It's finally the day and time .... my second release, and the first book in the Destiny's Child series, is now out with Noble Romance Publishing!
I'm jumping around like a loon right now, and at the same time, quaking in my sandals :)
But, I also want to share this moment with you all - so, for you, here's Chapter 1 from the book, in full!
Enjoy! And if the read is catchy, why not head over to Noble Romance and get your copy? *grin*
Emotion is something foreign; cold, rational facts and proof drive everything. Brain over heart, always.
Every forensic pathologist knew his or her work boiled down to that line of conduct, and Margo Nolan lived her life by the principles of her job. Emotion used to be an unfamiliar concept most of the time, except for the rare occasions when the pain would tear through her, when she was unable to tamp the suffering into submission. Pain, the sharp, visceral, abject torture that gripped her every time she thought of Emma, during all those years she was away from the daughter of her heart. Lately, pain sliced through her every time her gaze landed on the pretty girl, fast blossoming into a beautiful young woman.
How many years we've lost . . . . If only I'd sought her out . . . .
But she couldn't—shouldn't—think of that then. No—there were more pressing matters at hand.
Margo's feet slowed in the lobby that also served as Dr. Gillespie's waiting room. He was the only doctor in the little village, Camberry, just outside London in the county of Surrey, where Emma, and lately Margo, too, lived. Like most country doctors, he operated his practice from his house. Emma had been sick at school that day, and had been sent to see him.
Under Margo's stilettos, the wood planks of the big Victorian manor didn't even creak or groan—strange, as old houses always had a telltale creak or two in the parquet. Or maybe her step remained light enough not to evoke any sound from the dark surface, worn smooth from years of foot traffic in that very lobby. No place echoed the click-clack of high heels louder than a morgue. Margo had learned how to keep her tread soft under any circumstance. Despite the high-gleam polish on the wood, her feet didn't skid on the glossy surface as she glided, more than walked, across the boards. Whiffs of beeswax and lemon wood polish tickled her nostrils—a completely different scent from the usual sterile tang and formaldehyde-permeated atmosphere at the morgue.
Margo stopped at the doorway that led into the anteroom to the doctor's office. Her gaze lingered on Emma, asleep on a high-backed, plush sofa. In slumber, the girl's dainty features still showed the sweetness of childhood. So very much the likeness of the chubby-cheeked cherub with corkscrew, auburn curls Margo had had to leave seven years ago—
Today she was back with Emma, trying her damndest to bridge the gap between ages four and eleven, the time she hadn't been there for the girl. Not by choice—
Margo straightened when a dark, looming shadow crept up on the tween. All her senses shot on high alert; she bristled, and her hands closed into fists.
The man, tall and imposing in the semi-darkness, bent and placed a hand on Emma's forehead.
Who on Earth is he? And why is he touching her?
"What do you think you're doing?" Margo crossed the distance to stand between her daughter and the stranger. She shouldered him aside, before folding her body protectively over the top of the armchair.
Her gaze raked over him, taking in the faded, threadbare-at-the-knees jeans, the hint of a dark T-shirt under the baggy, slate-grey jumper with a hoodie that obscured his face.
Who is this hooligan? What's he doing here? Emma's grandmother had come to Camberry because the countryside appeared safer for a growing girl than bustling London. Nevertheless, here was some man, alone in a room with her daughter.
He gave a soft grunt. "Checking if her fever's gone down."
Margo drew closer to Emma, her protective instincts shooting sky-high. If anyone ever touched her daughter to harm her . . . . Finally, she understood how women murdered in cold blood when their children were hurt, how they showed no remorse afterward.
As she leaned over the prone girl, her gaze shot back to the man. She steeled her spine, tensed her arms and shoulders, and glared at him. Seasoned police officers knew not to mess with her when she stood like that, and criminals always thought twice before bullshitting her when she gave them the narrowed look. Let him try to take her on—he had another think coming if he believed he'd get away scot-free today. "And how's that any of your concern?"
