(October 28, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $8.00)
"It's cold. And dark. I can't breathe."
Successful, ambitious state prosecutor Grace Courtemanche is at the top of her game. Then she gets a chilling call from a young woman claiming to be buried alive. Desperate to find the victim before it's too late, Grace will do whatever it takes . . . even if it means excavating the darkest secrets of her own past and turning to the one man she thought she would never see again.
FBI agent Theodore "Hatch" Hatcher is a man without roots-and that's the way he likes it. But when a grisly crime shatters Cyprus Bend, Florida, Hatch is dragged back to the small town-and the one woman-he hoped was in his rearview for good. Forced to confront the wreckage of their love affair, Hatch and Grace may just find that sometimes the deepest wounds leave the most beautiful scars-and that history repeating itself may just be what they need to stop a killer . . . and save their own hearts.
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About the Author
A former newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and restaurant reviewer. These days Shelley writes smart, funny novels for teens and big, edgy romantic suspense. A six-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist, she lives and loves in Arizona with her family and the world's neediest rescue Weimaraner. When she's not behind the keyboard, you'll find her baking high-calorie, high-fat desserts and haunting local farmers markets for the perfect plum.
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Hatch slid a hand along her spine, the column tightening and tingling. His fingers stopped at the base of her neck where he pressed softly.
“What are you doing?” Grace asked.
“Looking for the off switch,” Hatch said. “I’m tired of hearing that same old song.”
She probably did sound like a broken record. Even as a kid she’d been fiercely independent. Much to her mother’s horror, she began taking the family skiff out on her own at age nine. She’d tried doubles tennis, but excelled in singles, winning the state champion her senior year of high school. And after her divorce from Hatch, she’d thrown herself into her work, handling most of the casework on her own because at that time in her life, she wanted to be so busy she wouldn’t have time to think about how much her heart ached.
Hatch rubbed his knuckles across the top of Blue’s head. The old dog had been waiting on the top step for her. “Since your watchdog has a weakness for bacon, I want to poke around, make sure no bogeymen are hiding under your bed.”
Arguing with him would only prolong the moment, so she opened the door. A wave of hot air that reeked of musty wood and wet dog rolled over them. Wrinkling her nose, she threw open the windows and cracked the back door, hoping not too many bugs would sneak in. Or bad guys with pre-paid phones and blood red markers. She peered into the darkness stretching beyond her back porch but saw nothing.
In full FBI mode, Hatch searched the living room and kitchen area, and she could hear him checking her bedroom and bathroom. “No bogeymen,” he announced as he sauntered into the kitchen.
“Thank you, I was worried.” She dug through a drawer and took out a vanilla-scented candle, lit it, and placed it in the middle of her kitchen table.
“Planning a candlelit dinner with yours truly?”
“Planning to get rid of the Eau de Blue.”
Hatch sniffed and grimaced. “You might be better off getting a hotel room for a few days. I’m sure you can find a place that’ll take both you and your dog.”
“He’s not my dog.” Grace yanked the lid off an airtight container and dug out a giant scoop of dog chow. Hatch didn’t need to know she’d almost zeroed out her checking account to pay the next installment to her general contractor. “A breeze is picking up. It’ll be fine in a few minutes.”
She added warm water to the chow and sprinkled cooked bacon on top. The dog padded across the room to the bowl but raised his head and looked at her with big, droopy eyes.
“You are not getting two slices of bacon.”
With a chuckle, Hatch opened the refrigerator and poked around a half dozen cartons of takeout. “You do realize you talk to that dog all the time,” he said.
“I do not.”
He lifted his eyebrows, and she ducked under his arm, grabbing a carton of grilled grouper and hushpuppies. “I appreciate everything you’ve done, Hatch, really I do, but you can go now.”
Hatch handed her a bottle of her favorite hot sauce and grabbed a takeout box for himself. “Now, Counselor Courtemanche, you’re a lot smarter than that.” He set the carton on the table and dug into the drawer near her sink, which irritated her, that he knew where she kept her silverware. “I’m not going to leave you in this house alone with all the doors and windows open.”
Breathe in, two, three. Breathe out, two, three. “I don’t have an extra bed.”
“We can share.”
She shoved her takeout box in the microwave and jabbed the reheat button.
“Fine, Grace, I’ll crash there.” He aimed a bottle of tartar sauce at the small settee in the front room.
She pictured those long, golden limbs spilled across the tiny sofa. Hatch had a way of taking up space, in any room, and in her head. Today he’d been everywhere as they worked the case. Impressive. And effective. But that didn’t mean she needed him on her settee. “You’re too big for that thing. You’ll wake up with a backache.”
“Nice to know you still care.”
“I don’t c…” But she couldn’t finish. Less than an hour ago, they’d sat under a good-bye sun, and he’d run his magic fingers along her neck, chasing away hell. Hatch was one of the good guys. He was on her side, Lia’s side, and at one point in her life, he’d been her world. At some level, she’d always care about him.