Blue-Eyed Devil Page 37


I chuckled. "I'll make sure to say some nice things to him about you."

"Thanks. And make sure he has my cell number."

"Got it."

As I mulled over the phrase "single and loaded," a funny shiver chased down my spine, and somehow . . . I knew. I knew who Mr. Single-and-Loaded was, and I wondered what the hell he was up to.

"Samantha," I asked suspiciously, "what's his — "

"Call waiting," she said. "It's Dad — I gotta go."

The connection terminated, and I put down the phone. I went to Samantha's computer and pulled up her schedule, just as the concierge, David, beeped on the intercom. "Samantha, Mr. Cates is here in the lobby."

As my suspicion was confirmed, I found myself out of breath. I was simultaneously stunned, worried, and oddly amused. My voice sounded strange to my own ears. "Samantha's not here today," I told David. "Tell Mr. Cates that Miss Travis will be doing the showing. I'll be down in just a minute."

"Yes, Miss Travis."

I did a quick, discreet check in a compact mirror, applied some tinted lip balm, and pushed the long bangs back from my forehead. I was wearing dark brown wool trousers and a matching V-neck wrap sweater. Unfortunately I had chosen flats for comfort that day. If I'd known I would see Hardy Cates, I would have worn my tallest heels to give him less of a height advantage.

I looked into Samantha's file on Hardy and skimmed the prequalification report, and nearly dropped it as I saw the numbers. When Hardy said his company was doing "okay," he had neglected to mention that he was in the process of becoming obscenely rich. That property in the Gulf they were getting "good play" out of must have been a major find. A really major find.

Hardy Cates was on his way to becoming a big-time oilman. I was certainly the last person who could hold that against him. My father had huge ties to the oil industry. And even my oldest brother, with his alternative energy company, hadn't cut fossil fuels entirely from his repertoire. Sighing, I closed the file and took the elevator to the residential lobby.

Hardy was sitting in a black leather chair near the concierge's desk, talking with David. He saw me and stood, and my heart began to thump so hard that I felt a little light-headed.

I put on a business face, a business smile, and extended a hand as I reached him. "Mr. Cates."

"Hello, Miss Travis."

A hard, impersonal grip of our hands, and we stood facing each other. We might have been strangers. But there was a glint in Hardy's eyes that drew heat to the surface of my skin.

"I'm sorry Samantha wasn't available this morning," I said.

"I'm not." He swept a quick, thorough glance over me. "Thanks for returning the jacket. You didn't have to have it cleaned."

That certainly got David's attention. He looked from one of us to the other with indiscreet interest.

"I'm afraid all I'm going to be able to do," I said to Hardy briskly, "is take you on an initial walk-through so you can get an idea of what the apartment looks like. I'm not a leasing agent, so Samantha's the only one who can answer your questions definitively."

"I'm sure you'll be able to answer any questions I've got."

We went to the elevator, and a pair of women walked out, one older, one around my age. They looked like a mother and daughter heading out to do some shopping. As I got into the elevator and turned to face out, I saw that both women had glanced back for a better look at Hardy.

I had to admit, the man looked amazing in jeans. The ancient denim clung lightly to his h*ps and followed the long lines of some remarkable thigh muscles. And although I made a point of not checking out his rear view, my peripheral vision was having a very good day.

I pushed the button for the eighteenth floor. As the elevator whooshed up, we occupied separate corners.

Hardy studied me with frank interest. His blue cashmere sweater lay softly over the hard lines of his torso. "I appreciate you taking some time out for me today, Miss Travis."

I decided we had to go on a first-name basis. He'd started to say "Miss Travis" with a touch of overdone respect that bordered on mockery. "You can call me Haven," I muttered.

"Haven," he repeated. The sound of my name in that melted-tar drawl gave me a pang of uneasy pleasure.

"What are you doing here?" I asked tersely. "Are you really interested in this condo?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"I saw your address on the prequalification form. You're at Post Oak right now. I don't see why you'd want to move from there."

"I'm only leasing that place," he said evenly. "I haven't bought it. And I like this location better."

I narrowed my eyes. "You know who used to live in this apartment, right?"

"Your brother and sister-in-law. So what?"

"So I think there's something weird about you wanting to move into Gage and Liberty's old place."

"You got another apartment available, I'll look at that one too."

We stepped out of the elevator into the H-shaped layout of corridors, all serene in varying shades of cream and gray. I turned to face Hardy, the air between us nearly crackling with challenge. "Eighteen hundred Main isn't that much better than Post Oak," I said. "In fact, in terms of bang for the buck, you're probably better off staying where you are."

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