"Speaking of hombres guapos, where's Roberto?"

"He's in the other house. I came by to check on the groceries."

"We need two of everything. The fridge is pretty bare." Lola's cell phone buzzed, and she held up her index finger to Rosa while glancing at the display. It was Nate.


"Lola? It's Nate Schriever returning your call. How have you been?"

"Good, Nate. And you?" Her blood hummed with impatience to get through the pleasantries.

They exchanged a few more inquiries and then, as if sensing her impatience, Nate asked, "What can I do for you?"

Lola walked toward the front door and stepped out onto the porch away from Rosa's inquisitive ears. "I have a favor to ask, Nate. I'm looking for some information about a man, a hostage negotiator, who may have had some ties to the CIA."

Nate sucked in an audible breath. "Can I ask why you're interested in a hostage negotiator?"

"Not really. I have my reasons. That's why I'm asking you as a friend and not contacting the CIA in any official capacity. I--I'm inquiring on behalf of a friend." Well, that was true, wasn't it? Wasn't Jack a friend?

"I'll try to help, Lola. God knows, we couldn't have done without you on the Madrona case. You saved that little girl's life. What's the name of this hostage negotiator?"

Lola inhaled deeply and then exhaled his name on a sigh. "Jack Coburn."

A quick intake of breath and then silence on the other end of the line.

"Nate? Are you still there?"

"Jack Coburn is a traitor."

Chapter Six

Jack jerked awake and grabbed the edge of the bed. He'd been falling off a cliff.

Blinking his eyes, he hunched up on one elbow. As soon as he'd hit the mattress, he'd fallen into a deep sleep. Maybe the comfortable bed with the luxurious sheets had been responsible for his relaxation. Maybe the house with all the security bells and whistles in the upscale neighborhood had taken the edge off.

Or maybe it was Lola.

Having someone to mull things over with was a lot better than struggling through the scant clues on his own. He could bounce ideas and theories off her, and she had a vested interest in the situation because she wanted her brother back.

He collapsed on the fluffy pillows and groaned. He sure could pile on the BS. He liked having Lola around, all right, but not for her contributions to the mystery surrounding his truncated life. He wanted her. And it would be easy to get her in his bed.

She had that tough exterior--tossing back shots of tequila, staring down anyone who mentioned her father, ditching the comfortable family digs and ties for independence. But she had marshmallow cream for insides. Whenever he mentioned some sad, pathetic angle of his current situation, her big eyes would get soft and her luscious bottom lip would tremble with sympathy.

Yeah, he could bed her in a flash.

But he had no intention of playing the pity card to satisfy his lust. Not knowing his own status, he had no right to drag Lola into his shadow life.

He threw off the covers and poked his head into the attached bathroom. No towels. Lola had mentioned something about towels in the hallway cupboard. He pulled on his boxers and crept into the hallway. He yanked open one cupboard door and then another, spying a stack of fluffy towels.

He lifted the top towel and then spun around as someone cleared her throat behind him. A short, middle-aged Latina, hands on her hips, was raking him up and down with her dark gaze.

Raising his brows, he said, "And you are...?"

"Rosa. I keep house for Mr. Gabriel. You must be Miss Lola's..."

"Friend. Jack."

"Hello, Jack." She gestured toward the open bedroom door. "Do you want me to make up your room while you take a shower?" She wiggled her dark eyebrows up and down.

Jack grinned. "That's okay, Rosa. If you see Lola, let her know I'm awake and I'll be down in about fifteen minutes."

"I'll tell her." She winked and then disappeared through another doorway.

Stepping under the warm spray of the shower, Jack closed his eyes. He massaged a puddle of shampoo into his hair, digging his fingers into his scalp to assuage the dull pain at the base of his skull. He faced the shower head, running a hand through his wet hair as the pain crept across his head.

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