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

Then she was gone, leaving him alone with Margot. His comrade from last night’s poker game was nowhere to be found. Instead she watched him, steely-eyed and unreadable.

There was no point in trying to justify himself to these women. He’d done so much damage, was in a hole so deep, there was no getting out.

He could only leave—this house, these women. Savannah.

“I’ll pack and be gone in an hour.” He wasn’t three steps before Margot stopped him.

“I would like those files,” she said, holding out her hand. Matt didn’t see any reason not to give them to her, other than his sick desire to keep that photo of Savannah for himself, a talisman against the lonely, ghost-ridden days ahead.

He put the files in Margot’s elegant hand and she flipped through them, her face betraying nothing.

“I assume you investigated your father’s partner with the same thoroughness?” she asked, tucking the files under her arm.

“My investigator couldn’t find any trace of him. Anywhere. He’s vanished.”

“His name?” There was no sign of the Southern flower in Margot at the moment. She was all business. Cold business.

She nodded sharply, her lips white at the edges. “Do you know his relationship to Vanessa?”

Matt nodded. They’d been married, Richard and Vanessa. And now, judging by Margot’s reaction, his suspicions were dead-on. “Richard Bonavie is Savannah’s father.”

“I assume you will keep that information to yourself,” Margot said.

“I’m leaving,” he said, “I don’t see how it—”

“I hired you to do a job,” she said and his jaw dropped.

“You want me to stay?” he asked. “You can’t be serious.”

Margot stood and approached him, her gambler’s eyes taking him apart piece by piece. “We gave you a deposit on your work.”

“I haven’t cashed the check,” he told her. The last thing he was going to do was take their money. “I was never going to. I’ll tear it up and pay you more, give you a bigger budget. I can send a crew down here and you’ll have a back courtyard that magazines will be calling you about.”

She shook her head. “We don’t want more people here,” she said. “And I’m quite sure Savannah wouldn’t want your money.”

“Well, she certainly doesn’t want me here, either.”

“She did last night.”

Matt gaped, feeling like a teenager caught with his pants down.

“Stop acting like a virgin,” Margot said. “You’re here, you’ve been paid and there’s still work to do. You’ll stay until it’s done.”

He shook his head. “This is not a good idea.”

“You’re going back on your word?” she asked, making it seem like going back on his word was somehow worse than what he’d done.

Savannah, he thought, the pain he’d caused her echoing through all the empty and rotted spaces in him.

“You can make this right,” Margot said, sympathy shading her voice.

“You don’t know me,” he whispered, eroded and crumbling. “Everything I touch these days breaks.”

Margot took a deep breath and patted his arm. “Savannah’s tough,” she said. “Now get to work.”

SAVANNAH REFUSED, absolutely refused, to lie in bed, staring at the old lace canopy of her four-poster bed like some heartbroken heroine in a movie.

I should get a new bed, she thought. The overblown princess bed that had been her dream come true as a child was ridiculously irrelevant.

She told herself she kept it—the bed and the canopy and the lace and the pillows—for her daughter, but she was the one curled up here at night.

What garbage, she thought, furious with herself for getting maudlin.

Since Katie was no longer in Savannah’s bedroom—no doubt having gone on some eavesdropping mission—Savannah decided to get some work done.

She kicked aside one of the gazillion useless little pillows she loved so much and dug out her laptop.

She pulled up all the files on religious mutilation in Indonesia.

Castration. She would do some work on male castration.