Quincy watched the woman move through the crowd. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something just felt off. She was too close to the man in front of her not to be with him. When the man purposefully stepped out in front of an oncoming truck, it was all Quincy could do to stop her from the same fate. She was deaf. Her scent was familiar, but she wasn’t his mate.
Grace was upset with Quincy but didn’t know why. She was thankful that he saved her sister, but she felt pissy and needed to take it out on someone, and he made a good target. But when he didn’t retaliate, she regretted her actions.
It didn’t take but a second for Quincy to figure out that Grace was his mate. But would she be as happy about it as he was? Only time would tell….
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Raven Addington was happy with her life the way it was. She and her daughter, Molly, were doing just fine on their own, despite what her mother had to say about it. Merriam, Raven’s mother, never had anything nice to say about anything, so why should now be any different.
Sawyer Bishop had turned in his notice at the police force. No matter how bad he needed the money, he wasn’t about to let a hot-headed partner make him a mark for an early grave. His parents needed his help on the farm, so he was happy to leave the force.
Sawyer was supposed to be on desk duty, but they were shorthanded, so he took the call that came in from the 911 dispatch. It would be his last, and then he would be a poor but free man.
When Sawyer arrived on the scene, it was bad. The poor woman had been beaten until she was unrecognizable and barely breathing. Although he didn’t know her personally, he knew Raven Addington was extremely wealthy, and that bothered him more than he cared to admit. Being a Bengal tiger, he knew from her scent that she was his mate. Her station in life was so far above his, he didn’t think it was going to work. But when she coded in the hospital, he had to make a quick decision and hope it wouldn’t come back to bite him in the ass later.
Sasha Harvard had returned to the small town in Ohio because Hailey Riddle, a ghost, had led her there. Sasha had been speaking to the dead for as long as she could remember. In working with the police, Sasha had been in the field, helping to look for Melinda’s spirit when Melinda Havard had found her. Melinda told her that they were sisters, and the man that had killed her thought that she was Sasha. Melinda had done the best she could to deliver the child she was carrying before she succumbed to her wounds. The child was marked like Sasha, and the dead would find her when she was older. Melinda wanted Sasha to raise her child, and she warned Sasha that the man who had killed her would come after both her and the child because of what they could do. Sasha pulled out the business card of Sawyer Bishop, the officer in charge on the field, and told him that she’d like to meet him at his house and to send someone to pick her up.
Chandler Bishop knocked on Sasha’s door to pick her up. He heard a scuffle inside and broke down the door. A man was standing over Sasha with a baseball bat, and she had been beaten. When Chandler yelled at the man, he just disappeared. Sasha was shocked that he’d seen the man. Chandler thought the man was a vampire, Sasha told him the man was dead.
Chandler had found his mate and could see the dead now too apparently. And the little girl, Pip, her niece, would be theirs as well. A readymade family and he couldn’t be happier. But would he and his tiger be able to keep them safe from both the living and the dead?
the living and the dead?
Wesley Bishop was helping out a friend by letting Emmie stay with him. He knew she wasn’t his mate, but she was good company. Emmie was hiding from her abusive brothers. When she asked Wesley to take her to the bank, she was meeting her best friend Penny and Penny’s grandfather, Joe, to go over their accounts, Wesley readily agreed.
Wesley thought Penny was about the prettiest woman he’d ever seen—feisty too, and when her scent hit him like a freight train, he was the happiest tiger shifter on the planet.
Penny, not so much. Like Emmie, Penny’s family had a way of getting their point across with a heavy fist. Trusting a man wasn’t easy for her.
Wesley was no quitter; he’d convince his new mate to trust him if it was the last thing he did. And keeping her safe was proving to be more difficult by the day.
It would take Hodge time to get used to Gunner’s family. She’d used a little magic to help Raven deliver her twins without any pain. The Bishops were crowding her, wanting answers Hodge wasn’t ready to give. She was a loner, and all these people around her would take some getting used to. Gunner felt the same way and told his family to just go home. His mom wasn’t too happy about that.
To the world, Gunner was retired from his service with the military, but he was too good at his job to just stop. Someone had placed a price on Gunner’s head. He just had to figure out who. They’d come close once, but Hodge had sensed the threat and took care of it. But more attempts were inevitable. Would Hodge be able to intervene the next time?
