Moonlight in Paris

By: Pamela Hearon

To my precious daughter, Heather…

the one true masterpiece of my life.





Acknowledgments

Writing a book requires gleaning information from many sources and sometimes becoming annoying in the process, I’m sure. I’m always amazed by the willingness of people to share their knowledge and experiences that add authenticity to my story…and I’m filled with gratitude.

As a small show of my appreciation, I’d like to thank the following people: Coroner Phil Hileman for his expertise on accidental death and suicide; Susan Barack for her contact in Paris; Steve and Jackie Beatty for sharing the opportunity for a Paris vacation; Sandra Jones, Angela Campbell, Maggie Van Well and Cynthia D’Alba for their suggestions, ideas, plotting help and patience; Kimberly Lang for always having the time to talk me through the loopholes and gaps; Agent Jennifer Weltz for her wisdom, insight and approachability; and editor Karen Reid for her gentle guidance, fabulous editing and her innate ability to just “get me.”

Above all, I want to thank my loving husband, Dick, who stays beside me through it all and encourages me to continue following this dream.





CHAPTER ONE

“I’VE ALWAYS HEARD life can change in an instant. Guess I’m living proof, huh?”

Tara O’Malley threw a glance out the window to the tangled mass of metal that had been her motorcycle. It sat on prominent display today in her parents’ front yard—a grim reminder to passing motorists that motorcycles travel at the same speed as cars. Tomorrow, it would be junked.

Her mom sat the butter dish in the middle of the table and dropped a quick kiss on the top of Tara’s head. “Living is the important word in that sentence.”

“Yeah, I know.” Tara focused her attention back to the app on her phone where she was entering all the family’s medical history. Her accident had made her aware of the need to have such information at her fingertips, but it was Taylor Grove’s blood drive in her honor today that made her finally sit down and fill in the blanks. “What was Thea’s blood type?”

“A…same as mine,” her mom answered absently. “Do you think Emma would stop and get a bag of ice on her way into town? I’m afraid we might run low.”

“I’ll call her.” Tara pulled up her favorites list and thumbed her best friend’s number.

“Hey,” Emma answered on the first ring.

“Hey, would you stop and get a bag of ice? Mama’s afraid we’ll run out. And while I’m thinking about it, would you resend that class schedule for this week? I couldn’t get the one from the office to open, and I keep forgetting when the junior high students are coming for their tours.” The last full week of school was always crammed with so many activities that it was hard to fit in a lesson.

“Sure. I’m just leaving Paducah. Does your mom need anything else? Paper plates? Paper cups?”

“Do you need anything else, Mama? Are we using paper plates?”

Faith shook her head. “No, I’m doing Memorial Day like Thanksgiving in May this year. I just need enough people to eat all the food.”

“She says to bring people.” Tara relayed the message.

“I haven’t eaten all day, so I’m bringing a three-meal appetite,” Emma promised. “Be there in forty-five minutes or so.”

“Okay. See you then.” Tara pressed the button to end the call, and, before she could think, reached to rub the burning itch on her right hand. As had happened so many times over the past two months since her accident, her breath caught at the empty space her pinkie and ring fingers had occupied, and she sent up a quick prayer of thanks that two fingers and a spleen were all she’d lost. She traced the bright red scar that stopped halfway up her arm. “I’m thinking I might get another tattoo. Maybe some leaves that will make this look like a vine.”

That got her mom’s attention. Faith shot her daughter a pointed look. “Your dad will disown you. He took your first one pretty well only because it’s hidden, and the second with a grain of salt, but he threatened to write you out of the will over the last one.”

Tara didn’t mention the two they knew nothing about. She grinned, remembering the aggravated look on her dad’s face when she’d shown off the Celtic symbol for life just beneath her left earlobe. When she’d explained it was in memory of Grandma O’Malley and their Irish roots, he’d held his tongue, but the hard set of his jaw had indicated his displeasure.

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