A Wrong Way Home by Alice Orr - Read Online
A Wrong Way Home
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Summary

Kara Cartwright returns to her hometown on the same night Anthony Benton is murdered. But she doesn’t know anything about that. She only knows she vowed never to come back here to Riverton, New York or to see Matt Kalli again. 

Matt has made a vow of his own. He’ll never forgive Kara, the woman who loved him then betrayed him nine years ago. And he can’t forgive himself for the way she’s stuck in his heart. 

All that these two have in common is their hatred of Anthony Benton. Now he’s dead and they could be suspects. People they care deeply about could be suspects too. That gives Matt and Kara something else in common – a desperate search for the real killer before he strikes again. 

A Wrong Way Home is the 1st book in the Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series set in and around Riverton, New York, a town in the remote North Country. Danger and romance featuring the Kalli family, the four Kalli brothers and the fortunate people who find safety and a warm welcome at Kalli Corner on Riverton Road. A Year of Summer Shadows is the 2nd book in the series. 

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ISBN: 9781513028408
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    Alice Orr

    A WRONG WAY HOME

    Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1

    Matt and Kara’s Story

    Copyright @ 2015 by Alice Orr

    Alice Orr Books

    A Division of Alice Orr Agency

    New York, NY

    All rights reserved.

    This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, business establishments, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

    All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, or as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission from the author. Please respect the hard work of the author and do not support piracy.

    Including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

    Manufactured in the United States of America.

    ISBN – 9781508421924

    Cover Art & Interior Design by The Killion Group Inc.

    DEDICATION

    To my husband Jonathan who is always my romantic hero –

    And to my family, my friends and my faith.

    -R|R-

    Buy Alice’s Books at – http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E

    Visit Alice’s Website – www.aliceorrbooks.com

    Email Alice – aliceorrbooks@gmail.com

    Follow Alice on Twitter – www.twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks

    Follow Alice on Facebook – facebook.com/aliceorrwriter

    Sign up for Alice’s Blog and Contests and Giveaways Here.

    Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series –

    What Amazon Readers Are Saying

    -R|R-

    A WRONG WAY HOME

    Book 1 – Matt & Kara’s Story

    Alice Orr hits it out of the park. If you see her name, grab the book.

    The puzzle of a mystery, the heat of a romance, the emotional journey of a women's fiction. A WRONG WAY HOME has complex characters and a small town setting sure to charm the reader.

    Kept me turning pages. So many twists in plot kept me wondering what would happen next. All I can say is well done! Bring on the rest in this series.

    Delicious, well-written suspense spiced with a love story for fun… The 5 stars, however, is for the extremely well-written literature hidden within this story. I highly recommend this read.

    A Year of Summer Shadows –

    Book 2 – Mark & Hailey’s Story

    Anytime I see Alice Orr's name on a book, I will be sure and pick it up. I know I am in for a great ride. Always strong, entertaining characters. Plenty of suspense with never knowing ‘who done it’ till late in story, lots of food for thought and just the right amount of romance.

    Another great read! Alice keeps you wanting to read faster, then when you have finished the last page, you want more.

    Move this one to the TOP of your beach read pile! The second installment of Alice Orr's Riverton Road series doesn't disappoint… a must read for lovers of romantic suspense.

    Ms. Orr has the unique ability to involve the reader in the emotions and deepest thoughts of the characters. She makes you care, she makes you wonder, she allows her characters to take the reader on a dangerous ride through the shadows of a small town and lives that mean more than what they appear, just as they would in any small town. She writes about the good and the bad, leaving it up to the reader to see through the shades into the light.

    Hurray, Alice Orr swept me off into romantic-suspense land again! Keep 'em coming!

    A Vacancy at the Inn –

    Book 3 – Luke & Bethany’s Story

    Alice Orr brings a sense of place to life nearly as fully as a character. And the love story in this quick, engaging read was very satisfying. Well-developed undercurrents of suspense move the story along at an irresistible pace.

    I loved this book. It is a perfect Christmas read… Though a novella, Alice has packed a great deal of love, suspense and family in a well-plotted and wonderfully written story.

    The Miller family is rife with personality quirks, an authenticity that demonstrates Alice Orr's skill as a writer. I felt right at home with the Millers, who could easily be my own family.

