He’s just lost his dinner invitation, she thought. How dare he shout at her. She wasn’t a child he could scold.

But he was right, she reluctantly admitted. They should have let him know where they were going. It wasn’t deliberate; they weren’t trying to hide from him. They hadn’t been sure where they would spend the night, and once they had checked into the hotel, one thing led to another, and they had become occupied.

Oh, that’s a great excuse. Sorry we didn’t call. We were too busy having sex. Nate would understand. Sure he would.

The chief arrived a few minutes later with enough food to feed half the town.

“What’s going on out there?” he asked as he set the bags on the kitchen counter and looked out the window. “Looks like Hallinger is giving Dylan hell.”

Kate quickly explained.

The chief glanced out the window again. “Dylan doesn’t seem contrite. Fact is, he’s giving it back.” With a shrug he added, “They’ll work it out. Let’s eat.”

The chief was right; they did work it out. Nate didn’t ask if he could stay for dinner. He grabbed a plate and helped himself.

“I’ll get some men here in an hour and let you off the hook, chief,” he offered.

“No reason to do that,” Drummond replied. “We’re all set. You’ve got enough going on trying to get everyone in place for tomorrow’s meeting.”

“Is that a for-sure thing?” Nate asked. “She signs the papers tomorrow? No more changes?”

“Seven o’clock tomorrow night unless you change the plan,” Dylan said. “We just went over this in the backyard.”

“I’m making sure. No one’s going to disappear on me again. Got that?”

“You need to let that go.”

“And you need—” Nate began.

Drummond put his hand up to stop him. “That’s enough. Kate needs all the help she can get, so stop bickering and get with the program.”

Nate nodded. “Yes, sir.”

The three men went over strategy for the next day while they ate.

“What did you find out about the video?” Dylan asked Nate. “Any idea who taped it?”

“No. We know that it and the packet of photos were delivered by messenger to Anderson Smith’s office. He claims no one there even knew a video existed until it and Compton MacKenna’s instructions showed up on his desk.”

“Someone knew about it,” Dylan insisted. “When Compton was talking into the camera, he would glance beyond the lens every so often. Obviously, someone else was in that room. What about servants, staff?”

“No, there’s no one we can find who knew anything about it.”

Dylan glanced over at Kate, whose eyes were half closed.

“Kate, why don’t you go upstairs to bed,” he suggested. “We’re almost finished here.”

She was happy to oblige. It had been a very long day. She could hear the men talking as she put on her pajamas, and a few minutes later she heard Nate and Drummond leaving.

She was tired, but she decided to call Isabel to check on her before going to bed. Her sister surprised her by answering. Kate said hello and didn’t get another word in for about fifteen minutes. Isabel must have assumed that the reading of the will had turned out to be a big nothing because she didn’t ask Kate about it. Her social life seemed to be the only thing she was interested in talking about, and Kate had to remind her she was there to study. She was relieved, however, that Isabel was happy . . . and safe.

“Have you heard from Reece Crowell?” Kate asked.

“He should still be in Europe, but don’t worry. If he comes back and starts bothering me again, I can handle him,” Isabel replied, and then she moved on to more immediate topics.

While Kate was listening to Isabel’s description of the young man who sat next to her in her sociology class, the call was interrupted. Thinking it could be important news, Kate cut into Isabel’s chatter.

“Isabel,” she said, “I’ve got another call. I have to hang up now. You be very careful, okay?”

She was surprised by the voice she heard when she switched over.

“Kate, this is Vanessa MacKenna.”

Kate was slow to respond, unsure of how she should react. After an awkward pause, she said, “Vanessa, hello, what can I do for you?”

Vanessa was a bit stiff as she began the conversation, but she quickly loosened up and actually became quite gracious.

