Hidden Riches

Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nora Roberts
anything, she coached herself as she walked. They can’t prove you made a mistake if you don’t admit it. If she lost the job, she’d have to go back on welfareagain. Even if her pride could stand it, she wasn’t sure her kids could.
    Opal spotted DiCarlo leaning against the hood of a red Porsche. The car was dazzling enough, but the man—tall, dark, glossily handsome and wrapped in a cashmere coat of pale gray—made her think of movie stars. Terrified, awed, intimidated, she walked toward him, head lowered.
    DiCarlo said nothing, simply opened the passenger door. His mouth twitched when he caught her instinctive sigh on sliding over the leather seat. He climbed behind the wheel, turned the key.
    â€œMr. DiCarlo, I really wish I could help you about that shipment. I—”
    â€œYou’re going to help me.” He shoved the gear shift into first, and the car shot away from Premium like a slick red bullet. He’d already decided how to play her, and gave Opal two full minutes of silence to stretch her nerves. He fought back a satisfied smile when she spoke first.
    â€œWhere are we going?”
    â€œNo place in particular.”
    Despite the thrill of riding in a first-class car, she moistened dry lips. “I got to be back in a half hour.”
    He said nothing to that, only continued to drive fast.
    â€œWhat’s this all about?”
    â€œWell, I’ll tell you, Opal. I figured we could deal better together away from the work atmosphere. Things have been pretty harried for you the last few weeks, I imagine.”
    â€œI guess so. The Christmas rush.”
    â€œAnd I figure you know just what happened to my shipment.”
    Her stomach did a quick jig. “Look, mister, I already told you I didn’t know what happened. I’m just doing my job the best I can.”
    He swung the car into a hard right turn that had her eyes popping wide. “We both know it wasn’t my screwup, honey. We can do this hard, or we can do this easy.”
    â€œI—I don’t know what you mean.”
    â€œOh yeah.” His voice held the same dangerous purr as the Porsche’s engine. “You know just what I mean. What happened, Opal? Did you take a liking to what was in the crate and decide to help yourself? An early Christmas bonus?”
    She stiffened, and some of her fear drained away in fury. “I ain’t no thief. I ain’t never stolen so much as a pencil in my whole life. Now you turn this car around, Mr. Big Shot.”
    It was just that kind of sass—as Curtis was fond of telling her—that earned her bruises and broken bones. Remembering that, she cringed against the door as the final word faded away.
    â€œMaybe you didn’t steal anything,” he agreed after she’d started to tremble again. “That’s going to make me really sorry to bring charges against you.”
    Her throat snapped shut. “Charges? What do you mean, charges?”
    â€œMerchandise, which my employer considers valuable, has vanished. The police will be interested to learn what happened to that shipment once it got into your hands. And even if you’re innocent, it’s going to leave a big question mark on your work record.”
    Panic was pounding like an anvil at the base of her skull. “I don’t even know what was in the crate. All I did was ship it. That’s all I did.”
    â€œWe both know that’s a lie.” DiCarlo pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store. He could see that her eyes were filled with tears, her hands twisting and twisting the strap of her shoulder bag. Almost there, he thought, and shifted in his seat to offer her a cold merciless stare.
    â€œYou want to protect your job, don’t you, Opal? You don’t want to get fired, and arrested, do you?”
    â€œI got kids,” she sobbed as the first tears spilled over. “I got kids.”
    â€œThen you’d better think

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