Read Linked Online

Authors: Barbara Huffert

Linked (7 page)

BOOK: Linked
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“Are you sure?” Guy asked before accepting them.

“I don’t have a choice if there’s even the slightest chance they’ll help. Will you give them to your brother-in-law?”

“I’ll make copies for him. I’d like to page through them first. Can I stay here to do that? You can go back to bed if you want to.”

“There’s no point since I won’t sleep anyway. If you start with the oldest, I can write down tonight’s dream.”

“Okay, but I need you to do something for me first.”

“What?” She was instantly afraid.

“Come over here and hold me for a minute. I’m so frightened at the thought of what you’ve been going through that I’m shaking.”

Not hesitating, Tori was wrapped around Guy in a flash. “You don’t have to be. I’m fine.”

“I know you are. You’re an amazingly strong woman and I’m glad we finally met even if it is under these circumstances.”

She drew back and looked into his eyes. “I don’t think strong is the right word but I’m glad we met too.” Her hand went to his cheek. “Wow, your eyes have green flecks. I thought they were just brown.”

“And yours are the prettiest green I’ve ever seen. They go perfectly with your freckles. I can’t decide if your hair is red or blond though. Will I insult you if I ask if it’s natural?”

“It should and I would be, if it was coming from anyone else but yes, it’s mine.” She blushed shyly.

“Damn, I love when your cheeks get pink like that. You wouldn’t be fibbing to me, would you, tiger? I have every intention of finding out one of these days.”

“Think so?” She giggled at his exaggerated grin, enjoying the way he’d lightened the mood. “Sorry to disappoint you but you won’t.”

Guy’s face fell. “Ah. I shouldn’t have assumed so much.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh no, that’s not what I meant.”

“No?”

“No. Jeez, I really suck at this.”

“You do not but I think you need to explain.”

“I, well, look, just forget it, okay?”

“No, it’s not okay. You’re blushing again and that makes me extremely curious.”

“I’m blushing because I’m embarrassed.”

“Embarrassed, hmm? That’s a problem. You see I was planning on keeping the sexual tension high between us by exchanging innuendoes with you frequently. That way I figure you’ll be so turned-on by all my suggestions that when this is all settled you won’t be able to resist me. If you’re going to be too embarrassed to participate then I’ll have to watch what I say too. You don’t want to miss out on all that, do you, tiger? Maybe I should tell you that once we get together there’s not going to be any room for modesty or embarrassment. We’re going to do things together that you’ve never even thought of and I promise you’re going to love every second of it.”

“You sound awfully confident.”

“Not really. I just know how good we’re going to be. Seriously, Tori, you never have to be anyone but who you are with me. If you want to say something outrageous or off-color, go for it. Since everything I think seems to pop right out of my mouth, I’m counting on you to cut me some slack. How about if I do the same for you and if either of us is ever offended we’ll say so right away?”

“Deal.” She blushed again. “What I meant when I said that was that you’re won’t be able to tell that way if there’s nothing there for you to compare.”

“Holy Christ, you shave,” Guy gulped.

“Maybe. Maybe not. You’ll just have to wait and see.”

“Damn, tiger, you got me all hard again just thinking about that.”

“Then maybe it’s time to look at the notebooks.”

“Mm,” he agreed but caught her hand before she could sit back down. “Thank you for showing me these. I’m sure it’s not easy.”

Tori shrugged. “I figure since you went to such trouble to get us to start over and trusted me with the Jeep you deserve the same.”

“I promise you won’t regret it.”

* * * * *

Tori was so involved in writing down all she remembered about her newest nightmare that Guy’s voice startled her. “Hey, Todd, it’s me. Sorry to call so early but I need help.” His explanation was to the point. When he brought up his growing unease at the thought of leaving Tori alone, he gave her hand a comforting squeeze.

“I know you will, Todd, and I really appreciate it. We’ll set something up after you’ve picked through everything. Tell Terese I’m sorry I woke her but once she meets Tori, she’ll understand why I felt it was so urgent.”

“I don’t need a baby-sitter, Guy,” Tori stated as soon as he disconnected his call. “You didn’t even ask me first.”

“You’re right and I’m sorry but I’m not taking any chances with your safety.”

