FORTY-SIX

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Skipped chapter forty-four and forty-five? They were marked PRIVATE. You must follow me to read private chapters. Please refer to Delicious Details at the front of this book for further instructions.

The guard hurried out of the gatehouse with his palm facing her. Virginia came to a stop and opened her window as he approached.

"That's a big house," Janine said from the back seat, wonder evident in her quiet tone.

"Well, well, well." The man's voice was deep and rich in sarcasm as he placed one hand on the roof of her car and leaned down to fill the window's frame.

Up close she recognized him from the night she had brought Simon home.

"We've met before, haven't we? You tried to run me over."

The softly spoken "Mommy?" had him bending further still to peer into the back. "Good Lord," he muttered. "You have a clone."

Virginia could sense her daughter's unease at having this stranger delaying their passage in order to hurl accusations. "He's joking." She gave Janine an over-the-shoulder smile before turning back to the man with a don't-contradict-me glare. "Aren't you."

Dark eyes the color of the night sky shifted back to Virginia. "I'm joking," he said slowly, reluctantly.

It helped. "That's not funny," Janine chastised with a child's cute attempt at scorn.

"No," he drew out, pinning Virginia with his hard stare. "It's not funny."

Not liking the man's tone, Virginia got right to the point. "Mr. Spinelli is expecting us."

He ignored her, straightening to take a few steps back. "Is this your car?" His head nodded and his lower lip curled out as his eyes raked the length of it. "A great improvement over what you were driving last time. Did you switch careers? Find something more suitable?"

"More suitable?"

"Yeah, you know, for a woman."

Virginia thought of a few choice words as she fumed, but she held it all in for Janine's sake. "I'll pretend you didn't say that."

He shrugged.

Jerk. "Now, unless you want me to light up this 'great improvement' and draw the attention of all the neighbors, I suggest you open the gate." She batted her eyelashes, putting on a false angelic smile.

The corners of his mouth twitched, but he didn't seem willing to move. She grabbed her purse and dug for her cell phone, figuring a call to his boss might be in order. When she looked up again, he was heading toward the gatehouse.

The gate started to roll.

"Does he not like us?" Janine whispered.

"Don't worry about him." Virginia took her foot off the brake to creep forward, glad that the confrontation was over and he was back in his little brick hut where he belonged. As she crossed the invisible line dividing intruder from guest, she could feel the subconscious shift in her comfort level start to—

The door on the other side of the gatehouse opened. He reappeared with a glacial glare aimed right at her face.

How annoying! She raised her hand up above the roofline and flipped him off, watching for his reaction in her rearview.

"Bitch," he mouthed.

Clamping down on her anger, she willed herself to relax as she drove the long expanse of driveway. After parking at the top of the circle near the house, the two of them walked up and knocked on the front door.

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