Ex-cop Rowena Summerfield would do just about anything for longtime friend Ryder Tompkins. When he discovers he has a half sister he never knew about and pressures Ro to use her investigative talents to help him find her, she can’t say no. But boyfriend Chuck Dawson’s offer to accompany her to Atlanta might complicate the search. Is she ready for so much togetherness?
What begins as a simple missing-person case escalates to a danger-filled odyssey when they learn the woman has fled town, taking all her worldly goods except a bloodstained cocktail dress. The hunt is on as they follow clues cross-country from one town to another. But they’ve left a trail of their own, and the missing woman’s enemies now threaten Ro and Chuck—not to mention their friends and family back home in Florida.
Ro is torn. If they go home to protect their loved ones, they’ll leave Ryder’s sister in danger, but without the backup of Ro’s police colleagues, they don’t have the resources to face a killer. As Ro and Chuck work their way through a labyrinth of challenges, their partnership evolves beyond attraction. Is it strong enough to withstand Ro’s sneaky moves to solve the case while keeping him out of danger?
Nuts and Bolts
Nailed It Home Reno Mysteries Book 5
By Barbara Barrett
I stared at the computer screen debating whether to lay the seven of clubs over the six of hearts or place the eight of diamonds over the seven. Difficult decision. It had been months, maybe years, since I last succumbed to playing an online card game. Until today, there hadn’t been a minute to spare for such a diversion.
There shouldn’t be time now. I should be trying to catch my breath in the midst of renovating one home or another, but here I was, idled by a stalled supply chain that couldn’t deliver the flooring critical to completion of our two current projects. Revenue wouldn’t be forthcoming until the logjam moved. And here I was attempting to block out my concerns about paying our crew and subs by playing a stupid card game.
I’m Rowena Summerfield, Ro for short. With shoulder-length dark hair going gray, I’m about to celebrate my fifty-eighth birthday. Almost four years ago, I partnered with my daughter, Valerie Kowalski, to run a home renovation business here in Shasta, Florida, Nailed It Home Renos, when we were both at a crossroads in our lives and careers.
As I pondered which card to move, there was a quick knock on my door and my boyfriend, Chuck Dawson, burst in. Boyfriend is a bit of a misnomer; Chuck is definitely no boy, although my former football player still demonstrates the energy of a teen, particularly lately, since I’d let down my defenses and gone for broke in our relationship. Not that I regretted a moment of the new level of intimacy we shared. I was in love again for the first time since I met my late husband. Until now, I’d been afraid to trust that I could feel this way again about another human being.
Amazing he’d taken the time to knock, given how much he’d inserted himself in my life lately. He hadn’t moved in yet. We were dragging our feet in that regard because we’d both grown quite content with our single-person lifestyles. But he stayed over several nights a week and, at my suggestion, was storing some of his personal things in space I’d cleared for him.
“Hi,” I said, getting up to kiss him after he’d closed the door. “Didn’t I just see you a few hours ago?”
“Yes, you did,” he replied, setting me back on my feet, “but something has come up we need to discuss. The AC is out at the deli, and the new equipment can’t be installed for another week to ten days. Let’s take advantage of this break to head to Atlanta before the trail grows too cold.”
I took a step back. I wasn’t expecting this suggestion. I needed to sit down to absorb this idea. “You were serious about helping me track down Ryder’s sister?” Ryder served as superintendent on our projects in addition to running his own company. Several months ago, he told me how he’d discovered he had a sister he’d never known about, the result of an affair of his late father nearly three decades ago. He’d asked for my help finding her. I’d tracked her down as far as Atlanta, then Ryder attempted his own legwork.
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