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Mike Murphy is the new cop in Town.
He makes me crazy in all the right ways.
So crazy that I lose my filter around him, not to mention my ability to function like a normal person.
The attraction between us is undeniable and something we can’t ignore.
But there’s a secret that threatens to come between us. When we uncover more than we should, things become dangerous.
Will we be able to walk away, or will the quest to find the truth be too tempting?
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I was home.
Or at least the place I considered home.
As I turned off the SUV, the headlights disappeared, which left me alone in the dark of the night. The drive to Maine had been long, but I’d needed to spread Grandpa’s ashes in the place where he’d done the same with Grandma’s fifteen years earlier.
I let out a deep, tired sigh, releasing some of the stress from the last few days while I watched the glow of fireflies in the yard behind the vet clinic.
Grandpa had died two weeks earlier from a heart attack. There had been no time to say good-bye. He had simply been there one day and gone the next.
My parents had died two years ago in a car accident with a drunk driver. Now I was here… alone.
“I miss you, Grandpa.”
Every summer since I was a little girl, I’d traveled from the West Coast to Salem for six weeks to spend time with Grandpa. It was where I’d developed my love for animals and the desire to become a vet. In two days, I planned to reopen the practice, which had been closed since Grandpa’s death.
I shook my head, unable to comprehend that he wasn’t in his apartment, waiting up for me to come through the door like I had on the countless nights when I’d visited from New York, where I’d gone to college.
Another deep sigh interrupted the quiet.
“I wish you were here to fulfill our dream of working together.”
In his will, he’d left everything to me—the veterinary practice and a house he’d bought a few months earlier. I’d had no idea about the property until I’d read the will.
So many of the decisions I’d made felt foolish now.
I’d wanted to make it on my own.
I’d wanted to prove my worth as a veterinarian.
I’d wanted to explore the unknown and take chances.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
I shrieked as the knocks on my window interrupted my thoughts. A flashlight shone through the glass, nearly blinding me.
“Ma’am, I’m Officer Murphy.” The words were muffled with the window up. “Is everything okay?”
The deep voice silenced my cry, but I held my hand to my racing heart. “You scared me. Who are you again?”
“Officer Murphy with the Salem PD.”
Officer Murphy? The name wasn’t familiar. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the patrol car.
“Ma’am, is everything okay? Could you step out of the car?”
My heart still beat rapidly in my ears. Having lived in the city for most of my life, I was leery of getting out of my car at night with a stranger. “I’m going to verify you’re a cop first.”
The window was still up, so I raised my voice. “I’m going to call Doug to verify you’re a cop.”
“That’s fine, ma’am.”
Ma’am? How old does he think I am?
Salem had a small-town feel where everyone knew everyone. I probably had nothing to worry about, but it was late at night and I’d never heard of Officer Murphy. Although a lot could have changed in the three months since I’d visited last. When I was here for the funeral two weeks ago, I had been in a fog.
With the beam of the flashlight still shining inside the car, I grabbed my phone and dialed. Doug was the chief of police in Salem, and I had his number. He picked up on the first ring.
“Sydney, is that you?”
“Hey, Doug. Sorry to call so late at night. I’m outside the clinic. An Officer Murphy is outside my car window. Is he part of the PD now?”
Doug had been a longtime friend of Grandpa’s. As a kid, I had been best friends with his daughter, who had mysteriously disappeared without a trace nearly seven years earlier. We’d been inseparable during the summers and had written and called through the months I was home in California. Vickie had only been twenty-two years old when she disappeared. The case was still unsolved.
He chuckled. “Oh, that’s Mike. Yeah, he’s new. I asked him to keep an eye on your place since I didn’t expect you home until tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Doug. I was ready to get back.”
“I’ll call him real quick. He was one of those big-city cops looking to slow down. Sometimes he forgets we’re not all out to cause issues. Mike wasn’t here for the funeral. He had to go back home to see his mom.”
“I get it. Thanks again. I’ll have to bring you some of my homemade fudge soon.”
Yelling away from the receiver, Doug said, “Gladys, Sydney is going to bring us some of her homemade fudge.” I chuckled while they bantered back and forth because Gladys couldn’t hear Doug. He came back on the line. “Gladys wants you to come over for tea when you bring the fudge.”
“I will. Have a good night, Doug.”
“You, too, punkin pie.”
My throat tightened at the nickname Grandpa had given me when I was five. He’d called me that until the day he died, and it had stuck with some of his friends.