Home > The Shifter Romances The Writer (Nocturne Falls #6)(12)

The Shifter Romances The Writer (Nocturne Falls #6)(12)
Author: Kristen Painter

She laughed softly and opened her eyes. Time to get the window open and—she stared into his backyard.

There was no way she was seeing what she was seeing. A panther. A big, black, freaking panther.

She rolled away to lie flat on her back on the mattress and stare up at the pitched roof. Where on earth could that have come from? Then it occurred to her that the panther might not be real. This was Georgia. Not…wherever panthers lived.

She’d seen a shadow, that was all. And the stress of moving and being behind on her book and Thomas was making her see things. She took a breath. That’s all it was. Just a weird shadow. Or a very large housecat. One of those things. Totally explainable.

She rolled back to the window.

There was no panther in the backyard. Just Diego. Shirtless and stretching. She frowned. He was hot. Too bad he was also so full of himself.

Okay, so she was seeing things. It happened. Never to her, but stress made all sorts of weird things happen to the body. That had to be the reason. Stress. Because she didn’t want to think that her mother’s history was repeating itself in her. No, it was this divorce. It was giving her the kind of stress that made her want to drown in chocolate.

Which reminded her, she really needed to go by Delaney’s shop. She added that to her list of errands for the day, then blew out a long sigh and went back to writing.

Two hours later, her phone rang.


“Hey,” Undrea said. “Your tank is in.”

Roxy sat up a little straighter. “Water and everything?”

“Yep. We bring the salt water with us. It still has to condition for a few days, then I’ll be back with fish. But come take a look. You can get a pretty good idea of how amazing it’s going to be.”

“I’m on my way.” Roxy hung up, closed her laptop, stuck her phone back under her bra strap and headed into the house. She left the phone and her laptop on the kitchen counter before going into the office.

She found Undrea in there, standing in front of the new tank and smiling like she was unveiling a masterpiece.

“Oh, wow.” The tank spanned the length of the rear wall and had been designed to look like a built-in. The water was cloudy with unsettled sand, but it was still beautiful. The coral inserts were bright and colorful, and Roxy could definitely imagine how gorgeous it would be with fish. “I love it. So much.”

Smiling, Undrea lifted the remote in her hand and clicked a button. The lights shining into the tank changed to blue. “That’s the moonlight setting.”

Roxy squeezed her hands together. “I should have more words to say, but it’s kind of left me speechless. I’m so happy right now, you can’t imagine.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” Undrea switched the lights back to daytime and set the remote on Roxy’s desk. “The timer’s set to cycle the lights as needed. I use live sand and rock that’s cured ahead of time at my shop, so everything’s basically ready to go, but I like to run the tanks empty for at least twenty-four hours, then check the salinity and adjust as needed.”

“Do I need to do anything?”

“Nope. I’ll be back tomorrow morning to test the water and possibly add some wrasses.” Undrea picked up her clipboard. “Just sign and date this first invoice and I’ll be out of your hair.”

“All right.” Roxy leaned in to scribble her name. Undrea’s perfume smelled like fresh salt air. Roxy smiled. Pretty appropriate for someone in her line of work. She glanced up.

And saw gills behind Undrea’s ear.

Roxy blinked and focused on the paper in front of her. She added the date. Not gills. A scar. She tried to look again, but Undrea had moved away.

The woman tore off a copy for Roxy and put it on her desk. “We’re good to go.”

Roxy nodded, her mind swirling. “Okay. Thank you so much.”

“See you tomorrow.”

Roxy walked Undrea to the door, then went back into her office and sat in her desk chair. It was almost funny that life with Thomas had been so awful that the grueling process of divorcing him was now giving her hallucinations. She closed her eyes, then remembered the tank.

She swiveled her chair around and stared into it, imagining fish gliding around in their quiet, perfect little world. She exhaled and already her stress levels felt lower.

She sat there for a while, just thinking. Had she actually imagined she’d seen a panther in Alex’s yard? And gills on Undrea? She snorted. She needed this tank more than she’d realized. Thinking about Alex and his yard made her check the time.

“Holy cow!” It was five after twelve. If she was going to meet him at one, she had to get going.

First, she grabbed the book she’d promised to bring and stuck it in her handbag so she wouldn’t forget it, then she raced through her routine, showering and doing her makeup with as much speed and care as possible. Her hair got wound into a quick twist because she was definitely driving the Vette. It was sort of a necessity if she was dining with Alex.

It was May and this was Georgia, so she went with white denim capris, a cute top and wedge flip-flops that gave her an extra three inches. That might put her at eye level with Alex’s chin.

She was out the door and on the street in forty minutes, which didn’t give her long to find the sheriff’s station, but thankfully the GPS on her phone knew how to get her there. Checking her P.O. box would have to wait until after lunch.

Finding a parking spot took a little longer, but somehow she managed to walk into the Nocturne Falls Sheriff Department at twelve fifty-seven.

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