About That Kiss:A Heartbreaker Bay Novel(8)

By: Jill Shalvis

This wasn’t a date. It was a party.

Feeling stupid, she turned to go just as Gib finally opened the front door. “Hey!” he said, smiling at the sight of her. “You came! Listen,” he said more quietly, taking a quick peek over his shoulder. “A few friends showed up unexpectedly and brought—”

From behind him, two arms wrapped around his waist and then the smiling face of Rena, his beautiful, perfect ex-girlfriend, appeared over his shoulder. “Hey, Kylie,” she said sweetly. She squeezed Gib affectionately, resting her chin against him. “How you doing?”

“Good,” Kylie said automatically, eyes still locked in on Gib, who winced and mouthed, “I’m sorry.”

But Kylie was the sorry one, sorry that she felt like a complete idiot. “I can’t stay. Something’s come up and I’ve gotta—”

Gib tugged her inside, shook off Rena, and put a glass of wine in Kylie’s hand. “Stay. Drink. Be merry.” He lowered his voice. “Seriously, I’m so sorry. I didn’t expect her. Stay? Please?”

Mostly Kylie preferred to eat her carbs but tonight she downed the glass and, bolstered by liquid courage, even danced with Gib. Twice. And she stepped on his toes only one of those times.

When it became clear Rena wasn’t going to leave before she did, she finally headed home just before midnight, because like Cinderella, she had to work in the morning.

And because she was also a little frustrated and very tired, she didn’t notice the manila envelope that had been shoved through the mail flap on her front door. It wasn’t until she’d greeted a sleepy, adorable Vinnie and then gone straight to the kitchen for the ice cream in her freezer that she looked back as she leaned against the counter to inhale her dessert.

On the floor, just inside her front door, lay the envelope. Odd, as she’d gotten all her mail the first time she’d been home, but she set down the ice cream and picked it up. Inside was an instant Polaroid and it stopped her heart.

It was a close-up of her missing penguin in mortal danger, staged to look like it was falling off the Golden Gate Bridge into the bay.

What. The. Hell.

Someone had stolen her statue. And worse, was now taunting her with it. Why? She couldn’t think of one good reason and knew she needed to confide in someone. But who? Not Gib. You didn’t go running to your crush to play the damsel-in-distress in the twenty-first century. Or at least, she didn’t. She could try the police but she could already see how that would go. “Hello, someone stole my beloved but worthless penguin carving and is pretending to knock it off the bridge.”

They’d laugh her out of town.

She could also do absolutely nothing, but whoever had done this knew her, or at least knew where she lived. Suitably creeped out, she double-checked all the locks on her windows and doors. Then she tucked Vinnie into his crate, turned out the light, and climbed into bed.

And lay there, jumping at every creak.

Two minutes later, she got out of bed, retrieved Vinnie, and climbed back beneath the covers. Excited to be where he wasn’t usually allowed, he snuggled her, curling up on her pillow with her. A gust of wind brushed a branch against her window and she stilled. “Did you hear that?”

Vinnie, apparently secure in his safety, closed his eyes.

But not Kylie. She didn’t sleep a wink, and by morning she knew she not only couldn’t go on like this but also needed answers. And to get them she was going to need help.

The thing was, she really hated needing help of any kind. She’d been raised to count on herself and only herself. So it went against the grain, but fear was a big motivating factor here. She needed someone good at this stuff.

Archer, the head of Hunt Investigations, was the first person to come to mind. She could go to him. He’d help for sure. But the problem was that he knew she was strapped for cash so he wouldn’t charge her, and she’d feel guilty taking him away from his own work.

She racked her brain for any other way, but the only answer that came to her was . . . Joe. She could make him the mirror in exchange for his help.


Chapter 3