Is an independent cop the best family man?
Niall MacLachlan's one priority is the law. He fought his way from the wrong side of the tracks to earn his badge and won't jeopardize it for anything. After all, trusting his family nearly cost him everything as a kid. So, no. This loner has no desire for a wife and children to call his own.
So why is his entirely too attractive landlady, Rowan Staley, slipping past all his defenses?
She and her young family--complete with noisy dog--are everything Niall thinks he doesn't want. But he can't keep his distance when she turns to him for protection from a neighborhood threat. And in the end, letting her go might be impossible.
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Maybe if I went back to bed and started over.
Detective Niall MacLachlan looked down at the dead body sprawled on the kitchen floor and knew that no do-over was possible.
The body was not a murder victim. It was the corporeal shell of his landlady.
He attempted no resuscitation. He knew dead when he saw dead. Rigor mortis had set in. The old lady must have gotten up during the night. Niall knew she hadn't been sleeping well. Heartburn, she'd told him, but she kept nitroglycerin at hand.
This wasn't what you'd call a tragedy. Enid Cooper had turned eighty-eight in April. She'd lost two inches in height from crumbling bones and had confessed to Niall that she hurt all the time. Her worst fear had been ending up in a nursing home.
Maybe, he thought, her last emotion had been relief. He'd like to think so.
She had family who would mourn, he guessed. He didn't know them, had been careful to avoid any introductions, but he'd seen a young woman with two little kids come and go. She'd mowed the lawn this spring and summer. Niall had kept his distance, but had paused a couple of times to admire her. She was a small, curvy package with fabulous legs. She was also, however, a mother and likely a wife. He suspected she would be Enid's heir, too.
Which made Enid's decision to kick the bucket very bad news for him. He was a selfish son of a bitch to be thinking about himself right now, but he had time to kill while he waited for the appropriate authority to take over. Beyond tugging down the hem of Enid's nightgown so that her birdlike, liver-spotted legs were decently covered, there wasn't anything he could do for her.
He'd signed a new one-year lease not six weeks ago. This would be his second year living in the tiny cottage tucked on the back of the large lot, behind Enid's 1940sera bungalow. Living here had worked out fine for him. Enid ignored him and didn't mind that he ignored her. She was deaf as a post and didn't like to be bothered with her hearing aid, which she said whined. Niall played the bagpipe. Your average landlord or landlady did not consider him an ideal tenant. Enid and he were a match made in heaven. He didn't like to think what was going to happen now.
A uniformed officer arrived and Niall explained that he'd come to check on Enid because the kitchen light wasn't on. This time of the morning, she would have long since had breakfast and tea. Enid tended to linger over her tea. He'd knocked on the back door, gotten no response and felt enough alarm he'd gone back to his cottage to get the key she had given him in case of emergency.
"I'd hate to die and not be found for so long I shrivelled up like a mummy," she'd told him. "I don't much like that idea. So if you don't see me around, feel free to check."
He could do that. She'd asked little enough of him.
Rental payment once a month--which he deposited directly into her bank account as getting out was hard for her--and the understanding that he'd keep an eye on her from a distance.
Enid had been dead for a few hours, but the mortician would get his hands on her before she began serious decomposition. Niall hadn't told her that in the incessantly damp climate of the Pacific Northwest, corpses didn't dry up leatherlike. He didn't tell her that what did happen to them was a whole lot more unpleasant than mummification.
He hoped that if she was opposed to being embalmed she'd have discussed it with her family.
It was with relief that he escaped after a silent goodbye.
As luck would have it, the first person he saw when he arrived at the public safety building that housed the...
From Father to Son
By: Janice Kay Johnson