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Authors: Jami Alden

Tags: #General, #Fiction, #Romance, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Adult

Hide From Evil (6 page)

BOOK: Hide From Evil
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Her eyes were wide in her pale face. This close, he realized they were not blue as he’d always thought, but a grayish-green color, the color of the ocean on a stormy day.

They were also filled with fear. And what woman wouldn’t be scared, in her position? Dangling in the air like a rag doll in the hands of a man nearly a foot taller and at least a hundred pounds heavier, his face no doubt flushed with rage as veins bulged in his forehead and pulsed in his neck.

He set her down with a soft curse, but didn’t apologize. Maybe if she was scared she’d take a goddamn hint and get out of here. She wrapped her arms around herself and licked nervously at her lips, and Sean had to fight back the unfamiliar urge to give her a comforting hug.

She was mercifully silent as they reached her car. While she stood outside, he slid into the driver’s seat and tried the ignition. Nothing. He popped the hood. He wouldn’t put it past her to disconnect the battery or pull a hose just to have an excuse to keep pestering him.

Krista leaned close to peer over his shoulder. He tried not to notice how the scent of her perfume mingled with the wood smoke smell that clung to his fleece pullover that hung off her slender frame. “I took a look, but I don’t know much about cars.”

Sean grunted and did a quick check of the engine and didn’t see any obvious signs of tampering. He got back into the car and checked the fuses for the ignition and the fuel pump under the dash. It would take a lot more mechanical know-how to mess up the car that way than she claimed to have, but she was a lawyer, after all. In his experience, lying was like breathing to them.

The fuses were still in place. He swore. “If I had to guess, there’s something wrong with the electrical system.” Definitely beyond his capabilities. He got out of the car and sighed. “I’ll take you down the hill to call a tow truck.”

He looked at his watch and swore. It was already three-thirty, and a Friday to boot. The chances of her getting her car repaired before the garage closed up for the weekend were nil. And that was assuming Frank Halfer who ran the one garage in town had the parts on hand to fix something that wasn’t an American-made pickup truck. “Wait here,” he told her as he went back down the drive to get his truck. A few minutes later she climbed into the truck and slid across the wide bench seat.

He drove until his cell phone had a few bars and then he gave her the number to call. “He said he’ll be here in twenty minutes,” she said after a brief conversation.

Sean drove back up the hill, and while Krista waited outside for Frank, Sean took the opportunity to clean himself up. He stepped into the shower and adjusted the faucet to just above freezing, shuddering under the icy spray as he willed his body back to the numb state it had existed in until this afternoon. Fifteen minutes later his lips were blue and his balls had crawled up into his abdomen for warmth. He was as prepared as he’d ever be to face Krista once again.

He found her back on the couch, skimming through a back issue of
Field and Stream
. He had a few seconds to admire the clean line of her profile before she noticed him.

“Frank says it will take at least until Monday to get the parts, assuming he can figure out what’s going on.”

“That’s what I figured,” Sean replied as he grabbed his jacket from a hook by the door and scooped up his truck keys. “Let’s go.”

“Where are we going?” she asked as she rose. How could a woman look so appealing in jeans, running shoes, and a way oversize fleece coat? But even in the sloppy clothes she somehow managed to look elegant and put together, her classic beauty radiating through even though she did nothing to enhance it. Tempting him to move in for a closer look to see if she was as flawless as she appeared.

“I have to deliver a couple pieces to a customer, and after that I’ll drop you in town. There are a couple B and Bs where you can stay until your car’s fixed.”

A little wrinkle appeared at the top of her nose. “I’m not really a B and B person.”

What the hell was that supposed to mean? “Winton doesn’t have a Holiday Inn, so it will have to do.”

She was quiet for a second, her gaze darting around the small cabin. She swallowed and straightened her shoulders as though steeling herself. “I could stay with you. It would give us a chance to go over everything—”

“That would be a really bad idea,” he snapped. Jesus. A weekend alone in his cabin with Krista Slater confined to one thousand square feet. It sounded like heaven and hell and everything in between.

