This is my next book, due out June 8th.
Hunter Gordon had pleaded guilty to a crime he hadn't committed. And served ten long years in prison. All to save the family who had taken him in: beautiful Rae Benton and her father. But right before Rae's father died, he revealed his daughter was in danger. Hunter had to keep her safe. How was he supposed to get close? Rae didn't know the truth and blamed him for the loss of all she held dear. Hunter would have to earn Rae's trust—without ever telling her what really happened a decade ago.
Rae Benton could not believe who had just walked into the mortuary chapel. The man who'd killed her father had the gall to attend his victim's funeral.
With hands clenched as tightly as her jaw, she lifted her gaze from the inexpensive casket, up Hunter Gordon's lean frame to meet his eyes. In the muted light, she couldn't see the vivid blue, just the intensity that carried both empathy and wariness. She could buy the wariness; after all, he couldn't expect to be welcomed here. But empathy? Hunter might not have pulled a trigger, but he was responsible for her father's untimely death. He had no right to show any compassion.
He came to stand near her. "I'm sorry, Rae." His voice had deepened during his years in prison, yet she could barely hear it in the quiet chapel. His words were obviously meant for her alone. "I wish I could have been here sooner."
"Because you've just been released?" she muttered. "How did you get here so fast? Dorchester Penitentiary is a two-hour drive from here. They don't release inmates at dawn."
"I hitched a ride with a guard coming off duty."
"Who told you Dad had died?"
His compassionate expression faltered slightly, but his voice stayed calm. "We stopped for gas up the road. The clerk told me. I came straight here."
Edith Waterbrook owned the only gas station in the small New Brunswick village of Green Valley. Which meant if she'd recognized Hunter after ten years, everyone would soon know he'd been released. And had headed straight to the funeral.
Rae found herself fighting back the conflicting urges to smack him, and to feel again the comforting embrace he'd given her that day a decade ago when her family's shop had burned to the ground.
Correction. The day Hunter had burned the workshop to the ground and destroyed Benton Woodworking, a livelihood the family had relied on for nearly a century. The day the police had arrested him for arson.