Read Lethal Affair Online

Authors: Noelle Hart

Tags: #romantic suspense, #murder and romance, #romance adult contemporary, #suspense and romance, #suspense crime thriller, #murder and suspense, #suspense action romance, #love and suspense, #romantic suspense best seller, #stalker suspense

Lethal Affair (3 page)

BOOK: Lethal Affair
6.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Damn it, that woman was a hazard
zone!

Will couldn't resist. “That apron
doesn't hide much pal. She got a rise out of you.”


Who?”

Will grimaced. “Being stubborn is
almost worse than being stuck up. You didn't even bother to say hi,
how ya doing today? Blatantly ignoring her isn't going to make her
go away.”


You hired her. You deal
with her.”


Why? You allergic to
her?”

Pushing to his feet, Lyle scooped Dino
into his arms and headed for his sanctuary. The kitchen was his
realm and no one dared to bother him there.


You're not getting any
younger,” came Will's taunt as the kitchen door swung
closed.

At the grill stood Kim Moon of the
First Nations tribe and highly valued sous chef. His long black
braid had been carefully coiled and tucked under a hair net, over
which he wore a Vancouver Canucks cap with the bill facing
backward. A die-hard fan, he could cook up a storm with one eye on
the grill and one eye on his portable tablet propped up on the
counter, watching the game.

Kim eyeballed his boss who was
absently petting Dino while peering at Jolene through the
pass-through as she swept onto the diner floor and busily placed
trios of blooms in small blue crystal vases for the tables. “Some
eye candy, huh boss,” he commented.

Lyle's glance slid sideways, then
locked back into place. “Watch it. Your braid might find it's way
under my knife. You'll lose your power.”


Got me confused with
Samson. Nice dodge, but you're not derailing this conversation.” He
dropped fresh basil leaves into the food processor. “I'm wondering
what your problem is. The girl's practically drooling for you and
you give her the cold shoulder day after day.”

Lyle flexed his muscular shoulder and
put Dino down. “I don't mix work with play.”


You don't even give her the
time of day. What's up with that?”

Rubbing his tense neck, Lyle had to
ask himself the same question. He'd never been so damned
tongue-tied around a woman in all of his thirty two years of life,
so to compensate he just shut up altogether whenever confronted
with her. He shook his head and got out a large pot, filled it with
water for blanching tomatoes. “She's not somebody you can have a
good time with and then walk away.”


How's that?”


She's too...” Smart, funny,
gorgeous, appealing. Let's not forget steaming hot sexy. “...
perfect.”


Oh. So that's it. She's too
good for you.”


She wants more than I can
give her.”


Like what?”


Like a horse and
carriage.”

Kim was struck dumb. For a moment.
“Say what?”


You know, love and
marriage, horse and carriage.”

Kim shrugged. “Still not getting
it.”


It's an old song from my
parents' era.” He began to sing softly, “Love and marriage, love
and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage...”


Enough already. Think I'm
getting it now.” Kim waved his knife in mid air. “So you think she
wants a ring on her finger and you're not up for it. And why would
that be exactly?”


I come from a gene pool of
failed marriages. My parents got divorced when I was twelve and it
wasn't amicable. Got caught in all the flying bullshit. My aunt and
uncle divorced and come to think of it, so did my grandparents.
Hell, it's a family tradition. Might as well set up the divorce
decree alongside the marriage license.”


Quick, duck; some bullshit
just zinged past my head!” Kim huffed. “That's just plain
ridiculous. My parents got divorced and it made me stronger. Made
me work harder at my marriage and at being a Dad.”

Lyle set down his knife and stared
into a void. “Marriage scares the hell out of me. You and Carrie
been married what, six years now? How do you do it without screwing
things up?”


You love her. It's that
simple. You know how they say love can conquer all? Well my love
for Carrie has to conquer a newborn right now, so yeah, it's
challenging alright. The job she's doing, looking after twin
toddlers and an infant; biggest and baddest job in the world boss.
Not saying we don't have our problems, everybody does. But I look
upon each and every day I have with that woman as a
blessing.”


