When a terrible accident abruptly ends her riding career, Rachel Parker returns to Pennsylvania to rebuild her family’s horse farm. But her welcome home is anything but warm. Her sister’s abusive husband and a violent vandal threaten Rachel’s new business and her life. Someone is systematically trying to destroy her. Someone who knows private things about her. Someone who’s been watching her. Now Rachel must face the fact that the sins of her carefully hidden past have returned to haunt her.…
Police Chief Mike O’Connell never had trouble drawing the line between his personal life and his job—until he met Rachel Parker. Mike’s investigation uncovers a shocking number of secrets and suspects. But the stalker’s escalating violence convinces him he doesn’t have much time to sort through it all. Whoever is watching Rachel wants her dead. Mike and Rachel race to untangle a web of deceit and lies that stretches two decades into the past—before her stalker strikes again.
*** spoiler alert ***
Rachel moves back to her hometown in Pennsylvania to take over the family farm. Her sister, Sarah, six years her junior calls her one night needing to be picked up, her husband Troy Mitchell- a councilman's son- had come home after a fight drunk -again-. After calling the cops she races to get there in time when the call goes dead. When she gets to the house she hears yelling, her sister scream and when she ran in her sister was laying at the bottom of the stairs, out cold, bleeding and Troy was standing over her. Troy attacked her and Rachel fought back, managing to get a few good hits in there and got him subdued until the Police Chief and an officer, Ethan came in. Troy was arrested and they were all taken to the hospital. Rachel blames herself for not being able to help her sister.
Mrs. Holloway, her ex teacher, and neighbor was keeping the girls for her while they were gone. this house the the one place where she didn’t have to hide anything. But as Rachel sits down to have a minute to relax -thanks to Mrs. Holloway’s orders- and her mind goes to the Police Chief. Mike O’Connell… and his super hero huge body. Her body was having a moment as she thought over him. The feelings are mutual as Mike is having some of those.. unfamiliar thoughts. The next morning when Mike gets a file from one of his officers he notices the number of disturbances she had and had a feeling. Troy -who she assumed had been the one to do the vandalism- wouldn’t likely do this. It was too many coordinated attacks against her.
Mike talks to her about the families safety. Finally getting her to agree to get an alarm system. And seeing as Shawn -his childhood best friend- was in the safety and security business he knew who to call. As Mike works to find out who is threatening Rachel, he has to worry over the rest of the country as well. 4 police officers just wasn't enough but with it not being in the budget for OT or more officers he was running himself ragged. Shawn finally convinced him -more like blackmailed him- to come to a barbeque at his house so Shawn’s wife could see that he really was alive. LOL But as soon as he gets there and sets up for Shawn to set up a security system for Rachel other guests arrive and he fakes a text and has to go. He doesn’t make it far though before he does get a real call. Seems Rachel was attacked at her place. After pictures and reports are done Mike instead of going home and sleeping -like he should- he stays at her house, in the driveway all night to keep an eye on them all.
When Sarah has Rachel take her to the courthouse to get a restraining order for Troy Mike bumps into her there. Along with Troy’s father and his barbie doll super model of a wife. Mike doesn’t mean for it to happen but he shows an interest in Rachel in front of the councilman and now worries shit’s about to get a lot harder for him. Then things start to pile up towards the two of them. The ‘watcher’ watches, the town people are fighting over the construction going on in town and poor Mike has to deal with it all. Vandalism, crazy people (laughs) and Rachel. Rachel and Sarah’s childhood friend David -who happens to be the one their father sold the Parker Construction Company to- shows up to check on Sarah after hearing there was a problem with Troy.
He makes his way to Rachel after things settle down with them and they tried to ‘make friends’ he asks to help her out by painting the barn between the jobs he has. Rachel agrees. He did have the right equipment and all. Rachel and Mike’s attraction to each other starts to grow, but also the ‘watcher’ gets braver. He sneaks into Town Hall’s basement and goes to the old police records. He didn’t want to chance anyone would find files he didn't want anyone else to see. (What is it about that house that he doesn't want anyone to see?) The fact that Rachel happened to stop by to see the Lady in the records office the same time the fire was set has Mike reeling with the possibilities that the person or persons after her are getting braver, more intense.
While Shawn and his guys are putting up the security system Mike shows up and the girls -Sarah’s daughters- over hear him and Shawn talking about the safety of the house. Then.. the girls go missing. Sarah asks if they had seen them and a man hunt around the house ensues. Meanwhile, Rachel is out riding the horse her next appointment will be riding, to try and get some of his extra energy out before the tween shows up when.. she has a fall. One minute she is on the horse the next she is on the ground. When she comes inside she finds the basement door open. She and Mike go down to see if they can find them -and they do- but that is not all they find. The girls hiding spot is at the same spot where there is a secret door. When Mike peaks into the room he sees a shallow impression. A grave.
