The Obsession Page 102

“The mechanic.”

“That’s right. Naomi’s in the house. Upstairs finishing up some work. I’d appreciate it if you took your hand off your gun. I haven’t had coffee yet, and it’s starting to piss me off.”

Since Tag sidled over to sniff at Mason’s FBI shoes, Mason gave his head a rub. “Do you usually have coffee here?”

“It’s gotten to be a habit. If that pisses you off, it has to wait until after coffee.”

“I wouldn’t mind coffee.”

Tag raced off, raced back, ball in his mouth, dropped it at Mason’s feet.

And when Mason smiled, Xander saw Naomi.

She didn’t smile all the way often enough, in his opinion, but when she did she shared that same slow build to blinding with her brother.

“She’s going to be really glad to see you.”

Xander waited for Mason, who wasn’t so official he couldn’t throw a ball for a dog, then started back into the house.

“If we drive north,” Naomi began as she came downstairs, “I could get some . . . Mason. Oh God, Mason!”

She flew.

Mason caught her, swung her around, then swung her around again.

That, Xander thought, was a connection, a bond, a love that went as deep as they ever get.

She laughed, and he heard the tears in it, saw them sparkle in the jubilant sunlight that pumped through the open door.

“What are you doing here? Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? You’re wearing a suit! You look so— Oh, oh, I missed you.”

“I missed you, too.” Beaming right back, Mason held her a few inches away. “You have a house. And a dog.”

“Crazy, isn’t it?”

“It’s a hell of a house. Great dog. And you’ve got . . . a mechanic.”

“A . . . oh.” She laughed, gave Mason another squeeze. “Xander, this is my brother, Mason.”

“Yeah, we met outside. I’m going for coffee.”

“I’ll get it. I’ll show you the house,” she said to Mason. “We’ll start with the kitchen. Right now it’s the best part.”

“It’s a big house.”

“With plenty of room for you and Seth and Harry to visit. And I’ve talked Gram and Pop into coming out, at least by the fall. Your rooms aren’t finished yet, but we’ll figure something out. How long can you stay?”


“Have you eaten?”

“Had a bagel on the ferry.”

“We can do better than that. The ferry? Where’d you come from? I thought you were in New York.”

He made another noncommittal sound, one that put Xander on alert. It didn’t bump against Naomi’s delight, not yet. And Xander changed his mind about getting a coffee to go, and leaving the siblings to themselves for a while.

He’d stick around.

“I set up a FaceTime with the uncles for later today. They didn’t say a thing about you being out here.”

“I had to come to Seattle.” Mason stopped, looked over the kitchen space, out to the view. “Wow. Nome, this is amazing.”

“I really love it. Xander, maybe you could take Mason out on the deck. I’ll bring coffee.”


“Sweet,” was Mason’s opinion when Xander opened the accordion doors. “Yeah, this would grab her. The first time she saw the ocean, she fell for it. I always expected her to end up on the East Coast, but yeah, she’d fall for this. How long have you been sleeping with my sister?”

“That’s a conversation you should have with her first, then we can have one. No problem. The quick one we should have now, before she comes out, is why you’re here. Because it’s not just a surprise visit to your sister. You’ve got business here. She doesn’t see it,” Xander added, “because she only sees you.”

“I have a meeting with your chief of police in about an hour.”

“If you’ve come to talk to him about Marla, is that FBI or the brother who’s FBI?”

“My supervisor signed off on it. You knew her, Marla Roth.”


“Do you know Donna Lanier?”

A cold blade sliced into Xander’s belly. “Yeah. What happened to her?”

“I don’t know, yet, that anything has. I’d appreciate it if you’d let me get to this with Naomi in my own time.”

She came out with three white mugs on a tray. “How about waffles? I bought a waffle iron,” she told Xander. “We can have an early Sunday brunch, and toast the uncles. No champagne, but I’ve got OJ.”

“Coffee works for now. Relax.” Smoothly, Mason put an arm around her shoulder, rubbed the top of her arm. “You must have taken a million pictures right from this spot.”

“It might be two million. And the town’s a charmer. We’ll have to take you through it. We could rent kayaks. I’ve been dying to. Xander, why haven’t we rented kayaks?”

“Why would I want to sit in a hole in a boat with a paddle?”

“It’s a whole new perspective.”

“I like this one fine.”

“For those who prefer land, there’s plenty of hiking. You didn’t say how long you can stay.”

“I’m not sure yet. Seth and Harry are coming out.”

“What? When? Today?”

“No, jeez, not today.” Amused, Mason sipped his coffee. “They’re probably going to spring it on you when you call later. A couple of weeks maybe—they’re working on it.”

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