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Indigo Ridge: Chapter 24


“Ready?” Griff asked as we stood beside his truck.

I clasped my hand with his. “Ready.”

We walked, side by side, to Melina Green’s front door. My pace was slow and awkward. Everything over the past two weeks had been slow and awkward. But it gave me time to study her yard as we walked.

Her flower beds were overflowing with purple coneflower blooms. The lawn had been recently mowed and the scent of grass filled my nose. Robins chirped as they landed in the large oak tree that shaded part of her house. A fresh morning.

A new day.

Before Griff could knock, the door opened and Melina stepped outside. Her face was alight with gratitude.

“Hi.” I smiled.

“Hi.” Her eyes turned glassy and then she was there, hugging me too tight.

It hurt. My shoulder had been dislocated and only yesterday I’d stopped wearing the sling. But I didn’t dare flinch. I simply squeezed Griffin’s hand because he’d been helping me bear the pain for the past two weeks.

Melina held me for a long moment, until Griffin must have realized I was hurting because he put his hand on her shoulder.

“Should we go inside?”

“Of course.” She let me go, wiping the tears away, and waved us inside.

Sunlight streamed through the bay window in her living room. Griffin and I sat on the smooth leather couch, his arm going behind my shoulders the moment I was down so I could lean into his side.

My body was healing but it wasn’t happening as fast as I’d like. He’d tried to convince me to put this visit off for another week and spend yet another day resting at home. But it was time to get back to life.

Living was precious. Every moment. If the night at Indigo Ridge had taught me anything, it was to make the most of my time on this earth.

For a first major excursion out of the house, visiting Melina was exactly the way to start.

“How are you feeling?” she asked, taking the chair across from the couch. “Can I get you anything?”

“No, thanks. And I’m okay. This guy has been taking good care of me.”

Griffin leaned over and kissed my hair. “When she listens. She’s not the best patient.”

I elbowed him in the ribs. The fast movement caused a stitch of pain and I grunted.

“See what I mean?” he teased.

“Thank you for coming over.” Melina looked to the fireplace mantel, crowded with framed photos of her daughter. “And for everything you’ve done for Lily.”

“I was just doing my job.”

“No.” She gave me a sad smile. “You did so much more.”

In the past two weeks, numerous suicide cases had been reopened and their files flooded with new information. Frank had been arrested the night Rain had tried to kill me, and his confession had shocked the entire community.

Four of the seven suicides in the past decade hadn’t been suicides. He’d been having an affair with each of those young women and each had been murdered by his wife.

Frank had mastered secrets and deception, somehow convincing the women to keep their trysts a secret. He was a charismatic man. Good-looking. I didn’t fault those girls for falling for his act. I only wished one of them had left a bread crumb. Or that the former chief had pushed harder to find one.

Now that we knew where to look, evidence was pouring in.

Frank would meet each of the women at hotels in neighboring towns. Credit card receipts showed that he’d paid for their nights together. They’d communicated by paper notes, never signed, but his handwriting had been easily matched. Lily Green had kept a few of the notes. Melina had found them when she’d finally worked up the courage to clean her daughter’s room. The notes had been hidden beneath Lily’s mattress.

Maybe if I’d pushed her to look sooner, I would have recognized Frank’s handwriting.

He’d drop those notes to Lily at his trips to the bank. Harmony Hardt had worked at a restaurant in town and he’d admitted to leaving her messages on the backs of his receipts.

There was more to uncover, but the gist of it was all over town. Frank would sneak his affairs, fooling everyone but Rain. And when she’d finally snap, there would be a death.

Rain’s first victim had died of an overdose. She’d lived alone and it was believed that Rain had broken in and forced her to take the pills—Frank hadn’t known the specifics and Rain wasn’t alive to ask. Apparently the overdose hadn’t been enough of a punishment for Frank, so Rain had switched her tactics.

“I still can’t believe it.” Melina shook her head. “Rain used to volunteer at the nursing home. She’d come in and do painting classes with the residents. She always seemed like such a sweet woman.”

