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Bridget was having an awful time falling asleep. She knew Lane was still up. She could hear him walking around the house checking all the doors and windows. He’d started on the 3rd floor and worked his way down.
Occasionally, she could hear him talking. He must be on his cell she thought; maybe he’s talking with the officers outside, getting an update. She hoped it was good news. The events of the past day and a half had spooked her. She hoped they found the other Bridget Riley soon, because this Bridget Riley didn’t know how to deal with all of this.
Bridget heard Lane talking quietly and then laughing, there was silence for a few moments, and “No you’re not bothering me … I’m glad you called … I love you too … Goodnight.” His walk around the house was bringing him closer to her end of the house making his conversation audible.
Bridget felt like she’d been punched in the stomach. He had a girlfriend! She knew it was silly to be upset. She knew that a man like Detective Johnson didn’t date women like her. She felt stupid, really stupid. She’d let down her guard and for a few minutes earlier in the evening she’d felt like any other woman sharing a meal with a handsome man. A couple of times, she’d even thought he’d been flirting with her.
“Dumb, dumb, dumb,” silently she chided herself. He was just being friendly, trying to make her comfortable with his presence. She hoped she hadn’t made a fool of herself. Of course, he was probably used to women throwing themselves at him, skinny gorgeous girls that had a chance with the Detective Johnsons of the world, NOT big girls like her. Not girls that even Barry Handford two timed. Oh the humiliation!
She vowed then and there to keep Lane Johnson at arm’s length. This was a business association and she reminded herself that she be smart not to forget it.
“Bridget,” Lane spoke softly. “Are you still awake?”
Well Bridget thought there is no better time to start your new more business-like relationship than now. She got out of bed and quickly put her robe on. It was fluffy, pink (surprise, surprise) and well worn. She opened the door a smidgen and greeted Lane in a tight, clipped tone, “Detective Johnson, how may I be of assistance to you?”
Lane grinned and Bridget wished he wouldn’t. “I saw your light on, you weren’t sleeping were you?” Lane gave her robe a quick glance, it was pink and fluffy and that made him smile. He didn’t smile for long though, she looked awfully grumpy.
“No detective, I wasn’t sleeping. Is there a problem?” She inquired primly.
Lane wanted to say, “Yes, you’ve put that stick back up your ass!” Instead he gave her a smile and said, “No, no problem. I was just securing the house and saw your light on. I thought I’d let you know that everything is locked down and secure.” He hesitated and then said, “Is everything alright Bridget? You seem, I don’t know, upset maybe. Do you want to talk about it?” He gave her his killer grin, “Are you worried?”
“The scoundrel,” Bridget thought. He looked so handsome, standing in the doorway, hands above his head gripping top of the door frame.. Those were some damn nice biceps he was sporting. “No, I’m not worried, now if you don’t mind. I’d like to get some sleep.” She started to close the door.
“Bridget, wait …,” Lane removed his hands from the door frame, and held out his right hand using it to stop the door from closing. “I’m not finished. Do you have a phone in your room? If not, get one and keep it close to you. If you hear anything at all, call 911 and then call out for me. I’ll be right next door.”
“I have my cell phone. I’ll keep it right with me. Now if you don’t mind?” Bridget shut the door with a definite ‘connect’. It wasn’t a slam, but it had a click. A click that said, “piss-off Lane Johnson.” Lane Johnson heard it loud and clear.
“Jeez,” Lane thought, “that is one difficult woman.” He walked away from Bridget’s door shaking his head. He thought they’d been getting somewhere over dinner. He liked her. She was funny, smart and sexy, but nuts he reminded himself. Nuts and in over her head with Max Giovanni. Oh he was pretty sure it wasn’t anything she’d done intentionally and he supposed there was a chance Frank and Robbins had the wrong girl, they weren’t exactly criminal masterminds, but his gut told him Max Giovanni wouldn’t set Frank and Robbins out after the wrong girl.
Nope, there must be something that Bridget had stored on her computer that Giovanni wanted, but what? He reminded himself that he needed to concentrate on that and not the girl. From now on they had a business relationship and that was it. He’d leave the comforting to someone else. She must have friends …
It was a long night. Bridget didn’t sleep well and it wasn’t because she was worried about Max Giovanni. It was the man sleeping in the room next door. She couldn’t believe he’d be interested in her, so just what was the flirting about? What was he playing at? Bridget thought about it long and hard. She came to the conclusion that Lane was playing her, flirting to get close to her, to get information. She was hurt that he still didn’t believe her.
“Just stick to business Bridget,” she told herself. She was sure they’d find the other Bridget soon and she’d be free of Detective Johnson.
Lane woke up before dawn, it was a habit. He’d never needed much sleep and he enjoyed the quiet hours of the early morning. He hadn’t slept well and it was a relief to get up and get his day started. If he were home, he would have gone for a run, but he couldn’t leave his charge alone. Yep, that’s right his charge. He’d lost enough sleep thanks to Bridget Riley and if further solidified his decision to keep it all business.
Rather than make himself at home in her kitchen, Lane called in a breakfast order. The officers outside were due for a shift change in about 20 minutes, which meant their replacements were on the way and would be more than happy to bring Lane a coffee and a breakfast sandwich.
