Something About You
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Collin was feeling very protective of Cameron, more so than usual. For her sake, he was trying not to show it, but he still felt uneasy about her near brush with a killer two nights ago. Of course she’d played the role of the nerves-of-steel prosecutor to the hilt—part of the wall she had put up after her father’s death—but he suspected she was more freaked out than she let on. And it certainly didn’t help that the FBI had assigned Jack Pallas to the investigation. Given their history, his involvement in the case undoubtedly had sent Cameron’s insecurities about showing “weakness” into maximum overdrive.
The sudden reappearance of Jack Pallas in Chicago was indeed an interesting development. Collin remembered how furious Cameron had been, rightfully so, over the infamous “head up her ass” comment. But he also remembered, despite her anger—and he was only one of a handful of people who knew this juicy tidbit—how hard she had tried to dissuade the DOJ from transferring Pallas out of Chicago.
He had always found that particular contradiction quite curious.
Collin was sprinkling cheese on top of the frittatas when the doorbell rang. Considering that it wasn’t his house, and also considering that Cameron hadn’t mentioned that she was expecting anybody, he ignored it. Just as he was putting the skillet under the broiler, the doorbell rang again. Twice.
Collin shut the oven. “All right, all right,” he grumbled. He cut through the dining and living rooms and headed to the front door. It was when he reached to unlock the deadbolt that he realized he was still wearing the oven mitts. He took one off and opened the door. He found two guys on the doorstep, staring at him in surprise.
Collin’s eyes passed over the man in the tailored suit and rested on the taller guy, the one wearing jeans and a blazer.
Well, well, well . . . if it wasn’t Special Agent Jack Pallas in the flesh.
Collin straightened up. It may have been three years, but no introduction was necessary. He knew exactly who the guy was from all the media coverage surrounding the Martino investigation and the subsequent fallout with Cameron. Not to mention, Jack Pallas was not a man who was easily forgotten. Definitely not his type—meaning straight—but that didn’t mean he couldn’t recognize that he was looking at one damn good-looking individual. With a lean, muscular build and a face that was just barely saved from being almost too handsome by that five o’clock shadow that probably started somewhere around 9:00 A.M., Jack Pallas was one of those men that made other men wish they weren’t standing on a doorstep wearing red-checkered oven mitts.
But just as he was starting to feel a bit territorial and defensive, Collin noticed that Pallas was similarly studying him. And maybe the scrutinizing once-over was simply the instinctive reaction of the FBI agent, but a man could usually sense when he was being sized up.
Feeling good about having the upper hand, Collin smiled. “Gentlemen. Can I help you?”
Jack’s eyes lingered on the oven mitts. What he made of them was tough to say.
He pulled a badge out of his jacket. “I’m Special Agent Jack Pallas with the FBI, this is Agent Wilkins. We’d like to speak with Cameron Lynde.”
“She’s in the shower. Been in there for a while, so I don’t think it’ll be much longer.” Collin gestured inside the house. “I’ve got something in the oven. You guys want to come in?”
Leaving the door open, Collin turned and headed back to the kitchen to check on the frittata. As he took the skillet out of the oven and set it on the counter, he watched out of the corner of his eye as the two agents stepped into the living room and shut the front door behind them. He could see Jack doing a quick survey of the house, taking in the relative lack of furniture in the front two rooms. Due to budgetary constraints, Collin knew, Cameron was furnishing the house in a piecemeal fashion. The living and dining rooms were low on her totem pole given, as she had once said, that she didn’t do a lot of formal entertaining.
Being there as often as he was, Collin had gotten used to the sparseness of the decor, the simple leather armchair and reading lamp opposite the fireplace that were the sole furnishings in the living room, and the modest four-person table and chairs that looked practically Lilliputian in the spacious tray-ceiling dining room. He’d hazard a guess that Jack, however, was speculating right then about the circumstances under which a person would own such a big house and leave half of it sitting empty.
Collin pulled the oven mitts off. “You guys are making me nervous by hovering there. Why don’t you come in—I’ll go check on Cam and let her know you’re here.”
He felt Jack’s eyes on him as he made his way up the wide, open staircase that led to the upper floors. On the second floor, he entered the first room on the right, the master suite. The shower was still running, so he knocked and opened the door a crack.
“You’ve got visitors, babe,” Collin said, trying not to let his voice carry. “FBI wants to talk to you.” He shut the door and went back downstairs, where he found the two agents waiting in the kitchen. “It shouldn’t be much longer. Can I get either of you something to drink?”