Cross My Heartby Carly Phillips
Lacey Kincaid is a classic New York success story. As the owner of Odd Jobs, she’s gone from rags to riches…sort of. Because Lacey’s harboring a secret - she was born Lillian Dumont, and spent her childhood with a silver spoon in her mouth, until the deaths of her wealthy parents and the evil schemes of an abusive uncle forced her to take drastic… See more details below
Lacey Kincaid is a classic New York success story. As the owner of Odd Jobs, she’s gone from rags to riches…sort of. Because Lacey’s harboring a secret - she was born Lillian Dumont, and spent her childhood with a silver spoon in her mouth, until the deaths of her wealthy parents and the evil schemes of an abusive uncle forced her to take drastic measures. She’d never planned to return to her former life or her abandoned identity - but when her childhood sweetheart, Ty, resurfaces and urges her to claim her rightful inheritance, she decides that maybe being the Dumont heiress wouldn’t be so bad. Lacey’s uncle doesn’t see it that way, though - and he’s willing to do anything to stop her.
Now, it’s up to Ty to protect Lacey before that silver spoon becomes a silver bullet. But if they live through this, the future’s looking bright for this downtown guy and his brand-new uptown girl!
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The Hawken's Cove courthouse was a fixture in town, the old stone building the landmark by which everyone gave directions. Make a left at the courthouse and The Tavern Grill was on the right, along with Night Owl's Bar. Make a right at the courthouse and the gas station was on the corner. The ice-cream shop was across from the courthouse.
As a lawyer, Hunter spent his days haunting the courthouse when he was on trial and working in his small office located on the street behind the courthouse when he wasn't. Some might find it odd that Hunter remained in Hawken's Cove after the childhood he'd had, but the good memories outweighed the bad and his closest friend and the only family Hunter knew still lived there.
Hunter never considered moving anywhere else. But to keep his life interesting, he lived in Albany, twenty minutes from work and the closest thing to a real city he was likely to find in upstate New York.
He walked out of the courtroom at 4:00 p.m. and headed straight down the hallowed hallway toward the front doors. He'd won a hard-fought case today. An innocent man who couldn't afford expensive legal counsel had turned to Hunter and he'd done his best. These were the cases Hunter enjoyed. He only represented the rich and obnoxious so that he could afford to take on the pro bono cases he preferred.
After working endless hours for months on end, all he wanted to do was have a stiff drink and not have to use his brain for at least twenty-four hours. But as he passed the clerk's office, his gaze settled on a pair of long legs and vibrant pink high heels. Only one woman wore shoes that bright and in-your-face.
"Molly Gifford," Hunter said, coming to a halt beside his old law school nemesis. They'd vied for top spot at Albany Law. It still galled him to admit she'd won.
After graduation, they'd parted ways, with Molly leaving for a job in another state. But recently she'd moved to town and for the last month, he'd had the pleasure of checking out those incredible legs on a near daily basis. But her move here had been a surprise because Molly wasn't born or raised in Hawken's Cove. When he'd asked, she'd said something about reconnecting with her mother and not much more.
Molly shifted her focus from the court clerk she'd been speaking to and settled her brown eyes on him. "Hunter," she said, a welcoming smile on her lips. "I hear congratulations are in order."
Hunter wasn't surprised she'd already heard, but still, he was pleased. Hell, if she hadn't congratulated him he'd have told her himself. He wasn't much for modesty, not when it came to looking good in front of a woman.
"Word travels fast around here."
"A win's always a cause for gossip. I hope you're going to celebrate," she said.
The one thing he'd always admired about Molly had been her willingness to acknowledge another person's success. "I could be persuaded." Meeting her gaze, he leaned against the filing counter. "Join me for a drink?"
"Can't." She shook her head. Her blond hair fell in soft waves around her pretty face and the old familiar attraction kicked into gear inside him.
He wasn't shocked at her answer. He'd ask, she'd decline. Even back in law school they played this old game. He knew his reasons for not pushing her harder. Molly was a nice girl and it had been a lot easier for Hunter to avoid anything serious with the not-so-nice ones. The ones who didn't expect much more than sex and fun.
Still, he couldn't resist the pull that caused him to keep asking Molly out anyway and now that fate had thrown them together again, he'd hoped she'd give him—give them—a chance. Because he'd finally figured out that he'd grown up enough to want to take one with her.
"What's your excuse this time? You have to give your dog a bath?" he asked her.
She grinned. "Nothing nearly as exciting. My mother's fiancé has a legal issue he wants me to explore. Which reminds me." She glanced at her watch. "I'm going to be late meeting him if I don't hurry. Maybe another time?" she asked and rushed to the door, leaving a whiff of intoxicating perfume in her wake.
He groaned, knowing he'd be tossing and turning tonight and not just because of her sensual scent. Maybe another time? were words Molly had never used with him before. In the past, no had always been a definite no until he'd asked the next time. His heart pounded harder at the possibility she'd opened up to him.
