava and Mia waved from the bus windows. Joining Morgan on the sidewalk, he waved back. The bus rumbled away, and he and Morgan turned toward the house. Her breath puffed in the frosty morning air, and she rubbed her arms. “You need a coat,” he said. “We’re always in a rush. The bus comes at the same time every day. You’d think we’d be ready.” “At least you’re wearing shoes today.” In her black heels, she was only a couple of inches shorter than him. She wore a red suit and her black hair was twisted in one of the no-nonsense updos she favored for legal business. “The girls have missed you the last few days,” Morgan said. “I meant to get here earlier.” Lance glanced back at the retreating bus. He’d waited until his mother was settled in her office, with a website design to occupy her, before he’d left. Morgan opened the front door. Sophie leaped at Lance. As he caught her, she wrap
  • 25. Chapter Nineteen Morgan edged in front of Lance, who looked ready to shoot the homeowner. The door opened two inches and hit the end of the chain lock on the other side. The eye that looked through the gap was blue and rheumy. Next to her, Lance removed his hand from the butt of his gun. His body didn’t exactly relax, but he was longer poised to rush the door. “Mr. Jackson?” She smiled. “Who are you?” the old man asked. Morgan introduced herself and Lance and offered her business card through the gap above the door handle. The old man took it. A few seconds later, he squinted at Lance. “You look like a policeman.” “No, sir. I’m a private investigator,” Lance said. “What do you want?” Mr. Jackson asked. “We just want to ask you a few questions,” Morgan explained. The old man grunted. The door closed. Metal scraped, and the door opened fully. “I’m Elijah Jackson.” He was at least seventy-five, likely closer to eighty, and leaned with both hands on a four-pronged cane. A body that had onc
  • 26. Chapter Twenty “Put down the gun!” Lance shouted. He lifted his head, scanning the yard over the bench. He couldn’t see who was inside the shed. The bench was solid and would provide good cover. Unless the shooter moved . . . Underneath him, Morgan wheezed. He slid off her body, and she took a deep breath. The shooting that had ended his police career and almost killed him rushed into his head. Sweat poured from his back and chest, and his heart jumped as if he’d been defibrillated. Gun in hand, he peered over the stone bench again, his free hand on Morgan’s shoulder, pinning her to the ground. “Keep your head down.” The sun glinted on the dark metal of the barrel poking out from the slightly open door of the shed. “Ms. Wright!” Lance shouted. “We just want to talk.” The shed door opened a few more inches. He caught a glimpse of gray hair. Morgan grabbed the carton of eggs that had fallen to the ground when Lance tackled her. Golden yolks dripped from the cardboard. She waved the eggs
  • 27. Chapter Twenty-One Thirty minutes later, Lance stood in his mother’s office, watching the computer monitor over her shoulder. On the screen, the sheriff stood behind a podium. The image changed to a mocked-up picture of what Vic Kruger might have looked like if he had aged to the present day. “Mr. Kruger has been missing since August 10, 1994. He is now a person of interest in the murder of Mary Fox.” The sheriff leaned closer to the microphone. “If anyone has information as to his whereabouts, please call the sheriff’s department.” A phone number scrolled across the bottom of the screen. The sheriff ended the press conference and stepped away from the podium. The video froze. “I’m sorry, Mom. I can’t believe he made that announcement without warning us.” But he could. Lance had let a few instances of decent manners soften his opinion of the sheriff. King did what suited King. “You have nothing to apologize for.” She patted his hand. Her nails were bitten below the quick, so far down t
  • 28. Chapter Twenty-Two Morgan sat in the passenger seat of the Jeep, talking to Sharp on the speakerphone. She kept one eye on Lance in the driver’s seat. He gripped the steering wheel like he was going to rip it out of the dashboard. Morgan leaned closer to the speaker. “We dropped Jenny’s e-mail and phone account information with the sheriff.” Which was one of the reasons Lance looked ready to snap off a head. “We have two possible suspects.” Morgan summed up the information Abigail Wright had given them on Crystal’s husband, Warren Fox, and Mary’s mysterious client, Mr. Joshua. “We plan on visiting Abigail at the Roadside Motel at seven. Until then, there’s Warren Fox to check out.” “You two go talk to Warren,” Sharp said. “I’m on my way to PJ’s now. Come to the office when you’re done with Warren, and we’ll compare notes.” Morgan ended the call and Lance drove to the Randolph County recycling center. An eight-foot-tall chain-link fence surrounded the property. Lance turned in at the ga
