“Sheldon was the president of the only savings and loan in town. Suspecting where this conversation might be headed, she remained nonchalant. “Oh, and what news was that?”

“Ford McCabe is back in town.” Ellis’s face flushed again, a long ago rage brewing just below the surface.

Grace’s stomach clenched tight, and she tried desperately to act surprised at his announcement. “Sheldon saw him?”

“No, he didn’t see him.” He scrubbed a hand through his thick, salt and pepper hair, the gesture agitated. Her father normally had calm, steady nerves, but not where Ford McCabe was concerned. “Yesterday after closing time at the bank Sheldon was reviewing the new accounts and came across a savings and checking account under the name of Ford McCabe. The signature card was signed with Ford’s name and dated yesterday.”

Grace wasn’t sure what to make of that, and wondered why Ford hadn’t divulged that bit of information to her last night. Certain there was a logical explanation for the information her father had discovered, she shook off the unease settling over her, and turned toward the cupboard to retrieve two coffee cups.

Her father paced the small confines of the kitchen, the volatile energy surrounding him nearly palpable. “And guess what company is listed under his place of business?” He didn’t give her time to guess the answer to his question, though her belly twisted with an awful apprehension. “FZM, Inc. He’s the owner of the company who bought the land out at Cutter Creek! That house is listed as his primary residence!”

Ford was going to be living in Whitaker Falls? Why hadn’t he told her? Grace’s mind reeled, and a horrible sense of betrayal pierced her heart. The hand pouring the coffee into their mugs shook uncontrollably, and she set the pot back on the burner before she spilled hot liquid everywhere.

With her mind and body numb from disbelief, and a dozen other different emotions clamoring to the surface, Grace brought their mugs to the table. She sat through a cup of coffee with her father while he groused about Ford McCabe and spilled the bitter emotions that had accumulated in the aftermath of Ford’s departure eleven years ago.

Grace made the appropriate comments she knew her father wanted to hear, but all she could think about was confronting the naked man in her bed once her father left. After what she’d shared with Ford last night, she felt confused and deceived by his omission.

She didn’t offer her father a refill on his coffee, and instead told him she had errands to run and things to do. She walked him to the door, and he stopped just as they entered the living room, staring at all the vases of roses. He appeared perplexed—in his upset state, he obviously hadn’t noticed them upon his arrival.

“What’s with all the roses?” he asked.

Grace grasped for the most logical excuse. “Excess inventory from the shop, so I thought I’d bring them home to enjoy.”

Melancholy touched Ellis Holbrook’s expression as he breathed deeply of an arrangement of roses. “I still miss her, you know,” he said, and Grace knew he was talking about her mother, Felice. “But if she were here, I know she’d be very proud of you and your flower shop.”

Grace placed a gentle hand on her father’s back as they walked to the door. “Yeah, I know she would be.”

Ellis stepped out onto the porch and turned toward her, his sentimental expression hardening with resolve, and his eyes firing with purpose, as if he’d suddenly remembered his reason for coming out to her cottage. “I’m warning you, Grace, if that no good McCabe boy comes around, stay away from him! He was nothing but trouble eleven years ago, and he’s nothing but trouble now.”

She refrained from informing her father that Ford was no longer a boy, but a splendidly grown man. “Maybe he’s changed,” she said, though she was beginning to doubt that herself after what she’d just learned.

Her father scoffed at that. “You’ve always had a soft heart, Grace, but maybe you should keep in mind that Ford McCabe killed Aaron and destroyed our family, not to mention what he did to you .” Hostility and resentment dripped from his tone.”