(Book 5 of the Honeybone series)
Retired U.S. Marshal Dean Honeybone, his life-partner Jean-Luc, and their daughter Kaia have started a new life in Austin, TX. Jean-Luc has taken over a restaurant and has hired their neighbor, Manda-Jane Witten, as part of his kitchen staff.
Dean, Jean-Luc, Kaia, and even their dog Michael have come to adore Manda-Jane and her husband, Parker. During violent storms that shake Texas, Dean learns that Manda-Jane is deathly afraid of water, and when the couple’s home is flooded, Manda-Jane and Parker come to stay chez Honeybone, which serves to deepen the bond between the two families.
But when a mysterious cousin of Parker’s namded Ronnie arrives to help the Wittens repair their home, Dean becomes suspicious of him, convinced the guy has done serious prison time. Though Ronnie soon returns to his home in Birmingham, strange things start happening over at the Witten home.
And then the couple disappears.
Dean becomes worried for their safety and teams up with an active U.S. Marshal to track them down. Kaia, however, seems to think he’s too late. She keeps saying they’re gone and that Dean has to listen to the song “I Love You, Goodbye” to understand the reason why...
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (27k words)
Read a short excerpt...
...Everyone held their breaths as Jean-Luc unlocked the door and switched on lights. The restaurant really was a lovely, romantic space.
“Are we opening tomorrow night, boss?” Manda-Jane asked Jean-Luc.
Jean-Luc nodded, drinking it all in. “Oh, yes.”
She looked ecstatic. “Can I go to the food markets with you in the morning?” she implored, as he locked the door behind us.
“But it’s so early. I go at five,” he said, frowning.
“Please take her. She’s desperate to shop with you. Buying furniture put her in a mood,” Parker said.
Jean-Luc laughed. “I’ll pick you up at five sharp.”
We took some chairs off a table for six, and after Jean-Luc threw a crisp white cloth on it, we found some napkins and spoons and began attacking our desserts. Everyone except poor Michael who kept circling us, hoping something would drop to the floor.
“I’ve missed coming in every day,” Jean-Luc said, leaning back in his chair. A couple of hopeful people hammered on the door.
“We’re closed,” I yelled. They shrugged in a dejected way and left.
“Suckers,” Parker kidded, and once again we laughed.
When we cleaned up, closed everything again, then dropped the Wittens off half an hour later, Kaia began to cry.
“We’ll see you tomorrow,” Manda-Jane told her, “I promise.”
Kaia cried harder. “I’ll miss you, Miss Manda-Jane. I’ll miss you a lot.”
“We’re not going anywhere. We’re right across the road.” Manda-Jane hugged and kissed her. Our heart-broken little girl was inconsolable. I had no idea what was going on with her. She clung to Parker.
“Don’t go,” she begged.
He patted her back and kissed her head. “We’ll see you tomorrow, love bug.”
When we got home, she kept staring at their house from inside our windows. Tears rolled down her cheeks and she had hiccups.
“Why, Daddy, why?” she asked me, her sorrowful face alarming me.
“Why, what, darling?” I asked, but whatever it was, she couldn’t articulate it. I held her but couldn’t seem to bring her comfort. Jean-Luc ran her a bath with her favorite pineapple and black currant bubble bath. She stared into the suds and mourned until I read her a story about her favorite ballerina. Only it was my version of the story and the ballerina farted. A lot.
Kaia squealed, laughing and happy again, and I was relieved. Oh, hell was I relieved. I wished I could have asked her what troubled her, but she’d been weepy since we’d moved here. Kaia had seen more death and despair than any little girl had a right to. All I could do was love her, hug her and make her laugh. I could make her happy, and I could make ballerinas fart.
It’s what daddies do...