  • 29. Chapter Twenty-Three As they drove back to the office, Morgan added to her notes on the interview. She liked to get the details down while they were fresh in her mind. Sharp was in the building when they arrived. Before Morgan could get to her coffee maker, he handed her a cup of green tea. “This won’t give you a headache.” She sipped it on her way into her office. “All right, but no complaining if I’m slower than usual.” He followed her in, chuckling. “There is nothing slow about you.” Morgan hung up her coat and set her tote on her desk. Lance came in, a mug in his hand, and stared at the whiteboard. “So, where are we?” “We have suspects!” Sharp rubbed his hands together. “Finally.” “Beats the hell out of not having any,” Lance agreed. “Let’s have it.” Sharp curled his fingers in a bring-it-on gesture. Morgan consulted her notes. “Number one: Warren Fox.” “Who is he, and why do we think he might have killed Mary?” Sharp reached for a marker. “Warren is Mary’s stepfather. Abigail Wrig
  • 30. Chapter Twenty-Four The little house stood alone on a quiet section of country road. There were no other houses, no other vehicles in sight. No one close enough to hear a scream. He doubled-checked the address. 212 County Line Road, residence of the next person on his list. He parked his car down the street and watched the house. Except for one room at the front of the house, the rest of the windows were dark. What would two old people do on a weekday evening? They’d sit in the living room and watch TV. When nothing moved for ten minutes, he moved his car farther away and parked it behind a stand of trees. Then he stepped out of the vehicle and tugged on a ski mask and a pair of gloves. His black sweatpants and hoodie would blend into the dark. Slinging a black pillowcase over one shoulder, he walked through the side yard, past a vegetable garden tilled for the winter. Cloud cover kept the yard dark. He couldn’t risk being seen until the last moment. With two of them inside, this neede
  • 31. Chapter Twenty-Five Sharp parked in front of P. J. Hoolihan’s little house in Grey’s Hollow. After his stroke three years before, P. J. Hoolihan and his wife had moved to this compact rancher. According to his son, P. J. needed one floor, but the Hoolihans were country people. A senior community just would not do. They needed the calm and quiet of having their own land around them. He disconnected his phone from the car charger. The battery had barely charged. He stuffed it in his pocket. Maybe the connection had been loose. Sharp went up the walk and knocked on the front door. No one answered. Sharp turned and scanned the front yard. A small sedan sat in the driveway. The hairs on the back of Sharp’s neck quivered. Cupping his hand over his eyes, he peered through the narrow window next to the door. In between the sofa and TV, two bodies were sprawled. Dark spots arced away from the bodies on the carpet. No! Pulling out his phone, he called 911. Cognizant of the crime scene, Sharp pul
  • 32. Chapter Twenty-Six Lance pulled the ER curtain aside. Once he saw Sharp sitting up on the gurney, Lance breathed easier. A nurse was wrapping a bandage around Sharp’s bicep. “What’s the damage?” Lance set the clean shirt he’d brought on the gurney. “Fifteen stitches.” The nurse taped the gauze down and stepped away to strip off her blue gloves. “I’ll be back with your discharge paperwork.” Wincing, Sharp reached for his shirt. Lance reached over and pulled the shirt over his arm and shoulder. Then he helped him into his black fleece jacket. “Thanks.” Sharp picked at the hole in his jacket sleeve. “That could have been your head,” Lance said. “I know. I’m sorry.” “Now what happened?” Lance asked. Sharp told him about finding P. J. and his wife dead, chasing the killer, and getting shot. By the time he’d finished the story, the nurse had returned. “The stitches should come out in seven to ten days.” She handed Sharp a pile of papers. “There’s a prescription for pain medication in there.”
