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Authors: Delores Fossen

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BOOK: Veiled Intentions
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God help them.

Chapter Seven

“Dr. Kent's interview is about to start,” Joe called out. “You were right. He lawyered up.”

Katelyn hurriedly applied a slathering of some pale raspberry lipstick that her mother had packed and gave her skirt-suit a quick adjustment. The short mocha outfit wouldn't have been her first choice for a return visit to Perfect Match to announce her “engagement,” but it was either that or a cherry-red slip dress she hadn't worn since college.

Heaven knows what Garrett had told their mother about this particular assignment, but it was obvious the woman believed Katelyn needed to show some leg. Maybe she'd seen the photo of Joe in the paper. That meant at their regular family Sunday brunch, Katelyn would have to do some damage control before her folks started planning a real wedding.

When she joined him in the kitchen, Joe already had the laptop opened on the table, and even though he had his attention fixed on the screen, he was also putting on his shoes. Unlike her semi-sex-kitten attire,
he'd gone for the brooding businessman look. Dark blue pants and a matching button-down shirt. Since his coat was draped over the chair, that likely meant he'd be using it again to camouflage his shoulder holster.

“Did you ever meet Dr. Kent?” he asked.

“No. Never had the honor. Gail and he weren't married that long.”

While she poured them both cups of coffee, she studied the video feed of the man who'd once been her friend's husband. Kent's expensive Italian suit was perfect. Ditto for his bronze-colored hair. But those eyes were all barracuda.

“Gail's mom and I use the same hairdresser,” Katelyn continued. The coffee was hours old, bitter and way too strong, but she gulped it down anyway so she could have her caffeine fix. “According to her, Kent liked to play mind games, and he was always ragging on Gail, always taking shots at her self-esteem. He fought the divorce for months before finally giving in.”

“Maybe he didn't give in after all,” Joe commented with a shrug.

Yes. And because of that bitter divorce they'd added Dr. Allen Kent to the top of their list of murder suspects and had spent much of the previous day going through his background check.

Well, doing that and trying to avoid each other.

The close quarters weren't exactly conducive to avoidance, especially since they had to share the same computer, same reports, same bedroom and same
bathroom. But they'd both done their best to keep the other at arm's length. In between that arm's length, however, the air kept crackling between them.

Katelyn sipped her coffee and tried to push that uncomfortable realization aside.

“Did Kent say why he wasn't available for an interview yesterday?” she asked.

“He claimed he couldn't rearrange his schedule.”

was right. He likely wanted to discuss strategy with his lawyer before
coming to police headquarters for questioning. In fact, it was her guess that the lawyer by Kent's side had used a good portion of that extra twenty-four hours to coach his client as to exactly what to say.

And what not to say.

After all, Kent wasn't just linked to Merrick. He was linked to the murdered bride. That would have caused a tense moment or two for an attorney.

Detective Dawn Davidson was the officer doing the interview. Under different circumstances, Katelyn would have asked that Garrett do it, but since he'd been at the apartment twice in the past twenty-four hours, Joe decided it was an unnecessary risk to take. Even though her brother had worn a delivery man's disguise, if someone had been carefully watching the place—like Dr. Kent, for example—he might have been able to make the connection.

Davidson started with the basics and just as Joe suggested, she mentioned the
remote possibility
that the shootings were somehow
loosely associated
with clients from the Perfect Match Agency. For good
measure, she even hinted at the article that had appeared in the newspaper the day before. Then, Dawn went in for the bull's-eye and asked Kent about his relationship with Addison Merrick.

“I'm afraid I can't discuss anything regarding a patient,” he crisply assured her. “If that's why I'm here, then you're wasting my time.”

“As slick as slime,” Katelyn mumbled. “No wonder Gail divorced him.”

“So Mr. Merrick is your patient?” Dawn commented. But she didn't wait for him to verify it. “He was vague about that yesterday when we questioned him.”

