Twelve years after her mother’s murder, Shannon Bradford fears she may have helped convict an innocent man. Even worse, her prominent family may have had something to do with it. Desperate for answers, she seeks help from the one person least likely to give it. Her best friend and childhood crush, Trace Dawson. The man she sent to prison.
Serving hard time for murder has left Trace angry and bitter. As far as he’s concerned, digging into the past won’t replace the years he’s lost or erase the hell he’s lived. Now that he’s free, Shannon Bradford tops his list of bad memories. But he never counted on falling in love.
Set in a sleepy little town during the dead of winter, this award-winning romance novel is a tale of one woman’s quest for truth and a man’s struggle to forgive.
No more than two minutes could have passed, two of the most terrifying minutes I’d ever had. The left side of my face was numb with cold. My lips and hands ached too. I couldn’t seem to make anything move.
The details came in pieces. How I’d almost been run over. How a stranger shoved me to safety just before a Jeep playing target practice could send me flying.
Then as if someone had flipped a switch, sensory explosions filled the void. Horns blared. Somebody screamed. A baby was crying. And the wind howled while sounds burst forth in a crush of voices.
“I swear the brakes locked!” a teenage boy yelled.
“She ain’t dead, is she? Oh, jeez. Daddy’s gonna kill me!”
“Don’t just stand there. Call 911!” a girl shrieked.
A cell phone chimed and someone started pressing numbers.
Next, an old man with a rough-and-ready voice said, “Pushed her out the way just in time. Another second and—”
“Is she dead or not?” the teenager demanded again.
While this was going on, I sat up, taking my time to ensure I was in one piece. Except for a sore hip, a bump on the head, and a scraped knee, I was fine. A woman standing nearby helped me, and as I got to my feet, realization dawned.
Trace Dawson had tried to save me.
I fought to see past the crowd into the parking lot, spotting him instantly. He’d just struggled to his feet and was staring right at me, his chin dripping blood. The people scurrying about and the cars streaming through the slush faded.
Nothing but the two of us existed.
Memories flooded my mind, of the quiet riot he was, of the secret crush I’d had on him, and the extraordinary friendship we’d shared so many years ago. As fast as those images came, others replaced them.
I was thrust back to the crime scene, back to Mother’s corpse and the shirtless eighteen-year-old roaring obscenities while Sheriff Gray and a deputy dragged him away in handcuffs.
Trace Dawson the man glared at me now, and his eyes were hard and accusing, eyes brimming with fire and ice. A chill wind rumbled past him, but he stood as still as a statue. Only his eyes moved while he looked me up and down with agonizing thoroughness. The rage. The pain. It was all there.
“Trace?” I whispered.
In chilling silence, he walked away without so much as a glance over his shoulder.
Tanya Holmes is a former Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist, a recipient of the Maggie Award, the MICA Award, as well as Overall Winner of the Sandy Haddad Award and a two-time finalist and one-time winner of The Emily (Best of the Best). She’s happily married with children and loves reading, writing and a good cup of coffee—but not necessarily in that order. Her debut novel, Within Temptation is due out on May 12, 2014.