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Quincey moved to the middle of the pack. He supposed it was rude of him to call people, mostly humans, a pack, but to his way of thinking, saying it out loud and thinking it were two different things. Thinking things about people was what got him through the worst kind of patients. The light that told them when to walk was still red, but something just wasn’t right about the man and woman in front of him. He could tell they weren’t together if the glares the man was giving the woman were any indication.
Not to mention, he told her several times to get out of his space. Not that it did him any good—she never moved out of her place right behind him. Quincey saw the big truck coming down the road. It had been the safest and the quickest construction route for the new building going in on one of the properties they all owned. Even as he was thinking this was going to end badly, the man moved. Then the woman did. Grabbing her back from following the man, he was driven to the sidewalk by her turning on him.
Leaping up, he grabbed her again and buried her face into his chest to keep her from the horrors of what had just happened. She was still fighting for freedom as everyone around them backed from the dead man’s body and the truck that had ended his life. “I have you.” She fought free of him and then began signing at him. Putting his hands over hers, he stopped her, but only long enough for him to sign back to her that she needed to slow down.
“It’s been a while. I’m a little rusty. I didn’t want you to follow the man into moving traffic.” She turned then, looking where the rest of the people were looking. When she turned back to him, she thanked him as only a deaf person could. Her fingers to her chin, then pointing them toward him. Having her settled, he went to the man lying broken on the road. Even though he could see that his back was broken, as was his neck, Quincey tried his pulse on what was left of his throat. He was able to pronounce him dead. He then reached for his brother. There’s been an accident/suicide on Main Street, Sawyer. Could you please send help? He asked if anyone else was hurt.
No. Just the man. The truck driver couldn’t have stopped in time if he had seen the man. Whoever he was, he timed it perfectly to step in front of the truck and end his life. I’m on my way. I’ve called an ambulance too. He thanked his brother. You were there, I’m assuming. Are you sure he wasn’t pushed? Positive. There is a deaf woman here too. I managed to keep her from moving into the same accident. I think she was using him as a reference as to when she could cross the street. The woman was upset—anyone within two inches of her could tell that. Going to her, Quincey was careful to wipe the man’s blood from his hand as he got closer. He didn’t want to frighten her any more than she already was. When she looked up at him, he could also see fear there. Assuring her that she wasn’t going to be in trouble had her smacking his forehead.
“You’re very violent, aren’t you?” She told him to fuck off. “Rude. I was just going to let you know that the police are on their way and that my brother knows you weren’t involved.” Quincey had to think about some of the words he was signing to her, and when she laughed, not a sound moving past her upturned mouth, he grinned back at her. He explained to her that he hadn’t used ASL for a while. “I had no idea he was going to get hurt when he moved.” Quincey explained to her that he thought the man had committed suicide. And had she followed him, she would have been killed too. “I can’t hear the clicking.
There were too many people for me to see the other side, or this one, to tell me when I could walk.” “You’re fine now, so that’s all that matters, right?” She nodded and looked to his right. Turning that way as well, he saw Sawyer get out of his truck and walk toward him. “That’s my older brother. He’s the acting sheriff here until they find someone to replace him. He knows ASL too.” ASL, or the American Sign Language, had been something he’d been taught by his mom. All of them had been when she homeschooled them. Mom had learned it from her aunt, who was born deaf. It had, over the years, come in handy when he had to speak to someone that couldn’t hear.
Sawyer seemed to be doing all right now that he’d told her that he, too, was a little rusty, so Quincey started away. When his hand was grabbed, he turned back to the woman and said he wasn’t going to leave her. He needed to talk to the coroner. “Her name is Beth Stone. She’s new here in town to teach ASL to the staff at the hospital. Did you know anything about that?” He told Sawyer he no longer read the emails at the hospital, as they were stupid. “Be that as it may, could you check on it for me? Not that I don’t believe her, but she has literally only just arrived and hasn’t had a chance to figure out where they’re putting her while here.”
“Yes, I can do that.” Pulling out his cell phone, it didn’t bother him in the least that Beth was still holding onto him. Asking for the department that scheduled classes for the staff, he wasn’t just told about the woman, Beth, but was also told that she was late. “She’s been involved in an accident. She’s not injured or a part of it, but she was a witness to it.” “Is this the body that is coming to us soon, Doctor Bishop?” He told her he’d pronounced him dead at the scene and that he would be in later to sign the death certificate for him. “Thank you, sir. I’ll make sure I tell the others what has happened to her.