  • 33. Chapter Twenty-Seven Morgan paced the living room. Picturing the nasty photos and message, she didn’t know whether to be terrified or furious. Both worked, she decided. “Stella took the photographs to the fingerprint examiner,” Grandpa said. “She’ll call when she has some information.” “There won’t be fingerprints.” Morgan’s stalker was far too clever. Her blood iced over when she thought of him parked on her street, using a telephoto lens to take pictures of her hugging her kids. “We’re safe here.” Grandpa tapped the blanket on his lap. He’d stashed his own handgun under it. “We’re both armed. We have an excellent security system, and Rocket will let us know if anyone’s outside.” She took a deep breath. Grandpa was right. Her sister had also arranged for patrol units to drive past the house during the night. “On another note, I finished reviewing Sharp’s file on Vic Kruger’s disappearance,” Grandpa said. “He crossed every t and dotted every i.” Grandpa frowned. “I can’t think of any o
  • 34. Chapter Twenty-Eight Lance’s breath trembled in his chest. She broke him. Every word, every kiss, every caress, battered him down, until the barrier he’d spent decades building around his heart shattered into a thousand pieces like a block of ice dropped from a ten-story building. She pressed her lips to his jaw, sliding them along his cheek, finding his mouth again. And once his defenses were gone, there was no containing the flood of emotions that had been safely walled behind them. Staring into her determined eyes, he was struck dumb by her sheer perfection. Her intelligence and strength and generosity. The way she loved with full force and didn’t accept his bullshit excuses. And the fact that she’d chosen him blew him away. He tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear. “What did I do to deserve you?” A small smile curved one side of her mouth. “You were you.” He kissed her. She leaned back in his arms, her softness yielding to the hardness of his body. But he didn’t mistake her soft
  • 35. Chapter Twenty-Nine Sharp stepped into Jenny’s house. A dark-blue sedan pulled up to the curb. Stella and her partner, Detective Brody McNamara, climbed out and hurried up the walk. Sharp held the door open for them. Brody crossed the threshold. “Heard you were shot tonight. You all right?” “It was minor,” Sharp lied. His arm was killing him, the stitches on fire and pulling with every movement. But urgency kept him going. “Thanks for coming.” He went through to the bedroom. Stella and Brody followed him. “What can we do?” Stella asked. Medical paraphernalia littered the carpet. His mind’s eye replayed the horror of the evening. The paramedics working on Jenny. Lance standing just behind them, his hands linked and pressed to the top of his head, his eyes lost. His heart broken. Sharp pushed away the pity. “Something is wrong here,” he said. Stella and her partner exchanged a look. Sharp raised his hands. “I know I’m too close to the case to be objective, which is why I asked you to com
  • 36. Chapter Thirty She wasn’t dead. How could he have miscalculated? He’d estimated her body weight. He’d counted the pills and crushed them into powder, then mixed some into her coffee and some into her pie. He’d even added a shot of heroin to her pie for good measure. He’d been worried she’d taste the drugs, but she’d eaten every bit. He’d rinsed the damned plate and put it in the dishwasher himself. She should not have survived. How was she still alive? Tugging his baseball cap lower on his forehead, he slipped into the secure ICU wing with another visitor, falling into step beside him. He lowered his chin, hunched his shoulders, and averted his face from the ceiling-mounted cameras. The ICU hallway bustled with bodies. Gathered around a doorway marked with the number three, nurses and doctors suited up as if they were going to Mars. Full body gowns, face shields, double gloves. An alarm clanged, the light above the door flashed. Doctors shouted orders. More than a dozen medical personn
