Key of Light Page 51

“Yes, yes, and yes. I haven’t been upstairs yet, but down here . . . I love it,” she said.

Dana stood on the stairs, her lips pursed in speculation. “Why’d you change your mind?”

“I don’t know. At least I don’t know in any reasonable, logical sense. When James offered me my job back, with a raise, I thought, thank God, everything’ll be back to normal now.”

She let out a breath and, hugging the clipboard to her chest, spun in a circle. “Then, I don’t know, I heard myself telling him I couldn’t come back, I was starting my own business. I guess I realized I don’t want everything to be back to normal. I want to do this, and I want to do it with both of you. That’s all I know.”

“We’ve all got to be really sure. Zoe, tell her what you told me. About the house.”

“Well, the owner’s willing to rent it, but they’re looking for a buyer. The fact is, it makes more financial sense to buy it.”

“Buy it?” The gorge she was leaping across suddenly widened. “How much?”

Zoe named a price, then hurried on when Malory paled. “But that’s just the asking price. Plus, I’ve been doing some figuring, and if you compare the mortgage payment at current interest rates over a thirty-year term to the proposed monthly rent, it’s not that much more. And it’s equity. It’s an investment. Then there’s the tax break.”

“Don’t get her started on the tax break,” Dana warned. “Your brains will start leaking out of your ears. Just take my word for it, she’s got it covered.”

“We need a lawyer to draw up a legal partnership,” Zoe continued. “Then we pool our money. We have enough for the down payment, especially once we negotiate the asking price down. And still there’s enough left over to hold us. We’ll take a loan for the property and the start-up costs. We can do it.”

“I believe you. I think that’s why my stomach hurts.” Malory pressed a hand to it, then looked at Dana. “Buy?”

“God help us. Buy,” she agreed.

“I guess we should shake or something.” Zoe held out a hand.

“Wait, before we do, I should tell you something.” Malory cleared her throat. “I had sex with Flynn last night. Three times.”

“Three?” Dana abruptly sat down on the stairs. “Ah, go, Flynn?”

“You’re okay with that?”

“I’m his sister, not his mother.” But she rubbed at her temple. “Weren’t you drunk last night?”

“No, you were. I was just buzzed. I’ll add that being aware I was buzzed, he attempted, pretty strongly, to be a gentleman and step back.”

“That’s so sweet,” Zoe offered.

“Even after I got naked and jumped him.”

“That’s . . . Wow!”

With a laugh, Malory patted Zoe’s shoulder. But Dana remained silent. “I didn’t get naked and jump him just because I was buzzed and well, horny. I’m in love with him. I don’t have the whys on that any more than I know why I want to own this house with the two of you. It just is, from somewhere deep inside me. It just is. I’m in love with him, and I’m going to marry him.”

“Malory! This is wonderful.” Leading with her romantic heart, Zoe flung her arms around her friend. “I’m so happy for you.”

“Don’t hand out the orange blossoms yet. I still have to convince him he can’t live without me.” She stepped forward. “I’m in love with him, Dana.”

“I’m getting that.”

“I know this might complicate our friendship, and any business relationship we might plan on having.”

“And if it does?”

“Then I’m sorry. I’ll back out of the friendship. I’ll back out of the business plans. But I’m going to keep Flynn, whether he likes it or not.”

Dana’s lips twitched as she got to her feet. “I guess he’s toast. We going to shake hands on this deal and get us a lawyer or what?”

Chapter Twelve


SHE didn’t know what she was feeling. She wasn’t sure what she was doing. But little snags like that had never stopped Dana before.

The minute she could manage it, she tracked down Flynn.

She missed him at the paper, followed his trail to the vet’s, where she was told she’d missed him and Moe by fifteen minutes. The irritation of that had her deciding she was angry with him, though she had no concrete reason to be.

But by the time she arrived at his house, she was enjoying her temper.

She slammed the door and stalked into the living room, where both her brother and his dog were sprawled out like the dead.

“I need to talk to you, Casanova.”

“Don’t yell.” Flynn remained on the sofa. On the floor beside him Moe whimpered. “Moe needed his shots. We’ve both been traumatized. Go away. Come back tomorrow.”

“Now, right now, before I find a sharp implement to stick in your rump. What’s the idea of banging Malory when you know perfectly well she has to keep her mind on the goal?”

“I don’t know. Might’ve had something to do with my tripping and falling over her naked body. And it wasn’t banging. I object to the term ‘banging,’ which is beside the fact that it’s none of your goddamn business.”

“It’s my business when she’s just become my business partner. When prior to that we were partners of another sort, and it’s my business because I like her a lot, and she’s in love with you. This shows a remarkable lack of taste, but is nonetheless the way it is.”

Guilt crept slyly into his belly. “It’s not my fault she thinks she’s in love with me.”

“I didn’t say ‘thinks.’ She’s not an idiot, despite her lousy taste in men. She knows her own mind and heart. And if you’re not taking her feelings into consideration before you unzip your fly—”

“For Christ’s sake, give me a break.” He sat up now, dropped his head in his hands. “She won’t listen to me. And she did the unzipping.”

“You were just an innocent bystander.”

“There’s no point in blasting me about this. I’ve spent considerable time blasting myself, for all the good that’s done. I don’t know what the hell to do.”

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