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“But evil is so much more fun.”


Emily was hanging upside down from the pull-up bar across the foyer doorjamb when her sister walked in the front door, stifling a little scream.

“Jesus,” Sara said, hand to her chest. “You look like a vampire.”

“Vampires don’t sleep in the open daylight,” Emily said. “How do you use this thing every night? I’ve only managed one stomach crunch.”

“That’s because your idea of exercise is reading in bed until your arms hurt from holding up your Kindle,” Sara said.

Unfortunately true. She righted herself and jumped down. “But I want a stomach as flat as yours.”

“Then you need to do more than hang upside down,” Sara said. “Burn some calories.”

“Calories,” Emily said on a sigh. “The evil tiny creatures that live in my closet and sew my clothes a little tighter every night.”

Sara laughed and pulled off her sweatshirt, shedding a layer of sawdust as she did.

“Hey,” Emily said. “Did you hear anything funny when you drove up?”

“Like the sounds of my sister vampire snacking on the mailman?”

“Ha-ha,” Emily said. “No, I mean I keep hearing some odd howling. I don’t know if it’s a dog or coyotes—”

Sara dropped her sweatshirt to the couch. She wore cargo shorts, heavy-duty work boots, and a men’s wife-beater tank that showed off her tats. Her short, spiky hair was still dusted in sawdust—as was most of the rest of her. She’d come to Idaho with Emily as a show of support, the both of them putting on a show of being psyched for the wild, wild west that they’d imagined Idaho to be.

Emily was still missing Los Angeles.

Sara, not so much. She’d recently had her heart run over—and backed up on and run over again. She was open to the idea of staying if it turned out that Sunshine, Idaho had a place for a rock chick, broken-hearted lesbian who’d collected degrees like some women collected shoes and yet chose to be a carpenter instead of using any of those degrees.

Sara kicked off her badass boots and more sawdust flew everywhere, drifting slowly to the floor of their rental house.

“Meow.” This came from Q-Tip, the ancient fuzzy gray cat who’d come with the rental. She’d appeared out of the shadows on move-in day, looking deceptively sweet—until she’d bitten both Sara and Emily within the first half hour for having the audacity to try to pet her.

No one wanted to claim the old cat, and the landlord had suggested they take her to the shelter. Sara, who wasn’t crazy about cats, and bleeding from the bite, had been on board.

But Emily had looked into Q-Tip’s eyes and known the truth. Q-Tip was old, grumpy, and set in her ways. No way was anyone going to adopt her, which left only an incomprehensible future ahead of her.

Emily had refused to do it, and so they now owned a cat. Correction, they were now owned by a cat.

Sara, a forgiving soul, reached down now to pet Q-Tip hello. The cat accepted this like it was her due . . . for about three seconds. Then she bit Sara’s hand—not too hard, more like a warning—and then, head high, the feline moved a few feet off and began to clean herself.

“Queen to peasant,” Sara said, shaking off the bite as she looked at Emily. “We feed her again why?”

“Because when we don’t, she yells at us.”

“Ah, that’s right,” Sara said. “So . . . how was your first day on the job?”

“Terrific,” Emily said.


“No. Guess who my supervisor is?”

“Uh . . . a werewolf?” Sara asked. “A zombie?”


Sara blinked, looking confused. “Who?”

“My one-night stand.”

Sara stared at her then thrust both hands high in the air. “Score!” she yelled.

Q-Tip jumped about a foot, glared at Sara, and stalked off down the hall.

“No,” Emily said to her sister. “Not score. How’d you like it if your one-night stand was suddenly your supervisor?”

“My supervisor is a six foot three, three hundred and fifty pound, hairy, chunky, twice married, serial hetero male,” Sara said.

“You know what I mean.”

Sara moved to the kitchen, pulled open the fridge, and stared at the contents.

Q-Tip came running in, belly swinging to and fro. She could hear food coming from five miles away.

“Chicken or spaghetti?” Sara asked Emily. “And what did you do when you saw him?”

“Spaghetti,” Emily said. “And I made a fool of myself.” She paused and mentally groaned. “I accused him of stalking me.”

Sara gave a bark of laughter, grabbed salad makings, set them on the counter, and then went to the sink to wash her hands. She was an amazing cook, which was a good thing because Emily could burn water.

“And how did he take this turn of events?” Sara asked.

“He thinks it’s funny.”

“It is.”

“No, it’s not.” Emily sighed.

“You gonna sleep with him again?”

“No!” Emily said. “And would you focus on the real problem here? I now have to work with someone I got na**d with.”


“So, it’s unprofessional!”

Sara out and out laughed at this. “Only if you accuse him of stalking you again.”

Emily opened her mouth, but realized Sara was grinning. And it had been a long time since her sister had been happy. Since she’d dumped her model girlfriend Rayna in fact. Six long months. There’d been times Emily had despaired of ever seeing Sara happy again. “Well I guess it’s nice to see you smiling, even if it’s at my expense.”

Sara shrugged. “Like you always say, life sucks and then you move on.”

Did she say that? Had she really taught her sister that? “No,” she said slowly. “Life doesn’t suck.”

“Uh-huh,” Sara said. “Let me see your calendar.”

Emily strode to her purse and pulled out her phone. “Here. Why?”

Sara accessed The Plan.

“Hey,” Emily said. “That’s just for me—”

“Right here.” Sara had gone back to the day Emily had found out where her internship was going to be. All that was typed in the square was “life sucks.”

“Okay,” Emily said. “But that was a really bad day. Sara, life doesn’t suck.”

“Then why does today’s page say: three hundred sixty-four days left until—”

Emily made a grab for the phone, but Sara was quicker. And taller. Sara held it out of reach. “—until I’m back in L.A.,” she continued reading, “at a great job and can reconnect with John.” She frowned. “John?”

