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She stepped out from behind the pillar, feeling foolish for allowing Jayne’s problems to get in her head. I should know better. I do know better!

The man chose that moment to exit the grocery store, two cloth bags of groceries in his hands.

Ava scowled and stepped back behind the pillar. He’d bought more groceries and brought his own bags?

Confused, she watched him walk through the parking lot. He didn’t search the parking lot as if looking for her. He walked straight to his car, a small convertible Mercedes that she didn’t understand why an Oregonian would own, due to the weather. The license plate was out of her view. She stepped out again, trying to position herself to catch a glimpse of the plate.

He backed out of the spot and immediately turned, effectively keeping his plate from her view. She hustled into the lot, no longer caring if he saw her or not. She was determined to find out who was following her. His car sped to the road and turned, vanishing before she could see the plate. She couldn’t confirm it was an Oregon plate.

“Damn.” She stood in the parking lot clutching her oil and crackers. Should I go ask to see their camera footage? She knew she could show her badge and probably get plenty of cooperation. But she had pride in her ethics.

And she’d like to keep her job.

Was he a skip tracer? The Mercedes had looked new. She didn’t know how much money people in that profession made, but she bet the really good ones were in high demand. Or was his source of income from something dirtier? More dangerous?

She unlocked her car, mentally cursing her twin. For two months she’d been able to keep Jayne mostly out of her thoughts. She’d known exactly where Jayne was and trusted that her therapists would keep her safe and out of trouble. Now she’d taken over Ava’s focus without lifting a finger.

What would Dr. Griffen say? Ava fought the urge to call the kind therapist who’d helped her ease Jayne’s control of her brain. She took a few deep breaths and tried to look at the situation from a distance. She’d tell me to move on. Let it roll off my back.

But she would bring it up to Mason. If someone had spied on their home, he needed to know.

Mason stared at the ground in their backyard. It looked the same as all the other barkdust in the yard to him. Messy. Splintery. Brown.

“It appears to you that someone stood here?” he asked.

Beside him Ava put her hands on her hips. “I thought it did. I’m not so sure now.” She looked at Bingo, who sat next to her, his tail slashing through the grass. He gave a doggy smile, unconcerned about their discussion.

“Show me exactly where Bingo sniffed,” Mason directed. Ava walked along the back of their yard, pointing and explaining what Bingo had done. Mason agreed it was unusual behavior for the dog. Usually he picked the closest patch of grass when he was let out of the house. But he did have a fascination for squirrels, and Mason could understand the dog’s behavior if he’d felt his territory had been trespassed on by a gray, furry rodent.

Mason didn’t know what to think. Ava’s story about the man at the grocery store bothered him. She wasn’t the type to get overly concerned about nothing. She had good instincts. Even though she’d proved she was extremely capable of taking care of herself, he worried for her safety. He couldn’t help it.

She was his other half.

Any hint of a threat to her filled him with concern.

“The security system is good,” he said. “Bingo is an extra layer of protection. If someone comes remotely close to the house, the dog lets us know.” He looked over at her as they both stood in the darkening yard. She was listening, hanging on his every word, and he could see she was worried.

He knew she wasn’t worried for her safety; she was worried about the drama in their lives.

Mason was a no-drama person. Ava was, too. But her twin had always projected her excess drama into their lives, and Ava hated it.

“She’s locked away and it still hasn’t stopped,” muttered Ava. “I thought it was over.”

“We don’t know this is about her,” Mason pointed out.

“That man asked about her. Twice,” said Ava. “He wants to find her, and he’s going to use us to do it. I don’t know if he’s dangerous.” She raised her arms in the air, tipping her head back. “Am I wasting brain power worrying about it? I feel like I’ve suddenly dropped four levels in my recovery.” She lowered her arms, meeting his gaze. “It wasn’t just a physical healing.”

“I know.” He did know. All too well. “Let’s call her therapist right now and see if anyone’s reached out to her or the recovery center looking for your sister.”

Relief flowed over her face. Ava simply needed someone to share the burden of Jayne. They had agreed she’d tell Mason when she needed help; he wanted to help, but she was horrible about asking. He had to push and prod his way into her problems, and it went against his personal rule to mind his own business.

They were both stubborn and independent people.

They turned back to the house and he caught her hand, holding it as they walked. The sky had darkened with low gray clouds and the backyard was quiet and calm. He looked up at the back of the home they’d bought together. A few strings of outdoor lights dangled over the deck, adding a warm, homey glow. Pride and contentment washed over him. He’d never known this was what he wanted. He’d assumed he’d retire and move to a warm beach and become one of those unshaven guys who read books and sit at a bar for companionship all day.