Read Franco's Fortune (Redemption Book 2) Online

Authors: Cara Marsi

Tags: #romantic suspense, #thriller, #suspense, #series, #contemporary romance, #sensual romance

Franco's Fortune (Redemption Book 2) (7 page)

BOOK: Franco's Fortune (Redemption Book 2)
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“They won’t get to me. That was posturing to scare
you.”

“I won’t let anything happen to you,” he said, his
voice low and even. “I’m calling Logan today and having you taken
off the case. You’re not safe here.”

Anger shot through her with the speed of a bullet
and she yanked free. “You. Will. Not call Logan and tell him I
can’t do my job.”

“That’s not what I meant. I…Jo, why do you hire
yourself out like this?”

She glared at him. “You make me sound like a
prostitute. I help people. I keep them safe when they’re
threatened. It’s what I do.”

He backed up and straightened. “I didn’t mean to
offend you. I admire what you do, Jo. I do. I just…I don’t want you
hurt.”

“I can take care of myself, Callahan. I don’t need
you or anyone else to worry about me.”

A knock sounded at the door. “There’s Harris,” she
snapped.

Then strode to the door, feeling totally
unprofessional.

***

Chapter Seven

A
fter the glass people
replaced the broken window and the door company installed the new
steel back door, Jo snagged a few hours sleep, but it didn’t help
much. Even three cups of coffee couldn’t clear the cobwebs in her
head. The quiet of the house pressed around her as she searched the
refrigerator and freezer for tonight’s dinner. After the night and
morning she and Franco had endured, Jo craved comfort food and
needed some major de-stressing. She’d make Franco stay home tonight
and rest. If he even dared try to go out, she’d hog-tie him and sit
on him. A small chuckle escaped her as she imagined how well that
would go over with him.

Franco had a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator,
surprising for a bachelor. She didn’t like to admit it, but she
enjoyed cooking and was pretty good at it. She dug a container of
spaghetti sauce out of the freezer, along with a small loaf of
Italian bread, then found a package of pasta in the pantry. Add a
salad and garlic bread, and they’d have a decent meal. She glanced
at the clock. Almost five. Franco should be home soon. He’d
promised to cut his hours short today.

She’d defrost the sauce in the microwave to cut down
on time, then heat it on the stove. While the water boiled for the
pasta and the sauce heated she’d make the salad and prepare the
garlic bread. She felt calmer already.

Her cell phone rang. She slid it from the pocket of
her fatigues. Harris’ number blinked on her screen. “Hey,” she said
into the phone. “You guys on your way?”

“Well,” he drawled. “Not yet. Our man has decided he
needs a workout. I’m drivin’ him to the gym. I’ll get him home in a
few hours.”

“Harris, for God’s sake, Franco was attacked last
night. He needs to rest, not go to the gym.”

“I know, darlin’, but the man’s head is harder than
one of those cement pilings stuck in the Delaware. I’ll call you
when we’re on our way from the gym.” He chuckled. “What time should
Brewer pick you up tomorrow for your shopping excursion?” Brewer, a
security expert and ex-SEAL friend of Harris, would guard Jo and
Mitzi when they shopped.

Jo wrinkled her nose. “How about ten?” She hated the
thought of a full day of shopping. And now that she’d been
threatened, she needed her own security when she left the house.
That sucked too. Brewer would drive Mitzi and her to the upscale
King of Prussia mall and stay with them.

After ending the call, she hoisted herself onto one
of the high stools surrounding the center island. No sense starting
dinner yet. With a little time on her hands, she decided to make a
note of everything that had happened to Franco in the last few
weeks. He might not realize it, but he held the key to whoever was
threatening him. She had to force him to think, really think, about
who might want him dead.

Two hours later, as the aroma of tomato and basil
from the sauce simmering on the stove wafted over the kitchen, Jo
inhaled the calming, homey scent while she filled a large pot with
water and placed it on the stove. She’d made a large salad, enough
for at least four. Hopefully she’d convince Harris to stay and eat
with them. She enjoyed the older man’s company, and his presence
would help diffuse the sexual tension that always heated the air
around Franco and her.

She’d reached for the knob to ignite the burner
under the pot when the doorbell rang. Jo froze. Dread pumped
through her. Harris hadn’t called yet to say they were on the way,
and he and Franco would never ring the bell. Pulse racing, she
grabbed her gun from the counter and headed for the front door.
Damn historical society with their restrictions. Franco’s house
needed security cameras front and back.

