Genre: Romantic Suspense
Amazon Kindle Edition
"I didn't mean to upset her, Dr. Larson,"
Emma said between sobs.
"Call me Libby. And I'm sure you didn't mean to upset her," she said,
patting the sixteen-year old on the back. "What happened had nothing to
do with you." The girl looked so pathetic, Libby thought, wanting to comfort
her. She gave her time to calm down. Emma forced her lips into a curl,
but the smile didn't reach her face or her eyes. "I wanted to know about
my mom. She died when I was little, and I thought . . . " She shook her
head. "My dad never talks about her, and all I know is that she was beautiful,
and she died in some kind of accident . . . "
Libby and Emma both looked up at the sound of Ross McLaughlin's voice.
The man Libby had met on the beach a few nights ago.
"Are you okay?" he asked Emma.
"Your grandmother?" Ross looked in the direction of the hall.
Libby stood up, smiled at him. "I gave your mother a mild sedative. Your
father's with her now."
Without as much as a word to Libby, he touched his daughter on the shoulder.
"I'll be right back," he said, then disappeared around the corner.
Libby didn't know whether the man was rude or simply upset about his mother.
Deciding to give him the benefit of the doubt, she concluded it was the
He was much more dangerous looking in the daylight, she thought, thinking
back to the night she'd seen him standing on the dock, the weight of the
world sitting on his shoulders.
Everything was dark on him. Hair, eyes and complexion. He was tall and
lean with broad shoulders. His voice was deep and authoritative, and he
was in need of a haircut, Libby mused. Emma didn't look anything like
her father. She was fair haired--except for the red tipped spikes--blue
eyed and petite. What a contrast father and daughter made.
"I hope my dad isn't mad at me."
Libby stared at her. "How could he possibly be mad at you? What happened
was not your fault, Emma. Because you were curious about your mother had
nothing to do with what happened. Your grandmother is ill."
"I know, but she was fine until I asked about my mother."
Ross came around the corner, a stern look on his face. "What did you ask
"Nothing," the girl said, pausing momentarily. "I just asked if she would
tell me about my mom. And she got all upset, and--"
Ross came closer and touched his daughter's cheek. "We had this discussion,
remember? You promised me you wouldn't mention your mother in front of
Emma looked on the verge of tears again. "I know, but--"
"Emma, promise me."
"Okay," she finally relented.
Ross held out a hand. "C'mon, let's go home."
Emma stood, but didn't take her father's hand. "I think I left the garden
hose on." She walked to the screen door. "And I want to clean things up
before we go." With that, she flew out the back door.
Probably to hide her tears, Libby thought. The poor little thing. Squaring
her shoulders, Libby zoomed in on the girl's father. "Don't you think
you were a little hard on her? It wasn't her fault, you know."
Ross looked her in the eye, but didn't answer. He wasn't much of a talker,
Libby surmised. Not now, nor the night she'd seen him on the beach.
"The poor thing is just curious about her mother. She feels badly enough
already. You shouldn't make her feel worse," she continued to lecture.
"What happened to Beverly had nothing to do with Emma. Your mother's had
these outbursts before."
Gaping at her with his mouth wide open, he retorted, "Gee, Doc, I didn't
know you did family counseling as well as being a general practitioner."
"I'm only trying to help." Libby pretended not to be offended.
"I didn't ask for your help." Ross moved past her and toward the back
door. He spotted Emma crawling on the ground. Suddenly, feeling guilty,
he wanted nothing more than to go to her. With his hand on the screen
door handle, he said, "Thanks for helping my mother, Doctor Larson. But
since she's resting now, I doubt there's any reason for you to stick around.
Libby had been dismissed by Ross McLaughlin. She'd thought him arrogant
and bossy and rude. And those were just his good points. Realizing she
was no longer needed, or wanted, she grabbed her medical bag and left
by the front door. As she sped off toward town, her mood darkened even
She'd heard the rumors about him. That he may have killed his wife fourteen
years ago. Apparently, he'd been arrested for her murder, then after being
questioned, was released for lack of evidence. Which was how things worked
in small towns. Arrest first, ask questions later.
Some of the townsfolk said that he couldn't have done something so horrible.
He came from a good family. The McLaughlins had a fine reputation. Libby
knew all about good families and fine reputations. She'd come from one,
also. And what went on behind closed doors sometimes never surfaced.
Of course, she'd never paid much attention to the rumors about Ross. And
she wasn't the type of person to cast judgment on people she didn't know.
Emma said her mother had died in an accident. Maybe it had been an accident,
after all. Or maybe, Meredith McLaughlin had jumped off that cliff. Then
again, no one really knew for sure. No one except for Meredith and God.
And the murderer, if there was one.
Order Amazon Kindle Edition