Authors: Molly E. Lee
I wasn’t entirely innocent, though. I had slept with her—and countless other women—knowing full well my heart would never be in it. It was a purely physical release, and I made sure they knew that before I took them to bed. Still, Corrine had been the only one who’d had repeat rides, and that was due to the six-week expedition we’d been engrossed in.
“Talk,” I said when Corrine seemed content to stand and glare at us.
She blinked a couple of times. “Rumor had it you were headed up the mountain. And I thought, why on earth would Easton Wells return to Israel when he’s avoided it for so many years? Then I remembered the legendary treasure you would never spill any details about, regardless of how many shots you’d had or how little clothes I wore.”
Rain laughed behind me, trying and failing miserably to hide it behind her glass.
Corrine squinted at her. “Really? Smart move, getting wasted before a journey.” She returned her focus to me, placing her hands on her hips. “Have your standards lowered so much that you’ve taken to picking up archeology interns from a state college?”
“Careful,” I warned. “That’s Harrison’s daughter, and insulting her is the last thing you want to do in front of me.”
Corrine straightened, her entire body registering the importance of the girl in the booth behind me.
Rain set her glass down and doubled over with laughter. I had no idea what the hell was so funny, but she had me joining her without needing to hear the joke.
“What’s so funny, little girl?” Corrine had her claws out.
woman.” Rain traced the top of her wineglass with the tip of her finger.
Corrine hissed at the way she’d addressed her, but it didn’t shock me in the slightest. Rain was never one to take shit lying down, and she could dish more than anyone. “Excuse me?”
Rain stood, brushing past me and coming within a breath of Corrine. “
. And mine is this: you’re clearly talented enough to make a name for yourself as a treasure hunter but not smart enough to earn the title of archeologist. And you’ve probably only gotten to where you are—which has to be a somewhat pretty place with the way you raise your chin to everyone in the room like they’re your inferior—only by stealing credit from others’ work. Like Easton’s.” She glanced at me for a moment before sharpening her gaze on Corrine. “Now, you heard he was here and assumed he was finally going after the big one. The one no one can get but him, and figured you’d jump on the track to success and fame and all that bullshit. Let me tell you something, I’ve got no patience for your kind. I’ve seen it since I was a kid—greedy fools trailing after my father’s work.” She shook her head, looking Corrine up and down. “You’ve got chops, obviously. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. Why don’t you put that effort into doing something that is solidly yours? Go find something you can claim honorably, and leave Easton the hell alone.”
Corrine scoffed at her. “How dare you accuse—”
Rain put her hand up to stop her. “Tell your guys to get their hands off my pack unless they want to lose them.” Her eyes hadn’t left Corrine’s, and I whipped around, catching Frank red-handed with his meaty fists in Rain’s pack.
I jerked his arm out so hard, he winced. His buddies jumped out of the booth to step between us. The douche bag dropped her passport on the ground as the men pulled him away. I scooped up the tiny blue book and shoved it back in Rain’s pack. “Are you fucking serious with this, Corrine? This isn’t a game. Rain could get arrested if she was caught without this.”
“It’d slow you down.” Rain glanced at me before returning her gaze to Corrine. “You should leave now.” The calm in her tone was more terrifying than if she’d flipped—and rightfully so—over a stranger trying to steal her passport. She motioned toward the restaurant’s exit, and to my complete shock, Corrine snapped at her boys like they were dogs and they left.
Rain took the pack from my hands and tucked it between her and the wall of the booth as she sat back down. She resumed eating before I’d rejoined her, my mouth hanging half open. She’d been bold as a girl, and wicked observant, noticing details in situations I never did . . . but this? She could run with Sherlock.
She glanced over my shoulder as she took another bite of steak. “Please, for the love of God, tell me you never even
at the location when you two were together.”
“No,” I said, thinking back.
“I didn’t. No more than a general idea of the location being in a cave in Israel. You do realize there are thousands of caves here, and no way for her to know which one.”
Rain chewed over the piece of intel, the gears turning behind her eyes. It was sexy as hell to watch. “She wanted you stalled. She has to know something, if she’s trying to get the jump on you.”
I cocked an eyebrow. “What’s to say she wasn’t acting out of jealousy?”
Rain snorted, finishing her second glass of wine. “Cocky as ever.”
“Is it so hard to believe?”
“No. She was jealous, just not enough to inflict that kind of hurt. This was bigger than that. She must be smarter than I gave her credit for.”
I sighed. “She does have a rep for stealing credit, but she’s got what it takes to figure it out on her own, if she put her mind to it.”
Rain arched an eyebrow.
“But not Harrison’s cave.”
She flinched at her father’s name.
“Sorry, it’s what I call it in my head.” I reached out, placing my hand on top of hers.
She pulled it away. “You two, you and Corrine. Was that serious?”
A bit of fire flared behind her eyes. Now who looked jealous? She couldn’t be, though. We hadn’t been anything for so long.
You know better.
Every time I even thought about Rain with another guy my gut went sour.
She leaned back in the booth. “Couldn’t imagine how crazy that one was.”
“You have no idea.” Corrine had been certifiable—cunning, conniving, and just a bit wild in the sack. It had been, at the time, an irresistible combination.
