“I need you to take care of something. It’s regarding Broward.”
“I finished that job.”
“Yeah, there was an overlooked detail. It’s a girl, his intern. She’s been calling Parks. She knows we are involved and won’t drop it. She lives in some piece-of-shit house near the university and probably has roommates. I’ll send you the address. I’m sure the police will make the connection, but try and make it look like an accident.”
“Also, find out if she talked to anyone.”
He was silent a moment, running his hand along the leather steering wheel. “You want me to make it look like an accident, but torture her in the process?”
“Be creative, Leo. Just get it f**king handled without anyone calling the cops. I don’t care if you burn the whole shithole down with the roommates inside.”
“Okay. Tomorrow night.”
* * *
HE STOOD OVER me, zipping up his pants, my monitor now a galaxy of stars. I lay, weak and spent, still on the floor, not wanting to get up, to have to move in any way.
“How much longer will you be working?” His dry voice held an edge of sarcasm, and I bristled, raising myself up on one elbow.
“Well, I would be done working, if it wasn’t for your interruption.”
“You can work tomorrow.” His tone had an order to it that I didn’t like.
“I want to finish up here.”
He sighed, frustrated. I reluctantly moved, rolling over and sitting up, and looked around for my shorts, finally seeing them in the corner of my office. I stood, pulled them on and yanked out my disaster of a ponytail, finger-combing my hair.
“You need to get out of here.” I spoke quietly, worried that we would be caught.
His mouth twitched, but he nodded. Collected, his hands in his pockets, he didn’t look as if he had spent the past half hour banging the intern. The thought struck me as funny, and I fought a giggle. He shook his head wryly at me, then turned and left the office.
I sank into my office chair, half giddy with pleasure, half furious at myself for yielding to his sexuality. Good God, I am in trouble.
I wrapped up the filing, shut down the computer and grabbed my cell and keys, locking my office door and moving quietly through the dark halls, down the back stairwell and into the parking garage. There was a note on the windshield of my Camry. “Call me.” Unsigned.
I started my car and headed for home, my stomach growling along the way. I dialed Brad’s number, and he answered on the second ring.
“Do you have dinner plans?”
“No, but I think I’ll eat at home. I already got what I needed from you,” I teased, putting on my signal and changing lanes.
He laughed, and I heard road noise in the background. “Despite that, let me take you to dinner.”
I hesitated for a moment, my heart well aware of the nosedive it was taking into the pool of love. Love that, knowing Brad’s history, would never be returned to my satisfaction. I should refuse, fight to keep what distance I could until I figured out what the hell my long-term plan was. “Okay. But somewhere casual.”
“Pick you up in fifteen at your house?”
“See you then.” I grinned despite myself, hanging up the phone. Yep. Nose-diving straight into those dark depths. At least I saw my demise coming. For whatever that was worth.
Brad was, as always, irritatingly punctual, and I slid into his white BMW in a pair of faded jeans, flip-flops and a scoop-neck white shirt. He gave my outfit an appraising glance before putting the car in reverse and backing out of my driveway.
“I’m sorry, is there a problem with my outfit?” I asked innocently.
“Only that I want to tear it off you,” he growled, leaning over and kissing me. I pulled away, playfully smacking him. “Watch the road!”
He laughed and leaned back in his seat, his face dark in the car, lit occasionally by oncoming traffic. I fastened my seat belt and watched him. He seemed distracted, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel in tune to the radio. He glanced over, catching my eyes. “You shouldn’t have been in the wing alone. Not after what happened to Kent.”
I frowned. “I’ve been in the office countless times that late.”
“I know, but normally there is other staff around. Just, given the circumstances, you should have told security.”
“If I had told security, they probably wouldn’t have let me up there.”
He laughed. “Good point. So what, pray tell, was so important?”
I leaned back into the seat. “I don’t know. I was just sick of being at home. I needed a distraction.”
“Which you got.”
I turned to him, grinning. “Yes. Thank you, oh great one, for my distraction.”
He squeezed my hand, then released it, putting both hands on the wheel, his face distracted.
“Thinking about Broward?” I asked.
He stopped drumming and looked over at me, his expression serious. “Yeah.”
“You don’t seem very upset.”
“I’ve had two days to absorb it, Julia. But you already knew that Kent and I weren’t close.”
I closed my eyes briefly, sitting back on the plush leather seat. Yes, I knew he and Broward didn’t get along. We had had that discussion early on, when Broward told me that Brad had f**ked his wife, Claire, six years ago on a corporate retreat. The information had caused me to step away, and almost meant the end of our budding relationship.
“I know. Still. You were so...mad when you found out, and were so quiet yesterday. It’s just been an odd course of reactions.”
He reached over and grabbed my hand, squeezing it reassuringly. “Julia, I have my own way of dealing with things. I don’t want to ruin any more time I have with you.”
I ran my fingers lightly over our clasped hands, loving how small and delicate my hand looked in his.
We pulled up to a strip mall that had one end occupied by a restaurant. Navigating the crowded parking lot, he pulled up to the front, lit by a neon light, to let me out. I opened the door and stepped out, moving through waiting patrons as he pulled away to park. I was smiling in anticipation as I pulled open the door and walked into pure, crowded deliciousness.
Despite my Scottish surname, I’ve always secretly wanted to be Italian. Though no Italian blood runs in my veins, I have gone ahead and adopted their food, lovemaking and overall passion for life. The cheap, strip mall door opened to a wave of noise and smells of Parmesan cheese and marinara. I could barely squeeze in the door, a small crowd filling the small lobby. I took a half step in and waited, trying to see through the crowd for a hostess. I finally saw one, and caught her eye.