“Anderson called and told me how much you loved having those photos of your father,” she said. “He asked me if I wouldn’t mind looking around Compton’s house—or rather my house now—and see if there might be others. The attic is packed full of boxes, and I decided I might as well get started clearing things out. As luck would have it, I found a box full of things I believe belonged to your father. There are photos but also trophies and school papers and a couple of report cards. I’ll pack it all up and send it to you, or I could drop it off at Anderson’s office if you’d prefer. And I’ll keep looking for more,” she promised. “I’m staying at the house now because Bryce went back into the hospital last night, and this will make it a shorter commute to see him. You know, you could stop by and see the old place . . . if you’re interested. I’d love to show you around.”

“Yes, I’d like to see it someday,” she responded.

“Just let me know when it’s convenient. Perhaps next week or the week after? I’d like to get to know you, Kate. You seem so . . . different from Bryce and his brothers, refreshingly different.”

Kate felt a pang of guilt after the conversation ended and she’d hung up the phone. She hadn’t asked Vanessa how serious Bryce’s condition was, but then she realized an expression of sympathy or concern would have been hypocritical.

Dylan walked into her bedroom as she sat cross-legged on her bed with the phone still in her hand.

“I just received a call from Vanessa MacKenna,” she announced. “She invited me to come to Compton’s house. She said she has more things that belonged to my father.”

Dylan stopped at the foot of the bed and scowled. “You’re not going anywhere near that house or any of the Savannah MacKennas until we’ve caught whoever is out to kill you,” he ordered.

“No, of course not,” she assured him. She wasn’t in the mood for a lecture now. She’d had enough pressure in one day to last a lifetime, and so she moved away from the subjects of bombs and killers and money.

“I also talked to Isabel,” she said. “She seems happy. I didn’t tell her you were here. I didn’t want her to know . . . you know . . .”

“Know what?” he prodded.

“I told her everything was fine, and if she knew you were here, she’d start asking questions. What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m taking my clothes off, and then I’m going to get in the shower.”

“There’s a shower in the guest bath . . .”

She stopped talking when he shut her bathroom door. A second later she heard the shower.

She could be more forceful and send him to the guest room to sleep, but she didn’t want to, and that was the problem. In her heart she knew she was going to attack him as soon as he opened the door.

“I need help,” she muttered. She was thoroughly disgusted with herself. She pulled the covers back and stretched out on the bed. This is all Jordan’s fault, she decided. Jordan sent Dylan, and she knew . . . oh, yes, she knew what would happen.

Kate rolled onto her side and picked up the phone. Jordan couldn’t avoid her forever, and she decided she would leave a message that would guarantee she’d call back.

Voice mail picked up. Kate waited for the beep and then she said, “Just thought you should know I—” She suddenly stopped. What if someone else listened to the message and heard her say she’d slept with Dylan? “Never mind,” she said.

She was hanging up the phone when she heard someone say, “She should know what?”

It was a man’s voice. “Who is this?”

“Michael Buchanan. Is this Kate?”

Thank God she’d come to her senses. “What are you doing in Boston?”

“I’m on leave. I got in early, and I’m staying with Jordan until next weekend. Then I’ll move over to Nathan’s Bay. Mom and Dad will be home by then.”

Michael had graduated from Annapolis and was training to become a Navy SEAL. He was a real daredevil, and of all the Buchanan brothers he was the most competitive.

“When are you coming back to Boston?” he asked. “I want a rematch.”

“Why? You’ll only lose again.”

His laugh was just like Dylan’s. “We’ll see about that.”

“Did you know Dylan’s here?”

“Yes. Jordan told me he’s helping you with a little problem.”

A little problem? “Yes, that’s right.”

They talked for another minute. She promised to tell Dylan that Michael was home, and Michael promised to make Jordan call her back.

She’d just hung up the phone when Dylan came out of the bathroom. He’d put on his khaki shorts and was going downstairs to check on the police officers to make sure they were where they were supposed to be. Kate thought he was being a little obsessive-compulsive.

He didn’t come back upstairs for a long time. Kate tried to go to sleep, but her mind wouldn’t rest. She kept thinking about the “little” problem of figuring out who was trying to kill her. It had to be one of the MacKennas, but which one? Maybe all of them. Wouldn’t that be something? Vanessa could be in on it, too. At this point anything was possible.

