The two of them laughed. Channing’s laughter died down before Samantha’s did. He turned slightly toward her, half-facing her when she had stopped laughing. They sat there and smiled at each other. It was the awkward “Quick, kiss her before she says something” moment, Channing thought. He reached for her face, brushing aside her hair. Within the instant that his hand started to caress her cheek, she bit her bottom lip, a nervous habit. At first Channing moved in closer, and then stopped. He searched her face, judging whether to continue. Samantha’s eyes dipped momentarily, still biting her lip. Sensing no resistance from her, Channing moved his hand from her face to the back of her neck. They both moved in closer this time. Samantha’s teeth released their grip on her lower lip as their lips found each other. Channing’s body moved closer to hers. His arms slipped around her, holding her body close to his. Her arms found their way around him. The intensity grew. It was as if they were embracing for the first time in quite some time. The kiss was the kind you see in the movies when the two main characters finally get back together in the end, where the music reaches the crescendo. Channing’s hand made its way back to her face. He held on to her as if she were going to slip away from him. Samantha inhaled sharply in response to his grip. Her hand combed through his hair that dangled over his shoulder as she clutched his shoulder with her other hand. “Ahem.” The two stopped instantly, frozen. They backed away from each other slightly, their eyes still closed. Oh god. No. Please. That couldn’t be Mom, Samantha thought. Neither of them moved from their position for the moment. It was the “deer in headlights” reaction.“I said ‘ah-hum.’”It’s Mom. The two immediately broke free from their embrace and assumed the position of two grade-school children sitting properly erect, hands folded on their laps. Samantha’s mom was standing at the edge of the clearing, arms crossed, rocking heel to toe. She had a curious smile on her face, the kind that says “Gotcha.” “I know you probably just got down here, but I came down here to see if you guys were hungry and wanted dinner. Unfortunately, I can see that you guys have quite a healthy appetite. So let’s knock that off, and let’s go eat. OK?” She spun on her heel and headed back to the house. She shook her head and laughed quietly to herself. The two blushed a bit, giving the “I can’t believe she caught us” look to each other. They then begrudgingly left their bench and followed her back up to the house for some dinner. As they did, Channing scooped up Samantha’s hand and held it firmly in his. He brought her hand to his lips and gently kissed the back of her hand, making sure they were out of the view of her mom.
Samantha’s life is good, mostly. She loves her father deeply, but even daddy’s little girl finds the life of a military brat trying. Despite being the “new girl” too often, she soldiers on. Her mom could not. She lives for his life, but now wants one of her own. Helpless but to stand witness, Samantha’s life is once again packed up and shipped off, this time without her dad.
She now resides in the remote town of Columbus Cove. Saving her from the debilitating isolation was the cove’s latest resident, Channing Ashford. It’s as if he has stepped off the cover of a romance novel and into the sleepy little town. He is charming and handsome and Samantha’s sole focus. The reformed drifter reenergizes her and they find sanctuary within each other.
When a shocking murder claims more than one victim, the couple is blindsided. They find themselves embroiled in an investigation that threatens their newly found happiness. All their reserves of sanctuary are spent as the secrets that lay buried beneath the unpaved roads of Columbus Cove come to light.
Sheriff Martin Shuller was good at his job. He had a reputation of being a very thorough and very honest investigator. It had not surprised anyone when he was tapped to help with an investigation in a small neighboring town with shocking high profile murder. Shuller, willing to help the quaint cove, readily accepted the challenge. Leaving his town in the safe hands of his deputy, Shuller traveled to Columbus Cove and worked the Steven Harrigan murder investigation. With the dramatic end to that case now behind him, Shuller returned to his seemingly normal and quiet town of Huntersville. He was glad to be back, despite only being gone for the brief time. A weight had felt lifted once he could return to his town, his routines, his life. He felt as if all the previous mounting stress left him as soon as he crossed into his town’s outer limits. Quiet and normal was what he was seeking. It certainly was not what he found.
Not long after returning home to his life and routine, a murder occurs, and it is too close for comfort for Shuller. Shuller, who always kept his personal life personal, now is faced with a dilemma as his personal life is now entangled in the spotlight of a murder investigation. Not wanting to taint the investigation, he is powerless to help and is sidelined, watching his officers work the case. His only solace he finds now is with Jeanie. Jeanie Jacobs is the dispatcher of the local fire house. His long suffering secretary, Susan, finally worked her magic and had gotten the two together. Shuller now regrets the times he pushed aside Susan’s match making attempts in the past as he now realizes Jeanie is all he can hold onto during the course of the investigation.
Shuller tries to come to grips with these revelations as those close to him worry for the embattled sheriff. As with most murders, there is more than just a single victim. Shuller had never thought that what had occurred in that house on Cedar Mill Lane would have uprooted what the reality he thought he knew.
It surprised no one when Sarah and Jack married right out of high school; not because Sarah was pregnant at 19, but because they had been inseparable since sophomore year. Sarah gave birth to twins, Mark and Julie, and a year later, Jacob. They settled in upstate New York, Jack a business manager and Sarah a Real Estate agent. They had the ‘mom and apple pie’ life.
Their picturesque dream life turned into a nightmare when on a warm summer’s day at the local park, the penny dropped. What would forever be referred to as The Incident changed their family forever.
Four years later, they welcomed Christian into their home. The foster child turned adopted son never understood why Sarah was overprotective, but dutifully obeyed all her restrictive rules. When he started acting out, the couple were desperate to find out the cause of their son’s bizarre behavior. However, when Christian tells them about his friend they realize just why they are suffering at the hands of their son.
When it comes to family, it’s the ties that bind…