  • 37. Chapter Thirty-One Morgan borrowed a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt and wandered into the kitchen. Lance stood at the counter, cracking eggs into a bowl. He picked up a whisk and began to beat the eggs. She walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I can’t believe you let Sharp throw away your coffee machine.” “He says coffee strains your adrenal glands. Green tea is healthier.” “I’m sure he’s right, but green tea does not give my brain the swift kick in the pants that it needs.” Lance had embraced Sharp’s crunchy, organic lifestyle. Morgan had not. He nodded toward the cabinet. “I bought you a surprise.” She opened the cabinet. A single-serve Keurig machine sat on the shelf. Craving caffeine, she imagined a beam of sunlight and a chorus of angels. “In case I didn’t say it enough last night, I love you.” She lifted the machine from the shelf. He leaned over and kissed her. “I love you too. You have no idea how much.” “You showed me with coffee.” She put the machine
  • 38. Chapter Thirty-Two Trying to keep his temper in check, Lance parked in front of Brian Leed’s house. The garage door was up. In the driveway, Brian was rubbing a chamois over the shining fender of a sleek black Porsche 911. Lance and Morgan walked up the sidewalk to stand next to the car. “Hey, Brian.” Lance scanned the car. “What year is that?” “She’s a 2007.” Brian inspected his work. “Low miles?” Lance asked. “Eighty thousand.” Brian shook his head. “Cars like this are made to be driven. It’s a sin to let them sit in a garage.” Brian knows all about sin . . . Anger simmered low in Lance’s chest. He lifted his gaze to the sky for a few seconds to get himself back under control. “What brings you back here?” Brian buffed a spot on the side mirror. “A few follow-up questions,” Lance said. “You’ve always had a black sports car, haven’t you?” “I’ve had a few, sure.” Brian wiped a bead of water from the hood. “What did you drive back in the day?” Lance asked. “All I can remember is that it
  • 39. Chapter Thirty-Three Morgan stepped into her office. Her grandfather was studying the whiteboard from his wheelchair. He held one of Sharp’s green protein shakes in his hand. Next to him, Sharp pointed at the board with a dry erase marker. “What have you two been up to?” She touched her grandfather’s shoulder on the way to her desk. “Sharp made me this drink.” Her grandfather examined his glass. “It looks disgusting, but the taste isn’t bad.” “We’ve found a couple of new leads, thanks to your grandfather,” Sharp said. “Art hasn’t forgotten anything about investigating.” Lance came in. Four adults crowded the small room. Sharp set down his marker. “Tell us what happened with Brian Leed.” By the time Lance finished the story, Sharp and Grandpa were shaking their heads. Sharp snorted. “Nice to see Karma getting payback. I can’t believe he lied all these years.” “I’d keep Brian at the top of the suspect list for Mary’s murder.” Grandpa drained his glass. “We suspect the current murderer is
  • 40. Chapter Thirty-Four Lance carried the bag of groceries he and Morgan had picked up for Elijah Jackson to the old man’s doorstep. The afternoon had turned gray and cold. Shivering next to him, Morgan knocked. The old man opened the door and motioned them in. “Come in.” Mr. Jackson’s eyes misted as Lance brought the groceries inside. “I don’t know how to thank you.” “You don’t have to.” Lance followed him down the hall into the kitchen and set the bag on the counter. A small fire smoldered in the next room. Morgan unbuttoned her coat, started to take it off, then slipped it back onto her shoulders. Lance took off his leather jacket and hung it on the back of a chair. The inside of the house wasn’t much warmer than outside. Did the old man have heat except for the fireplace? Lance walked to the window. A small pile of wood was stacked beside the rear porch. A very small pile. Mr. Jackson smiled as he lifted a sack of coffee from the bag, then unloaded the rest of the food. “Pie! I haven’t
