Authors: Tallulah Grace
“Still, I’d like more details.” Red glanced down at Pamela’s
shirt, saw the blood stains, his blood stains, marking the front. “Why don’t
you jump in the shower, wash some of the night off of you? Sharon brought you
some clothes. You’ll feel better.”
“You know me so well,” Pamela squeezed his hand, then let it
go. “I’ll do that. The nurse said she’s having some food sent up. She’s also
bringing a cot in here for me.”
“Thank you for staying.”
“We found your spare key, I hope you don’t mind,” Chelsea
greeted them at Red’s house the next morning. “We thought the place might need
sprucing, since you haven’t stayed here in a while.”
“No, I don’t mind,” Red followed Pamela into his kitchen,
noting the fresh flowers on the table. “Thank you.”
“Yes, thank you so much, for everything,” Pamela gave
Chelsea a quick hug, then turned to Mac. “You’ve all been so wonderful. Picking
us up from the hospital, taking care of the house. Jade’s even going by my
house, to pack a bag for me. I really don’t know what to say.”
“Say nothing,” Chelsea told her, pulling out a chair. “It’s
what we do. Sit down, Red. You look terrible.”
“Thanks, Chels. It’s nice to see you, too.”
“Sharon and Dana are in charge of food, they’re on the way
over. In the meantime, would you like something to drink?” Chelsea made herself
at home, wherever she happened to be.
“Do I smell fresh coffee?” Red asked hopefully.
“Coming up,” Chelsea looked to Mac and Pamela. “Anyone
“None for me, hon. I need to head out. The crew is starting
Dana’s new barn today, and I’d like to check in.” Clapping Red on the shoulder,
Mac moved toward the door. “I’ll see you at home later,” he told Chelsea,
kissing her lightly before leaving.
Pamela saw the easy way Mac and Chelsea interacted. There
was no tension, no sniping, nothing but love, comfort, and good will between
them. Why couldn’t she and Red be the same way?
The night at the hospital had been blessedly peaceful. Both
she and Red had avoided talking about the incident, or anything else of
substance. They’d both needed a break, but today, here, she knew that a few
hard truths would need to come to light.
By the time Sharon and Dana arrived with supplies, Red had
already heard from his contact at the FBI.
“Erica Bane was not her real name,” Red told them, reaching
for Pamela’s hand. “Kendra Knowles was also an alias. They both used stolen
identities, which is why the background check you ran before hiring Kendra came
“Who were they? Were they even sisters?” Pamela asked.
“Half-sisters,” Red told her. “Same mother. Erica’s father
left them when Erica was a baby, then her mother remarried Kendra’s father.
That’s when things became difficult.” Red cleared his throat, knowing the story
he was about to tell would elicit sympathy from everyone in the room.
“What do you mean?”
“Kendra’s father abused Erica, sexually, physically,
mentally, until he died when Kendra was about ten. Erica ended up in a mental
institution, after killing their mother when she was around thirteen. Kendra
was left a ward of the state. Fast forwarding to when Kendra came of age, she
fought to get Erica released, and won. They’ve been together ever since, and
moved to LA about three years ago. Erica ended up with Chandler Chase, but only
for about two weeks. There is no record of her ever being pregnant, or having
“Then why did she come after me?” Pamela asked, confused.
“She was diagnosed as being delusional as a result of the
childhood trauma. She basically made up her own world, and lived in it. Kendra
enabled her, probably because she felt guilty about what her father had done to
Erica. There was some suspicion as to whether Kendra helped Erica kill their
mother, but she was only eleven at the time, and the evidence was
“If he abused one of them, he could have abused both of
them,” Chelsea said softly, her heart breaking for the little girls.
“It’s possible,” Red nodded, hearing the sympathy in her
voice. “But I’m not giving them a pass for trying to kill us, because they were
abused as children. At some point, you must be accountable for your actions.”
“I don’t think mental illness works that way, Red,” Pamela
told him, agreeing with Chelsea. “I’m sorry for what they went through, and I
hate that it had to end this way. You have to wonder if they’d had the proper
help when they were younger, if they could have overcome what happened.”
“I’d rather not debate this, if you don’t mind,” Red told
her, more gently than he would have done before. “Can we agree to disagree?”
“Okay, for now,” Pamela looked at the bandage on his head,
reminding her that his head injury put him at a disadvantage.
“Thank you. Anyway, you weren’t the first woman Erica
stalked. They checked her history, and three other women reported her for
sending threatening letters, following them, breaking into their homes. In each
case, a man was involved, one who had supposedly wronged Erica. Each time, she
moved away before being arrested.”
“How do they know it was her?”
“She was sloppy, at first, but she learned from her
mistakes. By the time she zeroed in on you, she was a pro.”
“Part of me can’t believe it’s over,” Pamela told them.
“I’ve been living in fear for so long, that I’m not sure what to do, now that
the threat is gone.”