    I'm an enthusiastic fan of Alice Orr's series. How does she wrap up so many wonderful characters in such a now-familiar setting? Then there's the additional exquisite tension between two lovers and the scary happenings as well.

    A wonderful story filled with warm-hearted people readers will come to love. Give yourself a Christmas gift and curl up with this book.

    A Villain for Vanessa –

    Book 4 – Bobby & Vanessa’s Story

    Orr’s ability to raise the stakes and keep the tension high is remarkable. Her characters are multidimensional and her scenic details vivid. She hooked me from the start and kept me turning pages until the satisfying ending.

    A mystery, a book of suspense, a study of family dynamics, or a romance; this novel is all of those and then some.

    The first sentence of this novel can be any creative writing teacher’s favorite example of a hook. ‘Carl Westerlo’s pudgy fingers caught the corner of an asphalt shingle and tried to hold on, but there was no chance of that.’ Just this opening is enough for me to utter a Wow!

    Alice Orr has a deft hand for every necessary element of fiction. She nails the breath-stopping pace of tightly written suspense, wields the kind of tension, shifts and twists that don't let you look away. I was gripped before I was off the first page. That's a writer’s big gift at work, both for the reader and the story.

    A Time of Fear and Loving –

    Book 5 – Mike & Amanda’s Story

    Alice Orr is the queen of ramped-up stakes and page-turning suspense.

    The best one yet, Alice! Dead bodies on a riverbank and a budding romance that simmers in the background until it ignites with passion.

    I thought, Well, I'll read a few pages before I go to sleep. Ha! After the first 20 pages, I could hardly wait to see what Mike and Amanda were going to do next. I was charmed by these vibrant characters. Before I knew it… three o'clock in the morning! And, with a satisfied sigh, I closed the book and went to sleep.

    Gripping from the first page. Couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. Alice is brilliant at weaving romance into mystery and her novels are always page turners! I loved it!

    I am a big fan of this series…. Each story is a killer page turner that challenges your blood pressure to stay in its normal range!

    A NOTE FROM ALICE

    I was born and raised a North Country girl. I grew up on a one-block street in a town a lot like Riverton, the setting of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series.

    The winters were hard, but summers were soft. Spring was welcome, and fall blazed with color. The North Country ended a couple of dozen miles away at the dark green waters of the Saint Lawrence River and its beautiful Thousand Islands, a summer wonderland where we lived in shorts and tee shirts and bathing suits. Sandals sometimes too, but I preferred barefoot. Winter was another wonderland filled with sleds and toboggans and my personal favorite, ice skates.

    I return to the North Country now mostly by imagination, and I have a vivid one. I don’t remember a single murder happening while I grew up there. I didn’t know about any passionate romances either, but I love to conjure both in my stories. The same way I conjure Riverton and the Kalli family of Riverton Road and the Miller family of Riverton Road Hill.

    Welcome to Riverton. I hope you have a thrilling visit. If you’d like to say Hi there to this North Country girl, please don’t hesitate to email me at aliceorrbooks@gmail.com. I can’t wait to hear from you. Blessings. Alice

    RIVERTON ROAD ROMANTIC SUSPENSE SERIES

    Book 1 – A Wrong Way Home

    Book 2 – A Year of Summer Shadows

    Book 3 – A Vacancy at the Inn

    Book 4 – A Villain for Vanessa

    Book 5 – A Time of Fear and Loving

    Book 6 Series Finale – A Thankful Season – In progress

    ANTHONY BENTON

    Anthony Benton wasn’t in the habit of walking across the lawn to his condo complex, especially not on a miserable night like this one. He valued his Bruno Magli pull-ons too much for that. What if somebody saw him slipping and scrambling through wet leaves like a snake in the grass?

    Good thing nobody important enough for him to care about would be out here in this damned weather. It was supposed to be spring, but you’d never guess that in this godforsaken place.

    Spindly new trees whipped in the wind as far as their short trunks would bend while Anthony counted the weeks backward in his mind – one, two, three, four. This crap had only been going on for a month. His aggravation made it feel like a lot longer.