He turned to the court clerk who sat behind her desk eagerly listening in on the exchange. "So, is Molly's mother marrying someone local?" he asked, knowing Anna Marie was the woman with all the answers.
Anna Marie Costanza had been the clerk for longer than anyone who practiced law could remember. She came from a family who held important posts in town. One of her brothers was the mayor, another the town supervisor, yet a third a partner at the prestigious Albany law firm of Dunne and Dunne. They were connected and could provide assistance and answers to
As for Anna Marie, she provided the main source of courthouse gossip but she also ran a tight ship. She and her brothers also owned one of the oldest boardinghouses in town. Anna Marie lived there herself, acting as the superintendent in charge of all things, and lucky for Hunter, Molly rented one of the units. Between the older woman's day job and her occupation as landlord, he'd bet she knew every last detail that was available about each local resident. Especially Molly.
"Yes sirree. Her mother's marrying a longtime resident of our fair town." Anna Marie leaned forward.
"Aren't you curious as to who the lucky guy is?" she asked, obviously eager to impart the information.
"I was getting there," Hunter said, laughing.
"Her fiancé's Marc Dumont. I found out when Molly's mother filed for a marriage license." Anna Marie met Hunter's gaze and nodded slowly, giving him time to absorb the implications of her news.
As he did, Hunter's smile faded. Memories of a time when he was young and not as cocky as he liked to appear now kicked in hard and fast. He clenched his hands into tight fists, the old anger he worked hard to control, rising to the surface. He fought it down.
It wasn't Anna Marie's fault she remembered his connection to Dumont. There wasn't anyone who'd lived in their hometown who didn't know the story of how Lilly had disappeared, presumably running her never been recovered.
There also wasn't anyone who didn't know that Marc Dumont blamed her best friends, Hunter and Ty, for his niece's "death." He'd tried, without success, to make the stolen car charges stick. But he had convinced the state to split the friends apart, taking Hunter away from Flo Benson's foster home.
Hunter had spent the year prior to turning eighteen in a state-run juvenile facility for troubled teens. His anger and resentment resurfaced and his attitude had gotten him into enough fights that he'd nearly ended up in jail. Instead he'd been forced to attend a Scared Straight program in a real lockup and the reality had turned him around fast, just as the program intended. He'd done so by using Lilly as motivation.
He'd hear her voice telling him that she wanted better for him than jail. But he still blamed Dumont for his stint in juvie just as he credited Lilly, Ty and Flo's influence for his turnaround.
Hearing Dumont's name still set Hunter's nerves on edge. "What's the old bastard after now, that he needs Molly's help?" he asked Anna Marie.
She pursed her lips. "Tsk, tsk. You know I can't be passing along privileged information."
Hunter laughed at the mock offense in the older woman's voice. He and Anna Marie shared a love of information any way they had to get it. "Have any court papers been officially filed by Mr. Dumont?" he asked.
Anna Marie grinned. "Well, no." "Then what's privileged about a little courtroom gossip?" Hunter had a sudden, urgent need to know more about what Dumont would need a lawyer for at this point in his life, why he would involve Molly and who the bastard was using now. "Good point. You are as fast thinking on your feet as they say. Are you sure you're too young for me?" she asked, playfully nudging him in the arm.
"I think you're too young for me. I'm afraid your energy would wear me out," he said, laughing. Though he didn't know her exact age, he'd bet she was in her midsixties and though she didn't keep up with the trends, she was spry in spirit.
She smacked the counter and chuckled. "Come on, now spill what you know." He could see from the light in her eyes, she was dying to share her secrets.
"Well since you asked so nicely…I heard Molly talking on the phone earlier. Marc Dumont's getting ready to claim his niece's trust fund as his own."
"What?" Hunter asked, certain he'd heard wrong.
"Since it's been nearly ten years, he plans to go to court and have her declared legally dead. You know, went into Dead Man's Drift," Anna Marie said, mentioning the unofficial name the townspeople had given to the cliff and water below after Lillian Dumont's death.
Nausea washed over him at the thought. Not a day went by when Hunter didn't think of Lilly, that fateful night and his role in her disappearance. He'd always missed her, her laughter, her friendship. It helped that Hunter hadn't heard Dumont's name in years. The man was a subject Hunter tried to avoid and until today, it'd been easy. Dumont had remained under Hunter's radar for years, secluded in Lilly's old home and not causing any trouble. Now in the span of five minutes, Hunter discovered the man was going to marry Molly's mother and attempt to legally bury his niece so he get could his hands on the millions still held in trust for her.
His timing couldn't be worse. Just when Molly seemed to be softening toward the idea of dating Hunter, Dumont once again became an obstacle.
The bastard hadn't changed. He'd merely been in hiding, waiting for a time when the three friends believed their pasts were behind them, to resurface. The man had changed their lives once before. Hunter had a hunch none of them would survive this confrontation unscathed, either.
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