A suspicion confirmed when after just five minutes her presence in the cab of his truck with him was enough to undo the freeze job he’d done on his cock. When had he become part bloodhound, he wondered. Even with the windows rolled halfway down to let the fresh air in, her scent seemed to permeate the cab and saturate his nostrils. He was attuned to the warmth radiating from her, the fluttering of her pulse along the delicate line of her throat. Christ, he was barely going to survive an hour alone in the truck with her without doing something colossally stupid.

All he had to do was get her down the hill and out of his truck, and then send her on her heroic quest for the truth. As far as he was concerned, if he never saw Krista Slater again it would be far too soon.


Carl Grayson felt the subtle vibration in his pocket and quickly excused himself from the man he was talking to. He wove his way through the dining room of The Georgian restaurant at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, packed full of Seattle’s wealthiest and most influential citizens, where they were wrapping up the “informal” five-thousand-a-plate fund-raiser for his mother, Margaret Grayson-Maxwell, who was making a run for the state senate seat.

The luncheon had gone long. Margaret looked a little weary as she and her husband, David Maxwell, flashed him a questioning look as he passed their table, though their tablemates would never notice the shift in their attention. He gave his mother a subtle nod, and her pasted-on smile got so stiff he was afraid her cheeks were going to crack.

Carl and David had tried to dissuade her from making her run this election season. There were still too many loose ends to tie up in the wake of Nate’s death, too many land mines still waiting to blow at any time. All it would take was one person to find the thread of connection and to give it a tug and their whole damn world would unravel. This was not the year for her to make a big splash on the political scene.

But Margaret had insisted. This was the point of everything they’d done, wasn’t it? All the money they’d gotten—more important, the influence they had over anyone of any importance in the state? They had their claws sunk in so deep, now was the time to get her branch of the Grayson family back into the realm of legitimate, political stature. No more of this shadow play, controlling from behind the scenes. That might work for her husband, but for Margaret, power was meaningless unless the rest of the world bowed to it. No way in hell was she going to wait another four years.

Carl was in his stepfather’s camp. You could get a lot more done flying under the radar and leveraging the right people, gaining advantage before anyone even realized that you held the key to their success—or failure—in your hands.

Now everything they’d built was at stake. The situation with Nate had left them vulnerable, and while Carl wasn’t afraid of any of the clients talking—people in their positions had too far to fall—they hadn’t had time to do as clean a cover-up as they would have liked. Nevertheless, Margaret had insisted that this was the year, and damned if she’d wait another four before she made her run.

Up until a couple days ago, Carl had been feeling better about the situation than he had been immediately after Nate’s death. Then it had been all triage, trying to keep the truth from bleeding out as they scrambled to keep their tracks covered. Waiting with bated breath to see if any other players came forward to reveal the rotting foundation holding up one of Seattle’s most prominent families.

Then they’d all breathed a sigh of relief when everyone seemed content to believe that everything—the murders, the framing of Sean Flynn, the high-end prostitution ring—started and ended with Nate Brewster.

Carl knew it was too good to be true, knew there were too many questions and sooner or later someone was going to want answers. It was up to him to make sure no one ever found them.

This phone call should provide another dose of reassurance. He waited until he was out of the dining room to answer his phone, a disposable pay-by-the-minute model that he would ditch after this call. “Is it taken care of?”

“Not yet,” the voice rumbled in answer. “She left town earlier today and it took me few hours to pick up the trail.”

“So what’s the issue? Take care of it.”

“She went to visit Sean Flynn.”

Carl absently ran his finger down the scar bisecting his right cheek and sighed. “You’ll have to do both of them then.” He’d known it might eventually come to this, but he’d hoped not to take care of Sean Flynn so soon after Jimmy Caparulo. The connections between the two of them and Nate were too well known. All three of them dying violently in quick succession would raise too many red flags.

But Krista Slater had forced his hand, and now he had to make the best of it.

There was a second of hesitation on the other line. “Are you sure that’s necessary? Flynn has kept to himself. I don’t think he’s a threat—”

“We don’t pay you to think. We pay you to do,” Carl snapped. “If you don’t want the work, tell me now so I can make other arrangements.”

“That won’t be necessary, sir.”

