Hold on to Me

Hold on to Me by Linda Winfree Read Free Book Online

Book: Hold on to Me by Linda Winfree Read Free Book Online
Authors: Linda Winfree
Tags: Fiction, General, Suspense, Romance, Contemporary, Mystery & Detective
heard those words in his dreams for weeks. No wonder he couldn’t sleep. He didn’t want to sleep.
    What had turned Caitlin against him during those months he’d been away? He’d figured she’d simply changed her mind, as she claimed. He’d even wondered if she’d found someone else. But…today, being around her, getting a good close look…
    The shuttered blankness of her gaze.
    This Caitlin watched the world with the shadowed, expressionless eyes of a soul destroyed. What in holy hell had happened to her? To them ?
    * * *
    Caitlin’s running shoes hit the packed clay path in a steady, soothing rhythm. After checking into her room, she’d forgone the idea of food, her stomach twisted in tight knots. A park with a large pond and jogging path lay across the street from the hotel, and seeking to calm the adrenaline-inspired energy making her nerves tingle, she’d donned shorts and a T-shirt, clipped her holster and cell phone in place, slid her Bluetooth headpiece over her ear and set out.
    The close-to-setting sun glared red and gold through the pine trees surrounding the pond, casting long shadows on the path, glimmering on the water in gilded wavelets. On the patch of grass to the north, a family gathered around a picnic table and a group of teenage boys played a game of pickup football. A twang of country music drifted from a truck parked in the gravel lot, a young couple leaning against the hood in a soft embrace.
    The exercise and the peaceful setting weren’t helping. Her entire body still jangled with tension. From the moment she’d learned she’d be working with Tick, she’d known this was going to be bad.
    It had turned out to be worse than she ever expected.
    Her control, the quality that had made her the Fed she was, had been shot all to hell for months now. She struggled with separating herself from the victims, and being with Tick didn’t help.
    The image of him in faded jeans and that damp, worn T-shirt rose in her mind. Even with him sweaty and smelly, she’d been hard put not to throw herself at him when she’d stepped out of the car. The intensity of that desire to be close to him, the bubbling of joy at being in his presence again, sent fear scrambling through her. He remained a dangerous distraction and she needed her focus. Only single-minded concentration would get her through this.
    The headpiece pinged at her ear. “Falconetti.”
    “Well?” Concerned curiosity suffused Gina Bocaccio’s voice and Caitlin sighed, surprised her partner hadn’t called sooner, like five minutes after her estimated arrival time in Georgia.
    “Well, what?” she asked, starting her second lap.
    “Girl, don’t even try that. Are you okay?”
    “I’m fine.” To her left, a duck gave a squawk and slid into the water, diving at June bugs skimming over the surface. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
    “God, you’re such a bad liar. A bad liar with denial issues.”
    Silence hummed between them.
    “Cait?”
    “I’m here.”
    “You know what your problem is?”
    “I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”
    “You spend too much time trying to be perfect and too little time trying to be human. You are, you know. Things happen. Bad things, but it wasn’t your fault and—”
    “Gina. Stop.” She skidded to a halt, bending over against the sudden sharp pain knifing through her chest and side. It wasn’t all physical, she knew that, but she rested her elbows on her knees and tried to breathe through it. Black dots danced at the edges of her vision, the panic trying to get a hold on her mind. She dragged in a lungful of oxygen, staring at a lone pebble in the middle of the path. Focusing. “I can’t do this. Not now.”
    “You need to tell him.”
    Caitlin recoiled from the bald statement. She straightened and swept a loose hank of hair from her face. Sweat trickled between her shoulder blades, sending an icy little frisson down her spine. “No.”
    “Cait—”
    “I can’t.” She’d tried, didn’t

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