zithromax online
 

This incredible story is currently free to download on Amazon through 6/30/16. Yay! Go get your copy.

You will not be disappointed.

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5 Big Emotional Bells & Whistles

Wrecked, the first book in Sarah Grimm’s Blind Man’s Alibi series, is aptly named.

This story will definitely wreck you.

Review: Rock N Roll and cancer. An odd combination one wouldn’t expect to find in a romance, but the author takes the mix and delivers a rich, gritty, steamy, and heart-wrenching love story. Aptly named, Wrecked is a powerfully emotional romantic journey that will linger in your mind long after the last page is turned.

Haunted Souls by Kathryn Knight

Paranormal Romantic Suspense (Military Romance + Ghost Mystery)

The Wild Rose Press

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Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily’s own plans, her attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her secret.

Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire, another presence enters their lives—Tyler’s imaginary friend.

Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a dangerous connection with their son. Emily’s attempts to help both a lost soul and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.

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Author Photo 3Kathryn Knight spends a great deal of time in her fictional world, where mundane chores don’t exist and daily life involves steamy romance, dangerous secrets, and spooky suspense.  Kathryn writes contemporary romance spiked with mysterious hauntings as well as YA paranormal romance filled with forbidden love.  Her novels are award-winning #1 Amazon Bestsellers and RomCon Reader Rated picks.  When she’s not reading or writing, Kathryn spends her time catching up on those mundane chores, driving kids around, and teaching writing classes. Two of her ghost story/romance titles, Gull Harbor and Haunted Souls, are set on beautiful Cape Cod, where she lives with her husband, their two sons, and a number of rescued pets.

Please visit her at Kathryn Knight books on Facebook,

@k_knightbooks on Twitter,

or at www.kathrynknightbooks.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

Only For A Night
by Naima Simone
Series: The Lick Series, Book 1
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: May 30, 2016

 

 

One night would never be enough…

Rion Ward fought hard to be free of the Irish mob life. Now, as the co-owner of Boston’s hottest aphrodisiac club, he’s traded crime for the ultimate sexual fantasy. But when the “good girl” from his past walks through Lick’s doors, he discovers that his unconsummated hunger for her never abated.

Widowed for two years from a man who felt that anything besides the missionary position was dirty, Harper Shaw is ready to move on. The first step to feeling alive again is sex. Hot, dirty, black-out-from-orgasm sex. And who better to provide it than the brooding, sexy, tatted bad boy-turned-man she’s known for years?

Rion, however, has one stipulation: He’ll be hers only for one night. One night to explore her every fantasy. One night to push her limits.  One night to introduce her to a passion that makes both doubt if it will be enough…

 

 

 

