Ill be seeing you, p.1

I'll Be Seeing You, page 1

 

I'll Be Seeing You
 


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I'll Be Seeing You


  She could handle the flirting.

  She could. She was practical enough to know that Raphael didn’t mean anything by it. All she had to do was look at him to understand that.

  He was all animal grace and golden good looks.

  Tall, gorgeous women were Raphael’s type, Kate thought, not someone who was five foot four if she stood on her tiptoes, someone who did not have a bad hair day now and again but was having a bad hair life.

  The problem was…his eyes.

  Raphael had a way of looking at her when he said things, a steady way, with that smoky green gaze, while one corner of his mouth crooked up in a secret smile. Like there was something shared between them…

  Dear Reader,

  As the Intimate Moments quarter of our yearlong 20th anniversary promotion draws to a close, we offer you a month so full of reading excitement, you’ll hardly know where to start. How about with Night Shield, the newest NIGHT TALES title from New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts? As always, Nora delivers characters you’ll never forget and a plot guaranteed to keep you turning the pages. And don’t miss our special NIGHT TALES reissue, also available this month wherever you buy books.

  What next? How about Night of No Return, rising star Eileen Wilks’s contribution to our in-line continuity, A YEAR OF LOVING DANGEROUSLY? This emotional and suspenseful tale will have you on the edge of your seat—and longing for the next book in the series. As an additional treat this month, we offer you an in-line continuation of our extremely popular out-of-series continuity, 36 HOURS. Bestselling author Susan Mallery kicks things off with Cinderella for a Night. You’ll love this book, along with the three Intimate Moments novels—and one stand-alone Christmas anthology—that follow it.

  Rounding out the month, we have a new book from Beverly Bird, one of the authors who helped define Intimate Moments in its very first month of publication. She’s joined by Mary McBride and Virginia Kantra, each of whom contributes a top-notch novel to the month.

  Next month, look for a special two-in-one volume by Maggie Shayne and Marilyn Pappano, called Who Do You Love? And in November, watch for the debut of our stunning new cover design.

  Leslie J. Wainger

  Executive Senior Editor

  I’LL BE SEEING YOU

  BEVERLY BIRD

  Books by Beverly Bird

  Silhouette Intimate Moments

  Emeralds in the Dark #3

  The Fires of Winter #23

  Ride the Wind #139

  A Solitary Man #172

  *A Man Without Love #630

  *A Man Without a Haven #641

  *A Man Without a Wife #652

  Undercover Cowboy #711

  The Marrying Kind #732

  Compromising Positions #777

  †Loving Mariah #790

  †Marrying Jake #802

  †Saving Susannah #814

  It Had To Be You #970

  I’ll Be Seeing You #1030

  Silhouette Desire

  The Best Reasons #190

  Fool’s Gold #209

  All the Marbles #227

  To Love a Stranger #411

  BEVERLY BIRD

  has lived in several places in the United States, but she is currently back where her roots began on an island in New Jersey. Her time is devoted to her family and her writing. She is the author of numerous romance novels, both contemporary and historical. Beverly loves to hear from readers. You can write to her at P.O. Box 350, Brigantine, NJ 08203.

  Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 1

  Perfection had its own kind of rush, Kate Mulhern thought. It was a tingling flow of adrenaline that made her want to hold her breath in anticipation of the final result.

  She stopped moving for a split second in the kitchen of one of Philadelphia’s finer Society Hill brownstones and looked—just looked—at what she had created. The china she’d selected for Dinner For Two, her unique catering business, was a fragile ivory with gold trim. On each plate a filet nested among roasted scallions with a touch of potato thins to the side. Perfect.

  Kate smiled and got back to business.

  She’d left the couple she was catering for alone for eight minutes now. They had their wine to keep them company—an excellent South Australian ’84 Pinot Noir—but the man was rapidly moving through that. It was time to get on with the meal’s centerpiece. Kate left the plates on the kitchen’s center island and turned away to retrieve the orange béarnaise and julienne rind that would top the steaks.

  A crash splintered the kitchen’s quiet.

  She let out a yelp of surprise and whirled around, her hand pressed to her chest. What she saw was preposterous! “Hey!” she yelled. “Hey, you! No, wait, stop!”

  And the dog did.

  It was a dog! In the kitchen? Her client hadn’t mentioned that he had one. But she’d left the back door open a crack while the broiler had done its business—it was August, and Kate considered it to be in poor taste to hike her client’s air-conditioning up without asking. So she’d left the door slightly ajar to let in what scant breeze there was, and a dog—some scrappy little Chihuahua type thing—had come in instead.

  Kate’s skin pulled into gooseflesh. Not just any dog, she thought. That dog.

  It looked back at her and wagged its tail. Kate let out a strangled sound. The dog dropped the filet that was clamped in its jaws to bark once, a cheery hello, then it snapped the meat up again and trotted out.

  Twelve and a half minutes down the drain, she thought, her blood still jittering with astonishment. So there was no time to dwell on the dog or what it had done. She was prepared—of course, she was prepared for any contingency, even this, the outrageous. She had two more filets in the fridge. There go my profits. Reputation was everything. She could salvage this. Twelve and a half minutes behind schedule. She had to move, had to get two more steaks in the broiler wrapped with the bacon she’d take off before serving them.

