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One Millhaven Lane

Bliss Addison

  One Millhaven Lane


  Bliss Addison

  Published by Bliss Addison

  Copyright ©2010 Bliss Addison

  First Electronic Publication 2012

  This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

  All rights reserved. No part of the book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Author, excepting brief quotes to be used in reviews.

  Other Books by Bliss Addison

  A Battle of Wills

  With Malicious Intent

  Restless Souls

  Wolfe, She Cried

  Murder Most Wanted

  Deadly Serum

  Thy Brother's Wife

  One Potato Two Potato

  Foxy - The Seduction

  Foxy II- After the Seduction


  Mourning Glory


  A Waning Moon

  Chapter One

  Whoop. Whoop. Whoop.

  Asia McDevitt shifted her gaze from the road to the rear view mirror and saw the flashing lights of the police car.

  "Crap," she said, rolling her eyes.

  Downshifting, she pulled onto the shoulder of the road, stopped and unbuckled her seat belt. She dug the car registration and insurance card from the glove box and her driver's license from her wallet.

  In the side mirror, she watched the police officer get out of the car. She recognized him immediately. Groaning, she banged her head against the head rest. It was inevitable, really, that their paths would cross despite the effort she made to avoid coming into contact with him. But now, on her last visit to the Grove? She shook her head and watched the man who'd once set her blood afire walk toward her. As though on cue, her heart perked up, beating faster and faster, harder and harder until she imagined it breaking through her rib cage.

  A sweltering warmth covered her skin. No. Not after all this time. Not now. Not here. Not anywhere. After what he'd done, he shouldn't still affect her like this. She'd moved forward with her life, past him, past them. Didn't her heart realize?

  Her reaction left her feeling flustered and for a moment, she couldn't recollect her name, where she lived or her age. Thankfully, her equilibrium returned and, by remembering his betrayal, she was able to regain her composure before he reached her car.

  "Hello, Asia," Nate Healy said at her driver's door.


  He stepped away from the car and sat on his heels. "What brings you back to town?"

  "I'm packing up Mom's house." She noticed a few strands of silver hair at his temples. Asia would have been around to notice his hair graying, if Brittany Vance hadn't taken a hankering for him and gotten in their way of a happy-ever-after. But that was in the past. This was the present and she and Nate were not together, not like they'd promised.

  "I was sorry to hear about Joanna. I would have said so personally, but I was out of town at the time."

  She nodded.

  "I wasn't aware your mom had a heart condition."

  "Neither was I."

  "She didn't want you to worry."

  "I know." Asia had come to terms with her mother keeping that secret. For whatever reasons, she believed she was doing what was best for Asia. It took her a while to understand her mother’s motivation.

  "You were with her at the end?"

  She turned away and nodded, unable to trust her voice. When would the hurt stop?

  "That's good."

  In her peripheral vision, she watched him study her. She wouldn't venture a word. The quicker this encounter ended, the quicker she could be on her way.

  He stood. "Keep your speed down, Asia. We have a new recruit on the force and he's a hot shot, hoping to score points with the chief."

  "Thanks for the warning."

  "Any time."

  She recalled her mother mentioning he'd been promoted to Deputy Chief. Joanna had kept her informed about the goings-on in the Grove, particularly as the news related to Nate. She'd always hoped they'd get back together. There wasn't much chance of that happening; not that Asia could see.

  "Congratulations on your promotion," she said before remembering she wanted nothing to do with him.

  He half-smiled. "Thanks. Maybe I'll see you around."

  She looked at the man who'd broken her heart, then her reputation, forcing her to run in shame from the Grove.

  "Maybe." She doubted she would. She'd only be in town long enough to pack up those things of her mother's she wanted to keep and list the house with a realtor. Once that was done, she'd get back to her life in Boston.

  She watched Nate walk to his cruiser before pulling onto the highway.

  Several miles later, her cell rang. She flicked on the blinker light, slowed to a stop on the side of the road and checked call display before answering. "Hello, Crystal," she said.

  "I know I promised not to call unless it was an emergency, but...."

  "What's up?"

  "Hugo is what. His wife isn't and that's the problem. I can't settle him down, no pun intended. He's complaining the solution you gave him is nothing but fruit water. He says his wife's still as dry as the Sahara. Wilted as day-old — "

  "Put him on." Asia remembered the tête-à-tête she had with the old fellow about the finer points of his and hers sexual lubricants. At the time, she'd suspected her explanation had fallen on deaf ears. She'd been right.

  Two heartbeats later, her disgruntled customer came on the line. "Mr. Backman, what did I tell you about that product?" A man of few words, the seventy-nine-year old wheezed a grunt, which Asia understood to mean, 'I don't know'. She repeated what she'd told him yesterday in her shop. "It's a lubricant not an elixir, Mr. Backman." Another grunt. Obviously, his mind focused on one thing — sex. She took a different tack. "What do you do when you can't loosen the lug nut on your tractor wheel?"

  "I use 'Release-All'. Works every damn time."

  "Do you put it in your gas tank?"