“What are you doing here?” The deep, midnight voice sliced through the memories, and Harper willingly locked the vault on them. Rion’s velvet tone slid over her exposed skin like a velvet caress, resonating in her chest, curling in her belly—and lower. “I asked you a question,” he said, the demand silky but no less menacing.
 “I-I came here to speak with y-you,” she stammered. God, she sounded like an idiot. “I hoped we could talk.”
A black eyebrow arched high. “Talk,” he enunciated, a corner of his sensual mouth curling into a faintly sardonic sneer. “What could you and I possibly have to talk about?”
“I—” She peered over his shoulder, for the first time noticing the blond giant standing behind Rion. Sasha. Sasha Merchant. A close friend of Rion’s. “Would you mind if we… Can we speak in private?”
“No.”
She reeled back on her death-defying heels, teetering before grabbing the table tighter. “No?” she repeated. Seconds of silence passed between them. Irritation warred with mortification, and she tilted her chin in spite of the heat rushing up her throat and into her face. “That’s it? Just no?”
“Yes.”
She sighed, exasperated. “Rion…”
“Go home,” he interrupted, the order unyielding, hard. Dismissive.
“Rion, please,” she murmured, cringing at the plea that crept into her voice.
“Sasha, would you mind escorting her safely to her car?” He turned, again disregarding her without hearing her out.
Anger shoved the hurt aside, surging hot and hard inside her. She’d been dismissed, shelved, or patronized too often in her life. She’d also been mute, opting to remain silent, not rock the boat. Not voice her needs, her wants…her desires. Well, that time had passed.
She was tired of living—no, existing—in a cocoon that was supposed to be safe but was really suffocating.
And he didn’t get to push her back into that cocoon.
Aiming a dark scowl at Rion, Sasha stepped forward, his hand extended toward her. “Sorry, sweetheart—”
“Wait a minute,” she snarled, skirting past Sasha and latching onto Rion’s arm, ignoring the sexy flex of muscle beneath her fingers and palm. Rion froze, probably in surprise rather than from her hold. “We were friends for a long time. Too long for you to just toss me aside like a stranger. Okay it’s been five years since we’ve seen one another. You can at least give me five seconds.”
Slowly, Rion pivoted, dislodging her hand. Staring up into his lean face with its stark lines and stormy eyes, she shivered. Fear had picked a fine time to remind her the absolute stupidity of stirring a predator.
“Five seconds.” He slid his hands in his pants pockets.
“Thank you.” She sighed, relieved. “If we could just—”
“Three,” he stated, his tone past bored and veering into catatonic.
“I need you,” she blurted. Damn. Oh God. Just…damn.
His eyes narrowed. “What do you need me for?”
“I can’t—” Panic crawling up her throat, she shot a glance at Sasha who didn’t even pretend not to be absorbed with the scene playing out before him. “Rion,” she whispered.
“Two seconds.”
“Damn it. Sex. I need you for sex.”
For the first time, Rion lost his stoicism, shock widening his eyes and parting his lips. Beside him, Sasha sounded as if he were being strangled, and her? She squeezed her eyes shut, flames bursting inside her, consuming her in a conflagration of humiliation. Jesus Christ. Was death by mortification possible?
“Oh f**k,” she groaned.
“Yeah,” Rion drawled. “I got that.”
Yes. Definitely possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey and Linda Howard many years ago. Though her first attempt at writing a romance novel at age 11 never saw the light of day, her love of romance and writing has endured. Now, she spends her time creating stories of unique men and women who experience the dizzying heights of passion and the tender heat of love.

She is wife to Superman—or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent—and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.

 

 

Join Naima’s Street Team on Facebook:

 

 

 

 

 

Yep, you read that right. To Win Her Love is on #sale for 99 pennies. Yay!

So, what are you waiting for? Go grab your copy now!

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I jumped in with both feet, went on one heck of a journey with Gracie and Jake, before coming out on the other side with the biggest cheesy smile on my face. Hands down, I loved this book! ~ Wild Heart Reviews

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Desiring_Red-500Desiring Red (a dark and dirty tale #1) by Kristin Miller

Release Date: May 30, 2016

About the book:

I’m indecisive when it comes to my shoes. Choosing a werewolf mate who’ll be with me until I croak? Pardon me while I take some time to think on it. But a steamy encounter before the final ceremony changes everything.

Reaper, the Omega’s eldest grandson, is fiercely loyal, scorching hot, and built for pleasure. He brings down my defenses, and before I know what’s happening, I succumb to the heat in his touch and the skill of his mouth. I’ve only just met him, but I need him like no other.

 

As part of my pack duties, I must parade in front of the Alpha, who has first choice of the pre-shifters. Rumors of his dark desires run deep, and I’ve always been intrigued. But the forbidden passion blazing between Reaper and me is too primal to deny. By pack law, Reaper can’t have me until the Alpha makes his choice…but Reaper’s never been one to follow the rules.

Find it online:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30124904-desiring-red

Entangled Website: entangledpublishing.com/desiring-red/

 

 

 

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Kristin Miller writes sweet and sassy contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance of all varieties. Kristin has degrees in psychology, English, and education, and taught high school and middle school English before crossing over to a career in writing. She lives in Northern California with her alpha male husband and their two children. She loves chocolate way more than she should and the gym less. You can usually find her in the corner of a coffee shop, laptop in front of her and mocha in hand, using the guests around her as fuel for her next book.

