Layla and Mason have waited a long time to be together. See the unusual way they reconnect in this free excerpt from: A Murder at Alcott Manor!
This place gave her a strange feeling of being neither here nor there, as if she had left the present but wasn’t quite anywhere else either. Not the past, not the future. Just sort of hovering in the middle somewhere. Some place in time that only the manor could know. It was just like this house to have a toehold in some sort of a netherworld.
Perched on an antique pedestal cake stand and on top of a white cloth doily was a thickly iced, double-layer chocolate cake. Obviously homemade and already carved into substantial pieces, Layla’s mouth watered. Cake was still her favorite security blanket, and without thinking twice, she helped herself. She had lost a substantial amount of weight in the last few years and sworn off sugar, but she didn’t have to count calories in a dream. Three large crumbs spilled onto the smooth wooden surface of the table and she left them. She didn’t have to clean in a dream either.
Voices murmured low and nondescript, like distant chattering at a cocktail party. “Uh-uh-uhhhh,” one voice cautioned and rose slightly louder over the others.
Her heart stuttered with adrenaline at the sound. Whenever Asher caught her eating sweets, he used that parental expression with her while he wagged his finger at her face.
He was dead, she reminded herself. There was no need to be afraid.
When the tall, dark-haired man in the faded red T-shirt and jeans passed by the doorway, she put the cake on the table. Although she caught only a glimpse of his muscled physique, she recognized him in an instant.
She tip-toed quickly though the dining room, the foyer, and up to the grand staircase. Following the man she knew as Mason Holloway, she wondered why he would be at Alcott Manor. Tom hadn’t mentioned anything about him to her.
Mason knelt on the third step from the bottom and sanded a small area of unfinished wood by hand. That was definitely the Mason she remembered—a perfectionist. Traditional. Classic. A genuine if-it’s-worth-doing-it’s-worth-doing-right kind of guy. His rhythmic scratching of the sandpaper against the raw wood kept perfect time. When she leaned close to the back of his neck, she found mixed scents of fresh citrusy sweat and something powdery.
“I’ve missed you,” she whispered against his damp skin. Mason stopped sanding and turned to face her, though she knew he couldn’t see her.
His commanding presence reeled her in and swept her toward him. She couldn’t help herself: she kissed his soft lips.
The tug in her midsection pulled her away from him. Her fingertips grazed his cheek before she was jerked backward in a rush, away from him and the manor. Back to her body that was asleep and dreaming in the car.
She was waking up.
* * *
Mason Holloway glanced around the main foyer where he had been sanding a step on bended knee. He could have sworn he’d felt a touch on his cheek; he could have sworn he’d felt a kiss on his lips; he could have sworn he’d heard Layla’s voice. Soft as a whisper, but clear as day.
Read more about Layla and Mason in A Murder at Alcott Manor!
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