Beneath These Lies (Page 47)

I broke the stare with Rix and flicked a glance over his shoulder to the men who were already almost finished boarding up the window.

“We’ve got an audience.”

“Don’t care. Just waiting for one word from you, and we’ll be on our way.”

“Okay. I get it.” His grip on my arms loosened, and I added, “But I want you to fill me in on everything when you get to my house.”

His fingers flexed, and I could tell he was frustrated with me.

Rix leaned in close, his breath brushing my ear. “You make me want to turn that ass of yours red, duchess.”

A shiver worked down my spine as he pulled away, pressed a hard kiss to my lips, and released me.

Turning, he nodded toward his guys who were packing up their tools. “Let’s go.”

THE DOORBELL RINGING THREW ME off completely. I’d been expecting Rix to magically show up—despite my active alarm—and find me in my studio where I was covered in more paint than I probably should be. But I’d thrown myself into my work so I could try to stop worrying about whatever might be happening with Rix and Trinity. It wasn’t working.

It wouldn’t be my parents. They’d called to invite me to stay in their guest room, and when I’d declined, my father had tried to tell me I needed a bodyguard. That hadn’t gone far, and not only because I couldn’t have a bodyguard because said bodyguard would find out about Rix. And then there was the fact that I didn’t need a bodyguard because I had Rix.

So, who in the world was ringing my doorbell—I glanced at the clock on the wall—after ten o’clock at night? I cleaned my brush, killing time and hoping whoever it was would give up and go away. But they didn’t. The doorbell rang again.

I need to get that gate latch fixed. And maybe electrify it. Would that be bad? With my luck, I’d zap some Girl Scout selling cookies, and she’d have curly hair for the rest of her life.

With that random train of thought winding through my head, I paused at the kitchen counter where I’d laid my purse to pull my gun out and stuff it in the back waistband of my yoga pants. After the events of today, I wasn’t taking a chance with my safety. I knew all too well what could happen if I wasn’t careful.

Not thinking about that. I’ve moved on.

And I had. The last week held the longest stretches I’d gone without thinking about that night. I took that as a huge win.

The doorbell rang again and a strong, steady knock followed.

I peeked through the sidelight. Crap. Rhett.

He’d had way too many questions in his eyes when he’d stood in the gallery earlier today. He knew that Trinity had been missing, and then I’d dodged answering when he’d asked if I’d found her. Tack on a picture of her wrapped around a brick, and anyone would be suspicious.

I unlocked the dead bolt and pulled open the door.

“A little late to be stopping by to invite me for coffee,” I said, shooting for breezy and carefree.

He didn’t smile. His gaze dropped to the paint on my hands and clothes—and probably on my face.

“How many of the paintings in your gallery are your work?”

Of all the secrets I had, that one used to be my most closely guarded. Oh, how my life had changed recently.


“But there was. The anonymous artist. That was you.”

It didn’t seem worth the effort to lie about that anymore. “Yes, but no one knows.”

“Why were you so surprised to see it there? Hell, you were straight shocked.”

Dammit, his perceptiveness was really starting to become a pain in my rear.

“Because I didn’t know it was there. Someone decided to push me into showing a piece to prove a point.”

“Who?” His gaze narrowed.

“Does it matter?” I countered. “Because that can’t be why you’re here.”

“Are you going to invite me in?”

I glanced out the front door to see his Jeep parked on the opposite side of the street. Would Rix notice? Or would he sneak in unaware?

My heart thumped in my chest at the thought of Rhett and Rix coming face-to-face in my house. In my head, Desi Arnaz’s voice said Lucy, you got some ’splaining to do. I really didn’t want to do any ’splaining tonight, but what choice did I have?

“It’s pretty late, Rhett.”

“I’ll make it quick.” His expression stayed blank. This was not a social call, or at least not a lighthearted one.

I opened the door wider and stepped back. “Then come on in.”

I made espresso, in part to keep my hands busy, and partly because I wasn’t planning on falling asleep before Rix showed up. Rhett didn’t start talking until I turned around with two espresso cups in hand.

I set one on the counter where he leaned, opting not to take a seat on a bar stool.

“Are you going to tell me why you’re here, or are you going to make me guess?” At this point, I decided playing dumb was probably my best bet.

“I’m pretty sure you know why.”

“Stop being a cop for thirty seconds and cut the crap, Rhett.”

That finally got a hint of a smile out of him. “I like the fire when you stop keeping it banked.”

I said nothing and sipped my espresso. I was still gathering the words to let him down easy when Rhett tipped his double shot back and downed it in a single gulp. His smile faded and he cut right to the point.

“Where’s Trinity?”

Lie or don’t lie. What the hell do I do?

The back stairs that led into the kitchen creaked, and I froze.