“I’m really hoping I don’t ever have to find out, but seeing her determination to harm a perfectly good stranger like that . . . risking them being taken prisoner . . .” She shook her head. “I’m sure it isn’t the last we’ve seen of her.”
I rubbed my palms over my face. One more thing to worry about and adjust plans for.
This time Rain reached for me and gripped my fingers. “Don’t worry, Compass. I’ve got eyes like a hawk, remember? I’ll watch your back.”
A chuckle ripped from my mouth. This woman was every bit the girl I’d fallen in love with and more—way too good for me, and yet my match in every way.
“I feel loads better.”
“You should. Now,” she said, grabbing the bottle and pouring herself another drink, “logistics. Spill. I operate better with a plan.”
AFTER ONE SHARED
bottle of wine and an hour’s worth of expedition prep, Easton led the way back to our hotel room. The alcohol had successfully loosened the tension in my shoulders that had been present since the second I’d heard Easton’s voice in South Africa, but it did little to ease my worries.
We’d barely started the journey and already we’d had two mishaps with people who wanted us gone—either by plane or more threatening means, if necessary. The image of Corrine, in all of her exotic and gorgeous beauty, flared an unreasonable amount of jealousy in my chest. It stung, more powerful than I would’ve believed possible, and it was completely unmerited. Easton hadn’t been
to claim for years. He was free to sleep through half of Israel if he wanted.
I couldn’t convince my heart of that, though.
Her presence fueled more anxieties than that of involuntarily picturing the two of them together. She had teeth, and wouldn’t hesitate to strike if we showed any hint of weakness. That was why I went on the offense earlier. Normally I would’ve sat in respectful silence in the presence of a stranger who had history with Easton.
Not with her, though. She was after the treasure my father had sought, the treasure he’d
, according to Easton. We had to get there first. Not only to save the career Easton had come to depend on—which was clear in the desperate look in his eyes every time he spoke about it—but because
needed this. For Dad.
If I could get there, lay eyes on something he’d spent half his life searching for, then it would give me a piece of him back. And my heart desperately needed something that was missing since he’d passed.
Easton held open the door to our room, allowing me to enter first.
I froze the second I flicked on the light.
“What the hell?” I gasped.
Our luggage was strewn across the room, clothes shamelessly tossed like a tornado had barreled through them.
Easton shoved past me, instantly searching for the few cameras we’d brought. “They’re here.”
I sighed at his words, digging through my bags, noticing all my clothes, toiletries, and the surplus of MREs I’d packed were all accounted for.
“What the hell were they looking for?” Easton snapped, shoving his clothes back in his bag without bothering to fold them.
I raked my hands through my hair, slipping my pack off my shoulders. I sank my arm into it, elbow deep, gripping the book and pulling it out. I held the small, leather-bound journal out to him. “This.”
He took it, unraveling the worn string that wrapped around the book three times. “This was Harrison’s.”
“I thought he kept this on him at all times. I thought it was lost with—” He stopped short, and I crossed the distance between us.
“What happened that day?” I asked for the second time tonight, knowing he’d been so close to finally opening up to me before Corinne made her grand entrance.
He shook his head, as if forcing a memory out of his mind. “When did he give this to you?”
My shoulders dropped, and the hope I’d had in the restaurant shriveled. I didn’t have a shot in hell. He’d never talk to me. Not now. We weren’t kids in love anymore. Now we were . . . nothing. Partners for a week or so.
Then why does half of me feel like there is more to us than a job?
“The day before you two set out.”
Easton handed the journal back to me quickly, like it’d burn him if he held it too long.
“Everything he ever learned, thought, or discovered about King Solomon’s treasure is in here. Some of it is just ramblings to me, but . . .” I clutched the book to my chest. “I cherish it. It’s always in my pack, which I never leave anywhere except by my bedside as I sleep.”
Easton cocked an eyebrow, and I chuckled, the tension of the moment popping. “It’s my lucky pack. It’s not weird!”
“It’s a little weird.” He grinned.
“Whatever. It paid off tonight.” I held my arms out, encompassing the mess that was our room. “Clearly.”
He nodded. “You were right. She’s more determined than I thought. That’s what Frank was going after. Not your passport. The journal. How did she know?”
had to announce to Calev’s whole bar I was Harrison Walker’s daughter. Do you know how many historians and archeologists have offered to buy this from me?”
“Nope. Hundreds. If I’m ever destitute I’ll know right where my meal ticket is.”
Easton closed the distance between us. The warmth from his body radiated onto my skin, and his scent filled my nose. Good God, the man smelled delicious, and my thighs clenched with how close he was. He pushed some of my hair away from my face, cupping my cheek. I told my body to move in the opposite direction, or at least to push him away, but I was a statue soaking up the way he made me feel. The same way he’d made me feel
. . . breathless, anxious, like standing on the edge of a cliff with nothing but pure, crystal-blue water waiting to catch me at the bottom.
“We both know you’d starve before you’d sell his journal.” His voice was softer now, reaching down and swirling my chest with all kinds of longing.
I leaned into his palm. I didn’t know what I wanted from him. The truth about whatever he was hiding, the reason behind his abrupt departure from my life, or a silent, stolen moment of passion in the bed that waited not twenty feet from us. The strong hit of need that pulsed through my core was enough to shake some sense into me.