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By Amy Mistretta
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.Copyright © 2006 Amy Mistretta
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe one thing Reese hadn't planned on when setting out to find the right person to help her restore the old Victorian-style mansion was coming face to face with a convicted rapist.
As the sun was beginning to set, a man walked up the steps to the wraparound front porch, holding a newspaper. Reese was sitting just inside the front door of the house, looking through the old bureau desk that rested against the foyer wall, when she heard his footsteps.
The door was open, yet he didn't come in. Instead, he rapped heavily on the outside casing, waiting for Reese to finally look up from the hidden treasures she was uncovering in the old desk.
"Come on in," she said, not bothering to get up as she finished sorting through the loose papers in the long front drawer. At that point, she figured he was going to be another inexperienced, unqualified applicant. Just like everyone else I've interviewed today.
The man walked in, removed his baseball hat and stood next to the desk. "I'm here about the job," he said, slightly lifting the newspaper from his side.
Though she hadn't made eye contact with him, it was as if his deep voice demanded her attention and she finally looked up. He didn't seem to be much older than she, and there was something awfully familiar about him. Reese couldn't put her finger on it.
"Please, have a seat." She got up from the chair, motioning for him to take her place.
"Thank you," he said, looking around the old house, interest clearly taking over his otherwise reserved look.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" she commented after following his gaze to the grand staircase leading up to the open landing.
"There's something about these old homes," he said. "I can't seem to get enough of them. So many aged characteristics screaming to be revived."
That statement alone was enough to make Reese decide to hire him right there and then, but she didn't want to appear too desperate.
"I'm glad to hear you appreciate the construction of the house." She walked in a little closer and put out her hand, ready to launch into the same questions she'd asked the other applicants. "Reese Abbot. And you are ...?"
Anyone watching the man's facial expressions would have thought Reese had said something obnoxious. The look in his eyes immediately changed from pleasant to almost hateful. At that moment, without as much as a word, he stood up and walked back toward the door.
"Excuse me? Did I say something to offend you?" Reese asked, following, more puzzled than anything.
"Yeah, your last name says it all."
"Look, I don't know what you have against my last name, but I assure you that I don't know who you are."
"That's hard to believe."
"I admit, you look familiar, but I can't seem to-"
"Evan." He paused, turning for a brief moment, his gaze penetrating through hers. "Evan Payne."
Reese instantly remembered the name as soon as the words left his mouth . However, she couldn't believe that Evan Payne was standing in the house with her, only a few feet separating her from his grasp.
And they were all alone.
Excerpted from Secrets Within by Amy Mistretta Copyright © 2006 by Amy Mistretta. Excerpted by permission.
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