  Instead, she rubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands.

  It had not been that dog, she decided, finally turning back to the broiler. The dog she was thinking of had disappeared into Manhattan four months ago after turning her old roommate’s world upside down. What had Shawna named the mutt? Belle. Belle had blasted into Shawna’s life for two short weeks, leaving love, murder and mayhem in her wake.

  Kate cooked new steaks, watching the timer impatiently. She wondered if she should make an excuse for the delay or just proceed blithely and hope no one noticed. She slid the filets onto two new plates, abandoning the filet that the dog hadn’t eaten. Then she took a deep breath. She felt perspiration slide between her shoulder blades and hoped it didn’t show. She picked up both plates and stepped over the shattered china on the floor. She didn’t even want to consider what that plate had cost her.

  She pushed through the door into the dining room, a smile pasted on her face. The sight in front of her made her pulse give another hitch. The man, her customer, was laying facedown in his hearts-of-palm salad.

  His date—a voluptuous blonde in shimmering silver—came through the opposite door at the same moment and started screaming.

  “Wait a minute, just calm down,” Kate murmured. She eased the plates onto the table. Maybe he had just passed out. Please, don’t let it have been the food.

  But
it wasn’t the food. Kate’s biggest weakness was detective novels, and cop shows. It was the only vice she indulged in, but she did it with fervor. A thin ribbon of blood ran down the back of the man’s neck. She knew what blood like that meant. It was a gunshot wound to the back of the man’s head.

  This job was turning into a nightmare!

  Kate forced herself to touch the man’s wrist, even though her fingers shook. His skin was warm and she felt hope shoot into her blood. Then everything inside her recoiled.

  No pulse. Kate tried again, and her heartbeat took off. No pulse!

  The blonde’s cries changed to howls. Kate did the only thing she could. She stepped around the dead man and slapped the woman hard.

  When the blonde’s wails had subsided to hiccups, Kate ran to find a telephone. She fumbled with the buttons twice before she managed to punch in 911. A voice answered immediately—cold, detached, almost mechanical. Kate cleared her throat.

  “Uh, yes. Please send someone immediately. There’s a dead man in my salad.”

  Lieutenant Detective Raphael Montiel preferred to think of adrenaline as something hot and sharp that hurt the underside of his skin. It was rarely a pleasant feeling.

  It drove him hard as he shot his aging Explorer around the corner of Third into Willings Alley. His left shoulder rammed against the window when he jerked the SUV straight again. He didn’t have to look for the address. He knew the brownstone without the police cruisers that hurled red and blue light up against the walls of brick that bracketed the alley. He’d had his eye on the home’s owner for a while.

  Phillip McGaffney was dead.

  Raphael cursed roundly, most of his fury aimed at whoever had taken McGaffney out—not that the killer had done so in the first place, because that had been inevitable for months now—because the SOB hadn’t waited three hours and forty-two more minutes to do it. Raphael’s suspension from the force lifted at midnight. Now, twenty minutes after the 911 call had come in, his dashboard clock remained stubbornly stuck at eight thirty-eight.

  He’d flatten the man who called him on it. McGaffney was his. Two warring factions of Philadelphia’s powerful Irish underground had just begun sniffing around each other thirty days ago when Raphael had taken his suspension in the teeth. He’d spent the last month staving off boredom by continuing to track every move the family made. Lou O’Bannon, the mob’s kingpin, had died ten days into Raphael’s suspension—of cancer, a virtual anomaly in his world. It had been a slow, natural death that had given Phil McGaffney and Charlie Eagan plenty of time to begin recruiting their supporters. Both of them fully intended to take over O’Bannon’s throne.

  It had been only a matter of time before full-fledged war broke out between the groups. But Raphael hadn’t expected it to start this way, with Eagan’s boys shooting right for the other guys’ top dog.

  He drove the Explorer into half a space between two black-and-whites. The SUV braked to a hard stop, and Raphael was out before it had settled back on its shock absorbers. He jogged across the alley and up the steps to McGaffney’s front door.

  “Where’s Plattsmier?” he demanded of the cop manning the entrance.

  “Not here yet.”

  But his captain would probably be here soon, Raphael thought. “Who’s in charge?”

  The officer grinned. “Fox.”

  Some of the constriction eased across Raphael’s chest. Having C. Fox Whittington catch this stiff was good. It was very good. Fox was his partner.

  Raphael passed the cop and went inside. He began stalking the first floor of the brownstone looking for Fox. Then he stepped into the dining room and his jaw sagged.

  It was a long, narrow room with a cherry-wood table in the center. Dark wainscoting traced around the ivory-papered walls. The chandelier in the center of the ceiling was heavy with too much bronze that robbed the sparkling white light of its innocence. There was a door to the kitchen on one side of the room, a door to a hallway on the other.

  McGaffney was facedown at the head of the table.

