Braving the Heat(93)

By: Regan Black

With a sigh, he pushed open the driver’s door and stepped out. The sky was dark with the threat of a storm that hadn’t come. Blake felt the weight of those clouds hanging over him like guilt.

He knew what Patience wanted—what she expected him to do. Bail out their father so that their sister Layla wasn’t forced to marry some old billionaire to save Colton Energy. How like their father to care more about his company than his kids...

That was the Fenwick Colton whom Blake knew and had spent most of his life resenting. But he could understand his father a little better now. Blake didn’t have any kids, but his company was like his child. If he withdrew the kind of money required to save Colton Energy, he could cripple his own business and put thousands out of work.

He couldn’t do that—not for his father and not even for Layla. There had to be another way. Finn probably wouldn’t have any answers to that, but he would know all there was to know about this crazy “Groom Killer” targeting men about to be married. At least the threat of dying had caused Layla’s fiancé to end their engagement. But according to Patience, that threat was hurting her sister Beatrix’s bridal shop business. It was also affecting their youngest sister Gemma’s personal life because her boyfriend would not get as serious with her as she would have liked.

With a rumble of thunder sounding ominously in the distance, Blake hurried toward the doors of the police department. He didn’t want to get caught in a deluge. A woman rushed toward the building, as well. She had one arm wrapped around a child on her hip and the other hand holding the leash of the beagle running ahead of her. He stepped forward and reached around her to open the door, and as he did, he caught a familiar scent.

He hadn’t smelled it in years. Nearly five years...

But he’d never forgotten the sweet fragrance and the woman who’d worn it. It hadn’t been perfume, though. She’d said it had been her shampoo, so it had been light, smelling like rain and honeysuckle.

The scent wafted from the woman, whose pale shade of long hair was the same as the woman who’d haunted him the past five years. But it couldn’t be her...

He’d looked for her—after that night—and hadn’t been able to find her anywhere. She must have checked out of the hotel and left town.

She certainly hadn’t been a Red Ridge police officer like this woman. She wore the distinctive uniform of a K9 cop and held the leash of her partner. But when she turned back toward him, her gaze caught his and held. And he recognized those beautiful blue eyes...

Remembered her staring up at him as he’d lowered his head to kiss her...

But no, it could not be her. Being back in Red Ridge, staying at the Colton Plaza Hotel, had brought up so many memories of her, of that night, that he was starting to imagine her everywhere.

* * *

He’d found her easily enough. But he couldn’t take out her or her daughter here—outside the damn Red Ridge Police Department. Hell, after that bitch had shot him, he could barely raise his arm.

Blood trickled yet from the wound, soaking into his already saturated sleeve. He needed medical attention. But he’d have to find it somewhere other than a hospital or doctor’s office. RRPD would have someone watching those places, waiting for him.

Damn the timing...

The park had looked deserted. He hadn’t noticed anyone else around—until he’d heard the dog bark. Then he’d seen the little girl—but not before she had watched him fire those shots into that thieving dealer’s chest. Did she understand what she’d witnessed?

She was old enough that she probably did. And because he hadn’t known anyone else was around, he hadn’t had his hood up or glasses on then. So she would be able to identify and testify against him. And so would her damn cop mama.

But that wasn’t going to happen.

She and her mother were not going to live long enough to bring him down.

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