Infidelity. That's what
tore my parents apart. My Dad couldn't keep his pants zipped and it
shattered my mother's heart.”

Kim grunted. “Who's got time to fool
around when you've got this job to hold down and three squalling
kids to deal with at home?”


Doesn't it make you want to
escape?”


Escape? Hell yes! But I'd
take my Carrie with me or it wouldn't be much fun. Or
fair.”

Lyle looked at Kim and saw truth.
“Well then. That is love.”


Damn straight.”

As Kim went about his prep duties Lyle
paused only long enough to sneak one more look out onto the floor.
There she was watering the ferns by the front door, sunbeams in her
copper curls, angelic face tilted up to catch the sun's warmth. And
then she turned toward him and across the expanse their eyes
met.

This time he didn't look away but
smiled slowly and nodded a sort of hello. No matter what his
reservations were regarding women and marriage, she didn't deserve
to be treated like a leper.

Instinctively Jolene turned around to
see who Lyle was smiling at. There was no one. Incredulous, she
turned back and there he was, still smiling sheepishly. There was
nothing else to do but smile back.

It hit him like a punch to the solar
plexus, the smile tentative at first and then filled with surprise
and excitement, and then, heaven help him, hope, reaching all the
way up into her huge hazel eyes.

He knew he was a doomed
man.

 

*

 

Kylie luxuriated in a tub of foamy hot
water, bath salts permeating the air. Her morning run had been
invigorating but as the day had worn on the work in the greenhouses
had all but drained her. When she closed her eyes, imprinted on her
eyelids were row upon row of basil, thyme and rosemary plants in
small clay pots. She and her team had readied them for transfer to
the supermarkets and she could still smell their mingled
fragrances, normally a balm for her soul, today a cloying and
overwhelming cacophony of too many at once.

The slamming door downstairs indicated
that Jolene had returned from her afternoon shift at the diner. She
knew she couldn't avoid her much longer and was toying with the
idea of actually getting out of the tub when suddenly Jolene
thumped up the stairs and banged on the bathroom door once with her
fist.


You in there? Can I come
in?”

Mentally Kylie cursed the fact they
only had one bathroom. “Come ahead. I'll close the
curtain.”

But there was no need as instead of
using the toilet, Jolene slammed the seat down and sat on it. Her
eyes glittered with barely contained excitement.


He actually smiled. At me!
Can you believe it?”

Gathering the suds around her, Kylie
knew instantly of whom she spoke. But she wouldn't revert to being
sixteen again. “Wow. A smile. What next, an actual handshake? Be
still my heart!”

The light in Jolene's eyes dimmed. “No
need to be flippant. You know as well as I do this is a major
breakthrough.”


It's been six long,
insufferable months of waiting for a bread crumb from Mr. High and
Mighty. You call this a breakthrough?”

Dreamily, “His whole face
lit up. A transformation. It was like, he
liked
me. I can't wait to go back to
work tomorrow. Maybe I'll take a bone for Dino. That'll impress
him.”


Who, Lyle or
Dino?”


Ha ha. Funny. This is a big
joke for you, isn't it? I just want what most woman want. Love,
marriage, kids. Just two, to replace me and my man when we're
gone.”


What makes you think this
guy Lyle wants the same things?”


I don't. But I'm asking the
universe to give him to me. The book I'm reading
says...”

The water sloshed. “Hold on a minute.
All that new age mumbo-jumbo isn't going to work if the two of you
aren't on the same page. I think you need to find out how he feels
before you jump off the deep end.”

Jolene rose and paced to the sink.
“Too late. I'm all in. Now it's up to him to at least get his feet
wet.”

Kylie smirked. “Careful. Tsunami
Jolene might sweep him away to a distant shore.”

Jolene's brow furrowed. “I thought
you'd be happy for me. Come to think of it, you've been avoiding
me. What's going on? And don't think you can wiggle out of this.
You're a captive audience in that tub you know.”


