Say You're Sorry

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Say You’re Sorry (Morgan Dane Book 1) 

In a new series from Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh, former prosecutor Morgan Dane faces the most personal—and deadly—case of her lifetime.

After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she’s finally found peace and a promising career opportunity—until her babysitter is killed and her neighbor asks her to defend his son, Nick, who stands accused of the murder.

Tessa was the ultimate girl next door, and the community is outraged by her death. But Morgan has known Nick for years and can’t believe he’s guilty, despite the damning evidence stacked against him. She asks her friend Lance Kruger, an ex-cop turned private eye, for help. Taking on the town, the police, and a zealous DA, Morgan and Lance plunge into the investigation, determined to find the real killer. But as they uncover secrets that rock the community, they become targets for the madman hiding in plain sight.

Chapter One

 Darkness. Tessa had been afraid of it most of her life. For
as long as she could remember, she’d gone to bed dreading nightfall, looking
under the bed, double-checking her nightlight. As if a lightbulb the size of a
lit match could possibly banish her nightmares. But tonight, she prayed for the
blackest of nights. For the moon to stay hidden behind the shifting clouds. For
the shadows to make her invisible.

The darkness had changed sides. Head spinning, lungs
screaming, she ran into its embrace. What had once been her greatest fear could
now be her savior. Her miracle. That’s what it was going to take to keep her
alive until the sun rose. “Tesssssa.” The voice floated over the forest. “You
can’t get away.” Where is he?


Evergreen boughs grabbed at her arms and scratched her face
as she plunged through the forest like a panicked deer. Her heart beat with the
frantic staccato of a prey animal. She slowed, her body protesting the abuse of
little-used muscles. She passed the scorched carcass of a burned tree. Its
blackened branches pointed upward like a charred hand reaching for the sky. She
ducked behind the shelter of a towering oak. Bark scraped her back as she
pressed against the trunk and listened.

Where did he go? A mosquito buzzed around her face. To her
right, she could hear the sounds of the forest that surrounded Scarlet Lake.
The stillness of the night sharpened her senses. Frogs croaked. Crickets
chirped. An animal, small and light, scurried through the underbrush nearby.
The air was thick with the scents of pine, lake water, and fear. Not for the
first time, she wished she could shrink and disappear into a rabbit hole. Hoot!
An owl landed on an overhead branch. Tessa startled, a gasp slipping from her
lips. She covered her open mouth with a hand. Liquid dripped over her fingers,
and when she lowered her hand, it came away wet with tears—and blood. She
touched the corner of her mouth, where his fist had split her lip. Other parts
of her face and body ached from what he’d done in the clearing before she’d
managed to land a kick to his groin. Then he’d dropped her, and she’d run.

The owl took flight, slow flaps of its wings sending it
soaring through a break in the canopy. The clouds parted, and moonlight shone
through the opening. For a few seconds, the raptor was silhouetted against the
inky sky. And then it was gone. Sliding down the tree trunk, she sat on her
heels and huddled. Despite the coolness of the September night, her lungs
burned as if she’d inhaled gas and swallowed a flame. She panted; the sound
echoed in her ears and seemed loud enough to carry a mile through the trees.
Quiet! He was going to hear. She was out of shape, and her mad sprint had taxed
her lungs. She hadn’t gotten far. He had to be close. “Tesssssa.” The drumming
of her heartbeat muffled his voice. She couldn’t tell which direction it was
coming from.


She pressed her lips together, but her lungs demanded more
air. Red rimmed her vision as dizziness enveloped her. Opening her mouth, she
kept her breaths shallow, hoping, praying her ragged gasps weren’t as loud as
they sounded echoing in her own ears. Minutes passed. Nothing happened. Maybe
he’d gone in the other direction. Her breathing eased. Her legs began to
tremble from the cramped position. She’d partied in the clearing countless
times. But everything looked the same in the dark. She’d lost track of her
location. She glanced around the trunk. Twenty feet ahead, moonlight cast a
trail in silvery shadows. Was that the path that led to the main road? Beyond
the narrow break in the foliage, the trees closed in, and darkness smothered
the forest. Sweat ran down her spine and pooled at her lower back, soaking the
waistband of her jeans. She squinted. What choice did she have? She couldn’t
stay here long. He’d catch up with her. He’d kill her. But in order to run,
she’d have to come out from behind the tree……..

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Melinda Leigh