After Perry had cleared their dinner
dishes and gone to bed, Jack had started nodding off. A combination
of exhaustion and pasta. Without a mega dose of caffeine, he’d
known there was no way he’d make it through even an hour of his
online fact-finding mission.
And as much as he was enjoying Perry’s
company, as much as he’d like to enjoy even more, she wasn’t
the reason he was here. He couldn’t let go of his focus. Couldn’t
let himself lose sight of his priorities or his purpose.
The Eckhardt family had placed in him their
trust, their faith. Their hope that he’d be able to succeed where
law enforcement had failed.
They knew his reputation—didn’t
know how he’d earned it, weren’t aware of the road he’d
taken from covert ops to private investigation or the details of the
cases he’d handled since.
But those particular bit of his past were
only relevant in that they got him out of sticky situations as easily
as they helped get him in.
“That I’m not sure about,” he
said, answering Perry’s question as he settled back into his seat. “But
I am certain that she’s not the least bit unhappy that he’s
“Wonder what she’d think about
him being dead,” Perry said, reminding him of Della’s last
vision of Dayton Eckhardt.
Jack wasn’t ready to go there. Not now.
Not yet. “I have to operate on the assumption that he’s alive
and at least marginally well.”
“I didn’t think you’d do
He looked up in time to catch her hiding a
smile behind her fingertips. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“The obvious.” She fluttered the
hand she’d had at her mouth, wrapped her other arm around her middle. “You’re
a ‘just-the-facts’ kinda guy. You have to see for yourself
before you’ll believe. And even then I’m guessing you need
to get your hands on whatever it is before you’re one hundred percent
She’d pegged him pretty damn well. “Some
people talk with their hands. I think with mine. ”
“Then it shouldn’t be too hard
for you to understand that there are times Della can see things with
Yeah, right. He wasn’t going there either.
“If you’d rather not talk about
it, I’ll understand. But I am curious.” She returned her
laced hands to the tabletop. “And eventually I’ll get Della
to tell me.”
“Tell you what?” Jack asked, fighting
the fist that had slammed into his stomach.
“What she saw when she touched you,” Perry
said, meeting his gaze, refusing to look away when he narrowed his eyes
He did not want Perry knowing about his failures,
or about the mess he’d made of his life. “Don’t psychics
have a code of ethics? A doctor patient confidentiality thing? ”
“Whatever goes on between Della and
her clients during a reading remains private, yes. ”
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?” he
mused, not liking so much the bit of smugness to her smile.
“That’s a workable analogy.” She
lifted a brow. “Except it only applies when it comes to closed
“Making the rest of us open books, whether
we like it or not.” He didn’t like it. He didn’t like
it at all.
Well . . .” she said, then let the thought
trail, causing him to grouch back.
“Go ahead. Enjoy a big fat laugh at
my expense.” He flicked his pencil across the table. “I’ll
be gone soon anyway.”
At that, she looked away, picking at a scar
in the wooden surface of the table with her thumbnail. “When do
you think you’ll be leaving?”
“I don’t know, look, I’m
sorry. I’m beat, and if this lead with Taylor doesn’t pan
out I’m stuck with nothing else tangible to go on.”
Not to mention his wanting to get to know
her wasn’t going so well. Wrong time, wrong place, and all that.
Though right now he wouldn’t say no if she offered.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” she
asked. “Anything I can look up or print out or local numbers you
Actually, he had an idea—one that went
against his grain. But with the chips down and crushed beneath his feet,
and the weirdness of the last two days turning out to make a twisted
sort of sense, he wasn’t above looking like a fool if doing so
resulted in answers.
And he started to tell Perry everything. Only
when he focused again on her face, her expression had him forgetting
what he was going to say.
Her dark eyes were wide, the brows above raised
while she waited for him to answer. She’d washed away what little
makeup she’d been wearing before. And as much as he liked the natural
look, what he really liked was that she let him see her face.
The beaded earrings that seemed her trademark
no longer dangled the length of her neck. She’d pushed her froth
of curls behind her ears, and for the first time he noticed the jewels
piercing the upper shell. Garnets, he thought, not really up on his precious
She was wearing a tank top that matched her
pajama bottoms so he figured it was a set. A soft looking purple fabric,
like that of a well-worn T-shirt he wished she’d tug over her head
“Jack?” she prodded, reaching
over and touching his wrist.
He looked down to where their skin made contact,
hers cool against his that he couldn’t imagine feeling anything
but hot. And then he lifted his gaze, curious, willing to take a long
walk on a short plank if it would get him the truth.
“What do you see?”
She frowned. “Besides the whites of
your eyes that look like road maps? ”
“Yeah. How much of your aunt’s
gift did you inherit?” he asked, not certain he wanted to know
if she could see the same things.
She shook her head. “None. I don’t
know what she saw. All I can see is you. ”
He wanted to believe her. He couldn’t
think of what she’d have to gain by lying. Even her efforts to
convince him that the trick of the light he’d seen in the stairwell
was some sort of spectral energy didn’t seem particularly self-serving.
He took a deep breath and an even deeper leap
of faith. “Good. I don’t like everyone and his brother knowing
where I’ve been.”
She pressed her lips together in that prissy
way she had. “So, you think of me as everyone’s brother?”
He waited a moment, letting the seconds tick
by as the skin in the hollow of her throat grew damp. “No. I don’t.”
“But you still don’t want me to
He shook his head.
“Because I don’t want you to turn
me down when I ask you to come over here and sit on my lap.”