Authors: Ciar Cullen
Tags: #Will Never Be Enough
He gently kissed her neck and whispered into her ear, “That was amazing. You’re amazing. I’ve never done that before. Well, I mean, I’ve done that before, but only after, you know…”
“I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about, Irish. And that was so good, I barely give a damn.” She laughed. “What are you trying to say?”
“I’ve never had a one-night stand. I mean, with someone I barely know. Never with an employee.”
Layla squeezed shut her eyelids against the pain his words cut through her heart.
A one-night stand? Of course, what had she thought?
Oh, Layla, you idiot
“Well, I have. And it’s good fun, eh, Irish? So how about you run along to your room and I’ll get a little shut-eye.”
“Hmmm?” His hold on her loosened.
Layla extracted herself from his embrace and moved toward the bathroom. She looked around the door and winked. “See you tomorrow, boss.”
Kevin nodded and began dressing as she started to close the bathroom door. When she heard him leave the room, she sat on the floor and cried.
I’m so not ready for…anything much at all
Layla walked to the balcony of their new room and pulled back the curtains to reveal another magical view, this time of a small town. A jumble of red-roofed houses hugged the hillside, giving way to plazas and shops lining the quay, fronting the deep blue sea. An odd small building floated on a tiny island squarely in the middle of the cove. Small fishing boats bobbed in the gentle waves. Layla walked the length of the balcony and looked up to see the towering medieval Venetian fortress that dominated the town. A thousand steps to the top, she recalled.
. She squeezed her eyes shut to block out the thought. Nafplion. They’d meet Ardros today, work a little magic and be out of Greece in a few days.
Can we stay here forever, Irish? Can’t we have a million one-night stands
Layla turned to see Kevin locking his gun in the safe. He eyed her purse and lifted a brow. She nodded. He reached into her bag, took her gun and locked it away, then started to unpack his clothes.
“Do you like the top or bottom?”
“Drawers, Layla. You know; the place where you put clothes?” Kevin neatly folded his T-shirts, smoothing the wrinkles. He didn’t look up, but she caught his grin before he turned his back. “Of course, if you want to talk about sexual positions, I’ll be patient and listen.”
“You’re really hysterical, boss. So clever.”
She rolled her eyes and looked away so he wouldn’t see her blush.
He got you again, Layla. Watch it. Last night meant nothing to him. The teasing means nothing now
. She still felt the effects of their lovemaking—bruises on her hips from his tight grasp, soreness from the size of him…
Forget about it. It’s just a job
. Layla wandered back to the balcony.
Kevin joined her a few moments later, a bottle of ouzo and two glasses in hand. “Drink up. Yassas.” They clicked glasses.
Layla pointed to the island. “That’s the prison? The…”
“Bourzi, yes. We can take a boat there, but there’s not much to see.” They drank in awkward silence for a few moments. Layla was tired of the silence. The drive to Nafplion had felt like a lifetime of unspoken questions.
“Layla, Look at me.”
Ugh, here it comes
. “Okay, what?” She turned and his eyes were mere dark slits as he regarded her seriously. “You caught me off guard last night. I’m a little out of practice at fieldwork. I wasn’t quite expecting that kiss to…well…affect me that way—to lead to sex. Anyway, I’m sorry. It was really unprofessional of me.”
“No worries, Irish. It’s all good. So, when do we meet the target?”
You son of a bitch
More. I want more, Layla. Let’s stay here forever. Why did you kick me out
You seemed to love it. I know I’m out of practice. Wasn’t it good enough
Of course, she’s been with many men. Andrea grew bored with you, too, didn’t she
She stopped wanting you long before she died. Maybe you’re just a hack in bed
Kevin ran his hand through his hair and poured himself another shot of the licorice liquor.
You’re completely screwed, Colin
Sarah’s call this morning had stunned him. “What do you mean he’s in custody? Why the hell is he in custody?”
“Geez, Colin, I thought you’d be happy,” Sarah had answered.
“They caught Ardros red-handed—almost literally. He had a priceless red-figured vase in the trunk of his car. Can you imagine? They caught him dealing antiquities out of his trunk like they were fake designer purses. Kevin? Are you there?”
