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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.


Many thanks to my Cozymysterywriters critique group—Susan Page Davis, Lisa Harris, and Darlene Franklin. I treasure your input, encouragement, and friendship. And thanks to my Centex ACFW group. It’s so nice to see other writers in person on a regular basis.

To my family: Thank you for putting up with late dinners, leftovers, and a groggy wife and mom in the morning.

In memory of the original Spot kitty (1995–2007). My feet are colder at night without you.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

I Timothy 6:10

Chapter One

Rain pounded the window of our first-floor bed- room. Thunder had woken me at who knows what insane hour in the middle of the night, and all I could do was watch the show until the storm passed. Lightning illuminated the field of watermelons across the driveway. The vines lit up with the flash, and the watermelons among the leaves remained steadfast against the rain. A sudden movement among the vines made me rise up on one elbow in bed. The movement stopped.

Another flash of lightning, and I glimpsed a bulky figure hunched over the vines. So I hadn’t been seeing things. Four miles from town, we didn’t have neighbors, and our property was flanked by woods on both sides and by the now-swollen Tennessee River to the rear of the property.

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