This excerpt takes off where the one I’ve given you before, and which you can find here.
RELEASE by Beth Kery, February 2 from Berkley Heat
“The house in Lake Forest burned down,” she whispered. “It’s . . . gone. Everything.”
He placed his hands on her shoulders and spun her around. His tall shadow loomed over her. She blinked in disorientation when he switched on the crystal chandelier. He stared. The color washed out of his face.
“Come ‘ere,” he growled, taking her hand. Genevieve stumbled after him into the living room. A bar lined the north wall. He slid one of the suspended goblets from the rack and grabbed an opened bottle of wine. The crimson liquid splashed into the bowl of the glass.
“Drink it,” he ordered, all traces of his accent absent from the terse command. Genevieve hesitated before she glanced into his glittering eyes. She took the glass, draining half the wine in her first swallow. He pried the trembling goblet from her clawlike grip. He guided her over to the sofa and pulled her down next to him.
“Were you in the house?”
She shook her head as she released her hands from his warm grasp.
“I was working late on Oak Street. I drove home at around nine. I’ve been watching them try to put the fire out all night.”
“Why didn’t you call me?”
She just stared at the carpet sightlessly. He didn’t seem to expect her to answer once he’d considered his impulsive question.
They both knew the days were gone when she would have leant on Sean for support.
“Four engines were working on it when I got there, but they were just trying to contain the blaze at that point . . . keep it from getting to the trees and spreading. One of the firemen told me it had likely started in the garage and spread first to the kitchen. They had it out by the time I left. It was a nightmare. The police were there. The press . . .”
His body tensed for action but he remained seated beside her. She threw him an exasperated glance. Three years hadn’t dulled her almost preternatural ability to read him. Never mind that he’d been trained by the United States Army to be an intelligence operative.
She’d known her fair share of spies. Max had held a top position at the CIA before he’d retired and started his private intel firm. But while Max had proved to be an enigma to her, Sean was pretty much an open book.
“Go ahead, call if you want to,” she said. “There was a cop—Sergeant Gould. The chief from the fire department was a Martin McGruder.”
“I’m not going anywhere right now. What about Jim? Is he okay?” Sean asked, referring to Jim Rothman, Max’s longtime, live-in employee who did everything from house maintenance to grocery shopping.
“He’s fine,” Genny whispered. “He’d been out for the evening, like me. He came home from the movies at around eleven and stood with me, watching it burn.” Her breath caught on an inhale. “He was more upset than I was. He kept worrying he’d left some appliance running or hadn’t maintained the furnace the way he should. I must have told him a million times it wasn’t his fault, poor man, and even if one of us had done something inadvertently, it wasn’t intentional. He was worried sick. He’s staying with his daughter in Niles.”
“There was no indication it’d been set?”
“Set?” She sharpened her gaze on him. “Of course not. Who would have set my house on fire?”
His brows drew together as he studied her. His hand rose to cradle her jaw. “Was there a medical unit there? Did they treat you?”
“Shock.” Their gazes met and locked.
He didn’t try to stop her from standing. She returned to the bar where she lifted the wineglass to her lips. The crystal hummed when she set the goblet on the bar too forcefully. She saw him watching her in the mirror lining the back of the bar.
“Am I going? Or are you?”
“I think you know the answer to that, Genny.”
She turned around. “You can’t expect both of us to stay here.”
He shrugged and leaned back, spreading his arms along the back of the couch. He’d buttoned the crisp white shirt, but not completely. When he spread his arms, the fabric parted. Genevieve found herself staring at the sexy triangle of exposed skin and curling, light brown hair. She blinked when he spoke.
“I’m working on a big project. My assistant will be here first thing in the morning. It’s easier to sleep here when I’m staying so late in the office.”
“Sleep, huh?” she muttered sarcastically.
“You can’t expect me to have known you’d show up here tonight. I said I was sorry about that.” He waved toward the hallway and the bedroom. When she glanced out the window dismissively, he added, “Right—I forgot. You’re good at ignoring my apologies. You’re an expert at the business of ignoring me in general.”
Heat flooded her cheeks. She opened her mouth to bring him to task for changing the subject but he interrupted her before a word left her tongue.
“I own this penthouse, too. Have you forgotten that?”
“No, I haven’t forgotten. Fine. If you’re staying, I’ll be the one to go. I’ll stay with my mother.” Her eyes widened when he just shook his head slowly, his expression implacable.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “But until I can get some more information about what happened with the fire . . . until I know for sure nobody set it with the intent of harming you, you’re staying here. And so am I, Genny.”
5 Blue Blue Ribbons from Romance Junkies—“Try not to fall in love with Sean and Genny’s story ““ I dare you!”