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A stunning, heartfelt new stand-alone by New York Times best-selling author Mia Sheridan – available in audio first!
Brant Talbot runs a glitzy network of high-end bars in New York City, enjoying all the benefits of the lavish lifestyle he’s worked so hard to achieve. When he learns that his estranged father is dying, he must return to his family’s Kentucky horse farm – and to a past he thought he left behind.
While facing long-buried truths, he collides with his father’s secretary, Isabelle Farris. Despite his undeniable attraction to the beautiful, independent young woman, he sees secrets in her eyes and believes she has designs on Graystone Hill.
Now the one woman he can’t afford to trust is about to become the one he can’t let go.
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It was a scene out of a horror movie. Detective Miller stepped carefully around the bloody footprints leading toward the front door, and over a doll lying in the hallway, its sightless glass eyes directed at the ceiling, its painted mouth curved in a smile. An eerie image of innocence lost.
“All three bodies down in the basement?” he asked the first officer who’d arrived on scene.
The young cop nodded and swallowed, looking as if he was barely holding back a throat full of vomit. The detective hadn’t even seen the worst of it yet, but knew this would be one of those scenes that changed the rookie. There was always the one. That first crime scene that suddenly made it all real, that gave you a glimpse of the infinite evil that existed in the world. You could read about it all day long, study case files until the cows came home, but until you were there, until the coppery scent of blood filled your nostrils and you looked upon the dead face of someone who’d been vibrant and alive only hours before, you didn’t really get it. You’d never unsee the expression frozen with the unfathomable terror they’d experienced in their last moments. How could you?
The detective walked around a picture book in the middle of the hall. Love You Forever. Yeah, this would be that one, all right.
“Neighbor called it in?” he asked the rookie over his shoulder.
“Y-yeah.” The kid cleared his throat but remained where he was, holding vigil in the living room as he waited for the crime scene unit. “The guy next door heard shots and came over to see if everything was okay. He said the front door was open. He went downstairs and . . .”
Great. The guy had probably disturbed the scene. He must be the one who’d been leaning on the back of the police cruiser breathing into a paper bag when Detective Miller had arrived a few minutes before.
The basement was dim, the only light filtering in from a window high on the wall. The gray shaft of light illuminated the three forms on the floor—two adults and one child. Jesus.
The detective walked over to the bodies, careful of where he stepped, and then squatted on the floor next to them. The woman was nearest to him, curled on her side, blood puddled on the floor next to her. Reddish-brown hair covered her face, arms extended toward the smaller of the forms. Her last act had been to reach for her child, despite the rope that bound her hands.
He took the pen from his shirt pocket and used the covered end to move the hair from her face. Her eyes were closed, expression peaceful, as if she were only sleeping. She’d been beautiful—he could tell even by her profile. Very beautiful and very young. He always had this vague instinct to apologize to them—the victims at crime scenes. But for what? For not being able to help them before this happened? For the depravity in the world that he was completely helpless against? He didn’t know exactly what he was sorry for, he just fucking was.
He began standing when the woman’s eyes shot open, her mouth widening in a silent scream. The detective let out a small yell, almost falling backward. Holy fuck! Had the rookie not checked her fucking pulse? Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ! He pulled his radio from his pocket, the static exploding in the silent space like a fucking bomb. The woman’s vocal chords started working and her high-pitched scream of terror and agony pierced his ears and his heart.
“Detective Miller. Goddammit, send me a medic unit. Now! We have a live one! Fucking hurry!”
Dawn’s light spread across the rolling hills, transforming the muted gray slopes into sparkling emerald pastures. The sky above brightened as the sun’s rays cast out the morning mist. My lips curved in a small smile as I watched God’s first miracle. Even if there were to be no more today, I’d witnessed this one.
I clicked my tongue, tapping my heels against Seneca’s belly. “Come on, girl. Mr. Talbot will be looking for me in a few minutes.”
The horse whinnied softly, raising her head from the sweet Kentucky grass where she’d been grazing and turning us toward the stable in the distance, the massive Talbot home rising behind it, as it, too, became illuminated by the rising sun.
We rode back at a slow canter as I inhaled the clean, fresh morning air. Warmth touched the back of my neck—today was going to be filled with sunshine.
“Morning, Eli.” I smiled as I climbed off Seneca, leading her toward her stable.
Eli’s face broke into a warm smile, a blush of color appearing on his cheekbones as he stood straight, removing his ball cap and smoothing back his hair. “Isabelle. Good morning.” He walked to me and took Seneca’s reins in his hands. “I’ll take care of this girl.” His gaze hung on me for a beat, two, and I recognized what was in his eyes—desire—and it made me feel skittish, uncomfortable. I truly cared for Eli, but only as a friend. I smiled, stepping away.