Promise Not to Tell(4)

By: Jayne Ann Krentz

Anson felt himself flushing. He cleared his throat, but before he could warn Cabot that there was a client in the room, the client spoke.

“Some things are best appreciated in their purest, most essential forms,” Virginia said.

Cabot turned very quickly to confront her. Anson stifled a sigh. Confront was the operative word when it came to Cabot. Not that he was confrontational in the sense that he was always looking for a fight. If anything, he usually came across as unnaturally aloof and unemotional. It took a lot to make him lose his temper, and on the rare occasions when that happened, you didn’t want to be standing in his vicinity.

The issue was that he regarded anything or anyone new, unknown or outside his normal routine, as a potential problem at best and, at worst, a threat until proven otherwise. The result was that he confronted situations and people until he could decide what to do about them.

He also had a bad habit of being attracted to women who thought they needed a man to rescue them. Unfortunately, that type of woman was attracted to him—but never for long. Anson had observed that needy women were happy enough to use Cabot for as long as he was useful, but sooner or later they found themselves dealing with the whole man, not just the rescuer part. And Cabot was nothing if not complicated. His relationships, such as they were, usually ended badly.

The swift, sure way he moved to deal with Virginia said a lot about the man, Anson thought. Most people would have lost the top cup of coffee with such a sudden turn, but Cabot had excellent reflexes and an innate sense of balance. He’d had those talents from childhood and had honed them over the years. Some men ran or lifted weights to stay in shape. Cabot had a black belt in an obscure form of martial arts.

He contemplated Virginia now with a cool, calculating gaze. People often got nervous when Cabot fixed his attention on them. It was the primary reason why Anson or Max usually took on the task of dealing with new clients. Those seeking the services of an investigation agency were already uneasy when they came through the door. There was a general consensus that Cabot might scare off new business.

Virginia seemed unaffected by the infamous Cabot Stare. If anything, she appeared amused.

“Sorry,” Cabot said. “Didn’t know we had a visitor.” He held out one of the paper cups. “Want Anson’s coffee? It’s straight. No sugar, no mocha, no foamy milk, no chocolate sprinkles, no caramel.”

Anson winced. Some people might have assumed that Cabot was trying to make a small joke. They would have been wrong. Cabot was inclined to take things literally. He often spoke the same way. He possessed a sense of humor but you had to know him really well before you could tell when he was joking and when he wasn’t.

Virginia glanced at the cup Cabot was offering and then looked at the other cup.

“Out of curiosity, what are my options?” she said.

Cabot’s brows rose. “Options?”

“You’ve got two cups of coffee,” Virginia said with an air of grave patience. “You just told me that one is straight. I am inquiring about the status of the second cup.”

“That would be mine,” Cabot said. “It’s straight, too. Anson’s the one who taught me how to drink coffee.”

“I see,” Virginia said. “Thank you, but I’ll pass.”

Cabot nodded once, as if she had just confirmed some conclusion that he had made. He placed one of the cups down on the desk in front of Anson. Every move was fluid and precise. There was no wasted motion.

“You’re the fully-loaded-latte type,” he said.

“Actually, no,” Virginia said smoothly, “I’m not.”

She did not elaborate.

Cabot’s eyes tightened a little at the corners. He did not take his attention off Virginia. Anson recognized the expression and suppressed a small groan. Cabot’s curiosity had been aroused. It was a fine trait in an investigator but it could also cause problems.

Cabot was not the subtle type. What you saw was pretty much what you got. That was, of course, why he had trouble when it came to his relationships with women. They were inclined to believe they could smooth out the rough edges and still keep the tough, strong core. Big mistake. And then, inevitably, they concluded they no longer wanted to deal with the inflexibility that was a part of that core.

“This is Virginia Troy,” Anson said before the situation could deteriorate further. “One of the kids in the barn.”

He did not need to say anything more.

Cabot went very still.

“Virginia,” he said. He spoke very softly. “I remember you. Little kid. Dark hair. Big eyes. You had a book that night. You wouldn’t leave it behind.”

Hot Read

Last Updated


Top Books