Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Killer Chocolate--A Valentine Mystery: Part Two
Part Two—Margaret Daley
Lovey pressed her hand to her chest. The beat of her heart thudded so fast she felt lightheaded. Ryan? Here? Or am I dreaming?
The tingling of the golden bells announced a visitor. The tall, dark-haired man. When he entered, he panned the shop, his dark chocolate gaze finally resting on her. Her lungs seized her next breath and refused to let it go.
She clutched the counter near her to steady her wobbly legs. “Ryan?” she murmured on an expelled puff of air.
He looked like her fiancé, except there was a hardness to his tanned features, a sharp glint in his eyes that Ryan never had. And that intensity that rolled off this man crashed against her like a tidal wave.
“Ryan? No, I’m Rouen Stanfield, Ryan’s twin brother.”
Twin brother? Ryan had a twin? Why didn’t he ever tell her? What else did he keep a secret? Why was Rouen here after so many years? “Why are you here?” she finally managed to voice one of the many questions she had concerning the man standing only a few yards away from her.
“I got an urgent message to come here to Seacrest, to this shop.” He took three steps toward her.
She gripped the counter even tighter, wanting to back away. Not believing what she was seeing and hearing. “Who sent you a message? Why?”
The scent of dark chocolate permeated the store. She could use a cup right now. Actually the whole pot. “Ryan called you?” Why didn’t he call her?
“No, it was a letter. I received it yesterday and have been driving all night to get here. If my brother is alive, I want to know what he’s been doing for all these years.”
So do I. But none of this really made any sense. Could she believe this man who looked like Ryan and yet wasn’t? What was going on? Confusion reigned in her, making her head throb.
Rouen moved another foot closer. This time Lovey backed away and nearly stepped on Cupid who purred his protest, then ambled toward the red velvet Victorian antique sofa and plopped down on it as though he owned the shop.
A few more paces and Rouen stood right in front of her, his musky scent vying with the dark chocolate one. “Why would Ryan want me to come here? Who are you?”
His words, coated in a menacing edge, heightened her fear. She was alone in the shop with this man. Where was Athena? That was when she remembered her old friend’s strange phone call minutes ago.
Lovey inched forward to snatch her cell from the counter. Rouen clamped his hand over hers.