A new detective in town. Lies. Murder. Lust.
A woman damaged.
Can he repair her heart, gain her trust and find the killer? Or is the attraction he’s fighting hiding the fact he’s already found her?
Detective James Hawke is about to learn only
the dead don’t lie.
Keep reading for an excerpt
Aimee closed the door behind them and leaned heavily against it before sliding to the floor. She stared at the wall of her office as she tried to make sense of things.
Louisa was dead. Murdered.
It was no mistake. She’d been positively identified, and this wasn’t some cruel joke.
How could this be happening? It was so unreal she couldn’t get her brain to fully grasp it. The last time she’d seen Louisa, her sister had been happy and healthy, and now she was gone. A whisper raced across her mind.
Aimee shook uncontrollably as grief overwhelmed her. She pushed back the sob rising in her throat and blinked away the tears stinging her eyes. Crying never fixed anything. Nothing could fix this situation.
Louisa was gone.
She drew in a ragged breath as she tried to rein in her emotions, burying her head in her hands. She replayed the last conversation she had with her sister. Louisa had been pushing to forget the past. To make peace. As if that would ever happen. Especially now that Louisa was gone. She was the only one who’d cared that the Burnes family was fractured.
Ruth certainly didn’t. After all, she was the one who’d made it so.
She shuddered when she thought of her mother, who hadn’t been in the best of health to begin with. This could kill her. When Louisa had told her about their mother’s declining health, Aimee had been surprised. She thought the old bitch too mean to be struck down. She’d been wrong. Not that her mother would be dying soon, but each day she was weakening and might not last more than five years.
Would she mourn her mother as she did her sister? Probably not, because she’d grieved for her mother years ago, grieved for the love that had never been there and how easily her mother had tossed her aside.
Aimee contemplated calling her, reaching out, but immediately dismissed the idea. She was in no position to offer sympathy or a shoulder to cry on and her mother wouldn’t accept any of those from her even if she was.
Her mother had never warmed to her. It wasn’t a figment of her imagination. Ruth had told her numerous times that she wished Aimee had never been born. She made no bones on showing her younger daughter how she truly felt. Once it had hurt her, but now she was used to meaning nothing to the woman who had given her life.
Aimee hugged her arms around her raised legs and rested her head on her knees. Pain washed over her and pierced her heart until she was struggling to breathe. She’d never been close with her sister but that didn’t mean she wanted any harm to come to her. She swallowed hard at what it must’ve been like for her sister, scared and alone, knowing no one would come to her rescue—that she would die. Aimee squeezed her arms tighter around her legs in an effort to provide herself comfort.
It was what she’d been doing for most of her life. Comforting herself because she knew she couldn’t count on anyone else.
She was alone.
Truly alone. She hadn’t appreciated her sister while she had the chance and now she would never be able to change that.
It was an opportunity lost.
She fought against the sorrow weighing heavily on her. Aimee pushed away from the floor. It would do no good to wallow in misery. She could change nothing and feeling sad would only pull her down into the dark abyss of depression.
Her breath left her in a loud exhale as she caught her reflection in the mirror she’d affixed to the wall in an attempt to make her office look larger. Her eyes were stormy with emotion she refused to shed, her skin pale even beneath the foundation she wore. Beyond that, she saw her sister. She touched her jaw. She and Louisa had looked identical for years, with their sandy blonde hair and grey eyes. Aimee had eradicated all of the similarities years ago when she’d left Harbour Bay for Sydney.
She’d gone from one side of the colour spectrum to the next and dyed her hair raven black. Then she’d begun to cover her face with make-up. Anything to change until she couldn’t even recognise herself. Her mother had never condoned make-up or nail polish. She admitted she’d gone a little overboard but for the first time in her life she’d been able to do as she wished and without judgement. Or at least, none she cared about.
It had been the most freeing experience of her life. The most beneficial. Over the years, she’d become more comfortable with herself, with her past, and she’d transformed back to her old self. But she’d never returned to her blonde roots, much preferring the darker shade that drew attention to her eyes and made them sparkle.
She blinked moisture away, unable to keep from dwelling on all she had lost. Why had she been so stubborn? Her sister had gone to her grave believing Aimee wanted nothing to do with her. That couldn’t be more wrong. Louisa was her older sister. She’d been there her entire life. Maybe not always on her side, but she’d looked up to her sister. Idolised her. Aimee couldn’t believe she’d never see her again. She shivered and rubbed her hands up and down her arms to ward off the chill.
What the hell had happened? Why had Louisa been taken from her?
She hadn’t been lying to the detectives when she’d said her sister was the sweetest, kindest woman she knew. Louisa had led an uninteresting life. She made no ripples. If anyone should’ve been a target, it was Aimee, since she dealt with less than favourable people on a daily basis.
Life rarely made sense.
She didn’t know what to do. Should she be calling someone to arrange the funeral? How long would it take for Louisa’s body to be released? She hadn’t thought to ask the detectives. Should she enquire? The older one had given her his card. What was the protocol for homicide investigations?
She sank heavily into the chair behind her desk. She felt a million years old. Her energy—her very essence—sapped from her body.
She glanced at her phone and then decided against making the call. Her mother wouldn’t appreciate her interference. Even if it alleviated Ruth’s stress levels and allowed her time to grieve.
She blew out another shaky breath and leaned back in her chair, closing her eyes against the agony she felt. Thousands of questions floated inside her head. The most persistent was, could she have prevented this tragedy?
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