“Good. Do it as clean as you can—make it look like an accident if possible.”

“It will cost you double.”

“I’m aware of that,” Carl snapped, swiping at the sweat beading on his upper lip. “You’ll get the balance when I get confirmation.”

He pressed at the headache taking root at the base of his skull, hiding his pain with a smile for the mayor of Seattle as he ducked back into the dining room.

Goddamn Nate. Dead for nearly five months, and he still threatened to ruin everything.

Chapter 4

rista snuck a glimpse at Sean’s profile and huddled deeper into the borrowed fleece for warmth. The already cool spring air was downright frigid as they traveled at forty miles an hour with the windows rolled down.

Sean seemed impervious to the cold, his hard jaw tense, his gaze fixed on the road as he whipped around the curves.

Loud rock screamed through the speakers, so Krista had to practically yell to be heard. “Do you mind rolling up the windows?”


She couldn’t have heard that right. “I said, do you mind rolling up the windows?”

Sean reached out and turned down the stereo. “And I said yeah, I do mind.” He pinned her with a glare that was a good ten degrees frostier than the air whipping through the truck.

“But I’m freezing,” she said, pointing to her chattering teeth for emphasis.

“Tough shit. Not my fault your goddamn car broke down.” The music went back on full blast, making any further conversation impossible.

She scooted down in her seat in an effort to keep herself out of the wind and stared out the window to avoid Sean’s suspicious gaze. He still wasn’t convinced she hadn’t sabotaged her car herself.

And he was right. Not that he, or even the mechanic, would find proof unless he knew exactly what to look for. Still, anxiety knotted her belly when she thought of what his reaction might be. Given his reaction to her, he’d probably push her out of the moving car and onto the side of the road and leave her to fend for herself.

Come to think of it, he looked like he might be contemplating that move anyway. So she cranked up the heat and kept her mouth shut against the millions of questions swirling in her brain, even when he pulled off the road to a miles-long driveway that led to a beautiful, custom-built log home.

He switched off the car and her ears rang in the sudden silence. “I have to deliver a couple pieces,” he said.

Krista was shocked he bothered to explain at all. “Anything I can do to help?”

He stared at her a minute, as though looking for an ulterior motive. His broad shoulders inched up and down. “I suppose you can carry the footstool.”

She climbed down from the truck and stamped her feet, which had gone numb, as she circled around to the back. She blew on her hands before stuffing them back into her pockets as Sean unlocked the tailgate.

He reached in to pull out a gorgeous, hand-carved mission-style chair and set it on the ground beside her. Next was the matching footstool, which he handed to Krista.

Krista couldn’t help but be impressed at the way he lifted the chair, which had to weigh at least a hundred pounds, without any visible effort and walked it up a short set of stairs to a sprawling front porch. The footstool, made of the same dense hardwood, was considerably lighter but still had her huffing a little by the time they made it up the steps.

“Do we just leave it here?” Krista asked, indicating the porch.

“I’m going to set them up inside. I don’t want them out in the weather.” He punched a code into the panel beneath the doorknob and the dead bolt slid free.

Though the air in the unheated house was only a few degrees warmer than outside, it felt almost tropical as it washed over Krista’s chilled skin. Sean flipped on a light, and as she stepped in, she saw the inside was as impressive as the outside, the massive great room decorated with authentic Northwestern tribal art and a huge flat-screen television and state-of-the-art sound system adorning one wall. “That’s a trusting customer to give out the combination to a place like this.”

Sean’s chair thumped onto the wide-plank hardwood floors as he spun around. “You think I’d give them a reason not to trust me?”

Krista jumped back, almost losing her grip on the stool. “God, no, that’s not what I meant. I didn’t mean it personally about you. I just meant in general. If you have a nice place, you don’t want to just let anyone come in any time…” She closed her eyes, felt her cheeks burn as she realized she was digging herself in deeper. Though she hadn’t meant it, of course Sean, who had been wrongly accused and was still viewed with suspicion by some, would take it personally. “I’m sorry,” she said lamely. “I’m not exactly known for my sensitivity.”

BOOK: Hide From Evil
9.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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