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It was more than ideal.

“I’m so sorry to have to leave you,” I whispered into Roxy’s fur as I headed up to the walkway to the back entrance of the main house. “But Amelia is gonna love the hell outta you… May will just have to deal.”

I put her down so I could unlock the back door and let myself inside with the key May had given me for emergencies. There was so much wrong with that woman’s sense of danger, but I had to remind myself that not everyone killed people for a living, or did things that people wanted to kill them for.

This was a small, quiet town, where strangers weren’t common and people baked pies for each other and shit.

Of courseshe was trusting enough to give her tenant a key to her house.

“Tamra, is that you?!” I heard May call out and I sighed.


I hadn’t expected her to be home.

I had every intention of leaving Roxy here with a note for them to find when they got back from work and school in the afternoon. I really didn’t have it in me to have totalkher into keeping my dog, but I really didn’t have a choice.

Roxy couldn’t live by herself, andIhad to go.

“Yeah!” I answered, reluctantly, not wanting to freak her out. When I first moved in, I’d taught her how to use a gun, and even given her one, in case she ever needed to protect herself.

I didn’t want her using the damn thing on me because she thought I was breaking in.

I heard footsteps on the stairs, and immediately turned my back to them, turning on the kitchen sink to pretend to wash my hands.

“Everything okay?” May asked, from behind me. “Hey Roxy-girl!”

I breathed a sigh of relief that she was busy with the dog. “Uh, yeah. Something was up with my water over in the guesthouse,” I lied. “I wasn’t expecting anybody at home this time of day yet. Sorry for not calling or something first.”

“Don’t worry about it. Amelia isn’t feeling well, so I worked from home today so she could stay in bed.”

I turned the water off, knowing I couldn’t stand there washing my hands forever – I had to turn around and face May – I just hoped the visual appearance of my face didn’t match the pain I felt.

“Oh no – is she okay?” I asked, trying to deflect as I turned.

It didn’t work.

May’s eyes went wide as she took in my battered appearance. “Tamra!” she exclaimed. “What onearthhappened?! Who did this to you?!”

“It’s nothing, May,” I tried to soothe, raising my hands. “I just… listen, I’ve gotta go, okay? I’m sorry for lying to you, but… I was really coming over here to leave Roxy, so she wouldn’t be alone. But I have to go.”

May opened her mouth to respond, but was interrupted by the sound of the door. “That’s probably the mail – let me grab this package, and then me and you are gonna talk.”

“May, I—”

“Just give me aminute,” she insisted, turning to jog toward the door.

I’d already expended too many minutes here though.

I dried my hands and grabbed my bag, then bent to offer Roxy one last cuddle.

My hand was on the back door handle when I heard a male voice that sent a shiver up my spine.

It washimagain.

Immediately, I dropped my bag and whipped my gun from my waist, finger on the trigger as I moved to the kitchen doorway to catch the conversation.

“…need you and your daughter to come with me. I know I probably sound like a lunatic, but you have to trust me. Tommy Turner has decided you’re a threat to his future, and he’s willing and able to eliminate the threat.”

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