"I want you, you."


"Yes!" She flipped a button of his shirt, slipping her hand inside.

"No." He trapped it, then removed it. "I won't make love to you in the dark. I'd want nothing but light around us then."

"Then turn them on."


"You won't come into the light."

He didn't speak.

"I see." She let out a long breath. "Not even for me? Not after doing that to me?"


"I am sick of hearing no, Richard," she said, trying to be calm when her body was still singing, when his hand was still touching her.

"That's the only answer I can give you."

She shoved his hands off and rolled away. "I thought you trusted me. Apparently that just isn't possible." She stood, not bothering to look for her pajama slacks in the dark, and stormed from the room.

Richard sat up, clutching his head in his hands, then plowing his fingers through his hair. Why was the darkness suddenly so much blacker than before?

* * *

Chapter 9

Kelly wasn't napping in her bed. Laura had left the child nearly asleep, but when she went to check on her, she was gone.

And she wasn't answering when Laura called out. Laura opened a door and searched another room, then closed it, moving onto another. She called out to Kelly, but didn't get an answer. They'd played hard all day, more for Laura than the child's sake. She'd needed as much distraction as possible to keep Richard out of her mind. But it hadn't worked. Even after a horse ride, hours on the beach, playing on the swing set, a game of fish with Dewey, and making crafts with Kelly, she could still feel him touching her. Still feel his mouth on her skin. Her body stayed fevered and hungry all day and even a cool shower hadn't changed it.

"Kelly, honey?" she called into an empty room. The pitch of her voice rose higher and higher when she couldn't find her.

Panic surged through her and she hurried from room to room, then ran to the west wing and found only her paints and easel still where she'd left them. She gave her pajama slacks a disgusted glance, remembering how easily she'd abandoned them to his touch, then snatched them up and went back toward the main hall. She opened armoires and cabinets.

"Come on out, princess. This isn't funny anymore."

She stilled when she thought she heard a sound, muffled and distant, then headed toward it. But she found nothing in the main hall.

Laura hurried outside where Dewey was in the garage, tinkering with the SUV.

"Help me look for Kelly. I can't find her. She must be playing a game or something."

Concerned, he nodded, putting down his tools and searching the grounds as she went back into the house. Through the living room French doors, she looked out over the water and saw no footprints in the sand, nothing leading away from the house. It brought her only a small amount of relief. Where could she be? Why wasn't Kelly answering?

Laura turned into the living room, then the dining room, checking anywhere the child might be able to fit. The broom closet, the bathrooms, calling out to her as she went.

Fear nibbled through her, making her skin flush and her heart pound. Even though the house was secure with state-of-the-art alarm technology, she kept thinking about what Richard had said, that someone could take his child and hold her for ransom. She didn't want to alarm Richard just yet and call him on the intercom.

Dewey stuck his head in the back door and said, "Nope, not a trace of her."

Laura nodded and thanked him, then ran up the stairs, taking two at a time. She hoped Kelly had returned to her room, but it was empty. The crayons and coloring book were still on the table. The bed was still rumpled from her nap.

Laura checked her own bedroom, calling out.

She heard noises from Richard's suite, a thumping sound, and her anger from last night shot through her. She raced up the steps to his suite and pounded on the door.

He responded with a bland. "Yes?"

"Open the door, dammit."


"I told you I was sick of hearing that! Now, open it or I swear I'll get one of those antique swords and hack through it."

Richard frowned at the door, wanting so badly to fling it open and kiss the woman into a different kind of temper. "Resorting to violence, Laura?"

"I need your help, Richard. Kelly is missing!"

Richard set the barbell on the floor with a thump. "What?"

"She's in the house, I'm certain," she said from the other side of the door. "There are no tracks in the sand and Dewey didn't find her outside, but I can't find her. She was in her bed napping and now she's gone."

"Is the kitten gone, too?"

She frowned. "Yes, as a matter of fact."

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