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Authors: Cate Ashwood

Wholehearted

BOOK: Wholehearted
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By
C
ATE
A
SHWOOD

N
OVELS

Keeping Sweets

H
OPE
C
OVE
S
ERIES

Brokenhearted

Wholehearted

Published by
D
REAMSPINNER
P
RESS

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

Copyright

Published by

Dreamspinner Press

5032 Capital Circle SW
Suite 2, PMB# 279
Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886

USA

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of author imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Wholehearted

© 2013 Cate Ashwood.

Cover Art

© 2013 Aaron Anderson.

[email protected]

Cover content is for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted on the cover is a model.

All rights reserved. This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of international copyright law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines, and/or imprisonment. Any eBook format cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886, USA, or http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/.

ISBN: 978-1-62798-238-2

Digital ISBN: 978-1-62798-237-5

Printed in the United States of America

First Edition

December 2013

To my friend Skylar:

my writing partner, confidante, and personal cheerleader.

Acknowledgments

 

Thank you to LJ for all the support and butt-kicking when I needed it, to Freddie for all the last-minute reading and pep-talking, to Shira Anthony for finding the answers to all my legal questions, to Sean Smith from The Hungry Southerner for the use of his delicious cinnamon roll recipe, and of course to the staff at Dreamspinner Press, who never fail to amaze me. 

 

Chapter 1

 

D
EPUTY
D
ECLAN
Grant rounded the corner onto Beech Street, scanning the tree-lined road as he drove. He was midpatrol in the town of Hope Cove, Maine, checking in and making sure everything was as it should be; not that anything was really ever out of place in the small coastal town.

It was as close to paradise as Declan thought he could ever get. It might be small, but it was a tight-knit community where people actually cared about their neighbors. Some cops would be disappointed with the lack of action local law enforcement saw around the town, but to Declan, it was perfect.

His job as deputy had been an easy one since he had arrived almost a year ago, and he wanted to make Hope Cove his home forever.

Life hadn’t always been so easy for Declan. His position on the force in Austin had been a different lifetime for him. He’d come to Hope Cove to try to forget and move on from what had happened. So far, it was working. He was content. He liked his job and his friends. His house overlooked the water, which was something he had missed when he moved to Texas from California.

He drove slowly up and down the streets, keeping an eye out, not expecting anything out of the ordinary, when his radio crackled to life and Lisa’s voice filled the squad car.

“Declan, are you anywhere close to the pier?”

There was no need for radio call signs or technical speak in a town where you could count the members of law enforcement on one hand. Declan chuckled. “Everywhere in Hope Cove is close to the pier.”

“Don’t get smart with me, young man.”

“Sorry about that, Lisa. Won’t happen again,” he said with a smile. Lisa was the most ancient woman he’d ever met, but she had sass. “I’m just driving past the high school, but I can be at the pier in five. What’s going on?”

“Nancy Webber called about someone sleeping on the end of the dock. I’m sure it’s nothing, but you should probably check it out anyway.”

Nancy and her husband owned the inn on the north end of town. The building overlooked the ocean, with the pier right in the middle of their view. It was great for tourists and good for Hope Cove PD, because teenagers in town often made a habit of drinking and making out at the end of the dock. If things looked like they were getting out of hand, Declan or one of the other deputies would show up to diffuse the group.

“No problem,” Declan confirmed into his radio. “I’ll be there soon.”

It was probably nothing, but Declan switched his lights on anyway. There weren’t very many opportunities for full lights and sirens—he had to take advantage when he could.

He made the five-block drive from the school to the dock, parked his cruiser, and walked down the long pier. He was halfway down when he spotted the man. As he got closer, he realized the man wasn’t sleeping, and the situation was far worse than he’d originally been told. He broke into a run and used his radio to call it in.

“Lisa, this guy isn’t sleeping. It looks like he’s barely alive. You need to send in the EMTs now!” he shouted.

Panic rose in Declan’s throat. The ambulance was at least twenty minutes away, and that was if he was lucky. Hope Cove was too small to have its own ambulance station. It would be up to him to keep this guy alive until the paramedics showed up.

He knelt down beside the man and took an inventory of his injuries. Declan had gone through a basic medical training course when he’d started with the force in Austin, and he tried to remember what he’d learned. He gently placed two fingers on the right side of the man’s throat, trying to find a pulse. There. He found the faint thrumming of blood through the man’s veins. ABC. Airway, breathing, circulation. Right. He leaned down and held his ear above the man’s head. He could hear faint sounds of gurgling when the man inhaled and exhaled. Not a great sign, but better than no breathing at all.

He knew he shouldn’t move the man until the EMTs arrived in case he had a spinal cord injury. This guy looked pretty messed up. It seemed like whoever had done this to him meant to kill him.

His lip was split, and there was blood pouring out of his nose, his mouth, and a cut below his eye. His left eye was almost swollen completely shut. There was what looked to be a stab wound in his abdomen. Declan tore off toward his car to grab his first aid kit. When he returned to the guy, he found the gauze and ripped open as many packages as he had before pressing the white fabric against the wound. He watched as the blood soaked through, turning the pure white a dark red. He held the gauze in place, applying as much pressure as he dared with his right hand. With his left, he opened the man’s jacket and tried to feel around for a wallet or some other kind of identification.

Finally, he felt the heavy weight of leather in the pocket closest to the man’s shoulder. He pulled out the wallet and emptied it beside him on the dock. Lucas Hale. Twenty-three years old from Illinois. God, Declan could barely match the man in the picture to the man splayed out before him. Lucas was so badly beaten it would take him weeks to recover if he pulled through at all.

Declan tried to remain calm, using all his energy to keep the rising panic at bay. His heart was racing, and his breath was coming in quick huffs. He could feel the adrenaline surging through his veins, and all he wanted was to pull this man into his lap and drive him to the hospital. What the fuck was taking the medics so long? It felt like he’d been kneeling here for hours already and there was no one to help.

It was then he noticed the letters, a bright-red scrawl across the wooden slats of the dock. FAG, they spelled, written in the victim’s blood. Declan’s stomach turned, as he remembered Texas and felt very much like he was going to be sick to his stomach. He couldn’t understand why some people were filled with vicious hatred. The anger and spite boiled inside him, filling him with rage.

He looked down at the man again, light-brown hair turned almost black from the blood. He looked young, but then twenty-three was young. He had tunnel vision for the man in front of him. In the distance, he thought that he might have heard sirens, but he couldn’t be sure. Everything felt like he was seeing it through a fog. The EMTs would be here soon. There would be someone to help Lucas. He was going to be okay. He had to be.

He heard the shouts of the medics, but they sounded like they were yelling from the other side of the cove. He felt himself being pulled away from Lucas, and he struggled against the forceful hands. He couldn’t let go. He had to staunch the bleeding.

He finally realized the hands belonged to his boss, Sheriff Macklin, and he relinquished his grip. The gauze was completely soaked through, and he couldn’t tear his eyes away from Lucas. The EMTs began to work on him, cutting away his clothing to survey the damage. It was worse than Declan had thought. He was going to throw up.

“Declan!” Mack shouted, shaking him. “Declan, look at me.”

He couldn’t; he felt as though if he tore his eyes away from Lucas, even for a minute, he might lose him. He needed to see what happened to him—needed to know he was okay.

“Declan,” the sheriff said, more gently this time. He placed his hands on either side of Declan’s face and forced his gaze away from Lucas. “Declan, he’s going to be okay. Are you?”

BOOK: Wholehearted
4.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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