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By Amy Manemann
Average 4.3 STARS
Smart mouthed Taci Andrews is an investigative reporter for the Riverdale Times with a lot on her plate. Between receiving a dreaded invitation to her fifteen year high school reunion, her best friend's divorce drama, and her own solitary dating status, her fun meter is pretty much pegged. When Taci’s partner goes missing while covering a missing child feature she is suddenly thrown into the story of her career, which oddly enough delves into a past she would rather forget. She soon finds herself squaring off against a malicious class Barbie Doll, the High School Quarterback and a steamy Fireman from her past whose deep blue eyes are still enough to curl her toes. But new feelings for one another or not they both have a job to do and a missing child to find. Can they put their feelings aside to solve the case or will they be next on the missing person’s list?
I stood in front of a washing machine, popping quarters into the worn slots on top. From across the room I glared at Parsons, who lounged comfortably in one of the plastic chairs lining the front window. So much for getting rid of him. Admitting defeat I sighed, closing the lid and moving on to the dryer. The Scrub N’ Pub was surprisingly empty for a Sunday afternoon, which unfortunately meant I might actually have to carry on a conversation with Parsons. Too bad for him I’d childishly decided on the ride over that I was going to give him the silent treatment.
Tony stretched his legs out in front of him, crossing his ankles comfortably. "How long are you planning on not talking, because your mom might think we’re having a lovers quarrel when you don’t talk to me at dinner.”
I didn’t answer, instead continued to pull the clothes out of the dryer and into my laundry basket.
“Or I could tell her that my lovemaking made you speechless and that’s why you aren’t talking. She might just believe that,” he continued. I paused, sparing him a glare.
“That’s a bit of a stretch, don’t you think?” I asked, unable to keep silent any longer.
Tony grinned. “Not according to some sources. Care to find out?”
A rush went through me and I shuddered. The man had a way with words, what could I say. Closing the door to the dryer I set the laundry basket on top, beginning to fold the clothes into piles.
“You know, since your going to be hanging around you could make yourself useful and help fold clothes,” I suggested. Tony ambled out of his chair, sauntering over to where I stood. Peering over my shoulder he eyed the contents in the basket with interest
“Do I get to fold your underwear?” he asked almost hopefully.
“Do you ever think of anything other than your libido?” I replied. Tony looked thoughtful for a moment.
“Only when you’re not around. You seem to bring out my best side,” he said, wiggling his eyebrows. I laughed before I could stop myself.
“You really are incorrigible, you know that don’t you?” I said.
Tony shrugged. “Yeah, but most people find that adorable in me.”
Ok, I had to agree with that one. Plucking up a pile I set it on top of the dryer next to the basket.
“That’s your pile hot shot. Let’s see how well your mama taught you about folding laundry,” I said.
“Oh please, I’ve been doing my own laundry since I went away to college. And for the record, if you added fabric softener to your rinse cycle your clothes would smell better for a lot longer. It’ll also make them feel softer as I’m sure this place runs off of hard water,” he commented, folding a pair of socks together.
I halted in mid fold, staring at him open mouthed. He shrugged. “What? You think just because I’m a guy I don’t know anything about laundry? Sheesh Tace, you could at least try to give me a little credit.”
I flushed, ducking my head. He was right; I haven’t exactly been all that fair to Parsons since he abruptly showed up in my life. But then again, the man never played fair either.
"So you’re a laundry God, huh? Wow, who would have guessed,” I remarked dryly.
“Not quite a God, but pretty close. I’m a pretty good cook too,” he replied, casually tossing a folded shirt into the laundry basket.
"You mean besides bacon and eggs?” I asked skeptically.
Tony grinned. “Bacon and eggs are nothing. I can make a filet mignon topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions with a side of twice baked stuffed potatoes that would make your mouth water.”
Sad to say the drool was already salivating just thinking about it. “So you can do laundry and you can cook. Is there anything you don’t know how to do?”
