His Secret Life. Debra Webb
around and pick a spot to wait him out. If he didn’t show up in a reasonable length of time, she’d have no choice but to hunt him down.
“Get out of the car.”
Jane’s breath caught at the shouted command. She turned to stare out the window. Troy Benson stood at her door, the business end of a large handgun aimed at her face.
“Get out,” he repeated.
So much for waiting until she heard from Ian.
Jane didn’t really mind having to bump up her schedule. The only part that really bothered her was the fact that his gun was seriously larger than hers.
“Hands up.” Troy Benson backed up a step as the driver’s side door opened.
The woman slowly raised her hands as she dropped her feet to the ground and pushed out of the vehicle. “I don’t know what this is about, mister, but I’m lost. All I need are some directions on how to get to town.”
He would just bet she needed directions. “You have some ID?”
She nodded. “In my bag.”
He motioned to his right with his weapon. “Step away from the car.”
When she’d sidestepped, not taking her eyes off him, to the middle of the road, he reached, equally careful not to take his eyes off her, for the purse sitting on the console inside the vehicle. He closed the door and jerked his head toward the place he called home for now. “This way.”
She didn’t argue, which surprised him. It shouldn’t have. The woman wasn’t lost. She had been watching him all afternoon. She’d come into the diner earlier that day.
Leading the way, she walked along the gravel road, then made the left into the dirt driveway leading to the house. Midway down the drive, she hesitated.
“Look.” She glanced over her shoulder at him. “I don’t want any trouble. I just need to find my aunt’s house. She called and I haven’t seen her since I was a kid and I don’t have a clue where she lives except that it’s—”
“Keep moving,” he ordered, cutting her off. She could just save all that babble. Whatever she was up to, he would soon know.
As she climbed the rickety steps to his porch, he considered the idea that he should have left already. He had known this was coming. What a damned fool he was. This town didn’t mean anything to him. The job damned sure didn’t. Still, he hated like hell to pick up and leave. He’d gotten close to a couple of people, as close as he dared anyway.
Stupid. Way stupid.
Anyone close to him was a target. He knew better. But four years had allowed him to lose his edge…to believe it was over.
It would never be over.
The only thing he could do to protect those around him was to get the hell out of here as fast as possible.
At the front door she stopped and faced him defiantly. “Okay, I’m not going in there with you.” She stared him straight in the eye. “You’ll just have to shoot me here, I guess.”
The lady was tall and slim, but not at all helpless or frail looking. In fact, she looked damned determined and fearless for a woman lost on a deserted road.
Troy reached past her and pushed the door open. “I don’t know who you are—” he held his aim steady on her chest “—but I do know who you aren’t. You aren’t lost and you definitely aren’t looking for your aunt’s house. Now get inside.”
A pulse-pounding moment passed with her staring defiantly at him. No way was she some lost stranger. The lady was way too steady, way too in control. Evidently she thought he was as stupid as his recent actions had shown him to be.
“Fine.” She executed an about-face and stamped inside. “But I’m warning you, my aunt’s expecting me. She’ll call the police if I don’t show up soon. I left her a message saying I was in the area.”
Brave, determined and smart. He kicked the door closed behind him. “Sit.” He gestured to the sofa.
When she’d taken a seat, he plopped her purse onto the back of the closest chair and dug through it. He tossed the usual female items into the chair’s seat. Brush. PDA. Lip balm. He opened her wallet. Jane R. Sutton. Chicago. Twenty-nine. No other forms of ID, no credit cards. One bank check card. A picture of her with an older woman.
“That’s my aunt,” she piped up. “Like I said, she’s expecting me.”
He tossed the purse onto the seat with the other stuff, then walked around to sit on the coffee table directly in front of her. That her eyes didn’t flare with fear and she didn’t draw away with the same confirmed his suspicions.
“Why are you here?”
“I told you—”
“The truth, Ms. Sutton—if that’s even your real name,” he fired back. “I want the truth now.”
She shook her head. Dropped her hands into her lap and shrugged. “You’ve got problems, mister. Have you seen a shrink about your paranoid delusions?”
He ignored her question. “Who sent you?”
“My mother,” she retorted. “She thinks her sister needs help after her surgery. I’m supposed to stay with her a couple of weeks.”
She was good. He’d give her that. “Just stop,” he warned. “I’m not playing that game with you.”
That she could look so innocent only fueled his fury. “I tell you what, Ms. Sutton. I’ll tie you up in the basement.” He stood. “And when you’re ready to tell me the truth, we’ll try this again.”
There was the widening of eyes he’d anticipated several minutes ago. She did not want to be tied up.
“Wait.” She leaned forward a bit. “I’ll tell you the truth. Just don’t put me in the basement.”
He resumed his seat on the coffee table. “Why are you watching me?”
She heaved a big breath. “I’m from the Trib. My boss wanted me to get the story on how you rescued Stuart Norcross’s wife and son. It’s a big story. Maybe you don’t realize, but Norcross is—”
“I know who he is.” Troy’s fury simmered. He should have left the woman and child before the cops arrived. But the woman had been so shaken, her injuries possibly life-threatening, he had been afraid to leave her alone with the child until help arrived.
So much for the good Samaritan bit.
“Then you know that any event, large or small, in his life is big news.” She chewed her bottom lip a second. “I need the story. That’s all I came for, I swear.” She glanced at the gun. “I won’t say anything about your lack of social etiquette.”
Troy searched Jane Sutton’s face, then her eyes, looking for the lie. It was entirely possible that one of the cops had leaked his description to a reporter friend, especially one as determined and persuasive as this one. She could be telling the truth. But her demeanor, her lack of fear of the weapon in his hand, indicated otherwise. If she was a reporter, she had a background in something else. Yes, Stuart Norcross was a big deal in the social and business pages, but this story wasn’t big enough to merit staring down a gun barrel to get.
“If you get your story, you’ll leave me alone?” he ventured. “That’s all you came here for?”
She nodded. “The readers love hero stories. Especially the ones about ordinary guys who come to the rescue. They’ll eat it up.”
“And show up at the hero’s door wanting autographs and photo ops,” he countered.