Southern Comfort - Natasha Madison

Chapter One


“Hello?” I say after two rings, and then I want to kick myself when I realize I didn’t even check to see who it was.

“You have a collect call from an inmate at …” When the recorded message starts, I do what I’ve done the other fifty times and hang up. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath and put down the phone.

“Why can’t he just fucking leave me alone?” I wonder if this will ever end. Will he ever stop trying to call me? I’ve already called his lawyer and threatened to file a restraining order against him if he doesn’t stop trying to contact me. His lawyer assured me that his client would stop. Surprise, he lied. It seems I was going to have to get my own lawyer and do what I needed to do for me. I put my hands on my face, and my stomach grumbles. Looking up to check the clock on the stove, I see it’s after three. I’ve been sitting at Casey’s island since this morning. I love working here. The windows make everything so bright that I almost feel like I’m outside. He even brought me wildflowers from the field the other day to bring color into the house.

“Shit, how did it get so late?” I’ve been working on the Christmas spread for the magazine. Since Kallie did not come over this morning, I just worked straight through. Standing, I walk over to the fridge and take out the plate of sandwiches that Charlotte delivered this morning along with fresh muffins. I also grab the bottle of wine and pour myself a glass. I’m not driving anywhere, and it’s almost five o’clock. As I pick up the glass to take a drink, my phone rings again. I groan, but this time, I check who’s calling first.


“Hey there, cowboy,” I say after I swipe to answer it.

“Hey, darlin’.” His voice comes out smooth, and I smile, which is silly since I live with him, and I saw him three hours ago. “Whatcha doin’?” I’ve never actually lived with a man. I mean, I’m not living living with him since I sleep in my room and he sleeps in his. But we do share the kitchen and the living room, and he does walk around without a shirt, which wreaks havoc on my restraint. He’s just making sure you’re safe, Olivia, I keep reminding myself over and over.

“I’m just about to eat a sand—” I say with a smirk, and then something catches my attention out of the corner of my eye, and I stop talking. Looking over, I see a shadow on the back porch. I move my head to the side, hoping to get a glimpse of his face, but I only see a black jacket. I don’t know why, but my senses go into overload. I’m sure it’s nothing. Probably just my imagination playing games with me.

“Hello?” Casey says.

“Someone was at the back door.” The words come out in a whisper, and my heart pounds. Then I turn back to where I saw the shadow, but nothing is there.

“What do you mean?” he asks, his voice tight now as I try to get my heart rate back to normal. But something isn’t right, and I don’t know what it is.

I turn and start to walk back. “I just saw a shadow at the back door, and I was …” But I stop when I feel eyes looking at me and turn to see beady eyes looking at me from the side window.

I scream out in fright and shock as the phone falls from my hand and the wine bottle that I forgot I was holding crashes to the floor and shatters. Looking down, I see the wine all over the floor around my feet, and then my eyes travel over to look at the phone and the picture of me and Casey lit up on the screen. When I look up again toward the window, I see him. He smiles at me, but nothing about his smile is friendly. Dressed in all black, he looks like he has his hair pulled back into a ponytail and a scar across his cheek. He screams evil, and when my mind finally places him, I gasp. I recognize the man from the picture Jacob showed me a couple of weeks ago of the man he found lurking on Casey’s property, pretending he was lost.

“Olivia.” The man says my name and knocks on