Sometimes we must revisit the past to embrace our future.
Twenty-four years ago, the murder of a Chicago police officer changed Joey DeLuca’s life. He lost his best friend and first love, Meghan McConnell, when her mother whisked her out of town. Now, on the eve of another officer’s death, Meghan is back and about to step into his life again.
There is very little gray in Joey’s line of work as a Lt. Detective–it is either black or white, right or wrong. But Meghan’s insistence on finding answers to her father’s murder threatens those beliefs and throws his marriage to CPD Detective Andi, his career, and the entire DeLuca family in jeopardy when new revelations come to light.
Can Joey save his marriage, solve the murder, and keep his family together all at the same time?
The third book in the DeLuca Family Series, TRUE blue can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.
…Meghan McConnell… Joey picked her out the moment he walked into the restaurant, even after all these years.
On the drive over, he’d thought about what she might look like, half-hoped she’d be plain and unattractive by now, her vivacious features whittled down with time. He’d heard she’d married. He hadn’t heard if she was divorced. Okay, he didn’t really want her to look like a dog, but it would sure help these crazy adolescent stirrings that were firing inside him.
Well, so much for that idea. This all-grown-up Meghan was far from a dog. Sitting at a table facing the entryway, she’d obviously been watching for him. Her long blond hair, held away from her face with a blue headband, flowed in waves over her shoulders and down her back. Her facial features had filled out nicely, making more incredible those wide-set eyes, the high cheekbones, and those saucy lips. Her smile brightened the moment she saw him. As he approached her, she stood, and he saw that the sometimes-awkward teen form had blossomed into that of a stunning, confident woman. She was tall, willowy, just as he had imagined over the years that she might be. She wore light blue summer slacks that matched the headband and a white blouse, open at the neckline and belted at the waist. The attire was simple, uncomplicated, and accentuated her long torso. Substitute a pair of leather riding boots for the sandals, and he could easily imagine her having just shimmied down from one of those horses she’d always said she wanted back when they were kids.
Moving closer, he saw the faint lines in her brow, the soft smudges of fatigue under her blue eyes. He had a feeling someone else had gotten very little sleep last night.
“Hi, Joey,” she said when he reached her table.
There was an awkward moment. What do they do? Shake hands? Hug?
“You look good, Meghan.”
She smiled. “You, too.”
Fortunately, the waitress chose that moment to interrupt them.
“Can I get you something to drink?” she asked Joey.
“Ah, yes, no…oh, what the heck. A brandy, neat. Meghan?”
She glanced down at her drink already on the table. “I’m just having iced tea.”
They smiled awkwardly. The waitress left, and Meghan sat down. Joey followed suit.
“Arizona agrees with you,” he said.
She gave a nervous laugh. “Thanks. It does. I have a place out in the desert north of Tucson, near a little town named Marana. Actually, it’s a small ranch, at the base of the mountain. It’s beautiful there. I board horses.”
He nodded, smiled. “Go figure. It sounds nice.”
“Yes, it is. You should come out there some time,” she added with a little twinkle of a tease in her eye. Yes, Meghan always was a bit of a tease.
He laughed. “Yeah.”
“I’m kidding,” she said quickly. “Not that you and your wife wouldn’t be welcome to visit. I know you’re married. You’ve got a little boy now too?”
“How do you know…? Oh, right. You talked to my mother.”
“Oh, yes, she was pretty clear on that score. She was even a little hesitant to give me your number, until I assured her I just wanted to say ‘Hi’ to an old friend. What could she say to that?”
“I can imagine.”
The waitress came with Joey’s drink. He took a moment to look over the menu. He placed his order and then turned to Meghan. “You?”
“I’m good. I had a late lunch.”
After the waitress left, she said, “So, tell me about the rest of the family.”
It was clear she didn’t want to approach the reason why she’d brought him here yet. That was fine; he could wait. While they waited for his food to come, he attempted to fill her in on what the brothers and sisters had been up to, but twenty-four years was a lot of territory to cover. Finally, he ceased trying and steered the conversation to her.
“How about you? How is your mother?”
She’d been listening intently, drinking in his cliff-noted version of his family like a thirsty traveler. It wasn’t surprising—the McConnells and the DeLucas were practically inseparable when they were young. But at his question about her mother, a shadow passed over those soft blue eyes.
“She passed away three months ago.”
“It’s okay. She was very sick—with cancer. She’d been fighting it for years. In some ways, it was a blessing.”
“But she was much too young.”
“Yes, you’re right. She was.”
The waitress delivered his order—smoked salmon with broccoli and an order of sweet potato fries. A baked potato might have been better for him, but he had a taste for the fries. He took one and then looked up at Meghan again. She was eyeing his fries.
He smiled. Some things never changed. “Go ahead; take one. And then you can fill me in on why you really wanted to meet me. What is it, exactly, that you want my help with?”
She reached out and took a fry. “Mmm. That’s good.” She munched on her first bite.
With her second bite, though, she turned her head and did a quick scan on the room. He got the distinct impression that she was trying to figure out if anyone was paying attention to them or not.
Finally, with her gaze back on him, she said, “You’re right, Joey. I’m not here for a social visit. I came looking for answers to my father’s murder.”
Just like that? Crazy as it was, he wasn’t completely surprised.
Copyright © 2014 by Susan Rae
Susan Rae grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Columbia College, Missouri with an emphasis in creative writing. She penned her first melodrama in fifth grade for a Girl Scout Drama badge. Complete with hero, heroine, and dastardly villain, it wasn’t so different, really, than the romantic suspense she writes now.
“I love writing romantic suspense because it allows me to combine a sexy, passionate love story with a gritty suspense tale—in my opinion, the best of both worlds. It also allows me to express my appreciation for the outdoors in the settings that I recreate on the page.”
Freefall, Susan’s second novel, takes place in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine Forest and beautiful Door County. ICE blue returns to the busy streets of Chicago and the shores of Lake Michigan to continue the story of the DeLuca family which began in her award winning first novel, heartbeats. In TRUE Blue, the third book in the DeLuca Family series, Susan was thrilled when it became apparent that her characters must take a trip to Montana’s majestic Glacier National Park.
When she is not sketching characters, you might find Susan on the golf course working on her handicap, or traveling around the country seeking out new settings for her novels with her husband and empty nest puppies, Ginger and Nikute. To read more about Susan’s novels and the writing life, please visit her website/blog at www.susanrae.com
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