Today's Reading

CHAPTER ONE
Savannah, Georgia

It wouldn't have taken much to turn a lousy day into something left of atrocious. First, Kate Weller had argued with her landlord who was suddenly demanding a year-long lease instead of their current month-to-month agreement. Apparently, paying in full and on time can work against a person. The landlord wanted her to stick around forever. Next, the air-conditioning in her old Mustang quit working. Since a person couldn't run surveillance with the top down in a convertible, she was forced to endure an uncomfortable afternoon. Finally, she had to watch a landscaper toil for hours in the hot sun without showing the least bit of interest in his female co-worker. Kate yearned to tell his suspicious wife she was imagining things. But since her newfound career as a PI demanded finesse as well as endurance, she would resist insulting the client and be thankful she had a job, considering the gaps in her resume.

Kate liked her job and the people she worked with. Beth Kirby, a fellow employee, was given the thankless job of training her during her probationary period. She liked her boss, Nate Price too, despite only meeting the man once. And as the agency's traveling PI, she loved knowing she would soon move on to a new case in a different town. Where no one knows my name, she thought, putting a new twist on an eighties sit-com jingle.

Considering how many times she got stuck in traffic, she should have found the answer to world peace, let alone mapped out her future. Because it was definitely time to move on. An occasional hang-up in the middle of the night might not cause concern. But when the same car parked outside her apartment four nights in a row, Kate knew her past had caught up with her.

It wasn't easy to hide in the twenty-first century.

Maybe if I learned how to cook, quilt, and sew my own clothes, then I could hide in an Amish community. Or maybe not.

After parking the Mustang behind the building, Kate climbed the steps to the second floor, turned the key in the lock, and pushed open the door. Silently, she stood listening...for what? The cocking of a trigger? The slide of a semi-automatic chambering a bullet? Or maybe the deep breathing of a madman waiting for her to step across the threshold. Kate had no idea exactly who was after her or how deadly were their intentions. But if the past was a good indicator of the future, she didn't want to stick around to find out.

I should've taken Beth Kirby's advice and bought a gun. But tracking down deadbeat dads and making sure those claiming total disability weren't waterskiing on the weekend didn't require firepower. Certainly her current case—checking that a landscaper wasn't stepping out on his wife—required only patience and endurance. Besides, how would her new pastor react to a shoulder holster beneath her Sunday dress and cardigan?

Spotting her two battered suitcases gathering dust in the corner, Kate contemplated emptying her drawers into one and her closet into the other. Except for her toiletries, one picture album, and a folder of important papers—which didn't seem very important any more—she had nothing else to pack. But how could she turn tail and run? Nate had offered her the chance she desperately needed. He'd given her a career she loved and friends that could be trusted. Although her current case could be wrapped up with thirty minutes of paperwork, Kate was still on probation. Hopefully, her new assignment would be far away from these ancient, moss-covered oaks on town squares filled with fountains, locals reading newspapers, and tourists poring over maps. Savannah would be a nice place for Beth and her partner-turned-fiance to settle down in. But Kate hoped for an assignment someplace obscure. If a place like that still existed.

When the phone rang on her way to the kitchen, she practically jumped out of her skin. Kate picked up on the second ring. 'Hey, Beth, I was just thinkin' about you.'

'Were you wondering why a perfectly sane woman marries a man she's known less than a year?'

'Nah,' Kate teased. 'No way are you sane, not even imperfectly.'

Beth snorted. 'That is the truth, girl. But what I want to know is what are you doing for supper?'

Kate opened the freezer and peered inside. 'Looks like Lean Cuisine chicken with cashews. You know, part of their Asian collection. I'll pair it with a glass of sweet tea and settle down for reruns of Masterpiece Theater.'

'As delightful as that sounds, why not drive to Tybee Island instead? My friend Evelyn is throwing an impromptu deck party for Michael and me. Just for a few friends and neighbors and you. She wants to meet the agency's newest hire.'
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