She approached the door cautiously and looked
through the peephole, then released an agitated breath. Lena and
Dan Callahan stood outside. What were Franco’s parents doing here?
She put the gun behind her in the waistband of her pants and
disengaged the security alarm, then opened the door. She glanced
quickly around. The street was deserted.

“Lena and Dan, what a nice surprise.” Jo moved aside
to let them in. It wasn’t safe for any of them to stand outside for
too long.

Lena, slender and sophisticated, greeted Jo with a
big smile. “Jo, how nice to see you again.”

“You too,” Jo said, with another nervous glance
outside. “Come in.”

Dan, his hair now completely gray, leaned on a cane
and nodded at her. While Lena helped Dan into the house, Jo bit
back her impatience, her attention glued to the street as she held
the door open. If anyone was out there…

When the older couple was finally inside, Jo
hurriedly locked the door, then leaned against it. By the
frightened look on Lena’s face, Jo knew she’d noticed the gun when
Jo turned to close the door.

“Go on into the living room,” Jo said. She needed to
get Franco’s parents’ thoughts away from the blatant reminder of
their son’s troubles. While they headed into the living room, Jo
reset the security alarm.

Lena chewed her lip but said nothing as she took her
husband’s elbow and helped him into the other room.

Pity stirred in Jo as she watched Dan’s shuffle. He
was far from the vibrant corporate mogul she’d first met five years
ago. The stroke had taken its toll, making Dan’s speech difficult
and his gait slow. But physical therapy helped, and Lena constantly
hovered like a mother hen. Dan’s mind was still sharp, though.
Franco sent him weekly reports on the company’s dealings and Dan
offered Franco advice, whether Franco wanted it or not.

Lena settled Dan into a chair then turned to Jo. She
looked Jo up and down, her brown eyes assessing. “I love what Anita
did with your hair. It shows off your beautiful face.”

“Thanks, Lena.” Jo ran a hand over her hair and
looked away, suddenly uncomfortable. She’d never learned how to
accept compliments.

“You are getting rid of those fatigues, right?”

At Lena’s question, Jo turned to her and bit back a
smile. Lena’s forthrightness she could handle. Better than the
compliments, anyway.

“I’m getting rid of the fatigues for the time
being.” She gestured to the chair next to Dan’s. “Why don’t you sit
too? Franco should be home soon. I expect his driver to call any
minute. Do you want anything to drink? Tea, coffee, wine? I’ve got
dinner cooking. Will you and Dan stay?”

Where had that come from? Domestic she was not. Yet,
here she was offering drinks and asking them to stay for dinner.
What was next? Wearing aprons? Cutting out coupons?

Lena dropped her purse on the floor, slipped off her
leather jacket and laid it over the arm of the chair, then sat.
“I’ll have some wine. Thanks.” She turned to her husband. “Dinner
sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Do you want some wine?”

He nodded. “Wine.” He looked at Jo.
“Heard…about…last night.”

“How?” Jo asked.

“Doriana called,” Lena said. “We had to come over to
see how you and Franco are doing. We’re sorry to barge in on you
unannounced, but we were afraid if we called first, you’d tell us
there was no need to stop over. And we wanted to see Franco for
ourselves, to make sure he’s okay. We’re so glad Logan sent you to
help him. At least he’s not alone in this mess.”

I’m glad I’m here too.
The jarring thought
popped into Jo’s mind. “Let me get your wine,” she said, channeling
her thoughts elsewhere. “I need to stir the sauce and get the water
boiling for the pasta.”

Lena sniffed the air. “Smells wonderful. Is that my
mother’s recipe?”

“It might be. I found a container of sauce in the
freezer.”

“Franco’s a good cook,” Lena said.

Shocked, Jo choked, then hastily cleared her throat
to cover it up. Franco a good cook? He did have a well-stocked
kitchen. The guy was full of surprises, none of them like her
impression of him all these years. She’d have to think about that
some more.

Fifteen minutes later Jo’s cell phone beeped,
signaling a text message. Harris and Franco had arrived. She
excused herself and ran to the door. She liked the older couple,
but she’d never been good at small talk and fifteen minutes of it
was more than she could handle. Through the peephole, she saw
Harris open the passenger door, then Franco slide out and race up
the steps. She disengaged the alarm and opened the door for him to
slip through.

