brothers also owned one of the oldest boardinghouses in town. Anna Marie lived there herself, acting as the superintendent in charge of all things, and lucky for Hunter, Molly rented one of the units. Between the older woman’s day job and her occupation as landlord, he’d bet she knew every last detail that was available about each local resident. Especially Molly.

“Yes sirree. Her mother’s marrying a longtime resident of our fair town.” Anna Marie leaned forward. “Aren’t you curious as to who the lucky guy is?” she asked, obviously eager to impart the information.

“I was getting there,” Hunter said, laughing.

“Her fiance’s Marc Dumont. I found out when Molly’s mother filed for a marriage license.” Anna Marie met Hunter’s gaze and nodded slowly, giving him time to absorb the implications of her news.

As he did, Hunter’s smile faded. Memories of a time when he was young and not as cocky as he liked to appear now kicked in hard and fast. He clenched his hands into tight fists, the old anger he worked hard to control, rising to the surface. He fought it down.

It wasn’t Anna Marie’s fault she remembered his connection to Dumont. There wasn’t anyone who’d lived in their hometown who didn’t know the story of how Lilly had disappeared, presumably running her car off a cliff and into the quarry below. Her body had never been recovered.

There also wasn’t anyone who didn’t know that Marc Dumont blamed her best friends, Hunter and Ty, for his niece’s “death.” He’d tried, without success, to make the stolen car charges stick. But he had convinced the state to split the friends apart, taking Hunter away from Flo Benson’s foster home.

Hunter had spent the year prior to turning eighteen in a state-run juvenile facility for troubled teens. His anger and resentment resurfaced and his attitude had gotten him into enough fights that he’d nearly ended up in jail. Instead he’d been forced to attend a Scared Straight program in a real lockup and the reality had turned him around fast, just as the program intended. He’d done so by using Lilly as motivation.

He’d hear her voice telling him that she wanted better for him than jail. But he still blamed Dumont for his stint in juvie just as he credited Lilly, Ty and Flo’s influence for his turnaround.

Hearing Dumont’s name still set Hunter’s nerves on edge. “What’s the old bastard after now, that he needs Molly’s help?” he asked Anna Marie.

She pursed her lips. “Tsk, tsk. You know I can’t be passing along privileged information.”

Hunter laughed at the mock offense in the older woman’s voice. He and Anna Marie shared a love of information any way they had to get it. “Have any court papers been officially filed by Mr. Dumont?” he asked.

Anna Marie grinned. “Well, no.”

“Then what’s privileged about a little courtroom gossip?” Hunter had a sudden, urgent need to know more about what Dumont would need a lawyer for at this point in his life, why he would involve Molly and who the bastard was using now.

“Good point. You are as fast thinking on your feet as they say. Are you sure you’re too young for me?” she asked, playfully nudging him in the arm.

“I think you’re too young for me. I’m afraid your energy would wear me out,” he said, laughing. Though he didn’t know her exact age, he’d bet she was in her midsixties and though she didn’t keep up with the trends, she was spry in spirit.

She smacked the counter and chuckled.

“Come on, now spill what you know.” He could see from the light in her eyes, she was dying to share her secrets.

“Well since you asked so nicely…I heard Molly talking on the phone earlier. Marc Dumont’s getting ready to claim his niece’s trust fund as his own.”

“What?” Hunter asked, certain he’d heard wrong.

“Since it’s been nearly ten years, he plans to go to court and have her declared legally dead. You know, seeing as how no body was ever found after her car went into Dead Man’s Drift,” Anna Marie said, mentioning the unofficial name the townspeople had given to the cliff and water below after Lillian Dumont’s death.

Nausea washed over him at the thought. Not a day went by when Hunter didn’t think of Lilly, that fateful night and his role in her disappearance. He’d always missed her, her laughter, her friendship. It helped that Hunter hadn’t heard Dumont’s name in years. The man was a subject Hunter tried to avoid and until today, it’d been easy. Dumont had remained under Hunter’s radar for years, secluded in Lilly’s old home and not causing any trouble. Now in the span of five minutes, Hunter discovered the man was going to marry Molly’s mother and attempt to legally bury his niece so he get could his hands on the millions still held in trust for her.

His timing couldn’t be worse. Just when Molly seemed to be softening toward the idea of dating Hunter, Dumont once again became an obstacle.

The bastard hadn’t changed. He’d merely been in hiding, waiting for a time when the three friends believed their pasts were behind them, to resurface. The man had changed their lives once before. Hunter had a hunch none of them would survive this confrontation unscathed, either.

TYLER BENSON WASN’T a morning person. He’d rather work the late shift at Night Owl’s than clock in on a nine-to-five day job. It helped that Ty rented the apartment above the bar from his friend Rufus, who also owned the establishment and appreciated Ty helping him out now and then. When he wasn’t tending bar as a favor to his friend, Ty ran a P.I. business out of his apartment, as well as the bar and a small office across from the courthouse. The locals found Ty wherever he happened to be and he appreciated the flexibility and spontaneity of his life. Most of all he liked knowing he earned his own way at no one else’s expense.

He made a decent enough living that he could pick and choose the cases he wanted to work, passing the easier ones on to Derek, a guy who’d gotten his P.I. license but was new to town and needed Ty’s name to bolster his business reputation. Ty figured he was better off having Derek as an employee than competition in the small town, so the situation worked for them both. In fact, the business was growing fast and they needed to hire an administrative assistant and another P.I.

Ty poured a Bud from the tap and handed it to the guy who’d been keeping a running tab. He glanced at his watch. Only 7:00 p.m. but with October baseball in full swing-Yankees versus Red Sox-this place would be hopping within half an hour. Right now though, time was dragging by and he stifled a yawn behind his hand.

“In about five minutes you’re going to wish life was as boring as you’re obviously finding it now.” Hunter, Ty’s oldest friend, slid onto a stool across from him.

Ty grinned. “Somehow I doubt hearing about your day in court is going to get my juices flowing.” He laughed and reached for the ingredients of a refined martini his friend had come to prefer over the beer of days past.

The other man shook his head. “Jack Daniel’s. Neat.”

Ty raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Something big must be going on if you’re giving up your polished drink for harder liquor. And here I was just about to say congratulations on winning your case but if you were celebrating, you wouldn’t be ordering whiskey.”

Hunter’s expression was clouded. Obviously, he was miles away, his thoughts definitely not on his big win today.

Ty figured he’d know what was bothering his friend soon enough. When Hunter had a problem to deal with, he usually mulled it over for too long before spilling his guts.

“Do you remember when I came to live with you and your mom as a foster kid?” Hunter asked.

The subject took Ty by surprise. “Yeah, I remember. But that was a long time ago and a lot has changed. You looked different then for one thing. Hell, you were different.”

At sixteen, Daniel Hunter had come into the Benson home with a chip on his shoulder and an unwillingness to let anyone in. He’d already decided nobody in the world would care about him anyway. He’d been wrong on both counts. Hunter had spent almost a year with Tyler and his mother, becoming like family to them both.

Hunter nodded. “I’ve tried to be different. Better somehow.”

Ty glanced at his friend, understanding his reasons. He’d fought hard to become an upstanding lawyer and member of the community and he’d succeeded. Tonight he wore dark jeans that looked pressed and new, along with a rugby shirt. Hunter’s choice in clothing was a symbol of the man he’d become.

“You may dress the stuffed preppy part but you’re still a street kid at heart,” Ty teased. Which was why they’d remained tight over the years. “So what’s going on that’s forcing you to remember the past now?”

“Things. And it’s not just that I need to remember, but I need you to go back in time, too.”

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