For the last nine years, Kaylee Mead has been running from her past. Now she's running for her life and from the mob. She decides her only chance to survive is to come home and patch things up with her father, but when she returns to her home on Thief Lake, Minnesota, she finds her father dead. And now she's the cops best suspect.
Assistant Police Chief Blaine Walker has been trying to put his ex-wife out of his mind for years, but when he finds her hovered over her father's body, his only suspect in a case that doesn’t make sense, he vows to find the answers and then hopefully rekindled the flame that has never quite died out in his heart.
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“You don’t still live here, do you?” Kaylee asked as she looked to the staircase to Blaine’s parents’ garage apartment. The one they’d lived in together during their short marriage. Puffy clouds floated across the sky, partially covering the half-moon. “You don’t live in the house? Or in town somewhere?” The crisp air chilled her skin.
“I wanted to be close to Mom when Dad died. But I didn’t want to live with her.” He glanced over his shoulder with a scowl, like she should know all this.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” She wanted to reach out and touch him. He’d always been close to his father. “How?”
“Car accident.” He turned. “A lot has changed around here.”
A loud clicking noise echoed as he unlocked the door at the top of the stairs and pushed it open. The familiar, small space did nothing to ease her growing discomfort. And Blaine’s physical effect on her only added to her confusion.
She stepped in and glanced around. He wasn’t kidding when he said a lot had changed. The apartment she remembered had bare walls, an old blue matted down carpet and a sagging couch. He’d always been good with his hands, but the new galley-style kitchen she stared at was beyond anything she remembered he could do. “You do all this work yourself?” She slid her fingers across the log-style chair-rail that set off the soft blue walls in the main room.
“Gives me something to do when I’m not working. You should see the kitchen in Mom’s house. Took me nearly three months.”
“I’m sure it’s beautiful.” A chocolate-colored leather sofa sat in front of a wood-burning fireplace. A bearskin rug hung on the wall. “You have great taste.”
He shrugged. “Can I get you some hot chocolate?” He kicked off his boots and made his way into the kitchen. “I think I’ve got marshmallows.”
“Marshmallows?” As a little girl, she had loved to go out and play in the snow, and then when she’d come in all wet and cold, her father would meet her in the kitchen with hot chocolate and marshmallows. The big ones.
The realization that her father was actually gone forever sent tears streaming down her cheeks. “Sure,” she managed through choking sobs. Her eyes were already puffy from hours of crying over the past few weeks. At twenty-eight, she’d made nothing but one pathetic mistake after another. And now she was alone.
“Kaylee, sit down.” Blaine’s strong hand pressed gently against her lower back and helped her to the couch.
The soft leather formed to her body. “Please tell me this is all a bad dream.” She clung to his strong frame for support, something she hadn’t felt in years. “Please tell me my father didn’t die before I had a chance to fix all the wrongs we made with each other,” she cried, wrapping her fists in Blaine’s T-shirt.
“Kaylee, it wasn’t just you, honey,” Blaine whispered, stroking his fingers through her hair.
Being in his embrace brought back memories she’d been trying to pretend didn’t exist. She’d barely gotten used to the idea of coming home, and to be reminded of what could have been, what had been taken from her, was more than she could handle.
A shiver shot down her spine when she finally took a deep breath. “I’m sorry.” She pushed herself from his welcoming arms. She reminded herself the comfort he offered wasn’t real. Never was.