When he’d entered, she closed the door, then texted
Harris.
Can U join us
?

Need 2 go home
, he texted back.

She sighed. No Harris to act as her buffer between
Franco and his parents.

<><><>

She was in homemaker’s hell. No, not really. Guilt
for her uncharitable thought washed over Jo. She looked around the
table. Lena and Dan were wonderful people who loved their kids and
grandkids. But sitting at the dinner table with Franco and them and
seeing the obvious love they felt for each other brought back her
own tortured childhood. Watching Franco laugh at something Lena
said filled Jo with bittersweet sorrow.

She’d never belonged anywhere. Some of her foster
parents had been loving, but even in those homes she’d felt like
the outsider she’d been her whole life. She poked at her salad.
When her father had been alive, Jo had known her mother hadn’t
wanted her, but she’d had her dad, who’d adored her. He’d been with
her for too short a time. And when he died… She wouldn’t go there.
She had a career she was good at, one that absorbed her, and that
was all that mattered.

When dinner was over, Lena offered to help with the
dishes, but Jo shooed Dan and her back into the living room. While
Franco and she cleared the table, Jo finally had a chance to talk
to him alone.

Setting dirty dishes on the kitchen counter, she
turned as he came through the doorway balancing two dirty plates
and two wine glasses in his hands. He’d taken a quick shower when
he’d gotten home. Dressed now in jeans and a sweater, his hair
slicked back, he looked so darn sexy, Jo wanted to devour him. The
man managed to look hot in a kitchen surrounded by the remnants of
their dinner. It wasn’t fair.

He stopped when he saw her staring. “What?”

Pushing aside her sensual thoughts like a stack of
dirty dishes, she locked gazes with him. “It’s not safe for your
parents to be here. It’s not safe for anyone. You need to tell them
they can’t visit until the police find the people after you.”

His jaw tightened. “I hate what those assholes
trying to murder me are doing to my life.”

Jo laid her hand on his forearm. His muscles flexed
under her fingers. “Keep your voice down. You don’t want your
parents to hear. The police will catch the jerks who are after you,
but you need to tell your parents to stay away for now.”

Stepping back, he raked fingers through his hair. “I
have a business to run, construction sites to visit, people
depending on me.”

“Suck it up, Callahan. You want to live, you’ll
listen to Harris and me.” She put a hand on her hip. “You’re still
going to work, still maintaining your lifestyle, with a few
restrictions.”

Mouth tight, he stared at her. Then his shoulders
relaxed and a look of resignation washed over his features.

“I’ll tell my parents.”

<><><>

Half an hour later, they both walked Lena and Dan
out to their Mercedes parked in front of Franco’s house. While
Franco and Lena helped Dan down the steps, Jo held back, gun at her
side, nervously scanning the street. Traffic was light at this
hour, but the people making Franco’s life miserable could drive
down the street any minute, guns blazing. Someone had already taken
shots at him from a moving car.

When the couple drove away, Franco and Jo hurried
back into the house, bolting the door behind them and resetting the
alarm.

“I hate this so much,” Franco said.

“I know. Things will get better. They’ll get those
jerks.”

His mouth twisted in disgust. “The police have no
leads. Not one.”

“Not yet. Let’s sit down. I need to pick your brain.
With a little help from you, we can find the lead we’re looking
for. Are you up for it?”

He gestured for her to go ahead of him into the
living room. “Ask all the questions you want, but I’ve told the
police and you everything.”

They settled onto the sectional and Jo turned to
find Franco staring at her, a question in his eyes. “What?”

“I’m glad you’re going shopping for some new
clothes. With that face and that body, why do you hide behind those
fatigues?”

She held up a hand. “Stop right there. This isn’t
about me or my clothes. This is about keeping you alive and helping
the police find the guy or guys who are after you.”

“What makes you think it’s a guy?”

“What makes you think it’s not? There’s something
you didn’t tell the cops, isn’t there? Someone you suspect?”

“No, there’s not. It’s just that you can’t assume
it’s a man.” He shrugged. “It’s a guy calling me, but there could
be a woman behind this. It’s a thought.”

BOOK: Franco's Fortune (Redemption Book 2)
8.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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