Be Careful Who You Love…
Cherokee Pointe, Tennessee, has seen murder before, but nothing like what has claimed the life of Jamie Upton, heir to the Upton fortune. The crime is so vicious, so personal and filled with hatred, the authorities are certain it had to be someone he knew…someone hiding an unimaginable sadistic streak behind a friendly façade.
Be Careful Who You Trust…
The number one suspect is Jamie’s former lover Jazzy Talbot. The girl from the wrong side of the tracks has always been Cherokee Point’s favorite target for gossip and worse. Jazzy knows she didn’t kill Jamie…just as she knows she’s being watched, stalked like prey…
Be Careful What You Know…
And then the killer strikes again…and again…with the same chilling signature. With no one to believe her innocence except enigmatic drifter Caleb McCord, Jazzy plunges into a small town’s long-buried secrets and shocking family sins…each startling truth bringing her dangerously close to a killer determined to make Jazzy the last to die…
He pounded on her door and shouted her name. Go
away, she wanted to scream. Leave me the hell alone. But she
knew he wouldn't go. Not unless someone came and
dragged him away.
Maybe she should call Jacob and tell him that Jamie
was harassing her again. As the county sheriff, he could
hold Jamie in jail overnight. Or she could phone Caleb
and ask for his help in getting rid of an unwanted mid-
night visitor. Caleb had gotten plenty of practice lately
as the bouncer at Jazzy's Joint. He'd thrown Jamie out
of the place several times recently.
But for some reason, she just couldn't bring herself
to pick up the telephone. It wasn't that she wanted to
see Jamie. Not tonight of all nights. But she'd been expecting him, had known somewhere deep down inside
her that he would pay her a visit after his engagement
"Jazzy... lover, please, let me in.”
His voice was slightly slurred, no doubt the result of
numerous glasses of champagne, and not the twenty-dollars-a-bottle stuff either. Probably Moet's Dom Perignon or Taittinger Comtes des Champagnes. Or possibly
Roederer Cristal or Pommery Cuvee Louise. Something
that cost no less than eighty bucks a bottle. In hosting
the big bash celebrating their only grandchild's upcoming nuptials, Big Jim and Reba Upton had spared no expense. Everybody in Cherokee Pointe had been talking
of nothing else. The Uptons had hired a catering service out of Knoxville for the engagement party and the
rehearsal dinner, the same service the bride's parents
had chosen to cater the wedding reception next month.
While Jamie continued banging on the door and
pleading with her to talk to him, Jazzy curled up tightly
on the sofa and placed her hands over her ears. Jamie
had been engaged twice before and hadn't followed
through with wedding plans either time. But it looked
as if his engagement to Laura Willis might actually end
in marriage. If for one minute she believed Jamie's marrying another woman would put an end to his obsession with her, she'd be the first in line to offer them
Sure, there had been a time when she'd dreamed of
becoming Jamie's wife, but that had been years ago,
when she'd been young and foolish. That stupid dream
had died a slow, painful death as maturity had given her
a firm grip on reality. No way would Jamie's rich and socially prominent family ever accept her; they still saw
her as nothing but a white trash tramp who'd gotten
pregnant at sixteen.
Did she still care about Jamie? Yeah, somewhere in
her heart remnants of that passionate first love still existed. Only a few years ago, she had still been as obsessed with Jamie as he was with her. For the past ten
years he had floated in and out of her life, just as he had
floated in and out of town. But this time, when he'd returned a few months ago with a new fiancée in tow,
Jazzy had turned him away when he'd come to her. And
one night, when he hadn't taken no for an answer, she
had threatened his life. Or, to be more precise, she'd
threatened his manhood. And what truly frightened
her was the realization that she would have shot him--shot his balls off--if he'd come after her again.
"Jazzy... don't be mean. Please, doll baby, let me
come in. Just one last time. Don't you know how much
I love you?"
No, damn you, no! You don't love me! You never did.
You’re not capable of loving anyone except yourself.
While she sat on the sofa, hugging herself, wishing
she could block out the sound of Jamie's pleading, memories washed over her, flooding her senses. The first
time Jamie had kissed her. The junior/senior prom, when
she'd given him her virginity and had known she would
love Jamie forever. The day he'd cried when he told her
he couldn't marry her even though she was carrying his
child. The night he had returned to Cherokee Pointe
after his first year of college. They'd made love repeatedly for forty-eight hours, leaving bed only when necessary. The first return visit, years ago, when he'd brought
home his first fiancée--and Jazzy had welcomed him
into her arms, into her bed, not caring about his bride
How many times had she forgiven Jamie? How many
times had she given him just one more chance? Time
had run out for them. She knew it, even if he didn't.
She'd turn thirty soon; she had wasted enough of her
life waiting for Jamie Upton to give her what she wanted,
what she'd always wanted from him. Marriage.
"Jazzy... Jazzy... baby, please, talk to me. Even if I
marry Laura, it doesn't mean we can't still be together."
A cold, deadly calm settled over her heart. She stood,
squared her shoulders and walked to the door. Her
hand hovered over the knob. You’re the only one who can
end this thing once and for all, she told herself. Do what you
have to do to free yourself from Jamie.
Simultaneously Jazzy unlocked the deadbolt and
turned the knob. When she eased open the door, Jamie
took full advantage and shoved his way into her apartment. Before she could say a word, he grabbed her and
kissed her. Impatiently. Brutally. His tongue thrust in-
side her mouth. For a split second, she savored his savage possession. Then common sense took charge. She
broke away from him, her breathing ragged. He reached
out for her, but she sidestepped his grasp.
"I need you, Jazzy. I'm aching, I want you so bad."
“What we once had is over," she told him. "It's been
over for a long time. I've accepted that fact. It's time
"I don't love her. I'm marrying her because Big Mama
is giving me no other choice. She expects me to marry
Jazzy laughed, mirthless chuckles. "And God forbid
you ever go against what Big Mama wants."
"I'm sorry." His shoulders slumped. "I know I'm a
spineless bastard. But if I don't keep Big Mama happy, I
could lose everything. Big Daddy's done told me this is
my last chance. If I screw things up with Laura, he'll
write me out of his will."
Jazzy almost felt sorry for him. Almost. "You know I'll
never be your mistress. I draw the line at fooling around
with a married man."