“Shall we sit,” he gestured at the chairs.
“No,” but she sat anyway.
He took the chair beside hers, pulling it around so the table wasn’t between them. She hated him. She was trying really hard to hate him but looking at him was distracting her from her intense loathing of him.
“Why did you break into my house,” she demanded again before she could linger too long on how the sleeves of his shirt stretched across his biceps. In an effort to ignore his ridiculous magnificence, she snatched up her phone, idly tapping the weather app, checking the weather in Singapore.
“My dad asked me to.”
She jerked, nearly dropping her phone again. He wasn’t supposed to admit to anything. Abbie was behind them, watching, waiting for her turn, but Rocky wasn’t sure how to proceed. Peter was supposed to deny everything. He wasn’t supposed to actually be honest. Somebody who goes around giving himself a fake name and breaking into your house doesn’t resort to honesty without threat of death.
But he had.
“I didn’t want to,” he continued. “And actually I got reamed for,” his shoulders lifted in a shrug. “For mishandling it.”
He caught her eye, seeming somewhat affronted by her obvious insult to his B&E skills. “Yeah well, my father may have taught me how to be a convincing liar but he forgot to mention how to break into a house with a state-of-the-art security system.”
“Bad parenting,” she tapped on the ten-day forecast. “Someone should report him.”
Peter snorted and fell into silence.
She was working up the courage to go ballistic in a public setting. The observers at the other table would certainly appreciate a good show, she told herself.
“Look,” he said, just as she had decided to open her mouth to let loose. “I didn’t want to do it. I’m not really even sure what’s going on.” He ran a hand through his rumpled hair. “But he said if I didn’t he would cut me off.”
“And you believed him?”
“He was pretty convincing.”
With a long strengthening sigh, she silently reminded herself that there could be no mercy, no understanding. William was missing and no one was talking. She had to freak out. Knocking her chair out behind her, Rocky leapt to her feet. Peter didn’t follow suit. He was supposed to follow suit. She was supposed to thump his chest and get in his face but he just sat there, looking up at her in expectation. She caught herself before she could throw an exasperated look back at Abbie.
She could yell at him just as easily from this vantage point, she decided. “I don’t care what your rich daddy threatened to do,” she jabbed her finger in his face. “You broke into my house,” her words crescendoed. “You planted pills!”
He opened his mouth to object but she stepped closer, nearly pressing her legs against his kness. Glowering down at him, her eyes locked on his, she growled, “I don’t care about your psychotic excuses or your psychotic daddy. I don’t want anything to do with you. You’re unhealthy for anyone with a brain.”
She spun on her heel and nearly ran to the door to the thunderous applause of the girls, who apparently adored a good-looking man but liked a strong-willed woman even more.
Across the room, Abbie watched as Rocky disappeared out of view. The girls laughed uncontrollably and wiped away fake tears while making boo-hoo faces at Peter. Before any of them had a chance to get up and interrupt Phase 2 of their plan, Abbie tucked her purse under her arm and strolled over to Peter. His face was in his hands, fingers rubbing his eyes. He hadn’t noticed her approach.
She cleared her throat a little. He looked up and she felt her stomach clench and her breath catch. Rocky had warned her. William was handsome and very striking but Peter, well he was something like a god. He was Calvin Klein model material, only on a much larger scale. Her knees went a little weak, not just at the effect of his bronzed godlikeness but at the tragically beautiful pain in his storm-blue eyes.
“Can I help you?” He seemed a bit annoyed.
She had forgotten to speak. “Um,” she pushed a stray curl behind her ear. “My, uh, I work for Mr. Drexler.” She stuck her hand out awkwardly.
Peter rose to his feet with some reluctance, making her feel like a tiny child beside him. He was so much taller than she was, taller even than William. A breath of silence passed between them. He just stood there looking unimpressed so she stumbled on. “I was, um, so you know Miss von Strassenberg?”
He regarded her cautiously for a moment before asking, “Is that a problem?”
“No, no,” she laughed and readjusted her purse beneath her arm. “No it’s just, well no one has heard from Mr. Drexler’s son for a week and so Mr. Drexler asked me to follow Miss von Strassenberg,” her words were faltering and she knew it. She was suddenly quite certain he would see through their weakly plotted scheme. She shrugged helplessly, “Never mind. I’m supposed to follow her and see if she does actually know where he is.” He was just staring at her as though she obviously must have more to say than just that but she was out of words. She had never been a good liar. Making a helpless gesture she sighed, “Never mind,” and turned to leave.
“I haven’t seen him. Not that we’re pals or anything. He could fall off the face of the Earth and I wouldn’t know.”
“Okay, well thanks anyway,” Abbie smiled up at him. “I hope he decides to reappear soon. I’m kind of tired of following her around.”
A secretive smirk tugged at his lips, “I know the feeling.”
“Nothing. Listen,” he cleared his throat. “Since we’re here, would you like to grab some coffee? We could sit around and swap stories of the erratic Miss von Strassenberg.”
He didn’t realize it but the trap was now sprung. Despite a few off-script deviations, their plan was working. Now Abbie just had to work her feminine wiles on Peter and hopefully by the end of the night she would be strolling arm-in-arm with him into Castle von Strassenberg. ©2012GwennWright