“I appreciate that, don’t think I don’t, but you still should have discussed it with me before you went all Alpha male. If you had, I could have told you that they’re not here yet. There wasn’t any snow on the ground in my dream earlier so they aren’t that close yet.”

“Was anyone wearing a heavy coat that would indicate it is cold?”

“Yes.”

“Then they could be forty miles away. Call me paranoid if you want but remember you were awake and frightened when I got here tonight. If you won’t trust my personal need to do this can’t you at least trust my professional one? If what I’ve read so far is any indication of the rest, then you may be the only way to find these guys and put a stop to whatever they’re planning next.”

“Oh my God, I’m so horrible.”

“No, you’re not. I would have reacted the same way in your position.”

“I doubt it. So what are you going to do, follow me around the library all day with your gun drawn? The gossips will have a field day.”

“Honestly, I was hoping you would use some of that vacation you’ve accumulated. Todd wants to meet with you and I’m sure he’ll ask you to spend some time with one of their artists. If they alter their appearances every time, it’ll take days to compile a full set of sketches. You know Diana will understand.”

“Yes, but I’d still be deserting her. And what are we going to do once we’re done with Todd and the sketches?”

“Nope, too easy. I won’t say it.” He chuckled. “You are just so cute when you blush. But to answer your question, we can spend the time getting to know each other.”

“Isn’t it going to be awkward? I never had someone around all the time so please don’t make fun of me for asking.”

“I’d never make fun of you, Tori. Tease you, yes, but not when you’re clearly unsure of something like you are now. We’ll be fine together but if I get on your nerves you can spend a few nights with Todd and Terese or even Barry and Carla.”

“Nights? You really do intend to stay here. With me. Alone.”

“Yep, unless you think we need a chaperone? Maybe Diana would agree to stay with us. Or I could call my mom.”

Tori gasped. “Okay, this is you teasing me, right?”

“Un-huh. We are adults here, tiger. We both know now is not the time to give in to our desires. We’re going to wait until there won’t be any doubts between us because what we’re going to have together is too special to risk.”

The silence stretched as Tori processed his declaration. Finally, she said, “Well, that sure worked. If you were trying to distract me with something even more scary than the thought that I’m drawing Russ and Stan to me, that did it. That is why you said that.”

Guy just smiled.

“Guy? Tell me you said that just to make me not think about Russ and Stan.” Silence. “Guy, please.”

His smile widened. “Of course, Tori. Did you think I was serious?”

“I don’t know. Were you?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. You’ll just have to wait and see.”

“You are so not funny,” Tori growled, swatting his shoulder.

“Hey! You’re assaulting a police officer here.”

“Like that even hurt. What are you going to do? Arrest me?”

“Nooooo,” he drew the word out. “But if you keep it up I might have to handcuff you.”

Tori’s heart skipped a beat before it began to race. She felt the heat as her face flushed and wondered if eyes could really leap out of one’s head.

“Holy Christ, you’d like that,” Guy concluded from watching her.

“Maybe. Maybe not. You’ll just have to wait and see.” She laughed. “Want some breakfast?”

* * * * *

The vibration from Guy’s cell phone was the first thing that drew his attention from Tori’s notebooks since he’d opened one halfway through breakfast.

“What?” he answered sharply.

“Good morning to you too,” Barry replied sarcastically.

“Oh, hey. It’s you. Sorry. What’s up?”

“What’s up? What’s up! Hmm, let’s see. Perhaps it could be the fact that when I walked into work today, it felt like an average ordinary day, like every other. You know, the kind where we drink some bad coffee, go to the daily meeting to find out what new heinous crime may require our attention, report on any progress in our ongoing cases, then map out our day, deciding how best to utilize the combined hours of our partnership. Sound familiar?” Barry paused just long enough to breathe. “It should since we’ve been doing the same thing for years. Now imagine my surprise when my partner is still nowhere in sight when we’re due in the meeting. Just disappeared without a trace. No message on either phone, no email, no skywriters, nothing. Picture it, me only half listening to what the captain’s saying when suddenly I hear his name. Seems my partner’s been temporarily reassigned to the FBI as a special liaison on a case regarding potential serial killers.”

