Page 43

The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:51

But Savannah didn’t believe that smile for a moment, because it was Tyler grinning up from that photo, looking wild and handsome and totally capable of breaking a young Juliette’s heart.

However, the moment didn’t have room for Juliette’s old pain—it was practically bleeding with recent hurt. Savannah could feel everyone behind her, watching her, and she hardened her heart, surrounded it in glass and cement and buried everything she felt about last night and Matt as deep inside of herself as she could.

When she was blank and cool and detached she turned and pinned Matt to the wall with her gaze. He appeared startled for a moment, as if he hadn’t expected her to fight, but then his own face got hard, his eyes cold. The handyman vanished. The musician, the man she kissed were all gone.

Someone she wasn’t the slightest bit attracted to stared back at her.

She was ready for a fight.

“Why don’t you tell us who you really are and what you’re doing here?” she asked, pleased with her icy tone.

“My name isMatt Woods and I’m an architect in St. Louis.”

The truth felt like being punched in the gut, but Savannah didn’t even flinch. She watched him, hating him.

Juliette made a big show of writing everything down.

“I’m not lying,” Matt said, eyebrow raised.

“Then you have nothing to worry about,” Juliette said, tucking her pad and pen back in her pocket.

“Why are you here?” Savannah asked, biting out every word. “Why are you investigating us?”

“My father is Joel Woods.”

“Who?” Margot asked, sitting in the wing chair Savannah had sat in last night. Matt’s head snapped around.

“Does that name mean something to you?” he asked.

“No,” Margot said with an indifferent shrug. Savannah almost smiled—no one did indifferent like Margot.

“You’re sure?” he asked, his eyes like lasers under his glasses.

“Why would it?” Margot asked.

“What about The Pacific Diamond? Ring any bells? Or the Ruby?”

“Sounds lovely, but I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Margot said, blinking up at him.

He took a deep breath, turning to face Savannah. She wanted to curl up into a little ball so that not even his gaze could touch her, but she squared her shoulders and stuck out her chin.

She could practically hear Margot applauding.

“Last night,” he said, and Savannah shot him a shut-the-hell-up look, which he ignored, “I told you the truth about my father. Seven years ago, he was arrested for stealing a priceless set of jewels called The Pacific Diamond, Emerald and Ruby from an ancient gemstones exhibit at the Bellagio. At some point during the drop-off, two of the jewels were stolen from my father. He was caught with the emerald but the diamond and the ruby are still missing.”

“I still don’t understand what that has to do with us,” Savannah said.

“That was my father’s first job—he wasn’t a thief by trade and I don’t think he was a very good one. His partner, who had some experience, hired my father for his knowledge of the casino. But when they went to the arranged meeting place to exchange the jewels for their fee, three things happened. The ruby and the diamond were stolen from my father, the cops showed up…” He hesitated.

Matt licked his lips. “Your mother was there.”

Blood roared through her and she leaned against the wall because she was suddenly light-headed. She couldn’t feel her hands or feet, but her heart was scoured, bleeding acid.

This was about her mother? He was here because of her mother? Last night— She couldn’t even finish the thought. Bile churned in her stomach and her throat ached with unvoiced screams.

“That’s why you kept asking about her?” she breathed.

“I thought you—” He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter anymore. I was wrong and I’m sorry, Savannah.”

“You thought what, exactly?” she spat, probing to see how far his betrayal went.

“I had reason to believe she might come here.”

“Never. She would never come here.”

“And then when I got here you wanted security cameras in your garden and people kept breaking in, clearly searching for something.”