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

“Did you have a point in coming here?” Savannah knew Juliette was trying to get her to snap, but she refused to take the bait.

“A friend can’t stop by and lust after the help?”

Savannah rolled her eyes. “Just a second,” she murmured and attached the last file. Satisfaction brewed in her as she clicked the Send button and rolled away from her desk, grabbing a bag of candy as she went.

Nothing said celebration like stale candy.

“I did come for a reason,” Juliette said, swinging around to face Savannah. Juliette was in police-chief mode and it made Savannah’s heart sink.

“I talked to Garrett’s and Owen’s folks. The boys insist they didn’t have anything to do with either break-in.”

“Of course they didn’t.” Savannah scowled, splitting a red chocolate between her teeth.

“The parents weren’t much help, but a certain vibe I got from Garrett’s stepmom makes me believe they weren’t so innocent regarding the first incident with the spray paint.”

“There’s nothing you can do?” Savannah knew the answer even as she asked it.

“Not without proof, sorry. But we’ll keep an eye on them.”

Savannah smiled, grim and weary. “You did the best you could.”

“The good news is, the whole town knows about Matt living here, so I’d imagine the break-ins will stop.”

“That’s my silver lining?”

“Well, that and being able to watch him out your window. Seriously, he’s sexy as hell.”

Savannah took a deep breath and gave in to her raging curiosity. “So? What did you find out about him?” There was only one question she really needed answered.

Juliette looked blank. “What do you mean?”

“Matt Woods—you wrote down all that information.”

Juliette laughed. “I didn’t do anything with it. The guy was clearly telling the truth. I’ve never seen a more tortured liar in my life. You could tell it doesn’t come easily to him.”

“He didn’t seem to have any problem the night before,” Savannah murmured. But then, she wondered, maybe all that stuff he’d said in the library was the truth. The mother dying of cancer and his friend, Jack.

“You’re the researcher,” Juliette said. “I thought for sure you’d have him all vetted by now.” Juliette stared at her wide-eyed. “You haven’t searched his name on the Internet? You? You don’t buy dishwasher detergent without looking it up on the Internet.”

Again, that silence that seemed to say so much.

“You know,” Juliette said, softly, carefully, as if she knew she was tiptoeing onto thin ice, “the chance of him being married—”

“I know,” Savannah said, but she couldn’t calm the voices screaming what if?

“Is that why you haven’t checked him out?”

“I don’t think I could survive that again,” Savannah said, locked up in knots. Ridiculous, as if that particular lightning would strike twice, but she was still scared of typing Matt’s name into a search engine and seeing that picture of the perfect family with Matt’s name in the caption.

The memory of doing just that eight years ago still had the power to bottom out her stomach. “My conscience is about maxed out.”

“You can’t still be blaming yourself about Eric. He didn’t tell you,” Juliette cried.

“It’s my job, Juliette, to find things out. It’s what I do.”

“But why would you even suspect—”

“Doesn’t change anything,” Savannah said, guilt like a nice warm blanket she curled up with now and again.

“It changes everything. You like being a martyr.” Juliette stood, repositioning her gun and badge on her hip. “When you finally get around to finding out who’s living in your house, find out why he got so gung ho about those gems six months ago.”

“He told us,” Savannah said. “His father had just confessed the truth about the theft.”

Juliette shook her head. “I checked Joel Woods out. That man did six and a half years of quiet time. He’s out in six months and now he talks? And not to the cops or his lawyer, but to his architect son. Why?”