Chapter Sixteen

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Poppy woke and dressed well before dawn, wakened by the soft sound of Asprey snoring. Such an inconsiderate sound, snoring, yet it fit his personality to a tee. He slept like a child who had spent a long, hard day at play, sprawled out over the entire bed and flush with the heat of his own exhaustion. He lay on his stomach, his naked ass framed by a twist of sheets, his hair adorably rumpled and falling into his fluttering eyelids.

It was a sight that filled her with longing and lust and the feeling that the night before had been a big mistake. She was attached now—not just involved on the job, but attached. It didn't get much worse than that.

"Good morning." Asprey rolled over and greeted her with a smile. Morning person. She'd forgotten about that. "Did Norma leave us a stack of hot pancakes, as promised?"

Poppy chuckled and tossed a miniature box of Raisin Bran at him. "This is as good as we're getting. She also left us a few packets of instant coffee but nothing to make them with. If we want caffeine, we're going to have to snort it."

He sat up further, undismayed by this news. Fortunately for them both, the sheets fell naturally across his lap, though they didn't do anything to hide the breadth of his chest, naked and gleaming and hairy in all the right places. It was amazing how well-crafted the male form was, she realized as her eyes naturally following the path of his chest hair from its widest point down along the crested planes of his abs to where...

She looked away. She was supposed to be unattaching herself here, not getting lost forever in promises of the flesh.

Although the glint of humor in Asprey's eyes indicated he hadn't missed her appreciation, he busied himself ripping open the box of cereal and popping a few raisins into his mouth. "Sit," he said, patting the bed next to him. "Have breakfast with me."

She was starving. And they did have to ride all the way back to Seattle together.

"I kept the Lucky Charms for myself," she admitted, taking a seat near the foot of the bed. In the clear light of day, the creepy side looked even more like the site of a recent murder. "I told you I'm trouble."

"You're right—cereal hogging is kind of a deal-breaker for me. Why are you sitting so far away? I promise not to bite."

"It's not the biting I'm worried about." She held out a blue marshmallow diamond. "It's all that other stuff."

He took the marshmallow from her and offered a sad smile in return. "We're back to where we started, I see. I guess that means it's your turn."

"My turn?"

"At twenty questions. So far, we've each asked two. That means you're up."

"I'm not playing this game with you, Asprey. What's the point?" Other than making things even more complicated than they already were.

"So you can ask me anything you want about our scheme—don't pretend you aren't dying to know why we steal forgeries. I promise to hold nothing back, and I won't tell Graff if you don't."

Curiosity had never been one of her besetting sins before. Sure, she had her vices, most of them bad enough to outweigh any pretense at virtue, but she was generally content to let people be—if they wanted to ruin their lives with drink or sell homemade soap at street fairs or listen to country music, it wasn't her place to critique the choices they made.

Unfortunately, there was no use pretending that the Charles family rulebook wasn't a proverbial carrot dangling constantly overhead.

"Okay." She shifted so that she faced Asprey head-on, even managing to keep her eyes above his waist as she did. "So, I know that Todd's necklace was a fake, and I know you guys stole it for that specific reason. But I don't know why."

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