Forbidden pleasure, p.16
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       Forbidden Pleasure, p.16

         Part #8 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
 
Page 16

 

  “So we’re looking at someone who couldn’t get into the investigative field for whatever reason?”

  Mac nodded. “Someone who managed to get in close to the victims. Close enough to gain access into their homes. Call Dell, have him interview these victims again. Get a list of close friends and family who could have had that access. Let’s see what we get when we run the names. ”

  “That will take awhile, too,” Jethro pointed out.

  There was a warning flaring in his gut that didn’t make sense.

  “Have him get started on it. We could get a strike early. ”

  “I only have a few days’ enforced vacation left. ” Jethro leaned back in his chair. “I’ve been considering a real vacation. I’ll put in for a few weeks’ leave if you can work this with me. It might give us an advantage if Dell’s working the information and we follow it from here. ”

  Mac tapped his fingers against the arm of the chair. “Do it. ” He finally nodded, not certain why the tingling in the back of his neck was becoming an itch. “It’s going to take a couple of days for Kei’s program to finish running the Internet and then we’ll need a few days to clear out the extraneous junk it pulls in. When it’s finished, we’ll see what we have. ”

  Mac stared at his computer, his eyes still narrowed, working through the information that had come up so far.

  “I’ll work up a list of questions for Dell to take with him,” he told Jethro. “He’s a good field agent, but he’s not the best when it comes to questioning victims. ”

  “No shit,” Jethro murmured. “I hadn’t had time to fully investigate all seven victims and their associations. ”

  “You would have soon. ” Mac breathed out heavily. “What concerns me is the silence between my last case and six months ago. The four cases took place in the Alexandria-D. C. area within a period of four years. Then nothing after that until the last three. I wonder where he went?”

  “With any luck, Keiley’s genius will pull that one out. ” Jethro nodded at Mac’s computer. “Too bad we can’t hook into the law enforcement databases with that baby. ”

  “It would take years,” Mac sighed. “Keiley keeps threatening to fine-tune it, but she hasn’t figured out how to make it work through millions of cases amid dozens of agencies. We’ll be waiting days just on Web and newspaper hits in the Virginia-Maryland area. Reach out further and you’re waiting weeks and months. ”

  “The more you narrow the criteria, the quicker it gets?” Jethro asked.

  Mac nodded. “But at this point, there’s not enough information to find a single common denominator other than the spouses who are in the investigative field. The amount of key words I’ve had to use will fill the program with junk as well. But it could give us a clue. Something else to move on. ”

  “At this point, anything would help. ” Jethro shrugged. “I’ll contact Dell and get him to work on the additional information. And pray he doesn’t go to the director. ”

  Mac grinned. “Dell won’t go to the director. He’ll just demand credit. ”

  “He can have the credit. ”

  Mac glanced at Jethro sharply. The edge of frustration in Jethro’s voice was telling.

  “You’ve about had it, haven’t you?” he asked his friend, seeing the signs clearly.

  “I stay suspended more often than I’m at my desk. It’s becoming a pain in the ass. ”

  “So stop beating the shit out of the perps,” Mac suggested.

  “Might as well tell me to stop breathing. Sons of bitches. We spend months, years, working to catch them and the next thing you know some wing-tipped fancy-pants lawyer has them out on a technicality. That or a witness disappears and turns up dead or suddenly information is corrupted and the bastards are back on the streets destroying lives again. It pisses me off, Mac. ”

  Yeah, it pissed Mac off, too. It was one of the reasons he had resigned and come back to the farm. Keiley and the temptation Sinclair’s Club afforded hadn’t been the only reasons. They had been prevailing reasons, but there had been others.

  “Cameron’s firm is doing well,” Mac pointed out, referring to Jethro’s cousin, the investigator for Sinclair. “He’s been after you for years to join him. ”

  “I’m thinking about it. ” Jethro propped his feet on the desktop as he leaned back further into the chair. “The new director doesn’t appreciate my unique abilities,” he grunted sarcastically. “Resigning beats being fired any day of the week. ”

  Mac shook his head. Jethro was the bad boy of the Bureau, there had never been any doubt about that.

  “I saw Keiley this afternoon before she left. ” Jethro said, changing the subject yet again. “She was nervous as hell. ”

  Mac felt his body clench in sudden arousal.

  “Did she mention last night?”

  “She didn’t mention it, but she was remembering it. That was a hell of a chance you took last night. ”

  Mac was well aware of the chances he was taking with his marriage. He didn’t need Jethro to point it out to him.

  “I’ll take care of my marriage, Jethro,” Mac sighed as he slid his chair back and rose to his feet. “See what else you can pull out of Dell. I have work to do outside. ”

  “Need any help?” Jethro asked instead. “I’ll get more out of Dell tonight after he goes home. That leaves the day pretty free. ”

  Mac glanced at the clock. Keiley was due home anytime, unless she decided to take lunch with any of the women on the charity committee, which she sometimes she did. Her friendship with Maxine Bright seemed to be growing, and with it, Keiley had begun settling into country life much easier than he had anticipated.

