Bringing Maddie Home - Page 12

Maneuvering the cart, she sneaked another glance. Yes, slacks and a white shirt, open at the neck, but it was after five, which probably meant he was off work and had left his suit jacket and tie in the car. Dark hair cut rather short. Not exactly handsome, his face was still compelling. Hard. And though his posture was relaxed, with his legs stretched out and his ankles crossed, she doubted, although she couldn’t have said why, that he was relaxed at all.

Ignore him.

It wasn’t as if she was alone in the library. If he was still watching her an hour from now when she got off work, she’d have someone walk her to her car, which she’d driven today because it was her night to go to SafeHold.

She shelved in reasonable peace, pausing only a couple of times to talk to patrons and answer questions. A lively discussion with a regular about Alice Hoffman’s latest distracted her enough that she almost forgot the man. At some point, he picked up another section of the newspaper and read it, although he never lifted it high enough to disappear the way he had earlier. He might not be paying any attention to her at all, or he might still be keeping an eye on her. She couldn’t tell.

He hadn’t moved from his chair when her replacement arrived and she slipped away to get her coat and a couple of books she’d plucked off the new-title shelf for herself. But he was nowhere to be seen when she headed for the front doors.

She was almost to her car, keys in hand, wishing it didn’t get dark so early at this time of year, when a man said quietly, “Ms. Smith?”

With a sharp gasp, Nell spun around.

It was him, of course. She couldn’t imagine where he’d come from, how he’d gotten so near without making a sound. The lighting was good in the parking lot, but still cast odd shadows. He loomed over her.

The books fell from her hand, thudding to the pavement, and she backed up until she pressed against the fender of her Ford.

Seeing her fear, he lifted both hands and retreated a step. “Hey! It’s okay. I’m sorry if I frightened you. I won’t hurt you. I meant to catch you inside before you left.”

She didn’t take her eyes off him or bend to pick up the books she’d dropped. “What do you want?”

“I recognized you,” he said simply.

“I don’t know you.” Nell was certain of that.

“No. No, you wouldn’t. I’m a police officer, Ms. Smith. I recognize you from pictures taken before you disappeared.”

She had to swallow before she could get a word out. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

His eyes were colorless in this stark, artificial light. Not brown, she thought; something pale gray or blue. They were keen on her face, as if he were drinking in the sight of her. No one had ever looked at her so intensely.

“I saw the news clip last night. I knew you right away.”

She prayed he couldn’t tell that she was trembling all over. Thank God the car was at her back, supporting her. She summoned a cool voice that sounded barely interested. “Just who is it that you think I am?”

“Madeline Dubeau.” He paused. “Madeline Noelle Dubeau. Maddie.”

Maddie. Oh, God, oh, God. She had called herself Mary in Portland. And she’d liked the name Eleanor, when she found it, because Nell sounded right to her. Like somebody she could be.

“My name is Eleanor Smith. I don’t know a Maddie...what did you say the last name is? Dew...?”


Nell shook her head. “I’ve heard we all have twins.”

“I don’t believe it. I’ve searched for you for what seems half my life. I know you.”

Her heart was pounding so hard it hurt. She should say, I’m not this person you want me to be. Please leave me alone. She would say it, but first...she had to know.

“Why?” she whispered. “Why have you been hunting for her?”

He lifted a hand, and she flinched, but he was only reaching to squeeze the back of his own neck. “I was the responding officer when somebody heard your—her—scream. I found the mountain bike, the blood. Your wallet with a driver’s permit. I was new on the job then, and maybe that’s why I let myself care so much.” His hand lowered to his side, slowly, and she thought he was being careful not to alarm her again. “Last night when I saw you on the news—” he cleared his throat as if to give himself a second “—I thought it was a miracle.”

She had to get rid of him. Had to convince him he was wrong.

“I’m not your miracle,” Nell heard herself say so harshly, she didn’t know her own voice. “I’m sorry to have to disappoint you, but I’m not this Madeline person. You truly are mistaken, Mr....?”

Tags: Janice Kay Johnson Billionaire Romance
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