Publication date: November 21st 2023
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Jamie Scott’s life fell apart four years ago when she broke off her engagement, turned down a dream job, and went overseas to run away from her life. Now she’s back, but the reunion is not without problems. She arrives home just in time to attend the soiree her mother planned, but she’s not prepared for what she finds—a dead employee in the parking lot.
Detective Nick Marshall is assigned to the murder case at the forensics lab owned by Jamie’s family. He meets the headstrong Jamie, but he has a job to do. And his attraction to her… well, he’s a professional.
Jamie knows the stakes are high. She has to face the past and save her parents’ business while dealing with her family drama and an uncertain future. She also has to deal with Nick, who wants her out of the way of his investigation. But fate keeps throwing them in one another’s paths… and into chaos that they both want to avoid, but neither can seem to escape.
Jamie strolled to the wide and stately staircase that led upstairs. The glossy wooden banister had always been a temptation to the teenaged Scott siblings.
During Jamie’s holiday visits home, there had been several banister races—one ending with Jillian needing stitches. The three swore to take the reason to the grave. Their mother would have killed them herself!
The house itself had changed little. Her mom had done some minimal redecorating, but the basic décor—classic contemporary—remained the same. As she reached the top step, she could see her brother heading out the front door to gather her bags. To her left was the “girls” wing, and to her right was Jon’s room and the guest rooms. Her parents bought this house while she was in New York, so she had never lived here full time, only during the holidays. Still, she had some fabulous memories from those times. It was nice to be home again.
The first door to the left was the room assigned to her. Jamie entered the simply appointed room decorated in blue, white, and seafoam green. The attached bathroom incorporated blue and white colors. Jamie sat on the edge of the bed and looked around the room. Since she never lived here, the room didn’t hold many personal touches, as did Jon’s and Jillian’s rooms. There were plenty of pillows, a complete set of cherry wood bedroom furniture, and a mid- sized flat-screen TV above the chest of drawers. It represented a fitting guest room since she was now a guest—a nervous guest at that. What if her mother verbally eviscerated her again? Could she deal? Jamie realized she was delaying her meeting with her mom for as long as possible. What else could she do to kill time?
She peeked in the closet to see if she had left any clothes behind from four years ago. Unfortunately, she found nothing that would be appropriate for what would be a formal event on Sunday night.
She went into the bathroom and removed her baseball cap to inspect the state of her hair in the mirror. I was fine for a quiet home visit, but not for a dressy affair. Jamie had let her relaxer grow out while she was out of the country. She typically flat-twisted her natural hair to emphasize the wave pattern. Before this trip, she had only washed, conditioned, and air-dried her hair, thinking that she would have some time after her arrival to moisturize and comb it. Now, it was just squashed down by her hat. Ugh. Since she wouldn’t be able to prep before talking to her mother, she would have to atone by looking her best for the party. For such a formal affair, she would have to visit a salon for a trim and style.
There was a knock on the bedroom door. “Come in!” Jamie yelled as she tucked her cap back onto her head and came out of the bathroom. Jon placed her bags inside her door. “Mother is waiting for you downstairs. I’m going to my room to avoid the tearful reunion.” He didn’t live there anymore but still called his childhood room “his room”.
Jamie sighed. Time to woman up. “OK. Let me wash my face, and I’ll be down. Where is she, exactly?” she inquired.
“Still in the study. Good luck.” He went down the hall.
Jamie dug around in her duffel bag and found her makeup bag. It contained the bare minimum of cosmetics. She returned to her bathroom, washed her face, and added mascara and a touch of mauve lip gloss. Jamie checked herself. Not too bad for a woman that had spent the last 24 hours on a plane or in an airport. Before she lost her nerve, she pushed herself out of the room and down the stairs, where she came face-to-face with her younger sister, Jillian, with two of her sons. Jillian was shorter than Jamie but had the same facial shape and skin color. You could tell they were sisters. Jillian stopped short.
“PJ! I didn’t know you were here. Give me a hug!” she joyously stretched out her arms. Quickly, she embraced Jamie while the 3-year-old and 1-year-old boys clung to her legs. The boys had never seen Jamie before because they were born while she was away. “You look sensational. Africa was good for you!” Jillian complimented.
“You look magnificent as well. I see you’re still calling me PJ.”
Perfect Jamie. Jillian smirked. “Well, it still fits, huh?”
Jamie ignored the snide comment and turned to her nephews. “Who are these little men? And where are the others?” Jamie stooped to their eye level.
Jillian stooped as well and disengaged the arms of the smallest boy. “This is Aaron.” Aaron hid his head on his mother’s shoulder. The other boy had moved behind his mother and peeked out from around her back. “This one behind me is Jacob. He’s three. Jacob, this is your Aunt Jamie. Go on, hug her.”
Jacob obediently came out and walked up to his aunt. “Hello,” he started. “Do you want to play with me?”
“Sure, Jacob. What do you want to play?” Jamie asked, smiling.
“Gamma plays Candy Land with me on the computer. Do you want to play, too?”
“I would love to, Jacob. You’re such a handsome and sweet young man. Do you help your momma take care of your brothers?”
“I help with Aaron. Ricky and Anthony don’t need help. They’re bigger than me,” he snickered. “You’re funny, Aunt ‘Amie. Where’s Gamma Scott? Let me get the game.” Jacob took off running, yelling, “Gamma! Gamma!”
Both Jamie and Jillian stood up, Jillian lifting Aaron onto her hip. Jamie marveled at how fit her younger sister was after giving birth to four children–-she hoped to have gotten that gene. “Rick and Anthony are at music lessons, so I dropped in with the boys to see Mother and Dad. Richard has been out of town for a case, but he’s returning today. I wish you had told me you were coming. We could have planned a dinner or something.”
“Jonathan knew. I’m surprised he didn’t tell you. I don’t need a fancy dinner because I’m coming home. Besides, there will be an epic to-do soon enough. How long has this been in the works?”
“Actually, not very long. We were going to take her out for dinner, but about ten days ago, she decided she wanted a large party. So, it’s been hectic.” She moved to the side to avoid two workers carrying a table. “It’s a cool coincidence that you will be here for it.”
“I don’t know if it was a coincidence.” Jamie winked at her sister and touched her nephew’s nose. Jamie had spoken to Jonathan almost two weeks ago and told him she was coming home. Coincidence, my ass. Jon had a lot to answer for. He must have blabbed to their mother that she was coming, and Margaret turned this into a gathering, a celebration of sorts. Perhaps this reunion would not be as miserable as she expected.
Jillian frowned. “So, Jon knew you were coming? And Mother did, too? So that’s what caused the change in plans.” No one had told her, and after four years away, Jamie still had a party. Perfect Jamie, indeed.
Oblivious to her sister’s change in mood, Jamie considered her options. “I guess I need to find Mother. By the way, Jon’s upstairs in his room.”
“You haven’t seen her yet? Oh, my. That should be interesting.” Jillian gave Jamie a sidelong glance. “I think I’ll take Aaron to see Jon. Good luck!” She and her son went up the stairs.
Jamie took a deep breath and headed toward the study. Damn, everyone keeps wishing me luck. I hope it’s not a bad sign.
Author, Physician, and Kidney Transplant Survivor
Becoming an author was an early dream of mine but was pushed aside by practical considerations. A health crisis awakened the desire to write again. And with the ability to self-publish, I could see a path to getting my stories out of my head and into books that others could enjoy.
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