“Yeah, just surprised. Well, that’s all good, then,” he replied, feeling as though he had lost more than this case. He felt downright miserable.
“Sure. They said you can keep the retainer and a third of the final fee in exchange for a little discretion, so I told them ‘no problem.’ So, when do you think you’ll be back? A lot of new cases are piling up on your desk.”
“Ummm, let me get back to you on that one, Sarah.”
“Kevin, what’s going on…?”
He cut the connection to his cell phone, tossing it on the bed as he sighed. It would be over that quickly.
Now, he looked out at the scenery as Layla’s question pounded through his head.
“Kevin, when do we meet Ardros?” Layla looked curiously at him, finally snapping her fingers in front of his face.
She’ll be furious. She’ll quit. She might even sue me and I don’t care. Once more, just once
“Oh, I meant to tell you. I got a note from his people. Ardros had to go on to Monemvasia for a day or so to check on a possible find. So, we’re stuck here in Nafplion for a little longer. I’ll scrounge up something fun for us to do. There’s a nice beach nearby. And Tiryns and Mycenae are day trips.”
“Kevin, you’re paying me a hundred grand. You don’t have to make this trip enjoyable.” Layla got up from the chair and called back over her shoulder. “I’m going to have a shower. Stay out here.”
Kevin watched the occasional pedestrian make their way down the quiet street at the height of afternoon siesta time. He listened to the shower water and tried to shut out the images that flooded his senses. What if he went to her right now? What would she do?
Asshole, forget it
. Her words rang in his ears. “I’ll get a little shut-eye.” That’s what you mean to her, Colin. A paycheck and a quickie.
He walked in the room and pulled off his T-shirt to change into fresh clothes. He froze. Layla stood in the doorway of the bathroom, dressed in a towel, her hair dripping onto her shoulders and chest, staring at him.
She sat on the bed, still staring. “What is it, Layla?”
“Please put on a shirt.” She closed her eyes.
“What? Man, sorry. You didn’t seem to think I was that repulsive last night…”
“Put on your shirt and keep it on. And put on shorts that don’t fall below your underwear. I can see…too much stomach…and hair.” She kept her eyes closed.
Kevin smiled. “Nope. You’ll have to get used to my hideousness.”
Oh my God, she thinks I’m hot. Maybe… Breathe, Colin, breathe
. He felt his groin heat up in hope.
Layla popped up quickly and grabbed clothes from her drawer. “You’re not playing fair. You’re an asshole, Irish.”
“What did I do? You’re the one in a towel. Shit. What are you going to do when we go to the beach with Ardros? I don’t swim in a tuxedo, you know. How about if we actually do end up naked in front of him, Layla? Remember the script?”
Why are you doing this
He’s behind bars and you’re carrying on the lie. She really
Layla went back into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. She opened it immediately and added, “I’m supposed to be your girlfriend
. You’re flirting with me.” She closed the door.
Kevin sat on the bed. “I am
flirting with you. I only took off my shirt!”
“Well, don’t do that anymore. Because it’s not going to make me want to jump you, if that’s your pathetic pass,” she retorted from the other side of the door.
“I wasn’t trying to get you to jump me.”
Yes, you were, asshole
Layla was quiet again.
Kevin struggled with what to do next.
“Layla, was it really that bad last night?” He winced, hearing how childlike his tone sounded.
Layla peered out from behind the door again and stared at him in surprise. Her heart raced at his expression. Sheepish. Embarrassed. The Almighty Colin was unsure.
“Well, it wasn’t so bad, actually,” she relented.
“I’m out of practice, you know. Since Andrea.” He lay back on the bed and propped up his head with one hand.
Layla slowly entered the bedroom, the towel still clutched around her wet body. “You’ve got to be kidding.”
He nodded. “Four years. I know, get that expression off your face. It hasn’t been pretty. I guess I’m a little slow to get over things.”
“It was fine, Kevin.” She looked at the floor. “It was more than fine. Way more.”
For a full minute, they stared at each other from a distance of four feet.
