suite to walk you through what you’re doing.”
She nodded, just as disappointed by the change in subject as she was relieved. But then, mid-exit, he stopped and shot her a grin that turned her legs to rubber.
“And then, later, I’ll meet you at the cabana.”
R yder found Aggie where he’d left her moments before. “You talk too much,” he said, kissing the top of her head to soften the admonishment.
She swatted him on the chest. “If you weren’t hiding something, you wouldn’t think so.”
Ryder froze. “What do you mean?” He glanced back, grateful he didn’t see Zoe. He’d left her to count curtain rods and pillow cases, and he figured she was glad for the distance. But if she was going to walk up on him, just his luck that it would be now.
“I saw how you looked at her,” Aggie said with a knowing smile.
“Whatever you think you know, you can forget it. She’s here to check the orders.”
Aggie planted her hands on her hips and stared him down. “Seeing as how any one of us can count, I’m not buying that you flew her in just for that. Especially considering you had everything finalized weeks ago.”
He shrugged. “She’s doing quality control. What can I say? They’re thorough.”
She shook her head and shot him a look that made clear what she thought of his claim. “No one waits until two weeks before a project of this magnitude opens to double-check the linens. That last rep took the final paperwork with him when he left. As a matter of fact, there was a tracking notification in the corporate inbox this morning for the final load of supplies, so you might want to tell them to re-route that plane if you want that story of yours to stand.”
His mouth fell open. “They’re being delivered already? They’re not due for a week!”
“You’re a big account,” Aggie said mildly. “They aim to please.”
“Great,” he muttered. He’d have to find Zoe and regroup. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal to say she was there personally to make sure everything was as he requested. Ever since the construction had been completed, he’d had only a core group at the resort—just him, Aggie, Hector, Neil, Carson, and a small grounds detail, plus his pilot, who seldom ventured away from his cottage near the airstrip. The rest of the staff was due to arrive in a couple days for training, with the resort’s fully booked gala grand opening set for a week from Friday. After a welcomed post-construction lull, things were about to get hectic. It was likely no one would question Zoe’s role at the resort, but it wasn’t the extended staff Ryder worried about. It was the people who knew him…the people who had nothing better to do for the duration than watch him watch her.
“Besides,” Aggie added with a waggle to her brow. “I’ve seen the picture.”
“What picture?” As if he didn’t know. As if the image hadn’t immediately filled his brain, despite the fact he kept it tucked away.
“The picture in that old yearbook of yours. I know it’s not high school you’re missing, and that photo tucked between the pages speaks volumes. Looks just like her, only a few years ago. Her name isn’t Michelle, is it?”
Aggie’s cross-examination would probably impress Zoe, but it got under Ryder’s skin. He didn’t like dodging the truth, or that anyone could read him so well. He frowned. “Part of it is, but that alteration isn’t for me. It’s for her, so let it be.”
Again with the stare that saw right through him, she asked, “And what about you?”
“What about you going through my things?” he shot back, knowing the deflection would be obvious. But this was dangerous territory, and more for him than Zoe. No one knew how deeply his past scarred him…not even Aggie.
She waved a finger in his face. “Rubbish, boy. You hired me to head the housekeeping staff, and you left the book lying open. I didn’t snoop, but I didn’t shut it with my eyes closed
Cari Quinn, Taryn Elliott