Lone Star Seduction(3)

By: Day Leclaire

Kate frowned. Checking to confirm that Richie had moved out of earshot, she explained, “Some hush-hush meeting about the recent arson fires. Lance is there because the first fire was at Brody Oil and Gas. Since the other was at El Diablo, Alex needed to be present for the meeting, as well.”

Rebecca stiffened. Of course, she’d heard about the fires. She wasn’t that far out of the loop. And she knew that arson had been suspected. “It’s been confirmed? They’re certain both fires were arson?”

“That’s my understanding. Why?”

Rebecca shot her friend an apologetic look, knowing how rough recent events had been on Kate’s husband and his family. “Dad insists the fires were accidental, particularly the Montoya blaze.”

“No offense, Becca, but how would your father know?” Kate asked. “Unless he’s in on the investigation—and last I heard he didn’t work for Darius’s security firm—he wouldn’t have anything to base his opinion on, other than secondhand information or gossip.”

“Fair enough,” Rebecca conceded, taking a cooling sip of her iced tea.

“Plus, they think they have a suspect.”

Startled, she returned her glass to the table. “Who?”

Kate grimaced. “I was afraid you were going to ask me that. Lance told me the name.” Her brow wrinkled as she struggled to remember. “Cantry?”

Rebecca froze. “Could it have been Gentry?”

Kate shrugged. “That’s possible. Why?” She leaned forward and asked urgently, “Do you know this man, Becca?”

“I don’t know anyone named Cantry,” she temporized.

“But you do know a Gentry.” It wasn’t a question.

Rebecca nodded. “My father hired a new foreman a couple of years ago named Cornelius Gentry. But I’m sure it couldn’t be the same man.”

Kate’s concern deepened. “Maybe we should make certain.” She came to a decision and shoved back her chair. “Let me run over and ask Lance. If it is the same man, you and your father could be in danger.”

Rebecca caught Kate’s arm before she could put action to words. “Wait.”

Everything inside Rebecca cringed at the notion of confronting Alex again. He and her father had a history. A very volatile history. If Gentry were the man they were after, Alex would find a way to draw her father into the scandal, something she’d do almost anything to avoid.

She leaned across the table and spoke in a low hush. “Kate, what if they want to question me about Gentry? What am I supposed to say to them? I don’t have any information about the man other than he’s been my father’s foreman for the past two years.” That, and he gave her the creeps. “Let’s wait and get our facts straight. Then we can decide what to do about it. But I’d rather not interrupt them if it isn’t Gentry.”

Before Kate could respond, Richie arrived with their lunch. Rebecca stared at the beautifully plated food, but found she’d lost her appetite. She could only pray it wasn’t her father’s foreman. Maybe the name really was Cantry and her imagination was working overtime. That didn’t change how she felt about the man. From the moment she’d returned home a year ago and first met him, she’d struggled against her aversion to his presence, trying to impose rationale and logic in the face of her instinctive reaction whenever he came around.

But just that morning she’d had a run-in with him. He’d blocked her exit as she’d been leaving her father’s house for the club, standing too close and refusing to move back. In fact, now that she thought about it, it was identical to what had happened between her and Alex. How interesting that with one man she could have melted into his embrace, but with the other, every ounce of intuition had urged her to put as much distance as possible between them.

And he’d sensed how she’d felt. She’d seen it in the narrowing of his hard, brown eyes and the tightening of the fleshy mouth he’d twisted into a grimacing smile. “Miz Becca,” he’d greeted her. His gaze had swept over her and his smile had pulled wider. “Don’t you look the picture.”

“Thanks, Cornelius.” She lifted an eyebrow. “If you’ll excuse me?”

He’d kept standing there, a knowing look in his eyes, before he’d fallen back a scant step. “Of course, your ladyship. Didn’t mean for the hired help to get in your way. Don’t want to lose my job the way the Montoyas did. Though it would be a sweet way to go.”

Her uncontrollable outrage had only deepened his amusement. “I’m sure my father will be interested in your opinion,” she shot back. “I’ll be certain to share it with him.”

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