“Sam,” he said, his hands on her shoulders as he turned her to face him. “If you ever want someone to talk to, I’m here.”
She forced herself to smile at him. “There’s really nothing to talk about. Nothing more than the ordinary person has to say, that is. I’ve had an extraordinary number of deaths in my life and one divorce and it’ll take me a while to recover, but I will.” She moved away from him. “Why don’t I type more of your notes?”
Frowning, Mike watched her walk back to the library. No matter what he did, he couldn’t seem to penetrate the shell that surrounded her, yet sometimes he glimpsed a Samantha that lay under the surface of the cool, calm, always-in-control person she presented to the world. When he had kissed her, he had seen a woman of passion. When she laughed, he saw a woman with a sense of humor. When she drank too much wine, he saw a woman who could tease and make bawdy jokes. But she never let her guard down for long. After each and every lapse, she drew herself back under control again. She was like a turtle that was being attacked and kept inside its shell, but now and then it stuck its vulnerable head out and looked around and soon retracted again.
Her father had said that when Samantha was a child she had been very different from the young lady she had grown into. Smiling, Dave had said that when she was a child, Sam had been a handful, that she had tangled herself into scrapes that had nearly driven her mother crazy. Samantha had been such a tree-climbing, sassy-mouthed, fearless little hellion—called Sam by one and all—that her mother said it took all her brains just trying to stay ahead of her rambunctious daughter.
Sometimes Mike caught glimpses of that little girl, but most of the time it was next to impossible. He wanted to do his best to get under her skin so he could see the imp her father had described. Smiling, Mike remembered the way Sam had tried to choke him when he refused to remember her lessons with the computer. He had no intention of learning to use a computer, because if he did, he’d have one less excuse to spend time with Samantha. Right now, his major goal in life was to get to know her, for being around her was like watching a rosebud unfold. Daily she seemed to change and blossom more. Now all he had to do was make sure that she didn’t leave his house after their meeting with Barrett. That was two days away, and if she left him in a mere two days, he knew he’d n
ever see her again. The thought of not seeing Sam again was not something he wanted to contemplate.
“Sam,” he yelled, following her into the library. “Did you know Maxie was a singer? She sang the blues.”
“I have a date tonight,” Mike announced to Samantha. He was watching her with such intensity that she knew she was supposed to make some response, but she wasn’t sure what.
“How nice. One of the young women I met with Daphne?”
“No, she’s no one you know.” His dark eyes never so much as blinked as he stared at her. “A chorus girl actually. A dancer. Legs, that sort of thing.”
“I’m glad to hear that she has legs. Especially if she’s a dancer.”
From the look on Mike’s face, she knew she had disappointed him. “What will you do while I’m gone? Sleep?”
“You may persist in your fantasy that I am on the verge of psychosis without your constant presence, but it doesn’t happen to be true. I will probably wash my hair and watch TV. If that meets my guardian’s approval,” she said snidely. She was laughing at him because she realized that he wanted her to be jealous of his date. The truth was, Samantha was actually a teeny tiny bit curious about this leggy date of his. Not jealous, by any means, but curious. She knew he didn’t like the women who’d arrived with Daphne, but what kind of woman did Mike like? Probably tall bimbos with big bosoms, she thought. Big bosoms, long legs, and no brains.
“Yeah fine,” he half mumbled. “I don’t think you should go out at night though.”
“Of course not. And I won’t allow any strangers in, no matter how much candy they offer me—unless of course it’s a box of really good chocolate-covered caramels. I belong to the man who offers me caramels.”
It was obvious from his expression that he didn’t find her levity humorous—and he did want her to be jealous.
“Mike,” she said, smiling, feeling a little flattered by his concern and his seeming to want her to be as possessive as he was. “Go on, go on your date. I’ll be fine. Nothing will happen to me, and I won’t do anything strange, so you don’t have to worry about me. Go. Have a good time.”
He hesitated, for he didn’t trust her at all. If this appointment weren’t so important, he wouldn’t leave. “All right, I’m going, but lock the door behind me.”
She shook her head at him, but when he was gone, she bolted the door, and when she turned back, the house seemed enormous and a little creepy with Mike gone. After drawing the curtains, she jumped when a siren screamed down Lexington Avenue. When the doorbell rang, she nearly came out of her skin, then laughed at herself. Waiting a moment for her heart to settle down before she went to the door, she opened the little panel and looked out.
A man was standing there, a tall, broad-shouldered, dark-haired, extremely handsome man. “Yes?” she said through the grill.
“Is Mike home?” he asked.
“Yes, but he’s busy at the moment,” she answered cautiously. If this man was a criminal, she could understand the high rate of crime in New York.
“Would you tell him that Raine wants to see him?” When Samantha made no response, he said, “Raine Montgomery. His cousin.”
“Oh. Do you have any identification?” She watched him remove his wallet from inside his suit jacket and hold his driver’s license up to the grill. Raine Montgomery. Thirty years old. Six foot one. Black hair, blue eyes. He looked authentic to her—authentically gorgeous. She unlocked the door.
“Actually, Mike isn’t here,” she said, opening the door. “He had a date and went out a few minutes ago.”
The man smiled at her and she smiled back. He was very different from Mike, and all they seemed to share as cousins was dark hair. Mike was all fire and movement, whereas this man was quiet and mysterious.
“Actually, I came to meet you. That is, if you’re Samantha.”
“I am, but how…?”
He smiled again and she smiled broader in response. “Mike’s mother called me from Colorado and asked me to have a look at you. Mike has mentioned you, and Aunt Pat wanted me to make sure you weren’t a gold digger.”