Strength can be drawn from pain…if the heart can heal faster than...
In a world where humans are below Shifters, a tiger falls for a human...
He needs your heart to survive.
They have opened the door to the apex predator, and now it is hunting them.
A Cady Delafield Mystery
One secret. Two murders. Is love enough to save the day?
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The wedding date is set, and life is magical for Doyle Flanagan and Cady Delafield. Then, honor bound to repay an old debt, Doyle agrees to help an old friend find her sister. As he searches for the girl, painful memories surface, stunning Cady when she discovers facts about Doyle’s hidden past.
Now mired in tragedy, can they overcome the turmoil with a fateful decision that changes their future forever?
“Why do you ask?” Jack rested his snifter on his thigh and studied Doyle. “Do you know something?”
Doyle drew back, aghast. “I should hope not. Murder has poked its bony fingers too close to home for my comfort in the past. I want no more of it.”
“But?” Cady prompted. She recognized the look, his clever mind parsing questions, seeking answers. “What is it?”
“Sophie Newberg, a friend of Millicent, came to me this afternoon. Her seventeen-year-old sister, Sarah, didn’t come home from school on Monday.”
“How dreadful.” Grace reached for the locket at her throat, a gesture used when she was uncertain or upset.
“Why come to you?” Cady knew a spurt of jealousy followed by a swell of protectiveness. She worried Doyle might be drawn into a personal matter better left to Sophie’s parents. And Sophie was hardly one he could call friend, or was she?
“She asked for my help.”
“Find her sister, you mean?” Rather presumptuous, she concluded with a rise in anger.
“I don’t recall a report of any missing girl this week. If we had, the police would have investigated. Why didn’t she contact us?”
“Sophie’s father is Hugh Jenkins.” Doyle swirled the dark amber liquid in the glass.
“Ah…” Jack gave a knowing nod. “A big wheel in business. He earned his first million running hogs through the stockyards.”
“The very same,” Doyle confirmed. “Sees himself as one of the top tier families in the city.”
“Doesn’t he care about her?” Cady asked, appalled.
“Too good to rub shoulders with police,” Jack concluded.
“You mean too snobby.” There were people with wealth and power who believed themselves above the law.
“How very sad.” One could always count on Grace for compassion. “The worry must be agonizing.”
Doyle flicked his thumb against the curve of his glass. “The parents believe she ran away to get married.”
“Did she?” Cady asked.
“No one knows as the fellow can’t be located.”
“Did she leave a note?” Cady tapped her bottom lip recalling her own mother had eloped, and left behind the requisite note for the parents to find.
Doyle shook his head.
“How odd.” She faced Jack. “This victim, did she have a pocket book with her, or anything of a personal nature?”
Jack set the snifter aside. “I’m sorry. Police business.”
Cady opened her mouth, about to probe further. Doyle cut her off.
“It’s a most distressing mystery, ladies, but I’m afraid it grows late. I must get you home.”
Like a child cut short in play, disappointment jabbed at her. Furthermore, Doyle had yet to say whether he’d agreed to help the woman.
“I’ll have the carriage brought around.” He set his glass on the small table near the sofa. “Can I give you a lift home, Jack?”
Jack’s glass joined Doyle’s on the table. “Much obliged.”
Moments later, Jack and Grace stood in the glow of lamplight murmuring near the carriage parked at the curb. Cady stood alongside Doyle. Neither had ventured beyond the front door.
“Doyle, are you going to help Sophie Newberg?”
“Just a few inquiries, is all.”
“Do you think it’s possible this young, unidentified girl Jack mentioned is her sister?”
Doyle breathed deeply. “It crossed my mind.”
“What are you going to do about it?”
“Nothing I look forward to. Tomorrow morning I’ll make a visit to the police morgue.”
“Then you know her?”
“I met her once.” Squinting, he glanced up at the starry sky. “She must have been twelve at the most. I suspect she looks different now. There may be enough similarity for an identification one way or the other.”
“I’ll join you.”
He stiffened and she might just as well have said she intended to swim across the ocean.
“No, Cady.” His tone was obstinate. “Because of me, you’ve been through enough. I don’t want you witnessing any more…”
“Dead people?” she inserted into the pause.
Jaw clamped, his nostrils flared. “Dead people and all their sordid trash.”
“I won’t go into the morgue. I’ll wait in the corridor.” This may have been self-serving. Having been to the police morgue once before, she didn’t wish to see another corpse.
“No.” He shook his head, adamant. “Do not get involved.”
“Involved? Have you any idea what you’re saying? This is bound to affect you, yet you prefer I not be there as support? Doyle, I care what happens to you.”
He skimmed her cheek with a finger. “Of course you do. It’s your nature to want to help others.”
“Stop it, Doyle.” Anger had her clutched by the throat. “Don’t trivialize this.” Immediately, she regretted her show of temper. “I love you. We’re about to be married. As your wife, I want to be a part of your life. Whatever happens to you, good or bad, I intend to be there. Sharing is what couples do. Do you agree?”
He stepped so close the heat of him radiated through her clothes. Mouth close at her ear, he whispered. “I’ll come for you at 9:00.”
A weight lifted from her shoulders. “Thank you.”
“But be prepared to wait outside the morgue. No sense in you looking at the corpse of a stranger.”
It seemed as though she’d won a prize, or made a step in the right direction. It was an odd notion. Nevertheless, she knew a sense of achievement. She squeezed his arm, amazed as always by the strength and solid feel of his muscle.
“Thank you for inviting Grace tonight. It’s good to see her away from Ophelia’s house. From the amount of laughter, I’d say she had a wonderful time.”
“And did you, my dear?”
“I always have a wonderful time with you, and that’s the truth.”
His arms enveloped her, and she snuggled in the warmth and intimacy of his cocooning embrace. If she were blessed tonight, she would dream of him. Yet in the back of her head, the dead girl nagged.