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

“I don’t have one. My investigator didn’t tell me about her.”

“You just can’t get good surveillance these days, can you?” Savannah snapped, her mouth trembling, but then she bit her lips. Her whole body was rigid, concrete and rebar.

“Why?” she demanded. “Why would you pay a stranger to follow my family?” She flung out the picture of Tyler at a card table in Vegas, and another one of Margot in her car and the third one of her eldest brother, Carter, leaving his office.

Thank God she didn’t get to the one of her mother.

She threw the rest of the files on the bed and took his wallet from the pocket of her robe.

“And why would you lie to us?” She quirked an eyebrow at him. “Matt Woods, is it?”

“I’ll answer all your questions,” he said, holding up his hands as if talking down a jumper. “But I need a few answers of my own.”

“You!” she breathed, fury igniting her face. “You are in no position to ask any questions!” She hurled the wallet into the corner. “Get dressed. And get the hell out of here.”

She whirled to leave but he got ahold of the sleeve of her robe. “Savannah, we need to talk.”

“Talk?” she cried. She smacked at his hand and then, her mouth tight with fury and her eyes bright with tears, she slapped his face. So hard his head snapped sideways and his ears rang.

“You lied to me. To my family,” she whispered. “Get. Out.”

He shook off the sting of her blow and stared her down.

“I deserve that,” he said and her eyes narrowed. “I deserve that and more and I’m truly sorry for lying to you. But you never would have talked to me if I didn’t do it this way. My name is Matt Woods. Howe was my mother’s maiden name. I need—”

“You need to leave, Matt.” She spat his name like it was rotten meat.

He felt like shit. This was a total nightmare and not at all how he imagined things going. But he’d come here for a reason and he wasn’t going to leave without getting some answers of his own. Savannah might not know where her mother was, but there was still the small matter of the gems to be considered.

“Not until I have a chance to explain and get some answers.”

“You have got to be kidding me,” she said. “Like I’m going to answer any of your questions.” Her anger cracked and sadness leaked into her face, her voice. The way she held herself, as though she was losing more strength with each passing second, made him want to howl. “Just go. I don’t care what you have to say.”

Anger, he could handle, but this sadness gutted him.

He shouldn’t have done this.

Remembering her words sliced at him, tore him to ribbons.

He was trying to fix things and he’d only made them worse.

“Wait a second.” Margot’s voice cut across the porch like a knife. Right. It wasn’t only Savannah he’d lied to, and Margot didn’t seem sad at all. Her face was utterly composed, her eyes snapping. She was furious. “You might not care, Savannah, but I sure as hell do.”

“What’s going on?” Katie asked from her spot at Margot’s side, and he blew out a hard breath as he smashed, face-first, into rock bottom. He’d lied to a kid. A kid. Tried to use a kid for information. Christ, what is wrong with me? “Why doesn’t Matt have any clothes on?”

“An excellent question,” Margot said, her voice tart and Matt saw Savannah stiffen, her lips go white. He stepped in front of her, shielding her from Margot’s chilling stare.

Margot blinked, surprised. Frankly, so was he, but he’d hurt Savannah enough. He wouldn’t let anyone throw around words to hurt her more.

“Interesting,” Margot said, watching all of them. “Why don’t you get dressed, Matt, and meet us all in the library in ten minutes.”

“I have some questions of my own,” he told her, meeting her flinty blue eyes. “And I’m not leaving without some answers.”

“The library,” Margot said. “And let’s make it five.”

SAVANNAH STOOD outside the library doors and forced herself not to twitch. Not to chew on her nails. Her palm still stung from the slap, her face still burned from a sick shame, but she forced herself to be the eye in the middle of the storm.