    He woke up every morning with anger churning inside him. He almost couldn’t remember a time when he didn't have to worry about things like whether taking the shortcut across the lawn was safer than the longer way around the curved sidewalk.

    How could he have ended up in such a humiliating position, scrambling from his car to his house like a scared animal? He’d worked too hard making himself into Anthony Benton for this to be happening to him now. Worst of all, there was nobody in this jerkwater town he could go to for help.

    What was he supposed to say? My dim bulb ex-wife is stalking me.

    He’d be the butt of jokes from every hayseed in the county. Too many people envied him, and most of them were dim bulbs too. He'd have to put up with their sneers, or they’d roast him even more. That's how it was in a place like Riverton.

    The damp mist had turned into a steady drizzle. Anthony cursed under his breath and walked faster. He’d left his umbrella in the car. A month ago, he would never have made that miscalculation.

    He'd have had a plan laid out in his mind, with each step carefully considered and not a single flaw in the thinking. He'd have grabbed the umbrella from under the driver's seat and had it at the ready in the outside pocket of his briefcase.

    He'd parked under those dripping trees tonight because the walkway to the complex was only a few yards across the macadam from there. He’d done that because of her, to cut down on the chance she'd catch up to him between the car and the building, the way she had two nights before.

    She’d shouted and sniveled and grabbed at his clothes. He was sure some of his neighbors must have witnessed the scene from their windows. She’d made threats, too, said she’d get a gun and come after him.

    He’d itched to pick her up and throw her as hard as he could onto the pavement right then. He was plenty strong enough to do that. He’d picked her up and thrown her plenty of times before, back when he was dumb enough to still be with her. But that was always in private. If he laid a hand on her in public and somebody saw it, he'd be the one in trouble.

    That's how it went these days with bitches like her. They’d whine about being victims, and everybody was on their side. But he knew what to do about that. When payback time came for all of this, he’d be sure to make his revenge very sweet, with an extra dose of punishment for the soggy leaves on his car. And he’d also make sure that payback time came soon.

    The wind picked up with a cold, wet blast down Anthony’s neck. He didn't have a raincoat with him any more than he had an umbrella. He hunched as far as he could into his saturated shirt collar. Payback was on its way for this, too. He’d make her regret every uncomfortable moment he’d ever suffered because of her. He'd commit himself a thousand percent to being absolutely certain that happened.

    She whined about how unhappy he'd made her in the past. Those days would feel like a kindergarten picnic compared to what was coming in return for these past four weeks. And tonight was at the top of his list of reasons for making her sorrier than she’d ever been for anything in her worthless, miserable, unimportant life.

    He hated her so much it almost warmed him up, even in this frigid rain. He hated her so much he'd love to choke her dead with his bare hands right now. He imagined himself squeezing harder and harder until he felt her bones snap under his fingers.

    As soon as he could figure out a way to kill her, he'd do it, not with his own hands of course. He'd be too likely to get caught if he did that. He'd get somebody else to kill her, and he wouldn’t waste time on a second thought about it. He knew guys who’d do any job for a price. He knew one guy in particular.

    The bitch deserved it, but that pleasure would have to wait. Right now, all he wanted was to get out of this rain and into the classy condo he loved almost as much as he loved his car.

    Anthony flashed on an image of Victoria opening the door the way she liked to do every now and then, wearing nothing but the fur coat he’d bought her last Christmas. She wasn’t anything like his ex-wife.

    Victoria was the kind of woman who knew how to make a man feel good. He almost smiled. Maybe it was the vision of Victoria slowly opening the coat for him that caused Anthony to relax his cautiousness for just an instant.

    Or, maybe he was forced to pay too close attention to where he put his feet in their fancy shoes that were getting soggier with every step. The harsh Northern New York State weather this past winter, the first winter since this condo complex was completed, had heaved some of the pathway’s flagstones out of line with the others, making for treacherous walking in the cold April rain.

    Whatever the distraction may have been, Anthony didn't hear the footsteps behind him or sense the jagged rock lifted above his head. He did feel a single shock of sharp pain and hear a voice echo out of long-ago memory. It was his mother calling to him, even though she'd been dead a dozen years.

    Be careful, Tonio! Don't fall!

    Then everything went black and silent for Tonio Bento, aka Anthony Benton, and would remain that way forever.