Sighed. She couldn't stop her eyes from widening with surprise, before she frowned again.
Good grief! What have perverts come to, nowadays?
"As her physician, that's my job, don't you think?" His low voice flowed, smooth and composed, reminiscent of police officers trying to calm a hysterical victim.
Damn you. She frowned so hard, her forehead hurt. Margo blinked to ward off the shard of pain that lanced behind her left eye. Nice try. Who did he think he was?
"Where's Dr. Gillespie?" she asked.
"I am Dr. Gillespie. And you are?"
She snorted, at the calm confidence and at the unashamed allegation. Which one won her contempt more? No way was he the "good ol' doctor." She had met the bear of a man with the soft voice and bedside manner a couple of weeks ago, when she came to settle here. Dr. Gordon Gillespie had looked a far cry from the lean, intense young man before her. The old man had also come out clear on the background check she had a police contact run on him, and on anyone else involved in Emma's life here.
And to think the man here had fallen through a hole in her security net? No, she refused to contemplate that.
But, questions first; accusations later, when she had proof. The logic of her profession came like second nature to her.
"Stop the act. You are not he." She threw a glance around the room. "Where's Helen? Why is Emma alone here?"
"Helen just left for home. It was past time she made it back to her own children."
His tone conveyed cold reproach. Margo bristled. She was late, she knew it. But she'd been detained by a string of autopsies today. And no one had bothered to tell her Emma had been hurt during football practise. The lab staff had ascribed Helen's call to a prankster—Dr. Nolan had no life, let alone a daughter.
"You are Ms. Milburn, I presume."
"Nolan. Dr. Nolan." She corrected him by reflex—no one addressed her by any other name.
Did his jaw tense? He moved, and the hooded cap slid off his head, to reveal his sharp, angular features and messy dark hair, no longer shadowing the dark brown depths of his deep-set eyes.
Dangerous. The rational whisper danced inside her head.
"Who the hell are you?" Tingles of awareness and peril skittered up her spine, like the time when she was on a crime location, and the killer managed to sneak up behind her. Trusting her gut that day—those shivers—kept her alive, when she didn't hesitate to look like a chicken, and called the chief inspector into the room with her.
The moment here was one such instance too, urging her to call for backup. She felt her hand itch, where it lay against her trouser pocket. All she needed to do was grab her cell phone and call all her acquaintances in the police—in short, the whole London Metropolitan force.
"I told you. I am Dr. Gillespie, the one treating your daughter for that bad tackle."
She snorted. "I have met the man."
He rolled his eyes and sighed. "You met my uncle. He's away, and I'm filling in for him."
"Oh." His explanation killed the wind in her sails. Some of the pent-up tension left her body, and she winced at the weary ache that settled in her stiff muscles. Looking him over, she knew he didn't lie. Nothing in his body language betrayed him, and his eyes didn't dart left or right when he spoke to her, focused directly on her face. She'd watched enough interrogations to pick up body language cues.
Still not a hundred percent convinced, she squinted, and hoped the harsh planes of his face, the pointed chin and nose, and shaggy dark locks, would clue her in about him. After a moment, when she realized she rudely stared, she gave up. Corpses clued her in on their deaths—and lives—while living beings were almost an alien race.
He wasn't lying, that was a given. Her suspicions allayed a little, and she relaxed her shoulders, before drawing to her full height to stand straight.
So he is the doctor. Margo stroked a wayward dark curl from Emma's forehead. "She isn't running a fever."
He crossed his arms, strong hands coming to rest on his jumper sleeves. Tension left him, too, and his body slackened into a casual pose. He rested one hip against the side of the high-backed sofa. "Not anymore. Seems she fell and grazed her shin yesterday. Left untreated, the wound got infected."
Oh, Em. Why didn't you say anything?
Because Margo wasn't around—that's why.
