Chapter Ten

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Kaye rubbed her eyes. "Want another coffee?"

"Yes, please." I glanced at the clock, again, for the hundredth time. 3:30, thank God. My shift at the Widow's Walk ended at four. We'd gone to bed last night at around six in the morning, after talking briefly to the police and then having a dawn-cap, as Andy had called it. My Sunday brunch shift, which was normally quite pleasant, had never been so wretched.

"Hey, Miranda, you can take that coffee to-go if you want." Andy paused mid-stride as he marched through the kitchen.

"Really?"

"Yeah, go on." He smiled at me. "It was a rough night. And Erin will be here in a minute."

"You never let me leave early." Kaye stuck her tongue out at him.

"I like Miranda better than you," he teased, with a wink that made Kaye blush.

I rolled my eyes. I couldn't stay mad at the two of them, even though they hadn't stood up for Owen. Everyone had been on edge, not to mention a few drinks in. Violet was obviously intense, and Scott... well, Scott was never very fun to be around, especially when he was drinking. I didn't know why Violet and Scott had decided to pick on Owen, but I recognized scapegoating when I saw it, and I didn't want any part of it. He had to feel like everyone in town hated him. Maybe Violet and Scott did hate him—maybe there was old, bad blood there—but I didn't. I should at least tell him that much.

Back at home, I showered and put on a long, cream-colored dress and a necklace made of beaten silver and red coral. I grabbed my leather jacket and headed out the door before I could think too much about what I was doing.

A moment later, I pulled into Owen's driveway and sat in my car, gripping the steering wheel. I was crazy for coming here. He didn't care what I thought of him. Did he? I thought of standing with him on the dark beach, before the fire. Asking him why he'd broken up with Jenny.

Either way, it was too late now. I had to at least see if he was home.

I knocked on the screen door, which made a spine-rattling metallic clang. The wooden front door opened. Owen frowned down at me through the screen, his jaw clenched tight. He was in his usual flannel button-down and jeans. He must not have shaved this morning. His blond stubble made him look even more like a Viking than usual.

"I... um... just wanted to talk," I stammered, while my stomach did panicky backflips. "Is this a bad time?"

"No," he said, although his frown deepened. "Come in."

He opened the screen door for me, and I stepped into his kitchen. A pot simmered on the stove, sending delicious aromas of beef and beer wafting through the kitchen. I glanced around, half-expecting to see Jenny or some other woman here, but it was just us.

I wished I could get a thought into my head without invariably acting on it.

He leaned against the counter on the opposite side of the kitchen, holding a beer and frowning dispassionately at me. Standing between the kitchen table and the door, I realized Owen was as far away from me as he could get without leaving the room.

"I don't know where to start," I admitted, releasing a shaky breath.

Owen said nothing, just took a swig of beer. I recognized the label—it was one of the local craft brews that the Widow's Walk sold. One of my favorites.

"I don't know if you've ever wondered why I came to Fall Island," I said suddenly, my heart hammering. "Your mom has guessed it, I think," I added, with a twinge of embarrassment. "I left Connecticut because my ex beat me."

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