Home > Deceptions (Cainsville #3)

Deceptions (Cainsville #3)
Author: Kelley Armstrong

CHAPTER ONE

I woke to my ex-fiancé calling. Which was awkward, considering we’d broken up only two months ago and I was in another guy’s apartment. Even more awkward when that guy wasn’t the one I was currently dating. In my defense, I was on the couch.

My first thought was not Answer the damned phone, Olivia. It was of a letter from my father, read right before I went to sleep, which had not been conducive to good dreams and had left me in no mood to talk to James Morgan. I reached for my phone and hit Ignore. A moment later, a shadow loomed over me.

Gabriel picked up my phone. “James. He left a message. I should take it.”

“Um, my cell? My ex?”

“Your stalker, too.”

I looked up. Gabriel is at least six-four and knows how to use his size to his advantage. Hence the looming.

When I nodded, he listened to the message as I tried very hard to push aside thoughts of James and the roller-coaster ride that began when I found out my real parents were convicted serial killers. The ride had ultimately landed me here, sleeping in the apartment of one of Chicago’s most notorious defense attorneys. My lawyer. My boss. And, though I’d never dare say it in front of him, my friend.

Gabriel Walsh doesn’t have friends. He has resources: people who can be exploited and used. I’d like to think I’m an exception, but I don’t push my luck.

“James heard about last night,” Gabriel said after listening to the message.

“The car crash?”

“Yes, but I believe he’s more concerned about the crazed killer who caused the crash and held you at gunpoint.”

“Oh, that.”

“A minor point, but it seems to bother him.”

“Unreasonably so.”

“Agreed. Coffee?”

I rose and started for the kitchen. “I’ll make it. You were in that accident, too, and hurt a lot worse than me. You should be resting.”

He moved into my path and waved me back. That wasn’t him playing congenial host; it was him telling me to stay the hell out of his kitchen. I suspected last night was the first time he’d brought anyone up here. His apartment. His private domain.

“If you’d rather I didn’t stay—” I began.

“I invited you.”

“After sustaining a head injury. Which means you aren’t responsible for anything you said last night . . . except for the part where you forgave me for wrecking your car.”

“You were run off the road.”

“I still feel bad. It was a nice car.” I paused. “I’m also sorry about almost getting you killed.”

“She says, as an afterthought.”

“It was a really nice car.”

He shook his head and went into the kitchen. I followed as far as the doorway.

“You’ll need to let James know you’re all right,” Gabriel said. “I would suggest a text message. Tell him—”

“I can write my own texts.”

“Yes, but this must be handled with care. While I’d prefer you didn’t engage him at all, if you don’t tell him you’re fine, he has an excuse to keep hounding you. Yet if you give any indication you’re opening the door to conversation, he has reason to keep hounding you.”

I had to agree. Gabriel dictated a message. I did tweak his wording—Gabriel’s language choices can be very precise, and James couldn’t suspect the text had come from him. He seemed to think Gabriel had a Svengali sway over me. Which showed that my former fiancé didn’t know me nearly as well as I’d thought he did.

Message sent, we settled in with our coffee, chairs pulled to the living room window, where we could look out over Gabriel’s breathtaking view of the city.

“I had a call this morning,” he said. “Edgar Chandler wishes to speak to you.”

“Chandler?”

“Yes. Elderly gentleman. Currently incarcerated. Formerly involved in CIA experiments. Seems to have unlocked the secret of mind control. Which he used in an attempt to kill us.”

“I know who Chandler is.”

“It seemed as if a refresher might be required, given the sheer number of people who have tried to kill us lately.”

“True. So he’ll finally speak to us?”

“Chandler has no interest in me. The invitation is for you. May I presume you’ll accept?”

“May I presume you’ll come with me?”

His brows shot up. “Of course. Whether he wants me there or not.”

Gabriel arranged to see Chandler that afternoon. A half hour later we were in the elevator, taking the fifty-five-story ride down to the underground parking garage.

“So what else are we doing today?” I asked as we exited the elevator. “The only thing on my schedule is working at the diner. Which I’m not.” I wasn’t sure if I ever could again. I’d told Larry I was unwell—between the accident and the fever that preceded it—and needed some time off, and he’d given me two weeks.

“I require a vehicle,” Gabriel said. “Since that is your area of expertise, I’m taking you along to select one. After that, we’ll pick up a rental car. Then we’ll drop your car back here and—”

“Skip the play-by-play and hit the highlights, please.”

“Today will be devoted primarily to cleaning up the mess from yesterday. We need . . .”

An almost imperceptible tightening of his shoulders told me something had caught his attention. Gabriel has an uncanny sense for trouble, which may be because his gene pool, like mine, contains a sprinkling of fairy dust.

   
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