I looked into his eyes. “Just a feeling. Something is off. I’m just trying to figure it out. I figured extra information couldn’t hurt.”
He sighed, reaching for the creamer and adding a little to his cup. “I shouldn’t be drinking this,” he remarked. “Dr. Bonner told me to cut back on my caffeine. My blood pressure’s high again.”
I held the gaze and our table fell quiet in the minute before a young redhead approached our table, order pad in hand. We put in our breakfast order, then she left.
Finally, he spoke. “So, tell me about this man. What you do know. Then I’ll share my goods.” My dad leaned forward, his fingers rubbing his knuckles, the extra weight on his frame pushing the table slightly in my direction. An imposing man, despite the years and the stress, his full head of silver hair stuck in the buzz cut he’d worn my entire life.
“Brett Jacobs. He’s a boat—yacht—salesman, but seems to make a lot of money. As you know, he travels a lot. He’s single, never been married, no kids.”
“Do you want kids?” Brett asked, his hand sliding under the sheet and curving around my hip. I opened my eyes, blinking the impending sleep away.
“I’d love kids.” I reached out, putting a hand on his chest. “What about you?”
“Kids are good. Preferably sooner. Before I get too old.” He smiled, the scant light catching on the shadows of his face.
“You know the problem with kids.” I sighed, frowning.
“The process to make them.” I roll onto my stomach, away from him, his hand dropping from my hip, the bed shifting as I felt him move closer.
“What’s the issue with that?” His words, close to my ear, his breath hot on my neck. I smiled against the pillow.
“It’s so... boring,” I mumbled.
Then I felt him, bare and hard, his body atop me, his hands like hot stones on my skin, and I shrieked into the dark room and there was nothing boring about it.
I shrugged. “That’s about it. I won’t bore you with his eating habits or taste in movies.”
“I know I’m protective of you.”
I stopped playing with the creamers and looked up at him. “What’s wrong?” That sentence...from my father. My stomach twisted in a way I hadn’t felt since I was young.
“You care for him, I know that. But you must have known something was up or else you wouldn’t have let me run full course with this.”
“You’ve done background checks on every man I’ve ever dated.” And he had. It had been embarrassing. Invasive. Annoying. Never appreciated. Not until Brett. Brett was the first time I had willingly turned over a partner’s DNA. Willingly met with my father and wanted to know what he had found.
“He’s lying.” The words flat and without enjoyment.
I swallowed. Pulled my hands off the table and hid them on my lap. Pushed at my cuticles, a habit I had squashed a few years earlier. “About what?”
“Hell, just ‘bout everything.”
Lying about everything.
I knew this man. Loved this man. Kissed and fucked and wanted him, not just physically but emotionally. I wanted to go to bed with his arms around me every night. I wanted to walk down an aisle and look in his eyes. I wanted him to hold my hand as we watched a pregnancy stick. I wanted to watch wrinkles multiply and years pass and build a lifetime of memories with him.
He was not lying about everything. He loved me. I closed my mouth and watched my father begin to speak.
“His real name is Brett Betschart. He doesn’t sell yachts; he manufactures them. Or, more specifically, he owns the company that manufactures them. He seems like he makes more money because he does make more money. Millions more. Hell, the type of money I don’t even understand.” He reaches for his front pocket and pulls out a can of dip.
Millions more. The plane, the house, the … everything. It made sense, so much sense, and I felt a burst of relief. That’s what was wrong. That was all! Thank God. Only… “Why would he lie about that?”
He shrugged. “Men lie about a lot of things. God made us imperfect creatures. ”
I leaned back, my mind working over the weekend we met. It was a stupid, pointless lie. Why lie about your name? Why lie about your job? Except... if he wasn’t in sales, if he owned the company ... there’s no need for the late meetings, for wining and dining the buyers. There’s really no need for any trips at all.
“Does he have a record?”
“No. But all I ran was his prints. The DNA’ll take a few weeks; it’ll show if he’s ever been connected with a crime. But the chances of that are slim.”
He’s holding something back. I wet my lips. “What else?”
“That’s about it, pumpkin.”
“About? What aren’t you saying?” I leaned forward, snagged the empty dip can from his fingers, and stared into his eyes.
“Just be careful with him, Riley.” He met my eyes, dark brown clouds of worry.
“Screw that. You aren’t going cryptic on me. What aren’t you saying?”
“Let me get some callbacks. Find out more before I go shooting my big mouth off.” He sat back, looking right and smiling at the waitress, eyeing the plates she set down. “Thank you, Jeannie.”
I ignored the platter of pancakes, my nails digging into the Skoal can. “Dad.” My father, the one who’s run off every man in town, and here he was, being coy and mysterious about the man who owned my heart.
“Eat your breakfast. I told you what I know. If I find out more, I’ll tell you then.”
“Tell me now. I don’t care if it’s accurate. Just tell me.”
He stabbed a piece of sausage and lifted it to his mouth. Chewed for a long minute. “He’s been questioned a few times. In disappearances of girls - the type who run drugs. Nothing’s stuck, but his name’s in more files than I feel comfortable with. That’s why I’m thinking the DNA will be a bust. There’s been no arrests, just questioning. That’s all I got. I’ve got calls into a detective in Fort Lauderdale to find out more.”
My pancakes suddenly lost all appeal. I’d been expecting a secret family, a wife in the Hamptons, a love child. This was unexpectedly worse. “What happened to the girls?”
“The two I found out about? Chances are they’re running from warrants, are being hidden by a drug cartel somewhere. No bodies have shown up.”