“Not just yet,” Dylan interjected. No one was going anywhere until he’d had his say about their total disregard for safety. After looking over their house, he had been tempted to submit it for the “what not to do” section of a home-security manual.
“Did you want something?” Kate asked.
“As a matter of fact I do. I want to give all three of you hell.”
And then he proceeded to do just that.
Dylan called Nate to fill him in on Kate’s plans to drive to Savannah.
“I like the idea of getting her out of Silver Springs,” Dylan told him, “even if it is just for a day or two, especially since it was a spur-of-the-moment decision and very few people know about it, but . . .”
“The letter coming out of the blue.”
“Yes,” Dylan said. “Kate and her sisters have never heard of this relative, so I’ve got to wonder, why now?”
“I’ll check him out and let you know what I find. Make sure you keep me apprised of what you’re doing. I’ll call Chief Drummond to tell him you’ll be by his office first thing in the morning. It’s his jurisdiction, and as for the legal ramifications, you won’t only be on loan from Boston PD, you’ll be under his command.”
“That’s going to be an interesting change. What about the FBI?”
“I’ll let the agent running the show know where you’re going.”
“You don’t know who’s in charge?”
“I’ve narrowed it down to three candidates, but it looks like this guy Kline from the Georgia field office is taking over.”
It was apparent Nate had an attitude toward the FBI. Dylan couldn’t blame him. No detective liked being squeezed out of his own investigation.
Kate sat on the front hall stairs and waited for Dylan to finish his phone call. She was so exhausted she could barely keep her eyes open.
He checked the door locks once again and picked up his garment bag. “What are you doing?” he asked.
She finished yawning before she answered. “Waiting to show you where the guest room is.”
“You look wiped out. Didn’t you get much sleep last night?”
“I was in the hospital last night.”
“Ah, Kate, that’s right. You should be in bed.”
She led him up the stairs to the guest room. It was the first door on the right and directly across from her room. She opened the door and stepped back so he could go inside. “You’ll have your own bathroom. It’s—”
“I’ll find it. Night.”
He shut the door in her face.
She stood there for several seconds staring at the door trying to figure out what had just happened. He hadn’t been rude or angry. In fact, he’d been smiling.
She suddenly felt very foolish. She’d been expecting him to try to kiss her good night, but that apparently was the last thing on his mind.
She went into her room and closed the door. All right then. Her “that was then, this is now” explanation had obviously gotten through to him. And that’s exactly what she wanted, wasn’t it? So how come she was feeling so disgruntled? And come to think of it, how come he hadn’t argued at all when she’d told him it was fine and dandy to move on? Not a single word of protest had he uttered.
She couldn’t stop thinking about his behavior while she brushed her teeth and got ready for bed. Women were like fish in the sea, and Dylan was such a playboy he would always have a new catch.
Kate tried to muster up some disgust over his sexual conquests but couldn’t quite manage it. So she tried anger. Dylan was an arrogant jerk. How dare he show up on her doorstep without warning. Who did he think he was? Walking in and taking over like that.
She had to admit, however, she did feel safer with him in the house—and the way he talked to Isabel about safety had made an impact. After he had come down hard on all of them because of their lackadaisical attitude about security, his focus had turned to Kate’s younger sister. When he was finished with her, Isabel knew everything there was to know about dead bolts, and then some. She wouldn’t be walking anywhere on campus without looking over her shoulder or being aware of her surroundings. He had been very candid with her, and yet he hadn’t scared her. Kate had watched as Isabel sat transfixed by Dylan’s calm instructions.
He’d actually been very sweet. He had no business being sweet. How was she ever going to keep this relationship platonic and forget about him when he went back to Boston if he continued to do caring things for her and her sisters?
Why oh why did she go to bed with him? That had been a huge mistake, and then what had she done to top that? She’d given him the “It means nothing to me and I’m sure nothing to you, so move along” speech.
She got into bed and pulled the sheet up. And how had he responded? She was a dream come true. That’s what he’d said all right.
“Great,” she whispered. “I’m a frickin’ dream come true.”
