Excerpt from Courting Gossip
Gunderson rubbed his hand up and down Genieve’s side, tucking her up close. “Let’s get you home, darling.”
“No.” Brody caught her by the elbow, and her big green eyes turned on him. “She’s with me.”
Gunderson’s mouth dropped open in surprise.
“Go home and don’t take any calls,” Brody instructed. “I’ll contact you in the morning with instructions on how to handle this.”
The senator nodded. The moon had lowered on the horizon, and his hair looked gray now instead of silver. His adrenaline was waning, and the stress of the night showed in the drooping set of his shoulders.
He patted Genieve’s waist. “Brody knows best, darling.”
Brody drew her away. “My car’s down here.”
* * *
Genieve hesitated, digging in her heels. Wait. What had just happened? “I’m coming with you?”
“Yes, and tonight, if you don’t mind. I’d like to be gone by the time the real reporters show up.”
But… but… She was going to be alone with him?
She looked at his stern, handsome face until the light finally came on in her tired brain. Of course. He wanted to yell at her and tell her how this was all her fault. But no… Brody didn’t yell. He frowned and scowled and clenched his fists a lot. She always knew something was up when his fingers started tapping.
Like they’d been tapping when she’d been talking with the detective…
The senator’s car pulled away from the curb, and the decision was made for her. If she didn’t want to get left behind, she’d better start walking.
Her heels sounded loud on the sidewalk as Brody led her down the block. His hand was warm on her arm, and he felt tall beside her. Tall and solid as he walked between her and the street.
He held the passenger door open for her, and she slid into the bucket seat. Was this his personal vehicle? The leather was butter soft, and it took away some of the chill. She sank deeper into the cushioned seat. She couldn’t stop shivering. Shock, no doubt. She plugged in her seat belt and watched him walk around the front of the car.
He always got doors for her. Odd. Samuel never thought to do that, and he was of the older generation.
Brody fired up the engine, and they were soon putting the Emissary Hotel in their back window. She watched as he checked the mirrors. He was still worried about being followed. Silence settled inside the smooth-running car. Finally, he eased back in his seat and glanced at her. The tell-tale muscle in his jaw was twitching.
“Did they touch you? Were you hurt back there?”
“Would you tell me?”
She rounded her eyes at him. “Yes. I’d tell you, I’d tell Nina, and I’d tell the lawyer who would sue to get lots of money for me.”
His gaze went back out the front windshield, but the muscle had stopped its nervous dance. “When you said the senator was fighting with them, I didn’t think you meant physically.”
She tugged her dress lower over her thighs. It felt strange sitting with him in such close confines. “He surprised me when he did that, but it gave me time to call the front desk. And you.”
He paused a moment. “You came out of the—”
The bathroom. She knew it. “Because the hotel manager had a key! Ah! I knew you were going to blame me for that. Was I supposed to make them drag me out, kicking and screaming?”
He didn’t answer, but he settled more easily into the driver’s seat.
Genieve folded her arms over her chest.
“You made up for it with that move with the detective,” he said. He reached over to the dash and turned on her seat warmer.
She let an eyebrow lift. Was that a compliment from Brody Haynes?
“Wish I could say the same about your not-so-smooth move with my panties,” she returned. “Did you have to go searching for them in front of everybody?”
“I wasn’t going to leave them there for evidence or for some hotel employee to auction online.”
Genieve shivered and snuggled against the heat she felt emanating all around her. She hadn’t thought of that. She didn’t like either option.
“Are you going to give them back, or are you some kind of panty perv?”
She knew she was needling him, but her nerves were stretched thin. He’d rode to the rescue, but he’d shown up in a suit and tie, looking stern and official. Did nothing ever ruffle him? Did he have a human side?
His finger began tapping against the steering wheel, but he dug into his pocket and passed the scrap of silk to her. For the second time that night, Genieve felt embarrassment hit her. She’d tried to make him uncomfortable, but what was she supposed to do now? Put them in her purse? She didn’t have any pockets in the close-fitting dress.
She cast him a secret glance. There was one other place they really should go—and she was suddenly overly conscious of being naked underneath her dress in his car.
What the heck?
Working against the seat belt, she leaned forward and slipped the panties over her shoes. She began sliding them up her legs, but she bumped against the door when the car suddenly swerved.
Brody’s gaze snapped to the front windshield, but then back to her again. “What are you doing?”
“Putting them on.”
“You’d rather I wait?”
Again, his finger began tapping, but he didn’t say anything. She didn’t hear a yes. She took her time sliding the black panties over her knees, but things got interesting as she began to work them up her thighs.