Birdie crossed her arms and surveyed Hugh’s mountain of luggage. “You sure don’t travel light,” she said.
He shoved another suitcase inside the door. “If you’re a good girl, you can help unpack.” He slid the case beside the duffel bag he’d already deposited in the growing heap of luggage. Then he dug a wad of bills from the back pocket of his jeans. “I convinced Finney to return most of your money. Feel free to show your gratitude. I’m all yours.”
Taking the cash, she stared at him pointedly. “Do you always flirt this much?”
He kicked the door shut. “Only when I’m confident it’ll get on a woman’s nerves.”
“You’ve hit the mark, pal.”
Which wasn’t exactly true. Despite herself, Birdie found his come-ons amusing. She’d visualized the reporter who’d written about Blossom as much older and nothing like the testosterone-drenched hunk before her. The word journalist called up an image of a man with nose hair down to his lips and a cigar clenched between his teeth. Some guy older than Andy Rooney with Mike Wallace’s surly disposition. She certainly hadn’t been prepared for the real Hugh Schaeffer.
With hair darker than midnight and eyes to match, he looked like Lucifer’s younger brother. His easy smile and faded jeans lent a careless sexuality and his houndstooth sports coat smelled enticingly of men’s cologne. Not that she’d dare have a fling with a guy who made a living exposing people’s secrets. She had enough skeletons to fill three closets. And send her down the river for five to ten.
He peered in the kitchen before pausing in the living room. “We’re really moving up in the world. If this place were any smaller Thumbelina would feel crowded.”
Following, she studied the frayed couch and mismatched curtains. She’d stayed in dozens of places like this but he seemed disenchanted with their new digs. As if she cared. “It’s not so bad.”
“Whatever.” He started down the hallway. From over his shoulder he asked, “Will you tell me your name? I can’t stand the suspense.” When she did he added, “Where are you from, Birdie?”
She heard him rattling drawers in the bedroom. “I’m from all over,” she called. “My family moved around a lot.”
“Is your dad in the military?”
Prison. “Something like that. Actually, I did the moving around with my mother.”
When he grew silent she wandered back into the mini-foyer. A cream Nautica sweatshirt poked out of his duffel bag. It looked deliciously soft, and she’d been wearing the same clothes for twenty-four hours. Shrugging out of her coat, she donned his sweatshirt then—bingo—found a pair of men’s boxer shorts further down in the bag. Peeling off her grungy jeans, she stepped into the boxers. Roomy…but nice.
A guy as well groomed as Hugh probably owned more bath products than a diva. Crouching, she snapped open a suitcase.
“I didn’t give you permission to rummage through my things.”
She looked up. Hugh stood several feet away, scowling. “Do you have something to hide, Mr. Reporter?”
“No. Do you?”
“Not today. By the way, where do you keep the bath gel and the toothpaste? It’ll save time if you tell me which suitcase to check.”
“Cute. You’re a stand-up comic and a thief.”
The last hit too close to home. “Like you said, I’m just rummaging.” She started to her feet with her chin tilted haughtily. “Can’t you share or what?”
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