Get a Clue(5)

By: Jill Shalvis



Stopping to chat seemed like a bad idea, so she kept moving.

Her only problem was, she really had nowhere to go.





Two



Remember: the better-looking the guy, the less he can be trusted. It’s a direct ratio thing.

—Breanne Mooreland’s journal entry





Cooper Scott stood butt-ass-naked, freezing cold and dripping wet in the bathroom doorway, holding the vibrator his mystery guest had just dropped. Bad enough that he’d quit his job, shocking everyone he knew. Bad enough that he wasn’t getting laid, now that he’d sent a pretty woman screaming like a banshee into the night.

A woman carrying a vibrator.

He could still hear her, pounding down the stairs in those ridiculous, towering high-heeled boots that were all for show and had absolutely no practicality.

Who would wear such things to the Sierras at the onset of winter, in the middle of an insane storm like the one they were facing?

He had no idea, but he supposed, as she was in his house, he needed to find out. Well, not his house, exactly, but his rented vacation house.

And a stunning one at that.

His brother James had sent him here with strict orders to “get his shit together,” not mentioning that the place was at least ten thousand square feet of pure luxury. Log-cabin style, it had gorgeous mahogany flooring, pine trim, soft, buttery interior walls filled with rustic prints and old-time equipment such as hare-bone snowshoes and antique wooden skis.

But if the decorating was glorious, old western style, the actual appliances were state of the art, with everything placed and designed for ultimate comfort. He had a week to live in style here, a week in which he’d intended to do nothing but ski his brains out and maybe find a pretty ski bunny to keep him warm at night.

And, as James had ordered, “get his shit together.”

As long as he avoided thinking, he was good. All he wanted to do was recover from the job that had nearly sent him to the loony bin, and figure out what the hell to do with the rest of his life.

No sweat.

He’d gotten here from San Francisco via his truck, which was probably buried in the driveway by now. The drive had been treacherous at the least, and given how the snow was still coming down, he doubted he could get off the mountain if he’d wanted to. But the staff that was supposed to greet him had been nonexistent, the house cold as an iceberg. He’d found the heating control and cranked it, but as yet, nothing had happened.

He’d taken a hot shower anyway, intending to start a sizzling fire in all the fireplaces he could find, but instead had been interrupted by a woman watching him soap up. Hoping she was one of the promised staff members, maybe someone who could cook—God, he was starving—he grabbed a thick, plush white towel from its neat pile on the granite counter.

There had been all sorts of toiletries laid out for him on the countertop, including a basket filled with condoms in varying sizes and colors, which had amused him earlier.

How long had it been since he’d needed a condom?

Too damn long, he knew that much.

Towel around his hips, he stepped into the bedroom just as the lights flickered. Perfect.

The electricity was going to go. Then he could be cold, wet, starving . . . and in the dark.

Another power surge, making the lights dim with an odd hum, and from somewhere below came the sound of a thud and low cry. Dropping the towel, Cooper grabbed his jeans, jamming first one leg and then the other in, hopping as he made his way out into the hallway, still shirtless and barefoot.

Up here at an altitude of sixty-five-hundred feet, daylight didn’t slowly fade, but vanished in the blink of an eye, and today had been no exception. Full darkness had fallen. Any starlight was muted by the heavy snowfall, so the three overhead skylights and the wide range of huge windows in the rooms below were useless.

The lights were flickering nonstop now, offering only a sporadic glow from the wall sconces lined up in the empty hallway. “Hello?”

No answer. Of course not. What had seemed like a beautiful, welcoming house in the daytime suddenly didn’t seem so welcoming. Still, he wasn’t alone, he knew that much. He might be close to a nervous breakdown, but he wasn’t seeing things.

He reached for the banister, just as the lights stopped flickering and went out completely.

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