“Damn, Barry, I was going to call you but it was too early and then I got lost in Tori’s—”

“So that’s what all this is about. At least now it makes some sense. What the hell happened, Guy?”

Guy filled Barry in on all that had occurred since they’d said goodnight at work the previous day. Although his partner didn’t comment his various grunts were enough for Guy to know his thoughts.

“There are so many things I don’t know where to start. What the fuck, Guy!”

“I know, Barry, I know. Believe me, I know.”

“Do you? Because from what I’m hearing—”

“I sound certifiable. My attitude has gone from one extreme to the other. My belief in a possible mental connection has gone from skeptical at best to acceptance to the point where I think I’ve joined it. I acted totally out of character by not hashing this out with you before I called Todd. See? I do know.”

“That’s a good start but you left out one very obvious concern.”

“Tori.”

“Hell yes, Tori. Where are you? Did you skip her because you can’t speak freely at the moment?”

“No, it’s okay. I just heard the shower start so I can talk.”

“Then why aren’t you? There are rules, rules even a rookie knows. Damn it, Guy!”

“I know, Barry. I’ve been telling myself the same things.”

“Then why the hell are you doing this? You’re about to cross the line, if you already haven’t and then what?”

“Then we’ll see. Everything you’re saying is right and I know I should hand the whole mess, including Tori, over to Todd. I know he’d handle it and take care of her but, Barry, I can’t. I just can’t. The look on her face when I got here, the trust it took to offer me her notebooks, the way she accepts that I’ll stop them before they get to her and keep her safe. I can’t turn my back and walk away. I won’t do it. Tori’s already been alone with this way too long and I’m not going to let that continue.”

“So you’re just going to drop everything, put your whole life on hold, if you even have one to go back to after this and move in with some girl you just met?”

“Yes. I have to, Barry. I don’t have any other choice.”

“All right then.” Barry sighed. “How can I help?”

Guy chuckled. “Thanks. I owe you.”

“Big-time and you better believe I’ll be collecting every bit of it.”

“I expect you to.”

“Seriously, Guy, are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

“Honestly, I have no idea. I’m in so far over my head I might drown but that’s not important as long as Tori’s okay.”

“Easy for you to say but personally I’d rather not see either one of you get hurt.”

“Do my best.”

“Yeah, yeah, just don’t forget you have backup. No matter what you think now you really don’t have to do this all on your own.”

“Point noted.”

“Good. You can prove it by stopping by tonight. Debbie and Diana are coming for dinner and your first token payment can be to spare me from the inquisition.”

“Christ,” Guy groaned. “Okay, we’ll drop in. I’m not promising dinner because I may be putting myself on a limb here already but I’ll think of something.”

“Good enough.”

“Yeah, good enough to count as an installment not just a token.”

“We’ll see. Check in, Guy. You left me hanging this morning. I’ll be royally pissed if you do it again.”

“Understood. Thanks, Barry,” Guy repeated even though he knew it wasn’t necessary.

Chapter Seven

 

“That was nice of Carla to invite us to stay like that,” Tori commented as she pushed things around on the counter.

“Yes,” Guy agreed, watching her fidget.

“You sure you’ll be okay? I don’t have to turn the heat down so far if you’ll be cold.”

“Tori.” He caught her hand and tugged her next to him. “Stop. Yes, Carla’s wonderful. They’re all wonderful. I’m fine with the heat wherever you set it. I have everything I need and if I don’t, I’ll find it or I’ll ask. You need to relax.”

“I know. I’m sorry I’m acting like such a wacko but I never had anyone stay with me before and I’m a little nervous.”

“I get that but there’s no reason to be. You don’t have to entertain me. Pretend I’m not even here. Just do whatever you normally do. I’ll stay out of your way. I mean it. Even if your nightly routine is to put on some sultry blues and spend hours perfecting your striptease and then, once you’re naked, exercising your flexibility, I promise not to interrupt.”

“Now that’s ridiculous.” She pushed his shoulder.

“Watch it there, tiger. Shoving a cop is just as bad as slugging one.”

“Oh, just shut up.” She laughed. “But thanks for calming me down.”

“Anytime. Now since it’s late and neither of us got much sleep last night, may I suggest you save the show for morning and turn in? I’m going to as soon as I check my email.”

BOOK: Linked
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