The fourth book in Devney Perry’s Clifton Forge series comes out next week, but I have a little sneak peek for you. This is Luke Rosen (Clifton Forge’s handsome chief of police) and Scarlett Marks’ (Presley’s sister from Stone Princess) story, and while I’m only half way through it, I already know it will become my favourite book in the series.
“I want to help you.”
“Because your sister asked me to.”
She blinked and the look of surprise on her face, well . . . it took me by surprise. Why would Presley’s concern be a shock to Scarlett?
“She comes into the station every day. She stomps in, demands to know where you are, even though she knows I won’t tell her. Mostly, she wants to know you’re safe, and she’s counting on me to keep you that way.”
Scarlett’s gaze dropped to her knees.
“Let me. Let me keep you safe.”
“I don’t want to be trapped here.”
“Then tell me everything. All of it. I can’t help you if you’re hiding things from me.”
Her lips pursed together and when she lifted her gaze, it was ice.
“Talk to me,” I pleaded.
“You’ll do this? You’ll really fight me on this? I can’t keep you safe out there if I don’t understand the threat.” I threw my hand toward the door. “Where are you going to go? Huh? If you walk out that door, where are you going to go? To Presley? You’ll be bringing trouble straight to her door.”
“I would never endanger my sister on purpose.”
“Then you don’t have a choice. You must stay here. You must talk to me so I can help you.”
Scarlett shook her head as she pulled her legs closer to her chest. “No.”
Goddamn stubborn woman. “Scarlett—”
“Please don’t leave me here.” Her whisper was pained. Desperate.
“You have to stay somewhere. Until we learn more. Until I know what we’re dealing with.” Until you confide in me. “They call it witness protection for a reason.”
Though this was the small-town, temporary version.
Scarlett turned her gaze to the wall, giving me her profile. Shutting me out.
I didn’t have time for this. Was cooperating really so fucking difficult? I stood from the chair and went to the kitchen, taking a long inhale as I reeled in my temper.
Christ, it smelled in here. I walked to the garbage can and popped the lid, my nose scrunching at the stench inside. Nathan must have brought over the pizza place’s infamous garlic deep dish. I refused to let the guys bring it to the station because it stunk up the break room so badly. Meal choice was another thing I’d address with Nathan tomorrow.
Slamming the lid back on the garbage, I yanked open the back door and set the entire thing outside. Then I closed the slider and scanned the kitchen.
The linoleum was cracked in a few places and worn thin in front of the sink. My plan was to put hardwood flooring throughout the entire house and get rid of the vinyl flooring and worn, ragged carpet. The refrigerator was yellow, the tinge of a sweat stain. If it had once been white, I couldn’t tell. The cabinets were faded and dull. One of the drawers was missing a pull.
There was a reason I’d gotten this house for a steal. It was a shithole. The ugliest house on the block.
No wonder Scarlett had run. I wouldn’t want to stay here either.
“Go pack your bag,” I said, returning to the living room.
“Huh?” Scarlett unfolded.
“Your bag. Go pack it.”
This was a stupid fucking idea I was sure to regret, but at the moment, I was fresh out of other options.
She hopped out of the chair, brushing past me on her way to the bedroom, her scent trailing behind her. The smell of wind and snow clung to her hair but there was a citrus sweetness underneath.
I liked that smell.
Which was a good thing.
Because it was coming to my house for a little while.