Ah, now there was a reaction. Kent's aristocratic mouth tightened for a fraction of a second. Now the trick was to decide if that gesture meant he was riled about the detective's
comment or Merrick's vagueness during questioning. A vagueness that would obviously make the police wonder why Merrick felt a reason to hold back information.

“It's good to see him squirm,” Joe said, glancing at her. The glance turned into a double take, just as he'd done with her pj's that first night. Katelyn resisted the urge to adjust her skirt again. No matter how much she tugged and pulled, the fabric wasn't going to stretch.

Thankfully, Dawn got his attention off the skirt when she continued the interrogation. The detective went through the other questions, but they were window dressing, since it wasn't Kent's actual responses they were interested in but the way he reacted. Dawn
played her part to a tee. And she made just enough eye contact and kept the right inflection in her voice to let Kent know that he was indeed a suspect. When she finished, Kent didn't waste any time getting out of there.

Joe didn't waste any time, either. He grabbed his phone and pressed a few buttons. A moment later, Katelyn heard Dawn's own phone ring on the audio feed of the computer. “Have him followed,” Joe ordered when Dawn answered. “Not closely though. And I don't want him approached so he can claim harassment.”

He ended the call, clipped the tiny cell phone to his belt and got up. “After I shave, we'll leave for the Perfect Match.”

Katelyn almost told him that she'd prefer if he skipped that particular grooming step, but then she'd have to explain why. There was already enough male-female stuff going on between them without her letting him know that she'd liked his stubbled look.

While she put on her slide holster and checked the communicator she'd threaded under her collar, her gaze landed on the papers Joe had left on the table. Specifically, her questionnaire, which Donovan had dropped off the previous morning. It was opened to page three, the section that dealt with her preferences for leisure activities.

Had Joe been reading it?

If so, did he have any idea that the answers were true?

Katelyn didn't allow her ridiculous, hormone-
induced speculations to go beyond that. After all, there were probably dozens of legitimate reasons why Joe would be reading her file.

Too bad none of those dozens of legitimate reasons readily came to mind.

Curious now, she sat at the computer and did a search to find his file. Within a couple of seconds, she'd pulled up the bogus information the department had created for him. She went one step beyond that, and with her password, she located his official record.

She glanced over her shoulder in the direction of the bedroom, to make sure he wasn't watching. He wasn't. From the sound of his electric razor, he was in the bathroom still ridding himself of his sexy stubble.

His official photo loaded, as did the rest of the info. Joseph Luis Rico. He was thirty-two. A military brat. Two brothers, a sister. He'd lived all over the world until his eighteenth birthday, when he'd left for college and then the police academy.

“Wow,” Katelyn mumbled when she glanced through the list of his awards and recognitions. He had a slew of them, including one from the governor. Those accolades accounted for not just one early promotion but two. He was a supercop by anyone's standards.

But she hadn't needed a file to tell her that.

A notation near the bottom caught her eye. Just a month before his transfer to S.A.P.D., he'd taken leave, and the code beside it was one she recognized. Whatever had generated that time off required a clean
psych evaluation before he could return to the job. Interesting. He'd either killed someone in the line of duty or else the leave was of a particularly stressful, personal nature.

“Find anything?” she heard him ask.


Katelyn didn't even try to hide it. Not that she could have anyway since his picture was right there on the screen. Instead, she pushed her questionnaire, still opened to page three, to the side so he'd know this was a tit for tat kind of invasion of privacy.

As opposed to just a plain ordinary invasion.

“You lived in England for three years,” she commented. “When your father was stationed there.”

“You run a six-minute mile,” he countered. “While listening to Axl Rose.”

Not to be outdone, she continued with, “Your brothers are both Air Force Combat Rescue Officers.”

“Your mother and father were both cops.”

Frowning, she swiveled around in the chair. “That wasn't on the questionnaire.”

“No, but it was in your personnel file.” His gaze drifted to her clothes, and her legs. “Nice skirt.”

