Incriminating Evidence(7)

By: Amanda Stevens

“If Finch cooperates—which I doubt he will—you’ll have your answer in a matter of days. If not, we’ll figure out where to go from there.”

“You have no idea what this means to me.” She stood. “I realize how deluded I must sound. Thank you for hearing me out. You could have just sent me away.”

“Don’t thank me yet. Depending on the outcome, you may not want to thank me at all.” He rose and walked her to the door. Their shoulders brushed as he reached for the knob. She moved away quickly and muttered an apology. But in that fleeting moment of contact, awareness sizzled. Nick found himself breathing in her scent. She smelled of raindrops and vanilla. A clean fragrance with more than a hint of mystery.

He cleared his head as he pulled open the door. “It was good seeing you again, Dr. March.”

“You, as well. It’s been a long time. And please call me Catherine.” She smiled for the first time since entering his office. “I was surprised to hear you’d left the police department.”

“Were you?” His smile felt brittle. “No one else was.”

“Charleston PD’s loss is my gain.”

“We’ll see, I guess.” He handed her a fresh business card. “My cell number is on the back. Call me if you need anything or if you have questions.”

She pocketed the card. “We haven’t talked about financial arrangements.”

“Jackie at the front desk will explain our terms.”

“Thank you again.”

Nick waited until he heard her footsteps on the stairs before moving into the hallway. He stood at the railing overlooking the lobby as she paused at the reception desk to speak with Jackie Morris.

Then fetching her umbrella and raincoat, Catherine March went out into the rainy afternoon, leaving Nick feeling oddly troubled as he stared after her.

Chapter Two

Nick turned away from the railing, anxious to have a look through the newspaper clippings, but the sight of his uncle Emmett lurking in the hallway stopped him cold. He hadn’t expected to see anyone on the second floor. Since his father and uncle retired, Nick mostly had that area of the building to himself, although Emmett still retained his office and he almost always attended the weekly briefings.

He’d made a point of telling Nick not to expect him until the end of the week, but there he stood looking pleased with himself that he’d caught his nephew off guard. Emmett LaSalle was nothing if not competitive. He took great pride in one-upping the younger detectives in the agency.

“You’re awfully jumpy,” he observed.

“I tend to get that way when someone sneaks up behind me,” Nick countered. “What are you doing here anyway? I didn’t expect to see you until Friday.”

“Change of plans.” Emmett nodded toward the long row of windows in the lobby where rain still pelted the glass. “Can’t take the boat down the coast in this weather.”

“Fish bite best in the rain,” Nick said. “Or so I hear.”

“Rain is one thing, but a monsoon is something else. I may be crazy but I’m not stupid.”

Like Nick’s dad, Emmett LaSalle was a handsome man, tall and lanky with an easy grin. They were fraternal twins with physical similarities, but their personalities were like night and day. Emmett had always been a little on the slippery side whereas Raymond LaSalle was about as straight an arrow as one could hope to find. To Nick, his uncle looked as if he’d stepped from the pages of a noir detective novel. No matter the season or trend, he favored pleated slacks and fitted knit shirts topped with a weathered fedora. He claimed he’d given up gambling years ago, but Nick had his doubts. The detective agency had been a lucrative investment for the LaSalle brothers, and both Emmett and Raymond enjoyed fully funded retirements. But Nick couldn’t help questioning some of his uncle’s recent purchases, like the forty-foot fishing boat he slyly called The Shamus.

Emmett leaned both forearms against the railing and called down a greeting to Jackie, who had glanced up when she heard their voices. As always, her gaze lingered on Emmett before she turned back to her work. She’d had a thing for him for as long as Nick could remember. Everyone at the agency knew it but pretended not to. Nick sometimes wondered if they’d had a romantic relationship in their younger days. Maybe that explained why she’d stubbornly carried a torch through both of Emmett’s marriages. Maybe she was waiting for him to wake up one day and realize the love of his life had been right in front of him all along.

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