“I’ll call,” he offers, punching a button on the phone and letting it ring on speaker. It goes directly to voice mail. Grimacing, he punches the End button. “Same as yesterday. I’m telling you, her obsession with Ryan has changed her. She’s ready to bow at his feet, if you know what I mean.”

I barely stop my eyes from going wide. Just what does Ralph know about Ryan, and even Mark? “Yes, I got that from her, too. She’s young, and he’s older and rich. It must have her in some sort of Cinderella fantasy.”


He smirks. “Fifty Shades of Prince Charming.”

My heart skips a beat. “What does that mean?”

“Well.” He leans forward and falls into one of his conspiratorial whispers. “She told me he’s all kinds of dominant, in that kinky kind of way.”

My lips part in shock. “She told you that?”

“Yes, but nothing more. I tried. Oh baby, I tried. He’s hot. I wanted details.”

My stomach churns. He’ll get more details than he wants once the press frenzy starts, and I’m suddenly glad Mark decided to shut the gallery. I motion to the files and change the subject. “Speaking of details, tell me what I need to do to help.”

An hour later we still haven’t been able to reach Amanda, and aside from popping his head in to check on me, Chris has spent most of his time with Jacob. Carrying my Ralph-assigned workload, I make my way to my office. Rounding the corner to my doorway, I flip on the light and then stop dead in my tracks, stunned.

It’s bare. Completely, utterly bare. No books. No rose-scented candle on the desk. Not even a computer on the desk, just a phone. I walk inside and turn to the wall, surprised to find the painting of the roses remains, but it’s sitting on the floor. I can only assume there was some insurance reason it had to stay. It bothers me that it’s been moved, to the point it’s like a grinding in my belly. It’s part of her. It’s part of them, of her and Mark. If it’s gone, what’s left? Without the journals, the painting is all I have of Rebecca.

Shaking off my emotions, I stack the files on top of the desk and set my purse in the drawer. As I claim my chair a low whistle draws my attention to the doorway, where my jeans-clad Fifty Shades of Prince Charming appears. “Talk about taking everything,” Chris comments, stepping inside and shutting the door.

“I’m surprised they left the furniture.”

“This isn’t a bad thing,” he points out, coming around to my side of the desk, and leaning against the edge beside me. “The more they know about Rebecca, the better chance they have of finding her.”

I can smell that earthy, freshly showered scent that is so Chris, and so not Rebecca. Her roses are gone. Like she is. “Why’d you shut the door?” I ask. “Did you get some news about the hearing?”

“There was a bomb threat at the courthouse. The hearing has been postponed until two.”

“Bomb threat?”

“David and Blake think it was Ava’s legal team. Blake’s trying to prove it, but he says her people are pretty smart about covering their tracks.”

“Why would they do that? Don’t they want to get her out of jail sooner?”

“Speculation is they’re waiting on a witness that didn’t show up.”

“What witness?”

“It doesn’t matter. I took care of it.”

“What does that mean, Chris?” He just stares at me, and it’s making me crazy. “It’s about me, isn’t it? Just tell me. I’m not a delicate—”

“Flower. I know.” He inhales and lets it out. “There were phone exchanges between Ava’s counsel and Michael.”

I laugh without humor and I think it sounds a little crazy. I feel a little crazy right now. “David was right. Ava’s people are all about character assassination.” My eyes burn.

Chris’s fingers slide under my chin. “I took care of it. I called your father.”

“My father.” My tone is flat, my emotions wild, but at least the threatening tears have dried up. “I’m sure that was a real success. What did Daddy dearest say?”

“He fired Michael, who’s now working for a competitor.”

I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone of Hell. “So my father has no control over him now. Not that I thought he would do anything to help anyway.”

“Yes, he does. He put a loophole in Michael’s exit contract linked to residual income for just this reason. He says the fine print will handle this swiftly and effectively.”

“Of course it will. Why would I doubt him? If his daughter looks bad, he looks bad. I guess there’s a bright side to having an egomaniac for a father.”

“What’s important is it’s handled. I found out about this yesterday and took action, and we wake up to the bomb threat today. Michael had to have backed out, and Ava’s team is buying time to get him back on board.”

“You knew yesterday and you didn’t tell me?”

“I was going to tell you, but—”

“You were afraid I’d freak out. Which was what I was afraid would happen if I told you about my panic attacks.” I sigh. “Is Michael in town?”

“Sara. I didn’t think you were going to freak out.”

“You can’t tell me you aren’t worried about when I’ll have another attack.”

“I’m not. But if you do, I’ll be here to hold you up.”

Source: www.StudyNovels.com