Oh my God, Kevin thought.
I’m looking for more. How stupid. You let yourself fall for your employee in the space of a few days
Layla turned away. “It was a really good one-night stand. The best.”
So there it is. Ego saved and crushed with one sentence. Well, you’ll tell her about Ardros tonight and deal with the consequences.
And she’ll hate you
Layla oohed as they stepped into the main square of the town. “My God, what an enchanting place.”
The large plaza faced a huge official-looking yellow building. Open-air restaurants and a few souvenir shops lined the plaza’s other three sides. Colorful umbrellas vied for attention.
Kevin chose a spot in the corner of the square. A handsome, tired-looking waiter approached, and Kevin ordered Greek coffee for two. “Presumptuous.” Layla frowned at him. “What if I don’t want coffee?”
“You? Don’t you remember? I even know how you like your café latte.” He snickered. “That really was priceless. The look on your face when you realized it was me in the coffee shop…”
“We’ve already discussed
times how clever you are.” Layla scowled, yet her eyes twinkled.
Kevin laughed harder. “All right, then, let’s discuss something else. Let’s discuss how clever
are. Why don’t you tell me about life in the Agency?”
“Nope. You’re after my dirty past, and you’re not getting it. All I owe you is a professional job, and I promise, you’ll get your money’s worth.”
Kevin nodded seriously, thinking he might never get the truth of why she was so wounded. He put his hand on hers and felt her hand twitch. She kept her face neutral.
“You do have a good game face. Well, if you ever want to talk about it, I’m your man.” He began rubbing her palm with his thumb. Her cheeks flushed. He brought her hand to his lips and brushed them across her skin.
“So, tell me how Ardros has supposedly managed to steal priceless artifacts from his country.” Layla pulled away her hand and picked up the coffee set before them.
“I won’t tell you that. The less you know, the more genuine the whole affair will come off to him. Don’t underestimate him. He’s as clever as the two of us put together.”
“And as handsome as two men put together.”
“Oooh, that was pure evil, and aimed to make me jealous. Admit it.”
“Why the hell would I want to make you jealous? Never mind. This is child’s play, Kevin. I don’t know why you don’t get that. I’ll flirt with him, whatever it takes… So, relax, change the subject. Tell me about your brother, the archaeologist. You took very different paths.”
“It didn’t start out that way. I always intended to be a history teacher. Stop laughing. I would have been very, very good. But I couldn’t make myself care about classes. I didn’t have the discipline.”
He shrugged. “Alan cornered the market on discipline. I joined the military, and after that, tried law enforcement…well, it’s a boring tale.”
“No, it’s not. Tell me.”
“Trust me, it is. I learned a good deal about law enforcement, of course, was promoted quickly to detective… Then I met Andrea. When she became pregnant with Molly, she wanted to return to the States to be closer to her family. It seemed easiest to start my own detective agency than to start from scratch on an American police force. I was very, very lucky with a few jobs and got a reputation, largely because of Alan and some of our friends, for recovering fine art, jewels, antiquities…that sort of job. You pretty much know the rest about the company. We do the standard stuff as well, but you’ll never get those jobs, of course.”
“Why did I get hired? Sarah hounded me after I left the Agency. I finally gave in.”
Kevin smiled. “Sarah is a hound. A bloodhound with an ear for gossip and a nose for talent. She’s only been with me for a half-year or so. A godsend.”
“And Andrea?” Layla winced.
Kevin tried to smile. He didn’t manage. “When Molly was one year and one day old. Cancer.”
Layla shook her head.
“There’s nothing to say, so don’t fret. We do fine now. My parents moved to New York three years ago to help care for Molly and—”
He broke off and looked intently at a figure rounding the corner at the far end of the square.
“What is it?” Layla followed his gaze.
“Don’t turn.” He whispered. “It’s odd. I think I saw that man in the Athens airport. He was looking at us a bit furtively. Not very sophisticated.”
How could it be about Ardros, now that he was in prison
What was going on
? “Well, the country is full of tall, handsome men, so I suppose I’m mixing him up with someone. You do grab attention. Maybe he’s just copping a look.”