Home > To Die For (Blair Mallory #1)(10)

To Die For (Blair Mallory #1)(10)
Author: Linda Howard

I backed up a little more. "Why what?" I leaned to the side and looked around him, as if making certain there were still cops within calling distance to protect me if he turned violent-which, to be honest, he looked as if he might.

"Wyatt Bloodsworth." The words dropped from his grim mouth like lead balloons. He wasn't finding my little charade at all funny, but I was having a great time.

I repeated the name silently to myself, moving my lips just a little, then let enlightenment dawn on my face. "Oh! Oh! I remember now. I'm so sorry, I'm terrible with names. How's your mother?"

Mrs. Bloodsworth had fallen off her bicycle onto the sidewalk in front of her house and broken her left collarbone as well as a couple of ribs. Her membership at Great Bods had lapsed while she was recuperating, and she hadn't rejoined.

He didn't look any happier to hear that his mother was my foremost connection to him. What had he thought, that I'd throw myself into his arms, either crying in hysteria or begging him to take me back? Fat chance. The Mallory women are made of sterner stuff than that.

"She's almost back up to speed. I think what hurt her even more than breaking bones was finding out that she doesn't bounce back as fast as she used to do."

"When you see her, tell her I said hello. I've missed her." Then, because he was wearing his badge on his belt, I lightly smacked myself on the forehead. "Duh! If I'd noticed your badge, I'd have made the connection faster, but I'm a little distracted right now. Detective MacInnes didn't want me to call my mom before, but I notice half the town seems to be in the parking lot, so do you think he'd mind if I called her now?"

He still didn't look very pleased with me. Oh dear, had I hurt his little ego? Wasn't that just too damn bad? "No civilians have been allowed on the scene yet," he replied. "The press is being held off, too, until the preliminary investigation is finished. We'd appreciate it if you didn't talk to anyone until the interviews are finished."

"I understand." And I did, truly. Murder was serious business. I just wished it weren't serious enough to have required Lieutenant Bloodsworth's presence. I stood up and stepped around him-giving him the same amount of personal space I would a stranger-and poured myself another cup of coffee. "How much longer will it take?"

"That's hard to say."

Which was a good nonanswer. I noticed him looking at the coffee and said, "Please, help yourself." I grabbed the plastic pitcher I'd been using to fill the coffeemaker now that both pots were occupied. "I'll just get some water to start another pot." Then I whisked myself out of the office and down to the bathroom, where I filled the pitcher and basked in satisfaction.

He certainly hadn't liked the idea that he'd been so unmemorable that I hadn't even recognized him. If he'd thought I'd spent the last two years mooning over him and mourning all the might-have-beens, his thinking had now been properly adjusted. And what had he expected, anyway? A rehash of old times?

No, not under these circumstances, not while he was working. He was way too professional for that. But he had definitely expected me to react to him with the unconscious intimacy you use when you've known someone personally, even if the relationship had ended. Too bad for him I wasn't unconscious.

When I came out of the bathroom, Detectives MacInnes and Forester were talking with Wyatt in the hallway, their voices pitched low. He was standing with his back to me, and while he was distracted by their conversation, I had an opportunity to really look at him, and damn if it didn't happen again, the heart-flutter thing. I stopped in my tracks, staring at him.

He wasn't a handsome man, not the way my ex was handsome. Jason was model handsome, all chiseled bone structure; Wyatt looked sort of battered, which was to be expected, since he'd spent a couple of years playing defensive end in pro football, but even if he hadn't, his features were basically on the rough side. His jaw was solid, his broken nose had a bump in the middle and was just slightly off-center, and his brows were straight black lines above his eyes. He'd kept the honed physique of an athlete to whom both speed and strength were equally important, but while Jason's body had the streamlined, strong elegance of a swimmer, Wyatt's body was meant to be used as a weapon.

Most of all, he practically dripped testosterone. Good looks are almost totally irrelevant when a man has sex appeal, and Wyatt Bloodsworth had it in spades, at least for me he did. Chemistry. There's no other way to explain it.

I hate chemistry. I hadn't been able to get serious about anyone else in the past two years because of stupid chemistry.

Like the detectives, he was dressed in slacks and sport coat, with a tie that was loosened at the throat. I wondered what had taken him so long to get here; had he been out on a date, with his pager or cell phone turned off? No, he was too conscientious for that, so it followed that he had been far enough away that getting here had taken roughly two hours. He had also been outside in the rain, because his shoes and the bottom six inches of his pants legs were wet. He must have taken a look at the crime scene before coming inside.

The two detectives were both shorter than he, and Detective MacInnes's face was carefully impassive. The older men must not be happy, I thought, to have a younger man promoted so fast. Wyatt had risen through the ranks like a comet, only partly because he was a good cop. He was also a Name, a local boy made good, a celebrity who had made All-Pro in the NFL his rookie year, then walked away to become a cop in his hometown after just a couple of years in the pros. Law enforcement was his first love, he'd told the media.

Everyone in town knew why he'd played pro ball: for the money. The Bloodsworths were Old Money, meaning they had once had money but were now broke. His mother lived in a four-thousand-square-foot, hundred-year-old Victorian house that she loved, but the upkeep was a constant drain. His older sister, Lisa, had two children, and though she and her husband had a solid marriage and did okay with day-to-day expenses, college tuition would be beyond them. Wyatt had pragmatically decided that replenishing the family bank account would be up to him, so he put off his planned career in law enforcement to play pro ball. A couple of million dollars a year would go a long way toward repairing finances so that he could take care of his mother, send his nephews to college, and so on.

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