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Lauren N. Sharman
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As a member of a tight-knit, extended family full of tough, sometimes-violent men, Flynn McCassey is no saint. But he is smart. The one his cousins call quiet and mysterious, his keen observation skills allow him to see things that other’s don’t.
Twenty-year-old Missy Grace has lost everyone she’s ever loved. When her best friend, Georgia McCassey, unexpectedly re-enters her life, Missy is presented with an opportunity to start a new life in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Flynn and Missy’s budding relationship comes to a screeching halt with one suspicious phone call. When she announces her need to return to Virginia and her ailing mother, her explanation does nothing to mask her fear. To make sure she stays safe, Flynn offers to drive Missy home. Thrilled by his offer, she accepts his generosity without considering the danger.
Halfway home, the truth comes out…giving Flynn just hours to figure out how to keep Missy alive.
As she had every day for nearly five years, Missy Grace stood alone.
The late August sun beat down as she loitered in the parking lot in front of McCassey’s Garage. There was not a breath to be had, but being from southern Virginia, Missy thought nothing of the hot weather here in western Maryland. In through her nose and out through her mouth; she inhaled and exhaled steadily, barely noticing the stickiness of the oppressive humidity.
This small town reminded her of her hometown, Fort Chiswell—a little backwoods, but quaint. The gun racks in the back windows of several of the trucks in the parking lot made her feel at home. Firearms didn’t faze her; she’d grown up hunting with her dad.
Because all three bay doors in front of the large brick building were wide open, Missy could hear the commotion inside. Laughter and silliness from those who had put in a long week fixing cars wafted through the air. They were ready to start their weekend, late on a Friday afternoon.
Missy hadn’t seen her best friend, Georgia McCassey, since she’d disappeared from their hometown just after her fifteenth birthday. When it happened, Georgia’s mom told everyone that her daughter had run away, but Missy hadn’t bought the explanation. In her gut, she’d believed that Georgia’s mother had known where she was. But because lung cancer had taken the woman’s life just three weeks after Georgia disappeared, Missy hadn’t had the chance to question her.
Never in her life had Missy felt as lost and alone as she had when Georgia first vanished. The two of them had been inseparable since meeting on the softball field when they were five. The void Georgia’s absence had left in Missy’s life was so large that she thought it would never be filled.
When Georgia called her out of the blue, Missy recognized her best friend’s voice right away, and would’ve fainted if there had been anyone around to catch her. Instead, she’d eased herself into a chair at the kitchen table and talked for the next three hours to the girl she had grown up loving like a sister.
Silent, sympathetic tears had poured down Missy’s cheeks when Georgia told her the story of how her father had kidnapped her and forced her into prostitution and heroin addiction. She’d listened with interest as Georgia explained how she’d escaped with the help of the drug dealer who owned the house where her father was holding her prisoner. And she’d almost fallen out of her chair when Georgia announced that she had three older half-brothers named Blackie, Judd, and Rebel, who were forty-one, thirty-seven, and thirty-six.
Georgia had also talked about her sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, uncles, and numerous cousins. By the time the story was over, Missy had been on information overload, and only remembered bits and pieces of that part of their conversation.
Just before they’d hung up, Georgia mentioned that she was playing softball again, and happened to be pitching for McCassey’s Garage in the Hagerstown Tradesman Fast Pitch Softball League’s championship game this weekend. She was the only girl on the team, but Missy doubted that had any effect on her self-confident friend. Georgia had been throwing sixty-four mile an hour fastballs at the age of fifteen, so Missy was sure that what she lacked in masculinity, she made up for in speed and accuracy.
The girls had ended their conversation with the promise to visit each other as soon as possible. But that hadn’t been good enough for Missy. After she said goodbye to Georgia, she’d contacted the girls they’d played softball with on the Fort Chiswell Storm since elementary school. Since most of them had yet to go back to college, all nine of them piled into two cars that morning and made the four and a half hour drive up to Hagerstown to watch Georgia pitch. Fifteen minutes earlier, they’d dropped Missy off at the garage and left to rent two rooms at the local hotel.
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 330
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