Gone From Me Synopsis:
Their life was a fairy tale—until it all came tumbling down.
Hearts of the South, Book 10
Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Amy Bennett isn’t sure when her own Prince Charming went AWOL from their marriage, but she’s certain of one thing. She wants him back. She and Rob had it all: law-enforcement careers they loved and each other. Yet somehow he’s wound up sleeping on the couch and emotionally beyond her reach.
Rob is trying to put the pieces back together, but battling his own demons while starting over in a small-town sheriff’s department is pushing him—and his marriage—to the breaking point.
His very first missing person’s case threatens to end anything but happily ever after for the families involved. Then a young man goes missing too, and the pressure has Rob reaching for the nearest lifeline. The one that’s dangling by the barest of threads—his wife.
And though Amy’s grip is strong, her love may not be enough to keep Rob from slipping away.
Contains a husband who’s holding too much in, and a wife who’ll do anything to get him to let go, even meet him halfway on their last piece of common ground—in bed. Also: cop bonding between cops who talk like cops.
Numb. All he felt was numb, which was crazy because he should be hurt, jealous, enraged. Rob’s friend—make that former friend—had one hand buried in Amy’s hair, an arm about her waist, and his lips hovered over, not quite touching, Amy’s mouth. Jake was about to kiss Rob’s wife, and all the emotion Rob could dredge up was irritation at not being able to feel.
The lack of feeling bugged the hell out of him, as it had for weeks now.
A fat drop of rain splattered on his shoulder, and the chilly spray across his neck broke him free from the paralyzing trance. He stepped off the curb into the parking lot as Amy wedged her palms against Jake’s shoulders and shoved hard.
“What are you doing?” Amy, at least, was angry, fury dripping off each syllable. She brought her fisted hands up and took a firm step back. She lifted her chin, thick brown hair sliding over her shoulders in a glossy fall.
“Amy, baby, wait.” Jake reached for her, and she knocked his hand aside. “We need to talk—”
“You’re insane.” Another step backward, but with her body shifted so she could spin if he lunged at her. Rob had witnessed that stance often enough when they’d been rookie agents, training together. Capable and strong in more ways than one, Amy could handle herself.
The door behind him swung open, a group of laughing diners spilling from China Garden. Peals of merriment blended with the splashing fountain and the plopping of raindrops on asphalt. Amy and Jake both glanced toward the newcomers. Rob read their expressions as they registered his presence—Jake’s smug triumph, Amy’s horror.
Rob strode forward, feet automatically carrying him toward the train wreck that had been one of his closest friendships since college. Jake had always been a little of a self-centered whiner, but they’d been buddies, sharing similar interests. Hell, how had Rob missed that one of those interests had been Amy?
Maybe he was further gone that he’d thought.
“Rob…” Amy’s voice held a nervous tremor that probably only someone who knew her the way he did could hear. She was actually scared, which made no sense. He’d never hurt her. Jake appeared frightened as well, a hint of fear warring with the challenge in his gaze.
He cataloged that away and stopped next to Amy. Hands tucked in his pockets, he rocked back on his heels. “Ready to go home?”
Surprise flared on both their faces. Yeah, his reserve was probably the epitome of anticlimactic. Amy’s shock quickly morphed into eager relief. She pulled at his arm and slid her hand into his, her fingers as chilly as the rain falling in earnest now, plastering their clothes to skin. “Yes.”
“Okay.” He didn’t tighten his own fingers around hers, but steered her toward his truck. He yanked open the passenger door and helped her inside before jogging around to the driver’s side. Water dripped from his collar, his shirt clinging like a clammy hand. In the passenger seat, Amy twisted the hem of her own soaked top. The Ford’s cloth interior would be toast after this.
He didn’t care about that either, even though his dad would spin in his grave over Rob letting this happen to his beloved pickup.
“Rob? I don’t know what you saw, but it isn’t what you think.” Amy’s quiet voice barely cleared the noise of the engine and rain. He shifted into drive and pulled into the steady stream of traffic on Ashley Street. Why the hell had they agreed to come all the way over here for dinner? At least an hour’s drive back to Chandler County, in the rain, with this conversation hanging over them.
Oh, yeah. Because it would be fun to meet up with Jake and their old college friends at China Garden, to relive the good times and celebrate his new job at the same time.
What a crock.
“What do I think, Amy?” He turned right to skirt around Valdosta State. He could take the back roads through Moultrie, cut at least ten minutes off the drive.
“I… He was trying to kiss me, not the other way around.”
“I never said I thought that.” He rested his wrist on the wheel, waiting for the red light to turn green. Traffic bunched around them, leaving him with a sensation of being cornered and trapped. He rolled his shoulders. “I don’t know what led up to it, but it was pretty plain you weren’t looking for what he was offering.”
“Nothing led up to it.” Distress and annoyance lingered in her voice. “One minute he was asking about us moving to Chandler County, the next he…he grabbed me.”
He nodded. The light flared green, and he pressed the accelerator.
“Aren’t you angry?”
He considered that while he navigated the bottleneck near the interstate exit. Traffic eased around them as he crossed over I-75 and headed out of town on the two-lane blacktop. “I don’t know what I am.”
“Wait a minute. You walk out of that restaurant, find Jake with his hands on me, and you don’t know what you are?”
Now she was mad at him, too. Great. “Amy, I’m just…I’m tired, okay? It’s been a long week, and you know I haven’t been sleeping—”
“How would I know that? You don’t sleep in our bed. We don’t talk unless it’s about chores or bills or what’s for supper or what’s still packed in what box. I don’t know how you feel about going to work at Chandler or the holdup with our adoption application or anything.” From the corner of his eye, he saw her run her fingernail along the windowsill. “We don’t even go to church or pray together.”
Mad at him and hurt. Disappointed, maybe, because he wasn’t the husband she’d bargained for, wasn’t Prince Charming who could give her everything she wanted. Hell, he couldn’t give her anything she wanted. Hadn’t the last few months proved that?
His headlights illuminated dark fields as they flashed by. The wipers swished rain from the windshield. Next to him, Amy expelled a shaky breath. “We’re in trouble, aren’t we?”
“Maybe.” The lie niggled at him, the first real thing beyond irritation he’d felt all night. He gripped the wheel tighter. “Yeah.”
“What do we do now?”
Was she actually looking to him for direction? Surely not. He couldn’t give what he didn’t have. His knuckles ached under the pressure of holding the wheel. “I don’t know.”
Linda Winfree Bio:
How does an English teacher end up plotting murders? She uses her experiences as a cop’s wife to become a writer of romantic suspense! Linda Winfree lives in a quintessential small Georgia town with her husband and grand-dog Poe. By day, she teaches English/Language Arts and is an all-round education nerd; by night she pens sultry books full of murder and mayhem.
To learn more about Linda and her books, visit www.lindawinfreewrites.com, follow her on Twitter@lwinfreewrites, or connect with her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/
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