Margo hung her head. She was on call 24/7. Men thrived in her line of work. Women, not so much. The demands on the pathologist's private life were all consuming. There existed no place to fit a child or a semblance of family life. What would she do with a daughter?
Three weeks ago, she received the call that had changed her life. Ednah Milburn, Emma's maternal grandmother, was dying, and Margo was the next in line to become Emma's guardian. What happened to Cora?—Emma's mother and Margo's estranged best friend—she had asked . . . only to be informed that Cora had died five years earlier. Margo was not prepared for the next revelation, either—that Cora had named Margo as Emma's guardian, were anything to happen to her. But Emma's grandmother, Ednah, had concealed the will, and taken the little girl in, leaving Cambridge to start a new life in Camberry, Surrey, where no one knew them. The lawyer brought Margo up to speed on the phone. Ednah had suffered a stroke and wouldn't survive beyond the next forty-eight hours.
Margo had rushed to the hospital, for the first time in her life leaving an autopsy halfway through, to find her baby girl, grown into a tall, beautiful, auburn-haired tween. Emma had taken one look at her in that sterile hospital corridor, and rushed into her arms.
They hadn't looked back . . . . But, right then, Margo knew she hadn't looked forward, either. How would she accommodate a child in her life? The sleeping girl before her needed a mother . . . .
Emma whimpered. Margo shushed her with a soothing caress on her forehead. Nothing should distress her little girl.
The word was soft, groggy, full of trust and the conviction that "mummy" would make everything all right.
"I'm here, luv." The phrase barely made it past the lump in Margo's throat. Mummy had been Emma's first word, spoken to her, and not to Cora, Emma's birth mother. Cora, who had gallivanted around like a flitting butterfly, content to leave her baby girl in Margo's care at home, in the tiny flat they shared near the Cambridge university campus. Between studying for her many exams and looking after Emma, Margo's life was complete. And she also had Harry in her world—
Don't think of Harry.
She forced her mind to return to the present.
Even after all these years, Emma still thought of her as her "other Mum". Should she be grateful and embrace the title, or be scared out of her wits at the terrible job she'd most certainly do as a mother? She recalled how panicked she'd been at Emma's first bout with colic, at three months. Cora wasn't home again, and Margo had rushed the baby to Casualty at two a.m., only to be told that first-time mums had a right to panic but that she had nothing to worry about, colic being a standard baby ailment.
Margo tore her misting eyes from the tween and blinked. "I beg your pardon?"
"She'll be okay."
"Yes." She bit her lip. "Yes, she will."
She'd make sure of that. Seven years ago, Emma had been torn from her care, and from her world. Fate had given her another chance, one she wouldn't relinquish without a fight.
Margo took a deep breath, her gaze going from the doctor to Emma and back again. "What do we do from here on?"
He straightened to his full height and uncrossed his arms; he let them fall to his sides. From her position on the arm of the sofa, she had to crane her neck to look at him. Easily six-four tall, with wide shoulders in perfect proportion to his big stature.
Margo's mouth went dry and she gulped. He surely was a man who had a daunting physical presence. The skitters of unease flittered over her spine again, and she wondered who would come to save her from him.
Get a grip!
"Come to the desk. Emma will be fine for a few minutes."
With reluctance, Margo peeled her arms from where they were propped on the armchair's back.
Be on your guard, her brain screamed.
"I'm Jamie Gillespie. We haven't been properly introduced." He stood on the other side of the wide oak table, and didn't extend his hand.
She hitched her arms to her sides and nodded. "Margo Nolan."
At the desk, she settled into a chair opposite him. "How is she faring? I mean, really. Please don't hide anything from me."
If he heard the worry and panic in her voice, she didn't care. They were talking about Emma, about her little girl.
"Not too bad. Just, like I told you, the wound on her leg got infected. She developed a fever, and a dizzy spell on the pitch meant she fell and twisted her ankle."
"But, she'll be okay?" Never mind that she was herself a medical doctor. Facts and logic had left, to create a wide berth for emotion to play havoc with her mind.