“You weren’t the only one who was fooled.” She’d fooled me my entire life. Pops too.

He’d taken this hard. Pops had loved Frank and Rain. Truly. He’d believed they were family and this betrayal had hit him so hard that he’d decided to move.

After decades of living in the house that had been my grandmother’s, that had been my father’s, Pops was moving. He couldn’t bear to live next door to the Nigel house.

So he was taking mine.

Griffin had gone over yesterday to collect the rest of my things. Most of the furniture I’d bought was going to charity. There were a few families in the area who’d fallen on hard times, and if my furniture could give them a pick-me-up, then I was happy to give it away. It wasn’t like I needed it at Griff’s house—our house.

Melina’s jaw clenched. “What will happen to Frank?”

“He’s being charged as an accessory to murder. His lawyer might encourage him to plead not guilty, but he will go to prison.”

His confession was going to work against him. He’d likely say that it had been coerced or was given under duress. There was nothing to do but wait and let it play out in court. But I had confidence in my officers.

Mitch had been the one to respond to the call that horrible night. Pops had stayed with Frank to ensure the bastard hadn’t tried to skip town. Meanwhile, Griffin had taken a gamble and raced to Indigo Ridge, calling Briggs along the way.

If not for them both, I would have suffered Rain’s fate.

“I think I hate him more than I hate her,” Melina said. “Maybe that’s a strange way to see it. But he knew. He knew she’d killed and he kept having his affairs.”

“It’s not strange.” Because I felt the same way.

“I’m glad she’s dead.” Melina’s eyes widened when she realized what she’d said. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Griffin said. “You’re not the only one.”

He hadn’t said much about Rain since that night. He’d told me that her body had been found on the side of the mountain, her neck broken from the fall. Otherwise, he’d stayed quiet.

Too quiet.

There was fury in his gaze. A flame so hot it burned the same shade as those stunning blue irises. The rage had surfaced a few times in the past two weeks, mostly when I’d been in pain.

He’d clench his jaw. He’d ball his fists. He’d keep it in check until I was feeling better. Then he’d call his mom or one of his sisters to come and hang out with me while he went for a hard ride on Jupiter.

Thank God for that horse. He’d helped get Griff through the past two weeks. But sooner or later we’d have to talk about what had happened.

“Have you spoken to the other parents?” Melina asked.

“Not yet. You’re my first visit.” The others I’d go see once I was back to work at the station, but I had another two weeks of rest at home. The surgery to repair the stab wounds had gone well, but combined with the concussion, my body had been through a major ordeal.

The doctors had needed to restart my heart on the operating table.

“I can’t imagine how they’re feeling.” Melina dropped her gaze to her lap. “To think for so many years that their girls . . . I’m just glad to have the truth.”

“I’m sorry you lost her.”

“Me too.” Her eyes were brimming with unshed tears.

Even with time, there were wounds that would never heal.

A tear dripped down Melina’s cheek. Then another. She cast her gaze once more to the photographs of her beautiful daughter.

“We’ll get out of your hair.” Griffin stood first, holding out a hand to help me to my feet.

We said goodbye to Melina, leaving her to find whatever peace possible, and climbed into Griffin’s truck.

The moment the door was closed, I let out the breath I’d been holding.

“You okay?” he asked, sliding behind the wheel.

“Just tired.”

“That’s enough for one day.”

“I wanted to visit Pops. See how the packing is going.”

“It’s going fine. He knows where to find us. You’re taking a nap.”

I frowned but had learned in the past two weeks that arguing was pointless. So I relaxed into the seat as Griffin drove us home.

“I’m proud of you.” He reached over and lifted a hand off my lap, bringing it to his lips. “You never gave up. Even when we all told you to drop it. Maybe if I hadn’t . . .”

“This isn’t your fault.”

He looked over and the pain in those eyes shot straight to my heart. “I thought I’d lost you.”

“You didn’t.”

“But—” He swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing. Then he drove in silence, taking us home. Three cars crowded the space next to my Durango. One belonged to Harrison. The other, Pops. The third, Briggs.