  • 41. Chapter Thirty-Five In the conference room at the sheriff’s station, Morgan kept a hand on Lance’s arm. On her other side, Sharp held his injured arm close and shifted in his chair as if he couldn’t get comfortable. “I’m trying to solve a murder. Why are you competing with me?” The sheriff paced the narrow space between the table and the wall. “Especially you.” He pointed at Lance. “Don’t you want to know what happened to your father?” “Of course we do,” Morgan answered, afraid of what Lance might say. “I went to see Abigail Wright at the Roadside Motel. I asked her for the motel registry for August 10, 1994. Guess what she told me? That you already took it!” The sheriff turned and flattened both hands on the conference table. “This is an active murder case. I should arrest all three of you for impeding an investigation.” Morgan met his gaze without blinking. “But we might all be more successful if we worked together rather than running parallel investigations.” “You took evidence from
  • 42. Chapter Thirty-Six If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. But also, try harder. And try smarter. He pulled the green cap lower on his forehead. His gloved fingers gripped the rolling trashcan as he pushed it from room to room. He kept his chin down and made sure the security badge hanging from his belt loop faced backward. He looked nothing like the Hispanic janitor whose ID he’d stolen. With his attention on his task, his face was turned away from the surveillance cameras overhead. The hallways were quiet. No one even glanced at him. Cleaning staff was practically invisible. The nurse covering Jenny Kruger’s room and the one next to it was behind the counter talking on the landline. He walked past Jenny Kruger’s room. The blonde was still there. Didn’t she need to sleep at some point? He wasn’t getting into Jenny’s room. He needed another plan. He spied a supply cart parked just outside her door. A label on the front of the cart was marked with Jenny’s room number. And on t
  • 43. Chapter Thirty-Seven Morgan warmed her hands in front of the dashboard heat vents. The temperature was dropping as the light waned. Lance followed directions to a small brick apartment building not far from the Grey’s Hollow train station. The building was divided into eight apartments. Four up and four down. Warren lived in a downstairs end unit. Morgan and Lance got out of the Jeep, crossed the sidewalk, and walked up the concrete path. Lance knocked on his front door. No one answered. Morgan wasn’t surprised. Turning, she scanned the parking area in front of the building. “I don’t see his truck.” Even if Warren were home, would he answer the door to them? Stepping into the grass, Morgan cupped her hand over her eyes and tried to peer through the front window. “See anything?” Lance asked. “No, the curtains are drawn.” She stepped back onto the path. Lance walked around the unit, but blinds covered the windows. At the front window, he angled off and tried to look through the half-inch
  • 44. Chapter Thirty-Eight Lance could feel the sorrow, as palpable as a drop in room temperature. They hadn’t called him. It can’t be Mom. He paused just before he reached his mother’s doorway, dread weighing his steps like his boots were filled with concrete. He and his mother had fought her mental illness for decades. Her demons had taken up permanent residence. But every time they’d advanced, she’d rallied and driven them back. Her whole life had been one battle after another. She won some and lost others. But overall, she’d been winning the war. Inch by inch, she’d chipped away at their advantage. She’d finally made real gains, only to fall victim to someone’s sick game. As he pushed forward for the last two strides, Morgan’s grip on his hand tightened. But everything in the room looked the same. His mother slept. The ventilator hissed. The heart monitor beeped in a steady rhythm. It’s not her. When he exhaled, he was light-headed for a few seconds. In the chair near the bed, Hannah Bar
  • 45. Chapter Thirty-Nine Morgan watched the scene unfold as Sharp’s cell switched over to voice mail. She left a quick message, her attention on Lance, pacing the hallway near his mother’s doorway. Confirmation of the poisoning triggered a quick response both from the investigators and Lance. The cops switched into high gear. Tension radiated from Lance like heat from a furnace. His body remained in perpetual motion, as if his emotions were too turbulent for him to keep still. As if he were barely keeping himself in check. He was a man of action. His natural inclination was to funnel fear and sadness into a battle plan. Brody and Stella questioned hospital staff, retrieved the surveillance videos, and called for a forensic team. Morgan’s phone buzzed. She pulled it from her purse. Her grandfather’s cell number displayed on the screen. A quick burst of nerves scattered her pulse. Grandpa didn’t call her without a good reason. Were the girls OK? She stopped at the end of the corridor and answ