Chapter Thirty-three

Kate had been tossing and turning for what seemed like hours when Dylan finally came to bed. It was well after midnight.

He didn’t ask her if he could sleep with her. He simply took off his shorts and slid in next to her. He was awfully sure of himself, she thought, and she was about to tell him so when he pulled her into his arms.

“You awake, Pickle?”

“I’m too nervous about tomorrow to go to sleep.”

“Good,” he said. He lifted her hair off the back of her neck and began to nibble on her soft skin.

Shivers coursed down her legs, and she moved restlessly against him. “Why is it good?” she asked breathlessly.

“It’s good because I won’t have to wake you up to make love to you.”

He might have said something more to her; she couldn’t remember. The way he was touching her demanded her full attention, and forming a coherent thought simply became impossible.

Their lovemaking was different tonight, more passionate, far more intense. And when at last they had both found fulfillment, he continued to hold her in his arms and stroke her back. His chin rested on top of her head, and every once in a while he would kiss her.

As soon as the haze of passion lifted, she was miserable. She wanted to tell him how she felt, but she couldn’t. Why? Because the quickest way to get him to disappear would be to admit that she wanted to be with him forever.

She did want that impossible dream with all her heart. How would he respond if she told him she wanted him forever? He’d probably pass out on her. She was actually able to summon up a smile as she thought about how crazy those three little words would make him.

Good thing she knew CPR.

Dylan turned over on his back and stared at the ceiling. “Kate, how come you want to get a loan? You did say that was what you were going to do. Were you joking?”

“No, I was serious. I need a loan to pay off a loan. It’s a temporary solution that will buy me some time.”

“You do know that as soon as you sign those papers tomorrow, you’re going to be a millionaire, don’t you?”

“Yes, I know,” she said. “But I won’t be a millionaire for long. When I go to the bank and fill out the application, I’ll have to list the money as an asset . . . a temporary asset,” she stressed.

He yawned. “They’re gonna think you’re nuts.”

She snuggled up against him and whispered, “Maybe I am.”

He didn’t think she was too worried about the reputation of her mental state because she fell asleep less than a minute later. Dylan pulled the sheet up over them and tried to clear his mind so he could sleep. That proved to be impossible. He couldn’t stop thinking about tomorrow and all the things that could go wrong.

Kate slept hard that night, but she didn’t feel rested when she got out of bed the following morning. She so dreaded the day ahead of her. She hoped to heaven none of the MacKennas would come to the meeting. Bryce was probably still in the hospital, and she felt a little ashamed hoping he hadn’t been released yet. Roger and Ewan were the biggest worries. She didn’t think she had the stamina to put up with their vulgarity again, and if they began to slander her mother, she didn’t know what she would do.

Dylan was downstairs in the kitchen talking to someone. She thought she heard Chief Drummond’s voice, but she couldn’t be sure.

Nine o’clock. She couldn’t believe the time. She’d never slept this late before. No reason to rush, she decided. The meeting at Anderson’s office wasn’t until seven that evening, and she assumed that she and Dylan wouldn’t leave Silver Springs until the middle of the afternoon.

Anderson wouldn’t be back from the funeral until at least five, maybe later. For some unknown reason, Compton MacKenna had insisted that his funeral begin at precisely two o’clock in the afternoon. He’d written out a schedule of “events” and had even included the names of the mourners he wanted to speak on his behalf. Kate wondered if Compton had also written the eulogy.

She thought about that crazy old man while she showered and dressed for the trip. Just in case they had to stay the night in Savannah, she packed her overnighter again.

She carried the bag downstairs, left it in the foyer, and went into the kitchen.

“Good morning,” she said.

Dylan was drying his hands. He draped the towel on his shoulder as he walked toward her. He kissed her with a good deal of gusto, and when he moved back, he was pleased with her reaction. She was actually blushing.

He pulled a chair out from the table, kissed her again but so quickly this time she wasn’t at all ready, and then gently forced her to sit.

“What do you want for breakfast?” he asked. “I’ll fix it for you.”

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