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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:53

What a joke. He couldn’t fix anything. Shouldn’t even try.

Something orange was flung into his eyes and he looked up to see Katie scowling at him from a low tree branch. She lifted her hand and hurled the peeled orange at his chest.

The fruit was right on target and the juice and pulp exploded against his body, up into his eyes.

“We don’t want you here!” she cried, then vanished in the leaves, leaving nothing but silence and the smell of orange in the air.

Until there was nothing left of him.

He would finish this, then the ghosts could have him.

“WOW, LOOK AT THAT new greenhouse. It’s gorgeous. Seriously, your courtyard looks like a magazine spread,” Juliette said, sitting on Savannah’s printer table so she could stare out the window at Matt. “That guy doesn’t stop, does he?”

“Who?” Savannah asked, pretending to be distracted as she saved files and sent e-mails. Done. Her work for Discovery was done.

“Like you don’t know,” Juliette said, grinning. She leaned over and reached into Savannah’s bottom drawer for the Halloween candy she kept there.

“I don’t,” she said, knowing she sounded like some kind of spinster librarian. Which she was. And she was back to being okay with it. After the initial shock and anger of finding out about Matt, she’d actually started to grieve a little. Not that she was in love, but, for the first time in a long time, it felt possible.

And that didn’t happen in Bonne Terre very often. Not for her.

But she was over it. A week after Matt had been revealed as a fraud, she was her old self again.

“I still don’t understand why you let him stay. I thought you were going to run him out of town for sure.”

“Not my call, sadly,” Savannah said.

Juliette snorted, speaking volumes in the language between friends.

“What is your point?” Savannah asked.

“If you really wanted him gone, he’d be gone.”

“Margot may be old, but she’s no pushover, and she wanted him to stay.” Juliette was silent, and again, the silence said plenty. “I’m serious.”

“Fine. Play that way.” Juliette shrugged and tossed a handful of candy into her mouth. She twisted on the printer table to better watch whatever Matt was doing. “He doesn’t look healthy.”

Savannah thought the same thing, but she stayed mute. No way was she admitting she’d been watching him.

Not at first, of course—she’d stayed strong for two days. But then she’d noticed that the sounds of work coming from the courtyard didn’t stop. Ever. They started at dawn and ended at dusk without break.

It had turned into some kind of contest. If he was working, she was working. The sounds of saws and hammers became an odd soundtrack to religious rituals around the world, and watching him from the corner of her eye became her new hobby.

Thanks to his insane work schedule, the Discovery work was done three days before she had to go back to the library. And she had a headache from glancing at him sideways.

“Jeez,” Juliette whispered through her teeth. “He looks like he’s lost about five pounds.”

“He doesn’t eat,” Savannah said. “Margot leaves out sandwiches for lunch, but he eats them for dinner and I don’t know what he’s doing in the morning.”

Juliette smirked at her. “I knew you cared.”

“I don’t,” Savannah insisted. “But the Notorious O’Neills don’t need him dying on our property.”

“Good point,” Juliette said, looking out the window again. “At least he’s drinking water.”

“Oh, he’s plenty hydrated. Around noon, Katie sits up in the cypress and throws water balloons at him. It used to be orange peels, but yesterday she upped her game.”

“You don’t feel like stopping that?”

“I feel like filling up the balloons for her.”

Juliette watched him out the window for a long moment. “He is one good-looking guy. You sure you don’t want to give me a few details of whatever you two did in the library—”