Also, if you’d not mind, when you come, I’d like you to take her housing information so she may have it. I’m to understand she’s deaf.” “Yes, she is.” There wasn’t anything more that he wanted to add to the conversation, so he closed his phone. Turning to Sawyer, he found himself alone again with Beth. She asked him what was going on. He explained to her what was happening with the hospital. “Thank you. To be honest with you, I’d forgotten about getting in touch with them.” She looked at her hand on his shirt but only released him long enough to sign. “You must think I’m a loony, holding you like this. But it anchors me.”
“I don’t think that at all. You’ve had something traumatic happen near you, and it’s understandable that you’re upset and need to anchor yourself.” Something occurred to him in that moment, and he felt his heart rate pick up. “Beth, are you seeing anyone? Married or something like that? I mean, do you have someone in your life right now?” “Why? Has someone contacted you? Did someone contact you to get in touch with me?” He said he didn’t know who she was, but no, no one had. “Then why do you care if I’m with someone or not?” “I’m a shifter. White Bengal tiger. Do you know anything about shifters?” She said she knew a great many shifters, but sadly, no tigers. “Yes, well, I’d have to figure it out, but I’m thinking the reason you feel so comfortable around me, and me you, is that you might be my mate. I’d have to get closer to you to find out.”
“How close?” He told her. “All right. You can sniff me. But nothing else. I know you won’t hurt me, or you would have already, but just don’t get too fresh with me.” Burying his nose into her neck, he knew immediately that she wasn’t his mate, but she had been around someone that might be. Instead of asking her who it was, he just told her she wasn’t, but that he was here for her. “I thank you for that. I know a few shifters, as I said. And a man that is a wolf nearly married the wrong woman when it was her mother all the time he was smelling on her. He didn’t realize it until the day of the wedding.” He told Beth that was something he’d been thinking too. Then asked her if she had anyone.
“Mom was in an asylum for the criminally insane until she killed herself. Mom killed my dad, sister, and brother, and a bunch of other people one night. It was much more than her putting a bullet in their heads. She— Well, that’s one you’ll have to look up on your own. Melody Stone. Five years ago.” “I’ll look into that. No one else then?” She smiled at him and told him she had two sisters, one younger, the other older. “I’m assuming they don’t live around here. If not, then I don’t think it could be them. This person you would have had contact with recently.” “Both of them do, as a matter of fact.” He smiled at her and said he might be better off letting it go.
“Doubtful you could survive that, Doctor Bishop.” “Doubtful that either one of them would want to attach themselves to a country doctor with no chance of moving on to something more. Not that I want that, but I’m not all that much where a woman would fall over herself for me.” She told him to behave, then the police asked to speak to her. Since Sawyer was working for the department, he let him take care of translating for her. However, he didn’t leave her side. She needed protection as much as his tiger did, he thought.
She was tough and seemed to be able to defend herself. Watching her as she answered their questions, he thought about her family as he looked it up on his phone. Melody Stone had made the front page in every newspaper around the world, it looked like. She’d killed not only two of her children but her husband, his mother, sister, brother, as well as a mailman, two men who picked up the trash, and two officers when they had tried to arrest her. Melody had, according to the report he was reading, just simply snapped one day.
After reading the accounting of what had happened to the people she had killed in her home, Quincey shivered. The only reason Beth and Joanie had been able to live was that they’d hidden in the basement. Hearing the screams of their mother’s victims, as well as the laughter from her the entire three days they’d been trapped with no way out, had been a lot to endure, the author of the article had written. Just as he was finishing the article, he was touched on the arm by someone. Looking at Beth, he asked her if she was all right. She asked him to call her sisters and that she’d buy him lunch. “I’ll call them for you, but you don’t have to buy me lunch, Beth.
I was joking when I said I was nothing but a country doctor. I have other means of making money.” She said she figured that but still wanted to have lunch with him. “All right. But I’ll buy. It’s a manly thing to do.” The place across the street from his office served a really good French dip sandwich. He ordered that, as well as a cup of their vegetable soup to go with it. Beth wanted the same, but instead of water, she wanted tea. Writing down the numbers after the server left, Quincey wondered what he was getting himself into. As soon as the phone was answered by someone cursing, he knew this person was going to be his mate. “My name is Quincey Bishop.
