If I’m not careful, I could tumble right over into love with him.
It’s a good thing I’m the very definition of careful.
“I don’t want to, but I have to get up.”
“I know.” He sighs and loosens his grip on me. “Thanks for the extra five minutes.”
I grin and roll away, then gasp when I see the time. “It’s almost eight!”
“You said it was after seven.”
I glare at him, but he just stares at me with humor-filled eyes.
“Oversleeping on a Monday means the rest of the week is going to be crappy,” I announce, as I stomp into the bathroom, pull a brush through my hair, then tie it back and stare in despair at my makeup-free face in the mirror. “I don’t have time for makeup.”
“You’re beautiful without it,” Eli says calmly, as he hands me a steaming mug of coffee and kisses my cheek. “Stop freaking out.”
“I don’t want to be late,” I reply, before gratefully sipping the coffee. “Where did this coffee come from?”
“Timer on the pot,” he replies. “You’re fine, cher.” He wraps his arms around my waist and finds my gaze in the mirror as he kisses my cheek. “You didn’t sleep that late.”
I lean back against him and enjoy the feel of his chest pressed against my back for just a moment before slipping out of his arms and reaching for my makeup.
And then my phone rings.
“Rhys is FaceTiming me at 8:00 on a Monday morning?” I ask with a frown. Eli just shrugs and saunters into his closet to dress. “Rhys, I can’t talk now.”
“Just give me ten,” he replies, and I can tell just by looking at him that something is very wrong.
“What is it?”
“You didn’t watch last night’s game?”
“No,” I reply guiltily. “Sorry.”
“I’m hurt.” The sarcasm is thick. “I thought you watched every game.”
“Right. Of course I do. What’s wrong?”
“I got hurt.” He swallows and winces as he shifts in his seat. “Tore my rotator cuff.”
“WHAT? Oh, my God, Rhys—”
I look into his green eyes, and I know he’s lying. “No, you’re not.”
He sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. “I’ll need surgery. I’m out for the season.”
“Rhys.” I wish I could hug him. Baseball has been his life since he was five years old. It’s been the one constant in his life, even after his parents died.
It’s his life.
“I’m going home to Denver,” he continues. “I’ll see the doctors there, do some therapy. I’ll be fine.”
He sighs again, and finally he says, “Careers end because of this, Kate. I can’t lose baseball. I’m only twenty-eight, for Godsake.”
“I’ll be home in a couple weeks, tops, and I’ll take care of you.”
He smirks. “I don’t need a mommy.”
“Maybe I just need to be there to be helpful.”
He clears his throat and talks to someone else in the room. “I have to go. I wanted to fill you in.”
“Have you called Ma and Da?” I ask.
“They’re next. Love you. See you soon.”
“Love you too.”
“He’ll be okay,” Eli says from the doorway, fastening the cuff-links on his shirt. I nod and set the phone aside, quickly brush on some mascara and lip gloss, resigned that this is as good as it gets today, and walk out of the bathroom.
“I know. Let me get some clothes on, and let’s go.”
“Hi Kate, this is Adam, the private investigator you spoke with last week?”
“Yes! Please tell me you’ve found something.” I shift in my chair, gathering papers and a pen to make notes with.
“I have; I just hope it’s something you can use. You mentioned that there is no employee named H. Peters at Bayou Industries, in any department.”
“I had to do some digging into each of the employees and their families, and let me tell you, there are a lot of people who work there.”
“Tell me about it.”
“You have an employee there named Gerald Rudolph. Didn’t get to him until I hit the ‘R’s.” All of the hair on my body stands on end.
“His wife’s maiden name is Hannah Peters.”
Bingo. I shimmy in my seat, doing the happy dance.
“Thanks, Adam. Can you email that information to me?”
“Sure thing. There is other info in the reports too, including a description of the woman who picks up the checks.”
“Great job, Adam. Thanks again.” I immediately call Eli’s office and sigh in relief when he answers. “I need a meeting with you, Beau, and Van ASAP.”
“Nothing. We’re about to wrap this case up.”
There’s a long pause, and then, “Be in my office in thirty minutes.”
“But Van is at the inn.”
“She’s at the doctor for a check up. She’ll be here.”
He hangs up, and I sit for a second and frown at the phone. Why did he sound so…cold? Solving this case is what I was hired to do. He should be happy that it’s almost over.
I use the next twenty minutes to print out all of the information I’ve gathered, along with the email from Adam when it comes through.
The elevator seems to take forever. This is the part of my job that I love so much. The part when I get to sit before those who hired me and tell them who and how. The satisfaction of knowing that the job was done well. My whole body is humming with excitement when I walk into Eli’s office and see that Beau and Van are already there.
“Thanks for meeting with me.”
The door closes behind me, and I sit in a seat between Beau and Van, facing Eli.
“Who is it?” Beau asks immediately.
“Impossible,” Eli says calmly.
“No, it’s not impossible.” I explain the suspicions I brought to Van’s attention over the weekend, and then show them the evidence that Adam sent over. “His wife’s maiden name is Peters. Hannah Peters. Every transfer went to Western Union to an H. Peters.”