Get a Clue(3)

By: Jill Shalvis



Clutching her small carry-on, which held only her makeup and two extremely naughty negligees that had been meant for her wedding night, she walked to the base of the huge, wooden staircase that slowly curved and vanished up into the second floor, with several big potted plants lining the way. More glass sconces along the wall lit the area so that she could see into the fading daylight. It was an Old West, cabin-style interior, beautifully and tastefully done.

But no one appeared, and she hadn’t heard a sound. Along with the daylight, much of her bravado deserted her. She didn’t relish the idea of being here alone tonight. “Hello?”

She didn’t know what the check-in procedure was, but she wondered if the huge storm had sent the staff members running for their homes in town, a one-horse place called Sunshine, of all things, a good ten miles back down the curvy, surely now snowed-in road.

They’d probably left the door unlocked for their guests, never even considering she’d be alone.

But alone she was. Thanks, Dean.

Knowing from the brochure that the honeymoon suite was on the second floor, she reached for the banister and began to climb the stairs.

“Anyone here?” she called out again at the top, stopping to pant for air. Damn altitude. The landing looked down to an open, large room below, rustic and cozy, with two forest green and maroon sofas shaped in an L, a large leather recliner, and throw rugs dotting the floor. It looked far more inviting than the cold, silent hallway where she stood, shivering like crazy from her wet clothes, and maybe nerves.

Then she realized she did hear something—running water. Proof of life! Hugging herself, she followed the noise, past three doors on the right and left, all of which appeared to be bedrooms.

The hallway walls had old photographs of the Wild West on them: cowboys, wagons, old mining towns. At the end of the hallway, she stopped in front of a set of double wooden doors.

The honeymoon suite?

Hoping so, she stepped inside. That’s where she found the log bed, so high she’d need a stool to climb up on it. The bedding was white down, with bear-and-moose pillows, and looked so scrumptuously warm she nearly sank into it. There was a matching armoire and dresser as well, also done in pine logs. The ceiling was open-beamed, and a work of art all by itself. The stone fireplace—not lit, darn it—and floor-to-ceiling windows finished off the room, the windows revealing that the day had fled completely now.

There was a goodie basket on a chair for the honeymooners: body paints in every flavor, a package of edible underwear, and several books on the pleasures of massage and touch therapy, including How to Make a Woman Come Every Single Time.

Too bad Dean wasn’t here. He could use that one.

There were other fillers, too: body lotion, bath oils, a brand new vibrator in neon-pink and shaped just like a penis she’d once seen that had a terrible curve to the right. She picked it up and took a good look at it, trying to picture the designers of such an item sitting around a table and deciding on the angle of the curve. She considered herself adventurous and fun in bed, but she couldn’t imagine Dean figuring out a way to make good use of this. Gee, guess it was a good thing he wasn’t here . . .

It penetrated her addled brain that the shower was still running.

Odd. Surely the housekeeper wouldn’t be in there . . . Curious, a little unnerved—and if she let herself think about all that had happened to her since she got out of bed that morning, she could add crazed to the list—she stepped over a pile of wet clothes on the floor.

Huh?

Turning back, she crouched down to look at them, trying to get a clue as to who was in her shower. Levi’s, original fit, size 34x36. Hmm. Tall and lean. There was also a white Hanes Beefy T-shirt, size large, and a soft blue chambray overshirt, both smelling good enough that if she hadn’t given up men, she might have pressed her face against the material and inhaled.

But she had given up men. She’d written it in her journal and therefore it had become law.

He didn’t wear underwear.

Why the hell that intrigued her, she had no idea. Rising, shivering because her clothes had become iced to her skin, she knocked on the bathroom door.

Whoever he was, he had the radio on; she could hear the broadcaster talking about the storm of the century—

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