Kiera’s plan to be on the highway by seven didn’t quite work out. Isabel was on time; she wasn’t. It was almost eight before they were finally ready to leave. Kate stood by the car for a final good-bye and tried to assure them that everything was going to be fine.
“I hate leaving you with this financial mess,” Kiera said.
“We’ve been over this. We’ve got a plan, right? So stop worrying.”
“You’ll let me know what’s going on? Don’t try to shield me, Kate,” Isabel said.
“I’ll tell you everything,” she promised.
“I’m glad Dylan’s here,” Kiera said. “You’ve had such a hellacious week, and it will be nice for you to have company driving to Savannah.”
Dylan locked the front door and took a seat on the top step of the porch waiting for the good-byes to end so he and Kate could leave. He’d already packed his rental car and was impatient to get going.
Kate said something to her sisters, and they all turned to smile at him.
Dylan looked at his watch, and when he glanced up, he was momentarily struck by the beauty of the three girls facing him.
Though they looked like sisters, there was something unique about each one. He’d already figured out that Isabel was a charmer and a people pleaser. She was about five-five, and her hair was blond with streaks of honey. Her eyes were as big and as round as Kate’s, but the color wasn’t the same. Kate’s were a vivid blue and were stunning framed by her dark chestnut hair. Isabel’s eyes were more of a blue-green, like the ocean. Kiera was taller than the other two, and in the sunlight he could see the streaks of red in her strawberry blond hair. She had freckles on her nose like Kate, but they were on her cheeks, too. She reminded Dylan of a well-scrubbed girl next door who just happened to have a very nice body. She was the most laid-back of the three, and he thought she was also a peacemaker in the family.
Kate was neither a charmer nor a peacemaker. She gave as good as she got, and then some, at least with him, anyway. She stood up to him, and he liked that. He must, he thought, because here he was, back for more.
Kate had a little something extra that drew him to her. On the surface she was one tough cookie. He imagined she was a barracuda when she negotiated a business contract, but there was a vulnerability he could see that pulled at him. She was talented and a smart businesswoman, but he didn’t think she was smart about men. Maybe that was why he had been able to get her into bed so quickly. He knew she regretted their night together, but he sure as certain didn’t. The fact was, he couldn’t stop thinking about it.
One thought led to another, and it didn’t take long before he was picturing her na*ed in his arms. Not a good idea to be daydreaming about that now, he realized.
“Kate, wind it up. We’ve got to get going.”
She ignored him and waited until Kiera had backed out of the driveway before she finally turned away.
She had tears in her eyes, and she knew he’d noticed. He didn’t say anything. He simply walked to the car, opened the passenger door, and waited for her to get in.
“I feel like I’m forgetting something. My purse . . .”
“In the car.”
“What about the overnight bag you made me pack in case we have to stay in Savannah, which by the way is totally unnecessary since we’ll have plenty of time to get back home . . .”
“You mentioned that.”
“I’m sure I left my bag in the foyer.”
“It’s in the trunk. Get in, Pickle.”
She gave him what he had begun to call “the look.” He translated it to mean, “Call me Pickle again and I’ll deck you.”
“What about . . .”
He gave her a little nudge. “The iron’s turned off.”
“I didn’t turn it on . . . did I?”
“Kate, get in the car.”
She stopped arguing. Once she was settled and had clipped her seat belt on, she said, “Why do we have to leave so soon? We have plenty of time.”
“No, we don’t.”
He didn’t explain until they had pulled away from the house. “We need to stop at the police station, and I don’t know how long that’s going to take. Chief Drummond’s waiting.”
She gave him directions. The station was only a mile from her house. The parking lot was in the back of a two-story brick building that looked old and worn. And charming, he thought, if such a word could be used to describe a police station.
Ivy crept up the back of the building nearly to the roof, and the brick path that led to the front door had chunks broken off.
“Is there a jail inside?” he asked.
“I think so, either in the back or upstairs.”
The front door had recently been painted a shiny black. He noticed the white shutters flanking the windows had been painted, too.
