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Not a bullshit artist. Straight up. She bared all. If she cared about you, she let it all hang out.
She had no clue McFarland was into dirty dealings. If Deck didn’t already know, these reminders solidified that in his head.
“Should have done that, babe. I would have come early,” he replied, his arms loose around her waist and he didn’t let go.
“Well, I’m driving, and if we met earlier, I’d probably be tempted to have too many beers which would require a taxi ride which would be money I couldn’t dump into my house which would be bad,” she returned.
On another smile, she pulled out of his arms in that natural way that he also forgot about or more likely buried. Not like she was pulling away but like she was taking you along for her ride, wherever that would lead.
This time, she led them into the booth, Emme sliding in her side and he followed on his. She shoved aside the menu the waitress had set in front of her seat before she dumped her purse in the seat, unraveled her scarf and took off her jacket to expose a form-fitting sweater that showed plainly she also didn’t lose much of her tits.
She did this talking.
“So, what business are you in town doing?” Her head tipped to the side and she grinned as she shrugged off her coat. “Or can you tell me without killing me?”
“Live in Chantelle, babe. Had business at the police station here and no, I can’t tell you. Though if I did, I wouldn’t have to kill you. But I would lose a contract.”
She dropped her coat by her side and her eyes came back to his, brows raised. “Chantelle?”
“How weird,” she muttered. “You there, me here.” She settled more firmly into the booth by tipping to the side, shifting up a calf to sit on it then sitting back and focusing on him again, and he forgot that too.
She always sat on her leg or cross-legged or with her knees up, arms around her calves or with both legs twisted under her, folding herself up, tangling her limbs. She also talked with her hands and body, moving, twisting, flicking, gesturing. She was rarely sedentary, even during a conversation. He had no idea why but he’d always found all that appealing too. It was like her personality was so lush, so interesting, it spilled out in everything she did.
When she finished, her eyes flashed and she murmured, “Chace.”
It was a guess as to why he lived there. And if she’d been around awhile, she’d know Chace was close. He’d made the papers. Repeatedly.
“Part of it, yeah,” he told her. “Other part is, view doesn’t suck around here.”
She tipped back her head, exposing the elegant vulnerability of her jaw in full force and laughed her smooth, low laugh.
He’d buried how much he’d liked watching her laugh too.
And seeing it, he was reminded how much he really wanted to taste her jaw.
Maybe dinner before getting her shot of McFarland wasn’t a good idea.
She stopped laughing and again looked at him. “You are not wrong. The view out here doesn’t suck. Grew up in Denver, always proud my city had a backdrop of the Front Range.” She leaned in. “Better being in the mountains.” She leaned back. “Anyway, please, God, tell me you’re after those jackasses who’re targeting high school kids to commit felonies.”
Jesus. Straight to it.
And Emme, so smart, she’d figured it out.
“Can’t talk about it, Emme,” he said quietly, studying her as she studied him.
“Well, let’s just say, I hope you are. You’re on the case,” another grin, “their days are numbered.”
Deck said nothing but he knew one thing. If she was full of shit, he was retiring.
Suddenly, her face changed, her chin dipped and she became engrossed in unwrapping her silverware from her napkin and she did this saying, “I hope you’re here because you want to be here and not here because you feel you have to be out of some old-acquaintance duty.” Her eyes slowly lifted to his. “I was so excited to see you, I didn’t think about—”
Deck cut her off, “I’m here ’cause I wanna be here.”
“Good,” she said softly.
“Long time ago, Emme.”
She nodded. “Yeah.” Her eyes moved over his face. “Glad that’s… well, time heals.”
It didn’t until last summer.
Now it had.
He was saved from commenting when the waitress showed. Emme, not looking at her menu, ordered a Guinness, fried mozzarella sticks to start, followed by cheesy Texas toast and pork chops.
At her order, Deck was vaguely disappointed. It appeared she’d turned into one of those women who pretended she didn’t give a shit about food when she was in company, therefore, to keep her slim figure, she likely starved herself when she wasn’t.
He couldn’t recall paying much attention to how she used to eat, though she put on a great spread at her frequent dinner parties, but he also didn’t recall her having issues with food or Elsbeth mentioning it. And the way Deck’s brain worked, he recalled everything.
Deck ordered a Newcastle and the meatloaf dinner and the waitress moved away.
“Right, so,” Emme started the minute she left. “Tell me everything.”
He cut to the chase immediately.
“My line,” Deck replied, and her brows drew together.
“Babe,” he said low, “not lost on me and you can’t think it is that you are not the you I used to know. Act it, yeah. Look it, no.”
She waved her hand in front of her face before dropping it to the table and stating, “It’s not a big deal.”
“Emmanuelle, I didn’t recognize you until you smiled.”
She blinked. “Really?”
“You?” she asked, sounding stunned, knowing he forgot nothing, not a face, not a name, not a memory.
“Me,” he answered. “Heard your voice call my name. Recognized that. You came at me, I had no f**kin’ clue who you were until you smiled.”
“Wow. I grew my hair, Jacob. And got some highlights,” she told him. “Really not a big deal.”
“And took off weight and got a new wardrobe.”
“Well, that was… it was… well,” she shrugged. “Necessary.” Another grin. “And fun. The second part, that is.”
At that he felt his brows draw together and his gut get tight. “Necessary?”