 

 

Find Kristin online:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorKristinMiller

 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/kristinmiller02

 

Web: www.kristinmiller.net

 

**********

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Learning Curves by Cathryn Fox

Release Date: May 30, 2016

About the book:

When he wins a sexy bet, billionaire Linc Blair can’t wait to get Lauren Neill naked. He’s never gone for her type in the past, and he’s pretty certain it has more to do with her buttoned-up hotness than the nagging sense that something is missing from his life. But when he gets a glimpse of the vulnerable woman beneath the conservative, yet oh-so-sexy clothes, it’s a game changer.

Lauren can’t believe she’s spending a few days with one of sexiest, and most annoying men she’s ever met. But she can’t deny the chemistry between them, and for once in her life she’s letting down her guard so she can explore a different side of herself. The side only Linc brings out in her.

Taking it slow, he unleashes her sexuality and it quickly occurs to him that what started out as a bet for him has become something more. With their weekend nearly over, and her ex showing interest in this new confident version of Lauren, Linc will have to risk it all if he wants to win the game of love.

 

 

Find it online:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30124915-learning-curves

Entangled Website: entangledpublishing.com/learning-curves/

 

About the Author:

New York Times and USA today Best selling author, Cathryn is a wife, mom, sister, daughter, and friend. She loves dogs, sunny weather, anything chocolate (she never says no to a brownie) pizza and red wine. She has two teenagers who keep her busy with their never ending activities, and a husband who is convinced he can turn her into a mixed martial arts fan. Cathryn can never find balance in her life, is always trying to find time to go to the gym, can never keep up with emails, Facebook or Twitter and tries to write page-turning books that her readers will love.

 

Find Cathryn online:

 

Website: http://www.cathrynfox.com

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Writercatfox

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCathrynFox?ref=hl

 

 ***********

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Only For A Night (Lick #1) by Naima Simone

Release Date: May 30, 2016

About the book:

Rion Ward fought hard to be free of the Irish mob life. Now, as the co-owner of Boston’s hottest aphrodisiac club, he’s traded crime for the ultimate sexual fantasy. But when the “good girl” from his past walks through Lick’s doors, he discovers that his unconsummated hunger for her never abated.

Widowed for two years from a man who felt that anything besides the missionary position was dirty, Harper Shaw is ready to move on. The first step to feeling alive again is sex. Hot, dirty, black-out-from-orgasm sex. And who better to provide it than the brooding, sexy, tatted bad boy-turned-man she’s known for years?

 

Rion, however, has one stipulation: He’ll be hers only for one night. One night to explore her every fantasy. One night to push her limits.  One night to introduce her to a passion that makes both doubt if it will be enough…

 

 

Find the book online:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30124920-only-for-a-night

Entangled Website: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/only-for-a-night/

 

About the Author:

I was born the daughter of a sharecropper…okay, maybe not. But, I am the daughter of a pastor from whom I inherited my love of romance. The man can preach a mean Song of Solomon! (There’s that plug, Daddy! You can pay me later!)

 

Although my first book starred a cucumber named Fred, my first romance came several years later in the seventh grade when I wrote myself as a heroine opposite Ralph Tresvant from New Edition. Through the power of my pen and imagination, Ralph took one look across a crowded stadium, met my dark, mysterious gaze, fell passionately in love and serenaded me in front of millions of fans. Out of all the girls in the world, he chose me! And, of course we lived happily ever after—once we had the inevitable fight, aka black moment, and made up with a passionate declaration of love and fidelity. This same story reincarnated itself many times over the years: with Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids on the Block, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, and as recently as last night, Vin Diesel.

