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Riley Keynes a twenty eight year old ex lieutenant,forced to quit her work following the suspicious death of her younger sister finds herself stuck in her hometown with nothing to do except trying to get along with her older sister who can't seem to take care of herself let alone take care of the business she put up for them. She already has too much on her plate including some new evidence that her sister's accident wasn't really an accident and the addition of a very determined and dangerously handsome stranger who she wants to avoid in every possible way but can't deny that she is very attracted to him isn't something she is sure she can handle even though he might just be the person who helps her figure out what really happened to her sister. When Sean Woody arrives in this new town after having left his home to get away from his controlling father,he wasn't planning on spending a night in jail but that night might just be the turning point of his life. There he meets the attractive and independent Riley Keynes and his plans to keep going are paused,not only because he wants to help investigate the death of her sister but also because he isn't ready to go without at least getting to solve the mystery behind those eyes, the force that makes his heart ache from every contact they make which is something he hadn't felt for anyone in all his life,let alone a complete stranger. They might have met by coincidence but what if this is just what they needed to make something beautiful out of their lives?

Chapter 1

   Day three on the road with no particular destination targeted and Sean Woody was still as calm as the first day he left his home town. For him, being on different roads and different routes was the best thing he had ever done for himself. He had left so much behind; family, friends, wealth. To be totally honest, none of all that made him feel guilty or even regret a dime. This felt like freedom, the freedom he had so much needed for so many years. His life had never been his own from the very first day he uttered his first words. You would think that a thirty year old guy had the power to choose his own life but nothing about that had changed even after his thirty years of living. Getting out was something he had contemplated on for a very long time. He had known the exact thing to do which would guarantee his freedom but for a reason, he had decided to take it slowly until he knew the time was right. Slowly by slowly, a storm of his own making had built up and eventually, blown up. Instead of just the downpour he had anticipated, it had occurred as an avalanche, almost as if landmasses had shifted and broken apart. In the process, so much had been drowned. His relationship with his family, the role he had played- had been forced to play rather and most likely even a place in that family ever again. For a session or two of his innermost thoughts, he had tried to weigh the force of the aftermath and if he would manage to get through the storm that was likely to rise up double; his father's anger. He was pretty sure that even though none of the family members knew of his whereabouts then, they would soon enough. It was a matter of time before his father caught up with him because he was crazy enough to do that and he was taking this moment as a headstart.

That was probably why he went further and further away from his hometown, exploring a new town after another to make maximum use of the freedom he had fought for and that would cost him a lot. The thing was, he didn't want to think of what would come, he wanted to live in that moment, be free, be happy and have fun for as long as he could.

Here he was, in the third car he had come across since he left home. The owner was a very chatty woman who was probably in her late twenties but was acting like a teenager. He had hooked up with her at a bar the previous night, spent the night with her in a hotel room then had run into her again while he was leaving the town and now here they were. Truthfully, this had been the least interesting of his adventures. He couldn't say that out loud or even show it since he needed her, the free ride she had offered would help him save on his highly depreciating money so he just went along with whatever she was saying even if it was in the least of his interests.

"And did you know that the guy, Marcus Nimrod acted with real spiders, like real eight- legged creatures crawling all over his body?" The woman went on narrating excitedly about some apparently popular movie he hadn't heard about. Sean went on staring ahead into the road whereas the woman who was supposed to be driving them barely looked ahead. "They say that he earned millions for doing that!"

"Oh really?" he asked feigning interest.

"Oh yeah, can you imagine how tingly and frightening that sounds like? I would have definitely passed out for real. Completely unconscious." He offered a tiny smile but didn't say a word more and that was how the woman realized he hadn't been listening with interest. "Would you do it for the millions of money?"

"What?" The woman who he couldn't really remember what her name was looked at him inquisitively and he didn't fail to notice the little hint of disappointment in her eyes. For the first time since they started the journey, he actually paid attention to her. "" he faced her and bit his lip struggling to recall her name.

"Andie, it's Andie."

"I'm really sorry... Andie. It's just that my mind isn't really functioning right and also I'm not a fan of movies. But to answer your question, I wouldn't. I loathe crawling things."

"I talk too much, don't I?" Andie asked, clearly not believing his excuse.

