Jason agrees to show the agents around his house. He leads them to the back stairs, warning them to be careful of the narrow steps. He nearly fell himself once and was glad he didn’t have a woman with him at the time because she might think he was clumsy in bed.
The men laughed at him, their voices echoing oddly in the narrow, cement block space. Taylor Driscole looked somewhat annoyed and he guessed he’d offended her again. He was past caring about what would irritate her. He’d never met a woman with so many sharp edges.
When the door opened at the base of the stairs, they came face to face with half a dozen agents. Weapons drawn, they had formed a wall of bodies across the kitchen. Jason stopped with his hands up. The others nearly ran him down, coming to an abrupt halt.
“Oh, it’s you!” Tim Stuart gave the order to stand down and holstered his weapon.
The other agents followed suit.
“We heard voices and had no idea who you were.”
“They should have given us a schematic,” Driscole said. “But we’ve got Jason. He’s giving us the tour. Why don’t you join us?”
“Will do, boss.”
“I want him to see Spence first. I cracked him pretty hard.”
“Okay. Where is he?”
“Butler’s pantry is directly behind you next to the refrigerator.”
They looked at another blank wall.
“The bloke who designed the house had a thing about concealed doors. When they were for utilitarian purposes, he made them blend. I was just as glad I didn’t have much of a staff. It’s all rather confusing.”
He demonstrated the use of the panel release. This one looked like a light switch.
“Any hidden passages we need to know about? You know, so you can’t sneak out during the night or something?” Driscole asked in an off-hand manner that was far from casual.
“Matter of fact, yes. I’d planned to show them to you, love. None leads outside, but one does go to the garage. We’ll catch them after we go bowling.”
Driscole raised an eyebrow.
“Believe me yet?”
“Not until I see it.”
“All right, Doubting Thomas, we’ll go see it after Spence checks my war wound, shall we?”
Spence was a stoop shouldered older man who spoke with a clipped Midwestern accent. He poked and prodded Jason’s jaw, checked his teeth and did an x-ray of his face.
“You didn’t quite dislocate it, Taylor. What’s wrong? Having an off day?”
“Got a hard head, me,” Jason replied.
“She did chip a couple teeth, but not serious.” Spence pointed to the films. “Ice packs, Tylenol. You’ll be right as rain in a few days.”
“Marred my pretty boy looks,” Jason said, rubbing his jaw. “At least it won’t leave a scar.”
“Chicks dig scars,” Spence teased.
“Yeah, well—when you see an eligible lady, let me know. I’m currently in the market.”
“Sure thing, kid.”
Taylor’s expression changed immediately from concern to anger. How could one man make her to incredibly irritated? She pushed past him, nearly knocking him down.
Jason’s eyes followed her with a knowing glitter as he hid a smile. Remark stung, eh? Not expecting me to say something like that as if you weren’t a woman, were you? Cheeky minx.
“If you get any additional pain, let me know. I can get you something stronger,” Spence said, handing Jason Tylenol and a glass of water.
“Never touch the hard stuff,” Jason replied. “Dad was a drug addict, Mum and alcoholic. I leave my addictions for the bedroom.” He winked at Spence as he ran a hand through his strawberry blond curls, forming a male model pout.
The older man nudged him, laughing. The other men looked at Driscole to gauge her reaction. She flushed, squared her shoulders and stalked from the room. They found her in the kitchen pouring herself a mug of coffee.
“Ready to continue the tour?” Jason asked helpfully.
“Sure, kid,” Tim Stuart replied.
“The way to the basement,” Jason replied, going to what looked like another blank wall.
“How long have you lived here?” Greg Kisler asked.
“Before I got nicked? Couple months.”
“How do you keep it all straight?” Alex Graves wondered.
“Got a head for maps and details. Have to in my business. Make a wrong turn, end up standing in the dock.”
“You mean like you were?” Taylor Driscole was angry, that much was obvious.
“Yeah, well I was unconscious when they nicked me. Bleeding out my life’s blood on the pristine marble floor of the gallery, wasn’t I? Not from my own lack of skills. I made the mistake of trusting the wrong bird. Can’t tell me you’ve not trusted the wrong bloke before, Agent Driscole.”
“I didn’t get arrested as a result,” she said, tossing her hair.
Jason watched the color rise in her cheeks. Oh, you’ve been a bad girl, my lass. That you have. Question is, would you ever consider being bad with me?
Keeping his hands carefully away from her, he ushered her through the other hidden doorway. This one was to the left of the pantry, toward the center of the house.
© Dellani Oakes