 

Though the characters have changed, my love of love has endured. Shaping the lives of the unique men and women who experience the first, hungry bites of lust, the dizzying heights of passion and the tender, healing heat of love— nothing compares to it. Except maybe discovering new material for love scenes with my husband, the head of Research & Development!

 

Find Naima online:

 

Website: http://www.naimasimone.com

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/naima.simone.3?fref=ts

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Naima_Simone

**********

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Shameless (Playboys in Love #1) by Gina L. Maxwell

Release Date: May 30, 2016

About the book:

People say I’m shameless. They’re right.

I like my work dirty and my sex even dirtier. It takes a hell of a lot to tilt my moral compass, and dancing as a private stripper for horny suburbanites doesn’t even register. Neither does hooking up with them afterward whenever the mood strikes—it’s one of the bennies of the job—but it’s always a one-and-done. I don’t do repeat performances. Ever.

Until I meet the one girl in all of Chicago not interested in dry humping my junk. She’s all I can think about, and that’s a problem, because I made sure she wants nothing to do with me. But I’ve seen her deepest secrets, her darkest fantasies, and they match mine to a fucking T.

I want her. Bad.

Now I need to show her how good it can feel…to be shameless.

Find it online:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30124886-shameless

Entangled Website: entangledpublishing.com/shameless/

 

 

About the Author:

Gina L. Maxwell is a romance author whose debut novel, Seducing Cinderella, hit the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists in under a month and has since enjoyed continued success with her Fighting for Love series about sexy MMA fighters.

 

This year, she’s excited about releasing her brand new series, Boston Heat, featuring ex-Army Rangers-turned-firefighters, as well as the scorching Playboys for Hire series with erotic novellas about part-time strippers who are full-time sexy.

 

When she’s not reading or writing hot romance novels, she spends her time losing at Scrabble (and every other game) to her high school sweetheart and doing her best to hang out with their teenagers before they fly away.

 

 

Find Gina online:

Website: http://www.ginalmaxwell.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ginabisbeemaxwell

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Gina_L_Maxwell

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This heart-wrenching friends-to-lovers romance took me on an emotional roller-coaster ride. Sexy as all get out, while maintaining a sweetness only a truly romantic tale can deliver, Summer and Ian’s journey to find each other made me laugh, cry, and sigh as I cheered on their eventual HEA.

5 bells & whistles

Own the Stage

 

Leave a comment for a chance at one of three free downloads of book #3 in my Players series,

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(random winners chosen 4/28)

EXCERPT:

“Is it all worth it?”

Immediately defensive, though she wasn’t sure why, she played dumb. “What do you mean?”

“The schedule. The headaches. The insomnia.”

She tensed as he ticked off the negative points she couldn’t argue. After days of nothing but pillow talk and laughter, the harsh reminder of reality stung. Pasting a teasing smile on her lips, she fluttered her lashes and attempted to head off the unpleasant direction the conversation had taken. “We’ve cured the insomnia, remember?”

He didn’t smile as she’d hoped. “What about the headaches?”

“Those, too.” With the way he seemed to spot whenever a migraine came on, he had to have noticed she’d been headache free since they’d been in the woods. Only time would tell if they would return once she was back onstage, but the tone of his questions made her nervous. “Where’s this going, Max?”

He shifted to his side so she came to rest on her back, her head cradled on his forearm. None of the easy laughter of the last few days shown in his somber eyes. “I’m curious. That first night at my condo, you spoke about your mother’s death and of owing your father for helping you attain her dream of seeing you on stage, but you said nothing about the dream being yours.”

Nerves skidded into unease and her stomach plummeted. With less than twelve hours left before they had to leave, she could think of a thousand things she’d rather do than discuss her career or her meltdown last week. Obviously, Max was of a different opinion.

“What kind of question is that?” Try as she might, some of her tension leaked out, making her answer curt. “I’ve worked damned hard to make it to where I am.”

