Nowhere to Hide

Nowhere to Hide, by Terry Odell

The Wild Rose Press, July 2010
Romantic Suspense

The trouble with running away is you take yourself with you. After a case goes south, Colleen McDonald leaves her police job in Oregon for a fresh start as a civilian in Orlando. The last thing she needs is some cop with killer blue eyes coming around, looking for her missing landlord. The quickest way to get Deputy Graham Harrigan out of her life is to beat him at his own game.

Finding Jeffrey Walters might be Graham's ticket to a slot in the Criminal Investigations Division. Determined to prove he's the man for the job despite the stain of an unsavory reputation passed down by his training partner, he can't afford to be distracted by the pretty tenant in Walters' guest house. A tenant who seems to know more about the case than he does. A tenant with her own demons.

Will Colleen's secrets destroy Graham's chances for a promotion, or will love make theirs a permanent partnership?

In the steamy cocoon of the shower, Colleen McDonald fingered the dimpled scar the bullet had left on her thigh, and the long, straight one where they'd repaired her femoral artery. She knew the scars were no longer a garish red, but she refused to look at them. Thankfully, the exit wound on the back of her leg was out of sight unless she worked at it. The physical pain had gone, but not the ugly reminders that screamed "failure."

She watched the sudsy water swirl down the drain, willing it to take her memories along.

Get a grip. It's over. Forget Cedar Grove. You made your choice, so get on with your life.

She declared yesterday a do-over. Hell, as long as she was changing the rules of time, the last three months had never happened. But then she'd still be a cop in Cedar Grove, Oregon, instead of a basket case in Orlando, Florida.

Wrapped in a towel, another turbaned around her head, Colleen padded into the living room of her new home, looking for the carryon suitcase she'd abandoned last night. She dragged it into the bedroom and dumped the contents onto the bed, mumbling a quick thanks to her mother's advice to pack a day's worth of essentials into her carryon.

A distant rumbling, like an approaching thunderstorm, reverberated through the room. She slid a corner of the curtain aside and peered out at a cloudless blue sky. Not a leaf or branch moved. She had a lot to learn about Florida weather.

The doorbell rang, and she grabbed her robe. Who came calling at seven in the morning? The airline delivering her luggage? That would be too much to hope for. More likely Mrs. Walters, her new landlady. Another ring, followed by a determined knock.

She wriggled into her robe. "One minute. Who's there?"

"Orange County Sheriff."

What the…?

Her pulse raced. She yanked the towel off her head, shook out her hair and went to the door. Tightening the belt on her robe, she squinted through the peephole at a man in a dark green uniform.

God, had someone on the Cedar Grove force called in a favor, asked the locals to check on her? Hey, I've got a friend who's close to the edge. Drop in, make sure she's all right. Right. As if they cared.

Take it easy. Find out what he wants.

Colleen pulled the door open enough to talk, not enough to invite him in. Tall as he was, and with his eyes obscured behind mirrored sunglasses, Colleen fought the urge to slam the door.

"What do you want, Deputy?" She heard the raspy tone of her voice and cleared her throat. Her eyes automatically sought the nametag pinned to his broad chest. Graham Harrigan.

"I'm looking for Jeffrey Walters," he said, removing his sunglasses.

Not for her. Exhaling with relief, she talked to his nametag. "I don't know any Jeffrey Walters. Only Doris Walters, my landlady, and I've never met her in person. I got here last night. Try the main house."

"I did, but there was no answer."

"Is there something wrong?" That low-pitched sound rumbled through the air again, but if the deputy heard, he gave no indication. She fixed her gaze on his chin and waited.

"His daughter said he wasn't returning her calls. Asked us to look in on him." He pulled out a small notebook and pen. "Can I have your name, ma'am?"

His voice was more bored than belligerent, but he was a man, a cop, and she wanted him gone. She paused. No need to piss him off.

"Colleen McDonald."

His tone warmed twenty degrees. "Good morning, Colleen McDonald. Scottish or Irish?" He gave her a congenial smile.

"Scottish." As if he could disarm her that easily. She pulled her robe tighter and put her hand to the doorknob. "Why don't you leave me your card, Deputy Harrigan, and I'll tell Mrs. Walters, or this Jeffrey person—if I see him—to call you. I have things to do."

He pocketed his notebook and handed her a business card. "As one Celt to another, thanks. I'm sure it's nothing."

Colleen tucked the card into the pocket of her robe. Before she closed the door, she heard the rumbling again. "Can I ask a question?"

"Sure." His expression was guarded.

"What's that noise? The one that sounds like Dorothy and Toto should be flying by?"

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