  Maxine was a good woman. She and her husband, Joseph, were two of the few friends from high school Mac had kept up with over the years. Joseph had kept him up with local gossip and helped with investments enough to make certain that when he made the move home, he would have the cushion he needed to make the farm thrive.

  Of course, Mac hadn’t anticipated at the time that he would marry a woman whose hobby was as lucrative as Keiley’s career. The woman thought it was fun to play with computer programs, where Mac tended to pull hair when he had to mess with them overmuch.

  “Come on, then,” he finally answered Jethro’s suggestion to help with the farm work. “I have to move some cattle and check on my favorite mare. The foal she’s getting ready to throw is a potential moneymaker. I like to baby her. ”

  “You baby all the females,” Jethro grunted as he rose to his feet. “That’s why they all love you. ”

  “And you just wash over them like a tidal wave,” Mac shot back. “Scares the hell out of them, Jethro. That bad-boy persona needs a little adjustment here and there. ”

  “My adjustments are fine. ”

  “I can tell. You’re currently without a steady lover. Not like you, my man. ”

  “It’s just a slump. ”

  “Be careful, it might become a way of life. ”

  Keiley slammed the front door, kicked her sandals to the side of the entryway, and threw her purse and briefcase on the small chair that sat to the side.

  Maxine had been a fountain of information once they were well away from the women of the charity committee. And that fount was filled with small-town politics and petty jealousies. She had tried to ignore Delia’s pettiness for three years, but it was now getting out of control.

  Watch your back, Kei. Delia never forgave Mac for leaving town and not marrying her. She hates you. And she’s determined to hurt you. I don’t know what she’s up to, but she’s gloating and so are her little chickies that she runs with.

  Insanity. Delia had married one of the richest and most influential men in the state of North Carolina, and she was still pissed off about the one who got away.

  How had Delia known about the sharing Jethro and Mac had done in Virginia? Who did she know?

  “Keiley?” Mac
stepped from the hallway that led to the washroom and kitchen from the back of the house. “What’s wrong?”

  “Did you fuck her before you left all those years ago?” She suddenly snapped. “Is that why she decided to make my life hell? Because she never forgot her first fuck?”

  His eyes widened as he moved closer. “Did I fuck who?”

  “Delia Staten. ” Her hands went on her hips as she confronted him. “And who in this little neck of the woods, Mac, knew about your and Jethro’s little high jinks in Virginia?”

  Surprise glittered in his eyes then. “No one here knows, Kei. ”

  “Someone knows Mac, or they’re psychic, because the latest little piece of gossip to reach Delia Staten is that you and Jethro are now sharing me. ”

  She watched as he tensed, his broad shoulders appearing wider, his chest beneath the gray t-shirt he wore appearing wider.

  “They’re guessing. ”

  “Oh, you suddenly believe in coincidence now, Mac?” she asked him tightly. “Weren’t you the one who told me more than once that there was no such thing as coincidence?”

  “The rules are different in small towns, Kei. ” He grimaced roughly. “Here, rumor and supposition are a game all their own, sweetheart, you know that. ”

  “They’re gossiping about me, Mac,” she whispered. “Hell, I haven’t even done anything yet and they’re gossiping about me. ”

  She raised her hand as he started toward her, his expression suddenly quiet, thoughtful.

  “I need to change clothes. Shower. Think. ” She shook her head as she headed for the stairs. “I’ll be down later to fix dinner. ”

  “Keiley. ” He caught her arm as she headed to the stairs.

  Keiley stared at his fingers wrapped around her wrist before lifting her gaze slowly to Mac.

  “I said I need to think,” she told him icily. “I will not step into this little game you and Jethro want to play without considering where it will go and how it will end. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can alpha me into this, Mac. ”

  “Alpha you?” His brow arched. “Is this another word for force?”

  “It’s another word for all this supersexy dominance you think you can suddenly control me with. The dominance doesn’t control me, Mac. You don’t control that. And you won’t use it to get what you want until I decide it’s what I want. Do you understand me?”

  His other hand moved, lightning fast, cupping the back of her head as his fingers speared into her hair.

  “Understand me,” he said then with heavy sensuality as he pulled her closer, his lips a hairsbreadth from hers, stroking them, reminding her of his kiss last night, of the fiery storm that had overtaken her. “Our sex life is just that. Ours. I’ll take care of Delia. I’ll take care of anyone, anywhere, who decides my business is theirs. ”

  Keiley gasped as he pulled her to him then, one arm going around her back as the other hand held her head in place and his lips covered hers.

  Like the night before. Like every kiss they had ever shared combined into one. The heat that blazed from it was searing. The feel of his tongue controlling hers, his lips holding hers, his powerful chest beneath her palms.

  She couldn’t touch him enough. He couldn’t kiss her enough.

  Her hands pushed up his chest, twined in his hair, pulled him closer to her. Dragged him closer into the kiss, tried to climb into him.

  Damn him. Damn her. A whimper left her throat as her back met the wall and Mac lifted her to him.

  Rage and fear flowed through her. Rage at Delia Staten for daring to strike at where she was most vulnerable. Fear because she had been struck. And hunger. Oh, God, the hunger he inspired in her was too much to bear. It burned through the anger and the fear. It wrapped her in white-hot wonder, filled her with blistering pleasure.
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