Jamie chuckled. "No need to be so worried. She'll be good as new in a few days. The fever's come down but . . . ." He paused. "You didn't notice she had a high temperature this morning?"
Margo glanced away from his intent eyes, then returned her gaze to his face. Cursed be the good manners her mother had instilled in her, namely, to always look squarely at a person when addressing him. "I wasn't with her today. I had to stay overnight at work."
He clenched his jaw; his nostrils flared slightly.
He probably thought she was one of these career-minded mothers whose only claim to motherhood was to carry a child in her womb for nine months.
And that was not even applicable to her.
"Listen," she said, then thought better of trying to explain the technicalities of her incompetent, so far, journey into parenthood. Why did she care what he thought of her as a mother? "Can I take her home?"
His thick brows furrowed. "Yes. Just make sure the fever doesn't come back; five hundred milligrams of paracetamol every four to six hours should do the trick. I'll see her again for the sprain in two days. If there's anything, don't hesitate to call me."
"Will do." Margo stood. Her gaze fell on the sleeping Emma. How would she get her home?Paracetamol and painkillers had probably knocked the girl out.
"Is your car outside?" Jamie asked.
She nodded. "I parked in front of the porch."
"I'll carry her, if you want."
She acquiesced with a nod and a sigh of relief, grateful for his help. Emma wasn't a big girl; still, the tween's weight wouldn't be easy for her to manage all the way into the car. Doing autopsies day in, day out didn't build strong arm muscles.
Jamie scooped Emma up in his arms as if she weighed no more than a feather pillow.
Men. She shook her head. Nature blessed them with physical strength. Many abused that God-given privilege too, as she saw too often in her line of work.
Margo followed in the doctor's footsteps as he delicately carried Emma out, then settled the sleeping girl into the back seat of her Audi Q5. He clicked her seat belt into place just as Margo reached in from the other side of the car to take over the task.
Their shoulders bumped and their heads came up at the same time. Mere inches separated them, and Margo made the mistake of looking into his face.
Bathed in the soft radiance of the porch lamp that spilled in through the back windshield, his features were an arresting play of light and shadows. Suddenly seeing him so up close that she could make out the errant eyelash that had fallen on his cheekbone, she froze. Her outer shell remained immobile, while inside, a storm of uncalled-for heat and yearning warred for possession of her brain and senses.
That's a living, breathing man—a handsome, sexy creature in his own right. The red-hot memo wanted to sizzle its way all through her, but she couldn't—wouldn't—allow it.
Jamie Gillespie was definitely a hunk, and at first glance, not a day over thirty.
Latching onto him would be like cradle robbing. She was way over the big three-o, a few years shy of forty. She dreaded that prospect more than turning thirty, because with forty came peri-menopause; with it, hot flashes, followed by menopause, when many women went mental. Because she faced a dwindling biological clock with every year that passed, the minute she saw a man as desirable, she immediately viewed him as a baby-making machine, even though that had been less and less important over the last few years.
To see Jamie as sexy meant she could clearly picture herself making babies with him. A hot flash crept up her cheeks and stung her skin. She couldn't—shouldn't—picture him as anything but the local doctor. Men younger than thirty had a raging libido—Stop it!
She was further gone than she'd thought. Sex was not a possibility right then, especially not with Emma in her life. She had her child; the biological clock could go to hell in a hand basket. Let another pregnancy-craving young woman sink her teeth into the handsome Jamie.
But if she could sink her teeth into the flesh of his butt cheeks, run her tongue over the ridges of what she was sure were rock-hard pecs and abs—
Margo pinched herself hard and stifled the yelp of pain that tore her from her X-rated fantasies. A younger man was so not right for her . . . .
In the closed confines of the car interior, she blinked, and the fierce flutter of her eyelids shattered the paralysis that held her body prisoner. She moved and her hand brushed against his sleeve.