Katelyn was sure her frown deepened. “Is that a ploy to get me to forget you were in my file?”

“No. It's a ploy to let you off the hook for snooping in mine.” He set a small black velvet box in her lap, right on her skirt. “If you want to know something about me, Katelyn, just ask.”

She would have questioned him about that personal
leave, but the box suddenly captured her complete attention. It was the right size and the right shape. Well, depending on one's perspective, it was right. It was not so right from her perspective. “Is that what I think it is?”

“It is if you think it's an engagement ring.” He proceeded to fix his communicator under his collar. “We need it for the announcement.”

Okay. So those two simple words, engagement ring, shouldn't have sent her stomach into a tailspin, but they did. Jeez, it was such a
reaction. And for nothing, since it was all show anyway.

Katelyn opened the box as if it were live explosives and came face-to-face not with some gaudy lifestyle statement but rather a tastefully delicate diamond set in beautifully etched gold. Definitely a

“It looks real,” she mumbled.

“It is. It belonged to my grandmother.”

“Oh, sheez.” His grandmother's? Could this possibly get any more uncomfortable? “I can't wear something like that.”

“Sure you can. Well, provided it fits.” He took it from the box and slipped it onto her finger. No fanfare. No awkward pause to ponder the moment. Certainly no romantic words or gazes.

It fit.

“Okay, let's go,” he ordered.

He would have probably been out the door if his phone hadn't rung. Katelyn grabbed her purse while he answered it. As she moved the meager sunlight slanting through the windows caught the facets of
the diamond and sent a rainbow dancing around the room. She turned the ring around so it wouldn't happen again.

She needed rainbows about as much as she needed a real engagement to Joe Rico.

“Did he?” Joe asked.

But it wasn't a casual inquiry. Like the ring box, it snared Katelyn's attention and caused her to tune in to his conversation.

“No. No change in plans,” he continued. He hung up and looked at her. “Guess where Dr. Kent's headed?”

“Perfect Match?” Katelyn repeated the words and took out the questioning inflection. Of course, that's where Kent would go. He wanted answers as to why Merrick had brought him into this investigation. And that meant if they hurried, they had the opportunity to hear what Merrick was saying to his shrink. A way to kill two birds with one stone.

Joe paused and combed his gaze over her. “You're sure Kent won't recognize you?”


Well, not positive, exactly. She had no idea if Gail had ever shown Kent her photo, but she couldn't let a mere possibility hold her back now. If Donovan was at work, it would be the first time they'd have their three primary suspects under the same roof. It was perhaps the break they'd been looking for.

Or maybe it would be the very confrontation to make a killer snap.

Katelyn checked her primary and backup weapons to make sure she was ready.


on the trip over, Katelyn lured the receptionist from her desk with a bogus emergency request for her to show her the location of the ladies' room. Joe used the ploy to walk past the other clients who were filling out questionnaires so he could slip unannounced into the hall that led to Merrick's office. Since Dr. Kent wasn't around, that meant he was probably already in there with Merrick.

Along the way, Joe looked for the security guard and cameras to make sure he hadn't missed one. No guard today, and the only camera he spotted was the one in the reception area. It had obviously supplied the photo for the newspaper article and could still possibly be monitoring the hall. So he plastered a silly grin on his face while he was trying to eavesdrop. Best to keep up the facade of the happily engaged man.

Unlike Kent. Who didn't sound happy at all. The man was practically shouting. Joe heard him when he was still several yards from Merrick's office door. Not very shrinklike behavior. Rather, Kent seemed to be in the middle of a Prozac-required moment.

“But why even mention my name?” Kent snarled.

Thankfully they'd left the door slightly ajar. Joe saw Merrick shake his head. “I'm not sure I did.”

“But you must have. Jesus H. Christ, Addison, these people think you might know something about those two shootings. Why would you purposely let
them believe you're unstable by telling them you were in therapy?”

BOOK: Veiled Intentions
8.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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