He’d never seen anything like it . . . for a police station, that is.
“It looks like a bed-and-breakfast place.”
As soon as he walked inside, though, he felt as if he were back on familiar ground. The floors were an ugly gray linoleum; the walls were a dingy pea green, and the receptionist was just as old and surly as the one back in Boston. The station even smelled the same—must and sweat and Pine-Sol. He loved it.
Chief Drummond came out of his office to meet both of them. He was a heavyset man with a permanent scowl on his face and the grip of a weight lifter in his handshake.
He offered Kate a cup of coffee and asked her to wait in the outer office.
Kate took a seat on one of the gray metal chairs against the wall and pulled her BlackBerry out of her bag to check messages. Haley had called again, probably about the ribbon on back order, she thought. Nothing she could do about it now, so she decided she’d call her from the car.
If she had her briefcase with her, she could go through some of her other notes. Had she left that at home, or had Dylan put it in the trunk?
The chair was hard and uncomfortable. Kate sat back, crossed one leg over the other, and tried to remain patient. What was taking so long? It seemed that Dylan had been in the office for at least fifteen minutes. She noticed the receptionist was repeatedly glancing at her from behind her computer screen.
Kate looked at her skirt to make sure it hadn’t hiked up, then checked her blouse to make certain all the buttons were buttoned.
The woman’s head was hidden behind the computer monitor when she said, “I like your candles.”
She leaned to the side. “I said, I like your candles.”
“Thank you,” she said. “I’m happy to hear that.”
The receptionist was blushing. “I’m thinking about buying some of your lotion next, but I’m not sure which scent I want. Got any suggestions?”
“Let me see if I have any samples.” Kate dug through her purse and found three. “Try these three,” she said. “They’re all different: Isabel, Kiera, and Leah.”
The woman was thrilled. She introduced herself and shook Kate’s hand. “You know, you’re a celebrity around town.”
“I am?” she asked, smiling. “My candles?”
“Oh, no, dear. They’re lovely, of course, but you’re famous because you nearly blew yourself up at the old warehouse.”
She made it sound like Kate had done it on purpose. Kate was about to respond to the woman’s assessment, but the door opened, and Dylan and the chief walked out of the office. She immediately noticed the gun in a holster at Dylan’s side. He had a box in his hand. Probably extra bullets, she thought. Can’t have enough of those, can he?
“You’re in good hands with this boy, Miss MacKenna. He’s got an impressive record and his superior in Boston was mighty aggravated he was doing a job for Silver Springs. He finally agreed but made sure I knew it was temporary. They want him back,” he added with a nod.
She couldn’t stop looking at the gun. Images of Dylan lying in the hospital bed flashed into her mind. She realized his job required that he carry a gun, and as Drummond had just confirmed, Dylan was very good at that job, but still, just seeing the weapon made her feel queasy. She smiled at the chief and said, “Yes, I am in good hands with this boy.”
Drummond walked them to the door and held it open. In parting he called, “Try not to get yourself blown up again, Miss MacKenna.”
Kate walked ahead of Dylan to the car. “The way people are acting around here you’d think I was some kind of walking detonator—wherever I go there’s an explosion,” she complained.
Dylan laughed. “I think you’ve brought a little more excitement to Silver Springs than they’re used to.”
He pulled the car out of the parking lot but stopped at the corner. “Want to give me directions?”
“The most direct route to get to the highway is to take Main Street, which is your next left, but there will be a lot of traffic this time of morning.”
“Compared to Boston, this is nothing,” he said a few minutes later. “It’s nice not to have to be so aggressive. The noise level is so much lower here. I like that.”
Kate adjusted the air conditioner vent so it wouldn’t blow on her face and tried to relax.
“What did you think of Chief Drummond?”
“Cranky,” he said. “The man is definitely cranky. I don’t think he knows how to smile. The way he was frowning at me when he took me into his office made me think he was going to give me trouble, and even after he started complimenting me on my record, the guy was still frowning. It took me a while to catch on.” He shook his head and added, “He kind of reminds me of my father.”