  • 46. Chapter Forty Lance sent messages to Brody and Sharp. “Are you all right?” Morgan reached across the console and offered her hand. He took it. In a world of uncertainty, filled with lies and betrayal, what she offered him was pure. He’d been a crazy man to even think about turning away her love. She loves me. When this was all over, he was going to process that. For now, he had to keep swimming forward so he didn’t sink. “No. Yes. I don’t know,” he said honestly. “You look angry.” “I am angry.” His jaw was so tight, he could crack walnuts in his molars. “My father went missing, and everyone was so concerned for themselves, they lied to the police and possibly hindered the investigation.” “I know,” Morgan said. “But you won’t get any information out of Stan if you’re too confrontational.” “How about I hold him out a window by his ankles? That might convince him to cooperate.” Morgan squeezed his fingers. “Let’s make that Plan B. Plan A is to get him to talk without violence.” But if Sta
  • 47. Chapter Forty-One Morgan settled in the driver’s seat, the steering wheel freezing under her hands. “If Stan has an alibi for today, he couldn’t have been at the hospital.” “Maybe. Maybe not.” Lance’s breath fogged in front of his face like a personal storm cloud. “He’s lying about the night my dad disappeared. I’ve no reason to believe anything else he says.” “But he has witnesses for today,” Morgan pointed out. “He has employees who will say what he wants them to say. The hospital is a fifteen-minute drive from here. He could have slipped out and done the deed. With driving time, it would have taken less than an hour. The receptionist must take a lunch break.” “I still feel like we’re missing something.” Morgan drummed her fingers on the wheel. “Our only suspects are Brian and Stan, yet both had alibis for at least some of the recent murders.” “What if they were working together?” Lance asked. “Their original false alibi was joint.” “It’s possible. But what was their motivation? If B
  • 48. Chapter Forty-Two Through the window of the sheriff’s vehicle, Lance watched the dark landscape roll by. Flurries whizzed past. They stopped at an intersection, and the sheriff turned left when he should have made a right. Where was he taking them? “Hey,” Lance called through the wire mesh that divided the front and rear seats. “The sheriff’s station is the other direction.” “We’re not going to the station,” the sheriff said. “You need to be taught a lesson.” Lance glanced at Morgan. The sheriff was angry enough to inflict some payback on Lance, but surely King wouldn’t hurt her. Would he? “Whatever you have in mind for me, drop Morgan somewhere,” Lance said to King’s reflection in the rearview mirror. King ignored him. Morgan nudged Lance with her elbow, her eyes wide and worried. But what could Lance do? They were handcuffed in the back of a police car, a place designed specifically to keep people contained. The landscape became more and more rural. The sheriff turned onto a long cou
  • 49. Chapter Forty-Three A gunshot rang through the thin air. Startled, Morgan stumbled. With her hands behind her back, she had no hands to catch her fall. She went down on one knee. Pain shot through her kneecap, but it was fleeting and adrenaline blotted it out. Lance! Had King shot him? Branches crashed. Lance? Or King . . . Continue to run or circle back? Morgan’s lungs burned. Her thighs burned. Everything burned. The most running she’d done in the last six years was teaching Ava how to ride a bike. Trying to find any sort of stride on the uneven forest floor with her hands bound behind her back felt impossible. She didn’t want to leave Lance behind if he was wounded. But if he wasn’t wounded, he would catch up easily. She would be the one to slow him down. She put her feet together and squatted until her chest pressed against her thighs. She slid her bound hands under her butt until they were behind her knees. Then she rocked onto her back and wiggled her feet through one at a time.
