Pancreatic cancer typically moved fast. But Cheyenne didn't think Anita had arrived at her final moments quite yet. I could've abandoned you, but I didn't. I kept you with me every step of the way, even though it wasn't always easy to feed and clothe you. Someone you used to leave me with? I can remember someone with blue eyes and platinum-blond hair.
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I was with her, wearing a princess dress, and there were presents all around as if it was my birthday. Her mother knew something. But then a hint of the malevolence Anita had just masked sparkled in her eyes. I don't know what on earth you're talking about. It was cold outside, too cold to have the window cracked open, especially when the heater was busted, but if she wanted to smoke she had little choice. It was against California state law to light up in a public building, and she sure as hell wasn't going to stand outside.
Crossing her ankles beneath the steering wheel, she took a long, calming drag. As a card dealer, she was entitled to a fifteen-minute break every hour, which sounded like a lot but wasn't, not when she was on her feet for the rest of her shift.
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She had three hours to go and already her back ached. She wished she could earn a living some other way, but there weren't many options available to someone without so much as a high school diploma. She was lucky to have her GED and a job.
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Where had he come from? She hadn't seen anyone approaching. She locked the door to be certain he couldn't get in and spoke to him through the gap in her window. Presley hadn't heard of anything like that happening where she lived, but it was nearly three in the morning, and she was out in the dark alone with a stranger.
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One who'd been drinking for all she knew. He lifted his hands in a calming gesture. I didn't mean to startle you. I'm Eugene Crouch, a private investigator. She was afraid the P. Her first name was, after all, sewn onto her blouse. As it was, some ash fell into her lap and she had to brush it away before it could burn a hole in her uniform. What did this man want with her mother? Considering the way Anita had lived her life, he couldn't have any good reason to be looking for her. As the black-sheep daughter of a hard-bitten, broken woman who'd had six kids by as many men, she wasn't likely to inherit money.
And, like her own mother, Anita had never been accepted by her extended family, so Presley doubted this man was here to help some long-lost friend or relative reconnect. Maybe she'd stolen a watch from someone who'd paid her for sex and the police had issued a warrant for her arrest. Or worse. She'd once crashed into a man on a bicycle and driven away from the scene of the accident.
She'd been drinking and shouldn't have been behind the wheel. Presley was surprised she'd suffered no repercussions for that. But it'd happened in Arizona and they'd crossed into New Mexico right after. Presley had shoved that incident into the back of her mind—until now. This could also be about welfare fraud or tax evasion, she supposed.
Anita had done anything she could to get by. Used to be Karen Bateman.
Went by the name of Laura Dumas before that. But she'd never heard of Dumas.
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That one must've been before she was old enough to remember. If she didn't, they'd go hungry. Or she and her sister would be abandoned. She was too old for those threats to have the same effect, but old habits and loyalties were hard to break. She claimed you were her daughter. How had he been able to trace her from there? Right or wrong, she'd done what her mother had taught her to do. I've got to get to work. She hesitated with her hand on the latch, and that was all the opportunity he needed. She knew who she'd see, but with her mother sick and about to die she figured it didn't matter anymore.
Whatever Anita had done wrong, cancer was punishment enough. He held up another picture. She did recognize one of the two subjects of that photograph. Chey was in it as a very young girl. And something about her struck Presley as odd.
Although Anita had looked as Presley would've expected—significantly younger but still unkempt—Chey didn't. Her hair was curled into pretty ringlets tied with a ribbon, and she was wearing a fancy dress with black patent leather shoes. When had this picture been taken? And why wasn't she in it? She couldn't remember a single time their mother had bothered to curl their hair.
They'd been lucky to have a comb to straighten out the snarls after several days without a bath. What did this picture mean? The possibilities terrified Presley. Anita was about to die. She couldn't lose Chey, too. More Books in Romance See All. In Stock. After Book 1. Breathless Steel Brothers Saga. The Mister. Frankissstein : A Love Story. The Bride Test. Love And Other Battles Order a signed copy!
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