“No! Absolutely not!” She popped open the dishwasher in progress. The rush of steam made her eyes water. It wasn’t tears. It just couldn’t be more tears. She loaded another cereal bowl into the dishwasher, then the glasses from the evening before, carelessly tossing them in with clinks and clatters that satisfied her angry mood. “I will not move out of my own house and go into hiding like –” She broke off, staring at James appalled. Slowly, she stood upright, drawing a deep breath, not sure if she should apologize.
From his perch on the stool at her breakfast bar, he stared at her, his dark eyes glittering. “Like me?” he suggested quietly.
The embarrassed flush crept up her neck and into her face. “I wasn’t going to say that,” she mumbled. “I just think I need to take a stand. I’ve made sure the boys are safe. My car is at Del’s and he’s got his son working on it. I have to draw a line somewhere and not back down. Besides…” She closed the dishwasher with a bang. “It was Ashley who broke into my house.”
“Mmmm,” James answered with a noncommittal shrug. “Maybe and maybe not. But it definitely wasn’t Ashley who shot the street up the other night.”
“Would it really hurt to spend some time at Mom and Dad’s over the holiday?” Matt glanced up from his coffee. “You look like hell, Anna. There isn’t enough makeup in the world to hide the shadows under your eyes. You’re obviously not sleeping. You’re jumpy. And you’ve stopped smiling. You used to love Christmas to the point where you drove us all insane with it. Now, you walk around like some B-movie zombie.”
“That has nothing to do with any threats,” she said softly.
Matt set down his coffee cup. “You can’t take that girl’s suicide personally.”
“It was personal — it is personal!” Anna clenched both hands into fists.
“Because she broke into your house and left you a note?” Matt shoved his chair away from the table and pushed to his feet. “You can’t save the world. Sometimes you aren’t going to be in the right place when you’re needed. You aren’t always going to make it in time, especially since your cape’s getting a little ragged on the edges.”
“You don’t have to get cute,” Anna grumbled, concentrating on unfurling her fists. “It’s annoying, and I never even hinted that I think I’m some kind of superhero. This has more to do with wasting my training because it’s something I should have seen coming.” She stopped talking, aware that her voice would break if she kept going. She hadn’t broken down yet and didn’t plan to until later, preferably when she was alone.
“I have an easy solution,” James began, crossing the room to stand in front of Anna.
Whatever he was going to say was cut off when Anna’s cell alerted her to an incoming call.
Grateful for the break from the two overbearing males in her kitchen, she held up a hand while she answered. “Hello?”
“Is this Anna Jeffries?” a man’s voice asked.
“Yes it is.”
“I’m Greg Gartner, Ashley’s father,” he introduced himself. “I was calling to give you the details on funeral arrangements for my daughter.”
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Don’t forget, A Lot Like A Lady, Regency Romance, releasing March 27!