  The blood that seeped from the gunshot wound at the base of the man’s skull was congealing now, going tacky and brown. It was nothing Raphael hadn’t seen before. The scene on the floor, however, rocked him a little.

  The woman at the bottom of the pile was leggy—very leggy, he thought, given that the metallic fabric of her dress was pushed up nearly to her backside. It was all Raphael could see of her because there was a brunette sitting on top of her, deposited right on the small of the other woman’s back. Her knees were drawn up and her chin rested in her hand. Every once in a while, the leggy woman kicked, but the brunette wasn’t budging.

  Raphael had no idea if the brunette was leggy or not. She wore navy blue trousers and a starched white shirt. Raphael had spent his childhood in parochial schools. He hated starch, despised it on mere sight.

  “What the hell?” Raphael muttered.

  The brunette’s head came up at the sound of his voice. He had never seen hair like hers in his life, Raphael thought. It was a million shades of onyx shimmering to deep copper in the chandelier’s light. He thought maybe it was supposed to be tied back or something, but who could tell? It was wild, with corkscrews zinging everywhere.

  She reached a hand up to smooth it as though reading his opinion of it in his eyes. “She’s bigger than me,” she muttered. “It was a fight.”

  Raphael cleared his throat. “Come again?”

  “It was a fight to keep her away from the table. From him. To keep her from messing up your evidence. Aren’t you a cop?”

  “Yeah.” He’d even be an employed cop in another three hours or so.

  The woman gave a heartfelt sigh. “It’s about time you got here. She’s all yours.” And with that statement, she stood. The woman beneath her let out a yowl that stirred the hairs at Raphael’s nape. Then she rolled onto her back, sat up and sprang to her feet.

  “Philip!” she cried.

  Finally, too late, Raphael understood why the brunette had been sitting on top of her. This came to him in the split second before he recognized the other woman. He should have known her from her legs.

  Allegra Denise.

  She hurled herself in the general direction of McGaffney’s corpse in that long, ankle-length dress that draped her like a second skin and caught the chandelier’s light. Raphael stepped quickly to block her. She hit his chest like a battering ram, and she had arms and legs that were everywhere.

  “Whoa,” he murmured. “Let’s ease up here.”

  “That’s what I told her,” said the brunette.

  “Phillip!” the blonde wailed again.

  Raphael took an elbow in his gut, and one knee came perilously close to his groin. He tucked one of Allegra’s arms behind her. He used it to lever her into a dining room chair, then he leaned close enough to her ear to inhale the sweet, clinging scent of her perfume. “Quiet now, or I’ll let the lady sit on you again,” he whispered.

  “Phillip,” Allegra whimpered.

  “Cut me a break. You had dinner with Bonnie Joe Donnelly last weekend. How attached to Phil could you have gotten in, what, six days?”

  Allegra blinked up at him, her eyes swimming. “How do you know?”

  “I know.” Raphael straightened away from her and looked at the brunette again. “And who the hell are you?”

  He watched everything about her draw up and in. She couldn’t be more than five foot four, but for a second she reminded him of his second grade teacher—a behemoth, stern, unforgiving and wicked with a ruler. Then he blinked, and she was petite again.

  A voice came from behind him. “She’s the caterer. Allegra here was having an intimate dinner with our pal.”

  Raphael turned to find C. Fox Whittington grinning at him. He grinned back. They just barely restrained themselves from several hearty slaps on each other’s backs.

  “You ready to get to work?” Fox asked, laughing.

  “Better check with Plattsmier on that one.” But a smile kept
twitching at one corner of Raphael’s mouth.

  “No need. I’m wearing a watch.” Fox looked at it and gave a groan that almost vibrated with pleasure. “Three more hours with the rookie.”

  The brass hadn’t broken up other partnerships to cover a one-month suspension. They’d brought up a Homicide wannabe to replace Raphael during his time-out without pay. Raphael knew all about it. He and Fox spoke every other night or so.

  There was an odd sound from the brunette. They both glanced her way.

  “What?” Raphael demanded. Starch, drawn-up shoulders and that sound she’d just made. Like a tsk. All of it was like sandpaper on his nerve endings. “What’s the matter?”

  “You’re having a kaffeeklatsch,” she murmured. “But a man’s dead.”

  “We’ll take care of him, ma’am,” Fox said politely. He looked at Raphael, then he tilted his head in the direction of the brunette. “She was in the kitchen when it went down. Why don’t you deal with her? Under the circumstances, I’d better handle the scene myself.”

  Raphael nodded. Anything he found in the house would be inadmissible in court. He wasn’t back on the payroll yet.

  “An excellent approach,” said a baritone from the doorway.

  Raphael felt something wither deep in his gut. It was Plattsmier. He turned slowly, edgily, to face his captain.

  “I could order you off the scene,” the man said.

  Raphael gritted his teeth. “What would be the point?”

  “I’d make the commissioner smile.”

  Raphael snarled. The sound was out before he could bite it back. Fox put a warning hand on his shoulder, but Plattsmier only nodded sadly.

  “You still don’t get it,” his captain said.

  “Sure I do. Thirty days.” Raphael bit out the words. “A chunk of change. What’s not to understand?”

 
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