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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:59

She reconsidered her thoughts of revenge—maybe that letter to their parents? But it didn’t seem like enough. Nothing seemed like enough.

“Hot one today, huh?” Janice, her assistant, asked. They stood at the sink, Janice filling up the WeightWatchers water bottle she kept at her desk—along with the Fannie May sampler box she didn’t think anyone knew about.

“Hey,” Savannah said, turning sideways and resting her hip against the counter. “So what’s happening with the love triangle out there?”

“Well.” Janice nearly shook with sudden excitement and the cats on her pink T-shirt struggled to stay on her mountainous breasts. “I caught Garrett and The Cheerleader kissing down by the drinking fountains.”

“Not at all.” Janice shook her head, her eyes twinkling.

Savannah, as she had since the moment she’d hired Janice, felt like hugging the woman.

“Why?” Janice asked. “You suddenly interested in the love lives of summer school students?”

Savannah shrugged, heading to the front desk and the stacks of mail she needed to go through. “No reason.”

But Matt’s words hummed through her bloodstream.

Guilt deserves to be punished.

While she was convinced the adage no longer applied to Matt, it sure as hell applied to the two kids smirking at her over their computer screens.

She shrugged off the chains she kept around those O’Neill impulses and when she finally saw Owen’s girlfriend head for the bathroom, Garrett not far behind her, she strolled up to Owen.

“I need to do some maintenance on that computer,” she said. “Why don’t you take a bathroom break?”

“Whatever,” he said and took off for the stairs. And, Savannah could only hope, a very ugly surprise.

“Savannah?” Janice said from the front desk, holding the phone. “It’s a man named Matt for you. He says he can’t find Katie.”

“DID YOU CHECK in the tree?” Savannah demanded as she came charging through the door. He’d expected her to come running, but the anger was a surprise.

“Of course,” he said. “When the water balloons didn’t come at noon that was the first place I checked.”

“Where’s Margot?” she snapped and threw her purse down on the kitchen counter. She was back in her prison warden outfit, all straight lines and buttons, but her hair was loose, pulled away from her face with a headband. A variation on her theme.

Her beauty and all those buttons totally wrecked him.

He coughed and stepped behind the counter so she wouldn’t notice his totally inappropriate erection.

“Right here,” Margot said, stepping into the kitchen wearing her robe.

“Good lord, Margot,” Savannah said. “It’s past noon and you’re just getting up?”

“So it would seem.” Margot’s eyes twinkled as she crossed to the coffeepot.

“Where have you been?”

“Anthony took me to New Orleans for the weekend. I got home late last night.” She filled a china teacup with coffee and sipped it black. “What’s got you in an uproar this morning?”

“Katie’s gone,” Matt said.

Margot blinked and turned to Savannah. “Gone?”

“No one’s seen her today. God, I hope she’s just hiding,” Savannah said. “This is what she usually does.” Turning back to Margot, she said, “I heard you come in last night, and I figured you’d keep an eye on her.”

“I’m sorry,” Margot said. “I forgot you went to work today. She just got—”

“Lost in the shuffle.” Savannah’s anger vanished and she looked so guilt-stricken it made Matt’s stomach do a flip. “She’s so mad at me right now. Did you check the rosebush or the kud—” She stopped and swore. “They’re all gone. All her hiding spots.”

She bent her head back so she could stare up at the ceiling and feel terrible about herself.

He wanted to hug her, ease that stress the way she’d eased his last night. The way she hugged him as if she cared, as if she saw right through to the bone and heart and blood that he was made up of, to the hard kernel that remained from the accident, like scar tissue.