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I don’t think I’ve ever used that word to describe a book. But hell, Stranger on the Shore was nothing short of magnificent.

Nicole & Isis for Writing Follies
Twenty years ago young Brian Arlington, heir to Arlington fortune, was kidnapped. Though the ransom was paid, the boy was never seen again and is presumed dead. Pierce Mather, the family lawyer, now administers and controls the Arlington billions. He’s none too happy, and more than a little suspicious, when investigative journalist Griffin Hadley shows up to write about the decades-old mystery.
Griff shrugs off the coldly handsome Pierce’s objections, but it might not be so easy to shrug off the objections of someone willing to do anything to keep the past buried.

He came out of the tunnel of trees, and the night air was sweet and fresh, laced with the salty scent of the sea. He had left one of the downstairs lamps burning in the cottage, and the bright light threw long bullet shapes across the lawn.

Movement caught his attention. Griff’s gaze traveled to the pallid shape of the bridge and his heart seemed to stop.

Someone stood on the bridge.

A tall, dark, unmoving silhouette was positioned at the midway point on the bridge.

Even as Griff tried to explain away the shadow, reassure himself it was just a trick of the moonlight, the figure moved, raised a hand in brief greeting.

“It’s Pierce,” a deep voice called over the rush of the stream. “I wanted a word.”

Relief had the funny effect of weakening Griff’s knees. What the hell had he imagined? Brian’s kidnapper was lurking on his doorstep, ready to do anything to keep him from writing this book? Ridiculous. Too much imagination was right.

“It’s kind of late for a social call, isn’t it?” Griff said as he neared the bridge, hoping Mather hadn’t noticed his paralyzed pause.

“Not unless you go to bed at nine o’clock. Anyway, I think it’s time you and I had a chat.”

“About what?” Griff’s steps on the wooden slats of the bridge were waking the swans. There was a lot of fluttering and hissing and soft whistles in the reeds, though no birds took flight.

Pierce leaned casually against the balustrade, arms folded. His moonlit face looked as coldly perfect as one of the blank-eyed statues along the garden path.

His voice was even as he replied, “About why you’re not going to write that book.”

“Why am I not going to write this book?” Griff stopped walking when he was still a couple of yards from Pierce. It was not that he was afraid of Pierce, but there was no denying the other man put him on guard.

“Three reasons.”

“Which are?” Griff tried to match Pierce’s crisp tone.

“First, it would irresponsible and unethical to write such a book.”

“I don’t agree. Second?”

“No reputable publisher will print such a book.”

“You obviously don’t know anything about publishing.”

Pierce’s smile was as white and chilly as the moonlight. “I don’t need to. I know everything about filing injunctions. Third, and of most interest to you, I will pay you not to publish this book. And it’ll be more than this book would earn you, even if you did manage to get it published. We’ll call it a kill fee.”

A kill fee? Pierce had been doing his homework. Griff forgot about trying to seem equally cool and businesslike. “Why? What’s your problem with this book? What is it you think I’m going to find out?”

“I don’t think you’re going to find anything out. I think all you’re going to do is cause a lot of grief to people I care about.”

“You don’t know anything about me. You sure as heck don’t know what kind of book I’m going to write.”

“I know enough.”

That utter certainty had Griff practically stuttering his outrage. “Is that so? It must be great to be all knowing. And all powerful too, I guess. But you got this part wrong. I’m not going to take your kill fee and I am going to write this book. I’m going to be as respectful and sensitive as I can, but I’m writing it. If you’re serious about stopping me then the person you need to have this conversation with is Mr. Arlington.”

Pierce didn’t reply, and Griff said shortly, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

“You’re making a mistake,” Pierce said.

The very quietness of his voice sent unease rippling down Griff’s spine. He said, “Well, I make a lot of mistakes, but I don’t think writing this book is one of them. Someone is going to write this book, so why not me?”

“I can think of several reasons. Starting with the fact that you’re unqualified.”

That was direct. He had to give Pierce credit for not beating around the bush.

“Okay. I appreciate your honesty, but I disagree. And if you’ll excuse me, I’ve had a long day.”

He had to nerve himself to walk up to—and past—Pierce. He didn’t imagine handsome, sophisticated Pierce would resort to fisticuffs or shove him off the bridge, but there was no denying that tension and hostility ringed Pierce like a force field. At least he thought that peculiar energy, awareness was tension and hostility. Tension and hostility were part of it. Griff brushed by Pierce, uncomfortably aware of that spicy, sexy aftershave and Pierce’s hard, unfriendly gaze.

Pierce said nothing and Griff kept walking. The wooden slats creaked loudly beneath his feet.

“Do you know why you received authorization to write this book?” Pierce asked suddenly.

Griff stopped and turned. “No.”

Pierce’s face was in shade now. He was just a shadow on the bridge behind Griff. “We’ve been approached plenty of times, and by authors with a lot more impressive credentials than yours.”

“I believe it.”

“Why then do you think Jarrett decided to throw open the doors to a nobody cub reporter from Milwaukee?”

Cub reporter? Nobody? It was increasingly tough to keep his temper with the arrogant ass, especially since Pierce was clearly trying to provoke him, but Griff hung on. “I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?”

“Because you look like Matthew did at your age.”

When Griff didn’t respond—couldn’t think of a response—Pierce said, “That’s right. You got the job because you remind that grief-stricken old man of his dead son. As you vultures always ask, how does that make you feel, Mr. Hadley?”

One thing you learned as a reporter was not to take antipathy for the job you had to do as a personal attack. Some times were easier than others. Griffin finally found his voice. “It makes me feel like I have a responsibility to help bring some closure to Mr. Arlington. Since he was kind enough to take a chance on me. Good night, Mr. Mather.”

He turned and walked the rest of the way across the bridge. He didn’t let himself look back and when he had finished fumbling with the lock to the guest cottage, he stepped inside and closed the door firmly.