A G.R.I.T.S. Novel
Cleo Davis must find a model for her senior art project or she won’t graduate. When she discovers Lily Telfair-Gordon, she gets more than just an eccentric old woman who spouts famous quotes, talks to ghosts, and wears a weird hat. Lily has unwittingly stumbled upon a counterfeiting ring, and Cleo gets dragged right into the middle of it.
Jonas Holmes, an investigative reporter for the local paper, is asking the question: why do bodies of homeless men keep showing up in the river? But the homeless are scared and won’t talk to him. When he finds Cleo and Lily, he thinks his problems are solved; he doesn’t realize that they’re just beginning.
While romance blossoms between Cleo and Jonas, they work together to see how the two things are connected, but will they find out before it’s too late?
Page Count: 338
Word Count: 86175
The bathroom door swished open, and I jumped so hard, I think my feet actually left the tiled floor. I whirled away from the mirror and slid past the two chattering girls so I wouldn’t have to speak to them.
Head tucked down so I wouldn’t have to make eye contact with anyone, I barreled out of the building and crashed headlong into someone who shouldn’t have been there. The impact was so unexpected and so solid, I lost my balance and would’ve fallen if the obstacle hadn’t reached out a strong hand and grabbed my arm.
“Are you okay?” the low, anxious voice asked.
No! I’m mortified! I wanted to scream. “Yes, yes. I’m fine. So sorry.” I brushed away his concern and his hand, too embarrassed to actually look at him as I hurried away. My cheeks were on fire. I prayed for the ground to open up and swallow me, but it didn’t.
When I’d put enough distance between us, I chanced a look over my shoulder, and groaned when I saw him still staring after me. “Of course, he’s Adonis personified. Just my luck.” I was too far away to read his expression. Probably wondering how I’d escaped from my straight jacket. Finally, he reached down and picked up the notebook he’d dropped when I crashed into him, and turned back to the cluster of students standing beside a bike rack. Hopefully, I’d never see him again.
Once my cheeks cooled, I drew a deep breath, forcing myself to exhale the tension from both the Ellie encounter and the collision. The crisp December air felt just about perfect. It was the only time of year I really liked it here. Savannah doesn’t have four seasons like the mountains of North Carolina, where I lived before my parents died. It’s more like three…or maybe even two and a half. There are a couple of months of what they call winter, I call it fall. A very short spring follows, which you better enjoy because it doesn’t last long. I generally used it to prepare myself for what was coming next. Summer in Savannah is hotter than Hades. If you don’t drown in the humidity, you’ll get eaten alive by all the insects. The only way to survive it is by staying inside or heading out to Tybee. The beach breeze makes the heat semi-tolerable and keeps the insects mostly blown away.
It was too early to head home, so which way should I go? Toward the river or toward the park? River Street would be a congested mess. Too many tourists. I needed peace and quiet if I was to figure out what to do about a model for my assignment…or lack thereof.
Right. Forsyth Park, then.
Whoops! Two old, blue-haired women, bearing fistfuls of shopping bags exited the Gryphon Tea Room right in front of me. Barely avoiding a collision, I managed to zigzag around them and keep going.
“Cleo? Is that you, dear?”
Oh, no! I recognized that warbling, sugar-sweet drawl. Myra Davis…and Nanette Holcomb was sure to be with her. I winced, then pasted on a smile and turned to face them. Yep. I was right. There they stood, looking like they’d just stepped away from a photo shoot for some fashion designer’s holiday collection.
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