  • 50. Chapter Forty-Four He should have known Kruger wouldn’t go down without a fight. Face aching, he climbed to his feet and holstered his pistol. Kruger was too far away to hit with a handgun. He watched the handcuffed man disappear into the trees. Kruger moved with impressive speed and agility. But he wasn’t worried. He walked to the rear of his vehicle and opened the trunk. Opening his first aid kit, he mopped the blood from his face. He punched an instant ice pack and held it over his throbbing nose. Kruger had likely broken it. A few minutes with an ice pack now might stave off some swelling. Clogged nasal passages would slow him down. Besides, he was in no rush. They were miles away from help, and even Kruger couldn’t run at top speed through the woods in the dark. The PI would have to slow down or risk breaking an ankle. But even if Kruger could make good time, he didn’t have to catch Kruger. He only had to catch Ms. Dane. The counselor was smart, loyal, and determined, but she was
  • 51. Chapter Forty-Five Sharp left the store with a new phone in his hand, his account data freshly downloaded from his cloud account to the device. A series of messages from Lance popped onto the screen. Sharp read them, stunned by the news that someone had tried to kill Jenny in the ICU, and that Stan was now the top suspect. He dialed Lance’s number, but the call went directly to voice mail. He left a message. “Call me after you and Morgan question Stan. One of the boys set up a meeting for me with someone who was at the sheriff’s station on August 10, 1994. I’ll let you know if I learn anything interesting.” Sharp pressed “End,” slid his phone into his pocket, and drove to the meeting location, Bridge Park. He stopped his Prius in front of the Revolutionary War monument and parked next to an old Chevy Chevette at the base of the old stone bridge that spanned the Scarlet River. A figure hunched on one of the three wooden benches facing the water. Sharp zipped his jacket, making sure his
  • 52. Chapter Forty-Six A half inch of snow dusted the ground. Spotting a game trail, Lance pulled Morgan onto it. The cleared ground would be easier for her to navigate with fewer large obstacles to trip her up. On the downside, they would also be easier to track if they followed the path. But at this point, he didn’t know how far the sheriff was behind them. King wasn’t a runner, but he was an experienced hunter and outdoorsman. They were going to be easy to follow no matter where they ran. Lance hoped the trail led to the lake. If they kept the water to their right, that would eliminate one side of possible attack. The sheriff would have to come up behind them or on their left flank. Lance had no doubt King would catch up with them eventually. Morgan was freezing and exhausted and running on pure willpower. But he couldn’t let her stop. Once she was still, hypothermia would take over, though he could carry her at that point. They had no coats, no food, no water, and no method of communica
  • 53. Chapter Forty-Seven Morgan knelt on the edge of the embankment. A rush of panic lent her body renewed strength. Holding on to a tree, she leaned over the edge. “Lance?” She shifted her weight, trying to get a better view through the foliage. Beneath her knees, the ground crumbled. Another fat section broke away and tumbled down the slope. Morgan scrambled for solid footing. Where is he? Feet first, she stepped down and planted her boot on a tree root. Her finger slipped from their grip on the tree. When she found a new handhold on a rock, she left a smear of blood behind. She used snow to wipe the blood away, then pulled the sleeve of her sweater over the cut. She didn’t want to leave that obvious a trail, but she was too cold, too numb to feel the cut on her palm. She moved carefully, making sure each new hand- and foothold was secure before releasing the previous grip. She wouldn’t be able to help Lance if she fell too, and having her hands cuffed together made the descent awkward. I
  • 54. Chapter Forty-Eight Crouching, King scanned the ground. Their footprints were ridiculously easy to follow in the snow. This wasn’t even going to be a challenge. They couldn’t be too far ahead, or the snow would have obliterated their tracks. They were following a game trail toward Grey Lake. Once they reached it, Kruger would take them around to the populated side of the lake. It was a solid plan. But Ms. Dane was not in top condition. She was smart and tough, but physically, she was soft. It was no insult. She was a hell of a woman, though maybe a bit too intelligent. In his opinion, women shouldn’t try to compete with men. But even with that one flaw, Ms. Dane was the first woman he’d ever admired. Not that he desired her. He had no interest in a relationship with anyone. He liked being alone. But for the first time, he might have a real regret after he killed someone. Not that it would stop him. If he had to choose between Ms. Dane and himself, the choice was damned simple. Besides,
