Deceptions(8)

By: Cynthia Eden


“What? Who the hell is Steve?”

She pointed to the body.

Mac swore.

She pulled from his arms and started running after her attacker. “We have to stop him!” They couldn’t let a killer just escape.

Mac raced at her side. There was a sharp turn up ahead, and then the alley opened up on another street. When they shot out of that alley exit, cars zipped by them, and a shrill honk filled the air. Mac’s hand wrapped around her waist, and he dragged her back when she was about to rush right into the traffic.

“Elizabeth, stop!” Mac ordered. “You have to be careful!”

She yanked free of him. “We have to hurry and find the guy!” She whirled around, searching the area. There were plenty of cars, more clubs and no sign of a man running away. No man with Steve’s blood on him and tears streaming down his cheeks.

The pepper spray would make the attacker’s eyes water. His face would be red. And since he’d stabbed Steve, he should be covered in blood.

But everyone on that street looked so normal.

She backed up and bumped into Mac. “Where is he?” He couldn’t get away. He’d killed that reporter. And if they didn’t find him...

I think he’ll kill me, too.

* * *

IT WAS NEARING DAWN. Most people in Austin were just getting ready to start a new day. Mac was in the office of McGuire Securities, but he wasn’t about to start his day.

He was still ending the night from hell.

He stared across his desk at Elizabeth. Her shoulders were hunched. Her skin was too pale. She was too quiet.

He’d stayed with her while the cops were called to that alley. He’d watched her retreat into a shell. He’d listened as she’d too carefully answered the questions from the detective who’d been lead at the scene.

I found the body. He was just...just lying there. His attacker grabbed me. No, I didn’t see his face. No, I don’t know anything about the victim. I can’t help you.

“Elizabeth.” He said her name now, deliberately, trying to pull her back to him. During the drive to the office, she’d sat in the passenger seat of his car, but she’d seemed a million miles away.

She still seemed that far away. And she hadn’t looked up at his call.

Mac rose from his chair and walked around his desk. He leaned over her and put his hands on her shoulders. “Elizabeth.”

She jumped and her eyes—so deep and dark—focused on his. He wondered if she might be in shock. It wasn’t every day that a person stumbled onto a murder scene.

Though he wasn’t exactly convinced that she’d just stumbled onto it.

“I should go home,” Elizabeth said, her voice a bit hoarse. “I don’t know why I even came here with you.”

He knew. Because she’d been dazed and lost in her own thoughts. The woman had been busy hiding her own secrets. “You need my help.”

A furrow appeared between her brows.

“I backed you up tonight,” he said, keeping his voice gentle for her, “even though I knew you were lying to the cops.”

She immediately tried to rise, but he carefully pushed her back into the chair.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Now Elizabeth was glaring at him. “Get your hands off me.”

Fine. He pulled his hands back, but he stayed close. “You knew that dead man. You told the cops you didn’t, but I heard you say ‘He killed Steve.’ And you flew out of your house like the place was on fire. You raced to that alley—you knew he was in there.”

She rose. This time he didn’t stop her. He also didn’t back up. Their bodies brushed. “You followed me,” Elizabeth accused.

“Guilty.” He just shrugged.

“Why? You can’t just...follow people.”

“I’m a PI. I follow lots of people.”

She licked her lips. He shouldn’t have focused so much on the delectable little flash of her tongue, not with everything else going on, but he did.

“Why were you following me?” She edged back a bit.

“Because I was worried about you. I wanted you safe.”

She shook her head. “You don’t know me.” Elizabeth headed for the door. “I don’t even know what I was thinking! I just left my car down there and—”