Where There's Hope(7)

By: Marianne Rice

And two weeks later Cameron killed him.

“You told me he was a twin. The one who was driving. He’s out on parole? I’m surprised they’d let him leave the state of Connecticut.”

“I don’t know the details.” Hope slipped out of her mother’s embrace and hugged her knees to her chest. “Ty was there. He knows Cameron. I guess he’s been working at the docks for a while now.”

“Oh, honey.” Her mother cupped Hope’s cheeks in her palms. “He didn’t say anything to hurt you, did he?” She shook her head. “Did he say why he’s here?”

“No. Just that he wanted to talk to me. You don’t think...Delaney?”

“Are his parents here with him?”

“I don’t know.” She and her mother had argued many times about keeping Delaney a secret from the Smithfields. Justin may not have even told them yet. From what little she read about the case against Cameron, he had quite the fancy upbringing, and the Smithfields would take her daughter away, she was sure. Better to keep her identity a secret.

“Do you think he’s a threat?”

“Physically?” Hope swallowed and lowered her forehead against her knees. She didn’t want to picture him standing in her doorway. How the sun behind him silhouetted his figure, showing off strength and power in his frame. Or how his chocolate eyes brought memories of giddiness and first love to her heart.

Or how sad and broken those eyes looked when she called him a murderer. He was. Those were facts. He killed his brother, stripping a good man from his family, his girlfriend, his future career, his future child.

Cameron Smithfield didn’t deserve to be looked at the way Hope first saw him, with longing and lust. She’d tamped the hint of attraction down fast and remembered who he was. A killer.

Yet, his body language, his slouched, defeated shoulders, his yearning eyes...they spoke of someone who’d been through a great ordeal.

Yeah. Prison, she reminded herself.

“He didn’t come off as a physical threat, but that’s probably because Ty was there to put him in his place. I hope Cameron is long gone by now.”

But she knew he wouldn’t be. He came to Crystal Cove for a reason and chances were, he wasn’t going to leave until he found it.

Hope was at Crystal Cove Middle School ten minutes before the end of the day, anxious to see Delaney and start their hunt for their own place. She used the time in her car to read through her texts; thankfully nothing pressing from the restaurant. She had a good crew working for her.

Frankie had been cooking for The Happy Clam back when Hope waited tables in high school and had no problem when she transitioned into being his boss. Willow joined him when Delaney was a baby, and Hope was working her way into the assistant manager job.

When the Clukeys retired and moved to Florida, Hope took out a loan from the bank, borrowed some money from her parents, and used the little she’d saved to buy the place. Since then, she’d nearly paid off her loan, but her parents refused every check she’d written them.

Knowing they wouldn’t let her pay them back, she felt even more guilty for living rent free for so many years.

“Hey, Mom.” Delaney opened the back door to the Civic and tossed her backpack in before climbing in the front next to Hope.

“Hey, sweetie. Did you have a good day?”

“I guess.” Delaney adjusted the heat and changed the radio station from country to pop music. Hope recognized the Justin Timberlake song and grinned when Delaney started singing along.

She pulled out of the pick-up zone and headed toward Maple Street where hundred-year-old farmhouses lined the road. Melissa Button’s husband had converted the front half of their historic home into a stunning real estate office. Together, they sold, rented, or leased half the available properties in Crystal Cove.

“What are we doing out here?” Delaney turned down the radio and peered out her window.

“We’re house hunting.”

“For real? These homes are epic! My friends and I could have massive sleepovers.”

“Easy there. These houses are a bit out of our price range. We’re meeting with a realtor to see what’s available for us.”

“We’re not gonna move far, are we? I don’t want to switch schools.”

Hope’s heart thumped a few extra times in her chest. “I’m absolutely not moving from Crystal Cove. This is our hometown. But Grandma and Grandpa deserve a little peace and quiet. I’ve been taking over their house for thirty-one years. Besides, I figured you and I would have fun house shopping and decorating a place of our own.”