I think I’m back in stride again. All day my radar had been off when it came to reading men, but the minute Eric grabbed hold of Starlet, a red flag popped into my consciousness. He was up to something. Something big. And if I was correct in my assumption, I needed to be wherever Starlet and Eric were, which is why I tried to twist an ankle getting to my car.

It had been years since I’d had to trail somebody. Really, years since I’d wanted anything to do with my former life. Now, Eric was really trying me. All the people in Blogsome Bay were trying me, especially Barnes. What they’d soon find out was that Yanni E’Baire didn’t take kindly to people doing so.

I gunned the engine and shot away from the station house. Once I was out of sight, I pulled onto the median and waited. A smile fought its way to the surface when I spotted Eric’s predictable ass arriving at the stop sign. He pulled away, and I fell in behind him, making sure to keep enough distance between the two of us so that my headlights wouldn’t catch his attention.

There was no way I planned to let Eric stand in the way of me and my bills. Starlet was my end-all, and no matter what I had to do, I was going to persuade her of that. Besides, just because she was free now, didn’t mean it would last.

And to think that just as quickly as they let her go, she was already back on her stale story about moving out. Could a bitch be any more inconsiderate? I had risked a speeding ticket and the uncovering of my own past to be there for her, and she repaid me by jumping in the car with Eric.

Too bad for them, this night wasn’t going down the way they thought it would. I would have the last say. And Sabrina? What was that shit about? I knew she could make a pigeon jump off a ledge and commit suicide with all her chattering, but to be a killer? I didn’t think she had it in her. Damn right looks are deceiving. Hell, I should know.

We’d just driven past the sign thanking people for visiting the Bay, when a red light on the other side of a blind curve brought Eric to a sudden stop. I hit the brakes and steered to the side of the road. The ringing of my cell made me jump. I couldn’t remember turning the volume up.

It was Mason’s ass again. He had become quite the bugaboo tonight. Like before, I ignored his call and sent him to voicemail. There was no way he was gonna spoil my plan.

The light changed, and I moved back onto the road. I briefly wondered where the hell Eric was going, but just as quickly as I began pondering places he might be headed, he made a hard right into the parking lot of the Blogsome Bay Inn.

He pulled up to the valet and ran around the car to help Starlet out. I waited until the valet had driven away in his car, before I pulled into the lot and parked in one of the free spots. I would give them five or ten minutes then I’d make my move.

Five minutes and zero seconds later, I was standing in the lobby of the inn. I knew instantly as I took in the oil lamps and cozy Old World furnishings that Eric’s intent was to seduce. I glanced up at the rough-hewn beams lining the ceiling and had to chuckle to myself. If seduction was what he had in mind, he’d find me up to the challenge, once I destroyed any chances of Starlet and him getting busy.

“Hello, ma’am, and welcome to the Blogsome Bay Inn,” the youngish clerk said, from behind a massive mesquite counter, layered with a thick slab of marble. “What can I do for you this evening?”

I paused dramatically and waited for him to finish drinking me in. My A-game was back. Yes, I silently cheered.

“If I weren’t here to meet someone else, you’d be finding out exactly what you could do,” I said, batting my MAC lashes at him.

I could see by the smile curling his lips, he thought we’d moved into boning territory.

“I’m here to see a Mr. Eric Lindsey and Starlet Lovesome. They should be guests of yours. My name’s Yanni E’Baire.”

“Oh, yes, Eric, I mean, Mr. Lindsey, is a good customer of ours. He and I are, err, good friends too,” he choked out. Behind the nervousness, I could see that he’d say anything to impress me. Anything to get a chance in hell at some of me. As it stood, that’s what he had—a chance in hell.

Despite wanting to put a quick end to Eric’s little charade, I was having fun twisting the little peon around my finger. “So, are you going to tell me where I can find Eric, or should I come around the desk and find out for myself?”

“Umm, t-that won’t be necessary,” he stammered. “He’s in room 106. Should I let him know you’re on your way?”

“Please do.” I winked at him. “Should I go left or right?”

He pointed to the left. I winked once more and strutted down the carpeted hallway. I raised my hand to knock on room 106’s door, and it swung open. Eric stepped into the hallway, softly shutting the door behind him.

“What in the hell are you doing here, and how did you know where we were?” He grabbed me by the arm, shoved me down the hallway and out onto the veranda.

“First of all, take your hands off me until I give you the okay,” I said, stepping away from him. “I know what you’re up to, and it’s not going to work.”

“What I’m up to?” He stared at me, as if in disbelief. “The only thing I’m up to is making sure that Starlet has the opportunity to gather her thoughts. She’s been through enough today.”

“Oh, spare me the bullshit talk, Eric. This isn’t Starlet you’re speaking to. I know how shit like this works. You think you can fuck her into believing you care about her.” I moved closer to him and placed a finger on his nose. “Either you put an end to the bullshit, or I will.”

Eric grabbed my finger and shoved my hand down by my side. “You seem to have a problem minding your own business, Yanni. What’s the real deal? You still want me for yourself?”

“If I did you’d know it. I’m here because I really care about Starlet.”

“Is that why you couldn’t wait to shove her past in my face with that stupid box? Go ahead, admit it—you did that to get me. Just like the window episode. And you know what?” He paused as if waiting for me to speak.

“Since you seem to think you have all the answers—what?” I said, breaking the uncomfortable silence growing between us.

His arms encircled my waist and yanked me close. Before I could object, he’d thrust his tongue deep inside my mouth.

And what did I do? Shit, I kissed his ass right back. I’d been craving a taste of his chocolate for too damn long. Just as quickly as he’d kissed me, he released me and walked back into the inn.

I was still gasping for air, when my phone rang again.