A voice in his head pushed him so hard to say yes but a wiser one decided against it. So he just shook his head, "You are good." He sighed and went on to explain. "People have different ways of expressing themselves. Talking is yours and there's nothing wrong with your talking."

He wanted to add 'except that you should tone it down around people you are not used to, or more importantly, people who are not used to your talking but stopped himself. "You do you," he said instead.

Andie smiled, "Thanks." Then, "Next town is just up ahead but I can take you to your hotel if you want."

Sean started gathering his belongings. He didn't want to tell Andie that there was no hotel room waiting for him as he had claimed earlier so he had to think of an excuse, a valid one this time.

"That's okay, but I am not in any hurry to go to sleep. Do you know of any twenty four hour bar or something of the sort?"

Andie took some seconds before she answered and the answer came after a sigh.

"Ooh, you are in the mood to get wasted."

"Yeah, among other things," he replied without thinking but then realized what he had done. "Oh God, you must now be thinking of me as the worst person on earth." He leaned back in his seat. "I'm sorry, that is so insensitive of me."

Andie chuckled, "Do you always apologize whenever you do wrong or is it only when you are in need of something? Let's say, like a ride in my car, knowing that I could opt to leave you stranded on an empty highway."

Sean looked away in embarrassment for a moment knowing that there was some truth to Andie's statement. He was about to reply when Andie went on.

"Relax, I'm just kidding," she smiled genuinely. "You don't owe me anything and you shouldn't feel bad about last night and what you are about to go do next which is absolutely none of my business. I was looking for a way to escape from my reality for a moment. I never even hooked up in a bar before yesterday but I'm glad I did."

The next minutes passed in silence until they got to the street Andie must have been targeting. He looked around when the car stopped. It was a well kept and inviting neighborhood. On his right was the night club he knew he could spend the next bigger part of the night in until the next day, then he would figure out his next destination. He didn't want to leave a trail behind him by booking into hotel rooms every stop he made. He turned to Andie and nodded.

"Yep, this will do."

"Alright, have fun party boy. I'm going to head out now."

Sean alighted with his light bag and stood on the curb. The night air hanging around him gave him a calming sensation when it hit his nostrils. Maybe this town wasn't as bad as the others. He would see.

"Thanks for the ride Andie. I won't forget this."

"You are welcome Devon."

At the mentioning of the name he had given her as his own, he felt a tinge of guilt strike him. This woman had been so good to him and even though he didn't owe her anything and they would most likely forget about each other the moment they parted, he still felt the need to give her his real name. He sighed then faced her.

"It's Sean," she went on when Andie raised an eyebrow. "My real name is Sean Woody. Devon is just an alias."

"Oh, I know." Now it was his turn to be puzzled. How the hell would this woman possibly know him? It wasn't like he was someone famous. His family wasn't even known and he was pretty certain he would have remembered someone like Andie had they met sometime before this. "We attended the same highschool, same class for one year before I got transferred. Crescent Beach high."

He tried to recall a face like that one but even after a while of thinking, he couldn't place her in any of his memories.

"Sorry, ninety percent of my highschool life is a blur. It has been so long and a lot has happened since then." A very lame excuse.

"Like I said, you don't owe me anything. I doubt anyone from that class remembers me. I was the weirdo in the corner all the time." She started the car. "Maybe we will meet again but for now, it's a goodbye. Go have fun."

He stood outside for a while watching as the car disappeared around a bend and for the second or third time in a single day, he actually felt guilty. Was he as bad as people had always thought of him? He sighed and turned around before heading to the bar.

Chapter 2

Day eight, day eight of total misery and not even the slightest of a change. The room was as empty, the walls as dull, the silence beyond what a normal person would deem bearable. But then, there wasn't anything normal about all this. At least to her there wasn't. She was yet to understand how something so good and lively could go just like that. There hadn't been a forewarning. She still remembered that call clearly. The call that had changed everything. It was the last time she had heard her older sister talk rationally. She had been in her quarters getting ready to head out for a mission she had been assigned to with her team. Being the lieutenant colonel and leader of the team after the colonel himself, she had planned everything well enough beforehand without knowing that there would be no heading out. For her at least. The mission would go on as planned but not with her. Her sister needed her, the only family she had left needed her.

"Claudia is gone


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