She hadn’t been able to speak with Rexie yet. Bunny had called to confirm their arrival time for the photograph session, but Rexie was busy with her bachelorette party and couldn’t come to the phone.
And Dr. Barry Carlson had yet to call her back. She’d tried him again earlier right before she’d joined everyone in the main parlor for the viewing of Hazel Gallinger’s security disc. She’d reached the answering service. Again.
Had Rexie found it that difficult to get in touch with him when he’d originally moved back to Montana?
And then she remembered that she’d wanted to talk to Cam about it. And why shouldn’t she? She had a perfectly good excuse to go to his room in the middle of the night—one that didn’t mean she was becoming a sex addict.
Throwing the covers back, she leaped out of bed and rushed to the door. Just as she reached it, there was a soft knock, and she threw it open to find Cam.
Grabbing his shirt, she pulled him into the room. “I need to talk to you.”
Talk was the furthest thing from Cam’s mind once the moonlight poured over her. She was a vision—red curls tumbling over porcelain skin, a shimmer of lace and silk that skimmed her breasts and dropped only to the tops of her thighs. And those eyes, a dark gleam of green. She stopped his breath.
When she nudged him onto the bed, he sat. His legs wouldn’t hold him up.
She paced. “Rexie’s first husband. I want to get in touch with him.”
Cam struggled to focus on what she was saying and found it helped if he fastened his gaze on a point beyond her. “The first husband?”
“Dr. Barry Carlson. He’s a vet and they met at Cornell when he was finishing up and she was just starting. It was love at first sight, they got secretly married and then the fact that they came from very different worlds came crashing down on them. The families were not happy. His parents expected him to come back to Montana, and hers pictured her stepping into a well-established social circle on Long Island. They went with her parents’ scenario. Not surprising once you’ve met Bunny.”
“The charmer who ran me off the road.”
“Exactly. It’s such an old story.” She waved her hand in an “and so forth” gesture. “But something about the way they broke up keeps nagging at me. It’s not like I don’t have a big enough worry list. There’s a wedding tomorrow that has to go off without a hitch so this Scalzo person can be brought to justice. And there’s this Nathan MacDonald still skulking around out there with his martial arts training and his bombs. And there’s the rest of Eleanor’s dowry. But I can’t seem to let Rexie’s first marriage go. Does this ever happen to you when you’re working on a case?”
“Yeah.” She had his attention now. He couldn’t help but notice that what was happening between the two of them hadn’t made her worry list. And it seemed to be right at the top of his.
She climbed onto the bed near the headboard and crossed her legs beneath her. “Then maybe you can help me. Tell me I’m wrong.”
“First, what bothers you about the breakup?”
“Rexie’s still in love with him. I could see it in her eyes. It was the kind of love at first sight that she’ll never shake loose. Do you know what I mean?”
Something skittered through Cam’s stomach. Ridiculous to think he might know exactly what she was talking about. What he said was, “Classic. Like Romeo and Juliet without the feuding families.”
“Precisely.” She scootched a little closer to him on the mattress. “You may be on to something. If Romeo hadn’t killed Juliet’s cousin and had to flee the city, how long do you think it would have taken for the Montagues and Capulets to get together and put an end to the marriage?”
“Probably not long. They were blood enemies and they’d each want their child back. They might have been able to handle the friar because his goal all along was to end the feud.”
“And the Carlsons and the Maitlands weren’t even feuding. In fact they might have had a common goal, a dream for their only child that they wanted to see come to fruition. To fulfill that dream, they needed their child back.”
Cam studied her as he thought about the possibility she was suggesting. “You actually think the parents might have had a hand in the breakup?”
“I’m beginning to wonder. Bunny Maitland is a very focused woman. She’s got a daughter who in her view has married the wrong man. Then enter from stage right the perfect man for her daughter—Lawrence Banes. Ta da! In Bunny’s eyes he’s Prince Charming, and in his eyes, Rexie’s the ticket to getting a small fortune from Maitland Investments.”
“You think Banes was just lucky or did they team up?” Cam asked.
“It may have started out as accidentally serendipitous, but they’re certainly working as a team now. When I talked to him right after the accident and then again in the clinic, he wanted me to call Bunny and say that the wedding was definitely on. Bunny, not Rexie. Maybe one of them got the Carlsons on board. I’d put good money on Bunny for that. Think about it. Two mothers with a common goal—they want the happiness of their child. A funeral might have started it all, but it got Dr. Barry to go back there—and then the communication lines break down. Rexie claims he stopped returning her calls. When I try to call either one of them, all I can do is leave a message. And it’s Bunny’s voice on Rexie’s voice mail that tells me to leave it.”
“Shades of Romeo and Juliet again,” Cam mused. “Messages gone astray or intentionally blocked.”
“Exactly. I want to fix it,” Adair said. “If I could just figure out a way to get Barry and Rexie in the same room together.”
He tilted his head to study her. Each time he was with her, he learned something new about her. “This wedding destination thing isn’t just business for you. You’re a true romantic.”
She stared at him, shocked. “No. My sister Nell is the romantic. Piper is the cynic. I’m just plain practical.”
But he was beginning to see that beneath the surface, she wasn’t. She might work hard at giving off that vibe, but did a practical woman bury her secret goals and sexual fantasies in a stone arch because she believed it to have special powers?
For the first time since he’d come into the room, he took his eyes off her and swept his gaze around the space, noting even in the moonlight the feminine lines of the little love seat tucked away in an alcove and the vase of flowers on a nearby table. And there were candles in various shapes and sizes on a carved cherry dresser and more on the small nightstand.
It wasn’t the way he would have imagined her room, but he thought it fit the woman he was coming to know—the woman who’d penned an action-adventure fantasy and buried it in a legendary stone arch.
“I have a plan.” Two plans, he thought, as he rose and began to light the tapered candles. One of them would have to wait a bit. The other wouldn’t.
“I’d say don’t keep me in suspense, but I’m guessing that you’re lighting the candles as a part of a plan to seduce me.”
“All that covert training wasted.” He found her CD player, selected an album and pressed a button. Debussey poured softly into the room. “I hope you won’t rat me out to Daryl. He’ll have me sent back to the farm for a brush-up course.”
“My lips are sealed.”
“And they’re lovely lips,” he said as he joined her on the bed again.
Surprise flickered in her eyes. “You don’t have to say that.”
No, he didn’t have to say it. More importantly, he hadn’t ever said it before. “Shhh.” He leaned forward, brushed his mouth over hers.
Words. He’d found them for other women. Why was he having problems finding them for her? Drawing back, he met her eyes. “Do you remember the day our parents married?”
“Of course, I do.”
“You were standing there on one side of the stone arch with your hand on Reid’s arm. Your dress was pale green and your curls…” He reached out to twine one of them around his finger. “They were all tumbled down like they are tonight, and there was a green ribbon the color of your eyes threaded through them.”
Adair stared at him. “You remember my hair and what I was wearing?”
“I remember everything about you. I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. And then you looked at me. Do you remember?”
All Adair could do was nod.
“My heart stopped.”
Hers was stopping now.
He dropped the curl and ran just the tips of his fingers along her jawline. “I wanted you in a way that I’d never wanted any woman before.”
The words weakened her so much that she could do nothing but stare at him.
“And I want you even more now.”
They sat on the bed, their faces close, their mouths only inches apart. But when he moved, it wasn’t to close the distance. Instead he rose and began to take off his shirt.