Ash detests Halloween. Three years ago, her husband’s death during the same week left her scarred. Now, all she desires is a simple, ordered life in the small town of Humble, Connecticut and time with the cutest boy ever – her nephew. That becomes impossible when her sister brings a handsome soldier, Cole, to her door. From the moment they meet, Ash has a hard time ignoring his good looks and those intense gray eyes that have seen enough war and heartbreak to fill a lifetime. What starts as a mutual attraction and a romp in bed leads Ash to face her demons. War has left Cole with more than just physical scars as well. But does serendipity, a ghost, or something sinister have other plans for them? When someone starts stalking Ash, Halloween turns to horror. Does Cole have what it takes to incinerate Ash’s doubts and keep her safe?
“Do you mind if I stay and finish my coffee out here?” Cole asked.
Was this another significant decision in her life?
She could go on the way she had been for the past three years and ask for her privacy or admit to herself she was curious about and attracted to Cole. If she let him stay, it meant that she wanted to explore what might be between them.
Was she ready to move on and think about a date? If she allowed him to stay, this had the makings of more than an accidental meeting.
She decided she was overthinking. “Sure. Rambo appreciates your company.”
“I can tolerate it.”
He grinned at her snark. “How was the rest of your day after we met at the beach?”
“Rather boring. I did some grocery shopping and took Rambo to the dog park. You?”
“I went to the gym and explored a little bit. There are some excellent parks and hiking trails not too far away. Do you hike?”
Memories flashed before her eyes before she answered. “I used to hike often when my husband was alive. Rambo was just a puppy and even crazier than he is now. Not so much lately.”
“Do you think you’d want to? I love to hike and learn more about the area but could use a guide.”
“Maybe.” She didn’t want to make a commitment she couldn’t keep.
“This is the perfect time of year with the foliage and the cooler temps,” he pressed. “You should take at least one trek in the woods.”
Dakota Star lives in Connecticut with her husband and two daughters. Both her daughters have finished college and moved away so her dogs, cats, and a retired horse now keep her busy. When not outside hiking or horseback riding, she loves to read and travel.
She has worked as an editor, a freelance writer for local newspapers, and an educator at local environmental non-profits like aquariums and The National Audubon Society.