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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:49

“What are you going to do?” Juliette asked, leaning against the counter. “You want me to take him to the station? Hold him for a few days?” She poured herself a cup of coffee.

“I don’t need you breaking the law for me,” Savannah said.

“All right. So? What are you going to do?”

Her body remembered the way he’d touched her. Her skin was permanently etched by his fingers. Her breasts and lips still tingled and ached. And it had all been a lie.

He’d slept in her house. In the same house as her daughter.

Good God. She’d caught him in the hallway a few nights ago. He’d said he was checking out a sound and she’d convinced herself not to be suspicious. Not to be dubious.

“I’m going to make him very sorry he came to my door.”

“Atta girl,” Juliette said as she picked up her ringing phone. “I’ll wait around to see if we need to bury a body.”

Savannah walked through the house, sure of her destination. Her course of action.

The old glass doors to the sleeping porch hadn’t shut in years and she just slipped between them. A ghost. A wraith.

It was dark on the porch, the overgrown vines outside acting like shades against the sun. The white sheets on the bed glowed in the half-light, drawing her eye despite her intention not to look at Matt. His back rose like a mountain from the snowy sheets, beautiful, all that caramel skin over muscle and bone. His feet were bare and sticking out over the edge of the bed and it made him seem oddly vulnerable.

Good, she thought, hoping she’d find something that she could use to make him hurt. Hurt like she hurt.

The oddball lessons learned at Margot’s feet resurfaced and her nimble fingers, always so much more silent and careful than her brothers’ at such things, went through Matt’s clothing, searching out clues, evidence, secrets.

Our little pickpocket, Tyler had called her a million years ago.

The remembered nickname brought back a gush of emotion she didn’t want to feel. Not right now. Now, she wanted to be righteous and angry.

She’d put these strange skills behind her along with the gambling and card playing that her whole family loved. That Matt had reduced her to this was one more thing to hate about him.

In the corner of his duffel bag she found his BlackBerry.

She scrolled through his e-mails, his phone contacts.

His name was Matt Woods. And he sure as hell wasn’t a handyman.

She threw the phone back in the bag.

Matt’s pockets were empty so she went around the room, a ghost on bare feet, finding hiding spots and hidden nooks.

She tipped over a broken dusty pot in the corner and found a black leather wallet.

And under that, a set of manila folders.

MATT DREAMED OF BOX HEDGES. And a pattern, a maze. Detailed and difficult, something a wild eight-year-old would get a kick out of. And at the center of that maze a secret heart. Lush bougainvillaea bushes, perhaps. Definitely some birds of paradise. A bench. A fountain, something old-fashioned and courtly that Margot would adore.

Someplace quiet for the sun to filter through Savannah’s hair.

His eyes blinked open and in a heartbeat he knew what to do with the courtyard.

A maze. It was perfect.

Inspiration, gone for months, flooded back as if his taste buds were exploding at the mere scent of delicious food, only instead of food, it was Savannah who had inspired him.

Savannah in the moonlight. Savannah pressed against him, her lush curves lighting him on fire.

It was a new day, a fresh start.

The truth will set me free, he thought. No more lies.

There was something in him that glowed at the prospect.

A sound in the corner, something between a laugh and a sob, made him turn.

Savannah, pale as a ghost.

Looking through his files.

His stomach bottomed out and he cursed.

“What…what is all of this?” she whispered.

He cleared his throat. The truth, he reminded himself, the pristine truth. He stood, not wanting to have this conversation naked, and yanked on some pants.

“Information I had gathered on you and your family.”

“Information?” she whispered, paging through the pictures with shaking fingers until she came to the one of her and all that baffled hurt froze into anger.

“This is a nice one,” she said bending back the folders. “It was Katie’s last day of school. Where’s her file?”