Emma Sharpe opened all the windows in the small Maine
coastal house she shared with her husband of almost four
months, ending with the stubborn one above the
kitchensink. A crisp, salt-tinged breeze blew in on her, and
she shut her eyes, taking it in, relishing it after her slog of a
drive up from Boston. She’d left her FBI office early,
hoping to beat the worst of the foliage traffic. Maybe she
had. Maybe it was even worse now, at rush hour.
The weatherforecast called for a sunny, cool weekend, perfectforleaf-peeping,hiking,kayaking—orafamilywedding.
That was three weeks ago. Long weeks, Emma thought.
Hard weeks. The details of Colin’s whereabouts were on a
need-to-know basis, and in her role as an art crimes analyst,
Emma didn’t need to know.
But tomorrow, after many ups and downs, her brother-inlaw Andy, a lobsterman and third-born of the fourDonovan
brothers, and his marine biologist love, Julianne Maroney,
were finally gettingmarried in theirsmall hometown ofRock
Afresh,gusty breeze caughtthe calendarEmma hadbought
in Ireland and hung on the wall by the refrigerator, one of
her touches in the Craftsman-style house. Colin hadn’t objected. They’d met a year ago…fallen in love fast…married in June…a whirlwind of a love affair, every second etched in
her memory. But the last weeks ofsummer and first weeks of
autumn had been a blur of grief, work and long walks in the
Irish hills with her grandfather, mourning his only son, her
father…gone too soon…and Colin, the hardheaded,
hard- driving man she loved, away on his latest FBI
Emma noticed the calendar was still set to August. She
pulled it off its prosaic nail and flipped past September to
October. The blank weeks reminded her of the passage of
time since she and Colin had last been here, in the house he’d
bought before they’d met. She’d added a few touches of her
own here and there. In time, she’d add more.
She hung the calendar back on its nail and admired the
photo of Moll’s Gap on the southwest Irish coast. She and
Colin had stopped there in June on their honeymoon. Holding hands, taking in the stunning views of the
mountains and lakes, it was as if time stood still and
nothing badcould ever happen to them.
Faintly unsettled,she took off herlightweight leatherjacket
and hung it on the back of a chair at the table. She wasin black
slacks and a white blouse, but would change into something
more casual for tonight’s rehearsal dinner, a casual affair at
Hurley’s, a favorite Rock Point watering hole on the harbor.
Would Colin get back in time?
Emma yanked open the refrigerator. Three bottles of a
local craft beer sat on the top shelf. Colin wouldn’t mind not
coming home to actual food in the fridge, but beer? A staple
for any Donovan. She wondered how many times in the past
weeks he’d thought about the beer waiting for him when he
finally made his way back home.
Then she spotted a glass jar of local, whole-milk yogurt
tucked on a shelf in the door. Had she left it on her last visit?
She shook her head. “No.”
As she shut the refrigerator door, she felt the flutter in her
stomach she always felt when she knew Colin was near.
And he was, she thought. He was here.
Footstepssounded on the back stairs. She saw him through
the screen door as he pulled it open and came into the kitchen.
Her heart skipped a couple of beats. The tousled dark hair,
the blue-gray eyes, the small scar on his upper cheek. The
broad shoulders. The slight, knowing smile. He wore jeans
and a dark blue sweatshirt. His Maine clothes, his undercover
clothes—it didn’t matter.
He shut the door behind him. “Hey, there. Did you see I
got you your favorite yogurt?”
“I did see that.”
“I got your favorite granola, too. It’s in the cupboard.”
“You’re the best, Colin Donovan.” Emma smiled as he
slipped his arms around her. She’d pulled back her hair, fair
and straight, but a few strands came loose as she took in the
feel of him, his warmth, his strength. “When did you
“After lunch. I went for a walk.”
Of course. “Felt good?”
“Not as good as this.” He drew her closer, opening his
palms on her hips. “How are you, Emma?”
“Happy you’re here, safe and sound.” She eased her arms
around his waist, settling them where sweatshirt and jeans
met on his back. “How did you get here?”
“Mike picked me up at the airport in Portland. I didn’t
want to f ly into Boston and risk not getting here in time.”
Mike was the eldest brother, a Maine wilderness guide and
an occasional security contractor. “You didn’t want to miss
tonight’srehearsal dinner,” Emma said.
“And you. I didn’t want to miss tonight with you.”
Heat spread through her, a contrast to the cool lateafternoon breezes blowing through the small house. “Now
here we are.”
“Yes.” Colin’s eyes held hers. “Together again.”
“And you are safe and sound, yes?”
“I am.” He pulled her closer. “Our lives won’t always be
like this, Emma.”
“Thinking about doing puffin tours again?”
“Cap’n Colin. I have three brothers in Maine. We’d make
puffin and whale tours and such work.”
He was at least half-serious. Emma was familiar with this
reentry mood, understood the appeal of a quieter life here in
his hometown. “No doubt in my mind. Whatever you
de- cide is next for you is fine with me. Right now, the
work you do, the absences…” She leaned into him, solid,
warm, here. “That’s fine, too.”
“I love you, Emma,” he said, as his mouth lowered to hers.
He lifted her and carried her into the front room and on to
the entry. He was a strong, fit man, and although Emma
could see the fatigue in his face, he continued up the stairs
without a pause.
Their thing, from their earliest days together.
He carried her up the stairs without breaking stride, ducked
into their bedroom at the back of the house and laid her on
the bed. She sank into the soft quilt. He wasn’t the least bit
winded, but she could hardly get a decent breath. Nothing
to do with exertion, everything to do with having him
hereagain, with her.
“I’msorry I had to leavewhen I did,”Colin said. “Yourdad…
“I needed that time on my own. You knew that.”
“Because I know you.” He kissed her softly. “It’s good to
“I’m glad you’re here,” she managed to whisper, before
speaking became impossible, and unnecessary.
Julianne and Andy chose to have their wedding at the old
sea captain’s house the Donovans had converted into an inn
out on the harbor, and Emma couldn’t imagine a more perfect day for the hometown pair. The bright, clear
autumn weather continued through last night’s rehearsal
dinner and the wedding, held outside on the inn’s expansive
lawn, with colorful leaves ref lected in the quiet water and
coordinating with Julianne’s golden-brown hair and warm
white dress.The Donovans and Maroneys had simple tastes
and a modest budget, but they knew how to have a good
Even gloomy Franny Maroney,Julianne’s widowed grandmother, couldn’t find much to complain about.
“Beautiful wedding,” she said next to Emma at the cake
table. Her white hair in tight, neat curls, she wore a f
lowing burgundy dress and sturdy shoes. At seventy-five,
she was a bundle of energy. She sighed, eyeing the rows of
cake slices on small plates. “No Donovans in tuxes, though.
Andy nixed them. I think Juli- anne was in on it, though.”
Emma smiled. “Disappointed, are you?”