“Tell me more about the break-in? What happened?”
She explained what had happened, how the man had surprised them and how Dez had defused the situation. She answered questions about any threats she might have gotten recently—none—and in her last line of work—plenty. As she spoke, he wrote, his handwriting like a box of matchsticks spilled on yellow legal paper.
“Why’d they send Feds out?” Dez suddenly asked.
Ryan looked up. All of his attention went to Dez as if they were suddenly the only two people in the room. “Why do you think I’m a Fed?” he asked.
“It’s not a thought. I know you’re with the Bureau.”
One of Ryan’s dark brows lifted. “Sure of ourselves, aren’t we?”
“Answer the question.”
Ryan leaned forward. “I don’t answer to you.”
Dez mimicked his body language, a smile at the corner of his mouth, eyes glinting like the edge of a steel blade. “But you will.”
When the room went silent, it didn’t fall like the natural pause in a conversation. It exploded like two atoms colliding, like a dying star, and Larke felt sucked into the black hole of it all.
“I didn’t quite catch your name,” Ryan said.
Dez leaned back. His palm found its spot on Larke’s back. “I didn’t give it.”
Ryan studied him. Dez didn’t falter. Larke should have been scared, but she wanted to bounce up and down in her chair, clapping like a happy child. This was far from the Dez she’d known. He’d always been soft and gentle with her, but this show of masculinity was something she didn’t even realize she wanted in her life and in her bed.
Calm down, girl. He just got back.
“Okay.” Ryan set down his pen and turned back to Larke. “You have an alarm system down there, don’t you?”
She nodded. “Yep. Top of the line.”
“Did you hear it go off?”
“It didn’t go off.”
Ryan titled his head to the side. “Is it broken?”
“Not that I know of. It was working perfectly fine when my assistant left minutes before.”
“And what about him?” Ryan jutted his chin in Dez’s direction. “Did it go off when he showed up?”
Larke wrinkled her brow, trying to remember. She’d been so caught up in Dez’s scent, his embrace, that she’d forgotten nearly everything that had come before him.
“Yes,” she said. “It beeped.”
“But didn’t go off.”
“I hadn’t set it yet.”
“Uh huh.” He clicked his tongue. “So when the man came in, did it go off then?”
She took another moment to recall. “Not that I’m aware of.”
“How is that possible? That security system is top of the line with no cable wires to cut and nearly impossible to deactivate wirelessly. Why would it, all of a sudden, just not go off?”
Frustration burrowed in her chest like a parasite. So, he was going to play this game. The “she’s probably lying and trying to get something” game. But what would she have to gain? The man hadn’t stolen anything. Nothing had been destroyed. There would be no need to file an insurance claim or even curse out her landlord for the thirteenth time.
“It never went off,” Dez said with no question or doubt in his voice.
Ryan didn’t look at him, but the tension in the room still climbed. She understood why people would say tension could be cut with a knife. This pressure could be spread on toast and drank with morning coffee.
“Anything else, Miss Tapley?” Ryan asked.
This time when he looked at her, she saw the questioning in his eyes. She couldn’t figure out what he was asking, but he was trying to get something across.
She finished telling him what she could before they wrapped up the session.
He clicked his pen, lifted his pad from the table, and left the room.