But she didn’t want to go back, either. The last-minute arrangements for the Halloween party, the pressure of knowing Mrs. Manly’s secret, the scrutiny of Balfour House itself made each run more important than the last. She’d begun to slim down; her jogging pants were loose around the waist, and not merely because the elastic was old. Warmed by the exercise, she stopped at the first-mile marker, slipped off her hoodie, and tied it around her waist. She scanned the landscape; she was alone, except for one tourist sitting on the highest point on the property, a pair of binoculars in his hands. The Maine coastline was rich in wildlife, attracting birders from all over the world. This guy was hardy, sitting out here with a knit hat pulled low over his ears and a huge down coat wrapped around his body, watching the seagulls wheel and dip on the breeze. She waved, never thinking he’d notice anything so insignificant as a human being.
He startled her by waving back.
Maybe he wasn’t as big a geek as she had imagined.
She started off again, fixing her sights on the top of the next hill—when her earpiece beeped. No one ever called her while she was on her run, so this couldn’t be good.
She slowed her pace, pulled her cell out of her pocket and looked at the ID, expecting to see Balfour House. But no, although the number tripped a vague memory in her brain. She touched her earpiece. “Hello?”
“Hannah? Is this a good time?” The deep voice sounded vaguely familiar, too, warm and soft, like a tender hand sliding down her spine.
Then she pegged it. “Trent. Trent Sansoucy.”
“You remembered. I’m flattered.”
He must have called the house and gotten her cell number. But why?
His voice changed, became concerned. “Are you sick? You sound like you’re having a heart attack.”
She laughed and sped up again. “I’m exercising.”
“I’m on a run. Gasping is a good thing. What can I do for you?”
“Susan Stevens is available now, and I’d like to make an appointment for her to come in and do her magic.” He was all business, his East Coast-accented voice sounding a little more Boston than before. “I’d like to get her in there before the party.”
“Me, too. How soon can we have her?”
“Tomorrow, if you like.”
“Tomorrow is perfect. Both Mrs. Manly and I are uneasy with the situation as it is.”
He went on the alert—she could tell by his voice. “Why? Have you seen anything? Heard anything?”
“Um . . . no.” She was not going to tell him she thought the house was watching her. He’d probably decide she was crazy, because, well . . . it was crazy. But despite her lectures to herself, that itchy, creeping feeling of being watched had never faded.
He must have heard her hesitation, and said sternly, “You should inform me of whatever you suspect.”
So she told him the easy part, the factual part. “I suspect that with the government accusing Mrs. Manly of hiding information about Nathan Manly and his fortune, there is the possibility that someone might want to pressure Mrs. Manly into revealing what she knows, and they might do it violently.” She didn’t add that Carrick Manly was her top suspect. Most people hadn’t glimpsed that slimy side of Carrick, and even she didn’t think he would actually resort to bloodshed.
The trouble was, when she’d met him, she had never suspected he would want Hannah to spy on his mother, either, and be willing to blackmail her to get his way.
“I’m concerned about that, too. I had hoped that hadn’t occurred to you.”
“I’m glad that you didn’t dismiss my fears.” She labored up another hill. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m being paranoid.”
“Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you.”
She chuckled, as he meant her to.
“Truthfully, when it comes to danger, women tend to ignore their instincts when they shouldn’t.” Trent sounded so warmly