Yeah, and I'm turning into
a giant prune. Hand me that towel, will you?”

Hands on hips, Jolene didn't
budge.

Kylie slunk back under the water and
coaxed open the hot water tap with her toes. “Fine. It's like this:
Drew asked me to marry him and I've needed a little time to
assimilate.”

Stunned, Jolene plopped back onto the
toilet seat. Her eyes lit up and she leaned forward to grasp
Kylie's hand. “Where's the ring?” Without waiting for an answer she
threw her hands in the air. “Six months and I get a lousy smile,
three months and you get a proposal? Where's the
justice?”


It wasn't exactly a
proposal. He just let it slip that it's his intention. To marry me.
Apparently it's the reason why he's been holding me at arms length.
He wants this to be different than other more ordinary
relationships that involve lazy afternoons and hot sweaty nights
tumbling in bed. Go figure.”


Marriage involves exactly
that and hopefully more. Doesn't he want to try you on for
size?”


He wants to wait until
after we get hitched. Says it will mean more, be more of a
commitment that way. Wants to base our marriage on compatibility
rather than sex. And guess what? Apparently he did his homework
before dating me for a second time and came to the conclusion that
I was the kind of woman he was looking for.”


Gullible?”


Good stock of Scandinavian
descent for one.”


Oh, like when you grade
sheep or cattle.”

Kylie frowned. “I know it sounds
ludicrous but I'm taking Drew's ideals into serious
consideration.”

Jolene shrugged. “In all the three
years we've known each other I've never seen you so willing to
stoop to this kind of harassment.”


Harassment?”


You heard me. He's
convincing you to bow down to whatever he wants without a single
concern as to your wishes. How can you marry someone you've never
slept with? What if he turns out to be a rotten lay? Hard to commit
to that.”

A snippy retort about old fashioned
values formed on Kylie's lips but then died as she brought to mind
how Drew's parents hadn't fared well in their forced marriage. They
hadn't had a chance to get to know one another or to choose their
life long mate. According to Drew it had been disastrous for his
mother. Was Drew subconsciously following in their footsteps?
“You're right, I need to rethink this. Maybe there's something else
he's not telling me.” She paused. “I know you Googled him. Anything
I should know?”


As far as the internet's
concerned he's squeaky clean. Uses the social networks for business
only and his company web site touts him as a boy wonder.” Jolene
paused, her gaze solemn. “Do you love him?”

Kylie hesitated. And the fact that she
did spoke volumes. “Jury's still out. I've never been in love other
than a high school crush. How do you know? I mean, for
certain.”

Jolene patted Kylie's ring-less hand.
“You just know. The fact that you don't worries me. Don't rush into
anything. Promise?”


Promise.”

 

* * * *

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

 


Do you love
her?”

Drew hesitated. “Of course I do. Why
else would I want to marry her?”

Olivia Hammond, Drew's mother, took
note of the slight hesitation but didn't push. They were seated in
the sun room of her opulent home having afternoon tea. “Well then,
this calls for a celebration.” She rang a discreet buzzer on the
side of her chair and Ligaya, her live-in Philippine housekeeper,
magically appeared. “Please bring us some brandy for our tea,”
Olivia stated.


That's not necessary, Mom.
I have to get back to work. I just stopped by for a quick chat.” He
refused to fret over his mother's increasing alcohol intake. How
she anesthetized herself wasn't his concern. Not now that he had
his own life away from this mausoleum of a house. And what had gone
on and might still be going on in it.

The brandy arrived on a tray in a
pretty decanter from the central bar and was quietly placed on the
table. Ligaya, a middle aged refugee who was sending her earnings
home to her family, asked if she should serve. Olivia waved her off
with a gracious smile, then poured a generous amount into her tea
cup.

BOOK: Lethal Affair
6.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Accidents of Providence by Stacia M. Brown
By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
A Mystery of Errors by Simon Hawke
Next Door Daddy by Clopton, Debra
Eternal Life by Wolf Haas
All the Way by Kimberley White
Sleeping Beauty by Maureen McGowan