“No, he used much nicer words. But he really was looking forward to, um, I think he said, ‘unraveling the darkness of my mind’ during our sessions.” She shook her head. “Baring my soul to strangers isn’t high on my to-do list. Just talking about this to you is kind of taking all the courage that I have.”
His eyes widened. “Then why are you telling me?”
“Because I think you matter. And I don’t want to screw this up by keeping secrets.” She squared her delicate shoulders. “I didn’t know. I never participated in anything he did. And if I could go back, I’d stop the Secret Admirer.”
He believed her. Randall would say he was being a blind bastard, that Zander had nothing to go on but instinct. An instinct that was screwed because Zander was letting lust get in his way. He—
Alice was walking again. He fell into step beside her.
“You’ll have to tell me your secrets, too,” Alice murmured.
Now he was the one to stiffen. Baby, you’ll hate my secrets.
“Sooner or later,” she added.
Later. Much fucking later. That would be the best plan. Because when Alice found out all the lies he’d told to her, she’d shut him out. As fast as she could.
And Zander didn’t want to be shut out of Alice’s life.
All too soon, they were back at her cabin. The place looked quiet, and the windows gleamed in the morning light. He walked Alice to the front door, and she turned toward him. “I’m sorry I crashed your place in the middle of a rainstorm.”
His lips quirked. “Don’t be.” His hand cupped her cheek. “Come crash with me anytime.”
Her gaze searched his. “You…you are a good person, right, Zander? I’m not going to find out that you’ve got some whole other life I don’t know anything about?”
Hell. Could the knife twist in his gut any deeper? Careful with his words, he told her, “I don’t break the law, baby. I haven’t done anything that would ever get me arrested, but I’m not some angel.”
“I don’t think anyone is. I just need you to really, really not be the devil.”
Because she’d almost married that particular bastard.
“I’m not the devil.” He leaned forward and pressed a quick kiss to her lips. “Dinner tonight?”
She gave him the gift of her smile. “I’d like that.”
“My place,” he added. “I get to cook this time.”
She kissed him, and her hands pressed lightly to his shirt-front. He swore he could feel her touch burn right through to his skin. His overeager dick thrust toward her, but Zander held tight to his control. He had to check in with the other agents, and those guys probably had eyes on him and Alice right then. He wasn’t about to give them a fucking show.
“Six o’clock,” he said against her sweet lips. “I’ll see you then.”
Alice pulled away. She took the keys out of her pocket, and a few moments later, she’d opened the door. Alice glanced back at him. She smiled at him once more, right before she shut the door.
He stood there a moment, her smile locked in his mind. The woman had a gorgeous smile. Everything about her was sexy as hell, and if he could just prove to the others that she wasn’t guilty, then—
A scream seemed to echo in the air. Her scream. A scream that came from inside the cabin. Not hesitating, Zander immediately kicked in the front door. It flew back, slamming into the wall. But he was already racing inside. Another scream echoed, one filled with shock and fear, and he bounded up the stairs as he followed that sound. He turned to the right, toward her bedroom. “Alice!”
She whirled toward him. Her eyes were huge. Stark. Her body trembled.
His gaze swept over her. No injury. Thank Christ. But then his stare took in the room around her. The bedding that had been slashed. The clothes that were tossed around the room. Clothes that were also in ribbons. As if someone had taken a knife to them. Cut them. Destroyed them.
Drawers were thrown against the wall. Her dresser mirror had been smashed. Books were ripped apart. Absolute destruction.
Alice bent to pick up a shredded gown. “Who did this?”
He grabbed her hand. “Don’t touch it.” His voice was low and lethal.
“Don’t touch a damn thing. Not until I get a team in here.”
But he was already pulling her out of the room, nearly dragging her with him down the stairs. As far as he knew, the perp could still be in the house. His priority was getting her to safety. When she was safe, he’d get the house secured. His team could come in. They’d search for prints. They’d find out what in the hell had happened.
He reached the landing. She dug in her heels. “Zander, stop! I’m not leaving this house! I’m going back upstairs, and I’m going to—”
No damn way. He just scooped her up and put her over his shoulder.
“What in the hell are you doing?”
The front door was still open. He rushed through it and hurried toward the cover of the trees. He didn’t want to present a target to anyone who might be watching. As soon as they were clear, he lowered her to the ground.
“Are you crazy?” She tried to lunge away.
He just pulled her right back against him. And he yanked out his phone. Luckily, he had a fucking signal. He called Randall, and his partner answered on the first ring. “Move the team in, now,” Zander barked. “Someone was in her place last night. Her bedroom has been trashed.”
“I’ve got her. We’re outside, and she’s secure. Get the agents moving. Hurry the hell up!”
“On the damn way.”
Zander shoved the phone back into his pocket.
His gaze lifted. Alice was staring straight at him. She wasn’t fighting to get away from him any longer. Her body was statue-still. “What men?”
He squared his shoulders. “FBI agents.”
They would be there in moments.
“We can’t touch the house,” Zander added, making his voice flat with an effort, “not until they get here. We’ll need to get a crime scene team inside. If the perp left prints—”
“You’re not…not a handyman, are you?” Her eyes had never seemed bigger or deeper.
“I’m damn handy. You’ve seen for yourself just what I can—”
“Don’t.” She swallowed. “Who in the hell are you?”
He could hear the thunder of footsteps already. His team was sweeping in. “My name is Zander Todd. Just like I told you.” He hadn’t lied about his name. But as for the rest… “And I’m FBI.”
They hadn’t let her go back in her home. As soon as the FBI agents had swarmed, she’d been escorted to a black SUV. She’d been told to get inside, and then some other agent—Randall something—had driven her to town. To the sheriff’s office. They’d put her in a small, tight room, and
she’d been sitting there ever since.
It’s just like the day of my wedding. I was taken away. Locked in a room. And I waited and waited.
Then my whole world fell apart.
A cold cup of coffee waited in front of her. Her reflection stared back at her from the one-way mirror on the nearby wall. A clock ticked far too loudly, counting off the seconds at an excruciating pace.
Then…the door opened.
Her gaze immediately flew toward the door as she stiffened. She expected to see Zander standing there. Instead, she stared at a man with warm, mocha skin and hard, suspicious eyes. The agent she’d met before. Randall. Randall—what had been his last name? Her world had pretty much been spinning out of control when he’d introduced himself before.
When he’d introduced himself and then shoved her into the back of an SUV.
She struggled to pull up his name and—Cane. It had been Randall Cane.
“Thanks for waiting, Ms. May,” he murmured, the faint hint of a Boston accent sliding through his words. “I have a few questions for you.” He stalked toward the small table. Took the seat across from her.
She blinked at him. “I have a few questions for you, too.” Her gaze darted to the one-way mirror. “Where is Zander?”
“Agent Todd is tying up a few loose ends. He’ll be in soon enough.”
Agent Todd. Goosebumps rose on her arms.
“What time did you leave your house last night?”
“I…midnight. Right after midnight. Like, twelve-oh-three.”
He jotted down some notes and peered up at her. “That’s very specific.”
Why play games? He might like doing that. Agent Todd might enjoy games. But she didn’t. “Today is kind of a special anniversary.” Understatement of the century. “I was dreading this day, okay? So I was watching my clock as the time passed.”
“And at twelve-oh-three, you decided to leave your house, even though the weather was shit, and head to visit Agent Todd.”
“I didn’t know he was an agent.” She stared straight ahead and ignored the chill that snaked around her whole body. “But, yes, I decided to go visit him then.”