I was—” She told him she didn’t know him. “I’m aware of that, Ms. Stone, but your sister is here with me, and she’s—” “Is she hurt? I told her to take one of us with her. Damn it. Did you hurt her?” He said he’d not. “Well? What the hell are you doing with my little sister then? I’m telling you right now, you’re not going to get away with—” “Will you calm the fuck down for a minute and let me finish telling you the reason I called you?” No apology came from her end, but he was just pissy enough to let it go for now. “She was witness to an accident that claimed the life of a young man. She wasn’t involved or injured, but she’s understandably shook up. However, why she would think you’d be a comfort to her is beyond me.
We’re at the Dixie Restaurant on Main Street.” Closing the phone, he didn’t want to tell Beth what had happened, but she asked, so he told her the one that had answered the phone was a rude bitch. Beth smiled and told him it could have been either of her sisters. Neither of them were good with people. They ate their lunch and spoke about her job. He’d not been as excited about his job as she was about hers in a long time, he realized. Of course, she was just beginning hers, and he’d been a doctor for nearly eight years.
Christ, he thought, that was a long time. When two women sat down with them, just barged into their lunch, he watched the conversation the two of them were having with Beth. They were pissed. Not at her, but that she’d not called them right away. Beth told them both to fuck off and that she was a grown woman. That got him laughing, and the two newcomers glared at him. “You two are a great deal alike. I’m assuming you, boss everyone, around when you feel you’re in the right.” He spoke to the other two and signed for Beth to understand him. “I told you she was fine, yet there you are checking her out like she was some sort of kid you have to boss—” One of them told him it was none of his business. Quincey slammed his hands on the table and spoke again. “Stop interrupting me when I’m speaking. You’ve done that so many times I can only assume you’re used to people letting you ride all over them.
Well, I’m not going to allow you to beat up on her or me. So you can either calm the fuck down, or you can just get the hell out of here. Beth and I were having a nice lunch until you two arrived.” Neither of them said another word to him or Beth. When the server arrived, he asked them if they needed a menu. They both agreed to have whatever Beth was having. When the server walked away, he knew the woman talking was the one who had answered the phone. “I’m sorry. I’m not good around people. My name is Grace. My sister is Joanie. You’ve been really nice by taking care of Beth, so she wasn’t too traumatized, and we all appreciate that.” He told Grace it was his pleasure. “Thank you for that. And you were in the right when you yelled at us. Now and on the phone. We came here on a whim for Beth, and I’ve not had any luck getting things squared away for us to live here with her.”
“What sort of issues are you having? I’m assuming it’s housing.” She told him that was it. “Buying or renting? The reason I ask is that my family has both sitting empty right now.” “Buying. But you don’t have to go to any trouble for us. We’ll get it settled up.” Joanie told her to shut up and let him help. He noticed they were doing the same thing he’d been doing, speaking and using sign language so that Beth could be a part of everything. “All right. We’ll take your help. But you don’t have to go out of your way and make your family—” This time it was Beth that put her hand over her sister’s mouth.
She told him she’d take all the help he wanted to give them. She wasn’t as stubborn or as stupid as her sisters. Quincey laughed and called his brother Gunner. He knew he had several properties around town and could help these women out. Putting the phone on speaker when he asked his brother if it was all right, he explained who he was with as well as what they needed. He signed the conversation to Beth. ~*~ “I don’t understand. What do you mean he thinks one of us is his mate? I’m not going to settle down with someone that has to love me. No way.” Grace looked at Beth as they spoke. “You have to have that wrong. He never said a word about it.”
“Perhaps because you were so caustic to him the entire time he was trying to have lunch with me. You do understand that I’m an adult, the same as you and Joanie are, don’t you? I mean, I voted in the last election. I get to make my own money. All kinds of stuff.” She told her sister to be nice. “No, I won’t be nice to you. He was the perfect gentleman, despite the fact that I knocked him to the ground when he saved me from following that man into traffic. I hope he’s not either of your mates. I’m positive he can do so much better than you guys.”
