(Seasons Pass Book 2)
Homicide detective Noah Daugherty finds purpose in solving the most horrendous of crimes. The last thing he wants is to babysit some spoiled country singer, but that’s exactly what his lieutenant demands.
Posing undercover as a member of the singer’s band, he makes it his mission to protect her from a stalker whose ominous threats have become increasingly personal. As things heat up, she hides a piece of her past that is key to solving the case, ashamed of the part she plays.
Can Noah unearth the painful truth before spring casts its dark shadow?
Last night’s wild race down twenty-one flights of stairs fleeing from a false fire alarm had left Paige Reimer shaken. All she wanted was to get back inside her hotel room.
The detective assigned to protect her slid the key card into the lock and she reached for the door handle.
“Stop.” Detective Noah Daugherty held out his hand. “Let me check the room.”
“Sorry,” she said over her shoulder. “Gotta pee.” She pushed by him, only to freeze after three steps.
A scream echoed through the air and it took a moment to realize it came from her.
Paige’s knees buckled and she grabbed the wall as Noah rushed past. A tiny portion of her brain registered that he clutched a gun the size of her favorite Kate Spade bag, waving it from one side of the room to the other.
And all she’d been worried about was hiding the box of tampons she’d left sitting on her pillow.
Instead, displayed prominently on the ivory comforter of the enormous, multi-pillowed bed, was a single rose. Not even a red rose. A black one. With the stem broken near the top so the blossom hung to one side like a broken neck.
Bile threatened to pour out of her and she stumbled toward the bathroom before she collapsed completely.
“Wait.” Noah’s voice sounded behind her, a distant echo from the bottom of a deep well. “I need to check for intruders before you go in there.”
But she couldn’t stop. Besides, it wasn’t necessary. She could feel the stillness in the air. No one else was in the room.
Whoever had been here was long gone.
She stretched one leg behind her and kicked the door shut. This was humiliating enough without him watching her hug the commode like a Saturday night drunk.
When nothing was left of any meal in recent memory, she lay back on the cool tile, trying to douse the heat that spread over her entire body. How long could she stay here? Would he leave if she just didn’t come out?
A hesitant tap sounded on the closed door. “Paige, are you alright?”
“Five minutes. Just give me five minutes, okay?”
The carpet was too thick to hear footsteps, yet she felt him move away.
She counted to sixty slowly, then again, and one more time, before pushing herself off the floor. Two minutes left to make herself presentable. She brushed her teeth and splashed cold water on her face, then brushed her teeth again, but the foul taste remained.
Her hands shook and her knees were as week as if she’d run a 10K. Uphill. In July.
Every emotion in the dictionary swirled around her and she couldn’t pick just one to settle on. Fear. Anger. Humiliation. Denial. Each seemed the most dominate until the next took over. But exhaustion trumped them all.
One swipe of powder and a dash of lipstick. That was the most she could manage.
Hand on the door knob, she took a deep breath. Time to face Noah, with his endless questioning and probing. And what good did it do? There wasn’t anything she could tell him.
Noah sat at the desk, intent on his phone. Playing Candy Crush? No, she had to quit underestimating him. He was most likely texting his partner.
He glanced up. “Feeling better?”
Real concern coated his voice. She tried to answer, but only managed to nod.
“Try this, I made you a cup of tea.” He held out a paper cup of steaming liquid.
She clutched the cardboard as if it were a life preserver. Maybe it was.
“I need you to look around. Is anything different than you left it? Is anything missing?”
Well, there wasn’t a dead rose on her bed when she left, did that qualify as different?
About the Author:
Susan C. Muller is a fourth generation Texan. She attended Stephen F. Austin State University where she studied business administration but took creative writing classes on the side. She started her first novel at age eleven, but it wasn’t until after she had worked many years and raised a family that she returned to her first love, writing.
She enjoys speaking to book clubs and writer’s groups. Susan lives in Spring, Texas with her rescue dog, Maggie. She loves to travel and has been fortunate to see much of the world. Her favorite places include Kenya, New Zealand, and the Galapagos Islands.
When not writing, she can be found doing volunteer work at a local hospital. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, snorkeling and taking Maggie for long walks.