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EXCERPT

"Mind if I join you?"

Layla turned at the sound of Grady's voice. "Your house."

"I haven't lived here in awhile but, yeah, still home." He eased onto the settee beside Layla with a sigh.

"You were a hero tonight."

"Just doing my job, like a lot of others who are still in town."

"What happened?"

Halo had always seemed a stereotypical, sleepy little town where the most serious crime had been bored teenagers daring each other to face the ghost at the Waring House. A town blown into splinters was not typical.

"The initial theory is a guy who sold a baby to a wealthy couple didn't like his money-making scheme cut off. So he planted dynamite in the buildings in Halo for revenge."

Layla shivered. "Pretty over-the-top for one baby."

"I'm sure there's more to it." Grady covered a yawn.

Silence settled between them, and soon Layla heard Grady's gentle, even breathing--the sign of an exhausted sleep. With tousled hair and smudges of soot on his face from the fires, he seemed more like a little boy than a man who sought out explosives for a living.

Soon Tallie appeared with a quilt over her arm. She tucked it around Grady and kissed his cheek. Always the mom and, again, Layla felt a pang of envy.

"May I bring you a blanket?"

Layla shook her head. "I'm going inside in a few minutes."

But she didn't. When the sun peeked over the eastern horizon, she had cuddled up against Grady and burrowed under his blanket.

His arm stretched along the back of the settee over her shoulders and he smiled shyly at her. "I won't tell your pop if you don't tell my mom."

Her belly did a funny little somersault as a grin formed on her face. "It's a deal."

He kneaded the muscles in his neck. "I need to get back to town."

Then he stood and tucked the blanket around her, much as Tallie had done for him earlier. "Welcome home, Layla."

Her breathing quickened as he leaned close to her. Was he going to kiss her? Was she going to let him?

(Excerpt copyright Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel.)



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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