Carena McBride married a dedicated policeman, but when he's killed on the job she's shattered. After five turbulent years alone, Cara returns to her hometown. The Wine Cellar, an upscale restaurant's new addition, needs a manager, and she is a perfect fit.
A failed marriage has convinced State Police Corporal Zac Ramsey he's not good husband material. Now his career comes first... until he encounters captivating, resilient Carena.
Despite Zac's marriage phobia and Cara's vow to never again fall for another policeman, they become entangled in a steamy affair.
As Zac investigates a series of murders, Cara pursues a pet project documenting local Urban Legends. But when he discovers the only link between four brutally murdered women was their interest in those legends, Zac advises Cara to halt her project.
Unaware the killer is watching, Cara innocently triggers his demented fury, and Zac scrambles to keep her alive.
"It's hard losing someone you love," Cara murmured. "At first everything freezes in place, and you want time to stand still. You're afraid to move forward for fear doing so will lessen the memory of the one you lost."
He tilted his head, looked at her. "You came back here, too. Were you coming back to what's familiar or moving ahead?"
She twisted, gazing up at the house behind them again. He glanced up, too. The setting sun washed the tired siding in gold, and the windows reflected color instead of empty flatness.
When she turned to face him again, she wore a tiny smile. "A little of both, I guess," she said. "The first time I lost someone was when my mom walked away, but I had a safety net. My dad, my aunt and uncle, countless other relatives and friends. They kept moving ahead. I had no choice, so I moved ahead, too."
"Then Tish came into your life."
Her eyes warmed, softened. "You're friends with Tish, so you know she's a special person."
"One of the best."
"She came, her and Dad, when I lost Jack. I remember you and Sergeant Baxter coming to my door with the news. I don't clearly remember anything else until they arrived the next day."
"You remembered I was with the sergeant. Why's that?"
"Your eyes. I focused on them and never forgot the blue-eyed stranger who took care of Fella."
His gaze met hers. "I hurt for you that day and felt helpless as shit. When the sergeant told me to take care of your dog I jumped at the chance to do something. I'd never experienced the kind of loss you faced and it tore me up. When I got off that night, I got smashed."
"Then I wished you'd known at the time that what you did helped. I forgot about you after that morning. Until a couple weeks ago when you walked into The Wine Cellar and I heard your voice. I turned and looked into your eyes, and that day came crashing back."
Zac didn't know what to say. "I'm sorry, Carena. I didn't mean to dredge up the past. I've enjoyed today. Enjoyed getting to know you. I can only hope when all the craziness surrounding this case is settled we can get to know one another even better."
She touched him, sliding her hand down his arm until it covered his. "You don't owe me an apology. Tish tells me it's time I moved on. She insists I'll be stronger and happier, and she's right. I've enjoyed today, too, Zac."
He turned his hand over, palm to palm. Linking fingers he pulled her in and touched his lips to hers.