Where There's Hope(4)

By: Marianne Rice

Maybe Hope was on their side as well. And if she was, so was Ty.

Ty crossed his arms, which most likely intimidated the average citizen—the man had arms of steel—but Cameron wasn’t fazed. As long as Ty didn’t use his strength to hurt Hope...or Delaney.

“Why are you here? In Crystal Cove?”

It wasn’t any of his business, but making nice with Hope’s boyfriend would be the only way to gain access to her.

“I need to talk to Hope.”

“So call her. Text. Send her an email. You’ve been in town for over a month. Why the lurking?”

Tired of the evasiveness, Cameron sat on the bench. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his thighs.

“I was sentenced to prison for eleven years for vehicular manslaughter. I served ten years, eight months, and thirteen days. Got out for good behavior. When my parole ended, I got out of dodge. There’s nothing left for me in Connecticut besides bad memories and a shitload of hate.”

Ty moved closer, his arms still crossed, his lips closed tight. His work boot tapped impatiently against the grass. “Why did you come to Hope’s town?”

“Good question.” Cameron rubbed his hands across his scalp and down his face. He asked himself the same thing every day. It wasn’t until he was out on parole that he finally tracked her down. Not having much to go by other than a girl from Maine named Hope who was a freshman at Quinnipiac University twelve years ago and dormed in Perlroth.

When he found her on Facebook and Instagram and saw pictures of her daughter, he knew. He just knew. If the age wasn’t enough, her uncanny looks were a dead giveaway. He was an uncle. He had a niece. There was nothing he could do to bring Justin back, but he could do right by him by taking care of his daughter.

Cameron owed that much to his brother, even if he was a son-of-a-bitch asshole.

“I’m Delaney’s uncle. Hope’s been raising her alone. That can’t be easy. I’d like to help.”

“Aren’t you the reason she’s a single mom?”

It was looking more and more like his parents had gotten to Hope. And Ty.

Cameron stood up and faced the bodyguard. “I came here to make a clean start. I’m hoping you’ll give me the benefit of the doubt and let me move on with my life. We all make mistakes. And most of us deserve a second chance.” He didn’t need to ask Ty’s permission, but if the man was a part of his niece’s life, he’d need to keep a friendly relationship.

Ty’s face twitched, and his glare eased up a fraction. “Stay away from Delaney unless Hope invites you into her life. She’s just a kid and doesn’t need...trouble. As for Hope. If you lay a hand on her, if you hurt her in any way...my promise still stands.”

“I’m glad she has you looking out for her.”

Ty seemed taken aback by Cameron’s compliment. He squared his shoulders and squinted as if waiting for a fight. When Cameron didn’t say anything else, Ty turned on his heel and walked away.

He’d either earned the man’s respect or made an enemy. Either way, he had his work cut out for him if he planned on making a new name for himself.

News of a convicted felon working and living in their small town would travel fast. He needed to be prepared for the aftermath, whatever it may be.


NOW SHE KNEW WHY PEOPLE hated Mondays. For Hope, they’d been an extension of the weekend. Or rather, her only day off since she typically worked Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at the restaurant. It was hard missing so much time with Delaney, but she had bills to pay, and she couldn’t afford to hire an assistant manager.

As tourist season was slowly ending, she’d be able to cut back on her hours and spend more time with her daughter. At least she’d be home every night to tuck her in, read with her, give her those warm snuggles Delaney was quickly outgrowing.

Mia came into the dining room through the kitchen door and stashed her purse under the bar.

“Sorry that took so long. The Novocain wore off halfway through, and the dentist had to shoot me up again.” Mia wiggled her right cheek while she tied an apron around her waist. “Anything exciting happen while I was gone? The Monday lunch crew is fairly geriatric.”

Hope forced a smile and reached for her coat that hung on the rack by the sink. “Just the usual. Feel better.” She shoved her arms through her coat and squeezed past Mia and her tendency to pry before Willie blew her cover.

He wouldn’t, she knew. Willie liked his privacy and would respect hers by keeping the dramatic scene he’d witnessed thirty minutes ago under wrap. Thankfully no one else was in the restaurant yet, and the boys in the kitchen couldn’t hear the near scuffle.