Automatically, Pamela’s training from her time in the Rangers kicked in. She elbowed her assailant hard, and then as he bent over, she flipped him over. He let out a painful exhalation as he hit the ground.
She gasped. Cranton! She bent over him, and immediately he pulled her down onto him.
“Where did you learn to do that?”
Oops. She hadn’t wanted anyone to know that. She smiled weakly. “I, um, took a self-defense course.”
“Oh." He looked suspicious. "I wanted your help, not to be beaten up. Is that guy out there, still?”
She scrambled up and peered out the window. “Yes! Oh, no, he’s headed over here. I think he saw me.”
She hurried back, expecting her handsome neighbor to be still prone. But he was standing, and grabbed her. Within seconds, they were in her front hall closet.
The closet door clicked shut the very same moment a harsh rapping started at the front door.
Pamela held her breath. She’d wanted to get close to this guy, but this wasn’t what she had in mind. They stood there, her nose bumping his chest, his breath fanning the top of her head, and all the time, waiting until finally, the footsteps stomping off the porch told them it was safe to leave the closet.
“Now, we need to get out of here,” Cranton said.
“I’ll say,” she whispered back. “I had no idea I had this many coats and shoes. I really need to go through my stuff.”
“Not today. Today, we need to leave town.”
“We? You gotta mouse in your pocket?”
He slowly opened the door. “That guy who wanted to turn me into Swiss cheese must have seen you watching from your window. That means you’ve become a target, too.”
“We’ll call the police.”
“Yes, we will, but right now, we need to get far away from here.” He turned and cupped her face. She nearly melted when she looked into those brown eyes.
“What’s going on here? How did you get into my house and why is someone after you?”
“I’ll explain everything. But first, is there any place that only you would know about, and can get into?”
Pamela bit her lip. The day she left the Rangers she went straight there. That whole awful first month that she’d needed to get herself together, was spent…spent there. It would be safe for Cranton. But would it be safe for her? For her sanity?
“There’s one place you can go to. But I don’t think I should go.”
“You’ll have to. Is it safe for you?”
“Physically, yes, but, Cranton-”
“We’ll deal with the other issues later. You have one minute to grab what you can. Hurry!” He pushed her gently toward the stairs and she bolted up them, only to return a moment later with her purse, her toothbrush and of all things, a box of tissues infused with Vicks Vaporub.
He looked at them, then at her. “They smell good,” she explained with a shrug. “And you never know when you’ll need a good box of tissues.”
Cranton rolled his eyes. “Let’s go.”
She gave him hasty directions as they drove out of Maple, punctuating them with questions, for which she got no answer. And yet, as crazy as the situation seemed, she knew one thing.
She trusted Cranton.
They made it up the coast, hours later and close to sunset, to her grandfather’s cottage. It overlooked an inlet near Blueberry Cove, not far from Bar Harbor.
“Whose place is this?” Cranton asked as they pulled into the deserted driveway.
“My grandfather’s. He died last year.” She looked across the car at him. “But I own it now. I just had it closed for the winter.”
He stared hard out the windshield. “So, who is that guy standing on the porch?”