* * * *
Jessie worked through another pile of Wilde Mine’s files.
Like a bodyguard, Denver sat in a chair by the door of the office that Austin’s secretary, Selby, had secured for her. She glanced over at him. He was texting away on his cell. She didn’t have to guess to whom. His brothers, of course. They were frantically working every lead and theory. They wanted to get to her would-be killer before he got to her.
Jessie actually liked that Denver was there with her. He made her feel safe and protected. Well, best to get back to work then. She opened another file then jumped when she heard Denver.
“Who are you, and why are you here?” He was standing with his fist curled and ready for whatever came.
“Pardon me?” the man asked.
Jessie immediately recognized the person Denver was questioning. His hair was thinning and gray. His eyes were bright blue. He wore a dark suit and carried a briefcase. Oh God! “Denver, let me introduce you to Mr. Lee Carpenter, my boss and deputy chief of MSHA.”
Denver uncurled his fists and offered his hand to her boss. Mr. Carpenter, normally very cordial, didn’t take it.
“Would you excuse us, Mr. Wilde?” her boss asked in a curt tone she’d never heard from him before.
At Mr. Carpenter’s fiftieth birthday party a few months ago, he’d been so great to everyone, including the bitchy waitstaff who didn’t even try to provide even half-hearted customer service. Everyone else at the party didn’t want to leave a tip. Not Lee. He went into a long diatribe about how he worked his way through Columbia University to get his law degree waiting tables. Her father had gotten his law degree there, too, but he’d done it on his parents’ dime, not by waiting tables. Well, not only did the birthday boy and his partygoers give a tip, they gave a very generous one usually reserved for the stellar service.
“Mr. Wilde, I’d like to be alone with Jessie if you don’t mind.”
Denver didn’t budge. This was headed to a train wreck really fast.
“Please, Denver. Like I said, this is my boss.”
“I mind, but okay. I’ll be just outside the doorway.”
“Please close it behind you, Mr. Wilde.”
“Not happening, Lee. If you’re afraid of what I might hear, whisper.”
After Denver left the office, Mr. Carpenter pulled up the chair to the desk that Denver had been sitting in.
“Why are you here, boss?” she asked.
“I’ve told you to call me Lee. Isn’t it about time you started, Jessica?”
She’d never seen him like this before. Was he angry with her? “Have I done something wrong?”
“I need to show you something before I answer.” He opened his case and pulled out a file. “I got these from someone who called themselves ‘Concerned Citizen.’”
He slid the folder and its contents over to her.
She opened it up. The first thing she saw was a picture of Denver kissing her in the parking lot of The Masters’ Chambers. Her heart sank low in her chest.
Her career was over.
This was a complete disaster.
There were more photos. Most were kissing, hugging, or some other expression of fondness. One photo was of her and Jackson at the Horseshoe. A couple more were of her and Phoenix at Norma’s diner. Several photos were of her and Dallas holding hands. There were some from her first night... Oh God! No!
Twenty-two photos filled up the folder.
Her throat was totally dry, and her heart raced in her chest. She’d been caught red-handed in the cowboy cookie jar. She squeaked out, “You looked at all these?”
“No. Just a couple of them.” Lee’s voice was soft but very scary. “The man who refused to shut the door behind him, he’s a Wilde?”
“Yes.” She bet that he’d only seen the less explicit photos since those were thankfully on the bottom of the pile.