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Authors: Norah Wilson

Fatal Hearts

BOOK: Fatal Hearts
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Praise for
Fatal Hearts

“Norah Wilson does it again!
Fatal Hearts
is suspenseful, sexy, and satisfying.”

—Theresa Ragan,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Norah Wilson weaves sizzling romance and deft pacing for a killer suspense you can’t put down.”

—Dianna Love,
New York Times
bestselling author

Also by Norah Wilson

Every Breath She Takes

Haunted by Dreams

Serve and Protect Series

Protecting Paige

Saving Grace

Guarding Suzannah

Needing Nita

Vampire Romances

Nightfall

The Merzetti Effect

Casters Series

Embrace the Night

Enter the Night

Comes the Night

Written with Heather Doherty

Ashlyn’s Radio

Dix Dodd Mysteries

Death by Cuddle Club

Family Jewels

The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen

Gatekeepers Series

The Summoning

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Text copyright © 2014 Norah Wilson

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Montlake Romance, Seattle

www.apub.com

ISBN-13: 9781477824696

ISBN-10: 1477824693

Cover design by Anne Cain

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014904442

CHAPTER 1

Boyd McBride’s stomach was empty, but it still managed to churn as he climbed into his rental car, exited the tiny airport’s parking lot, and headed toward the city of Fredericton.

This wasn’t the first time he’d traveled this road. The memory of the last time made bitter bile rise up in his throat.

Two weeks ago, he’d come to Fredericton to claim the remains of his twin brother.

Remains.
Jesus, what a word. What a useless damned euphemism. He’d collected a body.

Josh’s
body.

As a fifteen-year veteran with the Toronto Police Service—three of those years in homicide—he’d used that word plenty of times when talking to a victim’s next of kin. Had they hated the term as much as he now did? God only knew he’d heard it often enough in the past weeks as he’d dealt with the Fredericton cops and the New Brunswick Coroner’s Office, not to mention the funeral director and the priest back home in Toronto.

Boyd’s hands tightened on the rental’s steering wheel. Josh’s unexpected death had absolutely gutted their parents, leaving them barely able to function. So Boyd had stepped in and taken charge of the funeral arrangements, something he had never figured he’d be called upon to do.

He’d never dreamed his twin would die first, given their respective occupations. Josh was a journalist in a tiny, squeaky-clean, white-collar community, for chrissakes! Boyd was the one in danger every day. Not Josh.

The GPS’s voice cut into his thoughts, instructing him to merge onto the Vanier Highway.

His brother was the one who was good with people. He’d always known what to say in every situation, how to be gracious, and how to put people at ease. Comfort them and allow them to comfort in return.

If people had expected those touches from Boyd at the funeral, they must’ve been disappointed. Oh, he’d gotten up and delivered a eulogy, but public speaking wasn’t his forte, and certainly not under these circumstances. His comments had been short, raw, and had wrecked him.

His stomach added a rumble to its churning, reminding him it was almost noon and he hadn’t had anything but two tiny cups of coffee on the plane. He should drop his stuff at the motel, then see about getting some lunch. Except it was probably too early for check-in.

Straight to lunch, then?
Nah.
Despite his body’s signals, he really had no desire to eat. Everything tasted like cardboard these days.

He might as well get down to what he’d come here to do, starting by checking in with the Fredericton Police and seeing where they were in their investigation.

Initially, the local cops had treated the case as a straight-forward sudden death investigation, not a suspicious death. Not that Boyd faulted them for that. That was SOP in the circumstances, until and unless they had reason to believe it was suspicious.

He actually couldn’t fault them for anything. They’d done a thorough job processing the scene—Josh’s car and the surrounding area. They’d also ordered a level-two forensic autopsy right off the bat, instead of a level one, and they had a pretty good start on the background investigation and working up the timeline.

But the fact was, his brother’s death was
damned
suspicious, and Boyd had told Detective Ray Morgan as much the day after Josh died.

Josh had left a brief but excited message for Boyd, saying he’d cracked the investigation into their birth parents wide-open, but that the situation needed to be handled delicately.
Extremely
delicately. The next day, his twin had been found dead in his vehicle. Boyd’s gut told him the two events were connected. Fortunately, Morgan and his supervisor, Sergeant John Quigley, weren’t big believers in coincidence either. They’d upgraded the file to a suspicious death and promised to look into it while Boyd went back to Ontario to deal with the funeral and lawyers and such.

