I shot her a questioning glance. “Oh, so now you don’t want to go? Why not?”
“I just would prefer that we don’t mix business with pleasure.”
I leaned back on the couch and laid my arms across the back. My body was as open as could be now. There was nothing for her to feel intimidated by.
“So, what happened?” I asked.
“What happened between you and a former employer that made you so hesitant to even accept a symbol of friendship?”
“How do you know something happened?”
“It’s just a gift I have. I can read people very well. And I see it in you. Somewhere along the line, you had an employer who did you wrong and you made this promise with yourself. I would just love to know what happened.”
I laughed. “Alright, so you don’t want to tell me. Ok, that is fine.”
“There is nothing to tell,” Jane said.
“Alright. I give up. But you should still go to dinner with me. If there is nothing to tell about your past, then you have no reason not to go. It’s that simple.”
Jane laughed softly. “I’ll think about it, but don’t hold your breath. I don’t think things between us should get complicated.”
“Ok, then. But I’m going to keep trying. I think things between us should become just as complicated as they can be. That makes life way more fun and interesting. You have to take risks in this world, and sometimes those risks are super scary. But you can’t let it deter you; do you think I got this rich by playing it safe?”
“How did you get this rich?”
The question came at me from the back as if I’d been sucker punched in the dark. It was an off the wall question that I almost didn’t have an answer for right away.
“How did you get this rich?”
I wasn’t sure if she was joking or just being a smart ass. I leaned forward and looked her dead in the eye.
“I got this rich by doing whatever it took to get where I wanted to get.”
Jane leaned back and smiled. She had ruffled my feathers and it seemed to give her a great amount of satisfaction.
“You know,” Jane said. “When I took this job a lot of people warned me. There are a lot of rumors out there.”
“What kind of rumors?”
Jane shrugged. “You know… rumors.”
“Enlighten me. I don’t read much of the current topics online.”
“There are people who think that you married your wife just for the money. And people who even think you had something to do with her death.”
I felt myself getting hot. I took several deep breaths and kept things together though. I was proud of myself.
“Well, people will talk and people will talk. In this world we live in—people have nothing better to do than to spread vicious gossip.”
Jane smiled, as if satisfied with my answer.
When she left later that night I was glad to be rid of her. As much as I was starting to fall for her, there was something about that woman that scared me to death. It was like she knew me way too well, as if she could just look right through me and read me. Normally, I was used to being on that end of things, but having those questions and that condescension aimed at me—that was no fun at all.
I could clearly see that I was going to have to keep an eye on how close Jane got to me.
I was sitting on the couch with Taylor when his phone rang.
“It’s her,” he said. He answered the phone quickly. “Hey, thanks so much for checking on that for me. Oh? You do?”
I waited as he spoke with his friend. We’d been waiting on pins and needles for days for the forensics report to come back. I could only hope that there was something there. Please… there has to be something…
Taylor hung up the phone and looked at me. I saw something in his eyes that looked like excitement. It was a contagious feeling.
“What? What?” I asked.
“It turns out that Ted’s real name is Greg Lydell.”
“Yeah. It gets better. When he was fourteen, his parents’ house burned down killing them both. Apparently he was at a friend’s house.”
“Yep. The cops always thought he was involved, but they couldn’t prove anything. An aunt raised him until he was eighteen and he received his inheritance from his family. Something to the tune of three million dollars.”
“Yes. And of course Greg, or Ted as he is known now, blew through all of that within a few years. Then he started trying to make a name for himself as a motocross racer.”
“He did it before. He killed his parents for the money,” I said. It all made sense now. There was a pattern emerging.
“But does this prove anything about what happened to you? I don’t see it. So far, it is all circumstantial. Ted knew it worked before, so he did it again. And he did it very well. The whole world thinks you are dead.”