Excerpt 2 of 5
After he'd left the police station, he had checked into the Holiday Inn, but he hadn't been able to sleep. Even after drinking a couple of beers he had picked up at the store and brought to the room, he couldn't calm his mind enough to block images of his father lying on the study floor covered in blood.
He had planned to postpone his search until he moved into the house tomorrow, but he was sure the cops wouldn't find whatever was in his father's secret place and the information could be extremely important.
And what if the murderer also knew about the hiding place? What if he went back to the house and took whatever his father kept there before Beau had a chance to look at it?
Giving in to temptation, he'd left the motel, climbed into his car and driven to the house that had been his childhood home.
He kept walking, crossed to the other side of the road and made his way around back. No lights on in the guest house. He figured Cassidy had probably returned to Dallas, wondered if he'd ever see her again and felt a surprising flicker of disappointment.
He hadn't met an interesting woman in weeks, longer really, and especially not one who appealed to him physically as much as Cassidy Jones.
He was crossing the yard toward the back door when he spotted a dim light moving around behind the curtains in the master bedroom. Adrenaline shot through him. Clicking off the flashlight, he ducked out of sight behind the thick trunk of an oak tree.
Someone was in the house and the way the light was circling, that someone was searching for something.
Moving quietly through the darkness, he reached the terrace and crossed to the back door, found it unlocked, turned the knob and slipped into the laundry room. Beau headed down the hall toward the master bedroom, pausing just outside the door to listen for movement inside. The sound of footsteps crossing the deep cream carpet in the bedroom, signaled the intruder was heading in his direction.
Beau flattened himself against the wall behind the door, muscles tense as he waited. The knob turned and the door swung open. Beau stepped out and grabbed the intruder around the waist, heard a gasp as he slammed the man against the wall.
The guy was small but he didn't go down easy. Beau blocked an elbow jab, jerked his knee up to stop a kick to the groin that would have done serious damage to his masculinity, did a quick turn and used the side of his foot to sweep the guy's feet out from under him.
They both went down on the floor of the hall, Beau landing on top, pinning the guy in a wrestling move that took less than three seconds, legs splayed, arms immobilized above the intruder's head. It was the breasts pressing into his chest that said it was a woman.
The height and feminine curves said it was Cassidy Jones.
"Cassidy, what the hell?"
"Beau." Recognizing his voice, she stopped fighting and relaxed a little, shoved hard at his chest. "Get off me. I can't breathe."
Seeing it as payback for the trouble she'd caused, he dipped his head to catch a whiff of her soft perfume, shifted a little just because she felt so good, then lifted himself away.
As he came to his feet, gripped her hand and pulled her up beside him, his irritation returned. It was followed by a shot of suspicion.
"In case you've forgotten, this is a crime scene," he said. Since neither of them were supposed to be there, he tugged her down the hall into the powder room where he could safely turn on the light. "What the hell are you doing here?"
She hesitated just long enough for him to know she was going to lie.
"The truth or I'm calling the cops." Not that it wouldn't cause him as much trouble as her.
Resigned, Cassidy sighed. "I was looking for your father's private papers."
"The police took his laptop and all of his files. You must know that. What makes you think there was something more?"
"I got the impression the senator wasn't the type to leave his personal information lying around. He liked his privacy. He didn't even have security cameras outside the house. My guess is he kept his important papers somewhere safe." She cocked a dark eyebrow. "If there's nothing to find, what, exactly, are you doing here?"
Instead of answering, Beau studied her face, trying to come to a decision. He had looked her up while he'd been sitting in that motel room. Twenty nine years old, graduated at the top of her class from the criminology program at the University of Texas in Dallas, worked for the past five years for Maximum Security.
She'd been born and raised in Houston, family of decorated cops and soldiers, just like she'd said. Reputation as an extremely competent private investigator. More importantly, no connection to the senator or any of his cronies.
"If you'd found the files," he asked, "what were you going to do with them?"
"Depends on what was in them. Steward Reese hired me. That means my loyalty belongs to him. I wouldn't divulge anything personal I found in the files unless it was relevant to catching his killer."
"So you're planning to investigate his death on your own?"
"That's right. I was on the job when he was killed. That makes it personal. That means I'm still on the job and will be until the man who murdered him is in custody."
"What about money? How do you plan to get paid? Because if you think you can use whatever you find out in exchange for some kind of payoff--"
She stiffened. "This isn't about money--not for me--not anymore. It's about justice. I'll do what needs to be done."
He was good a reading people. It was one of the reasons his company had become so successful. She felt responsible in some way for the senator's death and she was determined to make it right.
Of course it wouldn't be the first time he'd been wrong about a woman. He had good instincts, but hell, it wouldn't be the first time he'd been wrong about a man.
"So let's say I know where those papers you're after might be--if they exist at all. I'll tell you what I'll do. You're a private investigator--I'll hire you to help me find my dad's killer."
"Are you serious?"