Fern Michaels

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  • Forget Me NotThe Blossom SistersBalancing ActTuesdays ChildBetrayalSouthern ComfortTo Taste the WineSins of the FleshSins of OmissionReturn to SenderMr. and Miss AnonymousUp Close and PersonalFool Me OncePicture PerfectAbout FaceThe Future ScrollsKentucky SunriseKentucky HeatKentucky RichPlain JaneCharming LilyWhat You Wish ForThe Guest ListListen to Your HeartCelebrationYesterdayFinders KeepersAnnies RainbowSaras SongVegas SunriseVegas Heat

    Vegas RichWhitefireWish ListDear EmilyChristmas at Timberwoods

    The Sisterhood NovelsBlindsidedGotcha!Home FreeDj VuCross RoadsGame OverDeadly DealsVanishing ActRazor SharpUnder the RadarFinal JusticeCollateral DamageFast TrackHokus PokusHide and SeekFree FallLethal JusticeSweet RevengeThe JuryVendettaPaybackWeekend Warriors

    Books by Fern Michaels

  • The Godmothers SeriesClassifiedBreaking NewsDeadlineLate EditionExclusiveThe Scoop

    eBook ExclusivesCaptive EmbracesCaptive PassionsCaptive SecretsCaptive SplendorsCinders to SatinFor All Their LivesFancy DancerTexas HeatTexas RichTexas FuryTexas Sunrise

    AnthologiesSecret SantaA Winter WonderlandIll Be Home for ChristmasMaking Spirits BrightHoliday MagicSnow AngelsSilver BellsComfort and JoySugar and SpiceLet It SnowA Gift of JoyFive Golden RingsDeck the HallsJingle All the Way

    Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation

  • ZEBRA BOOKSKENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.http://www.kensingtonbooks.com



  • ZEBRA BOOKS are published by

    Kensington Publishing Corp.119 West 40th StreetNew York, NY 10018

    Copyright 2013 by MRK ProductionsFern Michaels is a registered trademark of First Draft, Inc.

    This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, andincidents either are products of the authors imagination orare used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, liv-ing or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproducedin any form or by any means without the prior written con-sent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

    If you purchased this book without a cover you should beaware that this book is stolen property. It was reported asunsold and destroyed to the Publisher and neither the Au-thor nor the Publisher has received any payment for thisstripped book.

    All Kensington titles, imprints, and distributed lines areavailable at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases forsales promotion, premiums, fund-raising, educational, or in-stitutional use.

    Special book excerpts or customized printings can also becreated to fit specific needs. For details, write or phone theoffice of the Kensington Special Sales Manager: Attn.: SpecialSales Department. Kensington Publishing Corp., 119 West40th Street, New York, NY 10018. Phone: 1-800-221-2647.

    Zebra and the Z logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

    First Kensington Books Hardcover Printing: December 2013First Zebra Books Mass-Market Paperback Printing: April2014ISBN-13: 978-1-4201-3314-1ISBN-10: 1-4201-3314-4

    First Zebra Books Electronic Edition: April 2014eISBN-13: 978-1-4201-3315-8eISBN-10: 1-4201-3315-2

    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    Printed in the United States of America

  • C h a p t e r Tw o

    Lucy let herself into her parents house, or,as she thought of it now, the other hatefulhouse. She thought at that moment that thehouse was giving off vibes that the people whohad lived in it were gone. Gone as in nevercoming back. She dropped the house keys, hermothers keys, in a little crystal dish that sat ona table in the massive foyer. She knew theywere her mothers keys because they were inthe purse the police had given her. Everythinghad been in a sealed clear plastic bag. A pursewhose contents were sparse: a package ofKleenex that hadnt even been opened, a cellphone, the keys, a small wallet with two creditcards, a drivers license, an insurance card,and ninety dollars in cash. A small coin purse


  • had $3.47 in change in it. In a smaller plasticbag inside the police-tagged bag were hermothers earrings, her watch, and her weddingring. All that was left of Helene Brighton.

    There wasnt even that much in her fatherspolice bag. His wallet with two credit cards, hisinsurance card, his drivers license, along withthe car registration; a cell phone; and $451.00in bills, plus ninety-four cents in change, whichmust have been in his trouser pocket at thetime of the crash. His watch, his tie clip, his wed-ding ring, and his car keys barely filled the littlebag. It was all that was left of Fritz Brighton, theworlds most respected and renowned heart sur-geon. How sad that her parents had been re-duced to two small plastic bags. Right now, rightthis moment, she couldnt even rememberwhere shed put the two plastic bags. Probably inthe kitchen, which looked like it had never beenused.

