Chapter Seventeen

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The day dawned brightly, but I barely noticed as I drove to work on autopilot while my brain conjured up questions for Jimmy Dolan to answer. Getting to work on time was no problem as I barely slept—despite Olaf's alcoholic inducement. I arrived plenty early with an eye toward surprising a lurking Simone, but if she was there this early, I couldn't find her.

By 7:30 a.m., the coffee was made and getting stale on the burner. I didn't much care because I had my own, a Black Forest latte compliments of the nice folks at Mary's Market. If I couldn't sleep, I'd at least eat a good breakfast. Mary's Swedish pancakes seemed the perfect repast, considering Olaf's unexpected and unrequested help. The coffee I'd taken to go.

I sat at my dank basement desk at the brokerage firm, the fluorescent lights beaming down on me, and plotted how to get Jimmy Dolan to talk.

My basic plan was to ask why he'd neglected to tell me about the secret door into his office and the late Princess' part in stealing his accounts. I wouldn't ask anything else until he came clean on those two points. Our relationship, whatever remained of it, balanced precariously upon his answers.

If Jimmy Dolan had a care in the world, he didn't show it when he came to work that Monday morning. His lanky form was firmly encased in a charcoal pinstriped suit complete with a steel-gray shirt and a dapper red-patterned tie. In this get-up, he currently vied with Odin in matters of sartorial splendor. I would have enjoyed the spectacle immensely, except I felt the need to kick his ass.

He stopped by my desk to ask about Sunday dinner with my mother. I'd lied to him. I told him that my mother was sick, so I had to cook dinner in her place.

He wouldn't be happy when he found out, and angry people, I'd discovered, had a difficult time lying. At least, that was my bet for the present.

Jimmy retired to his office and everything seemed sufficiently quiet in the rest of the place, so I screwed up my courage and tried a tentative knock on Brother Dolan's door. He called me in immediately.

"I have a confession to make," I said. I gazed over his head so I wouldn't need to meet his eyes. "Do you have time?" I sat in the right-hand client chair in front of his desk.

Jimmy leaned back in his thick leather chair and effortlessly put his long legs up on the desk. Then he snickered. "Unburden your heart, Darlin'," he said in his very best Barry Fitzgerald brogue.

I took a deep breath. Gentle beginnings did not come easily to me. What I wanted to do was grill him about why he'd lied to me—or, at least, withheld information, which amounted to much the same thing. What scared me was not the answers to his questions but the reasoning behind them because I was genuinely fond of Jimmy Dolan. To be frank, I almost felt myself falling in love with him right this minute if not for the doubt that Odin had instilled on Sunday.

And charming and intelligent and witty as I was, I knew better than anyone that I was not a dude magnet. Whenever I felt unusually sorry for myself, I fantasized about returning in my next life as Claudie and opening a can of serious whoop-ass on everybody else's karma.

"Is it that bad then, Luv?" Brother Dolan had taken his legs off the desk and leaned toward me with a concerned frown on his handsome face.

"I lied," I said. So much for gentle beginnings.

He shrugged his broad shoulders. "A white lie, surely."

I stared into the eyes. "To you," I said. This didn't sit well. He leaned back in his chair, pulling away from me in the process, folded his hands into his lap, and turned to give me a solemn gaze.

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