Soft, warm, yielding. Fine merino lamb's wool—that was no punk-grunge clothing.
All the more perilous.
"Thank you." She mumbled the words, and wondered if anything but a garbled sound came out of her mouth. Then she ducked out of the car before he could reply.
She slid into the driver's seat and waited, without looking back, for him to close the passenger door. Once she heard the soft thump, Margo hightailed out of there, as if the hounds of hell pursued her.
In a way, they were. These hounds were those of desire and longing, to Margo, the most terrifying of all.
* * * * *
Back at their cottage, at the other end of the village, Margo was in luck when Emma awoke long enough to shuffle groggily into the house. The girl didn't make it past Margo's bed in the curtained-off area beside the kitchen; she fell into a lump on the sagging mattress and went back to her drug-induced sleep. Margo watched her and sighed. The tween's room was upstairs in the loft; right then, Emma wasn't able to climb the stairs. Margo certainly didn't have the strength to drag her up.
Jamie Gillespie's strong arms would've been welcome.
Margo snorted. Here she was, taken in by a pretty face and a nice pair of broad shoulders. She might need help around the place, but certainly not in the form of a man. The two she had known in her life had brought her complications and distress, respectively. She didn't need to know where Jamie fitted in along the spectrum.
Her gaze roamed over the close confines of the cottage. From her first glance at the house, outside on the front lawn, she'd seen the cottage as a veritable tribute to rural British living, pretty in the greenery of the Surrey borough. Inside—that's another story. The cramped space was perfect for an old woman whose arthritis made it hard for her to move over wide expanses. Accustomed to her breezy, high-rise penthouse in Chelsea, Margo was out of her depths in that dwelling.
After she removed her work clothes and changed into a flannel nightgown, Margo took another turn by Emma's bedside. The girl lay sprawled on the bed, lying on her stomach; there was no way Margo could squeeze in.
She gazed at the tween. Her delicate features had already lost all baby fat, and hinted at the fragile, exquisite bone structure in her lean jaw and slanted cheekbones. With her wide, cupid mouth, thick lashes, and rich auburn curls, Emma was on her way to become a total beauty.
Smiling, Margo picked up a brush and ran it gently through her daughter's long hair. Emma had always slept on her stomach, even as a baby. Concerned about the sudden infant death syndrome linked with that particular sleeping position, Margo had done everything possible to get Emma to sleep on her back or on her side, with no luck.
Emma was also a messy sleeper, even all grown up, and the curly locks tangled easily if not braided. Expertly twisting the hair and securing it with an elastic band—a task she'd been daft at just three weeks ago, she left Emma to sleep and went to crash on the sofa. There was the tween's room upstairs, but she didn't want to leave the girl alone on the ground floor.
Once again, as she surveyed the surroundings, Margo knew they had to move. Emma needed a nanny to look after her when Margo was at work. Their elderly neighbour, Mrs. May, clearly was in over her head with a headstrong eleven-year-old. A nanny meant some peace of mind; however, it also spelt live-in help. There were no accommodations for another person in the cottage, and she craved space and an interior without lace doilies and porcelain knick-knacks on every surface.
The cottage also brought the remembrance of Ednah Milburn, a woman who had hated her with a vengeance. Why else would the old woman have kept mum about the fact that Margo, and not she, was to be Emma's guardian when Cora died?
At the thought of Cora, Margo's throat closed. Her best friend succumbed to secondary cancer five years earlier. Margo hadn't known; Cora hadn't gotten in touch, either, when she fell sick. Why? After everything they'd shared, why hadn't her friend told her she had cancer? Picking up a phone was so easy—Margo still lived in the Chelsea penthouse where the three of them had settled when she found a job in London. Cora had severed all ties between them, yet she appointed Margo—and not Ednah, her own mother—as Emma's guardian when she was in a terminal stage. Again, why, she wanted to ask.
So many questions, and no possibility of an answer. Her head swirled with them. Every time she paused long enough to take her mind off a case, Cora came back to haunt her.
