Home > The Sapphire Heist (Jewel #2)(8)

The Sapphire Heist (Jewel #2)(8)
Author: Lauren Blakely

He liked it, and dammit, so did she.

It both pissed her off and ignited her. In mere seconds of their lips sealing, she was wildly aroused when she wanted to feel nothing for him. Nothing but anger. Only, she felt so much more than nothing, especially because the Rubik’s Cube of options was lining up squares in his favor as he looped his hands through her hair, then broke the kiss momentarily to whisper, “I have no idea why you’re acting so strange today, but when you kiss me like that, I kind of stop caring.” His voice was both husky and true. “I like it too much.”

Her heart slammed to the ground, then bounced back up. She gave herself a pep talk.

Do it.

Checking would be for the best. She had to know, and there was one way to find out. Finish what she’d started outside the gallery and conduct her investigation.

“I like it, too,” she said in a sexy purr, then dropped her lips to his neck, kissing a trail up his skin, savoring the clean scent of him, how he gripped her hair harder as she kissed, then nipped on his earlobe.

He groaned.

She flicked her tongue against the shell of his ear.

He grabbed her harder, crushing her body against his, his erection pressing into her.

Fuck, she wanted him.

The angel popped up on her shoulder. Trust him.

The devil appeared. Frisk him.

Before she could hesitate, she spoke in a rush. “Jake, can I blindfold you and kiss you all over?”

His green eyes twinkled. “Hell yeah.”

She darted to her suitcase, hunted for a bikini wrap that when folded over would double nicely as a blindfold, and then turned around to find he’d already shed his shorts and T-shirt. Her skin heated up at the sight of his broad, toned body, his firm muscles and tanned skin.

“Bed. Now,” she said, and he stretched out.

She climbed over him and tied the wrap over his eyes, then raked her eyes over him from head to toe. Sparks shot through her as she took him in on the bed, clad only in boxer briefs. He looked hot like that, his strong chest and sturdy arms on display and the rigid lines between his abs self-evident. Not to mention the fact that the white boxers left little to the imagination about his desire for her.

“Give me thirty seconds to put on some music and slip into something more comfortable,” she said, then grabbed her phone and called up a Jane Black song. Once the music started, she quietly picked up his shorts from the floor, snagged his wallet, and opened it, flipping through it quickly. Diamonds were small. If he had found diamonds in Isla’s office, he could have hidden them in his wallet and claimed he’d uncovered none.

But the leather fold contained only credit cards and greenbacks.

Next, she dipped her hand into the back pocket of his shorts, checking there, too, as the clock ticked. Her heart beat furiously, pounding in her ears, as he lay calmly on the bed. Happily waiting for her as she raced through his clothes.

“Tick tock, Steph. You should be about naked now or wearing the red lacy thong I’m picturing you in,” he said in a playful tone, parking his hands behind his head.

So trusting. So happy to be here.

Her shoulders tensed. “Almost there,” she said from her spot kneeling on the floor as she reached into the front pocket and wrapped her hands around a . . . jar of honey?

She took it out, and then burst into a wide smile. He had a jar of the honey she loved. That was too cute. Too adorable. And she was too confused.

Something just didn’t add up.

Something made no sense at all.

All the evidence pointed to Jake Harlowe telling the truth about today’s visit to the gallery—that he’d come up empty-handed.

If he had, that meant he wasn’t hiding any of Isla’s diamonds from Steph.

She also knew he hadn’t pilfered Isla’s stone last night. He had an alibi—Steph herself.

That also meant someone else took her stone.

That was bad.

She dragged a hand through her hair, then shrugged. Fuck it. Time to come clean with the hot, sexy man in her bed. But as she dropped one knee to the bed and crawled over to him, she sat up straight.

A loud rapping echoed in the room.

Someone was knocking on the door.

Several times. Over and over.

“This is the hotel manager.”

Shit.

In seconds, Jake had untied his blindfold.

“I’d better answer that,” she said, and Jake scrambled to pull on his shorts while she headed to the door.

She opened it to find a tall, red-haired man with a mustache. He was dressed in gray slacks, a white shirt, a tie, and a suit jacket. A brass name tag on the jacket revealed his name: ALFREDO.

He bowed his head slightly. “Hello, Ms. Anderson,” he said in a friendly but apologetic voice. “So sorry to disturb you this afternoon, but I wanted to check and make sure you had received the paperwork for your meeting.”

She knit her eyebrows together. A small kernel of worry took hold inside her. “I’m sorry, but what meeting are you referring to?”

“The meeting you had this morning, I believe?”

Jake walked over to the door, joined her in the entryway, and draped an arm across her waist. The gesture felt strangely comforting, and she both wanted it and was sure she didn’t deserve it. Not after doubting him the way she had.

“I didn’t have a meeting today,” she said to the hotel manager, tilting her head to the side. “And I didn’t receive any paperwork.”

“Oh dear,” the manager said, scratching his chin.

“Which means I have no clue what you’re talking about. Care to enlighten me?”

The manager pressed his hands together, steepling his fingers as if in prayer. “Yesterday evening, around six o’clock p.m., a man came to the front desk and said you had a meeting with him today. He informed us he needed to drop off some paperwork in advance. He asked if he could bring it to your room, but of course we said no.”

The hair on her neck stood on end.

Jake flinched. “Good. No one needs to be in her room,” he said, his tone thoroughly protective.

“Absolutely. We do not give out our guests’ information. That’s why my clerk took the envelope and brought it to your room himself. He marked in the delivery log that he left it here yesterday evening, around six fifteen. He left it on the desk in the room, and I came by to make sure you had received it.” He paused and gestured to the desk, bereft of envelopes. “But it seems you don’t have it.”

Steph gulped and shook her head, nerves swimming wildly through her now. “No. I don’t have it. But maybe I missed it,” she said. She scanned the desk and the bureau, but there were no envelopes or papers. She returned her gaze to the manager. “There’s nothing here.”

The carrot-topped man nodded and sighed. “Let me check with the clerk to double confirm it was delivered.”

“Wait,” Steph said. “Who was the man dropping off the papers? What was his name?”

“Mr. Smith, I believe,” the manager said, then swiveled around and marched down the hallway. Steph watched him go, her heart beating out a staccato rhythm of fear and worry. Could the clerk have stolen her diamond when he delivered the papers to her room? But if he had, why would the paperwork have disappeared, too? Someone, it seemed, had tried to trick the hotel into giving up her room number by faking a meeting with her and using a fake name.

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