    Lucy looked at herself in the foyer mirror.She didnt look like shed just come from a fu-neral. To her eye, she looked the way she al-ways looked. She had pulled her hair back in abun; she was wearing makeup, something shedidnt normally wear during the day. Her dresswas simple, a beige, sleeveless A-line dress witha pair of pearls. Her shoes and handbag were adarker beige. She kicked off her shoes andpadded barefoot out to the kitchen, where shebrewed a pot of coffee. While she waited forthe coffee to run through the filter, she staredout across the deck, which was empty of furni-

    Fern Michaels


  • ture or flowers. The day was gray and gloomy,and if she was any judge of the weather, itwould rain before the day was over. Funeralweather.

    Now, where did that thought come from?What she knew about funerals and weatherwould fill a thimble. Must be from televisionshows. Or perhaps shed read it in a book?That was the best she could come up with foran answer.

    Lucy poked around in the refrigerator, think-ing she should eat something, but she wasnthungry. Maybe later. Instead, she thought aboutthe funeral, which wasnt really a funeralonlya service, since shed had her parents cremated.She hadnt been able to find a will in the house,which would possibly have stated her parentsburial wishes. So shed gone ahead with thecremation since, according to the police, thebodies had been so mangled during the acci-dent that identification was all but impossible.The detective had gone on to tell Lucy itwould be better to remember her parents theway shed seen them last and not the waytheyd died. She remembered nodding as sheagreed with the detective.

    Lucy sipped at her coffee, wishing she couldcry or feel something. When no tears or feel-ings emerged, she sighed and looked aroundthe marvelous kitchen, which had every rightto be featured in Architectural Digest. Every-thing looked bright and shiny new. Barely anystaples in the butlers pantry, little to nothing



  • in the refrigerator. Did her parents eat outevery day? Her mother had never been a cook,and her father had teased her about burningeverything, which was why theyd always had acook while she was growing up. Did her par-ents have a cook here? A housekeeper? If so,where was she? Maybe she needed to talk tothe neighbors, ask a few questions about herparents.

    It was odd, Lucy thought, that none of theneighbors had stopped by to offer their condo-lences. Neighbors did things like that back inNew Jersey. And no one had been at the ser-vice except for herself, the pastor, and some-one named Lucas Kingston, who, the pastortold her, was the developer of Palm Royal, theenclave where her parents lived. An elderlycouple, perhaps her parents age, had sat inthe last pew, but when the service was over andshe turned around, they were gone. Theycould have been neighbors, for all she knew,or they could have been strangers who just at-tended services because they had nothing bet-ter to do with themselves.

    How could her parents have lived here inPalm Royal for five years and not have friendswho would attend their funeral service? It wasall so weird that she didnt know what to think.But thinking wasnt going to get her anywhere;she knew that for certain. Just then, though,she needed to get off her duff and dive intowhat needed to be done until she could figure

    Fern Michaels


  • out if her parents had an attorney, a will, orwhere they kept their records. And she wouldhave to make a decision if she was the one whoneeded to do all the work about putting thehouse up for sale, checking to see if any billswere owed, things of that nature.

    Maybe what she should do was engage theservices of a lawyer and let him handle it all.That way, she could simply pack up her par-ents things and put them in storage or takethem back to New Jersey. She could pack a lotin her fathers Range Rover in the garage anddrive back instead of flying. Maybe she couldsell the house furnished. Then she wouldnthave to worry about donating or selling off thefurnishings, since they were new and lookednew. The Mercedes her parents had been drivingat the time of the accident was, of course, totaled.That meant shed have to deal with the insur-ance company as soon as she figured out whothat company was. Best-case scenario, threemore days before she could leave. Worst-casescenario, at least a week to tidy up all theloose ends and be on her way.

    Lucy almost jumped off her chair when sheheard a boom of thunder. She finished hercoffee and made her way to the second floor,stopping just long enough to pick up her shoesin the foyer. It took her just ten minutes topack up her dress and shoes and put on a pairof faded, comfortable shorts and a T-shirt. Shetied the laces of her sneakers and headed back



  • to the first floor. Start at the b