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Even at the young age of four, the personalities of the twins were strongly emerging. Grady’s demeanor was gentler, though it soon became apparent he thought deeply about situations for such a young child.

As he wrapped his arms around this woman who had been his mother since Bernie brought him home, a sense of peace and love washed away his tensions.

The “bar” was an L-shaped workbench where bomb squad members could take apart these homemade bombs...At times–like now–everyone else had gone home or was on a call. Leaving Grady alone to tinker. These were the times he loved best. Just him and the product of a destructive maniac’s imagination. He might not be Superman facing the actual terrorist, but he was still defeating evil by rendering its tool of fear inoperable.



Her mother died giving birth to Layla...
The fading photo of a mother she never knew still sat beside a stuffed cat, its velvet ears rubbed smooth where the tiny fingers of her little girl self clutched the toy every night at bedtime.

As a teenager, Layla Dalton fled her hometown under the shame of darkness. Fifteen years later, she returned as an award-winning reporter.

Much has changed. Yet her love for flashy shoes and the need to redeem herself and make her Pop proud remain the same.



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Grady & Layla's Relationship

Layla remembered Grady from high school. A tall, slender teenager on the edge of nerdiness who didn’t seem to have a clear direction. Much like she was at that age.
Grady stood on the sidewalk looking at the Waring House. He had always loved this house, right down to the ghost of Miss Stella who had sat in the turret for a hundred and fifty years waiting for her husband to return. His crush on Layla since high school didn’t seem so long compared to Miss Stella’s vigil.

As she led the way up to the top floor of the house, Layla was overly conscious of Grady behind her. Then he turned his full attention on her and a smile formed on his features, like the sun emerging over the eastern horizon. Layla’s breath caught in her throat and her heartbeat accelerated. Like one foot had slipped into an abyss.

"Where did you find the dog?”
“Actually, she found me. The restaurant owner said she’s a stray. So I thought I’d just–you know...”
“Take her home with you.” The admiration and respect in Grady’s eyes looped and swirled in Layla’s belly like a roller coaster.

When Grady showed up at the Waring House with a duffel bag slung over his shoulder, Layla knew something was different. Oh, he still had the same wry, self-effacing grin, but his shoulders were straighter and his stride was just a bit cockier than usual. “I’m looking for a room,” Grady stated. “Thought you and Charlie might like some company.”


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