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Excerpt copyright T. L. Haddix.

All Rights Reserved.

 

Chapter Two

 

Sunday morning, Joely hit the hotel’s gym to do her morning yoga routine. She’d walked into the hotel last night expecting to grab a room and crash, but when she’d reached the front desk, she’d been stunned to find her brother Jason checking in. As his room was a double, they’d ended up rooming together.

As much as she’d wanted to know what in the heck was going on, considering that Jason had been married barely over a year and by all rights should be home in his own bed, she hadn’t had the energy to find out. She hardly remembered the ride up in the elevator or changing into her pajamas in the bathroom. If she’d moved after she’d hit the bed, she couldn’t tell it.

Jason had still been tucked up in his bed when she woke up, and feeling the need to move after having been cramped up in a flying tin can for so long, she’d headed to the gym. She’d had the place to herself until about ten minutes ago when a spray-tanned and well-coiffed man had joined her. He’d been eyeing her rather blatantly, but thus far as he lifted weights, he hadn’t approached her. When Jason came in dressed in running gear five minutes later, her relief was almost palpable.

“What time did you wake up?” He got on one of the treadmills and started it up.

“About an hour ago,” she said, taking the treadmill beside him. “Wanna race?”

Jason glanced at her. “You think you can keep up with me?”

Joely shot him a cocky grin. “I’ve been working on myself since you saw me last. Come on, old man. Let’s see what you have.”

And they were off. Fifteen minutes later, she was gaining on him when his phone rang. He hopped off the treadmill with a shrug and a “what can you do” grin, and Joely rolled her eyes. She slowed down, stopping in time to hear the tail end of his conversation. The sour expression on his face surprised her.

“Who in the world was that? You look like you’ve sucked on a lemon.”

“Gordon’s brother, Garrett.”

Joely’s interest ratcheted up. One of the perks of coming home was the idea of meeting Garrett Gordon. She’d known his brother for a couple of years now, and she’d never hidden the fact that she thought he was gorgeous, teasing him by calling him “the hottie.” The nickname never failed to get a laugh from Stacy, his wife, and Joely used it as often as she could. That it flustered the otherwise confident former FBI agent was whipped cream on top of the sundae.

Galen, known simply as Gordon to just about everyone aside from his brother and his wife, was a member of the extended Hudson family by proxy. He’d gone to law school with Chase, and last spring, he’d married Detective Stacy Kirchner. He was Garrett’s older brother by ten years, and as she understood it, it was only after they’d become adults that the two men had formed a relationship.

As Stacy and Joely were friends, they’d kept up with each other online after Joely left for college. While she’d heard quite a bit about Garrett, Joely had never met him. That said, Stacy swore he bore a striking resemblance to Gordon, which intrigued Joely. The pictures she’d seen showed only a slight resemblance, but Stacy assured her it was much stronger in person. And Garrett’s four-year-old daughter, Emma, bore an even more marked resemblance to Gordon.

Jason took a shower first, then hurried downstairs to the breakfast area where he was scheduled to meet Garrett. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to see the mysterious man for herself, Joely rushed through her own shower and got dressed in the warmest clothes she had with her—a pair of thick leggings under cotton trousers and a tunic-style, long-sleeved shirt. She pulled her hair up and back in a clip, grabbed her key card and her tea kit, and headed downstairs. She hoped to have some time to interrogate Jason about what was going on with Carrie before Garrett showed up.

When she reached the breakfast area, she saw that Jason had a full plate of food in front of him. She grabbed a mug with some hot water and a small dish of fruit and joined him.

“What’s that?” he asked as she started building her cup of tea using medicinal herbs.

“Ayurvedic tea. Want some? I drink it every morning.”

She’d radically changed her diet after arriving in India and getting very sick, so sick that she’d been hospitalized for over a week. Given her mother’s penchant for overreacting where she was concerned, Joely had figured that as soon as Jackie heard, she would have had someone from the U.S. consulate there to extract her from the wilds of India. Either that or Joely herself would have gotten a long lecture on how she had brought the illness down on her own head. So she’d not mentioned it to them. Telling them now was not something she was anticipating.

Jason was eyeing the dried herbs with suspicion. “I’ll pass, thanks.”

“So what’s going on with Carrie?”

As they ate, he brought her up-to-date on the inquiry into Ron Smith’s death, which had turned into a homicide investigation. They were in the middle of an intense discussion when a dark-haired man walked into the room, then headed their way.

Joely sucked in a breath. Stacy hadn’t been kidding. She’d have known him as Gordon’s brother anywhere. And damn the luck, he was just as attractive as Gordon, perhaps even more so. She struggled to hide her reaction, not wanting Jason to see how flustered the simple sight of the man had made her.

As he approached the table, his scowl deepened. She realized how it must look, her sitting so close to Jason in the lobby of a hotel this early in the morning. At least for a split second, until she figured he had to know who she was. His words as he sat down dispelled that notion, however.

“Does she know you’re married?” Garrett asked.

A flash of true anger flared in Jason’s eyes. “Excuse me?”

“Yes, she knows he’s married. She was in the wedding,” she told Garrett, deciding to tease him a little. His eyes were a bright, sparkling blue, sapphire and brilliant. She leaned forward, smiling at him coquettishly even as she gave an internal whimper of appreciation. “So you’re the hottie’s brother. It’s a shame your eyes aren’t green like his.”

Liar, she told herself. Garrett’s eyes were compelling, and she almost felt entranced as she watched him watch her.

One of his eyebrows went up. “I’m assuming you mean Galen?”

God, even his voice was sexy. She’d seen purple prose in romance novels that described the hero’s voice as gravel over silk or some such, but she’d always discounted that sort of flowery language. But hearing Garrett… she could listen to him read the phone book. He had a low timbre to his voice and just a hint of a Southern drawl.

There was little doubt in her mind the man sitting just across the small table was dangerous for her equilibrium, and that made keeping her cool even more vital. Going along with her role as the ingénue, she nodded. “The hottie. Yes.”

Garrett’s eyes narrowed, and for a split second, speculation flickered in his gaze. “He’s married, too. You’d do well to remember that. My sister-in-law doesn’t take kindly to other women getting too familiar with her husband.”

Joely sighed dramatically. “You’re single, though, right?”

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