Sweet Liar (Montgomery/Taggert 18) - Page 47

Several emotions crossed Mike’s face, then he sat down heavily beside her. “I’ll close the house if I have to, then you won’t have any place to stay.”

“Fine. I’ll rent another apartment.”

Mike gave a grunt then a lopsided grin. “And who’ll take care of you? The doorman? Sam, you’re so terrified of New York you haven’t even gone around the block by yourself. How do you expect to find your grandmother without me to help you? And I’m going to refuse to help you.”

Turning her to face him, he took her hands in his “Look, sweetheart, in any other instance, I’d love to have you with me, but this is dangerous.”

She raised one eyebrow. “Men’s work?”

He squeezed her hands. “Don’t give me that women’s lib crap! I’m not talking about who does the dishes, I’m talking about life and death.”

“And what makes you think you’d make a better detective than me? You’ve been researching for two years, and I’ve found out more in a few weeks than you have.”

Mike nearly choked on what he wanted to say. “Found out? You call the bruises on your neck ‘finding out’?”

She tried to pull her hands away, but he held them tightly. “She is my grandmother, she was involved with a hideous man, and my father wanted me to look for her.”

“Your father had no idea his mother was involved with gangsters—at least not real gangsters. Today gangsters sound kind of cute, and besides, your dad thought his mother ran away because of love.”

“And why do you think she ran away?”

Mike put his nose nearly to hers. “Money. Murder. She knew something. It could be a million reasons—maybe three million reasons—but none of them are good, which is why you are going to Maine where it’s safe.”

She took a deep breath. There was no way in the world he was going to change her mind, but on the other hand, she wanted to stay in his house. It was comfortable here; the garden was pretty; it was a nice location. And, well, okay, she was rather familiar with Mike and if she did ever again need help—which of course she wasn’t going to—he did have rather fast reactions.

“Mike,” she asked, “why are you researching this man?” She narrowed her eyes at him. “The truth. I want the truth, not one of your lies, no matter how sweetly you tell it.”

Releasing her hands, he stood up and walked to the window. “For my uncle Mike,” he said, then turned back to her. “Remember when Doc said that Scalpini’s men shot a lot of innocent people in the nightclub?”

She nodded.

“My uncle Mike worked there. He danced with the women whose husbands and boyfriends were too fat to dance, and he was on the dance floor when Scalpini’s men arrived. He took thirty-two bullets below the waist.

“Thirty-two,” she whispered. “And he lived?”

“Barely. It

was touch and go for a long time, but he not only lived, he learned to walk on crutches. He and my grandfather were in the navy together and Mike saved Gramp’s life, so when Mike needed help, Gramps gave it. He brought Uncle Mike to Chandler, hired the best medical people, and helped him get well. Uncle Mike lived in a little house behind ours.”

“And he was your friend?”

“The best of friends. Sometimes a person can get lost in a family the size of mine, but Uncle Mike always had time for me. He never lost patience with me, and he always took my side in any scrape—even when I was in the wrong.”

“He sounds like a nice man.”

“He was.”

Looking up at him, she saw the sadness in his eyes and knew they shared something, this loss of people they loved. “And you want to bring justice to Doc because of what was done to your uncle Mike?”

“Something like that.”

“Do you realize that if Scalpini hadn’t shot Mike, you’d probably never have met him? In my case, my family was already formed, we were happy, but something that probably had to do with that night in 1928 broke my family apart. Don’t I have a right to know what happened? To know what made my grandmother leave?”

He went to sit by her again. “Of course you do. I’ll call you every day. I was going to anyway, but—”

“Were you?”

“Was I where?”

Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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