Ignited Page 35

“I figure Cole is keeping quiet,” she continued. “No, Kat, the sad truth is that you are the source of your own intelligence leak.”

“Me!” My voice rose indignantly—at least until I figured it out. “Flynn,” I said.

“I had breakfast with him this morning. He sends his love. And,” she added airily, “he told me to tell you that the apartment did not burn down last night, in case you’d acquired some misinformation and that’s why you didn’t go home.”

“You know I hate you both.”

She laughed. “You do not. That’s why you’re my maid of honor.”

I made a grunting noise of acquiescence. “All right. Maybe I love you. A little.”

“Mutual, Kat. And I’m thrilled about you and Cole. I mean, that’s been a long time coming.”

“No kidding.”

“Listen, I have a meeting in a minute, but tell me quick what’s going on with your house.”

“I close tomorrow,” I said, unable to keep the excitement out of my voice.

“I thought it was tomorrow. That’s so cool.”

“I’m giddy,” I admitted. “It’s like a rite of passage or something.” I hesitated, then pressed on. “Listen, about the house. There’s something else—”

“What’s wrong?” I heard the sharp note of concern in her voice.

“Nothing. I swear. It’s just this thing I’ve been thinking about. You know, my ever-present plan to get rich quick. Only I’m not sure this would be quick.”

“I’m intrigued. Tell me about it over drinks?”

“You get married in a week,” I reminded her. “When are we supposed to do that?”

“Maybe before the bachelorette party? Or breakfast? Anytime really, if I can tear you away from Cole.”

“Speaking of, I need to try again to track him down. And you need to go to your meeting. We’ll figure it out,” I promised, then we said our goodbyes and ended the call.

Angie was smart. If getting into real estate was a bad idea, she’d tell me. Mostly, though, I just liked knowing that I had a friend to share my plans with.

I sat in my car and ran my fingers through my hair, wondering when in hell I’d become so settled?

And how the hell could I be settled with a missing con man of a father, and two of Chicago’s most wanted escorting him around the city?

The knights own a lot of businesses, and I called every one of them. No Cole, no Evan, no Tyler. And the more time passed without any word—without any report as to where they’d taken my dad or what the plan for keeping him safe was—the more my temper soared. And, yes, so did my worry.

I had no real reason to go see Sloane, but I did anyway. I told myself I wanted to know if she had a clue. And if she didn’t, I wanted a distraction. But it was more than that.

I was about to buy a house, I was getting serious about a guy, and I was thinking about pursuing an actual career outside of the coffee-pouring arts.

I was putting down roots, just like I had told my dad.

In other words, I was looking dead center at Big Life Things, and coming clean with my friends was part of making those things happen.

This new life I was building—this life that I’d be starting tomorrow when I signed my closing papers—needed a solid foundation. But until I cleared up a few lies of omission, that foundation didn’t exist, and I was terrified that one day everything that I’d built would crumble, and everything I wanted and loved would shake and fall and turn to rubble.

I didn’t want to risk that. Not now. Not when I was falling in love with my life and my world. And, a tiny voice in my head added, with Cole.

I found Sloane destroying the punching bag in The Drake’s gym.

“Getting a workout?” I asked. “Or working something out?”

“Both,” she said, then landed a hard punch. “Or maybe neither. Shit, I don’t know.”

She got in one final blow, then stood back, breathing hard. After a moment, she held out her hands to me and I helped her off with the gloves.

“Are we ladies who lunch now?” She glanced up at the clock. “Correction. It’s cocktail hour. Are you here for a drink?”

“I wouldn’t turn one down.”

“Come on.”

I followed her to the service elevator and then into the ornate suite she called home.

“This really is primo,” I said, looking around at the classy, well-appointed living area.

“It is,” she agreed as she moved to a small fridge by a wet bar. “Although I’m starting to feel boxed in. I’d like a yard. Flowers. My old partner is actually refurbishing his house. It’s pretty cool. I keep bringing it up with Tyler and he keeps changing the subject.” She scowled a little. “It’s starting to get on my nerves.”

“He just sick of owning real estate?”

“I don’t know. I’m letting it go for now. Our caseload is too intense to do the house-search thing anyway. But it’s a conversation we’re going to have to have eventually. The trials and tribulations of being a couple,” she added with a sigh.

“You love it,” I said.

“I do,” she agreed, and smiled so brightly she lit up the room.

“Well, if you have a whim to paint, feel free to come over to my place. Anything I can do to contribute to the peace between you and Tyler.”

“That’s right,” she said, bringing a bottle of pinot noir to the coffee table in the living room. “Tomorrow’s the big day.” She opened the wine, poured us each a glass, and lifted it in a toast. “To home ownership,” she said, and I laughed.

“Thanks. I can’t believe it’s really tomorrow. It’s a huge deal for me. This will be the first house I’ve lived in that wasn’t a rental.”

“Seriously? Did you move around a lot as a kid?”

“An insane amount,” I admitted.

“That makes tomorrow all the more special.” She took a sip of her wine. “So did you come over because of pre-house jitters? Or—oh, shit—did I forget something about the wedding?”

“No. Honestly, I just wanted to hang out and catch up.” I shrugged. “And I was wondering if you knew where Tyler was. And if he’s with Cole.”

“Misplaced the new boyfriend already?” she said with a laugh.

“Did you talk to Flynn, too?”

“No, I talked to Angie. She talked to Flynn.”

I rolled my eyes in mock irritation, but I had to secretly admit I was enjoying myself. My friends cared about me. About Cole. They were cheering for us.

That was pretty damn cool—and it reinforced my determination to tell Sloane the truth. Because the longer I waited, the more entrenched the lie would be.

And, frankly, I’d waited too long already.

“But to answer your question,” Sloane continued, not realizing my mind had wandered off, “no, I don’t think Tyler’s with him.”

“You don’t think?”

“Cole called here this morning and they talked for a while, and I overheard Tyler ask him if he needed help. Cole must have said no, because Tyler said that was good because he had plans today. Which, frankly, surprised me because I thought he was just catching up on paperwork at Destiny today.”

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