long and confident. She didnât want Pete Darrow getting the idea he could say anything that would scare her, that she had a guilty conscience.
âWhy would I want to pull a fast one on you?â she asked.
âItâs in your nature.â
Hearing the arrogance, the certainty in his voice, she slowed her pace. He knew about Friday night. He had to. He knew sheâd rescued Cam Yeager and hadnât told anyone about it.
He went a few steps ahead of her before coming to a languid stop and turning around, giving her a half-quizzical, half-amused look. She swallowed, wishing away her tension. âI donât have to tell you anything.â
âThatâs true, you donât. And you know why, sweet cheeks? Because I already know everything.â Moving slowly, confidently, he took two steps back toward her. âJoshua Reading asked me to check out your personal security, make sure you werenât putting yourself at any unnecessary risk. He doesnât want you pulled off the road and kidnapped.â
âWhy should I believe you?â
âBecause youâre a smart lady. You know when someoneâs bullshitting you. Joshua figured youâre a prominent personality at TJR Associates, you could be a target for the goons who tried to make off with him. He wanted to make sure you werenât exposing yourself unduly to danger. With me on the case, the attackers canât get to him or his brother. So they might try you.â
But her voice was raspy, shaking; sheâd gone rigid trying to keep her body from trembling. Was he telling the truth? What about Cam? Hadnât he guessed Darrow might be following her for this very reason?
Did he know that was why Pete Darrow was following her and just hadnât told her?
What if he were a part of the kidnapping attempt on Joshua Reading?
She shut her eyes a moment. She was getting way too far ahead of the facts.
âI have no money to pay off kidnappers,â she said. âMost of what Iâve earned has gone into my apartment and my two years working with my father.â
Pete Darrow grinned. âWorking with your father. I like that. A couple nuts scrounging the world for orchids.â
âYou can call me Pete, you know. Consider me a colleague. Listen, Ms. Gabriella, I know you think youâre a tough cookie, and maybe when it comes to orchids you are, but you donât want to cross me, okay?â
She made no reply.
âCommon sense, right? I only want to keep you and your bosses from getting hurt.â
She swallowed. âWhy should I believe you?â
He leaned back on his heels, assessing her, his dark eyes reduced to narrow slits. âYou might be hell unleashed at the negotiating table, sweet cheeks, but weâre not negotiating. Iâm giving you advice.â
She nodded, neutral, but said nothing.
Darrow patted her on the cheek. âSo next time you rescue Cam Yeager and have him up to your roof and introduce him to your daddy, maybe youâll tell me, huh?â
He didnât wait for her answer, just whipped gracefully around and sauntered across Government Center, back toward Fanueil Hall.
When she finally got her breath back, could finally move, Gabriella dashed from Government Center across Cambridge Street, then up behind huge One Beacon, and out to the steep, narrow, eighteenth-century streets of Beacon Hill. She was acting on impulse. She knew she was. But even if sheâd sat down and thought it all out, she expected sheâd have made the same decision.
Cam Yeager lived on Pinckney Street. She had his address memorized.
It was time she found out who was who and what was what.
After a brief, painful run along the river, Cam was on the couch in his basement apartment, in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, debating whether the legs in front of his window belonged to Gabriella Starr. He could see them