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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:54

Margot looked regal in pressed linen, a red scarf around her hair. Diamonds sparkled at her ears.

“Is that an order, Margot?”

“Damn right it is. I didn’t ask you to stay so you could kill yourself.”

“For a group of women so angry with me, you’re awfully concerned about my welfare.”

“And I’m tired of living with martyrs. We’re eating in an hour.” Margot’s eyes raked over him. “Clean yourself up.”

SAVANNAH COULD NOT LEAVE IT ALONE. Matt and the Elements Building tragedy were like a sore tooth she couldn’t keep her tongue away from.

Hours passed in a few clicks of her mouse.

With each story she read, her pendulum regarding Matt swung back and forth between hero and bad guy, lingering more and more on hero.

He didn’t know about the floors. Research rarely lied and the research proved it.

During the final push of the construction, he’d been in Moscow, then Nebraska. Peter Borjat, who’d died in the accident, was also the sculptor whose work was being shown in that fatal corner. He was supposed to be showing a piece made of glass and pine at the opening, but it had sold two weeks before the party.

Instead, they subbed an iron-and-steel piece of his that weighed a ton. The contractor, Jack, wasn’t informed until two nights before the event.

It was a small detail compared to the thousand bigger ones the men were handling leading up to the gala. It had been dealt with by assistants and subcontractors, and by the time word got to Jack and Matt, it was too late.

Jack, as he said in his deposition, had crossed his fingers and prayed. Clearly, it hadn’t worked.

Peter’s family hadn’t pressed charges against Jack and Matt, but the cleanup and recovery costs had bankrupted Jack, who, even before taking on the Elements Building, had been having a tough year.

In the six months since the tragedy, Matt had opened a fund for Peter Borjat’s family. Given a few more hours, she’d probably be able to find out how much he’d donated.

Savannah closed her computer. She didn’t want to feel this way about Matt. Sympathy, empathy, whatever this was, she didn’t want it.

It made her chest hurt.

Asking her about Katie’s father had been a low blow, but considering the depth and breadth of his guilt—similar in size, she imagined, to her own—she would have done the same thing.

“Mom!” Katie cried from the bottom of the stairs. “Dinner!”

Ugh, Savannah thought, twisting her hair up on her head in a sloppy bun. It was almost too hot to eat.

Rising reluctantly, she pulled on a clean tank top and changed from cutoffs to a light pink skirt. It wasn’t quite dressing for dinner, but at least Margot wouldn’t lecture her.

She met Katie at the bottom of the stairs.

“He’s here,” Katie said, with a scowl fit for any bad guy in the movies, which was a pretty good indicator of who he was. “Margot invited him.”

“Then we will be polite,” Savannah said, rubbing a hand over Katie’s head. Her little girl continued to scowl. “I don’t know why you’re so mad at him.”

“Because you are,” Katie said. “Or you were.”

“Let’s try to keep an open mind,” she said, tucking her arm around Katie and heading toward the dining room. Something that felt like excitement tingled along her skin.

She told herself it wasn’t the prospect of being close to Matt again. It was this mystery that was so thrilling, her O’Neill curiosity curse was all atingle because his grief was fascinating.

He was just a handsome man.

And he was truly handsome. As Savannah stepped into the dining room, he looked up from where he sat at Margot’s left and her heart hammered inside her chest.

His face was deeply tanned from working outside, except for small wrinkles and creases around his eyes that somehow made him more attractive. His hair had lightened from mahogany to oak and against all that tan skin his eyes were the brilliant color of spring grass.

“Hello, Savannah,” he said, his voice like a rough tongue licking her stomach.

“Matt,” she said brusquely, which wasn’t what she wanted. So she smiled, briefly, awkwardly, to smooth her rough edges.