above, where it looked out over the living space below. Metal shelves on the downstairs walls overflowed with the books she adored: her beloved set of Jane Austen's novels, tattered copies of the works of Daphne Du Maurier and Anya Seton, all of Mary Stewart's early books, along with Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and Danielle Steel.

Narrower shelves held double-deep rows of paperbacks-historical sagas, romance, mysteries, travel guides, and reference books. Her favorite literary writers were also well represented, along with biographies of famous women and some of Oprah's less depressing book club selections, most of which Molly had discovered before Oprah shared them with the world.

She kept the children's books she loved on shelves in the sleeping loft. Her collection included all the Eloise stories and Harry Potter books, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, some Judy Blume, Gertrude Chandler Warner's The Boxcar Children, Anne of Green Gables, a little Sweet Valley High for fun, and the tattered Barbara Cartland books she'd discovered when she was ten. It was the collection of a dedicated bookworm, and all the Calebow children loved curling up on her bed with a whole stack piled around them while they tried to decide which one to read next.

Molly pulled out a pair of china teacups with delicate gold rims and a scatter of purple pansies. 'I decided today that I'm calling my new book Daphne Takes a Tumble.'

'Tell me!'

'Well… Daphne is walking through Nightingale Woods minding her own business when, out of nowhere, Benny comes racing past on his mountain bike and knocks her off her feet.'

Hannah shook her head disapprovingly. 'That pesky badger.'


Hannah regarded her cagily. 'I think somebody should steal Benny's mountain bike. Then he'd stay out of trouble.'

Molly smiled. 'Stealing doesn't exist in Nightingale Woods. Didn't we talk about that when you wanted somebody to steal Benny's jet ski?'

'I guess.' Her mouth set in the mulish line she'd inherited from her father. 'But if there can be mountain bikes and jet skis in Nightingale Woods, I don't see why there can't be stealing, too. And Benny doesn't mean to do bad things. He's just mischievous.'

Molly thought of Kevin. 'There's a thin line between mischief and stupidity.'

'Benny's not stupid!'

Hannah looked stricken, and Molly wished she'd kept her mouth shut. 'Of course he's not. He's the smartest badger in Nightingale Woods.' She ruffled her niece's hair. 'Let's have our tea, and then we'll take Roo for a walk by the lake.'

Molly didn't get a chance to look at her mail until later that night, after Hannah had fallen asleep with a tattered copy of The Jennifer Wish. She put her phone bill in a clip, then absentmindedly opened a business-size envelope. She wished she hadn't bothered as she took in the letterhead.

Straight Kids for a Straight America The radical homosexual agenda has targeted your children! Our most innocent citizens are being lured toward the evils of perversion by obscene books and irresponsible television shows that glorify this deviant and morally repugnant behavior…

Straight Kids for a Straight America, SKIFSA, was a Chicago-based organization whose wild-eyed members had been appearing on all the local talk shows to spew their personal paranoia. If only they'd turn their energies to something constructive, like keeping guns away from kids, and she tossed the letter in the trash.

Late the next afternoon Molly lowered one hand from the steering wheel and ran her fingers through Roo's topknot. Earlier she'd returned Hannah to her parents, and now she was on her way to the Calebows' Door County, Wisconsin, vacation home. It would be late when she got there, but the roads were clear and she didn't mind driving at night.

She'd made the decision to travel north impulsively. Her conversation with Phoebe yesterday had exposed something she'd been doing her best to deny. Her sister was right. Having her hair dyed red was a symptom of a bigger problem. Her old restlessness was back.

True, she wasn't experiencing any compulsion to pull a fire alarm, and giving away her money was no longer an option. But that didn't mean that her subconscious couldn't find some new way to commit mayhem. She had the uneasy sensation she was being drawn back to a place she thought she'd left behind.

She remembered what the counselor had told her all those years ago at Northwestern.

'As a child, you believed you could make your father love you if you did everything you were supposed to. If you got the best grades, minded your manners, followed all the rules, then he'd give you the approval every child needs. But your father was incapable of that kind of love. Eventually something inside you snapped, and you did the worst thing you could think of. Your rebellion was actually healthy. It kept you functioning.'

'That doesn't explain what I did in high school,' she'd told him. 'Bert was dead by then, and I was living with Phoebe and Dan. They both love me. And what about the shoplifting incident?'

'Maybe you needed to test Phoebe and Dan's love.'

Something odd had fluttered inside her. 'What do you mean?'

'The only way you can make certain their love is unconditional is to do something terrible and then see if they're still around for you.'

And they had been.

So why was her old problem coming back to haunt her?

She didn't want mayhem in her life anymore. She wanted to write her books, enjoy her friends, walk her dog, and play with her nieces and nephew. But she'd been feeling restless for weeks, and one look at her red hair, which really was awful, told her she might be on the verge of going off the deep end again.

Until that urge faded, she'd do the sensible thing and hide away in Door County for a week or so. After all, what possible trouble could she get into there?

Kevin Tucker had been dreaming about Red Jack Express, a quarterback delayed sneak, when something woke him up. He rolled over, groaned, and tried to figure out where he was, but the bottle of scotch he'd befriended before he'd fallen asleep made that tough. Normally adrenaline was his drug of choice, but tonight alcohol had seemed like a good alternative.

He heard the sound again, a scratching at the door, and it all came back to him. He was in Door County, Wisconsin, the Stars weren't playing this week, and Dan had slapped him with a ten-thousand-dollar fine. After he'd done that, the son of a bitch had ordered him to go up to their vacation house and stay there till he got his head together.

There wasn't a damn thing wrong with his head, but there was definitely a problem with the Calebows' high- tech security system-because somebody was trying to break in.

Chapter 2

So what if he is the hottest guy at your school? It's the way he treats you that counts. 'Is He Too Hot To Handle?' Molly Somerville for Chik

Kevin suddenly remembered that he'd been too preoccupied with his scotch to set the house's security system, A lucky break. Now he had a shot at a little entertainment.

The house was cold and dark as sin. He threw his bare feet over the edge of the couch and bumped into the coffee table. Cursing, he rubbed his shin, then hopped toward the door. What did it say about his life that tangling with a burglar would be this week's bright spot? He just hoped the son of a bitch was armed.

He dodged a chunky shape that he thought might be an armchair and stepped on something small and sharp, probably one of the Legos he'd seen scattered around. The house was big and luxurious, set deep into the Wisconsin woods, with trees on three sides and the icy waters of Lake Michigan at the rear.

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