One from the vaults! Out of print for years! Take a trip back to 2003…

She sent him to jail…but now he’s back to steal her heart…

Three years ago, Lisa Shadd’s testimony sent Deacon Campbell to jail. Now he’s back in their small hometown, trying to make a new start.

Lisa’s never forgotten Deacon, but when someone begins targeting her for a series of increasingly creepy pranks, it’s Deacon everyone wants to blame.

Can Lisa look beyond the past and give Deacon the trust he insists he deserves?

Convicted is a contemporary small-town romance with a hint of romantic suspense. It features a slow-burn, second-chance romance, and aside from light editing, remains as it was originally published in 2003. This book was one of Megan Hart’s very first published novels. Get nostalgic! Fall back to the days before smartphones and social media, when people still used answering machines and VCRs.

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What a difference a week could make. Deacon and Lisa had gone from being wary adversaries to laughing together over stupid jokes. Even now, he watched as she chuckled with one of their student interns about the antics of a popular television cartoon duo. Deacon lifted his face to the bright spring sun squinting against the glare. The heat felt good on his skin. He’d been feeling a lot of heat lately, and only some of it from the warmer weather.

He could fall in love with a woman who wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. More than dirty actually. Downright filthy. He watched Lisa wipe her skin on the faded denim jeans she wore, admiring the way the action pulled the light blue cloth so tight against her…

“Rear?” Lisa asked.

Deacon snapped to attention, feeling like a little boy with his hand in the cookie jar. “What?”

Lisa gave him an odd look. “I asked if you wanted to start working on the rear.”

Hell, yeah, Deacon wanted to say, but he knew she meant the rear of the garden plot. Not hers. “Sure. Just let me grab a drink.”

“It’s roasting out here today.” She met him at the truck and took the chilled bottle of water he handed her. “I can’t believe it’s only April.”

Lisa raised the bottle to her forehead and rubbed it along her skin, then dropped the cold plastic down to the base of her throat. Deacon’s own throat constricted at the sight. He’d been around plenty of women whose every action was planned to push a man’s buttons. Women like Allegra, for example. But Lisa did nothing more than breathe, and he felt like a horny teenage boy again. 

“It’s really coming together.” Lisa nodded toward the work crew setting rows of perennial grasses along the brick path. “How’s the pond?”

Deacon watched the movement of her throat as she swallowed, wanting to put his mouth on the tender skin there. “Almost ready for the fish.”

Lisa smiled at him, as though completely oblivious to the effect she had on him. “We’ll have this put to bed way before deadline.”

Put to bed. The picture that phrase called to Deacon’s mind was one he’d have to shove away, and quickly, if he wasn’t going to embarrass himself. “Want to walk over and check it out with me?”

Lisa tilted her wrist, then scowled. “Damn, I keep forgetting I lost my watch. I’m meeting Terry at noon for lunch.”

Would it be have been stupid and childish to lie to her about the time just so he could steal some of her time away from Terry? Of course. Was Deacon above being stupid and childish? When it came to Lisa, he didn’t think so.

“You’ve got plenty of time,” he said, though noon was only about ten minutes away. “C’mon. You can tell me which fountainhead you like better.”

The pond was only a short distance from the rest of the garden. Eventually, a stone path would connect the two spaces, but for now they trudged through dirt and clods of grass. The rough ground made walking tricky, and Deacon reached out a hand to steady Lisa when she kicked a rock out of the way.

“Oh, wow,” she said, looking at the quietly churning expanse of water. “The kids are going to love this!”

He hoped so. It was his best work so far and Deacon was proud of it. He showed her the two types of heads for the pump. One would create a bell of water, and one would make the water spurt up in a traditional fountain spray. “Which one?”

Lisa touched the bell fitting. “That one.”

Installing it meant wading into the knee-high water. “I’ll do it later.”

Lisa tilted her wrist again, letting out another frustrated exclamation. “Damn!”

Even when he’d known her three years ago, she’d never been without a watch. Constantly checking the time was a habit of Lisa’s, one that was almost obsessive and nearly unconscious. She’d check her watch in the middle of a sentence and continue without missing a beat. It used to bother him, like she always had someplace else to be, but seeing her without the familiar timepiece on her arm seemed strange.

“What happened to your watch?” He tried to lure her into conversation that would make her forget about meeting Terry. At least for a few more minutes.

She shrugged and looked annoyed. “I don’t know. I always, always leave it on my dresser next to my birthstone ring. A few days ago, it was gone.”

Over Lisa’s shoulder, he could see the Memorial Park parking lot. A shiny blue cruiser had just pulled in alongside the Garden Shadd truck, and a tall blond figure was stepping out. Terry. Deacon kept talking.

“Maybe you took it off someplace else.”

Lisa shook her head. “I don’t think so.” She laughed a little uneasily. “Then again, I seem to be misplacing a lot of things lately. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say someone was sneaking into my house and stealing…”

Her voice trailed off and she met his eyes. There it was again, that damned invisible wall he’d thought they’d torn down. Deacon smiled to show he didn’t take offense even though the thought did get under his skin. Would the subject of theft forever be associated with him?

“But I’m sure I’m just getting absent-minded in my old age.” Lisa tried to joke. “I mean, the stuff that’s missing doesn’t have any value to it.”

Deacon flicked his glance over her shoulder again. Healey hadn’t yet spotted them, but it would only be a matter of time. “What kind of stuff?”

Lisa ducked her head with an embarrassed smile. “Oh, just…things. Some laundry. A hairbrush. My favorite lipstick. I’m sure they’ll turn up.”

“Sure,” Deacon agreed, still watching Healey.

Lisa turned and saw Terry who still hadn’t seen them. “Oh, shoot, I think I’m late. I’ve got to go.”

“I’ll walk back with you.”

It must be a real thorn in Terry’s side to know how much time they were spending with each other, Deacon thought with a nasty smile as he followed her. Not that any of the time he spent with Lisa was anything more than business, of course, but as the project got further underway, they had been spending more time on the job. He wasn’t complaining. 

Lisa’s foot caught a clump of earth and she started to trip. Instantly, Deacon’s arm flew out to catch her before she could fall. Instead, Lisa stumbled against him with a soft, startled, “oh!” He could smell the lush fragrance of her hair and the perfume she dabbed at the base of her throat and behind her ears. It was intoxicating.

For one eternal moment, Lisa didn’t pull away from his grasp. Her hands rested lightly on his forearms and her knees tapped his shins. She stared up at him, lips slightly parted. He’d seen that look in her eyes before. It was how she’d looked when she wanted him to kiss her.

“Lisa!” Terry’s voice broke the spell, and Lisa stepped quickly out of Deacon’s grasp. 

“Right here,” she called. She looked back at Deacon. “I’ll see you back at the office, okay?”

He didn’t have any choice in the matter, so Deacon nodded. He turned and headed back toward the pond. He might not be able to keep Terry from taking her to lunch, but he sure as hell didn’t have to watch the two of them making kissy faces with each other.