Beneath These Lies (Page 19)

Even I could feel my eyes widen at his words. How did I miss that? And what did I think about it?


His smile was wry. “Told you, you weren’t ready. But I’m calling tonight our test-run date. Which means I’m buying you dinner and seeing you home.”

His assertiveness, a quality I’d never really noticed before, surprised me. “You are?”

“Yeah. There’s one thing I learned from losing my brother—life is too short not to take chances. I’ve waited long enough to take this one, and I’m not waiting any longer.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that. I wasn’t prepared for this and was clueless about how to react. “Um. Okay?”

“Don’t worry, we’ll take it slow. Starting with dinner again later this week. I’ll pick you up at your door, bring you flowers, and impress you with my ability to carry on a conversation and drive a stick. Maybe stage a flat tire so you can watch me change it with my shirt off and realize I might be useful in more ways than one to have around.”

I couldn’t help but laugh with a hint of embarrassment at his words and the attractive grin stretching across his face. This guy—Rhett Hennessy—was completely new to me. He was charming. And all man.

The rest of dinner passed in a blur of laughter, good conversation, and delicious food. When we left the restaurant, Rhett walked me back down the street to where I’d parked near the gallery, and followed me home in his car. He slammed his door as I climbed out of the Tesla.

“You’re really taking this whole test-run date thing seriously, aren’t you?” I said as I met him in front of my garage and the door slid closed.

Rhett reached for my hand and closed his around it before leading me up the walk to my front door. Normally I would have entered through the portico, but I wasn’t going to contradict his gentlemanly gesture. I’d had few enough of those in my life to be completely charmed by the effort.

We paused at the front door, my keys in my hand, and I had that moment of wondering how seriously he was taking this test run. Was he going to try to kiss me? Did I want him to?

Rhett answered the question without me having to wonder for very long. “I’m not going to kiss you. Yet.” But he moved in closer anyway, and my gaze locked with his. “Well, maybe that’s a lie.” And his lips lowered . . . to my forehead. Rhett stepped back and smiled, and I couldn’t deny it—the man was incredibly attractive. “I wanted to make that kiss count, but I’m gonna let you get used to me first. I’ll drop by the gallery, and we can work out our next date.”

I couldn’t help but smile back, and turned to my door as he headed toward his car. How in the world did this happen? A date . . . with the guy I was certain would never see me as anything but a victim?

Maybe things do change.

I slid my key into the lock and twisted, pushing the door open at the same time. Stepping into my darkened foyer, I pushed the door shut and locked it before deactivating the alarm and then setting it again immediately. I didn’t take chances with my safety.

I flipped on the foyer light, but nothing happened. The bulb must have burned out. Strange.

I moved up the stairs, a niggle of apprehension stalking each step. I flipped on every light as I went, but nothing hid in the shadows.

Working through my nightly routine, I stripped off my skirt and blouse and hung up what was still clean, tossing the rest in the laundry hamper. Making my way to the bathroom, I turned on the sink and reached for my face wash.

And then a shadow moved in my bedroom.

What the hell?

My heart kicked up as I pushed the door the rest of the way open. My gun was in my purse on my dresser. The shadow moved again. I reached for my phone on the counter, hands shaking as I punched in my pass code.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” The deep voice was familiar.

I froze when he came into view, leaning against the footboard of my bed, arms crossed nonchalantly.

“What in the ever-loving hell are you doing in my house?” The words came out on heaved breaths. I slapped a hand over my chest. “You almost gave me a freaking heart attack.”

I glanced down when my palm met skin and lunged for the door, intent on slamming it shut. Rix moved faster than I could, shoving a foot between the door and frame before it could close.

What is he doing? Fear clawed up inside me.

“Ain’t polite to slam the door when we’re having a conversation,” he drawled, his gaze drinking me in from head to toe.

My lacy black bra and panties left just enough to the imagination to be sexy without being prudish. And Rix did not need to be seeing them. I reached up and yanked my robe off the back of the door, shoved my arms through the sleeves, and knotted the belt tighter than I’d ever knotted it before.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

Rix pressed a hand on the door to the bathroom, pushing it open all the way.

“I told you not to talk to the cops. So, what the hell was that?” He jerked his head to the front of the house.

“None of your business.”

His silver eyes flashed molten. “I don’t share.”

My mouth dropped open at his ridiculous statement. “Excuse me? I don’t even know how to respond to that. Oh, wait. How about I’m not yours. And how the hell did you get into my house? That’s breaking and entering and illegal.”

His chuckle was dark as he continued to stare at me, completely ignoring the most pertinent questions. “You are, you just don’t realize it. And here I was trying to give you time to get used to the idea, and you’re out on a date with a cop.”