  One second passed, followed by another, then she heard a thud in the background, which she determined was either Backman or the telephone receiver dropping to the floor. She hoped for the latter.

  "What did you say to the old geezer?" Crystal asked coming back on the line. "He took off like a sprinter on steroids."

  "Mechanics 101. Anything else?"

  "Nothing. When do you think you'll be back tomorrow?"

  "Around noon. I have an early meeting with Mom's lawyer, then it's back to the house, load up the car and Boston here I come."

  "See you then. Take care."

  "You too." Asia clicked off, dropped the cell on the seat and drove onto the highway.


  She spent the afternoon packing her mother's fine china and crystal, most of which had been handed down to her. Now, Asia was the keeper of those precious heirlooms, only she had no one to pass them on to. At forty, there wasn't a lot of chance that would change. It wasn't that she hadn't wanted children. It never happened. Just as well, considering her failed marriage and relationships. Maybe she wasn't meant to be a wife or mother. Disheartened, she put water for tea in the kettle and looked around the cozy kitchen. Within a minute, the walls told her stories.

  Remember when you were five and sick with the flu, your mother made a bed for you with two chairs because she had baking to do for the church cake fair and you didn't want to be alone?

  Yes, she remembered that morning. The weather was cold and blustery, the winds creaking the floors of the old house. Asia loved those sounds, even to this day.

  Remember when you and your mom talked until four in the morning after
you returned home from your first date?

  Asia recalled that moment clearly. Thirty minutes past her curfew, she'd snuck into the house and found her mother waiting with cookies and warm milk.

  She’d thought her mother would be upset and had prepared an excuse, a perfectly good one as she recollected, but it hadn't been needed.

  Remember the night your father died, you made tea for your mother and sat with her at the kitchen table, holding her hand and telling her everything would be all right.

  Asia would never forget that night. It was the one time she had been an anchor for her mother.

  "I miss you, Mom." Asia could never have imagined how much.

  After her mother's death, Asia hadn't made any hasty decisions about anything. Instead, she'd taken time to decide what she'd do with the property. Her friend Dorothy had given her multiple reasons to keep the house. All of them sound. In the end, she'd decided she didn't want a reason to return to the Grove. There wasn't anything there for her now. Nothing at all.

  The kettle whistled. She poured water over the tea bag in the cup, her thoughts turning to Nate and how little he'd changed. He was still incredibly handsome and sexy. Divorced, too; free to pursue relationships again, like her. She wondered what had gone wrong in his marriage. Someone — she couldn't recall who — had told her that Catherine had initiated the divorce, citing irreconcilable differences as the cause. Adequate grounds for divorce, Asia supposed. Steven, her ex, had often accused Nate of standing in their way of happiness and that there were three of them in their marriage. Maybe Steven was right. No man could measure up to Nate. Maybe —

  There she went again. Thinking of Nate. She couldn't help herself, especially when she was there in the house where they'd shared such happiness. Memories would get her nowhere. After all, it wasn't as though she'd let Nate back in her heart, not after what he'd done. She'd never give him another opportunity to hurt her. And he would. Mistrust once, mistrust again and again.

  First thing in the morning, she'd see her mother's lawyer, then list the property for sale. Once the house was sold, the last tie to the Grove would be severed. She wouldn't need to concern herself then with ever returning.

  Her stomach rumbled, reminding her she'd barely eaten since she'd gotten up that morning. It was pointless to check the cabinets or refrigerator. On her last trip, she'd cleaned out both and made them ready for the new owners.

  She rinsed her cup, placed it in the sink and grabbed her handbag on the way out the door, intent upon dinner.


  Much to her surprise, The Haunted House was packed and Asia would have to wait to be seated. She didn't recognize the receptionist, and could have been speaking to the daughter of a classmate or a school friend, for all she knew. The name 'Rachel' didn't nudge any ideas, either.

  "How long a wait, do you think? Asia asked. Her mouth watered as she savored the aroma of baking bread and roasting chicken.

  "About thirty minutes. There are vacant chairs at a table for four if you're feeling adventurous."

  Asia's stomach growled, loud enough for sensitive ears to hear. She laughed. "I'm feeling more hungry than daring, but sure, I'll take the seat."

  "Super," Rachel said, smiling. "I'll check with the diner to see if you both share the same sentiment."

  With Rachel occupied, Asia took the time to look around the converted six-bedroom two-story house sponsoring home cooking and baking. From the day Esther Gallagher opened the restaurant a half-century earlier, it had been a thriving enterprise. Her mother had told her that Esther still kept a close watch on her investment, but the 'hands-in-the-dough' chores she left to someone else. Asia could understand that. Esther must be well into her seventies. Rachel stepped into the foyer and indicated for Asia to follow.

  Close on her heels, Asia entered Casper's Lounge, the main dining hall in The Haunted House, and got her first glimpse of her dinner companion. It seemed all she did today was either groan or dredge up memories of her past, not all of them pleasant. If she weren't so weary, she'd wait for a table to free up.

  Would you really, Asia?

  Yes, I would.

  Admit it. You're happy you ran into him again. Feel your heart pumping. No man can make your heart pound like Nate.

