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Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 12

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“No.”

“And neither one of us is a kid. At our age, we should know what we want-or, at least, know what we’re risking by getting involved with each other.”

Isabel eyed him, not without a certain humor. “I’ve always been impulsive as hell. Jump, then look for a place to land. Obviously, you look before you jump.”

“They do say opposites attract.”

“They certainly do.” She sighed. “You’re right, I don’t know what I want. And I have been feeling rattled all day because of the changes in my abilities. Not the best time to make this sort of decision, I guess.”

“No. But for what it’s worth…” He leaned over and kissed her, his free hand lifting to the side of her neck, his thumb stroking her cheek. There was nothing especially gentle in the action, nothing in the least tentative; he wanted her, and left her in no doubt of that fact.

When she could, Isabel said, “Okay, that wasn’t fair.”

Rafe grinned at her and stepped back, finally releasing her hand. “See you tomorrow at the office, Isabel.”

“Bastard.”

“Night-night. Sleep tight.”

“If you say don’t let the bedbugs bite, I’ll shoot you.”

Rafe chuckled and turned away.

She stood there on the porch and gazed after him until he returned to his Jeep, then shook her head and went into the inn’s lobby, still smiling.

“Good evening, Agent Adams,” the desk clerk said cheerily.

Isabel glanced back over her shoulder at the mostly glass front door and very well-lighted front porch, then at the clerk’s face. She looked like the soul of discretion.

Which undoubtedly meant she was already making a mental list of people to call with the latest tidbit of gossip.

Sighing, Isabel said, “Good evening, Patty.”

“We provide a continental breakfast on Sunday morning, Agent Adams. From eight to eleven. In case you and your partner didn’t know that.”

“I’ll be sure to tell her. Have a nice night, Patty.”

“You, too, Agent Adams.” She sounded consoling, sympathetic, obviously since Isabel was going to bed alone.

Isabel escaped up the stairs, hoping that glass front door was, at the very least, soundproofed. She stopped by Hollis’s room and knocked softly, reasonably sure her partner was still up but not sure she wanted company.

But Hollis opened the door immediately, saying, “I actually ordered a pizza a couple of hours ago. And ate some of it. Does that mean I’m taking a step closer to becoming accustomed to dead bodies?”

“It means your own body is healthy and needs sustenance, mostly,” Isabel replied, stepping into the room. “But, yeah, it’s a good sign you can handle the more gross aspects of the job. I’d put it in the plus column.”

“Good. I need more checks in the plus column. I was beginning to feel horribly inadequate.” Hollis invited her in with a gesture, adding, “I have an extra Pepsi here. Or did you get enough caffeine with dinner?”

“Enough. Plus, I really need a good night’s sleep.” Isabel frowned slightly, but said, “The plan is to meet up at the station by nine-thirty. Patty, downstairs, says the inn offers a continental breakfast on Sunday morning. We can go down between eight and eight-thirty, if that’s okay with you.”

“Sure.” Hollis studied her thoughtfully as she went to sit on her bed beside a closed pizza box. “You look sort of… disconcerted. Rafe?”

“He’s a little more complicated than I bargained for,” Isabel admitted, wandering around the small bedroom somewhat restlessly. “Even the clairvoyant stuff I picked up didn’t warn me about that. Dammit.”

“You told him?”

“My horror story? Yeah.”

“And?”

“He… handled it really well. Didn’t freak out, didn’t act like I was suddenly a leper. Compassionate and understanding and very discerning.” She frowned again and added in a dissatisfied tone, “Also a cautious man.”

Hollis grinned. “Wasn’t ready to just jump into bed, huh?”

“Now, what makes you think-”

“Oh, come on, Isabel. As soon as we talked earlier, I could see the wheels turning. You saw a potential emotional complication looming and, characteristically, your response was to charge toward it head-on. If he was going to be a problem in any way whatsoever, you intended to deal with it now. Whether he was ready or not.”

“Why is everybody else suddenly so perceptive as to my motives?” Isabel demanded. “I’m supposed to be the clairvoyant one. Look, I wasn’t after a one-night stand. Necessarily. It’s just… things are simpler when the physical stuff is out of the way, that’s all.”

Shaking her head, Hollis said, “Well, now I can understand why your past relationships weren’t entirely successful, if that’s your attitude about sex. Just something to get over and done with?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Yes, you did. You’re a lot of things, Isabel, but subtle isn’t one of them. You probably as good as told the man you wanted to sleep with him so you wouldn’t be distracted having to think about it anymore.”

“I was not that blunt.”

“Maybe not, but I’m sure he got the gist of it.”

Isabel sat down in the chair in the corner of the bedroom and scowled at Hollis. “The SCU therapist says I have a few emotional issues about giving up control.”

“No, really?”

“It’s not a big thing. I just… prefer to make the first move whenever possible.”

“Because the last guy you allowed to make the first move turned out to be a twisted, evil bastard. Yeah, I get that. I imagine Rafe gets it as well.”

“I don’t like having transparent motives,” Isabel announced. “It makes me feel naked.”

Hollis smiled. “Don’t snap at the messenger. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.”

Isabel sighed. “It’s about control. I know it’s about control. Even after all these years, I can’t help feeling… wary. Not of men in general, just of men who might-possibly-mean something to me. Especially if they’re obviously very strong men. Don’t you? We both went through similar experiences, after all, and yours was just a few months ago.”

“I had Maggie Barnes,” Hollis reminded her. “That empathy thing of hers did a dandy job of taking away a lot of the pain and healing the trauma. Even though what happened to me was just months ago, it feels more like years. Decades. Distant, unimportant, almost as if it happened to someone else. Almost. Do I know if I can feel a normal, healthy desire for a man? No idea. Not yet anyway. Haven’t met a man I felt that sort of interest in so far.”

Isabel lifted an eyebrow. “You seemed a bit drawn to Caleb Powell, I thought.”

“A bit,” Hollis admitted with a shrug. “But… a big-city-caliber attorney lives and works in a small town for a reason. He wants a simple life. Had one, too, until a lethal killer began stalking his nice little town, and his employee and friend was horribly murdered. Now, like it or not, I’m part of that gruesome series of events that’s turning his simple, peaceful existence upside down.”

“You’re one of the good guys.”

“Yeah, points in the positive column for that. But not enough to balance it, I’m afraid. Especially since I have my own horror story.”

“Did you…”

“Tell him? Yeah. I met him in the coffee shop earlier, by chance, and we talked for a while. He asked questions, so I answered them. He didn’t take it all that well. Sort of freaked, actually. In a very quiet, controlled, lawyerish kind of way. But I saw his face. And he certainly didn’t offer to drive me home.” Her smile was wry. “It was the eye thing that finally got to him. Up until then, he was more or less okay, but that was a bit too much to take.”

“Hollis, I’m sorry.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. Some things aren’t meant to be, you know? I mean, if he couldn’t accept a little thing like an eye transplant, then it’s a cinch he’d never be comfortable with me talking to dead people.”

“No, probably not.”

“Some people just… can’t think outside the box. You’re lucky Rafe can.”

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