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Crybaby Falls (Harlequin Intrigue) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 16. September 2014


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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

As a child, Paula Graves's favorite books were Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries and Harlequin Romances. When she realized there were books that featured both romance and mystery, she knew she'd found her calling. Now Paula writes for Harlequin Intrigue, where she gets to play both matchmaker and murderer and has a blast doing it.

www.paulagraves.com

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

The roadside memorial wasn't tattered or faded as so many monuments to the departed were. The simple wooden cross planted in the ground off Black Creek Road gleamed white in the midday sunlight, and the flowers in the resin urn were real, not plastic, still dewy with recent life.

Sara Lindsey crouched beside the small display and touched the big red gerbera daisy in the center of the urn. A chill skittered through her, as if someone had touched the back of her neck with cold fingers, and she nearly knocked herself on her backside turning to look.

Nobody's there, Sara. Get a grip.

Turning back to face the monument, she silently read the name etched there, darkened with black paint by whoever had planted this latest incarnation in the ground. Don-nie Lindsey. Beloved son and husband.

Today was the third anniversary of the accident. Some days, Donnie's death seemed like a distant memory, as if life since the accident had slowed to an interminable crawl, each minute stretching to hours or even days. And other times, like now, the raw realization that he was gone forever ached and bled like a brand-new wound.

Joyce must be the unseen caretaker, Sara thought. For her mother-in-law, the wound never stopped bleeding. Her grief was a physical thing, a heavy pall hanging over whatever space she occupied these days. How her husband, Gary, lived with her constant state of mourning, Sara couldn't imagine. As painful as her grief for Donnie had been for the past three years, Sara still managed to find moments of happiness within the sadness.

Joyce never seemed to. Grief had aged her a decade in the past three years, her pain exacerbated by the loss of her daughter years before. And as much as she mourned the loss of her children, Joyce craved someone to blame for their deaths.

For Renee's death, there was no closure. Her murder remained unsolved. But for Donnie's death, Joyce had found a target for her silent wrath.

After all, Sara had been behind the wheel of Donnie's truck the night of the accident. And she'd refused to play by her mother-in-law's rules of grieving widowhood, choosing to honor her husband in her own way.

She checked her watch. Almost noon. Joyce, Gary and all of Donnie's childhood friends who still lived near Purgatory would be leaving the cemetery now, heading back to the Lindseys' home for a potluck dinner. This was the second year of what Joyce called "The Remembering," and for the second year in a row, Sara hadn't been able to bring herself to go, even though everyone clearly expected her to make an appearance.

As the widow and part of the reason Donnie was dead, the least she could do was show up and take part in the ritual show of grief, right?

But grief was a private thing for her. She wasn't going to put on a show or stand around and watch others grieve just because people expected it. So she'd come here instead, to the hairpin turn on Black Creek Road, the place where everything had fallen apart, for her own personal memorial. And if she allowed no tears to dampen her cheeks or sobs to escape her throat, there was no one else around to pass judgment on her restrained style of grief.

Bitter much, Lindsey?

With a sigh, she pushed to her feet, grimacing at the lingering pain in her joints, and turned toward the drop-off only a few short yards from the roadside. Donnie hadn't actually died here, at the site of his monument, but nearly forty feet down the gorge that ended where Little Black Creek snaked its way through the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

Sara wasn't sure how she'd survived the accident. She remembered none of it, not even why she and Donnie had been in Purgatory that night in the first place. She knew Donnie had been following a new lead about his sister's murder, but thanks to the head injury she'd sustained in the crash, she couldn't even remember what the lead had been or how he'd come by it. She'd spent a month in the hospital, missing Donnie's funeral and wallowing in a toxic combination of grief and pain until she'd finally talked her doctors into letting her go before the hospital killed her.

Recuperation had taken a year, and to this day, though she was pretty much back to normal physically, the memory loss lingered like a big, blank hole in the middle of her upended life. And the memory she most wanted to recover was what had happened in those last few seconds before the truck had left Black Creek Road and spun over the cliff edge.

What had caused the accident? Was it something she could have avoided? The question had haunted her for three years.

"Must've fallen asleep and missed the hairpin turn," had been the accident investigator's best assessment. But she'd never been able to picture the accident happening that way. She was so careful behind the wheel. She never drove sleepy or even distracted by the radio or her cell phone, because her first two years as a Birmingham police officer had been spent in the traffic division. She'd seen a lifetime's worth of the grim results of inattention behind the wheel in those two years.

She wouldn't have been driving impaired. And she couldn't imagine how anything but impairment would have led her over that cliff at such a high rate of speed.

She heard a faint rustle in the woods nearby, and the creeping sensation that had followed her down from the scenic overlook where she'd parked intensified until the hair on the back of her neck prickled to attention. She eased around in a full circle, studying her surroundings with the eye of an investigator.

The woods around her bristled with life, leaves fluttering in the late September breeze that ruffled her hair into disarray. She spotted a squirrel shinning up a tree with quick, darting movements, its black eyes scanning the area for threats much the same way her own gaze was seeking some cause for the unsettled sensation that had set her heart pounding and scattered goose bumps across her limbs.

You're alone, she told herself, firmly turning her gaze back to the road and the long walk uphill to the scenic overlook.

Always alone.

With the skin on the back of her neck still twitching as if brushed by invisible fingers, she took one last look at the roadside memorial before heading up the mountain road.

Cain should have known Sara Lindsey wouldn't show up for the graveside memorial. From what he'd heard around Purgatory over the past couple of weeks, she hadn't been back to Ridge County more than a handful of times since the accident.

Thanks to being laid up in ICU, she'd missed the funeral. Even her in-laws couldn't fault her for that. But what had kept her away after that?

A hunch had brought him out here to Black Creek Road and the roadside memorial Joyce Lindsey tended with obsessive attention. And sure enough, here she was, the grieving widow crouched beside the gleaming white cross, her head bent, a glossy curtain of dark hair hiding her face from his curious gaze.

She couldn't remember the accident, people said. Unfortunate for her if it was true, because without any memory of what had happened that night, there was no way for her to refute the whispered rumors about what might have led her to drive their truck off the road and down the steep bluff.

There had been no witnesses. Nobody to say, one way or another, whether she'd been reckless or even careless. The hospital wouldn't release the records of the tests they'd done on her, but he knew they'd have checked her bloodalcohol level and probably even done a tox screen, since she'd been found behind the wheel. If anything had turned up, she'd...


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5,0 von 5 SternenAnother great Graves book.
am 5. Oktober 2014 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
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5,0 von 5 SternenFive Stars
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5,0 von 5 SternenA non stop suspense thriller!
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3,0 von 5 SternenDisappointing effort
am 31. Oktober 2014 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
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