Reckless Whispe(7)

By: Barbara Freethy

Her sweet voice socked him in the gut.

"Bree? What the hell are you doing here?" The question came out more aggressive than it probably should have, but he wasn't ready to see her again.

"I was going to ask you the same question." She licked her lips. "I'm looking for Grace Roberts."

"Are you a reporter now?"

"No." She pulled open her navy-blue blazer, revealing navy-blue slacks and a white shirt, but it was the shiny piece of metal at her waist that shocked him for the second time in the last sixty seconds. "I'm an FBI special agent."

"No way!"

"It's true."

"You? You became a fed? How did they let you in?"

She frowned at his attacking words. "They let me in, because I'm good at the job. Who is Grace to you?"

"She's my niece."

Now it was Bree's turn to be surprised. "Seriously? Grace is Josie's daughter? Josie is okay? Last time I saw her, I wasn't sure…"

"She's been okay for a while," he said shortly. "Up until last night when one of her daughter's best friends was abducted. Now she's a mess, terrified for Grace and for Hayley."

"That's why I'm here. I need to speak to Grace about what happened. Let me in, Nathan."

He suddenly realized he was blocking the door. He took a step back and waved her into the house, which felt like the absolutely wrong thing to do.

Letting her into Josie's house, into his life—was he crazy?

But this wasn't about the past; it was about Hayley.

"I'll get my sister. Wait here." He walked down the hall and into the kitchen, still having trouble taking in a full breath.

"Who was it?" Josie asked. "A reporter?"

"No." He closed the kitchen door behind him. "It's an FBI agent. She wants to talk to Grace."

Josie frowned. "But Grace already spoke to the police—several different detectives. It's just going to upset her all over again. Can't you get rid of her?"

"Believe me, I want to," he said tersely. "But she's not going anywhere."

"Then I'll talk to her. I'll tell her Grace isn't up to it."

"Wait." He grabbed her arm as she came around the counter.

"What?" Josie asked, a question in her eyes.

"It's Bree."

She blinked in confusion, and then that confusion turned to shock. "Bree? No."


"She's an FBI agent? How—how is that possible?"

"No idea. But she showed me her badge. She's working on Hayley's disappearance."

Josie stared back at him. "I didn't think she'd ever come back to Chicago."

"I didn't, either."

"I don't know exactly what happened between—"

"And it's not important," he said, cutting her off. "Just don't say anything personal about you or me or what we're doing now."

"What are you worried about, Nathan?"

"Everything," he muttered, letting go of his sister's arm.

As Josie left the room, he drew in a deep breath. He needed a minute to get his head together.

Bree—he'd never thought he'd see her again.

The years had been good to her. In fact, she looked better now than she had the last time he'd seen her. Then she'd been pale, scared, and a little broken. Now, she was sharp, clear-eyed, confident, and…strikingly pretty.

She'd clearly gotten her life together.

Well, so had he, and he wasn't going to let her drag him backward.

* * *

Bree paced restlessly around the living room, her nerves on edge, her stomach churning with nausea, her head aching with tension. She'd told herself that coming back to Chicago did not mean going back in time, but that's exactly where Nathan Bishop had taken her.

Nathan! How could he be here? How could the only eyewitness be connected to him?

It was improbable and yet it was true.

The last time she'd seen him had been at the bus station. She'd been eighteen; he'd been nineteen—skinny and long-haired and…angry. He didn't want to be there, but she'd called in an old debt, and he'd paid up.

Apparently, his anger at her hadn't diminished over the years. He had definitely not looked happy to see her.

But he had looked good. He'd become a man—a muscled, fit, handsome man. He still had the thick brown hair that always looked windblown, a shadow of beard on his jaw, and light-brown eyes that could be kind and friendly but also piercing and judgmental.

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