Key of Light (Key 1) - Page 64

“And I’ve got to get started on it. Not to worry,” he said as he got up. “I’ll keep you updated with bulletins. Meanwhile, the painting you were wondering about? The portrait?”

“The what? Oh, yes. What about it?”

“Remember how we both thought there was something familiar about it? It came to me. Do you remember, about five years ago, the oil on canvas, unsigned? Young Arthur of Britain, on the verge of drawing Excalibur from an altar of stone?”

Chilly fingers brushed the nape of her neck as the painting floated into her mind. “My God. I remember. Of course I remember. The color, the intensity, the way the light pulsed around the sword.”

“Definitely the same style and school as the one you showed me. Might be the same artist.”

“Yes . . . yes, it might. How did we acquire it? Through an estate, wasn’t it? In Ireland. James went to Europe for several weeks to acquire. That was the best piece he brought back with him. Who bought it?”

“Even my razor-sharp memory has its limits, but I looked it up. Julia sold it to Jordan Hawke. The writer? Local boy, or was. Lives in New York now, I think.”

Her stomach did a long, slow roll. “Jordan Hawke.”

“Maybe you can contact him through his publisher if you want to talk to him about the painting. Well, got to run, sugarplum.” He leaned down to give her a kiss. “Let me know the minute James calls you to grovel. I want all the deets.”

THERE were half a dozen people at keyboards and phones when Malory reached the third level of the Dispatch, where Flynn had his office. She saw him immediately, through the glass walls.

He paced back and forth in front of a desk, tipping a bright silver Slinky from one hand to the other. And appeared to be holding a conversation with himself.

She wondered how he could stand the lack of privacy while he worked, that constant sensation of being on display. And the noise, she thought. With all the clacking, ringing, talking, and beeping, she would go mad trying to formulate a single creative thought.

She wasn’t sure whom to speak with. No one looked particularly like an assistant or secretary. And despite the retro toy that Flynn was currently playing with, it suddenly dawned on Malory that he was a busy man. An important man. Not a man she should pop in on without notice.

As she stood, undecided, Flynn sat on the corner of his desk, pouring the Slinky from right hand to left and back again. His hair was mussed, as if he’d spent some time playing with it before he’d gotten hold of the toy.

He wore a dark green shirt tucked into casual khakis and very possibly the oldest athletic shoes she’d ever seen.

There was a quick tingle in her belly, followed by a helpless little thud just under her heart.

It was all right to be attracted to him, she told herself. That was acceptable. But she couldn’t let this move to the level it was headed for so quickly. That wasn’t smart, it wasn’t safe. It wasn’t even . . .

Then he looked out through the glass, his eyes meeting hers for one fast, hot beat before he smiled. And the tingle, the thud, became more intense.

He flicked his wrist and the Slinky fell back into itself, then he gave her a

come-ahead gesture with his free hand.

She wound her way through the desks and the din. When she stepped through the open office door, she saw with some relief that he hadn’t been talking to himself, but on a speakerphone.

Out of habit, she closed the door behind her, then looked toward the sound of heroic snoring to see Moe sprawled belly-up between two filing cabinets.

What did you do about a man who brought his big, silly dog to work with him? she wondered. Maybe more to the point, how did you resist such a man?

Flynn held up a finger to signal one more minute, so she took the time to study his work area. There was a huge corkboard on one wall, jammed with notes, articles, photographs, and phone numbers. Her fingers itched to organize it, as well as the maze of papers on his desk.

Shelves were full of books, several of which seemed to be law and medical journals. There were phone books for a number of Pennsylvania counties, books of famous quotations, movie and music guides.

In addition to the Slinky, he had a yo-yo and a number of warlike action figures. There were several plaques and awards—to the paper and to Flynn personally, stacked together as if he hadn’t gotten around to hanging them. She didn’t know where she would have hung them either, as what little wall space he had was taken up by the corkboard and an equally large wall calendar for the month of September.

She turned around when he ended the call. Then stepped back as he moved toward her.

He stopped. “Problem?”

“No. Maybe. Yes.”

“Pick one,” he suggested.

Tags: Nora Roberts Key Fantasy
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