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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:43

“It’s a small town,” Juliette said with a shrug. “I can make this stuff up as I go. But look, if it wasn’t a kid and someone is targeting this house, I need you to call me if you see anything suspicious. Anything at all.”

“And keep an eye on that Matt guy.”

Juliette smirked. “Clearly.”

Savannah laughed, for the first time in what felt like days. Just then, Juliette’s phone buzzed at her hip.

“You want that pie?” Savannah asked.

“Save some for me,” Juliette said, unclipping her phone from her belt. “I gotta go. I’ll call you later.”

Savannah waved and watched Juliette, phone to her ear, rushing off to take care of important business. Pressing issues. Fingerprints and parents and juvenile delinquents.

Savannah’s life seemed at that moment to exist on the head of a pin. She had Katie. Margot. The library. Faceless clients and a secure Internet connection. She’d liked it that way, wanted it that way.

After Eric had come into her life and destroyed so much, she’d done everything in her power to shrink her exposure to the outside world down to practically nothing. Her oasis. But the outside world still forced itself upon her. It broke into her house. Threatened her family.

The clatter of wood and metal snapped her head around. Matt stood at the edge of the lawn, watching her.

“You okay?” he asked, tilting his head. Sunlight glinted off his glasses, obliterating his eyes.

She nodded, unsure of what she would say if she opened her mouth.

IT TOOK TWO DAYS to finally get to the hardware store because he got distracted by the cobblestones and breaking up the concrete pad.

He’d also tried his damnedest to get any one of the O’Neill women to talk to him about Vanessa.

But they weren’t talking.

Even Katie, when he’d asked her about her grandmother, had given him a blank look and left.

All this led him to believe that Vanessa hadn’t come here yet. And he had to wonder if she planned on just waltzing in here, because it was obvious she wouldn’t be very welcome.

Bright and early on Wednesday, Matt drove into town and found the hardware store. It was well-stocked for a town this size and what he couldn’t put in his cart—the tiller, chain saw and sod—he was able to have delivered.

“We can get you two more bags of cement,” the old man behind the counter said, his red plaid shirt straining at the buttons over his belly. “In fact, let me check in the warehouse, sometimes we keep overflow there.”

“Great,” Matt said, and the man tucked his pencil behind his ear and left. Matt started piling up the hand tools, gloves and nails on the counter, but jumped when a woman slid into the old man’s spot.

“You that man working out at the Manor?” she asked, her long gray hair pulled into a ponytail, her eyes, behind glasses, bright and focused. Rabid, nearly.

“That would be me,” he said, cautiously.

“I told you, Doug!” she yelled, and another man, a younger version of the man in red plaid, appeared at her elbow.

“So?” she asked. “Is it true what they say?”

Matt blinked. “What exactly do they say?”

“That Margot’s crazy,” the woman said.

“And Savannah’s a slut,” Doug said bitterly, and the woman slapped his arm.

“Watch yourself,” she said. “There’s no need for name calling.”

Doug didn’t for a second seem sheepish and Matt had the urge to teach the boy some manners with his fists, but he realized an opportunity when he saw one.

If the O’Neills wouldn’t talk about the O’Neills, maybe he could get his news from another source. And there was nothing as far-reaching as small-town gossip.

“They seem fine enough,” he answered, leaning against the counter as if settling in for a nice chat. “My name is Matt.”

“Cheryl,” she said, smiling. “This is my boy, Doug.”

“Nice to meet you,” he said, pouring it on a little thick, but Cheryl seemed to eat it up. “Now what’s this about Margot being crazy?”

“Well, people been saying it for years, that Margot buries money in the backyard.”