Still The One (Family Stone #4 Jack)(10)

By: Lisa Hughey

“She was addicted to crime shows.” Bliss’s lips quirked. “CSI was her favorite.”

Jack leaned forward, elbows on his knees, fingers clasped together and hung low between his spread legs as he reasoned out Maria’s plans. “She couldn’t possibly have figured out how to escape and evade someone like Fernandez.”

“She’s smart, Jack,” Bliss countered. “She basically watched television and she learned.”

“But this guy has been fooling the public and his staunch supporters for eight years without even a whiff of corruption or criminal activity.” Jack stood and stretched his legs. He needed to be doing rather than sitting. “This situation is going to send serious shock waves through the community. Especially the Hispanic community. The guy is practically a saint in my town.”

Bliss snorted. As if she couldn’t restrain her curiosity any longer, she asked, “What are you doing in Monterey?”

Jack raised a brow. “I live there.”

Clearly she hadn’t been following up on him. Apparently not like he’d been keeping track of her.

“In Monterey?”

“Yeah.” He rubbed his palm over the back of his neck trying to ease the tension that had gripped him since this morning when he’d discovered that not only was he going to have to see Bliss again but he’d have to work closely with her.

And now it appeared that while he had kept tabs on her, where she was and what she was doing, even when she’d been married, dammit, she had not given him another thought once she kicked him out of her life.

If that didn’t deflate his ego faster than an inflatable pierced by a machine gun round, he didn’t know what would. “I started my own company about a year ago.”

“That’s...great.” But her face had slipped back into that mask, as if she’d shut down the monitor and turned off the lights.

“Yeah.” Jack was proud of what he and his family had accomplished in one short year. “Global Humanitarian Relief has managed to do a lot of good in a very short amount of time.”

“So what does this situation have to do with a humanitarian relief company?”

“I’m paying back a favor,” Jack replied shortly. He wasn’t about to admit any more than that. And they were wasting time. As much as he hated to take second chair, his job was muscle and resources. So he figuratively bit his tongue and deferred to Bliss. “So what’s the plan?”

She raised a single brow in question.

“You’re lead.” Jack shrugged. “I’ll follow, and offer my opinion, if requested.”

“We need to figure out where she was headed.” Bliss rubbed her fingers over her mouth, worry etched in every line of her face. But Jack’s attention was riveted on her lips, on the sweet bow of her mouth. “Which could freaking be anywhere in the U.S.”

“No passport?”

“No. We didn’t give her a passport card. Thank goodness. Otherwise we’d have to expand our search to Canada and Mexico.”

Jack was pretty impressed. The girl had cojones. He’d give her that. “Wouldn’t she know that the safest thing she could do would be to stay put and wait until we could expose Fernandez?”

“She probably felt like she’d exchanged one prison for another.” Bliss’s shoulders slumped.

God, he couldn’t stand to see her obvious discouragement. Without thinking, he reached over and curled his fingers around hers. The spark was instant and electric. A current shot from his fingers to his groin and his heart began to beat in triple time as if he’d been shocked by a defibrillator.

At the surprising arousal, he tightened his fingers over hers. Unwilling to let the contact slip away, he tugged her to her feet and curled his other arm around her shoulders. Bliss stiffened. But Jack was lost in the feel of her in his arms. She fit as if she’d never left. As if she’d been made just for him. Her head tucked perfectly beneath his six foot five frame and into the curve of his neck.

Jack closed his eyes, shut out the fancy office, and reveled in how she felt in his arms. Familiar, and yet different. He remembered the days when she belonged there. Why the hell had he ever let her go?

Except the truth was, he hadn’t let her go. She’d kicked him out and never looked back. She’d gotten married. He’d celebrated the day with a highball glass and a bottle of scotch. And when she’d gotten divorced he’d spent that day the same way.

And damned himself for still caring.

Yet, all that was forgotten the moment she nestled in his arms like she’d been made just for him. She relaxed into the curve of his embrace for a precious second as if she were happy to be there. Just as happy as he was to have her there. But that quickly ended.

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