The Obsession Page 133

“I may burn this suit.”

It took some doing, but Naomi managed to stop the dog from racing after them, pulled him inside long enough to clip on the leash.

By the time she came out the front door both Xander and Lelo had hunkered down to study the ground. And her nerves began to fray.

“Not only didn’t I walk across here, but my foot’s bigger than that, Lelo. Buy a clue.”

“Yeah, I guess I see that, but I just figured since it’s coming and going toward the back. I guess one of Kevin’s guys.”

“They knocked off before you did yesterday, haven’t been back today.” He looked up to where Naomi fought to keep the heroically straining dog from pulling her forward.

“Sit!” He snapped it out, and to Naomi’s—and probably to Tag’s—surprise, Tag sat.

“Your brother’s got about an inch on me,” Xander said. “I can’t say I noticed his feet, but I’m betting they’re close to my size. I take a thirteen.”

“Yes. I know his size because he hit it in high school. It’s not easy to find that size off the rack.”

“Tell me about it. Give him a call, Naomi. Somebody’s been out here, snooping around.”

“Well fuck, Xan.” Lelo pushed to his feet. “I never figured that. Maybe that’s why the big guy was so upset when I got here.”

Xander circled around, took the curving path of recently set pavers. “He’s on here, right?” Taking the phone out of her hand, Xander pulled up her speed dial list. “Go ahead and take the dog around the back, but don’t— Never mind. Lelo, take this dog around back and keep him away from that dirt.”

“Sure. The back door was locked,” he said as he took the same path as Xander. “Front, too, because I’m going to admit I tried it, thinking to let Tag out since he was so upset at first. The house was locked up, Naomi. I don’t think anybody got in. Probably somebody just wanted to look and see what you’re doing up here.”

“Maybe.” She surrendered the dog. “Thanks.”

When she turned to go in the house, Xander gripped her arm.

“I need to see if anything’s been taken or—”

He just shook his head, kept talking to Mason. “Yeah, they’re pretty clear. Enough to see size and tread. Yeah. Yeah, we’ll be here.”

He handed Naomi the phone. “Just wait here. I’m going to check inside.”

“It’s my house, Xander. My things. I’m not going to stand here wringing my hands while you go look under the damn bed for me.”

He’d have cursed if it wouldn’t have been a waste of breath. “Fine. We’ll go check inside.”

They went upstairs first, and she turned straight into her studio. Even the relief of seeing, at a glance, that nothing had been touched didn’t ease the anger.

Still, Xander checked the closet, the powder room, and began going systematically room to room.

“Nothing’s been taken or moved,” she told him. “I know where things are. When you’re in the middle of deciding what you want where, and where to keep it until, you know.”

“I’m going to check the basement.” When she gave him that look, he did curse. “I’m not riding the white horse, okay? Nobody got in here past the locks, alarm, the dog, but I need to check.”

He stripped off the suit coat, the tie. “Mason’s going to be here any minute. I just want to go down, take a quick look. You can change out of that dress or not, but if you want to walk around outside, see what the hell, you’re going to want to get out of those skyscrapers.”

She stepped out of the classic black pumps. “I’m out, but you’re right. No one got in here, and I appreciate your being thorough and checking the basement. I’ll change.”

“Good.” He hesitated. “You know, Lelo’s not as stupid as he looks.”

“He doesn’t look stupid—and yes, he’s going to start putting things together when the police and the FBI come out here because somebody walked across the fresh dirt that’s my lawn.” She drew a breath. “You can tell him.”

“Tell him what?”

“Whatever you think he should know. I’m going to tell Jenny and Kevin. I’m going to tell them all of it.”

“Good.” He took her face in a firm grip. “You crossed that border, Naomi, because you wanted to. This is part of being on the other side. I won’t be long.”

Alone, she changed into knee-length jeans, a T-shirt. She still intended to plant. Goddamn it, she’d plant her new containers. Maybe she was afraid—she wasn’t stupid either. But over that fear ran a strong, hard line of anger.

And that she’d hold on to.

She went out on the deck, saw Lelo and the dog playing throw it/fetch it, and stood, just for a moment, looking out at the blue and the green she’d made her own.

She didn’t have to tell herself she’d do whatever she had to do to keep it. She already knew.


She didn’t know the other agents in their dark suits and sunglasses, but she doubted they were much different from the ones who had swarmed over the house, the woods in West Virginia seventeen years before.

She hadn’t stood with them, as she did now, but had watched the news reports in the safe house when her mother slept.

Now she wasn’t a child; now it was her house, her ground.

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