Twirled Bond (Holly Woods Files #5) - Emma Hart

If I thought Holly Woods was crazy before, I was wrong.

Devin is finally married. Nonna’s on the wedding warpath. Drake might be getting ideas. His mom just dropped a bombshell, and Bek is caught between a hot as hell FBI agent and my super-sweet little brother.

And I still don’t have the shoe closet Drake promised me when he moved in six months ago.

At least there’s one positive: the old, abandoned Holly Woods Theater is about to reopen, and there’s nothing like a theater opening to bring people together... And make crazy grandmothers forget proposal agendas.

Until that theater comes with a dead body. A very, very, very dead body.

Chaos is coming to town.

Everything I’ve ever known about Holly Woods might just be about to change.

(TWIRLED BOND is book five of the Holly Woods Files series and the series must be read in order.)

1999

Dear Lucas,

This won’t be like the others. I’m sorry, but I need to tell someone. I wish it didn’t have to be you. I’m afraid you’ll hate me. Even if you do, will you keep reading, please? I’m sorry... I’m so sorry...

I’m so scared, L. I’m not perfect like you think. I’m so ashamed.

Her tear drips onto the page, and she furiously swipes at her cheek to avoid any more splotches. She doesn’t want him to know she’s crying. Writing the letter is bad enough.

I’m so dirty. All the time. I can’t get clean. Hates me. Won’t stop

Loud bangs draw her out of the letter mid-sentence. Her heart thunders against her chest, the unexpected thumping of a fist against the bedroom door sparking fear through her veins. Her stomach rolls as she glances back across her room, unable to deny the panic that’s forming.

Oh god, oh god. No. Please, no.

She repeats it like a mantra, like a prayer, begging anyone who’s listening to hear her and grant her this wish.

Not now. Not just as she’s finally gathered the courage to be honest. How cruel.

“Baby girl,” the voice coos softly.

She knows that it’s supposed to calm, but it doesn’t. Nothing about the voice calms her now.

“Why’s your door locked?”

“I-I took a shower.” She curses herself for having stuttered. Stupid idiot! At least it isn’t a lie—her braided hair is still damp. “I didn’t want the boys to come in. I forgot to unlock it. Two seconds. I’m just in the middle of an essay.”

“It can wait.”

“I need to finish my sentence.” Please wait. Please buy it. “It’s really important.”

“Sixty seconds, baby girl, or I’m breaking the door down.”

“I’ll be done.” Her voice cracks when she finishes, but she swallows hard as she turns back to her letter.

touching me.

She takes a deep breath as her pen moves down a line on the paper.

Won’t stop, L. I’m scared. I’m so scared. I wish you could help me. I guess you can. Help me. Please. I’m dead if anyone finds out. I know it. Nobody will believe me except you. I need you to save me.

Love.

Xoxo

She glances at the clock. Thirty seconds left. The ticking echoes through the room as she hastily folds the letter and inserts it into one of the crisp, white envelopes with pink piping she keeps just for her Nebraskan confidante. There’s no time to write his address and seal it, so she grabs his last letter, leaps across the room, and puts them in the black box. Her letter goes to the bottom, hidden, and she locks the box before pushing it into the hollow base of her bed.

A quick staple to the fabric hides the cut she made eight months ago, and she just has time to hide the key before another knock sounds at the door.

“Baby girl.”

The voice is anything but calm. Chilling. Terrifying. Threatening. Not calm.

“I’m coming!” She shoves her bed back against the wall and wipes her hand down her face.

She resigns herself to her fate.

She should have known better than to believe she’d be left alone tonight.

It’s Friday.

It’s always Friday.

Present Day

“Oh. My. God.”

“What?” Drake looks up from the file he’s aimlessly flipping through.

“Concealed carry yoga pants.” I shove my phone screen in his face. “Yoga pants, Drake! With a home for Betty!”

His bright-blue gaze lands on me, and he lets go of a heavy sigh. “Sweetheart, I’ve told you. Nobody is gonna take you seriously if you keep calling your gun ‘Betty.’”

I just showed him yoga pants that have a space for my gun. Does he not see the brilliance of this?

“Besides,” he says, looking back down at his file. He licks his fingers