Lost and Found Sisters Read online

  anything to do with any inheritance, especially not from someone who’d apparently thrown her away without so much as looking back.

  Not that she was happy with her parents right now either. They should’ve told her the truth a long time ago. Instead they’d hidden it and even now had tried to underplay everything, encouraging her to get on with her nice, comfortable life.

  But it suddenly didn’t feel so nice or comfortable at all.

  Feeling shockingly alone, she looked at her phone. She wanted to call Beth. God, how she wanted that, but instead she called Brock.

  “Hey,” he said when he picked up, his voice brisk and rushed. “I’m in a meeting. Leave a message and I’ll get right back to you.”

  His voice mail. Disappointment washing over her, she tried to tell herself she was fine, she didn’t need anyone. But her heart was racing and it didn’t seem to fit in her rib cage anymore. Everything felt tight and she couldn’t breathe because she had no one else left to call.

  Well, except one person.

  Harry Potter, aka Cliff Porter.

  Chapter 3

  I’d give up being a bitch, but I’m not a quitter.

  —from “The Mixed-Up Files of Tilly Adams’s Journal”

  Mick Hennessey stood on the sand dunes, the evening sun still strong enough to beat down on his head, the waves crashing over the shore loud enough to drown out his own thoughts.

  Which was just as well since they weren’t good.

  He’d grown up here in Wildstone, which was literally an old wild, wild west town that sat in a bowl between the mid-California coast and the rolling hills that lined that coast.

  He no longer lived here, but his mom had needed him, so he was back.


  Which didn’t stop him from feeling like a worthless kid all over again in spite of the fact that he’d worked his ass off to make something of himself.

  Wildstone had done the same, several times over in fact. In the 1890s, it had been nothing more than a clapboard sidewalk and a row of saloons and whorehouses, supported by local silver mines and logging mills. In the mid 1900s, the town had attempted to legitimize itself and had done away with most of the whorehouses—though the saloons had stubbornly remained. Then the county had discovered wine making and ranching, and the hills had become dotted with wineries and ranches. In the 1970s, the bad economy had forced Wildstone to put on yet another hat, and for a while the town fathers had played up their infamous past, marketing the place as a wild west ghost town, using the historic downtown buildings to do so, claiming them haunted to gather interest.

  Mostly the only people who’d taken note were ghost hunters, although Mick’s own mother still swore that her shed was haunted.

  In the 1980s, surfers had found the little-known beaches to be perfect, and so Wildstone had added tourism to the roster, pulling in vacationers. Ten years ago they’d been in the running to make the list of California’s Top-Ten Best-Kept Secrets.

  They’d come in at number eleven and hadn’t been featured. Without that boost, Wildstone’s economy had continued to suffer beyond the recession.

  It was still struggling.

  Mick found the place as constricting and stifling as his bullheaded father, so he’d fled the minute he’d graduated from high school. He’d spent almost no time here in the years since, and had been a happier man for it.

  Until his dad had stroked out on the throne early one morning four months ago.

  Coop whined and Mick looked down at the twelve-year-old golden retriever, ball in his mouth. Coop panted happily and dropped the ball at Mick’s feet, his rheumy brown eyes ever hopeful.

  Mick shook his head. “Last time I threw it, you decided you didn’t mean it.”

  Coop gave a talkative “woo woo woo.”

  Translation: Mick was full of shit. “I had to go get it myself,” he reminded the dog. “Remember that?”

  This bought him another “woo woo woo.”

  “Okay, okay.” Mick picked up the ball, and because there was a lot of old-man dog pride on the line here, he gave it a dramatic throw, making sure it went only about twenty feet.

  Coop gave an energetic leap. A single energetic leap. After that, he eyeballed the sea of sand ahead of him, huffed out a sigh, and sat. Then he craned his big, fuzzy golden head and gave Mick a sad-eyed look.

  “Are you kidding me?” Mick asked him.

  Coop lay down, set his head on his front paws, and stared forlornly out at the ball that his brain wanted to chase but his sore joints and tired body wouldn’t allow. It was a daily reminder for the dog, who in his own mind clearly wasn’t elderly, forgetful, or more than half deaf. Nope, in Coop’s opinion, he was still a rambunctious, energetic puppy.

  Mick blew out a sigh and fetched the damn ball. When he came back, the dog sat up, eyes bright, tongue lolling.

  “Not a chance,” Mick said on a laugh. “I’m not throwing it again. This was about your exercise, not mine. I already had my run today.”

  A Lexus pulled up. A woman sat behind the wheel and stared out at the dunes and the ocean. All Mick could see of her was a cloud of whiskey-colored waves of hair and a pale face. She stared at the water and then set her head to the steering wheel and banged it a few times.

  Then, head still down, she went utterly still.

  Coop whined about the ball and nudged Mick’s knee, eyes pleading.

  With a head shake, Mick threw the ball five feet.

  Coop happily pounced on it.

  While his dog pranced around proudly, ball in his mouth, Mick turned back to the car. The woman hadn’t moved. Had she knocked herself out? Was she still breathing? “What do you think?” he asked Coop. “Stay out of it, or ask her if she’s okay?”

  Coop, who’d never been impressed by a single one of the women in Mick’s social life, yawned.

  “Right,” he said. “Stay out of it.”

  But the woman suddenly sat up straight and fumbled her way out of the car, falling to her knees on the rough gravelly asphalt, gulping in air like she was suffocating.

  Realizing she was hyperventilating, Mick rushed to her and crouched at her side, having to push Coop back from making her acquaintance—which he tended to do with a rude nose push to the crotch. “Stay,” he ordered and looked the woman over.

  Young. Late twenties maybe. Definitely having a panic attack of some kind. Not touching her, he spoke quietly and calmly. “Take a deep breath through your nose.”

  She had to quiet herself to hear him, but she did as he said. She took a deep breath, shuddery as it was.

  “Good,” he said, still holding Coop back from trying to say hello. “Stay.”

  “What?” she gasped.

  “Sorry, not you. My nosy-ass dog. Keep breathing. That’s it,” he said when she worked at it.

  When she had it under control, she met his gaze, her own eyes hooded and clearly embarrassed. “I’m sorry.”

  “Don’t be.”

  Coop, tired of being held back, shoved his big old head between them and licked her from chin to forehead. Mick palmed the dog’s face and pushed his head away from the woman whose shoulders were now shaking.

  Aw, hell. He patted his pockets—for what, he had no idea. It wasn’t like he carried tissues or napkins on him to offer her. He rose to his feet to go search the truck, which was when she lifted her face and he saw that she was shaking with laughter, not tears.

  She was laughing at his ridiculous dog.

  Then she ran a hand down Coop’s back and that was it. The dog fell in love, sliding bonelessly to the ground to roll over, exposing his belly and all his manly bits—well, the bits he still had after the vet had finished with him years and years ago now.

  “Ignore him,” Mick said and offered her a hand to pull her up to her feet.

  Instead, she bent over Coop, stroking his belly. “What a good boy,” she murmured softly. “You’re just the sweetest thing, aren’t you?”

  Coop ate it up, sighing in