FBI agent Theodore "Hatch" Hatcher is a man without roots-and that's the way he likes it. But when a grisly crime shatters Cyprus Bend, Florida, Hatch is dragged back to the small town-and the one woman-he hoped was in his rearview for good. Forced to confront the wreckage of their love affair, Hatch and Grace may just find that sometimes the deepest wounds leave the most beautiful scars-and that history repeating itself may just be what they need to stop a killer . . . and save their own hearts.
Hatch continued to stare at her with eyes the color of a steamy July sky. But then, Hatch was summer. Lazy days and lustful nights. Sun and sand. And heat. A heat so intense, even with a decade’s distance, warmth crept along her cheeks.
Hatch’s dimples deepened. God, she’d forgotten how easy it was to get lost in the depth of those creases, for a man like Hatch knew how to wear—and work—a smile.
She straightened the pearls at her neck.
“Yep, Alex, the lovely prosecutor is correct as usual,” Hatch said. “Tell me, Grace, do you ever get tired of being right?” He lowered his voice, his words pouring over her like tupelo honey, sweet and wild and golden.
For a moment she forgot everything and simply listened to his words, the words of a charmer. Grace tried to go to the calm, cool place in her head, but her heart slammed triple time, beating up a heat that left her dizzy. From the moment they met on St. George Island the summer after she graduated law school, Hatch Hatcher had left her off balance. She’d spent the summer teaching tennis at an exclusive children’s camp, and he’d taught sailing. That hot, whirlwind summer led to a disastrously short marriage. It took them all of ten weeks to learn the universal truth: Mind-blowing sex does not a marriage make.
She’d come a long way since then. She was older now, stronger and harder. “What are you doing here?”
Hatch gave her a breezy shrug. “Just taking care of a little crisis situation.”
The boy standing next to him, the one he called Alex, said something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like asshole. Hatch’s jaw flinched. The boy’s nostrils flared.
“I see you ended up with the Bureau,” she said to break the tension.
“Keeping tabs on me, Princess?” He waggled his eyebrows, the wicked grin back. Hatch and his stupid nicknames.
“It’s hard not to. One of the country’s premiere hostage negotiators receives a good deal of media attention.” When she’d known him, he’d been a sun-soaked sailor without a paycheck or a plan. “I saw the talk-down in Atlanta last month with the high school bomber. It was all over the news. Good for you.”
“Good for the twenty kids in that boy’s science classroom.” Hatch rested his backside against her car, crossing his legs at the ankles.
To any bystander, he was just a guy kickin’ back and catching up with an old flame. But this man was an Apostle. He was one of the best crisis negotiators in the world. And she damn well knew every movement he made and every word he uttered served a purpose. She crossed her arms over her chest.
“And you?” Hatch said. “I hear you’re working as an assistant state attorney and destroying bad guys with your lovely little hands.”
“I’ve had a few successes.”
“A few?” He laughed, but there was an edge to it. The edge surprised her. The old Hatch had been smooth, like the mirrored glass of a windless ocean. “From what I’ve heard, you’re on top of the world.” Hatch uncrossed his arms and raised his palms to the sky. “And someday I bet you’ll own it.”
“And you’ll simply drift through it.”
The air grew still, and the afternoon clamor of the swamp silenced. It was like the heavy, pressurized seconds before a summer storm, before the swollen clouds and electric sky clashed in a thundering display of power.
He was the first to break. His mega-watt smile lit up his face, and he motioned to the building behind them. “And what brings you to the sheriff’s office? Are you here for business or”—his dimples sharpened like tiny scythes—“pleasure?”
“Business.” The short, tense word catapulted her to the present. She shouldn’t be wasting precious time talking to Hatch. She’d spent the day in the swamp searching for Lia Grant, a girl who’d been buried alive, and with each passing hour, the girl’s voice grew fainter.
It’s cold. And dark. I can’t breathe.