"I'D APOLOGIZE FOR KISSING YOU, BUT I'M NOT ALL THAT SORRY."
Dancer Melanie Brooks had escaped small-town Oklahoma, giving up the country for Broadway's bright lights. Yet after her mother's funeral called her back, her own health issues forced her to stay. Now her tenant, too-hot-for-his-own-good Adam Benson, is giving her a reason to dance again. But has a killer set his sights on her, too?
Adam knows a little something about fresh starts. As for his beautiful neighbor, he doesn't see a wheelchair--he sees a woman who understands. But as the heat grows between them, he can't avoid the feeling that more than her big-city past haunts her--and that danger has been lurking, waiting to strike....
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Adam Benson sat in his pickup truck parked at the curb and stared at the two-story house out his passenger-side window. It was a nice place, painted pale beige with rust-colored trim. A large tree in the front yard sported all the colors of autumn, with bright red and orange leaves beginning to group at the base.
The Room for Rent sign had been in the front window for a couple of months, and for the past few weeks each time Adam drove by the place, he'd considered the possibility of checking it out.
Shoving a hand into the pocket of his lightweight black jacket, he found the two small plastic chips inside and rubbed them together as he considered his next move.
There was no question that he was in transition. With two months of sobriety behind him and a ranch that no longer felt like his home, he knew it was time to make some significant changes in his life.
With a new decisiveness, he opened the truck door and got out. Great location, he told himself as he looked down Main Street. This house was one of the last on the block that hadn't been sold and torn down to make room for commercial property. From here he could easily walk the main drag of the small town of Grady Gulch.
He turned back to look at the house. The place had belonged to Olive Brooks for as long as he could remember. The older woman had been a fixture in town, working at the post office and involved in every charity event. Then about a year ago she'd become ill with cancer and her only daughter had come to town from someplace back east to nurse her. Olive had passed away and her daughter had remained in the house.
It was a little strange. Nobody around town that Adam had spoken to seemed to have seen Melanie Brooks since her mother's death, although he'd heard a few unpleasant rumors about her.
He jingled his sobriety chips once again. He knew personally about gossip and ugly rumors. In the past year he and his family had experienced enough of both to last a lifetime.
He finally sighed, irritated with his own hesitation. "Doesn't hurt to check it out," he muttered under his breath as he headed toward the front porch.
Next door to the house the pizza place was in full lunch swing, the scents of robust sauce and spicy sausage filling the air. Adam's stomach rumbled, and he decided that after checking out the room for rent, he'd head to the Cowboy Cafe for lunch. Although the pizza smelled great, at noon the place was usually overrun by high school kids grabbing a slice of pizza before their afternoon classes began.
Besides, the Cowboy Cafe was the place in town to get a hearty meal and a healthy serving of what people were saying and thinking. In the past couple of months it had felt more like home than the ranch where he'd grown up.
As he walked up the stairs to the porch, he noticed that the railing was more than a little wobbly and needed to be replaced. Up close the house paint wasn't quite as fresh as it appeared from the street. A little TLC was definitely needed, he thought, not that it was his problem. That was one of the luxuries of not owning where you lived: you weren't responsible for any of the maintenance.
He knocked on the door, and as he waited for a reply, he turned and looked back at the street where his truck was parked. Within an hour everyone in town would know that he'd been here. That was the way things worked in small towns like Grady Gulch. There were few secrets that could be sustained for any length of time.
However, there was one person in town who was keeping a dark, evil secret, a person who had murdered two women in their beds. So far law enforcement and...