Ten days later, forensic toxicology was still pending, and the cops hadn’t found any smoking guns, so it was still just a suspicious death. Now that the funeral was over, Boyd had come back to look into matters himself. He’d hated to leave his parents, but he was terrified the coroner’s office was going to put a “Death by Natural Causes” stamp on the file and effectively shut the investigation down before it even got started.

But dammit, Josh had been only thirty-five. Men that young didn’t tend to expire from sudden cardiac arrest. Not ones who were as fit as Josh had been anyway.

He just couldn’t—wouldn’t—wrap his head around the idea of natural causes. Not when his gut was screaming that this was connected to whatever hornet’s nest Josh had stirred up with that damned investigation.

He decelerated the rental car as he approached the intersection of Regent and Prospect, and the big
H
sign for the regional hospital caught his attention. Since he was so close, he decided to go there first instead of the police station. The hospital was where the declaration of death had been made before Josh’s body was shipped to Saint John for the forensic autopsy. Boyd had a power of attorney in his bag, as well as a certified copy of the will appointing him executor of Josh’s estate. Boyd might have been the older brother—by all of seventeen minutes—but Josh had always been the organized one, prepared for any eventuality.

Even dropping dead, as it turned out.

The point was, armed with all that paperwork, he would have access to Josh’s medical records. He also had the name of the ER physician who’d declared Josh. Maybe he’d stop by the ER to try to catch him. It was a long shot, but maybe something stuck out in the doc’s memory that might be helpful.

And on that happy thought, he pulled into the hospital’s paid parking area, killed the rented Altima’s engine, and climbed out. Time to start this investigation.

Hayden Walsh chewed the inside of her lip as she studied her patient’s lacerated hand. To call for a plastic surgeon or not? There didn’t look to be much nerve involvement, if any. And if there wasn’t, she’d get reamed out for calling for a plastics consult. Last time, she’d been told in no uncertain terms that they weren’t a suture clinic and to learn to do her own damned stitches.

She could suture just fine, thank you. She stitched up most of the lacerations that came her way. But this one wasn’t so straightforward. She’d feel better about getting the go-ahead from plastics.

Because if there
was
nerve involvement and she just sewed her patient up and sent him home, and he later alleged the hand was compromised because of her treatment, she’d be screwed. She would also no doubt get reamed out by the very same plastics guy for
not
calling for a consult.

She studied the man’s rough, calloused hand some more. He was clearly a laborer. Drywall installer, she’d guess, from the deep cracks on his fingers and the white dust on his hair and work clothes. Not a young one either. Fifty-one, his chart said. Probably not a lot of alternative careers for a laborer his age.

“So what do you think, Doc? Can you stitch me up? Maybe hook me up with some good meds so I can get back to work tomorrow?”

“We’re going to get you stitched up all right, Mr. Martin,” she assured him as she rewrapped his hand. “But I’m going to call a plastic surgeon to have a look before we do. Better safe than sorry.”

“Damn.” He looked crestfallen. “I thought you were fixin’ to do it.”

She grimaced. “I know it’s been a long wait to get seen, and now you have to wait some more. But you need both hands in your trade, I imagine. Better do everything we can to keep them both operational.”

He grinned, the smile making his lined face look younger. “Not complaining about the wait. I was just hoping you’d be the one doing the sewing.”

She lifted an eyebrow in mock sternness. “Mr. Martin, are you flirting with me?”

“Depends. Is it working?”

“Sorry, but you’re too late,” she said, returning his smile. “I just gave my heart to the two-year-old charmer in Exam Room One.”

“Wow, I feel really old suddenly.”

Hayden laughed. “You’ll bounce back, I think. In the meantime, I’m going to go page a plastic surgeon. If he gives me the okay, I’ll do it myself, but if there are complicating factors, he’ll want to do the suturing.”

“Doubt he’s as pretty as you.”

She laughed again. “You’re right there, but he does very pretty work. So hang tight, okay?”

With that, she headed to the desk to make the dreaded call.

