Thirty-Six and a Half Motives Page 42

“And that she’ll share it with us.”

“That too.”

We made our way back to the office building and then headed downstairs. Jed was standing outside the picture window—exactly where I’d seen Sam Teagen the night before—his back to us as he scanned the street. He had either talked to Skeeter or seen us on the roof. Maybe both. He turned around and stared at me, and a look was all it took to know he wasn’t very happy with me. Not that I blamed him.

Neely Kate unlocked the door, and Jed came inside.

“What the hell did you two think you were doing?”

“Looking for the bag.”

“That wasn’t part of the plan.”

“I had a chance to look, so I took it. The bag was gone from the Dumpster. Which means Teagen and his buddy probably found it. So they know we know about the file on Roberta.”

He scowled. “Skeeter told me about the granddaughter and Bruce Wayne.”

Tears burned behind my eyes, but I wasn’t giving in to them. “We’re gonna find them. They’ll be just fine. We need to talk to Hilary pronto, but first I have to pick up a copy of the journal page from Mason.”

He stared at me without saying a word.

“No protest?” I asked.

Jed’s eyebrows rose. “Would it do any good?”

I snorted. “No.”

“Then why waste my breath? What’s the plan?”

“I’m meeting Mason in the parking garage. At his car. He has an assigned space, so I know where it is.”

“Okay, we can cover you while you meet him.”

“No, I’m going alone.”

“What? No way.”

I put my hands on my hips. “No? You don’t get to boss me around, Jed Carlisle. Nobody gets to boss me around.” I had to admit that I liked the freedom of not having to answer to anyone. There was no need to seek permission or approval. But the utter selfishness of the thought wasn’t lost on me. “I’m meeting Mason by his car—alone. I’m getting the photocopy—then we’re going to track down Hilary, and we’re going to bring the page from the journal to Skeeter’s bookkeeper. Now, you can come to the garage entrance, Jed, but that’s it.”

“It could be a trap,” Neely Kate said.

“With Mason?” I asked in disbelief.

She didn’t say anything.

“It’s Mason, Neely Kate.”

“I just think you shouldn’t trust anyone right now,” she said. “Except for us.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said, grabbing my purse from my desk. “I’m goin’.” There was no way on God’s green Earth that Mason would hurt or betray me. I refused to entertain the idea. “Neely Kate, why don’t you track down Hilary so we can go see her when I’m done? If anyone can figure out where to find her, it’s you.”

The parking garage had been added to the square about five years ago. It was on the other side of the street from the courthouse, connected to it by an underground tunnel—the same one that led to the county jail. The small garage was reserved for courthouse employees, and Mason had finally gotten his own parking space a few months earlier. While it protected the vehicles from the elements, it was dark and creepy.

I walked down the street, not caring who saw me. Since the tunnel under the road opened up and then split to the jail and the parking garage, I decided to go in through the county jail entrance and backtrack to the garage.

Jed grudgingly admitted it was a good idea. “If Teagen’s watching, he might think you’re going to see Deputy Simmons. He’ll never suspect where you’re really going.”

Nevertheless, he decided to wait for me at the part of the tunnel that opened to the basement level of the garage. I had to admit that the lack of sunlight or sky made me slightly claustrophobic—but I pushed on anyway. My fears weren’t going to hold me back anymore.

Mason was standing next to his car, looking toward the entrance to the street. I stopped to take in the sight of him, noticing how anxious he looked. The heels of my boots made my approach surprisingly quiet. Mason didn’t hear me until I was a car’s length away. The look of relief that covered his face when he saw me stole my breath away. He wrapped his arms around me and held me close, resting his cheek on top of my head.

I clung to him, afraid to give into my feelings, but this was Mason. No matter what had transpired between us over the past week, I still wanted him to hold me close and tell me everything would be okay.

He tilted my head back so I was looking up at him and then searched my eyes. “What happened last night?” he asked.

I slowly shook my head. “Off limits.”

Despite his obvious frustration, he nodded. Then he lowered his mouth to mine, giving me a soft kiss. His hand sank into my hair, pulling me closer as his mouth became more demanding, but before the kiss could become too heated, he lifted his head.

“What you’re doing scares me to death,” he said in a ragged whisper. “But you’re right. You saved us both as the Lady in Black. You took down J.R. Simmons.”

He paused. “Like I said earlier, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching since yesterday afternoon, and I realized that I have to trust you to finish this. It’s important that you know that.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. “Thank you,” I said.

“I’ve got a lot of things to figure out when this is all said and done, but you are not one of them,” he said. “You are the only thing I want. I’ll give up all the rest as long as I’m with you.”

I sighed. “Mason.”

“I know. You broke up with me, and I understand your reasoning, but I’m here, Rose. I’m here waiting for you. I need you to know that.”

“Thank you.” I pressed my cheek against his chest. He had always been the reward at the end of this craziness. What would it mean if that changed? Would it all have been for nothing?

I gave myself a good thirty seconds to enjoy the comfort of his arms around me before I pulled free. “Did you bring the page?”

“Yes, and like I said, I brought you something else, too.” He gestured toward the car. “But I need to give it to you inside the car.”

I hesitated for a second, wondering what it could be, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I walked around to the passenger side and climbed in; Mason sat in the driver’s seat. I shut the door and gave him a strained smile. “You’re not going to drive off with me, are you?”

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