Delicious Torment(4)

By: Linsey Lanier


His eyes flashed with insult. “Of course it’s real. James Simmons paid the Agency a large sum to verify his suspicions about his wife.” The furrows in his brow deepened. “I wouldn’t bring you out here on a ruse. Or for a ‘date,’ as you put it.”

“Hah,” she snorted. “Tell that to someone who was born yesterday.” She wished she could get up and walk away, but her unbiased professionalism kept her butt in her seat.

His jaw tightened. “Your reaction merely underscores my point.”

“Oh, it does, does it?”

“You need more objectivity. This isn’t personal, Miranda.”

“Isn’t it?” she said a little too loudly. Then she sucked in her breath when she saw Witherspoon glance their way. “God, no.”

“Don’t look surprised.”

“I know that,” she hissed. She looked away. “Did he see us?”

Before Parker could answer, Simmons rose, gave Witherspoon an affectionate tweak on the nose and strolled away.

“Where’s she going?”

“Not sure.”

With a long-legged, decisive gait, Simmons strode past the tables, heading toward the far end of the track near the barns.

“Checking on her family’s horses before the race?” Miranda hoped.

“Probably.”

She glanced back at the table. Witherspoon got to his feet, tossed some bills on the table and started off in the opposite direction. Crap. “Are they on to us?”

“I don’t know, but we can’t lose them.” Parker rose. “You follow Simmons. I’ll stay on Witherspoon. If I don’t call you, we’ll meet back at our seats near the finish line in one hour. Just before the races begin.”

“I’m on it.” Miranda rose and nonchalantly fell in behind Simmons, keeping a reasonable distance between them.

She felt awful. If she screwed up this assignment just because she’d let Parker get to her, she’d never forgive herself. She had to concentrate. Throwing off the bad feeling, she focused on the thrill coursing through her veins.

Now there was a real chase.





Chapter Two




Miranda followed the quick-paced Simmons across the uneven ground, cursing the high heels she’d worn. And the gall of Parker for pulling that little “test” on her. And for denying he had ulterior motives for bringing her here.

Okay. So she’d jumped to conclusions about Witherspoon. Detective work brought out the hunter in her. But she wasn’t biased. She knew women could be as nasty as men. Hadn’t she gotten into as many fights with one sex as the other, during her barhopping days?

If Simmons suspected she was being followed, she didn’t show it. She strode past the press tents, waved casually to a group of friends relaxing in lounge chairs, wended her way around bales of hay that marked the paths to the paddock. She marched past fences where jockeys and trainers were warming up their horses, finally taking a turn toward the large barn that boarded the steeplechase contestants.

Miranda was right behind her, still fuming. Objectivity. She had objectivity.

Open-minded. That’s what she was. Okay, she was working for Simmons’s husband, not Witherspoon’s wife. Simmons’s husband was the one who’d hired the Parker Agency. But what if he wasn’t a very good husband? A neglectful man could give a wife a wandering eye. What if he was like the abusive jerk Miranda had been married to?

Simmons was nearing the barn now. It was a long, brown wooden structure with open stalls, so the horses could poke their heads out and get plenty of air. Not fancy at all, which surprised her. At its near end sat a boarded-up structure, like a lean-to, with a dark opening for a door. Must be where they kept supplies.

Miranda’s heart sank. Simmons would probably just give her prize steed a pat on the nose and head for the stands, making this excursion nothing more than a good walk. All they’d have was the footage of the monkey business at the pavilion. They’d have to put in more hours to catch Simmons and Witherspoon in the sack together.

And then something strange happened. As she reached the building, Simmons ducked into the lean-to.

If Miranda had blinked, she would have missed it. But she didn’t blink. She headed for the enclosure. As she reached it, a low, sensual moan greeted her ears.