Why? she kept asking . . . only to hit a brick wall every time.
Margo shook her head. She had to move on. Emma counted on her.
Margo picked up her cell, then dialled the local real estate agent. She needed a new place, and she needed it fast.
* * * * *
Jamie finished clearing the surgery, then got it ready for the next day. Usually that was Helen's task, but his nurse had a sick little boy on her hands and he'd let her go early.
Hence, the reason he'd been playing babysitter to Emma Milburn when her prickly mother had stormed in.
He shook his head as he made his way upstairs to his living quarters. Margo Nolan. Who was she, really, beneath the power suit, high heels, and straight blonde hair? She wore little makeup on her well-defined, elegant features, and her slender nose hinted at an aristocratic lineage. Her deep blue eyes didn't need mascara and liner to stand out as intense, and that mouth—if she bit those dark-pink lips once more tonight in his surgery, he swore he would've grabbed her by the nape of her graceful neck and kissed her.
Down, boy. She might be a total stunner, but his first impression of her also screamed City investor or lawyer, the kind of power-hungry woman who bowled her way through the glass ceiling. Like Catherine, his sister-in-law, a cold fish he despised with all he had.
Until Emma called out for her mum, and Margo's face lost all the frost. Her tense body relaxed, the fabric of her tailored trouser suit hinting at the soft curves of her breasts and hips. Suddenly, she'd softened into an unrecognizable facet of the same person.
Intriguing. He knew not much about her, or anyone in the village, for that matter—he'd been here less than a week. Helen had told him Emma lived with her grandmother. The old woman passed away some three weeks ago, and that's when city girl Margo came over to take care of the tween. Despite the Milburns living there for five years, never once had Margo Nolan come by, or even been mentioned.
Is she that bad a mother?
No, she'd been too concerned about Emma. Something was off, and he felt himself itch to get to the bottom of the whole story.
Not to mention that Margo was a very beautiful woman . . . . Get out of here! No one could embody "Ice Queen" as well as she did, and that kind of frost was a total deterrent and lust-killer for him . . . usually.
Here, too, he wondered if there was a story.
His father would tell him to drop the Sherlock Holmes act. The thought made him wince and clamp his jaw. His father never understood how Jamie had needed more purpose in his life than the satisfaction of balancing accounting books. He'd never figured that Jamie didn't want to be a carbon copy of Robert, his elder brother, with his successful job in the City and his slick, polished wife who would want to have children, maybe, after she hit forty and took a jump from the highest rung of the Forex broker's ladder.
That was why he was in that backseat-of-nowhere place in Surrey, to fill in for his Uncle Gordon, who'd just had a mild stroke and had decided, finally, to take a break after serving "his" people for more than forty years.
His phone rang. Jamie fished the cell from his jeans pocket, then chuckled when he glanced at the screen. Speaking of the old codger . . . . "Hey, Gordy!"
Gordon was still a bachelor, and childless. Like a second father to Jamie, Gordy had always encouraged him to pursue his dream of studying medicine.
"How's Cornwall?" Jamie asked. Heavy silence met his question. "Gordy?"
"I'm not in Cornwall." The reply sounded gruff and muffled.
Jamie frowned and flopped down on the edge of his bed. "Where are you, then?"
Gordon coughed. "South of France."
"What on earth are you doing there? Are you alone? You know you shouldn't be alone, or even travelling, after what's happened."
"I'm not alone."
"O-kaay . . . ." That's weird. Maybe he's staying with a friend?
"All right, if you have to know, I'm with Grace Sears."
"Your neighbour, whom you loathe?" Blimey! Grace lived in the same house as Gordon, where Jamie moved in after coming to Camberry. Once a rambling mansion, in the sixties, the former owners split the big Victorian into a double-fronted dwelling that could be made into one again. Gordon and Grace had hit it off the wrong foot when she bought the other half fifteen years ago, and the two shared an acrimonious cat and dog relationship. At least, in public. Could they have been cosier in private?