“John Number Two.” She didn’t talk about John Number One, the cheating, lying, rat-fink bastard. At Sara’s blank look, she added, “My college study partner.”

“Yeah, but that was for what, two minutes?”

“A whole semester,” Emily said defensively. John had taken her out for pizza in exchange for help in their psych class. He’d been handsome and smart, and he’d seemed genuinely interested in her. Plus he’d always paid for her meals, a huge bonus since she’d been on a budget so tight anything other than ramen had been a treat.

After he’d gone to law school and she’d gone to vet school, they’d lost contact. But it could still happen.


Okay it was highly unlikely, even she knew that she used the abstract idea of getting together with John as a way to give herself security, and something to look forward to on her plan.

After a very complicated, not to mention emotionally draining, last few years, she wasn’t up for the complication.

In any case, Sara didn’t look impressed. “Wasn’t he the guy who had his life all compartmentalized out? In a planner?”

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Uh-huh,” Sara said.

She could do worse. John was driven, smart, kind, and yeah, he liked a good plan as much as she did. “He’s a good guy,” she said.

“Does he know that you tell people you’re planning on putting a ball and chain on him?”

Emily bit her lip. “I don’t tell people that.”

Sara rolled her eyes and handed back the phone. “And some say I’m the oddball sister.”

Whatever. It was a good, solid plan, and that was important to Emily. It gave her security, which she’d lacked for some time now. It gave her a road map to follow, and she wasn’t going to take any detours. She’d had enough detours to last a lifetime. The plan was in motion, period. And it did not include having a hot affair with a hot vet. She shoved her phone back in her purse. “I don’t mock your dreams.”

“My dreams are to get laid by the weekend,” she said. “What’s to mock?” She paused. “Em, maybe you should just keep things simple, you know? Simple works. No expectations, no worries. No plan. Just wing it for a change.”

Sara had always just “winged it.” It was the motto of her entire family, just so accepting of whatever came their way. Emily sighed. “I can’t operate like that, I can’t be like you and Dad.”

“There’s nothing wrong with how we operate,” Sara said. “And Dad’s doing good, Em. He’s never going to stop grieving but he knows Mom had the exact life she wanted. She died content.”

Emily didn’t buy this. Refused to buy this. When their mom had gotten sicker, Sara had been away gathering one of her three degrees. She’d been spared seeing the illness grip their mom. She hadn’t had to help her out of bed, get her dressed, fed . . . Emily knew her sister meant well, her heart was in the right place, but like their dad, she had no clue.

None at all.


Wyatt got up before dawn. Normally this wasn’t a problem, but he’d stayed up late the night before working on the roof over the back patio, number three on Zoe’s to-do list.

Number one was supposed to be the leaky kitchen sink, and number two a misfiring smoke alarm, but the patio roof had been relegated to numero uno when it had collapsed after dinner.

Using a halogen light he’d worked late into the night. He still wasn’t finished, but he’d gotten the framing fixed, so at the very least no one was going to die if they walked through the patio. He considered that a success.

Ass dragging even before his day got started, he showered—which involved trying to fit into a bathroom filled with his sisters’ lingerie hanging on every surface to dry—dressed, put on coffee for Zoe—a necessity as it turned her from evil witch to somewhat human—started the water for Darcy’s oatmeal, and then made his way back down the hallway. He knocked on Zoe’s door, shoved it open, and flipped on her light.

“You are such an asshole!” she yelled at him.

Yep. “Coffee’s on,” he said, ducking out of the way of the pillow she sent sailing in his direction. He moved to the next bedroom. Wash and repeat with the knock, opening the door, and flipping on the light.

But Darcy’s bed was empty.

“Shit,” he said, knowing this meant that once again, she’d been unable to sleep.

“What?” Zoe called from her bedroom, still sounding morning rough. “What’s wrong?”

“Wild Girl’s gone,” he said. “Again.”

Zoe’s sigh said it all. She appeared in the hallway in her pj’s with crazy bed hair. “It’s my turn to track her down,” she said. “You get to work.”

“Text me when you’ve got a status,” he said, feeling more than a little grim as headed to work. Darcy was a lifelong problem that neither he nor Zoe had yet figured out how to handle. She was smart, and ever since her car accident, lost. So damn lost.

Maybe if either of their parents had given her the time of day instead of being baffled by their own offspring, but they’d been—and still were—too busy saving the world. What he did know was that he and Zoe were all Darcy had, and they were stuck with one another, for better or worse. And hell if Darcy was going to go off the deep end on his watch.

He stopped in town for a donut and coffee, breakfast of champions, and to his utter shock, found Darcy’s beat-up Toyota in the lot.

But when he didn’t find her in the bakery, he stepped outside again. To the right of the bakery was a preschool. No way in hell was Darcy in there, though at the moment she had the right mental capacity for the age level.

To his left was the old general store. That had been turned into a bookstore, and then, most recently, a marijuana dispensary. Fuck. He strode inside and there she was at the counter, talking to a guy in a medical lab coat over a Hawaiian print shirt and board shorts slipping off his scrawny ass. His hair was in a do-rag and he wore round, wire-rimmed sunglasses with pale purple lens.

“All you need is a card, man,” he was saying to Darcy. “And then I can get you—”

“Oh, hell no,” Wyatt said.

Darcy turned, eyed her brother, and sighed.

He grabbed her walker in one hand and lifted her in the other, carrying her out of the store.

“Seriously?” she asked when he’d set her down on the sidewalk and shoved her walker at her. She glared up at him, steam coming out of the top of her head.

“Seriously,” he said at a much lower decibel than she. “You’re on the mend, Zoe. Don’t f**k it up now.”