Shae set her purse on the far seat and slid it across the faux red leather. Her back protested the position, though her taut muscles from the long drive most definitely appreciated the small walk from her car to the diner. She was really glad the meeting she scheduled with Detective Kendrick wasn’t until tomorrow afternoon. She would need to catch up on her sleep, if possible.
“One slice of warm apple pie along with one scoop of vanilla ice cream,” Molly announced, having asked earlier what she could get Shae to eat. The white porcelain dish was set gently on the table in front of her. “Can I get you a nice tall glass of milk to go with that? Maybe a coffee?”
“I’d love a hot cup of tea, please.” Shae had found that drinking English style tea reduced her stress level by half. She’d read quite a lot of different reports on how certain beverages could alter the way a person dealt with stress in their life. Seeing as she had an abundance of it, she’d given the theory a try by switching from coffee to tea. It had successfully worked in her daily life. “Thank you, Molly.”
The waitress had been about to say something to Shae when the bell above the door jingled, alerting everyone to another newcomer. In this case, a father and son.
Shae was glad she hadn’t taken a bite of her apple pie. She wasn’t so sure she would have been able to swallow it around the knot that had formed in her throat.
As she lived and breathed, it was none other than Jace Kendall. He’d changed since the last time she saw him, somehow managing to become even more strikingly attractive. She couldn’t help but rake her eyes down him to prove to herself that he was real. His shoulders had gained considerable width, inches had been added to his over six-foot height, and he still had that charming, crooked grin that could melt a girl’s heart like ice on a hot summer’s day.
Yet all she experienced upon setting her gaze on his gorgeous features was guilt.
She’d heard that two of his brothers— Noah and Lance— had returned home from their time in the service. Their combined chosen path had been the Marine Corps, if she wasn’t mistaken. Her mother had mentioned that Jace wasn’t due back to Blyth Lake until the end of the year, which was probably why seeing him was such a blow to the serenity she’d been trying to marshal.
Her original plan had called for her to be out of Blyth Lake before he returned.
It wasn’t personal. She was here for a purpose.
Shae was grateful that the diners had averted Jace’s attention with their overzealous reception. He hadn’t glanced her way, so he didn’t even know that she was there. The distraction gave her time to slip out of the booth and head to the restroom, though her path took her right past the small group of greeters. No one noticed, and it wasn’t long before she was behind a locked door and leaning over the sink to give her time to regain her composure.
“Why me?” Shae whispered to herself, hanging her head a little lower as she fought off the dancing lights. “I just needed a few weeks, Emma. Was that too much to ask? He will prove to be nothing but a distraction.”
Shae didn’t believe for a second that her baby sister was alive. She never had, regardless that her parents had proposed that scenario a time or two over the years. It had been easy for her to slip into a one-sided conversation, believing that Emma’s spirit was somewhere out there watching over all of them.
Then there were times when Shae’s unanswered requests made her question her own sanity. Talking with ghosts was crazy, wasn’t it?
One of the saving graces about returning to her childhood home was knowing Jace Kendall wouldn’t be in town. Shae understood that it wasn’t fair to him, but he was a trigger of guilt that she couldn’t deal with right now. She calculated her chances of just paying her tab and leaving without being noticed. After all, he’d been the reason she’d taken the car the night Emma disappeared. Given her profession, she understood that the what-if game wasn’t healthy to her mental state. She just couldn’t prevent the perpetual question from rising to the surface once again— would Emma still be alive if Shae hadn’t been with Jace Kendall that fateful night?
No one would ever know. Not unless Shae got the opportunity to personally ask Emma’s killer.
The next book in Kennedy Layne’s KEYS TO LOVE is available now – suspense lovers do not want to miss this!
About the Keys to Love Series
Their homecoming wasn’t so welcoming. Four brothers and one sister each gave twelve years of their lives to serve their country and fulfill their family’s legacy of service. As each of them return to their home of record, they weren’t prepared for what awaited them—an unforgiveable sin that has been hidden for twelve long years. Secrets and lies are concealed in the dark shadows of the very town they were raised in, and the Kendall family will have no choice but to rely on one another to unravel the sinister evil that they all hold the keys to unlock.
About Unlocking Lies
Secrets and lies have a way of weaving a deadly web. Returning home from his last deployment shouldn’t have been complicated, but Jace Kendall was immediately drawn into a murder investigation that hits a little too close to home. The last thing he should be doing was reigniting old passions that should have been kept buried, but he’s never been a guy who plays by the rules.
Shae has suffered for twelve years without knowing why her sister disappeared. The long-awaited answers are now within reach, and she’ll have no choice but to trust the one man who knows more than he’s telling.
It isn’t long before Jace and Shae are lost in the mystery of solving a case that’s long gone cold. When they find the answers they’ve been looking for, a darkness is unveiled that will leave one of them in the crosshairs of a psychopath.
Get your hands on UNLOCKING LIES now:
Kennedy Layne is a USA Today bestselling author. She draws inspiration for her military romantic suspense novels in part from her not-so-secret second life as a wife of a retired Marine Master Sergeant. He doubles as her critique partner, beta reader, and military consultant. They live in the Midwest with their teenage son and menagerie of pets. The loyal dogs and mischievous cats appreciate her writing days as much as she does, usually curled up in front of the fireplace. She loves hearing from readers–find out how to connect with her at www.kennedylayne.com.