  • 55. Chapter Forty-Nine Heart-hammering, Lance stared at the sheriff’s back. Wavering, he hesitated for a fraction of a second. If he jumped the sheriff, King could shoot Morgan. But if he didn’t, King would definitely shoot them both. He could not, under any circumstances, allow either of them to be taken prisoner by King. That would be the end. Surprise—and the sheriff’s own confidence—would be Lance’s best weapons. He took as deep a breath as his ribs would allow. Pushing off his good leg, he launched himself at the sheriff’s back. He looped his cuffed hands over the sheriff’s head. Pulling hard, he yanked the chain joining the cuffs into the sheriff’s windpipe. The sheriff dropped the rifle. His hands went to his throat. He grabbed Lance’s arms and tried to relieve the pressure. But Lance had the upper hand, and he wasn’t letting go. If this didn’t work, he and Morgan were both dead. There would be no more running. No more game of cat and mouse. The mice didn’t have any more chase left
  • 56. Chapter Fifty An hour later, Sharp hiked through the forest behind four state troopers. He could see why Mac Barrett was an asset to his search and rescue team. He loped along the trail in an effortless gait, tracking the sheriff like a frigging golden retriever. The trail led into a clearing. A cabin sat in the center of the open space. Fresh tracks in the snow led to the front door. King was inside. They all knew it. Tension connected the team members like an invisible current. The troopers fanned out, motioning for Sharp and Mac to fall behind them. Grudgingly, they did. But not far. One trooper scouted ahead. Crouching beneath a window, he took a selfie stick and his cell phone from his pocket. Raising the phone just above the windowsill, he used his camera to spy inside. He lowered the phone and crept back to the group. “He’s standing in the middle of the room. He’s armed and injured.” “Think we have any chance of talking him into laying down his weapon and coming outside?” the le
  • 57. Chapter Fifty-One Late the next morning, Morgan sat in Lance’s kitchen and drained her second cup of coffee. Lance was still asleep. He’d refused to stay at the hospital the night before. They’d returned to his house in the gray hours just before dawn, crawled into his bed, and slept like corpses. The doorbell rang. Not wanting the noise to wake Lance, she hurried to the door and opened it. Mac and Stella stood on the front step, with all three of Morgan’s girls in tow. “Where’s Wance?” Sophie tried to zoom past Morgan’s legs. Morgan made a grab for her daughter. “He’s sleeping.” Sophie folded her arms and sulked. “I want to see him.” “I know,” Morgan said. “I’ll go in and see if he’s awake yet. Sharp is in the kitchen.” “We’ll take the kids into the kitchen.” Stella held up a box of donuts. “Who wants a donut?” “Save me one,” Morgan said over her shoulder. “Do you really deserve a donut?” Stella asked. “If it were Christmas, I’d fill your stocking with coal for the stunt you pulled la
  • 58. Chapter Fifty-Two The next day, Lance stood on the grass behind Sheriff King’s small hunting cabin. Next to him, Morgan held his hand. The day was bright and clear. The sun shone on the water and warmed the top of his head. Having done her job and alerted within thirty minutes of being brought to the site, the cadaver dog sat on the sidelines while a state police forensic team dug careful shovelfuls of earth out from under the turf. The hole was three feet deep, and they were still digging. Morgan had detoured to see the inside of the cabin. She hadn’t seen the sheriff’s body, but the bloodstain on the wall had been enough to convince her that the sheriff was dead. That it was all over. Well, almost. They still didn’t know where Vic was or why he’d been killed. Morgan shivered and zipped her parka to her chin. Stella and Brody walked across the grass to join them. Brody stared out over the lake. “How typical of King to off himself and leave us totally in the dark. No note, no explanati
  • 59. Acknowledgments As always, credit goes to my agent, Jill Marsal, and to the entire team at Montlake Romance, especially my managing editor, Anh Schluep, my developmental editor, Charlotte Herscher, and author herder/tech goddess Jessica Poore. Special thanks to writer friends Leanne Sparks, Rayna Vause, Kendra Elliot, Toni Anderson, Selena Laurence, Amy Gamet, and Jill Sanders for much-needed motivation in finishing this book.
  • 60. About the Author Photo © 2016 Jared Gruenwald Photography Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A lifelong lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity when her youngest child entered first grade. During the next few years, she joined Romance Writers of America, learned a few things about writing a novel, and decided the process was way more fun than analyzing financial statements. Melinda’s debut novel, She Can Run, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. She’s also garnered Golden Leaf and Silver Falchion Awards, along with nominations for a RITA and three Daphne du Maurier Awards. Her other novels include She Can Tell, She Can Scream, She Can Hide, She Can Kill, Midnight Exposure, Midnight Sacrifice, Midnight Betrayal, Midnight Obsession, Hour of Need, Minutes to Kill, Seconds to Live, Say You’re Sorry, and Her Last Goodbye. She holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate; teach

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