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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:41

The room dipped around him. Time collapsed and that point-seven seconds nearly got him.

“Come on, Jim,” Thin Cop said, putting a hand on his partner’s beefy shoulder. Matt focused on them as hard as he could, shoving away his memories of the girlfriend and her pain. “We’re going to find out it was Owen and his friends, we both know it. Let’s leave these people alone.”

Officer Jones gave Matt a long look then turned to Savannah. “You. Both of you—” he glanced at Margot, raking the two women with his eyes “—you’re just like Vanessa.”

Savannah went white and Matt didn’t think, he simply acted, stepping in between Savannah and the policeman.

“It’s time for you to go,” Matt said.

It took a moment of hard stare-down between Matt and Officer Jones but finally the cop nodded, slicked back his thinning hair and slid his hat on. “We’ll be in touch,” he said, barely looking at the women standing around the couch. Instead he took a careful step toward Matt, who tensed, every muscle suddenly eager for a fight.

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“I’ll be watching you,” the man murmured.

“That’ll be fun,” Matt said with a smirk, guaranteed to piss off the cop. And it did. Luckily, his partner got a hand around the guy’s arm and led him out of the house before violence erupted.

“Oh, my,” Margot said, once the cops were gone. She collapsed onto the blue velveteen couch, a puddle of white linen and silk. “That was more than I needed this morning.”

“I didn’t like those police officers,” the little girl said, lifting her head from her mother’s neck.

“You and me both,” Margot said, holding out her arms and the girl climbed from mother to great-grandmother.

Savannah didn’t say anything, just glared at him as if it were his judgment day.

“It wasn’t me,” he said, even though he knew it didn’t matter. She either believed him or not.

“I know that,” Savannah answered, her voice rough and husky, no doubt from swallowing so much anger, and his shoulders went down, his back got loose with relief.

He noticed her robe, purple silk with Asian style hand-painted flowers gliding over her breasts, tied tight at her trim waist. No wonder Fat Cop was leering—Matt was in danger of doing it himself. The prison warden from yesterday was long gone and in her place was something far more dangerous.

A woman with a lit fuse.

Christ, he wanted to touch her.

Her hair was down. Her face clean and clear of makeup, her skin like the inside of a seashell. And her eyes…well, her big blue forthright eyes were killing him.

“What happened?” he asked.

“Around two this morning, Katie started screaming.” Savannah sighed, rubbing her forehead. “I ran in there and saw someone jumping out her window.”

“Oh, my God,” he whispered, imagining that to be a parent’s worst nightmare. “Was she…is she hurt?”

“No.” The redheaded girl spoke up, pushing back long tangles of hair to reveal freckles and blue eyes. “I’m not. I was just scared.”

“Do you know why anyone would try to get into the house?” he asked, studying Savannah carefully for any indication that there was a safe somewhere filled with jewels.

Savannah shook her head, looking slightly lost.

“Is there anything of value—”

“That’s hardly any of your business,” Margot said, and he tore his eyes away from Savannah to look at her, stunned to see that without the careful application of makeup, her face really showed her age. “Nor is it polite conversation at 7:00 a.m.”

Matt ducked his head. “Sorry,” he murmured. “I apologize.”

“I do, too,” Margot said graciously after Savannah shot her a stern look. “It’s been a rough morning. But it probably was those teenagers.” Margot sighed, resting her head against the back of the settee. “The officers are right, it was only a matter of time—”

“Those officers were idiots,” Savannah snapped. “Someone broke into my daughter’s room and they acted like it was nothing.” Savannah’s voice broke and she turned away from her daughter as if to hide her runaway emotions.