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Chapter 9 New Town, Two Men

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Miranda's flight landed in Portland on time, late in the afternoon and she easily made the connection to the little puddle jumper that would take her to Bangor. As she stepped down from the folding stairway a man in slacks and a blazer stepped forward.

"Miss Fox?"

"Yes?"

"I'm Jason, Mr. Garvey's assistant. The car is just over here. Do you have you luggage?"

"For one night?" she chuckled. "Just this carry-on."

"Then shall we go?"

Jason was tall and muscular, with thick brown hair, amber eyes and a dimple. Just looking at him made Miranda's mouth water.

Jesus, girl. Maybe B.J.'s right and you're letting things get out of control. This is the hired help, for God's sake.

But regardless of the magnificence of the scenery as they drove down the coast highway, she had a hard time tearing her eyes away from the hunk driving the car.

They passed towering pine trees on the left and the ocean pounding below the cliffs on the right. An occasional bike rider waved at them but for the most part the road was pretty empty. Before long they turned in through tall brick pillars and pulled up a winding driveway to a looming clapboard house that looked like it had been built for a family of fifty.

Miranda exited the car and simply stared.

Jason grinned. "Impressive, isn't it? Mr. Garvey's great-grandparents had ten children and the house has just been handed down from generation to generation. Modernized, of course," he added. "Ah, here's the man himself."

The massive front door opened and a man who could have been a clone of Jason stepped out onto the wide verandah. B.J. McNamara was big and muscular but his muscles came from running on the beach and indulging in a variety of amateur sports. These men had bodies sculpted through daily workouts, probably with the assistance of a physical trainer. Miranda looked at them and a delicious shiver ran down her spine.

"Welcome. Miss Fox," Alex Garvey said, taking her hand in both of his.

"Thank you. And thank you for agreeing to let me see you."

A tiny smile quirked one corner of his mouth. "Oh, I think this will be a pleasant experience all around. Jason will take your bag upstairs. I thought we might have cocktails before dinner."

Unlike the Bahamas, which had been bathed in warmth, October in Maine was chilly and Alex had lit a fire in the huge fireplace. Miranda stood before it, relishing the heat and savoring the fragrance of the cedar logs.

"Bourbon on the rocks, right?" Alex pressed a cut glass tumbler into her hand.

"Have you been researching me, Mr. Garvey?"

"Always know who you're dealing with. That way you limit the surprises."

The bourbon was smoky, with a slight bite to it and felt pleasant to her palate. She sipped at it while she studied her host and the room they were in. Everything, including his clothing, shouted understated wealth. But at the same time there was power here and arrogance. Miranda hoped this time she hadn't bitten off more than she could chew. She tried to erase B.J.'s warning from her mind and enjoy her drink.

Dinner was a veritable ad for Maine seafood—thick clam chowder and succulent lobster dripping with butter. All of it was accompanied by a chilled pinot grigiothat enhanced the flavor of the food. Jason served them, then retreated, Miranda supposed, to the kitchen. Throughout the meal Alex talked about his family, the generations-old house, his interest in sports, music, books. Once again Miranda was lulled by good conversation, great food and too much wine.

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