She’d just finished paging plastics and updating Garth Martin’s chart when she heard the voice.

“Excuse me, could I talk to someone, please?”

Hayden whirled. “Josh?”

The chart slipped from her fingers and clattered to the floor. Impossible. Josh was dead. The aching loss she’d carried around for these past weeks grew new claws, shredding her composure.

How in the hell can a dead man be standing in my hospital?

Through a haze of sudden tears, she barely registered him bending to pick up the chart and placing it on the ledge of the desk.

“I’m sorry. I’m not Josh,” he said in that achingly familiar voice. “I’m—”

“Boyd.”
Oh God. Not Josh. Not his ghost.
This was his identical twin. But what was Boyd McBride doing here? She’d met him briefly when she’d traveled to Ontario for Josh’s funeral, but she’d never expected to see him again. And never in a million years had she expected him to walk into her ER in Fredericton.

Their encounter had been
very
brief, just long enough to shake his hand in the receiving line at the public visitation and express her condolences. He’d looked so much like Josh, she’d wanted to hug him, but the marked coolness in his eyes had dissuaded her. She hadn’t had time to dwell on it, because Ella McBride had recognized her and pulled her into a tight hug.

“And you’re Hayden.” He didn’t sound pleased to see her, but he closed a hand on her elbow, as though he thought she might need his support. Maybe he was right. “I’m sorry to have startled you.”

“No, don’t apologize. It’s just . . . you caught me off guard.” Thankfully, her voice emerged relatively normal sounding, if a little croaky. The touch of his hand felt protective, almost sheltering. So naturally she stepped back. He let his hand drop to his side. She cleared her throat. “We met at the funeral. Or rather, the visitation. But you probably don’t remember. There were a ton of people there, and—”

“I remember.” His mouth turned down. As though remembering his manners, he said, “Thank you for making the trip. My parents told me afterward what a comfort it was to meet you in person.”

Hayden blinked rapidly. “I’m glad. They’re just as lovely as Josh said.”

“He talked about you a lot.”

She knew as much. Josh used to mention when he’d shared stories about the two of them with his family.

The triage nurse guided a patient past them, and Boyd’s eyes followed them for a few seconds before returning to meet her gaze. Eyes that missed nothing, she sensed. So like Josh’s with those tawny-gold irises, yet nothing like them. Boyd’s were cool, and so much more guarded. They didn’t show even a shadow of the grief he must be feeling.

Josh had always said his brother had mastered the art of the poker face. She now understood what he meant.

“Is there someplace we can go to talk?” he asked.

Of course.
He’d want to talk about his brother. Find some closure. And unless she missed her guess, he’d want the medical files to pore over. Hayden sure would if she had a sibling. Actually, Josh had been the closest thing she’d had to one.

She glanced up at the ER secretary, Marta, whose sympathetic expression confirmed she’d seen the whole encounter. Marta had often chatted with Josh while he’d hung around waiting for Hayden to get off shift, and she knew how devastated Hayden was by his loss.

And how shaken up she was now to see the spitting image of him turn up in the ER.

“Go,” Marta said. “Take a break.”

Hayden glanced at Josh’s brother.

“Okay, thank you, I will.” She checked her pocket, reassured by the feel of her pager. “Page me if my plastics consult turns up?”

“You got it.”

She led Boyd out of the ER and wended her way through the halls. After locating a quiet room that was not in use outside the intensive care unit, she opened the door and gestured for him to enter. She took a seat on a low couch and made a motion indicating he do likewise. There was a second’s hesitation, then he complied, picking a chair opposite her across the coffee table.

She couldn’t get over how like Josh he looked. Same height—a few inches over six feet. Same skin tone. Same glossy dark-brown hair with the hint of a widow’s peak at the front, though Boyd’s was cut shorter. Same broad, slightly bony face with those high cheekbones and thick-lashed golden eyes.

“I’m so sorry for your family’s loss,” she offered.

“Thank you.” He looked uncomfortable with her expressing her sympathies. She could understand that. She’d received the same kind of condolences after Josh’s death from people who’d known how close the two of them had been. The words never made her feel any better either, but given the circumstances, what else could be said?

BOOK: Fatal Hearts
13.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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