After making the call, Lane had a quick shower. There was just one working bathroom in the house and he was quiet. He didn’t want to wake Bridget and have to navigate an awkward bathroom situation with her. As soon, as he was dressed he let himself out of the house and sat on her front porch steps. It was a beautiful fall morning, crisp but no frost yet this year. The leaves were a kaleidoscope of oranges, golds, browns and reds. He liked these old neighbourhoods with their tree lined streets.
Perfect timing he thought, as the replacements pulled up in a marked EPS squad car. “Good morning sir,” a pretty recruit constable climbed out of the passenger side of the car and greeted him. She held up his Tim’s and sandwich and smiled. “Breakfast with a smile Sir.”
Bridget heard the front door open and close, moments later a car pulled up. She’d had a long night and decided she wasn’t getting anymore sleep, so she might as well get up. Her curiosity got the best of her, so she got up and looked out the window. A very pretty and very young police woman was bringing Lane breakfast. She couldn’t hear what they were saying, but she could tell from the body language that the young woman was flirting. Lane looked like he was enjoying it. Of course! The man really was a cad. She wondered how his girlfriend put up with him, or maybe that was his girlfriend?
“Thanks Constable,” Lane smiled. “I appreciate it. Miss Riley is still sleeping and I didn’t want to wake her making coffee.” Lane took the coffee and sandwich from the officer and then went back to his perch on the front step. He done a lot of thinking while he should have been sleeping and he had a list of ‘must do’ tasks to get out of the way this morning. He wanted to get to the bottom of this case and get the heck out of this house and away from this woman.
Bridget watched Lane as he sat on the step drinking his coffee and eating his sandwich. She hoped this situation was over soon. The man was making her crazy. He was so easy and relaxed. Well it was easy for him; he wasn’t a hostage in his own home!
Bridget showered and dressed quickly. Like Lane she didn’t want to have their morning meet and greet before she was ready for the day. Bridget dressed in comfortable clothing. She had a photo-shoot with her twin nieces in the later in the day, in the river valley. Her sister-in-law Lily wanted to capture the fall colours for her holiday cards. Bridget was looking forward to it, but knew that outdoor shoots with the girls meant she’d be getting down and dirty, literally! Photographing kids, especially Maddy and Mazie meant getting down to their level to get great photos. She decided the situation called for her comfy old jeans, and a comfy black V-neck sweater. Her mother had given her the sweater, in her attempt to subdue her flamboyant daughter. Much to both of their surprise, Bridget loved it.
She wore her hair down and loose. She applied the bare minimum of makeup, for her that meant mascara and a clear lip gloss.
When she was satisfied with her appearance, she headed to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. She was relieved to find the kitchen empty. She didn’t want to have to make conversation with the detective.
Her relief was, however, short lived. Just as Bridget sat down to enjoy her first cup of coffee Lane walked into the kitchen. Bridget wished she’d had just a few more minutes to herself. She tried to ignore the warm tingle his presence awakened in her.
“Good morning,” Lane offered. “I hope you don’t have plans for this morning. I have several things I’d like to go over with you.”
“I was planning to continue cleaning up, making a few more calls to my insurance agents and of course some work. This afternoon I have a photo-shoot in the river-valley.”
“Well the photo-shoot in the river-valley isn’t going to happen, not today anyway.”
“What do you mean, not going to happen? It certainly is going to happen,” Bridget argued.
Lane took a deep breath, “Who are you planning to photograph?”
“My nieces, I promised Lily, my sister-in-law these shots for her Christmas cards. I intend to keep the appointment.”
“How old are you nieces?”
“They’re five. They’re twins,” Bridget explained.
Lane shook his head and snorted, “Let me get this straight. You’ve got one of the nastiest men in town after you, and you want to take your five year old nieces out to the park and put them in danger too? Nice! I could see last night that you don’t get along with your mother, but what did you nieces do to piss you off?”
Bridget was incensed; the nerve of this man was colossal! She clenched and unclenched her fists, and, “You Detective Johnson are a, a …”
“A what Bridget? Come on spit it out and when you are done with me, I’ll tell you just what I think of a person who’d drag two five year olds around with her, when she knows a very dangerous man is after her. Oh, but forgive me Bridget, I forgot it’s for Christmas cards and well it already mid-freaking September so of course it has to be done today or it’ll be too late, right? How silly of me. It’s ridicules but go ahead and argue with me Bridget. I kind of like it.”
Bridget was speechless! Just who in the hell did Lane Johnson think he was? She still hadn’t quite wrapped her head around the fact that she was in danger. She hadn’t even considered the photo-shoot would be dangerous for her or the girls. She loved those little girls and how dare he imply that she didn’t or was selfish.
Bridget felt tears well up and threaten to overflow. She would not cry in front of Detective Johnson again. She straighten her shoulders, blinked back the tears, “I get the point Detective Johnson. I’ll cancel the appointment.” Bridget picked up her coffee from the island where she’d been sitting earlier and walked from the room.
“We have several things to go over. Where are you going?”
“Not now Detective! It’s only eight in the morning, I haven’t even had a chance to finish my first coffee and I’m already sick to death of you. Give me a few minutes, would you?” Bridget forced through clenched teeth.
Bridget forced herself not to cry as she made her way to her office. It hadn’t been her intention to clean that room first, but it was private and the door locked both of which were priorities right now.
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