Jamie blinked and shook his head. He shouldn't think of these two, let alone of them together, in compromising positions. There would be no cure for the insomnia these images would conjure. "You and Grace?"
"Well, yes, it just happened." His uncle didn't speak, but grumbled the words. "Listen, son. I . . . ." Gordon paused. "I'm not coming back."
If Jamie hadn't been sitting, he'd have needed a seat. "Say that again?"
"Sonny . . . Grace and I, we're going to buy a small vineyard here, and turn the house into a maison d'hôte." Gordon stopped to take a breath. "Jamie, you're like a son to me. The practice, if you want it, is yours. The house will also come into your name at my death. And Grace has already put her house on the market."
"You're not coming back," was the only thing Jamie could say.
Gordon laughed. "For visits, yes. But not back back, you know."
"Jamie, I know the news comes as a shock. But you would've been there for three months, anyhow. See how it goes, if that life agrees with you the way it did for me. Give it a chance, son."
Easier said than done. He'd come to help Gordon, but also to spite his father. Against his wishes, Jamie had pursued a career in medicine. On Jamie's graduation, George Gillespie wanted him to either work at a hotspot private clinic, or set up his private practice in London, where he'd make a fortune. His bank balance was what mattered to the older man.
Three months was a tryst, a way to garner payback. Any longer meant a life-altering decision."Gordy, what do you want me to say?"
"That you'll think about it? And yes, too, the estate agent will require your approval before selling Grace's house. We've already agreed on that."
Jamie brought up a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. What could he say, or do? "Fine," he said. "I'll think about it."
Blimey—what had he gotten himself into?
* * * * *
Margo had one foot out the door the next morning, bundling a recalcitrant and foul-tempered Emma toward the car, when her phone rang.
God, no. Not a call to go see another crime scene, at barely eight. She'd been to five locations in the past few days, one of which had overly troubled her, along with the whole lab and police force. A child killer was on the prowl, and she prayed they hadn't found another small innocent's body for her to examine.
Dread eased, and her heartbeat calmed down, when she heard the smooth voice of the estate agent. A prime property, with three bedrooms and a studio above the garage, had just come on the market.
"In the village here?"
"Just on the outskirts. It's the other half of Dr. Gillespie's property."
Jamie? No, not him. His uncle. She really should stop thinking about the handsome young man. And how did she plan to do that, if she went to live in the same house where he lived?
But then, too, Jamie Gillespie had mentioned he was replacing his uncle for only a little while. What harm could it do to live close to the man for a short period? He was bound to leave, sometime.
Margo snorted. She was an expert at playing "dodge the person." Dealing with police inspectors who all wanted proof of crimes before she'd even looked at the dead body, she easily sidestepped them and made them bow down to her schedule and work convenience. She hadn't survived and climbed up in a man's world, and learned nothing.
Jamie might bring out undue wantonness in the heart of her buried womanhood, but after all, he was just a man. She could avoid the sexy young doctor just fine. With her job too, where dead bodies knew no regular office hours, she'd be lucky to remember the house's layout after a month, so little time she probably would spend there. "Home" was her morgue.
Emma also needed a nanny, and that meant needing another free bedroom. That place, with its self-contained studio, appeared to be a godsend.
"Hold it for me. I'll come by to see it in the afternoon."
Okay, she thought. On to the other issue if they were to move there—was Jamie Gillespie trustworthy? She wouldn't put her daughter in any danger, no matter how harmless a person might look. Appearances were deceptive.
Margo pressed another speed-dial number on her phone.
"Patel," she said when the chief inspector answered. "You owe me after I closed your last case within a day. Off the books, find me everything on Jamie Gillespie, probably a James Junior, if not literally Jamie. Late twenties, a doctor. I need a background check ASAP."
**** End of Chapter 1 ****
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From Mauritius with love,