“You live,” Sharon answered quickly. “Boldly, openly, and
fearlessly. Put the bad stuff behind you as soon as you can. It’s the only way
to let go.”
“One day, you’ll have to tell me how you got to be so smart
about this sort of thing,” Pamela smiled at her friend, not knowing what Sharon
had lived through, a few months before.
“One day, I will.” Sharon smiled back. “For now, I need to
get to the restaurant. If you think of anything else you need, call me.”
“Same goes for me,” Dana responded, having kept silent
during the recap. She agreed with Red about the women’s culpability, but she
saw no reason to jump in and create a debate. “I need to make sure that Robert
sticks to the plans for the barn. If I leave it up to him, it would only be
half as big as it needs to be.”
“I’m leaving, too,” Chelsea stood, joining the others. “Both
beds have fresh sheets, and there’s a load of towels in the dryer. I’ll give
you a call later, okay?”
“Okay,” Pamela answered. “Thank you all so much. You’ve made
everything so much easier for us.”
“Like I said, it’s what we do.”
With a wave, all three women left.
A comfortable silence filled the room. Red and Pamela were both
lost in their own thoughts.
“They released your house,” Red said, a few minutes later.
“It’s no longer considered a crime scene. I hope you don’t mind, but I made a
call to a cleaning company. They’ll be there this afternoon. Jade can go in
anytime, though, and pick up your things.”
“Thanks.” Pamela took a deep breath, and decided to dive in.
“I’m not sure I want to go back there.”
“Can’t say as I blame you. But the cleaners are top notch.
You won’t even be able to tell anything happened there, when they are
“That’s not what makes me uncomfortable,” Pamela met his
eyes. “It’s knowing that two women died there, one of whom I considered a
friend. I’m not sure I can do it. Not yet, anyway.”
“You don’t have to go anywhere, Pam,” Red said softly,
reaching for her hand. “Stay with me. Be with me. I feel like we’ve been given
a second chance. Do you feel it, too?”
“Yes,” Pamela gripped his hand, hard. “But it scares me,
Red. I don’t want for us to make the same mistakes as last time. I love you. I
never stopped. But I want a relationship that’s easy, peaceful. I don’t want to
live in a war zone.”
“I want the same things that you do, Pam. I never stopped
loving you, either.”
“Are you certain about that? When I first saw you, it wasn’t
love I saw in your eyes.”
“I admit that I was mad as hell for a long time. But I still
loved you, in spite of everything. A war zone is the last place I want to live,
but I think we can overcome our tendency to go for each other’s jugular, with a
“Are you saying that you’ll go to counseling with me?”
“I’m saying I’ll do whatever is necessary to make this work
between us. If it takes spilling my guts to a shrink, then bring it on. I had a
taste of life without you, Pammie. I don’t want to live that way, either.”
“Oh, Red, I can’t believe you’re saying these things!”
Pamela threw her arms around him, kissing him soundly on the lips.
Red angled his head to take the kiss deeper, pulling her onto
his lap as he did. Instant fire raged between them, reminding them both of what
they’d been missing.
With a growl, Red stood, cradling Pamela close against him.
His lips never left hers as he carried her into his bedroom.
Hours later, Pamela lay propped against the headboard, Red’s
head on her legs. Both spent, each one as content as it was possible to be,
they silently wondered what had taken them so long to find each other again.
“It will be different this time,” Red promised, kissing her
kneecap. “We can live anywhere you like, even New York.”
“New York? I don’t want to live in New York. I thought we’d
stay in Starsdale. Aren’t you happy here?”
“Of course, but I know that you need a big city. You
couldn’t get out of here fast enough, remember?” Red rolled over so he could see
“Yes, but I was young and stupid back then. Besides,
Starsdale is changing. I’d like to be a part of that.”
“Seriously? You could be happy, living here, being married
to the Sheriff?”
“Married?” Pamela asked, completely surprised by Red’s question.
“Are you proposing, Red Starling?”
“Hell, no. I know better than to propose to you in bed,” Red
chuckled. “But that’s the direction I’m planning for us. Marriage, kids, the
whole nine. I love you, Pamela. Our life can be so much more than it ever was
before. If we only let it.”
“I’m game,” Pamela ruffled his hair, her heart overflowing.
“One day at a time, right? In Starsdale.”
“One day at a time. In Starsdale.” Red pulled her down to
him, sealing the deal with a kiss.
If you enjoyed the story, please
leave a review, no matter how brief. Thank you. For excerpts of my other works
and for details of upcoming novels, visit
to subscribe to my newsletter and be the first to learn of new releases,
contests and giveaways.
Titles by Tallulah Grace
Romantic Suspense Novels
Stories of Starsdale
SSCD Crime Thrillers:
EJB Global Crime Thrillers
A Haunting Tale of Love Never Lost
A Family for Christmas