The Obsession Page 113

“No one believes it’s someone they know, someone they’re close to,” Naomi said. “Until it is.”

“He’s a good cop. Smart, thorough, and not so territorial he won’t take help from outside. He’s doing all he can do. For now, I can help him do more. I reached out to one of our geeks, and he’s getting names on the rentals—owners, tenants. We’ll run those in addition to the knock-on-doors. I’m sorry. I wish there were more.”

“You came.” Naomi went to him, put her arms around him, her head on his shoulder. “That’s more. You’ll stay a few days?”

“Tonight, at least. Maybe tomorrow. I want to get out of this suit. I’ve got a bag in the car, if you tell me where I’m bunking.”

“It’s not much more than bunking now. A real bed next visit, I swear. Let’s get your bag, and I’ll show you.” She glanced at Xander. “I’ll be right back, help you get the table inside.”

Alone, Xander looked out at the water, into oncoming evening. Her brother agreed to stay the night, he thought, because he expected to find a body in the morning.

After the meal, and the fancy coffee Naomi made in her fancy machine, Xander rose. “I’m going to go on.”


“You’ve got stuff. I’ve got stuff.” And with an FBI agent sleeping down the hall, she’d be safe. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Okay, but—”

He just pulled her to her feet, and into a hard, hot kiss. Maybe it was a little like marking his territory, with her brother right there, but he wasn’t sorry about it.

“Thanks for dinner. Later,” he said to Mason, and walked out.

“He didn’t have to leave on my account,” Mason began. “My sharp deduction skills ascertained he’s sleeping here.”

“He wanted to give us time alone, and he wants to go be with Loo. His business partner. She and Donna are close friends.” Automatically, she began clearing dishes.

“Sit down a minute. Just for a minute,” Mason said, taking her hand. “I’ve got to ask. How serious is it with you and the mechanic?”

“You say that like he doesn’t have a name.”

“I’m working on it. Give me some room. My vagabond hermit of a sister suddenly has a big house in the middle of rehab, has a dog, and is sleeping with a guy I just met. It’s a lot in a short time.”

“It doesn’t feel as short when you’re in it. I’m not going to get all”—she circled her index fingers in the air—“and say I recognized the house. But I recognized the potential of it, and its potential for me. I didn’t know I was ready to plant until I saw it, then I was ready. The dog wasn’t going to happen, and then he did. Now I can’t imagine not having him around.”

“He’s a great dog.”

Even more, she thought, he’d become her family. “I’d have taken him to the shelter if Xander hadn’t blocked me, every time.”

“Why didn’t he take the dog?”

“He just lost his.”

“Ah.” Mason nodded, understanding completely. “You haven’t answered the actual question. We call that deflection.”

“I’m not deflecting, I’m working up to it. It’s more serious than I planned. More serious than I thought I’d want, and more serious than I’m sure I can handle. But he’s . . .”

She wasn’t sure she could explain it, to him or to herself.

“He makes me feel more than I thought I ever could or would. He figured out who I was. He had Simon Vance’s book on his wall of books—you have to see that wall of books. I have pictures.”

“Check out my shocked face,” Mason said, and made her laugh.

“Anyway. Apparently I didn’t hide my reaction to seeing Vance’s book as well as I thought, and Xander figured it out. But, Mason, he didn’t say anything to me, or change toward me. He didn’t tell anyone, even his closest friend. Do you know what that means to me?”

“Yeah.” Now Mason covered her hand with his. “And it goes a long way for me deciding he has a name. I liked him, and I know that matters to you. And I’m going to be up-front because you matter and tell you I ran him.”

“Oh, for God’s sake.”

“You’re my sister, you’re my family. And we share something most don’t, most can’t understand, and shouldn’t. I had to do it, Naomi. A couple of bumps in his late teens, early twenties, if you care.”

“Which I don’t.”

He rolled over that. “Disturbing the peace, destruction of property—bar fight that reads like he didn’t start it, but sure as hell finished it. No time—plenty of speeding tickets up until he hit about twenty-five. And that’s it. I’m going to add I feel better knowing he had a couple of bumps, got them out of his system. I like knowing he can finish a fight. No marriages or divorces, no children on record. He’s sole owner of the garage, half owner of the bar, and half owner of the building that holds the bar and an apartment. Winston thinks highly of him.”

“Are you done now?”


“Good. Now we’re going to get these dishes done, FaceTime the uncles, then you get the grand tour.”

“Okay. I’ve got one more thing, but I’m really done. Does he make you happy?”

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