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at the sight of the unique-shaped heart, one she'd seen before.
He looked over at her. "What?" he demanded, sounding scared. "You recognize
it?"
"My father has the other piece of the heart."
He stared at her, all his fears exploding like a bomb inside his head.
"Your father has the other piece?"
She nodded. "He had the hearts made. There are only two like them in the
world. They were made to fit together to form one heart. One perfect heart."
He barely heard her words, only the meaning behind them. His mother had put
the gold heart in his blanket the night he was born and written a hurried
note, hoping someone would find him. His father must have been the one who had
left him in the box beside the road. The same man who had the matching gold
heart.
"Then your father "
She shook her head. "The heart belonged to my father's best friend." She
seemed to pause as if for effect. "My father had the heart made for Billy
Kincaid and the woman he was in love with."
"Billy Kincaid," he echoed.
"The Governor's little brother."
"The one who died," Jesse said.
She nodded. "When I was a little girl, I found a box with some old things
in it. I was taken with the funny-shaped heart and my father told me the
story."
They both turned at the sound of the vehicle coming up the road behind
them. In the distance, the sun shimmered off the sheriffs car.
"Drive," she ordered. "We don't want another run-in with him."
Jesse couldn't have agreed more but he also desperately needed to know
about the heart. He pulled back onto the road, his hands shaking. He wasn't
J.B.'s son. He wasn't related to Amanda. Was she as relieved as he was? He
glanced over at her.
She smiled and nodded. "I assume we are both relieved for the same reason."
"Both?"
She grinned. "Both."
"I also assume you want to hear about the heart first?" she asked.
"First?"
She laughed. "First." She glanced behind them. He followed her gaze. The
sheriff's car had disappeared in their dust. "My father knew a jeweler and had
the hearts made as a present for Billy and his girlfriend. He didn't want any
others ever made like them so my father talked the jeweler into promising he
never would. It was a promise I am sure the jeweler kept," she said knowingly.
Jesse had to agree.
"Billy and his girlfriend each wore one. The idea was that they, would put
the hearts together when they got married and he would put the one heart on
her during the ceremony."
"But then Billy got killed.
She nodded. "Obviously before they could get married."
He drove through Red River almost without noticing and took the two-lane
south, not sure where he was going, just far from the small Texas town.
"Who was the girlfriend?'' he asked, holding his breath.
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"My father never told me. I got the feeling that Billy had kept the
romance, quiet for some reason. I'm not even sure my father knew her well."
Was it possible J.B. hadn't known the girl was pregnant with Billy's son?
He felt the skin on his neck prickle. The day J.B. had hired him Jesse hadn't
thought anything about it at the time. But J.B. had seemed in shock. Of course
he would have been shocked; he'd believed his daughter had almost been killed
by a hit-and-run driver.
But Jesse remembered now the way J.B. had stared at him. Almost as if the
man had seen a ghost.
Ahead Jesse could see the outline of the town on the horizon. He'd be glad
when it was in his rearview mirror.
"I know this sounds nuts, but I think your father recognized me that first
day I went to work for him," Jesse said. "I think that's why he hired me, no
questions asked. Why he left on a business trip the next day. He came to Red
River. Started asking questions about me."
"That would explain the warm reception we've gotten here. I'm sure having a
well-known mobster show up in town ruffled a few feathers, especially all the
times my father's picture has been in the paper for one criminal investigation
or another," she said.
He nodded. It would also explain J.B.'s fingerprints on the photocopy of
the newspaper clipping. "Maybe he didn't know I existed until a couple of
weeks ago. Or maybe he's the one who dumped the box beside the road for Billy,
just assuming I would die."
"No," Amanda said with more force than he'd expected. "My father loved
Billy like a brother. If he'd known about you, there isn't any way he would
have allowed anything to happen to you, believe me. I know my father. He would
have raised you himself."
He did believe her. "We have to find my mother," he said and looked over at
her.
She nodded. "Jesse, I did lie about one thing."
The expression on her, face almost made him drive off the road.
"I lied when I said I felt nothing but contempt for you." Leaning toward
him, she put her hand on his thigh.
This time he did drive off the road. "Amanda?" He got the van under control
again. "I'm a cop," he reminded her.
"And probably a Kincaid," she said. "And I'm a mobster's daughter.
Nothing's really changed, has it?"
He shook his head. She was still dangerous and he still wanted her, wanted
her more than he could have believed possible. "Nothing at all," he said and
took the next side road down into the lush thick trees beside the river.
Her fingers trembled as she began to unbutton his shirt the moment he
stopped the van beside the river.
"Amanda?"
"I need you, Jesse. I need you to hold me. To make love to me."
She touched a finger to his lips and shook her head. She knew all the
reasons they shouldn't make love and one very good reason they should. As she
slipped each button free, she exposed more of his muscular chest, his broad
shoulders. Dark hair formed a V like an arrow to the waistband of his jeans.
Desire stole through her, leaving a trail of heat to her center.
She wanted this man. Wanted his arms around her. Wanted to feel his bare
skin pressed to hers. Wanted him in a primitive, carnal way, to possess and be
possessed. And had for a long time.
That in itself scared her. She had never let any man close to her.
Certainly not Gage, even though he'd fathered her baby.
With Jesse, it would be total surrender.
He looked at her as if afraid to touch her for fear of what they would do
together, both wanting the same thing, both fearing it.
She leaned over and kissed him, her lips barely brushing his. "I think
there's a blanket in the back," she whispered.
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The river lapped at the shore under a canopy of green leaves. He spread the
blanket on the grass. Water pooled next to the bank. He looked at her, the
desire in his gaze almost as pleasurable as the anticipation of his touch. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]