Saved by a Dangerous Man

By: Cleo Peitsche


And the baggage that came with him? Well, that was overwhelming. My nightmare was evidence enough.

I toyed with the small rubber band ball, then aimed at the back of Rob’s head.

He leaned over for a bottle of correction fluid, and the ball sailed past him and bounced off his computer monitor. He jolted, lunged, caught the ball. “Hey now,” he said. The correction fluid spun off the desk and slid across the carpet.

I expected Rob to throw the ball back at me, but instead he opened his drawer and dropped it inside. “Thanks,” he said. “I accept your offering.”

We both froze, then lurched for the bottle with a clanging of shoved chairs. Rob was faster and closer, and he came up triumphant, his hip bumping Katrina’s desk and jangling the pendulums in her Newton’s Cradle toy. He adjusted his glasses, shook his head in mock disapproval and turned back to his work.

“You didn’t mention Cory,” he said a few minutes later. “Not that I blame you. Dad would have a fit if he thought we had to split this.”

“We don’t,” I promised. “Cory doesn’t care.”

Should I tell Rob? It was the million dollar—no, two-million dollar question. We weren’t identical twins, but we shared a bond that most people didn’t understand.

But without knowing Corbin, Rob would assume I’d lost my mind; if the situation were reversed, that certainly would have been my conclusion. And I couldn’t tell Rob everything—it wasn’t my place to divulge Corbin’s top-secret status. Not when I wasn’t even supposed to know about it myself.

I couldn’t. “Don’t mention Cory to anyone,” I said, feeling deflated. All those studies about how people with friends live longer? I suddenly got it. Keeping secrets hurt.

“You’re a bad girl, Audrey,” he said.

“Why?”

Rob turned and grinned. Something about the careless way he sat, the joyful look on his face, took me back to when we were kids. “Married man…”

“He’s not!” I cast about for something else to throw at him but came up empty. “Why would you think that?”

“You were acting so weird.” He gave himself a good push off the desk, and his chair slid toward me, rolling easily on the thin carpet. He propped his arms on my folders and laced his fingers together. “Spill it,” he said, batting his eyelashes. “Girl talk time!”

“It’s complicated.”

“Complicated. Cory doesn’t want a relationship? Girl! No, he didn’t!”

I laughed despite myself. “Let’s pretend you’re saying that because you can’t imagine ever settling down and not because you think he’s out of my league.”

Rob shrugged. “I didn’t get a good enough look to comment on that. It was dark, after all. But… he shakes hands like he knows his way around a gym.”

Oh, Corbin knew his way around a lot more than that, but I kept the thought to myself.

Rob sat up and slumped on the desk again, exhaling hard.

“What now?”

“I can tell you want to tell me,” he said. “So do it. Doooo eeeeet. What’s his deal?”

When I didn’t answer, Rob’s eyes went solemn. He waited.

“Cory is…” Oh man, I really did want to tell him. To confess everything. To get a second opinion… and maybe absolution. “He’s got legal troubles,” I said warily. I could admit that much.

Rob’s face went a little stiff, and his gaze darted toward the immense filing cabinet that housed the finished and inactive cases. “Is he, uh, someone we were hired to catch?”

“No!” I said quickly—and too vehemently. “Of course not.” My heart pounded in my mouth. Once Rob knew, I couldn’t take it back. Couldn’t make him innocent in all this.

“What’s going on?” Rob grabbed my hand. “You can trust me. You know that. If nothing else, you’ve got leverage.”

“Leverage?”

He pursed his lips and inhaled, making a high-pitched sound like someone taking a hit. “Mom and Dad don’t know.”

They didn’t know because it had happened while he and I were visiting some friends at college. Rob had taken the fall for our friends, and campus security banned him. It was only one joint anyway. Comparatively speaking, his secret and mine were light years apart.

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