    CHAPTER ONE

    Kara Cartwright was in Riverton against her better judgment and in violation of her vow to stay away from Northern New York altogether. Only Aunt Dee could have made this happen, and she had to pass away to do it. Kara took her hand off the steering wheel to brush tears from her eyes. Being back in Riverton was bad enough. Being here without Aunt Dee was unthinkable.

    Kara hadn’t expected her aunt to leave her the tall, white Victorian on Flower Street, much less a monthly income sufficient to keep the place and herself going if she was careful about what she spent and how she spent it. Kara’s first thought had been to put the house on the market quick and take off back to civilization even quicker. She wasn’t surprised to find out Dee had stuffed a wet blanket into that loophole. Her will stipulated that Kara had to live in the house for a year before she could sell out and make a run for it.

    Those same strings were tangled around the monthly income too. Aunt Dee had always known how to get what she wanted, though she did so in the most loving of ways. She’d meant this to be loving too. Kara had no doubt of that. There was no denying her life could use a new direction at the moment. So she’d given in to her savvy aunt and turned her compass northward from New York City, sighing all the way but trying not to grumble too much.

    Everything difficult about Kara’s life had started in the North Country, except for Matthew Kalli. He was the opposite of difficult, easy to look at and easy to love. Too bad it turned out he was also bad for her to be with. Otherwise, they’d still be together, burning down the bed as he used to call it. He also used to say she only wanted him for his family, but that wasn’t true. She’d wanted him for himself. She’d wanted Matt and nothing but Matt for as long as they both would live. But that wasn’t the way things went, not by a long shot.

    Now she was driving north, returning to the same place she’d run away from and doing the same thing that caused her to run away, thinking about Matt and nothing but Matt all over again. The reality of that made her grip the steering wheel till her knuckles went dead white in the dim interior of the secondhand car she street parked, even back in Manhattan, because she couldn’t imagine anybody being dumb enough to steal it.

    You’d better lighten up on this wheel and get a grip on yourself, girl, she muttered.

    She’d taken the old road north from the New York State Thruway at Utica. The Thruway was straighter and faster, but she figured that wasn’t the way for her to go tonight. She needed to ease herself gradually into her past. A straight, fast highway wouldn’t do that, so she’d driven the high crown, curving roads all the way from Central New York. That meant it was dark by the time she got to Riverton, but not too dark for her to see that her hometown looked as familiar as she’d known it would, all tucked in, everything where it should be for the night.

    Everything except her. She was the one out of place here. She always had been, and she’d made up her mind long ago that she always would be. But, as Aunt Dee said in the letter accompanying her will, sometimes the place you need to go is home, no matter what your mind may be telling you. The possible truth of that made Kara suddenly uneasy, which might explain the impulse that struck her as she turned onto State Avenue. She was still telling herself she shouldn’t act on that impulse when she jerked the wheel so hard the tires squealed, into the parking lot of the Victory Diner at the corner of State and William.

    She wondered who owned this property now. She knew her father didn’t manage it anymore, or any of the other properties he’d been in charge of when she was a kid. Robert Cartwright hadn’t managed anything in Riverton in the twenty years since he ran off, leaving her at age nine to do the managing for him, of herself at least.

    Her father never came back to Riverton, and after he left it had taken her ten years and a whole lot of trouble, including Matt Kalli, to get out of here on her own. Now she was back, doing her best not to start shivering uncontrollably while the memories flooded through her, just as she’d been afraid they would.

    Get your head out of the past, Kara, she muttered aloud yet again. And you’d better stop talking to yourself or they’ll say you’re crazy as your mother was.

    She did shiver then and had to lift her hand from the wheel once more to wipe away tears. She was right, of course, about not chewing over the past. She had plenty enough to deal with in the present, and the present was what she needed to focus on, along with finding a phone. Her cellphone had died a couple of hours before, and she was suddenly convinced she must make a call. She was counting on the way Riverton hardly ever changed to help her do that.

    All the time she was growing up in this town, there’d been a telephone booth outside the Victory Diner. And, sure enough, it was still here, next to the parking area at the side of the long, railroad-car-shaped eatery. Kara felt comforted by that somehow. Maybe she’d find what she needed in Riverton after all. Or maybe the telephone still being here only signified that the North Country was too far out of the loop to know phone booths had disappeared almost everywhere else.