Rachel gets the girls to the stairs and has a seat, feeling her body start to ache from her fall when Mike notices she is bleeding. Thanks to Bandit -the girls dog- the fact that it is a grave is revealed as Mike talks to Rachel. Dogs love bones! Needless to say Mike has Shawn take Rachel to the ER and calls the medical examiner to come have a look. The house is said to be a part of the underground railroad so the bones could be really old… but as Mike feared the examiner confirms they are not. Just another thing to add to his growing to do list.
Luckily Rachel is not broken just bruised and sore as hell. Shawn gets her home and Christian Rojas -the aristocratic argentinian who is the father of her last appointment’s father- is waiting for her. Apparently he has a little crush on her. (LOL) But as things pass back and forth more things start to happen. Will Martin -yes the town pervert and friend of Tryo, Sarah’s asshole of a husband- confronts Rachel. Gropes her on the street in town. I mean really? Brass balls? Maybe.. well until Rachel slugged him and did a nut cracker kick. Thing was Mike saw it all. And was damn glad she wasn’t mad at him. (laughs hard)
But as things are now Will’s arrest has been all over town. The Mayor comes in and tells Mike Will is suing him and the county because Mike got rough with him and threatened him. (Which of course neither happened.) Mike was suspended on the spot, right then and there. So, he turns in his badge, gun and walks off. When he gets home he gets a call from the secretary (who is none too happy about the suspension) and she brings him her car since there was a call to get to the Parker farm. Seems Rachel’s stalker is at it again. this time its a mailbox full of bees. And Rachel is highly allergic to bees. As things go… this is the worst of all. With that many bees one sting would set the swarm off and she would die before she got to the hospital.
By the time Mike arrived Rachel, back peddling ever so slowly she made it to Sarah’s minivan and was safe. But she wasn't getting out any time soon. After talking to the Sheriff’s Lieutenant in charge now mike take Rachel home with him. No way was she staying alone. At least with him she was safe. they hoped. Now it’s time question some people. Officially a cop or not he still needed to get some things sorted to try and make sure Rachel was safe. As they do some more research and get things settled Mike gets ready and takes Rachel home. As he pulls up in her yard he gets a call from Pete -the Lt. in charge of the sheriffs office at the time- that there are cars in the swollen river at the bridge and they need help. He reluctantly leaves Rachel after calling Shawn to come keep an eye on her.
The next thing you know… Rachel’s barn is on fire. Sarah and Rachel jump into action. Rachel heads out to the barn having a feeling this is a trap but there is no way she can let her horses burn alive. Not gonna happen. She gets them all out, falls to the ground ignoring the burns she has when she sees… him. the same shadow she saw as a child. The watcher grabs her and when rachel wakes up she is in a boat hitting the water. She still can’t see her attacker but she knows she has to fight to get away. She manages to get her pocket knife out and starts cutting the ropes on her ankles. Back at her farm Mike and Shawn show up to find Sarah upset cause she doesn’t know where Rachel is. Bandit gets loose from the house and takes off running toward the barn but veers out and runs into the woods. the boys follow him and find a trail. Boot prints. He was coming in from the river. Getting to the waters edge Mike hears the motor and they see where it was up in the bank. Calling for backup Mike runs to his jeep and takes off. Maybe Rachel’s dad knows more than he lets on? Finally while at her dads Mike remembers something she had told him about her childhood and he figures out who it is that has her.
When the boat stops Rachel sees her kidnappers face and shock, hurt and so many things run through her. how could he? As he tosses her over his shoulder and heads up to his cabin she stabs him. Getting away -for the time being, and she tries to hide. Not only was he after her now but he had tried to kill her as a child. It was all making sense now. Rachel gets into a hiding place but he finds her. Not having any luck getting to her though because by the time he tries again Mikes there. And a fight breaks out. By the time the bodies hit the ground both men are hurt badly, bleeding and Rachel starts to freak out. Shawn shows up having been told where Mike was -by Mike before- and manages to contain Mikes bleeding.
At the hospital they all wait. What’s going to happen? Is this really the end? After surgery Quinn comes out and talks to Rachel. Mike will be okay. He lost a lot of blood but he was resting. Quinn, being the hard ass doctor that he is makes a deal with her. She can see Mike for a few minutes and then she is going back to the ER to have her injuries looked at. Days later Mike is home -well he and Rachel’s family are at Jack’s place thanks to the fire their place is inhabitable- and recuperating. He was reinstated as the Chief thanks to the town peoples petitioning for it and he and Rachel can move on with their life. Get to their happy ever after.
I frigging LOVED this story. So much mystery, thrills, love and a case or two of what the hell moments rounded it out beautifully. Melinda has a way of making you have to turn the page. her stories come to life as you read. Each emotion being felt as your heart races with the ones on the page. Can’t say it enough, I loved it!