After her sister left her, she stared at the work she’d been doing when the call had come in. Not that she didn’t know each and every line she’d drawn. Standing up, she stood over the drawing without seeing it anymore. All she could think about was how rude and bitchy she’d been to Quincey. Both her and Joanie had been. Making a decision, she grabbed her keys and told Joanie where she was going. Joanie asked if she could go as well. All three of them ended up going to find Doctor Bishop. The houses along his street were houses she’d always had an attraction for. The last two houses she’d drawn had been the same sort of antebellum homes.
As soon as his driveway came up, the house sitting far back from the road, she knew this man was a smart businessman. The house, along with the garden out front and the grounds, was well maintained. Getting out of the car, she was shocked to her core when a large white tiger came running at them from the side of the house. The larger-than-life cat stopped not a foot from where she was standing. She looked up at the house when a woman in a white apron asked if she wanted the doctor. “No. Not unless he tries to eat me. I’m assuming this is Quincey Bishop?” The woman laughed and made her way toward them. “I came to talk to him about my behavior earlier today. Is he going to hurt me?” “I’d say not. But he is Doc.
He wants me to tell you that you and your sisters are welcome to go inside the house, but he has to go to the barn to change into clothing. He’ll be naked should he shift right now.” The cat snarled at the woman, who told him to behave himself. “I just baked up some zucchini bread if you’d like some. The garden out back is just plum full of the little suckers.” When the woman turned, heading back to the house, Joanie and Beth joined her. When Grace started to move to join them, the cat blocked her path. After he blocked her twice more, she stood where she was. “I’m assuming you want me to stay here. I can do that. So long as you understand, I’m not going to let you hurt me. Or my sisters.” She thought of what Beth said to her about being mates.
“Am I your mate? I don’t even know if you can understand me or not.” Her cell phone ringing nearly gave her a heart attack. Grace wasn’t sure, but she thought Quincey was laughing at her. Answering the call from Joanie, she was laughing hard enough that it took her two tries to tell her why she’d call at this time. “He said for you to put out your hand so he can nip it. Beth said it wasn’t at all painful, but he can talk to you after he tastes your blood.
I’d do it, Grace. What harm could it do for you to be able to speak to a tiger when you need one?” She didn’t ask her how she thought she’d need him but put out her hand. The lick across her entire palm made her realize he was hiding a lot of teeth from her. When he nipped gently on her hand, she wasn’t hurt at all. Pulling her hand back, noticing that it was still trembling a good deal, she asked him if it had worked. It did. And yes, Grace, you’re my mate. She nodded and looked away. I won’t hurt you or your family. Not ever. I’ll protect them with my life, as I will you.
“I’m not asking for you to do that, Quincey. I’m a little overwhelmed right now.” He told her he was sorry for adding to her stress. “I came here to tell you how sorry I was for snapping at you so much. I’d like to tell you I was having an off day, but I’m snappish to everyone lately. I hate my job. I hate my life, and I just want to crawl into a cave and never come out. Nothing seems to be going right.” Is there anything I can do to help you? Shaking her head, she looked at him. I’ll do whatever you need me to do, Grace. Just tell me what has you overwhelmed. I want to know.
No, that’s not nearly enough. I need to know. “I draw houses. Pretty pictures of them so people can hang them in their homes and be proud of it. However, no one wants to see their house the way it really looks. They want me to make it look like something they’ll never be able to achieve. Not without a great deal of money and about five hundred years.” Quincey asked her if someone was disappointed in what she did for them. “Yes. They’re suing me for drawing a house that looks just like the one they sent me pictures of. No big trees out front, like they thought I’d just know they wanted there.
The broken-down fence wasn’t fixed, and lord have mercy, I should have read their mind and just assumed they’d want the yellow shutters to be black and the house to be white, not pink. I kid you not, Quincey. It’s the ugliest pink you’ve ever seen. But they’re suing me for the house they had in their heads and not what they have.” I can help you with that. I have a great many contacts to look into it for you. Or I could hire you a good attorney if you don’t already have one. She told him he was too nice. Thank you. She laughed when he didn’t tell her she was as well. She knew she’d not been.
But when she pointed it out to him, he stood up. Thinking he was going to attack her or something now that he was growling low in his throat, she bumped her head when he told her to get down behind her car. The car came out of nowhere and slid to a stop not a foot from her own car. Gravel sprayed everywhere and hit her against the back of her legs. Quincey didn’t move from his position, but two men came out of the house then and leaned against the posts. She didn’t have any idea who they might be, but she thought they were much too relaxed compared to Quincey’s fur standing on edge and his stiff stance.
