Remember Me(8)

By: Ashlee Mallory

Allie was healthy and in better shape now, something running on the treadmill for the past six years had accomplished. Becoming a mom had finally given her the resolve to make the changes she’d always wanted in her life—to ensure she’d always be around for Violet. Growing up without your mother was tough. She should know.

“Hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

Allie nearly leapt from her chair at hearing a deep, male voice.

“Thought I’d grab those lesson plans, if you have them handy.”

Sam stood in the doorway. Seeing him there again, she was instantly transported back in time. To when her hapless fifteen-year-old self would have drowned in the warmth of those hazel eyes.

“Sure.” Had she just squeaked? “Just give me a second.” She bent down and dug through her bottom desk drawer. “They’re in here somewhere…” Any other day, she’d have spotted it straight away. But with Sam watching her, waiting, it took forever.

Outside, the thrum of motors and bustle from the construction site came to an abrupt halt, and the room became eerily quiet. Strange. It seemed early for them to be taking a lunch break. At this rate, they’d never get the peace garden completed in time for the unveiling scheduled for Homecoming weekend.

“I also wanted to apologize.” He was suddenly standing next to her. She tried not to gulp too noticeably. “For my rudeness last night. It had been a long evening of delays and a flight with screaming kids and…well. I shouldn’t have been so obnoxious. I’m sorry. I hope your son was all right.”

He sounded sincere and, coming from a family where chaos reigned, she understood the fatigue and frustration it could cause. Particularly in small, confined spaces. “No problem. Thank you.” She dropped her attention back to the drawer, where it seemed nothing was where it should be. “And the little boy? He’s actually my nephew. My stepbrother and his wife have nine kids, if you can believe it. The oldest was the one we welcomed home last night.” There it was. She grabbed the folder and handed it to Sam. “Here you go. Carter hasn’t updated it for a few years, but it gives you somewhere to start.”

Without thinking, her gaze dropped to his hands. Large, but not burly. Slim. Writer’s hands—dexterous and strong from striking the keyboard, no doubt. She wondered how they’d feel—

Oh Lord. Was she really staring at his hands? Warmth flooded her face.

She opened her mouth to say something to ease her embarrassment, but the unmistakable sounds of sirens drawing near caught her attention. And her alarm, when they stopped right in front of the school.

“What on earth…?” She rose and followed Sam out to the hall and into the open stairwell. They stared down as several fire trucks and a few police cars screamed to a halt at the curb. From the sounds of it, more emergency vehicles were still en route.

And yet, the fire alarm wasn’t going off.

“Marie will know what’s going on,” she said, and they, along with several other teachers, ran down to the main office for answers. Marie was on the phone when they arrived, her face white. She looked like she was on hold, so Allie whispered, “What’s going on?”

Marie put her hand over the receiver, and her bottom lip quivered. “It’s horrible. The workers found a dead body!”

Chapter Three

A dead body?

Allie shivered at the thought of some poor soul dumped in the empty lot next to the school. How many times had she walked across that very area? Ironic how the body had been found in the same spot they hoped to turn into a place of reverence and prayer.

“Do they have any idea who it is? What happened? How long has the body been there?” she asked, stunned.

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