Crazy in Love

By: Kristin Miller

Chapter One

Rachael McCoy had never rented the entire Blue Lake Historical Inn to a single person before. But a rock star like Cole Turner had never come to town, either.

He was playing at StoneMill Winery Friday and Saturday night, from what she’d heard. She’d also heard he was voted “Rock Vocalist of the Year”, but hadn’t written a single song since he signed his first music contract. He was more of an entertainer than a musician, really—a music industry puppet with a pretty face and a hot body—and willing to sing anything for the right amount of money.

At least that’s what the Google article said.

If it was true, she couldn’t fault the guy. After all, the only reason she agreed to leave all the rooms in the inn vacant for the next four days was because he’d offered to pay a hefty sum of cash in exchange for privacy. She was in the middle of a massive inn expansion—the out-building to the east would soon have a few rooms with a separate living room and small kitchen. By letting Mr. Turner rent out the inn, she was making four times as much as she would’ve if the rooms were full of regular paying tenants.

She stopped vacuuming the throw rug in the main living space and checked the clock.

Five on the nose.

Mr. Turner wasn’t scheduled to show up until eight, which gave Rachael plenty of time to stock up the fridge and make sure the rooms were still in order. She drove to SawMill Market just before dark, and picked up some basics that’d make a few solid meals.

Cole Turner was on everyone’s lips.

He’s staying at the inn for the next four days, and then driving to Lake Tahoe for a mid-week show at Harrah’s. Will he have extra tickets to the show? Will he be bringing his manager…I hear she’s a woman, a real looker.

Refusing to get caught up in the gossip, Rachael rushed through the register, loaded up the back of her Rav4, and drove to the inn. She pulled into a tiny driveway on the side and parked near the back door. After she unloaded the groceries, she kicked the door shut, and paused…listening.

Something wasn’t right.

Suddenly, the upstairs shower faucet squeaked and water flushed through the pipes.

The inn was not unfamiliar with light paranormal activity from time to time. No one had ever seen a ghost, but they rattled pipes, tweaked picture frames, and shook beds. This was different. There was a lingering scent on the air—saffron, cedar wood, and something heady—and a leather jacket thrown over the back of the couch.

Someone was in the house.

She’d locked up before she went to the store, and Mr. Turner’s manager said he’d call when they were getting close to Blue Lake. No calls. Doors still locked, the way she’d left them.

Chills gathered at the nape of her neck. Yanking open the cabinet drawer, Rachael grabbed the biggest knife she could find, and gripped it tight.

“Hello?” she called. “Hellloooo!”

Footsteps overhead.

Couldn’t be a thief. Thieves didn’t pass up televisions and radios to shower. Was it a bum? Some drunk on his way home from the brewery who broke into the wrong house?

It had to be Mr. Turner. He must’ve arrived early. Looking out the front windows, she scanned the drive and sidewalk. No cars. No entourage. No groupies. Didn’t they still follow rock stars around?

Even though the logical part of her thought Mr. Turner was upstairs, she’d seen enough horror movies to know that under no circumstances should she go check. Being hacked to pieces didn’t sound appealing.

As she dug around in her purse for her phone, footsteps pounded overhead.

“Holy fuck!” a man screamed from upstairs. “Cold! It’s fucking ice—cold!”

Out of instinct, she ran to the first landing and yelled, “You have to let it warm up first!”

More cursing blared from the direction of the bathroom.

“Hello?” she called. “Excuse me!”

“Coldcoldcoldcold.” Someone hopped around over the tile. “What the hell kind of place is this? Rita didn’t say shit about cold showers.”

Definitely not a thief.

She trudged up the stairs and stopped when she reached the top.

“I’m going to kill her!” he hollered.

Murderer, then.

“Who’s there?” Her hands slickened with sweat and when she turned the corner into the hallway, the knife slipped from her fingers. She bent to pick it up, and when she stood upright, a man stood in the middle of the hallway…buck freaking naked. She gasped, averting her gaze, but she’d already seen enough. Rock hard body. Golden skin dripping wet. Hung like a horse.

Wouldn’t get that sight out of her head for a while.

“Rachael, I presume?” he said.

She nodded, shielding her eyes from his manhood. “And you are?”

“Not here to hurt you. You can put away the knife.”

Wasn’t that what every killer would say to disarm a woman? She held it up, just in case.

“Listen,” he said, covering his junk with his hands. “I’ve got a lot of flesh showing and you’re wielding a knife around. Those two don’t mesh. Why don’t you put that away so we can introduce ourselves properly? I’m Cole Turner, your guest for the next few days. I believe you were expecting me.”