“You need something?” The men came down the stairs from the porch and made their way to the new arrival, sauntering in a slow walk. “I asked you something, Mr. Jacobson. You’ll live longer if you answer me and put that gun away.” “He said it was suicide. That brother of yours, he told the police he’d seen my son jump into the front of that moving truck on purpose. He needs to take that back. Right now.” The sharp noise of a gun going off had her crying out, but she didn’t move when Quincey told her she was all right. “Where is he? Where’s Doc Bishop? I know he lives around here.” “You need to calm down and put that rifle away before you get hurt.” Mr. Jacobson pointed out that he was the one holding the rifle. “You are at that, but that tiger right there is going to kill you if you don’t calm down and put the rifle into your car.
We’ll talk to you then, but not with you waving that thing around like you’ve no idea who or what you’re going to kill with it.” Someone else pulled into the drive, and she was afraid it was reinforcements for Mr. Jacobson. A woman and a man got out of the car and walked toward the elderly man. The woman was dressed in business attire, the man in a suit. The other two men nodded at them when they were next to her car. “It’s William, isn’t it?” The man said he was, then told the woman talking that his son didn’t commit suicide.
“But he did. You know me, William. You know what I can do. I helped you a couple of weeks ago to find the paperwork your wife put up. I showed you what I can do, didn’t I?” “You speak to the dead.” Grace could hear the grief in the other man’s voice. “You got him there with you, Sasha? My son, he with you right now?” “He is, and he wants to speak to you. Are you ready to see him? He’s not able to glamour himself because of him only being dead for a few hours. Are you ready for what he looks like?” He said he wasn’t, but he would like to see him. “All right.” “Oh, Billy. Oh my, Billy. What did they do to you?”
Standing up, she stared at the man. It hurt her heart to see him like this. William went to his knees and asked over and over who had killed him. “You’re all I have in the world, son. Did they take you from me?” “No, Dad. No one took me from you. I did kill myself.” The sobbing was painful to hear. Before she could think what a dangerous thing she was doing, she made her way to the grieving man and took the gun from him. Then she held him to her breast as he cried for his loss. “You’re going to hear a lot of things about me, Dad, and most of them are going to be true. The woman I was seeing, however, is going to tell you the child she is carrying is mine. It’s not. However, if you could see your way to do it, I’d very much like it if you could find someone to care for him. Otherwise, she’ll sell him to someone, and you’ll never see him.” “I’ll raise him myself, Billy.”
Billy told his dad he didn’t want that. He knew his dad had failing health. “You left me, son. I don’t care what others are going to say. You left me here all alone.” “Dad, I was dying anyway. You knew that. The doctor I saw this morning, not Doc Bishop, but the guy I’ve been seeing said my cancer had advanced, and I didn’t have but a few weeks to live. I couldn’t let you do that, go through that again like you did with Mom.” He said he would have.
“I know you would have. I know that, Dad. But I didn’t want you to have to. So I ended it.” William sobbed, his body becoming weaker with each passing moment. When Billy said he had to go, it was all Grace could do not to demand that he stay. When he was gone, she held onto William tightly, knowing some of his grief like her own. “Grace?” She looked up at the man who’d been on the porch. “I’m Wesley, one of Quincey’s brothers. This is Gunner, and Chandler is standing over with his wife, Sasha. Quincey asked us to take you inside, and one of us will drive Mr. Jacobson home. All right?”
“Will he be all right?” Wesley said his dad was going to stay with him tonight and help him with arrangements in the morning. “He’s hurting very badly. I hurt for him.” “We all do. Come on now, honey. Let’s get you into the house, and Quincey said he’d join you in a few minutes.” Being led into the house, she stumbled a couple of times on the way up the stairs. “Steady there. You get hurt, and he’s going to have my head. I’ll get you settled and call your sisters for you.” As soon as she was seated, both her sisters came to sit with her. Grace was numb. She didn’t know what had happened with the man and his son, but she did hurt for them both. Not that she’d not thought the same thing over the years. Her mother had been arrested and put away. Everyone looked at the three of them like they might go off the handle, too, killing any and everyone that got in their way. When Quincey joined them in the living room, he sat across from them. She thought she could really love a man like him.