Key of Light Page 17

She hadn’t particularly wanted the beer, until he’d used it as a hammer. “Why do you want to know about her specifically? Why not Zoe?”

“My interest in Zoe is more academic. I can hardly start the wild and passionate affair I have in mind with Malory until I know all her secrets and desires.”

“You’re going to make me sick, Flynn.”

He merely tipped up his beer, took a long, slow sip, while holding hers out of reach.

“I’m not your silly dog who’ll beg for cookies. I’m only going to tell you so I can sit back and laugh derisively when she blows you off. I do like her,” she added and held out a hand for the beer. “She strikes me as smart, ambitious, open-minded without being naive. She worked at The Gallery, just got canned over a dispute with the owner’s new trophy wife. Since Malory called the new wife a bimbo, to her face, I’d say she doesn’t always rate high on the tact and diplomacy scale, but calls ’em like she sees ’em. She likes good clothes and knows how to wear them—spends too much on them, which is why she was broke before this morning’s windfall. She’s not currently in a relationship and would like to own her own business.”

“You really buried the lead.” He took a long, slow sip. “So, she’s not dating anyone. And she’s gutsy. Not only does she tell off the boss’s wife, but she drives alone, at night, to the spookiest house in western Pennsylvania.”

“So did I.”

“I can’t have a mad, passionate affair with you, sweetie. It would just be wrong.”

“Now, there, you have made me sick.”

But she smiled when he leaned over and kissed her cheek. “Why don’t you move in here for a couple weeks?”

Her dark chocolate eyes went baleful. “Stop looking out for me, Flynn.”

“Can’t do it.”

“If I wouldn’t move in when I was broke, why would I now that I’m flush? You know I like my own space, and you do too. Such as it is. And the goblins of Warrior’s Peak are not going to come down and spirit me away in the night.”

“If they were goblins, they wouldn’t worry me.” But because he knew her, he eased off. “How about telling your new pal Malory what an amazing man I am. All brainy and sensitive and buff.”

“You want me to lie to her?”

“You’re mean, Dana.” He gulped down more beer. “You’re just mean.”


WHEN he was alone, Flynn settled down in his upstairs study. He preferred the term “study” to “office,” as an office meant work. No way around it. In a study, you could, well, study, or nap or read, or stare into space thinking long thoughts. You could certainly work, but it wasn’t a requirement.

He’d outfitted the room with a big, brawny desk and a couple of wide leather chairs that he thought felt as if you might sink into them until you disappeared.

He had files as well, but he disguised them with manly-looking chests. One wall was covered with framed prints of pinup girls from the forties and fifties.

If all else failed, he could kick back, study them, and pass an enjoyable hour in solitude.

He booted up his computer, stepped over Moe, who had already flopped in the middle of the floor, and pulled a second beer out of the mini fridge he’d installed under a work counter.

He’d considered that idea pretty damn clever.

Then he sat, rolled his head as a boxer might before a round, and got down to some serious surfing.

If there was anything in the cyberworld about the new residents of Warrior’s Peak, he would find it.

As always, he got sucked into the sirens’ song of information. His beer went warm. One hour passed into two, two headed toward three, before Moe solved the matter by giving the desk chair a push that shot it and Flynn halfway across the room.

“Damn it, you know I hate that. I just need a few more minutes.”

But Moe had heard that one before, and he protested by plopping massive paws and a great deal of body weight onto Flynn’s thighs. “So, maybe we’ll take a walk. And if we happen to wander by a certain blonde’s door, we could just stop in and share currently gathered information. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll pick up some pizza so it won’t be a complete loss.”

The word “pizza” had Moe tearing to the doorway. By the time Flynn made it downstairs, the dog was by the front door, his leash clamped between his teeth.

It was a nice evening for a walk. Quiet, balmy, with his little postcard town basking under the late-summer sun. At such moments, when the air was soft, the breeze fragrant, he was glad he’d made the decision to take over the Dispatch from his mother rather than heading out to make his mark at some big-city paper.

A lot of his friends had gone to the city, and the woman he’d thought he loved had chosen New York over him.

Or he’d chosen the Valley over her.

It depended, he supposed, on your point of view.

Maybe the news here didn’t have the scope or the edge of the news in Philly or New York, but there was still plenty of it. And what happened in the Valley, in the hills and mountains that surrounded it, mattered.

And just now he scented a story that would be bigger and juicier than anything the Dispatch had reported in the sixty-eight years since its presses began to run.

If he could help three women, one of whom was a sister he loved very much, flirt with an incredibly attractive blonde, and expose a major con . . . well, that would be a hell of a hat trick.

“You have to be charming,” he told Moe as they approached the trim brick building that he’d watched Malory enter that morning. “You act like a dog, we’ll never get through the door.”

As a precaution, Flynn wrapped the leash twice around his fist before going into the twelve-unit building.

He considered it good luck that M. Price was on the ground floor. Not only would he not have to drag Moe up steps or pull him into an elevator, but the building’s ground level had little patios.

That gave him the option of bribing Moe with the cookie he’d stuffed in his pocket and staking him outside.

“Charming,” he said again, sotto voce, giving Moe a narrow stare before he knocked on Malory’s door.

Her greeting, when she answered, wasn’t what he could call flattering.

She took one look at him and Moe. “Oh, my God. You’ve got to be kidding.”

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