Playing for Keeps Playing for Keeps (Hope Valley #10) - Jessica Prince Page 0,1

a blight on humanity, Officer Greg Cormack had been the devil incarnate.

In a long line of mistakes, getting tied up with those two men was the one I regretted the most. The penance I tried to pay in an attempt and make things right had nearly cost me my life—literally. Yet it still didn’t feel like enough. The mess I’d tangled myself in had cost one good man his life and put countless others in danger, and I wasn’t sure if there was enough atonement in the world to fix the damage I’d been a party to.

I was ripped from my depressing thoughts by the ding of my cellphone. I dropped my T-shirt, covering the scar left behind from that unforgiving bullet that tore through my abdomen and moved to grab my phone off the bedside table and check the text that had just come through.

Hayden: Just a warning, Micah said if you try to cancel on dinner tonight, he’ll come over there and drag you here by your hair. Don’t forget to bring wine. Love you!

If you had told me a year ago, or hell, even six months ago, that I would be best friends with a woman like Hayden Young, I’d have laughed in your face. Given what we’d both lived through, I was certain she’d want nothing to do with me, that I would have been a reminder of a nightmare she wanted to forget. But the strange bond that resulted from a shared trauma was something Hayden had insisted on cultivating, not running from.

Before we met, I’d been working as an informant for a detective by the name of Micah Langford. I’d wanted to help him and his partner, Leo Drake, take down Cormack and the other dirty cops and criminals he had working for him after he’d stepped in to take over Malachi Black’s drug operation when Malachi had gone to prison. Hayden and Micah had been dating at the time, and to say our first meeting had been an unfortunate one would have been putting it mildly.

Hayden was one of the good people who’d gotten hurt in my tangled mess. Cormack had abducted her as a way to get back at Micah for coming after him, and I’d been shot trying to save her.

She’d been forced to kill him while I’d lain bleeding on that dirty floor in a desolate cabin in the middle of nowhere, and I worried constantly that having to do that was going to scar her in a very profound way.

I’d tried pushing both her and Micah away after everything was said and done, thinking they were better off without me around, but no matter how much I fought it, they refused to let me slip away quietly, all but forcing me into the fold of their lives. I’d gone from having no one to being an extension of their family.

I had dinner at their house once a week, saw Hayden and my ever-widening circle of friends for lunch or coffee at least twice a month, and she’d even asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding when Micah popped the question a couple months ago.

I shot off a quick reply, letting her know I was just about to head her way and started across my studio apartment toward the front door.

The place was the size of a matchbox but the whitewashed brick walls and view of the foothills and mountains that surrounded the valley from pretty much every window made the lack of space totally worth it.

I grabbed my purse from the kitchen counter and headed out. Just as I shoved my key into the lock, the door across the hall from mine opened, and my neighbor’s curler-bedecked head popped out.

Deloris Weatherby was at least eighty years old—and that was being generous—cantankerous as hell, nosey, and a bit—a lot—dramatic. Most of the other tenants in the building found her salty and suspicious nature annoying, but I saw a lonely old lady who was just trying to connect with people the only way she really knew how.

“Hey, Ms. Weatherby,” I said with a wave of my hand.

Her eyes were cartoonishly small behind her Coke-bottle glasses as she looked right then left down the hallway. “Oh good. It’s just you. I heard a door and worried it might be a burglar.”

“No burglar. Just me,” I assured her.

“I thought they’d finally come for my Precious Moments figurines. I have one of the biggest collections in the state, you know. It tends Copyright 2016 - 2023