Finding Bailey: A Lake Tahoe Romantic Suspense
Psst! Be sure to read to the bottom of this post for the giveaway!
An unknown past threatens her future...
After losing her mother, Bailey Morton faces cleaning out her family’s Lake Tahoe home. What she finds amongst the dust shatters the image of what she always considered an ordinary life with her ordinary family.
Her true identity unknown, Bailey plows headlong into a dangerous journey of deception and death to find the real reason behind her abandonment, and why her parents kept her adoption a secret.
When Bailey’s boyfriend refuses to help, she turns to her best friend, Ryan, for support. As the pair digs into her past, the bond between them deepens to an unexpected level. For Bailey, facing long-buried family skeletons is easy compared to coming to terms with her feelings for Ryan.
As Ryan and Bailey grow closer to discovering her family’s darkest secret, they realize somebody will stop at nothing to keep the secret buried… even if that means burying her.
They stayed that way for a long time, silent, the sway of the lake relaxing them. Bailey realized that was one of her favorite things about Ryan. He was so seldom quiet, but when they were together, they could both sit in comfortable silence.
Her mother used to tell her they were both thinkers. Ryan was absolutely a thinker. He was always questioning things, but not Bailey. She took things as they came, and usually without question. When she thought about it again, she realized that wasn’t always true and definitely not where her past was concerned.
And why did she keep referring to it as her past? She had nothing to do with the decisions that were made back then, but she didn’t know how else to refer to it. Her abandonment? Her adoption? Her mother and father’s lie? Ha! Yeah, that was it. She could refer to it as her family’s dirty secret. How sad was that? She was her family’s dirty secret.
God. How had this happened? As she stared up at the sky, she thought about the universe. So many unanswered questions. Her entire life was one. With her parents gone, all she had left was a handful of friends. A small group, but they were, each one of them, important to her.
The healing feeling she’d gotten from the sun was gone, and now the stars glared down at her, their brightness a reflection of her anger, each one representing a loss in her life. No mother, no father, no past, no name, no one to love, and no one who loved her.
She wondered what Ryan saw when he looked at the stars. What did the brightness represent to him? Was it positive, or did he feel sorry for himself, too? Did he see butterflies and rainbows, music notes, and smiles? Or was it monsters and demons, dragons and fire?
“Ryan, what do you see?” she whispered into the darkness.
“I see you.”
He said it so quietly, she had to turn to look at him. Ryan wasn’t watching the stars as she had been. He was watching her.
“What do you see?” she asked again.
“I see you. I only wish you did, too.”
“Is the sight as pathetic as I imagine?” Her voice slurred a little.
He reached a hand out to touch her face. “It’s musical and beautiful.”
Bailey wanted to snort out a laugh, but the intenseness in his voice wasn’t funny.
“I wish you could see that, too,” he whispered again.
She wanted to cry. He was all she had left. Her relationship with Ryan was the only thing solid in her life, and she knew, even in her alcohol haze, they were about to change it.
He leaned over and gently brushed a kiss on her lips. It was achingly gentle, unfamiliar, yet so intimate, she craved more.
She couldn’t hear anything but their breathing and the sound of water lapping against the boat. The iPhone was playing “Sideways” by Citizen Cope, soft and slow, but more meaningful than she wanted to admit. Where had all the other people gone? The other boats? Were they alone? Did it matter? No, only Ryan mattered, and the feel of his satin lips as they caressed her face.
Ryan pulled away and inhaled sharply. “I’m sorry.”
She heard him as if he were screaming, yet, it was just a whisper.
Sorry? Sorry for what? Her stomach bottomed out, and she stared at him in a new light. Not literally, she could hardly see him in the dark. But seeing now in a different sense. Not visual, more like intuition telling her what she had already known but failed to recognize. Ryan was beautiful and sexy. His touch was smooth and deliberate, and she wanted him to touch more of her. She’d beg if she had to. She’d cry and scream and force him to want her as much as she wanted him at that moment.
How had she missed seeing him over the years? How had his smile not reached down and clutched her heart, and how had the sound of his voice not filled her with longing? Or had it? Had all those wonderfully beautiful things actually happened without her acknowledging their existence?
Would Bailey have to trade friendship for all that beauty? Nowhere in her life could she be so lucky to have both. Until now, she had ignored the wonderful and traded it for the secure, but could she keep it up? Could she hide her desires in order to preserve that friendship? Not tonight. She needed him more tonight than she’d ever needed anything in her life. Did he know that? Could she have one night with him, then wake up tomorrow and have everything back to the way it was?
She reached up, pulled the hat from his head, and ran her fingers through his wild hair. Her hand felt heavy, like dead weight, but the strands of silk slid through like flowing water.
His hand rested on her waist, the pressure a welcome friend, his fingers massaging as they pulled her closer to him, his chest warm, soft, and smelling like fresh air. Bailey breathed him in, dizzy from the sensation. No high in the world could compete with this. Her inhibitions and walls were gone for the first time in her life. She felt completely comfortable with him. No insecurities or questions, just the feel of him as he touched her. Did he feel as comfortable with her?
She hoped, for his sake, this was just a physical need, a cure for the lonely, and nothing more. She could live with the broken heart of tomorrow, but she wouldn’t wish it on him for all the pleasure in the world.