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Homicide detective Scott Whelan lived for the job–until the day he was caught in the middle of a robbery gone bad. Although some call him a hero, he thinks of himself as a coward and a failure. He exists now in what he calls his “Dark Place”. He accepts a new job as a civilian with the Pine Hills Police Department, thinking being close to the job will be better than leaving it completely. But when he finds himself in the middle of the investigation. Scott has to choose where his loyalties lie—with his brotherhood in blue, or his attractive new neighbor, who needs someone on her side. And figure out how to get out of the dark.
Against her parents’ wishes, Ashley Eagan has split from her unsupportive fiancé and moved to Pine Hills to start her dream business: Confections by Ashley. Faced with countless construction setbacks, she fears her plans for the perfect grand opening will be ruined. When a dead body turns up in her shop, a delayed opening is the least of her worries. Now, she’s afraid she’s facing murder charges. Her new neighbor has connections with the police department, but he’s sending mixed messages. One minute he’s the friendly, handsome neighbor, the next, he’s playing cop. Not to mention he’s carrying enough baggage for a world-wide cruise. If Ashley’s learned anything since leaving home, it’s that she’s the only one she can count on.
Scott showered, shaved, and put on the robe his sister had sent when he’d been in the hospital. Pulling on his customary sweats still hurt too much to be worth it. Wearing a robe made him feel old as his grandfather, although his grandfather probably wouldn’t have gone for the handcuff print. But he didn’t want to risk spattering bacon grease on his work clothes,. Or bare skin. Been there, done that.
Enough with this pity party. Cook, eat, and face your first real day on the job.
He was washing the dishes when someone gave a gentle knock on the door. Who knew he was here?
He dried his hands and checked the peephole. A distorted image of a brunette woman appeared. Belting his robe a little tighter, he opened the door. “Yes?”
“Hi. I’m Ashley. I live next door. I thought I’d … um … welcome you to the building.” She extended a platter covered in foil.
As he tried to process all the possibilities—she had a bomb under the foil; she was a reporter wanting yet another story; she was scoping out his apartment for a future burglary—he accepted the obvious. She was a neighbor being friendly. He found the wherewithal to attempt the same.
The platter was warm to the touch. “I’m Scott.” He lifted the foil and discovered the source of the chocolate smells. “These must be what I’ve been smelling since yesterday.”
She nodded, keeping her eyes on his, backing away. “I should let you go. I have to get to work.”
“Wait. There’s no way I can eat all these.”
“Share them. I’m opening a new bake shop, and I’m testing recipes. I already eat too many of them. Thank goodness for the fitness center downstairs, or I’d be a total blimp. I have to go, really.”
His brain kicked into gear. She was the woman who’d crashed into him yesterday, and the one on the treadmill this morning. “Thanks. I can take them to the station.”
“Please do.” Stepping away, she spoke over her shoulder. “And if they like them, you can tell them my shop, Confections by Ashley, will have a lot more.” She paused, as if what he’d said had reached her brain. “The station? Where do you work, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“At the police station.”
Her gaze moved from his face downward, then back up. He realized she was looking at his robe. What had she thought? That he was into bondage games?