Home > The Last Goodnight (Blood Ties #1)

The Last Goodnight (Blood Ties #1)
Author: Kat Martin




KADE LOGAN STOOD ON THE BANK, WATCHING THE SHERIFF AND his deputies haul the mud-covered vehicle out of the lake. The crane groaned as the auto tilted upward, the rear end lifting into the air, the front wheels dragging across the spongy earth. Brackish lake water poured out through the open windows, along with weeds and silt. Even a few silver fish had made the car their home.

For eight long years, Kade had been haunted by the mystery of what had happened to the dark green Subaru Forester that had belonged to his dead wife.

Oh, he knew where Heather was. In a grave in the old hillside cemetery in Coffee Springs, the small town closest to the ranch. Her body had been found in a shallow depression up in the hills at the base of the mountains outside Denver.

Heather had been beaten and strangled. Any signs of rape had faded as her body decayed, but as beautiful as she was, Kade was sure sex had been involved.

Her killer had never been caught.

“You okay?” Sam Bridger, Kade’s best friend, stood beside him, a tall blond man Kade had known for years. Kade had been too lost in thought to hear him approach.

“She’s been dead eight years, Sam. So yeah, I’m okay.” But the rage he felt had never lessened. It should have. At the time of her death, their marriage was already on the rocks. The second time Kade had caught Heather cheating, he had filed for divorce.

“Maybe they’ll find something in the car that’ll give them a reason to reopen the case,” Sam said.

“Maybe.” Kade hoped so. He wanted Heather’s killer to be found and punished. No matter how things had turned out between them, he owed her that much.

His gaze went back to the car being lifted onto the flatbed of a diesel truck with an Eagle County Sheriff’s emblem on the side. The truck pulled away from the edge of the lake, tires churning through mud made worse by last night’s rain. The motor groaned as the vehicle slogged along the little-used, rutted lane to the asphalt road leading toward Eagle, the county seat.

The last time Kade had seen the dark green SUV was the night Heather had left him. That night, she had packed her things, taken the car, and driven away without a backward glance. Kade had never seen her again.

At the time, like half the residents of Coffee Springs, he’d believed Heather had run off with one of the men she’d met in the town’s only saloon, or maybe a guy in Vail, the ski area frequented by the rich and famous only an hour’s drive away, where Heather sometimes went to ski with her girlfriends.

Kade had believed it too. For a while. Then, two years later, a couple of hikers had found a body in a shallow grave, the dirt washed away by a recent storm. The victim, a female, turned out to be Heather Logan, a shock that had sent Kade into a tailspin.

By then, he’d accepted the likelihood that Heather had been a victim of foul play. She hadn’t left with some big spender from Vail and simply started a new life, as she had threatened to do. She had been murdered.

Since then, Kade had been tormented by guilt. He lived each day with a terrible sense of failure that he had let Heather down. At the very least, he should have found the man responsible for her death.

And made the bastard pay.

“I’ve seen enough,” Kade said. “I’m heading back to the ranch.”

“That’s it?” Sam asked, a blond eyebrow edging up. Sam and Kade had gone to school together, worked side by side during the summers when they were kids. Sam knew Kade well enough to know it was far from over.

Kade thought of Heather and felt the old rage burn through him. “Over? Not by a long shot.” He started striding away, the bottom of his brown, oiled-canvas duster kicking up behind the heels of his muddy cowboy boots.

“What are you going to do?” Sam asked, falling in beside him, matching him stride for stride.

“First, I want to see what the forensic experts find in the car. Then I’m heading into Denver.” A friend in the city owned a company called Nighthawk Security. Kade’s father had known Marcus Delaney. The current owner, a war hero, was his son. Kade trusted Conner Delaney to recommend a competent investigator.

Though Kade had tried that before.

A month after Heather had disappeared, when she hadn’t made contact with any of her friends, he’d begun to worry that she hadn’t just run off with a man, as everyone believed. He’d filed a missing-persons report with the police, but they’d never found any trace of her.

After her body was discovered and her disappearance became a homicide investigation, Kade had hired a retired police detective, but the case was cold by then. He began to accept that if the cops and his private investigator couldn’t find the man who had murdered her, maybe it was time to let go.

Still, the rage inside him remained. A cold fury that wouldn’t leave him till the day he found the man responsible for his wife’s death.

And dispensed the justice the killer deserved.




ELEANOR BOWMAN SAT AT AN OAK DESK NEAR THE FRONT DOOR OF the office. The building that housed Nighthawk Security, a two-story brick structure on Acoma Street, had recently been remodeled. The interior was done in pleasant tones, with comfortable brown-leather sofas in the waiting area, a conference room, and an employee lounge in the back.

Photos of local wildlife hung on the walls—elk, deer, a big black bear—along with autographed photos of celebrities the company had done business with at one time or another. The faces of Tom Selleck, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, and Kevin Costner looked down from sturdy oak frames.

Aside from providing private investigation services, Nighthawk offered a top-rate security team that specialized in personal and business protection. Conner Delaney, the man who owned the company, was former military, tall, dark-haired, and just flat hot.

Though most of the guys on the security team also held PI licenses, Ellie was one of only four private investigators and, along with Conn’s sister, Skye, the only other woman who actually worked out of the office. They were all independent contractors, and though there was room for additional personnel, Conner was very selective. Only the best got a job at Nighthawk.

Ellie was fully licensed, owned a Glock 19 semiauto and a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver. But she wasn’t a former police detective like Skye or an army ranger like Trace Elliott, Conn’s right-hand man. Her specialty was undercover work, and she was good at it. Embezzlement, larceny, fraud—Ellie went in covertly and ferreted out the guilty parties, information that went to the person who had hired her, who decided what course of action to take.

She rarely came into the office. Anonymity was an important part of her work. But Conn believed she’d be the right person for the job he had in mind.

Since she’d just finished a case, she was looking for something to do. She hoped for something interesting, but work was work. She didn’t want her savings account to dwindle.

She looked up at a noise at the front of the office. The glass door swung open, and a tall, broad-shouldered man wearing a dark brown Stetson walked in. People thought of Denver as a western town, but it had been years since Ellie had seen a guy in a cowboy hat who looked like it belonged on him.

Dressed in crisp, dark blue jeans that fit snuggly over a pair of narrow hips, brown lizard-skin boots, and a white shirt with pearl snaps on the front, the man removed his Stetson, revealing neatly trimmed, golden-brown hair, and strode toward the desk closest to the door, which happened to be hers.

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