Elizabeth’s first date with David goes differently than expected.
I spun in front of the full-length mirror hanging from my closet door, eyeing my black dress and high heels. My hands trembled as I smoothed the silky fabric against my thighs.
Scarlett came through the doorway, wearing a tight red dress. “Sexy.”
“Is it too short?” I turned to her. “I can change.”
“Don’t change. You look hot.” She grinned. “It’s not as short as my dress.”
“You’re comfortable in too-revealing clothing while I’m not.”
“Are you calling me a slut?” Her eyebrows arched.
“If the shoe fits.”
Scarlett stalked across the room, a shoe dangling from her hand.
I stepped back, shaking my head. “You wouldn’t.”
The doorbell rang.
“Now, you’ll never know.” She slipped her foot into the pump and winked before rushing from the room.
“Lizzie. It’s for you,” Scarlett called from the living room.
Why was David early? I raced for my bag and coat. My heart was pounding as I came to a stop. I must act cool and collected. I took a deep breath and sauntered through the doorway.
He came to his feet. “Hello, Elizabeth.”
My gaze drifted from his cleft chin to chiseled cheekbones, coming to rest on dazzling blue eyes. I opened my mouth, but no sound escaped.
“I hope you’re happy to see me.” He shifted closer, lifting his hand to stroke my cheek.
“I am.” I closed my eyes as his touch sent shivers through my body.
“Okay, lovers.” Scarlett pushed between us. “You’ll miss your reservation, and my date will be here soon.”
David took my hand. “We can take a hint.” I followed him from the apartment, but not before I stuck my tongue at Scarlett behind his back.
* * *
After clicking the remote to unlock the black Jaguar parked at the curb, David opened the passenger door, and I sank into the beige leather seats. Once the car was humming, he seat-belted himself and faced me. “Are you comfortable?”
I nodded. “It’s a gorgeous car.”
“Air-conditioning or sunroof?” David grinned, giving me an enticing glimpse of dimples.
I thought of the wind messing my hair. “Air-conditioner, please.”
We drove in silence until I asked, “Is there any news?” When he didn’t respond, I added, “We don’t have to mention the explosion or –”
“Pick any topic.” He glanced at me. “I want us to relax and enjoy the evening.”
I lowered my face and smoothed the black fabric bunched beneath the seatbelt.
He placed his hand on my arm, and I lifted my face to the glittering blue eyes seeking mine. “Don’t worry. We’ll find the ones responsible for the explosion.” David pulled the car in front of a one-storied teal blue building, its windows and door strung with twinkling lights. “We’re here.”
Valets rushed to open our doors. I took David’s arm as we headed inside behind the couples filing through the doorway. Soft music accompanied the hushed conversation in the darkened room. A fire sizzled in the fireplace, nestled in the far left corner. The maître d led us to a table set for two overlooking the water.
After the maître d seated us, a server filled our water glasses and handed us menus. I glanced through the pages, amazed at the steep prices.
“Don’t look at the prices.”
I raised my face and stared at the handsome man sitting across from me, grinning. “I wasn’t.”
“You were.” David chuckled. “Your arched brows tell the complete story.” When I blushed, he continued, “Don’t worry. You have lovely eyes and brows.” As heat suffused my face, he laughed. “I have the money, so spend it.”
I shook my head.
He reached for my hand, which rested on the table, covering it with his. “Order what your heart desires.”
“I’m not familiar with most of these dishes.” As I perused the menu, my gaze drifted to the tables closest to us. Well-dressed couples drank wine and ate, smiling at each other, laughing, and holding hands. His finger stroked the inside of my wrist, and I shivered.
“Are you cold?”
I met his gaze. “I’m fine. Can I order the same dish as you?”
A smile deepened his dimples. “I was going to order steak and home fries.”
“A steak-and-potatoes man.” I smiled. “I’ll have the same.”
The server took our orders and David’s choice of wine. I turned to the window where the moon stroked the dark water with shimmering silver streaks. The soft music and murmur of conversation helped to soothe my frayed nerves.
“Are you upset?”
I caught his concerned expression. “No. Why do you think I’m upset?”
He leaned forward, giving me a lopsided grin. “I was hoping you weren’t angry from last night.”
His jaw tightened. “The way Logan interrogated you, I should have stopped him. The chief allows him to take control.”
“It wasn’t your fault.” I twirled the wine glass in my hand, watching the dark burgundy liquid catch the votive candle’s flickering light. “Why does the chief allow Logan to intervene?”
“Logan is wealthy and has influential contacts.” He leaned back in his chair. “The chief needs his help to solve the recent crime wave.”
“Is it a crime wave?”
David took a sip of wine, his unhurried gaze following the contours of my face. “A few incidents have occurred in the past six months.”
“Murders?” My stomach plummeted as if I’d consumed a lump of coal.
“Yes.” David shifted in his seat. “Chief Lively has requested my help.”
“Why you? Aren’t you a lawyer?”
“Yes. I’m a mere lawyer.” His eyes darkened to midnight blue as they met mine. “But the chief claims to enjoy my keen mind; he told me I chose the wrong profession.”
“I can see you as a detective.” I busied myself with sipping wine instead of witnessing his woeful expression.
David laughed out loud. “I’m not hurt.” Heads turned from neighboring tables. “I’ve been an officer of the law.”
“As a marine?”
“You’ve heard.” He winked. “Major David Hunt, at your service, ma’am.”
“Nice.” His uneven smirk captivated me as I struggled to compose myself. I didn’t hear the server arrive and place our dishes on the table.
I came to realize I loved to watch David eat. He cut his steak with precision, chewing with his mouth closed, his Adam’s apple bopping along his tan neck. My gaze lingered at the juncture of his white shirt and blue-striped tie. I noticed he had stopped eating, and I raised my face.
“Hi.” Dimples appeared in the light stubble on his cheeks.
“I enjoy watching you eat.” Blood rushed to my face, and I glanced away. Why did I say that?
David took my hand. “And I love watching you.” His face shifted closer to mine, and I shut my eyes. “Lizzie.”
I opened my eyes.
“You’ve mesmerized me as no other woman has for a long time.” He sat forward, his hungry gaze devouring me until I trembled from its intensity.
“There you are.” A shout rang across the room, followed by the husky figure of Chief Lively.
David shot to his feet, facing Lively with an annoyed expression. “What’s wrong now?”
“There has been another death.” The chief halted beside our table, his dark glare landing on me.
“I can’t help you; we’re having dinner.” His face ashen, David sat, replacing his fallen napkin on his lap.
“I need you,” Lively replied, his voice sharpening. “They took Logan to the hospital.”
“What happened?” David threw me a concerned look before hurrying to his feet and leading the chief to an isolated spot beside the window.
“Logan will be okay. A woman is dead.”
“A woman, this time?” David glanced over the chief’s shoulder at me. “I’ll drive Elizabeth home.”
“No. We don’t have time.” Lively stepped in front of me, his heated gaze meeting mine. “You’ll have to come with us.”
David said to the chief, “I’ll meet you.” He then turned to me. “I’m sorry.”
Attempting a smile, I said, “I’m fine. I might even help.”
His eyebrows rose in disbelief as he escorted me from the restaurant. And so began my journey into Blue Harbor’s secrets, known only to the select few, which now included me.