He leaned over her, his gaze steady as it held hers. “I’m not questioning your talent or your drive. You have more of both than anyone I’ve ever met. You shine when you stand before an audience, Jess. I’ve never seen anyone own the stage the way you do, but I’ve also seen the fear in your eyes before each performance.”

She shrugged a shoulder as if the gut-wrenching terror gripping her each time she stepped on the stage was no big deal. “Lots of performers suffer from stage fright. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be there.” The claim sounded defensive even to her.

He nodded, as if he agreed, but didn’t back down from his line of questioning. “And afterward? The headaches and insomnia? Where do those come from? Because there hasn’t been a stage in sight for five days and suddenly they’re gone.”

Damn it. Did he think she hadn’t noticed? Didn’t wish there was a viable solution to make the stress and unhappiness go away? Angry tears of desperation threatened, and she avoided his gaze by rolling her head to the side. The best defense was a good offense. Several deep breaths helped her gain control and she went on attack. “Why all the questions? Is this another of your attempts to prepare me for when you’re gone?”

The question had been a red herring, designed to knock him off track, but the flash of guilt in his eyes told her she’d hit the bull’s eye.

He sighed. “In a way, I guess it is, but you came to me for help. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

“How? By pissing me off?” She attempted to roll away from him. He threw a thigh over both of hers and held her where she was.

“By asking the questions you should be asking yourself.” He swept his thumb over her cheek in a gentle caress. “You claim you’re losing yourself. How can you find your way to where you want to be without looking at where you’ve been?”

Her attempt at diversion had only added hurt to an already uncomfortable conversation. Maybe sarcasm was the answer. “Geez, who are you, Dr. Phil?”

He didn’t bite. Saying nothing, he continued to hold her pinned beneath him.

Damn it, why couldn’t he just drop it? What was the point? Every dream came with sacrifices and hardships. The important ones anyway. Her mother hadn’t survived to see hers realized. That made her dream more important than most.

Jessi slid her eyelids shut against his intent gaze. “I have to sing, Max. If I couldn’t, my soul would shrivel up and die.” She opened her eyes. “Are you suggesting I give it up?”

His gaze softened, and he shook his head. “Not at all. If singing is what you need, then do it. All I’m suggesting is you take a good hard look at your life and consider your options. Figure out what’s holding you back from being happy. Find out what it is you want and then make it happen.”

The earnest concern in his eyes warmed her heart. She lifted her hand to cup his bristled cheek. “Haven’t I made it perfectly clear what I want?”

“Jessi.” He wrapped his fingers around her wrist and tugged her hand away from his face before letting go.

“Max.” She held his gaze until he dropped his chin to his chest and sighed.

The marked pain on his face slashed at her like knives. After the emotional jarring he’d just given her, evidence the past two days hadn’t made a bit of difference in his plans really did piss her off.

Sliding his arm from beneath her head, he flopped onto his back to stare at the ceiling.

She rolled her head and stared at his profile. “At least I’m honest about what I want.”

“Are you? When you’re afraid to even look at a reality that’s making you ill?”

Her slow, indrawn breath didn’t fully deflect the hurt. She rose on her elbow and leaned over him. “What about you, hopping from woman to woman while getting your family fix through my family’s gatherings.”

His eyes sliced to her, full of heat at her cruel words.

Too hurt and angry to care, she pressed on before he could reply. “What kind of existence is that? Don’t you want more than a borrowed family? Don’t you want one you can call your own?”

He bared his teeth in a smile that didn’t come close to reaching his eyes. “I’ll stick with borrowed. I’ve had some experience with real family.” He pushed up to sit on the edge of the bed. The muscles of his back bunched as he leaned forward. “In my experience, they’re not worth the effort.”

Sarcasm aside, the underlying anger in his words cooled hers. She curled her fingers around his arm before he could stand. “I’m sorry, Max. I shouldn’t have said that.”

Her fingers slid away as he bent to pick up his briefs and stood.

