Deceptions(3)

By: Cynthia Eden


Mac didn’t release her. “Do you have any enemies, Elizabeth?”

She kept her smile in place. “I’m a librarian. I try really hard not to make too many people angry.”

He kept staring at her. No humor softened his face. Right. This wasn’t the time for humor.

She let her smile vanish. “Thank you.” Her voice was softer. The sirens were louder. “I owe you a serious debt of gratitude.”

He let her go. “I’ll collect on that debt.”

What?

“Later. For now, let’s go meet the cops before some uniform comes in here with guns blazing.” He steered her toward the main door. “Watch out for the glass.”

It crunched beneath their feet.

* * *

“HE DROPPED THE knife when he was running.” Mac hadn’t wanted to tell Elizabeth that fact; at least, not right away. He just hadn’t wanted to scare her too much.

But the cops had finished their sweep in the library, and now they were searching the road—and the exact spot where the would-be attacker had fled.

“There,” Mac said, pointing. “I didn’t touch it in case there were prints left behind.”

“A knife?” Elizabeth said, her normally husky, sexy voice turning into a sharp cry of fear. “What? He had a knife?”

Yes, and that fact had fury surging inside Mac. The cops hadn’t seemed overly concerned when they’d first appeared on the scene. He’d heard them muttering about kids and pranks. And he’d known they needed to get to the knife ASAP.

One bent and carefully inspected the knife. “A switchblade,” he said, and he glanced up at Mac. “You sure the guy dropped it? I mean, it’s really dark out here and—”

“He dropped it,” Mac said flatly. “So get it checked for prints.” When some bozo hid in a vacant library, waiting with a knife, the cops should know that meant trouble.

From the corner of his eye, Mac saw Elizabeth take a step back. Her hand was near her mouth and, if there’d been more light, he was sure he would have seen horror reflected in her warm brown eyes.

Elizabeth Snow.

He remembered the first time he’d seen the new librarian. He’d been there to study the newspaper archives, looking for any stories that might have hit when his mother first came to town, so long ago. Those records hadn’t been digitized, but there were microfiche copies in the library. It had been his first venture into old-school research.

And his first glimpse of Elizabeth.

Her hair had been loose around her shoulders, a dark curtain that framed her heart-shaped face. She’d been laughing when she turned toward him, but as soon as she glanced into his eyes, her laughter had stopped.

Don’t stop. His immediate thought. Because he’d liked the sound of her laughter.

Red had stained her high cheekbones, and her full lips had still been curved into a smile when she asked if she could help him.

In so many ways, so many.

The police lights were flashing around them, and he saw her trembling hand tucking her hair behind her ear. “He came after me with a knife?”

The uniforms shared a glance. “We don’t know exactly what his intentions were, ma’am,” one said carefully. “Maybe the guy thought he could rob you, possibly get some money from the cash register inside.”

“There is no cash inside. We charge for overdue books, that’s it. There’s not enough money in there worth stealing.” Her arms wrapped around her stomach. “And he called my name.”

Which meant, in Mac’s book, that the attack had definitely been personal. He edged closer to Elizabeth. Something was going on here, something that he was missing. When he’d asked her if she had any enemies, her voice had hitched a bit when she replied.

Lie.

So he couldn’t help but wonder: Just what sort of enemies would a sweet librarian have? And Elizabeth was sweet. She smelled like cinnamon, and he pretty much wanted to damn well gobble her up. He’d seen her reading to the kids, leading them in story-time dances. He’d seen her too much.

Hell... I’m the one turning into a stalker.

“And why were you here, Mr. McGuire?” one of the cops asked as if reading his thoughts.