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Scent of Magnolia (eBook)

Scent of Magnolia (eBook)

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A homecoming sparks old resentments between childhood friends and leads to the revelation of decades-old secrets. A moving story of friendship, hope, and second chances.

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Synopsis

Scout Montgomery has made a career out of searching for her missing brother. Helping runaways gives meaning to her otherwise meaningless life. She hasn’t spoken to her father in nearly two decades, and her crush on her sexy co-worker is going nowhere. She’s stuck in a time warp. In order to move on, she must find closure. An unexpected trip home to Alabama provides an opportunity to conduct a fresh search with mature eyes. Will she discover the missing link to her brother’s disappearance? Or will she uncover a secret that places them all in danger?

June Montgomery is married to a prominent politician, owns a magazine-worthy home, and leads an active social life. But she lives in constant fear the past will come back to haunt her. She has mixed emotions about her daughter’s sudden reappearance in their lives. Scout has the power to heal their family . . . and unravel the seams of June’s intricately crafted lies.

Read an Excerpt

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Scout adds her unmarked car to the cluster of Seattle’s first responder vehicles parked haphazardly at the crime scene. Turning off the engine, she grips the steering wheel, bows her head, and squeezes her eyes tight. Please, God, don’t let it be Sally Strickland.

She stuffs her stubby ponytail into a black baseball cap and grabs her trench coat from the trunk. Blue and red flashing lights are dim in the early morning fog as she hurries up the dank alley to the back door of a pool hall where the victim is lying facedown in the mud. Scout’s heart skips a beat when she notices the young woman’s blonde hair, the same white-blonde shade as Sally.

“Talk to me,” Scout says to her friend and coworker, homicide detective Sandra Reyes.

“Looks like a drug overdose. Fentanyl would be my guess.”

The smell of frying bacon from a nearby diner mixes with the stench of death. Locals are starting their day off with a hearty meal while, less than fifty feet away, a young woman is dead from drugs that either some jackass hoping for sex forced on her or that she willingly took to satisfy an addiction. Some days this job really gets to Scout.

Crouching down next to the body, Scout turns the girl’s right hand over to inspect the inside of her wrist. Instead of the heart tattoo Sally’s mother has described in detail, she discovers an angry red scar from an apparent suicide attempt.

“Can I see her face, please?” Scout says to a crime scene investigator.

The investigator rotates the victim’s head so the right side of her face is visible. The girl’s young age is apparent despite the caked mud covering her cheeks and forehead. She can’t be over fourteen years old. And she’s definitely not Sally Strickland.

“Do you have any idea who she is?” Sandra asks.

“Nope.” Scout gets to her feet.  “I’ve never seen her before in my life.”

She walks over to a group of young people standing behind the yellow crime scene tape at the opposite end of the short alley. “Morning.”

The kids respond in unison, “Morning.”

“She a friend of yours?” Scout asks, tossing a thumb over her shoulder toward the dead girl’s body.

A dozen sets of eyes dart about, avoiding Scout’s gaze.

“I’ve memorized the faces of every reported runaway in this country, and she’s not one of them. Which means I have no way of getting in touch with her family. What if that were one of you lying dead in a dirty alley? Wouldn’t you want your family to know your fate? Wouldn’t you want them to bring you home and bury you in the family plot where you belong? Wouldn’t you want to end their constant worry so they could try to put the pieces of their lives back together?”

Her lecture is met with stony silence.

“Call your parents! If nothing else, let them know you’re alive.” From an inside coat pocket, Scout removes a stack of McDonald’s gift cards and hands them out to the runaways. “Get yourself some food. And try to stay out of trouble. You know where to find me if you learn anything about our Jane Doe.”

Mumbling their gratitude for the gift cards, the group, with chins tucked and eyes glued to the ground, disperses into different directions. One runaway remains at the yellow tape—a tiny girl with pale hair and skin and electric blue eyes. The others call her Tinker Bell because she’s light on her feet and walks on her toes. Scout wonders if she was a ballerina in a previous life. 

Tinker Bell bites down on a quivering lip. “Her name is Chloe Thompson. She’s from Spokane and has only been on the run for a few days, which is probably why you don’t know about her. I tried to help her, but she was a real mess.” Tinker Bell taps her forehead. “She has some serious emotional problems. She left home on a whim, and she desperately wanted to go back, but she was afraid to contact her parents.”

Scout takes out her phone and types the victim’s name and hometown in her Notes app. “Was she into drugs?”

“I don’t think so. She’s been hooking up with some guy, though. I know nothing about him.”

Scout pockets her phone and gives Tinker Bell’s shoulder a gentle squeeze. “You did the right thing in telling me.” She presses a business card into the girl’s palm. “Call me if you think of anything else.”

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