Key of Light (Key 1) - Page 60

All Zoe saw was the quick look. She straightened her shoulders, stiffened them. “Yes. Simon’s nine.”

“Sorry it took me so long,” Malory apologized as she came back in. “Flynn’s got Moe tied to a tree in the side yard. He’s hosing him down, for all the good that’s going to do. He’ll just be a wet incredibly smelly dog instead of only an

incredibly smelly one. He said to ask if you had any shampoo or soap you could spare.”

“I can come up with something. Go ahead and take your pictures.”

Malory aimed the camera, waited until Brad’s footsteps receded. “Talk about gods,” she murmured to Zoe.


“Bradley Charles Vane IV. His kind of looks just smack a woman right in the hormones.”

“Looks are genetic.” Zoe very nearly sniffed. “Personality and manners are developed.”

“It was one fine day in the gene pool when he was made.” She lowered the camera. “I gave you the impression he was giving me a hard time. Really, he wasn’t.”

“Maybe, maybe not. But he’s an arrogant snob.”

“Wow.” Malory blinked at the vehemence in Zoe’s voice. “I didn’t get that. I can’t imagine Flynn being friends with anyone who fits the snob category. Arrogant is debatable.”

Zoe jerked a shoulder. “I’ve run into his type before. They’re more interested in looking good than in being human. Anyway, he’s not important. The painting is.”

“I think it is. And what you said about them being a set, part of a set. I think that’s true, and there’s at least one more. I have to find it. Something in them, or about them, is going to point me toward the key. I’d better hit the books.”

“Want some help?”

“All I can get.”

“I’ll head back now. There are a couple of things I need to do, then I’ll swing by your place.”

ABOUT the time Brad unearthed a bottle of shampoo he heard a car start. He went to the window, cursed under his breath as he watched Zoe and Malory head down his lane.

As far as first impressions went, he’d made a complete mess of it. He didn’t usually alienate women on sight. But then again, the sight of a woman didn’t usually slam into him like a hard, sweaty fist. Considering that, he supposed he could be excused for not being at his best.

He went downstairs, then detoured back into the great room instead of continuing to the outside. He stood staring at the painting as he had the first time he’d seen it at the auction house. The way he’d stared at it countless times since he’d acquired it.

He’d have paid any price for it.

It was true enough what he’d told Malory and Flynn. He’d bought it because it was magnificent, powerful, compelling. He’d been intrigued by the one figure’s face, its resemblance to his childhood friend.

But it had been another face in the painting that had dazzled him, consumed him. Undone him. One look at that face, Zoe’s face, and he’d fallen unreasonably in love.

Strange enough, he thought, when the woman had simply been a figure in a painting. How much more complicated and impossible was it now that he knew she was real?

HE thought about it while he put some of his house in order. He continued to think about it later when he and Flynn climbed up to sit on the wall surrounding Warrior’s Peak.

They each opened a beer and studied the exotic silhouette etched against a gloomy sky.

Lights glowed against the windows here and there, but as they drank their beers in silence, they saw no figure pass behind the glass.

“They probably know we’re out here,” Flynn said after a time.

“If we take your girlfriend’s theory to heart, and label them Celtic gods with a few thousand years under their belts, yeah, pretty safe bet they know we’re out here.”

“You used to be more open-minded,” Flynn noted.

“Ah, no. Not really. Jordan would be the one inclined to bite on this kind of a story line and run with it.”

Tags: Nora Roberts Key Fantasy
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