Get a Clue(9)

By: Jill Shalvis



Or simply a trick of the flickering firelight.





Three



Note to self—give serious thought to becoming an alcoholic.

—Breanne Mooreland’s journal entry





Cooper took the last step and came face-to-face with his voyeur for one brief flash before she backed up into the darkness. All around them it closed in, except for the low glow of light from the fireplace—and, of course, from the vibrator.

Then he caught a movement and tensed as a shadow to his left materialized into a man.

“Welcome,” the man said in utter contradiction to his urban street clothes. He eyed the vibrator in Cooper’s hand but whatever his thoughts were on a guy wielding a vibrator, he kept them to himself. “I’ll get some candles.”

“Who are you?”

“Dante, your butler,” he said, without a hint of laughter, indicating he was serious.

A butler? Cooper watched Dante vanish into the darkness. He’d been dressed more like any of the punks he’d encountered over the years on the job, but if the punk had candles to share—

“Unbelievable.”

This from the woman somewhere in the dark, beyond him in the foyer.

Turning, Cooper located her faint outline against the foyer windows. She had sunk to the floor, her back to the glass. There was a low-light digital display in front of her face, and she appeared to be entering something into a handheld digital device.

“No groom,” she muttered as she entered. “Flight from hell. More snow than the Arctic Circle. A serious lack of electricity. Oh, and a gorgeous naked guy.”

Cooper blinked. Gorgeous naked guy? Him? As bad as things had been lately, he’d take it.

“Next up,” she said, thumbs furiously hitting the keys. “Is getting knocked off on your honeymoon.”

Cooper held up the glowing vibrator to see her better, filling in some of the details he’d only caught glimpses of before. She had long, wavy hair, most of it in her face, and huge, wide eyes. Hard to tell if she was pretty, but something about her grabbed him. Her sweater was pink, snug to her full breasts, and she was damn cold if the hardness of her nipples meant anything. As he moved closer, she gasped.

“No one’s getting knocked off,” he said softly.

“Easy for you to say.” She was shivering out of control. “You’re not the one facing death.”

“Neither are you.”

She lowered her digital unit. “I really, really wish I hadn’t come.”

She was scared, shaking with it, and probably chilled to the bone. Knowing how she felt, he crouched in front of her. Because he’d come running when he’d heard her cry out he was still wearing only his jeans, so he raised his hands to show that while he might be half-naked, he was harmless, forgetting for a moment that he held the glowing vibrator. “You dropped this.”

This got him a vehement head-shake. “Not mine,” she said firmly.

“But I saw you—” He broke off at the look of horror on her face. “No? Hmm . . .” Knowing damn well she’d dropped it, he pretended to ponder the ownership as he turned the thing over in his hands. It turned on, humming loudly into the silent foyer.

This drew another gasp from her, so he tried to turn it off, but only succeeded in cranking it into high gear, and it nearly vibrated right out of his hands.

“Oh, for—here.” Snatching it out of his hand, she turned it off and then stood up, jamming the thing into her back pocket. “Who are you? Not the butler—there’s already one of those.”

“Cooper Scott.” He left out the unemployed loser part as he straightened. “You’re right, I’m not another butler. I’m a guest. And you’re . . . ?”

“In the twilight zone,” she said, peering uneasily into the dark around them.

“So in your twilight zone, you watch people shower?”

Without the glow of the vibrator, he couldn’t see her expression clearly, but could feel the heat of her embarrassment. “I didn’t intend to intrude on your privacy,” she said primly. “I just didn’t realize what you were doing.”

“You didn’t realize that when someone’s standing bare-ass naked in the shower, rubbing soap all over their body, it means they’re taking a shower?”

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