“How to get you alone in a bedroom for longer than ten minutes without being interrupted. I’m still working on that one,” he replied with a grin. I ducked my head to hide the flush of my cheeks. Men.
We were silent for a moment, both of us folding our piles of clothes. It was pretty sad to admit, but I was actually having a decent time hanging out with Parsons. That wouldn’t ever be something that I’d admit out loud though. Why, and let him gloat forever?
Tony cleared his throat, drawing my attention. “So, when are you planning on telling me what you were working on today?”
I averted my gaze, folding a pair of jeans. “I had some errands to run, no big deal. Why do you assume that I’m up to something just because I happened to be out?”
Tony shrugged. “Because I know you and you’re always up to something.”
I slapped the folded pair of jeans into the laundry basket, turning to glare at him. "Listen Parsons, you don’t know a thing about me so don’t stand there all cocky and assume that you do.”
Tony dropped a shirt from his hand, folding his arms across his chest. An amused expression was on his handsome face, much to my irritation.
“What makes you think I don’t know anything about you, Tace? I know you a lot better than you think I do,” he said softly.
My insides turned mushy at his soft voice. I hated how he could do that. Imitating his pose I folded my arms across my chest, raising my chin a notch. "Really? Ok then hot shot, since you seem to know me so well why don’t you tell me what I was out doing this morning?”
Tony was quiet for a moment but I could see the humor glinting in his eyes.
“Let me see if I get this straight, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. The minute I left you disobeyed my orders and drove out to pay a visit to Drew and Robbie Tompkins, then went to the Times to get a bio report on them. Did I get anything wrong so far?” he asked sweetly.
I gritted my teeth. “Yeah, I didn’t get a bio on Drew, just on Robbie. And how the hell did you know I was out there today? Are you following me?”
Tony shook his head. “Don’t need to. After I left your apartment I headed over to visit Jason and Val to see how they were holding up. While I was there Jason got a phone call from Robbie, who seemed to be all worked up over something. I wasn’t able to catch much of the conversation before Jason left the room but I clearly heard your name shouted into the phone. Now since I know you haven’t been to the south end of town other than to the construction site lately I deduced your little errand run this morning was a visit to Tompkins. So, did you find what you were looking for?”
I somehow managed to keep my mouth from falling open, hard as it was.
“All right fine, you caught me. I, Taci Lynn Andrews, was working today instead of taking a day of rest. What are you going to do? Turn me in?” I asked after I managed to swallow my shock that he’d been able to discern that much information in such a short period of time.
“Turning you over my knee sounds more appealing but at the moment I’m more interested in what you learned from Tompkins,” he remarked.
“According to Robbie, Drew wasn’t the one who dumped Samantha, she did the dumping. What’s even more interesting is the way he talks about Jason. They had some sort of huge falling out back in college that still has him pretty pissed,” I finally said. No point in beating around the bush when he already knew half the story.
Tony’s eyebrows rose an inch. “He didn’t happen to mention what that something was or what year it happened, did he?”
“Would I have gone back to the Times and spent the morning doing research if he’d told me what it was all about?” I replied sarcastically.
Tony opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by the ring of his cell phone. Pulling it from his pocket he checked the screen before flipping it open. "Parsons.”
Turning back to the clothes pile I resumed my folding, trying to at least act like I wasn’t listening in. Not that he made it easy, all of his answers were clipped and one worded which told me either he wasn’t happy about the phone call or he didn’t much like the person on the other end. Finally he snapped his phone shut, turning back to me.
“That was Phillips from the RPD. The trace analysis finally came back,” he said quietly. I stopped folding, hearing the tenseness in his voice.
"And?” I prodded, trying to remain calm.
“It came back with traces of Ammonium Nitrate,” he said quietly.
I gave a shrug. The words were greek to me but obviously Tony wasn’t happy about something. “Meaning?”
“Meaning Ammonium Nitrate by itself is harmless, actually it used to be used by farmers as a fertilizer. However mixed with a sensitizer it can become explosive,” he finished.
My blood went cold and the shirt I’d been folding slipped through my fingers.
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