“So much for that nap.”

“They get ten minutes,” Griff said. “Then I’m kicking them out.”

“No, let them stay.” It filled my heart that so many people had come to check on me. On us.

Griff stared at the back of Briggs’s truck, making no move to go inside.

“What?” I asked.

“For a while, I worried it was him. That he’d done something and blacked it out.”

Briggs had come every day since I’d been released from the hospital, each time with a bouquet of flowers. I’d be forever grateful that he’d found his way to the hiking trail in the dark. “He saved my life.”

“He did.”

“If his dementia gets worse, if he needs help, we’re moving him in.”

“Yes. Into Mom and Dad’s house.” Griffin nodded. “They talked about it. They’re going to start having him down more. Checking on him more. When it’s time, they’ll move him to their place.”

“We have room.”

“So do they. And I get you to myself for a while.”

“Okay,” I whispered.

His shoulders slumped. His eyes stayed glued to the windshield as the air conditioner blew through the cab.

I rested my head against the seat, reaching over to slide my hand down his arm. “Hey. I’m okay, Griff.”

“Yeah.” He cleared his throat, then jumped into action, shutting off the truck and hopping out, rounding the hood to get my door.

Whatever he was feeling was locked away because we had company and it wasn’t the time.

The guys were all inside when we walked through the door. Pops wrapped me in a gentle hug before guiding me to the living room to sit. Briggs had brought another bouquet of flowers, daisies today. Harrison had brought one of Anne’s cherry pies. Between Anne, Knox and Lyla, we had enough food in the fridge to feed the entire Eden family for a week.

Our family stayed for an hour, mostly talking to Griffin about the goings-on at the ranch and what was happening in town. After lunch, when my eyelids began to droop, Griffin kicked them out, but not before they helped make a dent in the food and the pie.

I yawned twice before Griff lifted me from the couch and carried me to bed. “I can walk.”

“I can carry you.”

“Fine.” I leaned against his shoulder, breathing in his spicy scent before he set me down beside the bed, pulling away the covers to tuck me in.

My head was on the pillow when he crouched down to kiss my hair. “I’m going to head out for a quick ride.”

“No, you’re not.” I caught his wrist before he could run away. “You’re going to come to bed too.”

“You’ll rest better if I’m not here.”

“Not true and you know it. Lie with me. Please.”

He blew out a frustrated breath but he didn’t deny me. Griff stood and kicked off his boots, then unbuckled his belt so it wouldn’t dig into my back. Then he eased onto the mattress, carefully sliding one arm beneath my pillow, inching close until his chest was flush with my spine.

But he didn’t hold me. He hadn’t held me since I’d come home from the hospital.

“Put your arm around me.”

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I’m okay, Griff.”

“I don’t—”

“I’m okay. Please don’t pull away from me. I’ll drag you back if I have to, but it’ll hurt.”

He sighed and buried his face in my hair. Then slowly, his arm wound around my waist, resting against the spot where the bandages were gone but the stitches remained.

“See?” I twisted, the move causing a bit of a sting but I shoved it down. “Don’t carry this on your own. Don’t shut me out.”

His frame slumped against mine. “It rocked me.”

“Me too.”

“The idea of you going back to work, I just . . . I worry. I’ve never felt this kind of fear before. It’s making me unsteady.”

“Then we lean on each other. We worry about each other. But we can’t let it run our lives. I’m okay.”

“You’re okay,” he breathed, pulling me closer.

“Good.” I burrowed into his arms. “Now kiss me.”

He barely grazed the corner of my mouth.

“A real kiss.”


“Kiss me, Griffin.”

He frowned, but obeyed, his lips lingering against mine.

“Stubborn,” I mumbled before dragging my tongue against his lower lip until finally, he kissed me like I wanted to be kissed, breaking away when we were both breathless. “I love you.”

He touched the freckles on my nose. “I love you.”

“After our nap, can we do something?”

“Depends. What do you want to do?”

I smiled. “You owe me a first date.”


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