“Your family’s friendship means a lot to me. I’ve never hidden that fact, but they aren’t a stand in for a family of my own.” He stepped into his briefs, tugged them up his legs, and over his hips. “Not everyone is cut out for picket fences and kids, Squirt. In fact, in most cases, the world is better off when bad blood isn’t passed on.” He headed for the door. “Get some sleep. We have an early flight in the morning.”

She stared at his back as he disappeared down the stairs. Bad blood? What the hell?

Players series available in all formats @ Lyrical Shine button

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Oh, and there’s a #Kindle Fire Grand Prize as well.

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Death is preferable to what awaits in her forgotten past…

Coffee is the only thing standing between Grace Debry and a straight-jacket since she gave up swearing in honor of her foster mom. A rash of break-ins make her wonder if caffeine is enough. Especially when the notes left behind make it personal. Her brand-spanking new life is more nightmare than dream-come-true.

All Matthew Duncan has wanted since hiring Grace is to have her in his passenger seat, his arms, and his bed. As they grow closer, the feisty brunette proves to be a handful—one Matt is happy to hold. He’s determined to give her the happily ever after she stopped believing in years ago. Unfortunately for Grace, it will take more than Matt’s considerable resolve to keep her safe.

Three’s a crowd—not that he cares. Every move she makes, every breath she takes … he’s watching. Waiting to reclaim what he lost.

Angel Nicholas pens another wildly passionate romantic suspense with Dying for Love.

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Excerpt:

Her phone rang before she made her escape. She cocked a hip on the desk and answered.

“Grace?” a soft female voice enquired. “Grace Debry?”

“This is she.”

“The same Grace Debry who used to live with the Wells in Indiana?”

Straightening, Grace frowned. “Who is this?”

“You probably don’t remember me, dear. This is Mrs. Growsky from next door. You used to come over and help with my flower beds.”

“Of course I remember! How are you? Is everything okay? How did you find me? Oh, Mr. Wells has my information. How are you?”

She had fond memories of Mrs. Growsky. Hot summer days and warm fragrant dirt between her fingers. She had relaxed and shared thoughts she never would have dared otherwise. Mrs. Growsky had been a wonderful confidante and encouraging mentor during her high-school years. “Oh, I’m fine. How are you?”

“Great. My job here is great, I love my place and I have wonderful neighbors.” She had wanted to keep in touch, but knew better. When Laura died, she’d severed ties.

Mrs. Growsky calling out of the blue tightened her stomach.

“I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m calling. To tell you the truth, I debated long and hard about this. I’ve had your new phone number and address for ages, you know. I knew you were uncomfortable with me asking to stay in contact, but I wanted to know you were doing okay after you left.”
Grace furiously blinked back tears. Of course, Matt chose that moment to walk through her door. One look at her face and he shut the door behind him, frowning. He reached for the phone. Unable to speak over the emotion clogging her throat, she shook her head. He sat on the edge of a chair. All this time, Laura’s neighbor had watched over her.

Mrs. Growsky sighed. “Some strange things have been going on. Since they seem to involve you, I had to warn you.”

Warm fuzzies banished to Neverland, Grace’s nerves tightened again. “Warn me?”

“Yes, dear. I’m sorry to alarm you, but… Well…”

“Please. Just tell me.”

“Darrell Wells was murdered last week.”

“What?” Her gaze flew to Matt. He was by her side in an instant. He tried to take the phone from her, but she jerked free and very carefully lowered herself into her chair.

“Well, he was actually murdered about a week earlier, but no one discovered the poor man until that nice sheriff came along.” She hmm’d softly. “Where did he say he was from?”

“Why would anyone want to hurt Mr. Wells? He kept to himself to such an extent he was practically a hermit. Without Laura around, he probably became exactly that. What happened?”

“I don’t know, dear. Several people have been asking about you, though.”

She dropped her head to the desk, vaguely aware of Matt rubbing her back and murmuring…something. Oh, he still wanted the phone.

“What?” Her brain felt fuzzy.

