Bailey Rhodes is used to running away from problems. When she returns to her hometown for a class reunion, and runs into her old boyfriend, Randy, she struggles to keep her emotions and past hurts hid deep in her heart.
When a local landlord is found at the bottom of the ledges, she doesn’t believe it’s an accident. Randy and his parents are prime suspects. In her pursuit to find the killer, she may lose her friends, and gain a broken heart in the process.
Can she solve the murder before her heart is broken again?
Excerpt: Chapter 1
“Stupid exit,” Bailey grumbled. She jerked the steering wheel towards the fast approaching exit, earning a honk from the blue van she accidently cut off. “It’s as bad as New York.” It didn’t help that she’d been fiddling with the radio and not paying attention to the exit.
Irritation as thick as her grandmother’s old quilt wrapped around her chest, its smothering hold more blistering than the summer heat. Ten years ago, Bailey packed her suitcases, along with a broken heart and a trunk full of dreams. She’d left this sleepy little town for the excitement of the big city forever, or so she hoped. Now, she found herself coming back like a beaten dog with its tail between its legs.
The happy cadence of her heart felt like a betrayal. No wonder her life was in chaos, she couldn’t even control one simple organ. Grand Ledge, Michigan was the last place she wanted to be, so why did she feel glad to be home?
As she drove along Saginaw Highway, the hustle, flurry and commotion of stores and businesses gave way to the slower pace of small town life. Large Victorian houses sprawled out with their lush green lawns accentuated by a variety of colors. Climbing roses and ivy clung to trellises and the sides of houses. Flowerbeds of begonias, snapdragons, pansies, and lilies dotted lawns. White picket fences, evergreens and hydrangea bushes separated the lots. Children rode their bikes and teenagers jumped and flipped their skateboards on the sidewalk. Couples held hands as they strolled under the large oak, maple, and pine trees that lined the walkways.
Bailey smiled at the memory of playing hopscotch on that very sidewalk with her best friend. She hated to admit it but she missed the peaceful security of small town life.
She drove along Bridge Street, watching the old brick buildings slide by. New businesses dotted the landscape, but some still remained from her youth. She parallel parked in front of the row of stores and went into ‘Sweet Linda’s Café.’ The soothing colors of pale yellow and rust brown greeted her, along with a beautifully decorated mantle over the friendly fireplace. The warm, welcoming atmosphere, however was interrupted by raised voices.
“I’m telling you, Ralph, my parents already paid the rent.”
“They didn’t pay all of it, and they’re late. I’ll be posting an eviction notice if it isn’t paid by tomorrow.” Dark round eyes narrowed under pointed gray brows.
“You post what you want. We’ll see you in court.” The aggressive tone of the redheaded young man flustered the old man.
“I’ll not have any back talk from the sorry likes of you.” His wrinkled face turned redder than a Traverse City cherry. “You’ll be out of here. I’m calling the police.” A fine mist of saliva flew into the air while a line of spittle ran down his chin, disappearing into his gray goatee.
“You’ll look like a fool, as usual. You know as well as I do that you have no legal grounds for an eviction.” The young man folded his arms, his unruffled disposition seemed to make the old man even more furious. “The police actually suggested that we sue you for harassment.”
“Bull!” Blue veins popped out of Ralph’s thin, long neck, looking like a road map. “You’re a liar. So are those sorry, lazy parents of yours.”
The young man leaned closer. “Ralph, I’ll give you ten seconds to leave.” The low growl bounced off the mirrored wall in the back of the shop.
“I own this place. You can’t order me around.”
“You own the building. We pay the rent. As long as we are tenants you can’t step foot in here unless we give you permission. Go check with your lawyer.”
“You smug little…we’ll see.” Ralph stormed out the back door.
A few customers tried to pretend they weren’t eavesdropping. Bailey filled her Styrofoam cup with coffee, put the dome lid on top and walked to the counter.“I’m sorry about that,” he apologized. “I wish he’d stop coming in here when we have customers.”
“It’s okay. I’m used to hostility. It’s all over New York.”
“Bailey?” His eyes widened as he took a second look at her. “Is that you?”
Recognition dawned on Bailey. Her heart beat faster and her coffee felt stuck in her throat. “Randy?”
“Yes.” His voice had grown deeper since their teenage years.
She felt caught off guard. Trying to recover from the shock, she set her face with a blank expression, hoping her emotions didn’t show. “It’s been a long time.” She leaned across the counter and handed him two dollars. “Where’s your lip ring?”
“I gave that up a long time ago.” He shrugged. “There comes a time when you outgrow things like that.” He rang up the order, giving back the change.
“I’ll bet your wife didn’t like it because it made kissing harder.”
“I seem to remember we managed pretty well.” He winked. “And, for the record I’m not married.
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