The Drafter

Page 48

I love milkshakes and fries. Guilt swam up, and she shoved it aside. “Thank you,” she said softly. “I don’t have any money to pay you back.”

Wiping a hand over his chin, he said, “I’ve noticed that about you.”

He was angry about things she had no control over. “I didn’t know I was running until—”

“Until what?”

Until I destroyed half the message I’d left myself? Until I found out Bill was corrupt? That I might be, too? “I didn’t actually plan this, okay?” she said, her damp fingers smelling of hotel shampoo.

Silas turned, his empty expression taking her aback. “I’m not your slave. Got it?”

“Slave!” Her headache returned full force. “Is that what you think anchors are? No wonder you washed out.” Ticked, she put her feet up on the coffee table.

He rose and began to pace, his agitation far more than a plate of fries and two shakes deserved. “I’m not going to make your coffee, wait on you, or rub your feet. As soon as I know what happened in that office, we are done. Understand?”

Sniffing, Peri brushed at her clothes. “You have the personality of an armadillo. You say I’m corrupt—without proof—dangling the truth before me, accessible only if I help you bring down everything I believe in. Forgive me for having a hard time letting you into my mind.”

Hand over his mouth in frustration, he turned to face her. “You’re right. I’m sorry,” he said as his hand dropped. “I have no evidence that you’re corrupt. You’re probably a very nice person. Someone who only kills people who kill her first.”

And his apology started so nicely, too. “That’s as good as it’s going to get, huh?”

“Yup.” Silas bobbed his head, the golden light leaking around the blinds, casting stripes on him. Her gaze, drawn by the glow, traveled up his narrow waist to the hint of hair showing from behind his not-so-pressed-anymore shirt. Her eyes rose farther to his strong jaw—currently clenched in anger. The hint of stubble made him look … more than accessible. Familiar, almost.

“You know what I’d really like to know?” she said, watching the way the sun moved around him, catching the stubble on his jaw and making him glow.

“What?” he said flatly, his thoughts clearly on something else.

“If Ridley Scott ever finished his Blade Runner sequel.”

He started, the blank wonder on his face giving her pause. “Ah, yes, he did.” Mood softened, he sat down. “It was really good.”

“Mmmm.” Her focus went past him, distant. “I wonder if I saw it,” she mused.

“I’ve got an idea,” he said, jolting her from her reverie as he came back and pushed her feet off the coffee table to sit right in front of her. “Give me a foot,” he said, holding out a hand.

Suspicious, she eyed him from under her bangs. “You just said—”

He reached for one, taking the slipper off and letting it drop. “I was speaking metaphorically,” he said, and she stifled a shiver at the feeling of his hands around her bare foot. “It’s a relaxation technique that’s helpful with antisocial people who don’t like to be touched, a mix of reflexology and Swedish massage.”

“I like being touched. Just not by you,” she said, but he’d begun twisting his hands around her foot to make it ache wonderfully, and she didn’t pull away, even when he rubbed his thumb along the arch and she had to bite her lip to stop herself from releasing a groan. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

“I can get rid of your headache,” he said, head down over her feet. “Promise.”

She hadn’t told him about the headache, but what he was doing felt really good. Not altogether trusting it, she eased into the chair to stare at the high ceiling.

“Okay,” he said as his touch became firmer. “Let’s see where you’re hiding your tension.”

“Ow!” she cried, jerking when his thumb ran along the side of her foot. “Not so hard!”

But he grabbed her ankle and pulled it back. “That’s your back and hips. If I can loosen those up, I’ll have a chance at your headache. Just relax. Deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Haven’t you ever had a massage?”

“Not like this,” she said, and he actually smiled. It was real, and finding comfort in that, she closed her eyes. The more she relaxed, the better it felt. Slowly the muscles in her back eased, and then her neck … and finally her shoulders.

Silas took up her other foot, the expected jolt of pain quickly dulling as the muscles lost their tension. “Thank you,” she said when his pressure-point work shifted to a more relaxing motion. She wasn’t an idiot. She knew everything was connected, and if she was too uptight to let him touch her face and shoulders, this worked.

“Okay.” Silas’s voice was low with a new confidence. “Tell me about your spot.”

Peri’s eyes opened, the lazy lassitude she was drifting in vanishing. “Excuse me?”

His hands kept moving with a firm, decisive motion. “Your safe spot,” he said. “The place you go in your mind to find peace.”

Reassured, she closed her eyes. “Oh. I’ve never had to practice that. My anchors can usually bring everything back without a problem.”

He pinched a nerve, and she jerked. “Ow?” she said, not pulling away because she probably deserved it.

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