“A man came by two weeks ago. Last I saw, he was headed to the Wells’ house.”

“Looking for me?” she repeated faintly.

“Yes. Then, a little over a week later, that nice sheriff stopped by. He asked about you too. He showed me a picture of your mother. My goodness, you’re her spitting image. I knew right away he was talking about you.”

Goosebumps chased one another across her skin. “He had a picture of my mother?”

She’d never seen a picture of her mother. The foster-system workers had explained there’d been nothing with her when she was brought to them. Yet some stranger had a photo. Of her mother. She couldn’t seem to wrap her mind around that.

“She was beautiful. What a shame she died so young. You really are her mirror image, dear. I could have been looking at a photo of you. Of course, I knew it wasn’t you because the photo was old and worn. The clothing styles weren’t right either. And her hair, my goodness. No, I can’t imagine you doing that to your beautiful hair. All those glorious curls, and your mother chopped them so short.” She tsked. “A crime, that’s what it is. You’re still wearing yours long, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

Mrs. Growsky had always rambled. Not that she was going to complain when she was rambling about a mother Grace had never laid eyes on. At least, not that she could recall. Obviously, she’d seen her as an infant. Now she was rambling. In her thoughts. Which seemed worse, somehow. She shook off some of the numbness.

“Do the police have any leads on Mr. Wells’ murder?”

“I couldn’t say. They wouldn’t talk about that with me. They interviewed me about the man who’d been by a few weeks ago. I cooperated, I assure you. Told them everything I could remember about him and what we talked about.”

“I’m sure you were very helpful. Would you mind telling me?”

“Of course, dear. I rather thought you’d like to know, seeing as how he asked about you. I even wrote down all the details. Let’s see. Where did I put it?” Paper rustled. “He was a tall man, taller than my Lawrence was, making him over six feet, I would guess. Shaggy dark-blonde hair, which I know for a fact he colors. He was in his fifties. No man his age would still have blonde hair.” Her little sniff of disapproval brought an unwitting smile. “Blue eyes and a strong nose. Had an athletic build too. One of those men who played some sport when he was younger and kept active as he aged. My Lawrence was like that, you know.”

Grace was peripherally aware of Matt staring at her. She wrapped the phone cord around her finger. “I do remember you telling me that. What else do you remember? What did he want to know?”

“Well, I can tell you, I didn’t like him. Despite his movie-star good looks, something was off, if you know what I mean. I’d say he has a mean streak. So I played dumb. Said I remembered seeing a black-haired, green-eyed little girl staying with my neighbors for a while, but you hadn’t been around in a long time. He wanted to know where you are now. Far as I knew, you hadn’t stayed in touch after you left. Told him about Laura dying too and how Darrell hadn’t been involved with you children. I assured him Darrell wouldn’t know anything about any of you, but he insisted on talking to him anyway.” She sighed. “I do wish I’d done something. I knew nothing good could come of it. I feel so bad about Darrell dying all alone like that.”

“It is not your fault. I doubt you could have done anything for Mr. Wells, but you’ve been very helpful to me. And the police too, I’m sure. Thank you so much for calling. I’m sorry I didn’t stay in touch with you. I just… I didn’t…” She bit the tender underside of her thumb. Nobody cared about her issues.

“Oh, you don’t have to explain, dear. Growing up in foster care is difficult. You don’t expect things to last, especially relationships. I’m always here if you need an ear, though. You remember that.”

“I will. And I promise…” Grace hesitated. Promises weren’t her forte. She avoided them like the plague. Still, Mrs. Growsky deserved that much. She forced the words past the constriction in her throat. “I promise to stay in touch. As a matter of fact, why don’t you give me your address and phone number. I’ve moved a few times and I’m afraid I don’t remember it.”

She flicked a glance at the man hovering protectively when she finally hung up. Approval softened the hard lines of Matt’s face. Why that mattered, she didn’t know. Or didn’t want to know. Same difference.

“Well?”

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