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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:45

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m sorry. I’m…you’re doing a great job.”

Damn right he was. His hands were a bloody mess, his back felt broken at the end of the day and he had the sneaking suspicion he’d lost about five pounds.

Savannah seemed to chew her tongue for a moment, on the verge of saying something and he found himself hoping, even for a scolding. Four days of silence and now—with this fire in her eyes, her hands curling in the red hair of her rascal daughter—he found himself wanting her to stay. Wanting her around.

She was like a bright spark against a black sky.

Her eyes flickered over his face, he could almost feel them touch his lips and eyes. Breathing became difficult and his fingers twitched with a sudden wild impulse to touch her hair, a long straight piece of it that had fallen over her shoulder and glowed in the sunlight.

“Just don’t teach my daughter any card games,” she said.

Then the moment passed and she was gone.

Katie grinned and waved at him over her shoulder and his jaw nearly dropped.

Suckered. They’d all been suckered by Katie. He turned to pick up his tools, only to find Margot standing in the broken sunlight. A ghost in white linen and diamonds, holding a steaming mug of coffee. She carried a folded newspaper under her arm like she was a stockbroker off to the office.

“You’re a shark,” she said, her eyes sharper than a knife. “Aren’t you?”

Matt shook his head, but Margot grinned anyway, a Mona Lisa curl to her lip that he couldn’t read. He didn’t know what any of this meant; he felt like he’d slipped down the rabbit hole.

“Come to my room,” she said, making it sound like an imperial order. “Midnight tonight. We’ll see whether you’re a shark or not.” She looked him up and down and turned, heading inside.

“IT’S LATE, KATIE,” Savannah murmured into her daughter’s hair, stroking it away from her young, damp face pressed into the bed pillow. “Do you want to go to sleep in my room again?”

Savannah half hoped her girl would say yes. Since the break-in, Katie had been bunking with her and it had been nice. More than nice, actually.

Katie’s little body curled against hers in the darkness, her tiny feet pressed tight against Savannah’s shins, had reminded her of when Katie had been a baby and they’d shared the same bed until her daughter had started to snore.

She still did, which was why Savannah only half hoped her daughter would want to go to Savannah’s room.

“I want to sleep in my room,” Katie murmured, reaching up to hold Savannah’s hand. “Just stay until I fall asleep.”

Savannah sighed and rolled over onto her back, staring at the ceiling, thinking of the burning of widows in India and the other extreme religious rituals she was getting paid to think about these days.

These thoughts only lasted a millisecond, superceded, as had been the case for far too long, by thoughts of Matt.

Matt in the hallway, his dark hair silvered by moonlight, checking out suspicious sounds. Which frankly seemed suspicious.

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But then this morning, that thing with Doug.

She waffled between wondering how he was going to hurt them and how he was going to help them. Part of her resisted the notion that he was simply a good guy doing something decent for the O’Neill women.

She’d been taught not to trust by the best of them, so it was hard trusting Matt, who seemed so entirely trustworthy. Lord knows he was working hard enough.

The man worked through three shirts a day.

To her utter and total chagrin, she was counting. From her office window she was watching it all—the sweat that dripped down his neck, the way the sun hit his green eyes and turned them the color of bottle glass. How he used the bottom edge of his shirt to wipe his forehead, revealing a white slice of muscled abdomen.

She knew she’d overreacted to the card situation, but it had been such a shock after all these years to see cards being played at the Manor. They used to play all the time. But after Tyler left, he’d taken all the fun out of the place, and there’d been no cards. Then Katie had been born and Savannah had done everything she could to make sure the Notorious O’Neill garbage stayed in the past, or at least outside the walls of the house.