Home > To Die For (Blair Mallory #1)(15)

To Die For (Blair Mallory #1)(15)
Author: Linda Howard

Bad thought, because he'd definitely looked at my breasts. And touched them. And sucked them. Now, I'm not much on breasts-they're more of an irritant to me than a source of pleasure-but there was no getting away from the intimacy of the memory, and that was what had me blushing again.

"My God," he said, "what are you thinking this time?"

"Why? What do you mean?" Like I was going to tell him what I was thinking.

"You're blushing again."

"I am? Oh. Sorry. I'm going through premature menopause, and I have hot flashes." Anything to regain lost ground.

He grinned, a quick flash of white teeth. "Hot flashes, huh?"

"Premature menopause isn't for sissies."

He laughed out loud, and leaned back in his big leather chair to watch me for a moment. The longer he watched, the more uneasy I became. Remember what I said about how his eyes looked? I felt like a mouse being stared down by a cat... a mean, hungry cat. In all this time I hadn't given two thoughts about what I was wearing, but I was abruptly conscious of my pink halter top that bared my midriff, and the formfitting yoga pants. The way he was looking at me made me feel as if way too much of my skin was exposed, and that he was remembering seeing even more of it than he was seeing right now. Even worse, that he was planning on seeing more of me again.

That was the effect he'd always had on me: when he looked at me, I became acutely aware of being female-and that he was male, with all the corresponding bits and parts. You know: Tab A fits into Slot B. If I got close to him, all I could think about were tabs and slots.

He picked up the pen I'd been writing with and tapped it in a rapid tattoo on his desktop. "You're not going to like what I'm about to say."

"I haven't liked anything you've said, so that isn't a big surprise."

"Give it a rest," he advised in a hard tone. "This isn't about us."

"I didn't assume it was. And there is no 'us.' " I just could not give him an inch, the benefit of the doubt, or a break. I didn't want to deal with him. I wanted Detective MacInnes back.

Evidently Wyatt decided that trying to reason with me was a lost cause. It isn't; I'm normally very reasonable... except where he's concerned. For whatever reason, he didn't pick up that verbal gauntlet. "We try to control all the information that's given to the press about a murder, but sometimes it isn't possible. To do an investigation, we have to talk to people and ask if anyone saw a man driving a dark four-door sedan in the vicinity of the crime. That's already begun. Now, we kept the reporters away from the crime scene, but they were right outside the tape with their telephoto lenses and cameras."

"And?" I wasn't getting his point.

"It doesn't take a genius to put two and two together and come up with you as a witness. We were in your place of business, you were with us, you left in my car-"

"Considering that scene, they probably think I'm the suspect."

One corner of his mouth quirked as he remembered the struggle to put me in his car. "No, they probably just think you were very upset by what happened." He tapped the pen against the desk again. "I can't keep them from naming you. If a suspect was seen, obviously there was a witness. Your identity is just as obvious. It'll be in the papers tomorrow."

"Why is that a prob- Oh." I was being named in the newspapers as the witness to a murder. The person who would most likely worry was none other than the murderer himself. What do killers do to protect themselves? They kill whoever is threatening them, that's what.

I stared at him, appalled. "Oh, shit."

"Yeah," he said. "My thoughts exactly."

Chapter Five

A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. Well, at least six or seven, anyway, because a thousand thoughts are a lot. Try counting your own thoughts and see how long it takes you to get to a thousand. Regardless of that, none of my thoughts were good.

"But I'm not even a good witness!" I wailed. "I couldn't identify him if my life depended on it." Again, not a good thought, because it just might.

"He doesn't know that."

"Maybe he was her boyfriend. It's usually the boyfriend or husband, isn't it? Maybe it was a crime of passion and he isn't really a murderer at heart, and when you pick him up he'll confess." That wasn't impossible, was it? Or too much to ask?

"Maybe," he said, but his expression wasn't all that hopeful.

"But what if he wasn't her boyfriend? What if it's drugs or something?" I got up and began to pace his office, which didn't have enough room for serious pacing and had way too many obstacles, like file cabinets and stacks of books. I dodged around things more than paced. "I can't leave the country. You won't let me even leave town, which under these circumstances is a really crappy position to hold, you know."

Not that he could stop me, I realized, not without arresting me or taking me into protective custody, and since I couldn't identify the killer, I don't think he could justify that to a judge. So why had he even told me not to leave town? And why was he telling me this when the most obvious, most intelligent response would be to get the hell out of Dodge?

He ignored my comment on his edict. "The odds are you're right, and the reason Ms. Goodwin was murdered was a personal one. With luck we'll have this wrapped up in a day or two."

"A day or two," I repeated. A lot could happen in a day or two. For one thing, I could get dead. No way was I going to hang around for that to happen. Despite what Lieutenant Bloodsworth had told me, I was leaving town. To hell with his permission, which I was fairly certain I didn't need anyway; by the time he found out I was gone, it would be too late. I would tell Siana to get in touch with him and tell him that if he needed me, he could contact Siana, because of course I'd tell my family where I was. Great Bods would be closed for a day or so anyway, so I might as well take a short vacation. I hadn't indulged my inner beach bunny in a couple of years; she was due.

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