    Kara was more up-to-the-minute than that. She’d already been thinking of Matt when she made a pit stop at the New Baltimore rest area back near Albany just before her cellphone lost its charge. She’d accessed Google to find the number she needed. That was the only thing she’d made certain to do in preparation for her homecoming. The rest had been pretty much a fast dash up the Thruway. She wasn’t even sure what she’d packed. Maybe she’d have to wear the jeans and T-shirt she had on for the rest of her North Country life, however long or short that might be.

    She tried to remember if she’d brought the charger that would revive her cellphone, but everything since her decision to make this trip was a fog her brain couldn’t seem to penetrate. All she’d been able to think clearly about back at the New Baltimore rest area was that Matt Kalli might not have left Riverton, the same way he’d never left her consciousness. Still, she’d been stunned by the sight of his name glaring out at her from the bright white cell phone screen. She’d gone quiet for a moment then and breathed a prayer of thanks. Matt still lived on Riverton Road.

    He was exactly where he’d always been, like this telephone booth was where it had always been, on the corner of State Avenue and William Street, waiting for Kara to give in to the impulse she knew all too well she should ignore.

    CHAPTER TWO

    Matt Kalli stopped in the side yard for a minute to look at his mother through the kitchen window. Angela Kalli wouldn’t be able to see him out here in the dark. He watched her move back and forth, quickly but gracefully, the way she always moved, in the warm light of the warm place she’d created for the Kalli family and anybody else they might drag home.

    Matt wasn’t a man who made a practice of letting his feelings show. He’d stopped doing much of that a long time ago, but he made an exception when it came to his mother. He loved her with all his heart and admired her just as much, and he didn’t care who knew it.

    She was what other people called a handsome woman, but to her firstborn son she was simply beautiful. She was tall, the way every Kalli was tall. She and his father Gus had passed those rangy genes on to all of them, and Angela made certain they never lost an inch of their natural-born height to poor posture.

    Slouching was one of what Matt and his brothers affectionately referred to as Angela’s Serious Sins. This particular sin was punishable by a poke between the shoulder blades as she hurried past on her way to getting something done in the nearly perfect way she had of doing almost everything.

    Angela knew exactly what she wanted, and she didn’t care much what anybody else thought about her preferences. According to family legend, her perpetually jet-black hair had once caused an acquaintance of hers to suggest she should take on another shade. To be exact, this person said Angela should think about letting her hair go gray and implied it was the only righteous choice.

    Allow my hair to turn gray? Why would I want to do that? was Angela’s reply.

    Because going gray is a symbol of self-acceptance, and practicing self-acceptance is always best.

    What’s best for me is what I decide is best for me, Angela said. Perhaps you should try practicing other-acceptance.

    Nothing further was ever spoken on the subject as far as Matt knew, and his mother’s hair remained jet black. He smiled about that now as he took long, eager strides across the wide porch and opened the front door to its usual loud squeak.

    Every time Matt heard that sound he remembered when his younger brother Mark, the second son, the son who always tried to fix everything and everybody, oiled the hinges to get rid of the noise. Angela not only made him clean off the oil, she had him rough up the hinges with steel wool until the squeak was back louder than ever.

    That’s how I know when one of you is coming or going, she’d said. And I intend to keep on knowing that.

    True to her promise, she called out from the kitchen now.

    Is that you, Matt?

    Yes it is, Mom.

    Who are you bringing to Sunday supper?

    Matt laughed. His mother had been asking him that for what felt like forever, and he answered the same way he always did.

    Bobby Rizzo and a big appetite.

    Bobby’s always here for Sunday dinner. He’s a good boy and I love him dearly, but he’s not what I was hoping for.

    Matt leaned down to kiss his mother’s cheek, marveling as he always did at how the smell of her kitchen made him feel at peace. Not that she was a peaceful woman all the time herself. Angela Reardon Kalli’s temper was a force to be reckoned with like the rest of her, and many family stories were told about it.

    She had calmness in her all the same, and a way of creating a haven of safety for anyone who needed it. He’d come back to that haven nine years ago when he was the needy one,