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Excerpt: Touching Shadows

Excerpt: Touching Shadows

Book 1: The Scroll of Shadows

Chapter One

As soon as I saw Dominic Stone walk through the front door, I knew someone somewhere had made a catastrophic mistake and I was screwed. 

It didn’t matter he wouldn’t recognize me. It was enough I recognized him. How could I not? Our last meeting hadn’t been the kind you forget, on my part. Or forgive. On his. It had been sheer luck the bullet had missed. No one, I assured myself, no one could be that lucky twice.

Drawing back into the shadows of the mezzanine, I watched in reluctant admiration as he finessed his way past Security. Nothing had changed there either. He was still arrogant. Still remote. I could almost see those winter-gray eyes narrow in evaluation as their gaze moved around the foyer. Feel the chill rolling from him like fog off dry ice. 

And he was heading my way. 

Which left me either the back stairs or the freight elevator to the basement.

I tossed a mental coin. Freight elevator.

“Megan,” a voice behind me said. “Good. You’re still here.”

I swung away from the mezzanine balustrade, schooling my face into a neutral mask as I did so. “I’m just leaving.”

Amos Brewer, CEO of Dayton and Associates, gave me a look I could have shaved my legs with. “Geoffrey Montford has arrived. I don’t know how he heard you’d be here, but he’s in my office demanding to talk with you—and I’m not certain he’ll take no for an answer.”

In spite of the sense of urgency bubbling under my breastbone, I felt an unwilling tug of interest. “We are talking about the same Geoffrey Montford, aren’t we?”

“Yes,” Amos said, his uncharacteristically curt tone threaded with tension. “And I’m concerned, Megan. He’s not himself.” He glanced down at the briefcase in my hand. “But if you don’t have the time—”

“I do.” As my quick getaway was now shot to hell, I might as well do something productive for the company. I certainly hadn’t been avoiding Stone’s devil for months just to trip over him now. Far better to face Geoffrey Montford’s deep blue sea. “Now’s fine.”

“If you’re not feeling up to it—” 

He clamped his lips together when I lifted a hand. 

“I’m only trying to be helpful.”

“No,” I said. “You’re not. You’ve made it quite clear you think in spite of my qualifications, I had to sleep with the boss to get where I am. Well, I may not be thirty yet, but I didn’t—how did you put it?—flutter my big blue eyes, toss back my long blond hair, and hypnotize a dying man more than twice my age into leaving me his millions.” Only God knew why Charles Dayton had ever done anything, especially that last little bombshell. “I might not know about business in general, but when it comes to my job, I’m the best there is.”

His mouth began to open, and my temper slipped.

“Don’t,” I warned. “I’m not in the mood. Suck it up, Amos. Let’s pretend Charles is still alive, you’re still my friend, and none of the last ten days has happened. Now, I’m going to find out what’s stung Mr. Montford on the temper, fix it, and then I’m going home—”

“To Charles’s home,” he said, ice crackling in the emphasis.

“To Charles’s home,” I agreed. “Now mine.” Along with his myriad business interests and an appallingly large chunk of England’s green and pleasant land. “And I’m going to do what I haven’t had time to do since he told me he was dying.”

“Which is?”

“Grieve,” I said.

Judging by the revulsion on Amos’s face, I might as well have told him I wanted to strip naked and dance around Nelson’s Column at rush hour.

Tears, hot and dangerous, pricked behind my eyes. Not good. Not going to happen. I blinked hard. 

Behind me, the lift gave its discreet little ding. Even with Reception about to run interference on this floor, I’d run out of choices.

“In the meantime”—I lifted my chin and jerked it toward the beautifully carved door down the corridor—“I’ll try to live up to the delightful image you have of me. Lead on, Mr. Brewer.” 

His mouth tightened, but Amos didn’t say another word. He simply turned on his heel and stalked back toward his office.

I hadn’t meant to sound either brusque or bitchy, but the words came out both. In fact, I sounded precisely like the grasping little gold-digger he thought I was. With any luck I’d get a chance to act like her too. But I didn’t want to. I just wanted Amos to return to his comfortable fatherly self. I wanted everything back the way it had been. I wanted the damned moon.

Fifteen minutes, Meg, I told myself as I followed in his rigid wake. Fifteen minutes, and it’ll all be over.