Hannah Blake had given up on being anything more to Xander Finley than his Gal Friday and partner in running Common Grounds legal clinic. Other than attending the same church, what else did they have in common?
Then the process of opening up a branch office in Tabor Heights became ... complicated. First they faced resistance from a local judge and another lawyer who was a member of their church, and should have been supporting them. Then they found the body of the 3rd victim of the White Rose Killer in their new office.
When the White Rose Killer seemed to have chosen Hannah as his next 'true love', Xander's attentions became warmer and more personal. Hannah knew better than to hope it would last beyond the crisis. Foxhole love wasn't any more real than foxhole religion, was it? Xander, on the other hand, was glad his eyes had finally been opened. The problem was convincing Hannah that he was for real. It was time to pray for more than her safety. After all, in the final analysis, what good was his life without Hannah in every part of it?
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Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc.
August 31, 2009
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Excerpt from Common Grounds by Michelle Levigne
The old fire escape rattled and clanged as he ran up the iron steps, three at a time. The door hung open and Xander nearly stumbled on the landing. Terror for Hannah knifed through his gut. Then he realized Rene stood there, zipping up her parka, obviously ready to step out. She held the door for him.
"Thanks," she said as she stepped past him. "There's an emergency at the gym, otherwise I'd stay." A shaky little smile didn't do anything to relieve the tension lines and pallor of her face. "I think she'd rather you were here, anyway. She didn't want to call the police until you got here."
"Hannah?" Xander barely nodded to acknowledge her words and stumbled through the door into the kitchen. Rene shut the door behind him, which was good because he couldn't think of anything but Hannah.
She waited for him, perched on a tall stool, arms wrapped around herself, tucked into the niche between the window and the stove. Hannah wore jeans and sweatshirt, but her hair was tangled and she wore slippers, meaning whatever happened had interrupted her halfway through getting ready to go work on the office.
"What's--" He stopped, staring as she held out a piece of heavy white paper.
Stationery, he realized a moment later, as he saw the ragged edge and the line of gold embossing down one side. Hannah's hand didn't shake as she held it out to him, but her fingers looked white and the paper was dented and damp from the pressure of her skin.
"I found this when I went for the newspaper," she said. Her voice was only a few steps above a whisper, but it didn't sound cracked and weak like it had on the phone. "Read it."
My angel of mercy. My guardian of justice. I have searched long and diligently for you, and I have found you because you are pure and worthy. You have returned from the grave to me. Stay faithful to me. Give your love to no one but me, and you will be rewarded with joy beyond your wildest dreams. Remember that you are mine, I have claimed you, and betrayal will be punished with misery that will follow you beyond the grave.
"What kind of a crazy--" He closed his eyes, feeling his sausage biscuit try to come up his throat as memory slammed through his mind, recalling other notes full of similar words.
Promises of joy. Demands for fidelity. Threats of punishment. This note was nearly a perfect match with others he had read, even discounting flaws in his memory. And Xander's memory was too perfect when it came to things like this.
He opened his eyes, swallowed hard and turned back to Hannah. The floor tilted under his feet for a heartbeat.
She held a white rose in her other hand, and now her hand did shake.