Thirty-Two and a Half Complications Page 22

He offered me a soft smile before he rounded the corner to the living room.

By the time I finished flipping through the stack—twice—my half-full cup of tea was cold. I hadn’t found the bank robber, and Joe still hadn’t returned.

I stood and rolled my head around, trying to ease the tension in my shoulders as I walked into the empty living room. “Joe?”

“Up here.” His voice floated down from upstairs.

What was he doing upstairs? Livid, I stormed up the staircase. “Where are you?”

“In the bathroom.”

The hall bathroom door stood ajar. What was he doing in there?

I hesitated in the doorway before peering in and found him lying on his back on the floor, his legs sticking out from the bathroom cabinet. “What on earth are you doing down there?”

“I had to use the bathroom, and you were concentrating so hard I didn’t want to disturb you by using the one off the kitchen,” he answered, his voice muffled. “I figured there was one by the bedrooms, so I came upstairs and found it. But when I flushed the toilet, I realized the water in the tank keeps running unless the handle’s jiggled, so I fixed it. Then I noticed the sink was clogged up, so I’m fixing that too.”

“Why?”

He grunted, then slid out and sat up. “Because it needed to be done. These old houses require lots of work and you know I like tinkering with things.”

“Joe—”

“Yeah, I know. I’m here for a professional matter, but I found some tools under the sink and it gave me something to do while I waited on you.” He picked up the wrench and got to his feet. “Did you finish going through the photos?”

“Yeah, twice. I didn’t find him. Are you sure you brought all the ones that fit the parameters Mason gave you?”

He sighed. “Unfortunately, yes. It means the guy’s probably never been arrested before.”

“So what happens now?”

“I can arrange for you to meet with a sketch artist, but it’s pricey and you told Taylor you only saw the guys with their masks on. There’s bound to be questions we won’t be able to answer.”

“So that’s it?”

“No. The guy threatened you. We have that on record, so I’ll have a sheriff’s car sit in front outside your house all night while you sleep.”

“Are you sure it’s necessary?”

Pinning his gaze on the faucet, he turned the handles on and off. “Why don’t we look at your history? We’ll start with the latest. Crocker. He escaped from prison and came after you. Before that, Jonah’s mother stalked and kidnapped you. If someone had been watching you, you wouldn’t have been kidnapped. You wouldn’t have almost gotten killed.”

I didn’t respond. I noticed he didn’t mention that Mason had been the one to save me.

“Before that, there was the killer who should have been on trial instead of Bruce Wayne. If a deputy had been tailing you, you wouldn’t have been attacked in your home and you wouldn’t have been kidnapped at gunpoint later.” He pushed past me through the bathroom door and moved down the hall toward the staircase. “And then there was me.”

“You?” I asked, following him down the stairs.

“I was working for Daniel Crocker undercover, Rose, and yet you trusted me.”

“Newsflash. I didn’t trust you, but my visions kept telling me that I was going to die in a few days anyway. I figured I had nothing to lose.”

“You needed protection. I practically blew my cover to protect you.”

“Does all this have a point?”

“Yes, that you have a penchant for trouble. Having a protection detail watch your house is a logical decision.” He gestured toward the front door. “I fixed the lock in the doorknob. I noticed that it was hard to turn so I oiled the mechanism.” He looked back at me in disbelief. “Honestly, I can’t believe Mason hasn’t done these things for you.”

“He hasn’t had time. After he got out of the hospital, he’s been putting in long hours at the DA’s office to try and catch up, not to mention the fact that his boss keeps throwing all this extra work at him. I’m sure the last thing he wants to do is fix things in a house that’s not even his.”

He looked unimpressed. “Hmm.”

I put my hands on my hips. “What on earth does that mean?”

“It means that I did plenty of things around your house and your nursery and they weren’t mine.”

I closed my eyes and leaned the back of my head against the wall. “Stop. If you care one iota about me, then stop.”

He moved closer and pressed his body against mine. “Rose, I know I’ve hurt you and I’m handling everything wrong. I know it,” he whispered, staring into my face. “But when I found out that you were a hostage in that bank robbery…that your life had been threatened, I nearly went crazy.” His hand slid up my neck, burying in my hair and tilting my face up so he could search my eyes. “The thought of losing the chance to win you back made me desperate. I want you to know how special you are to me. How irreplaceable. I could search the ends of the earth and never find another woman like you.” His other hand held my other cheek. “I need you, Rose. I am nothing without you. Do you want me to beg?” His eyes were wild with desperation. “Do you want me to get down on my knees? Because I’ll do it. I’ll do anything.”

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