  Sometimes her mind could be a pain. Shush.

  You aren't fooling anyone; certainly not yourself. You want him back in your life and in your bed. Admit it. Admit —

  "Sally will serve you tonight and will be with you shortly," Rachel said, placing a menu on the table.

  "Thank you, Rachel." Asia sat and looked across the table at Nate. "Twice in the same day. What're the odds?"

  "Considering the population of the Grove, I'd say extremely high."

  Asia would know that, if she'd stopped to think. But she hadn't, which was unlike her. It seemed as though there were forces — cupid-like forces — at work, maneuvering her into Nate's path. Otherwise, she would have called in an order and had it delivered, leaving nothing to chance.

  Asia sat back, fingering the cutlery and thinking about the great times she and Nate had shared. They could have that again. Perhaps the time had come to truly forgive and forget Nate's transgression. The ambiance must be affecting her judgment, because she sincerely wanted to give them another chance.

  She couldn't deny her feelings. She'd never stopped loving him.

  Take a chance, Asia.

  This might be her last opportunity to see Nate. In all likelihood, she wouldn't happen upon him in Boston. Life was too short for grudges. He wrongly doubted her love and fidelity eighteen years ago and not giving him a chance to redeem himself was nothing more than headstrong stubbornness on her part. Surely, they'd both learned from that life lesson.

  Before she could pursue the subject, Sally appeared at Asia's side.

  "Are you ready to order?" she asked, holding a pencil and order pad in her hand.

  Asia hadn't opened the menu yet and wouldn't take time to read it. "What's the special?"

  "Corned beef and cabbage."

  "I'll have that. Could you bring me a coffee now?" Caffeine this late in the day would keep her up tonight, but she needed something to relax her. Being so close to Nate and reconciliation maxed her stress level.

  "Coming right up." Sally took the menu and left.

  Asia looked at Nate and found him staring at her.


  He pointed to the top of her head. "It's not a spider," he said. "But there's something ... May I?"

  Thankful it wasn't any kind of bug, though spiders frightened her most and Nate hadn't forgotten, she was able to shrug and not become alarmed.

  He reached across the table and brushed something aside. "A cobweb."

  After the corners and dark places she'd cleaned today, it was a wonder that was all she came away with. She laughed off her embarrassment, thinking she should have taken a peek in the mirror before she left. That was unlike her, as well. She never stepped out in public without making herself presentable.

  "How's the packing coming along?"

  "All done. Thankfully."

  "It must have been difficult."

  She nodded and looked around at the dozen or so tables, grabbing bits of conversations —"...Christmas bake...the Dobson twins...dandelion wine...Jack Frost...two for one sale..."

  "See anyone you recognize?" he asked.

  "Judge Brown for one." She turned. "How old is he? One ten, one twelve?"

  "At least. Some say he made a pact with the devil."

  "Thank Heaven he's not a sitting judge, then."

  "Small mercies. Recognize the woman at your back?"

  Asia rolled the hair around her finger that had escaped her ponytail and casually made a half-turn to look behind her.

  She studied the brunette covertly, but couldn't place her. "No," she said, turning to face Nate.

  "Miss Landry."

  "It can't be."

  Nate nodded. "It is."

  Asia frowned. "She m
ust have found the fountain of youth. Either that or a remarkable plastic surgeon. She taught us our second year in school. She was old then."

  "Old to six-year-olds. But I think she had some work done. At least, that's the rumor."

  "Did she ever marry?" So much for no conversation. But then everything came easy for her when she was with Nate.

  "Who'd have her?"

  "I don't know. She has a lot to offer. Money, a pedigree, horses, a house." She took her arms from the table when Sally set Asia's coffee in front of her.

  "And a wart on her butt."

  "You dated her, then."

  He laughed.

  It shouldn't amaze Asia that they'd fallen into old habits so easily, but it did and she couldn't help but smile. "Why is it so busy in here?" She stirred two tubs of cream and two packs of sugar in her coffee before taking a sip.

  "You've forgotten?"


  "It's All Souls Day."

  Asia remembered the religious belief. "The day when the souls of the faithful, who at death have not been cleansed from the temporal punishment, walk the earth, searching for redemption. Has anyone actually seen the Earl?"

  "Not that I've heard. He probably never existed. Esther probably cooked up the story to bring in customers. Great marketing strategy."

  She looked around the filled room. "I'd say it worked, wouldn't you?"

  Sally served their dinners and conservation stopped, much to Asia's disappointment.

  Today had been a day of forgiveness and putting the past where it belonged.

  Tomorrow would be a day of new beginnings.

  Chapter Two

  At home, Nate threw his keys on the hall table. He loosened the tie that bound his neck like a noose and walked into the kitchen. After all these years, Asia had forgiven him. He didn't need to hear the words to know; he saw the truth in her eyes. He let out a deep breath, cleansing his soul of the regret that had eaten away at him for eighteen long years. A mistake of his own making, unfortunately, and the nastiest kind to accept. He'd been possessive and jealous and unable to believe Asia had wanted him when she could have her pick of men.