The Obsession Page 37

“You can thank me later,” Xander said to Kevin, and sat—slouched, with his long legs stretched out. “So.” He gave Naomi a slow smile. “How ya doing?”

“Good. I’m good.” She felt like someone had started a brush fire under her skin. “You’re good, too. My uncles are huge Springsteen fans. They’d have approved your cover.”

“How many uncles?”

“Just the two. They took my brother and me to the E Street Band’s reunion tour at Madison Square. Have you ever seen him in concert?”

“In Tacoma, same tour. Blew the roof off.”

She relaxed enough to smile. “Yeah, they did.”

A blonde in a tight pink shirt came up, circled Xander’s neck from behind. “Are you doing ‘Something from Nothing’?”

“Last set.”

“How about coming over, having a beer? Patti and I are right over there.”

“Working, Marla.” He wagged his water bottle.

She wasted the sexy pout, in Naomi’s opinion, as Xander couldn’t see it with her chin resting on the top of his head. “You could come over anyway. Hi, Jenny. Hi, Kevin.”

Her gaze tracked over to Naomi. “Who’s your friend?”

“Naomi,” Kevin said, “Marla.”

“Visiting?” Marla asked.

“No, I live here.” And didn’t that sound odd, Naomi realized. She lived here.

“Haven’t seen you around before. You must . . . Hey, are you the one who bought the old place on the bluff? You’re working there, right, Kevin?”

“That’s right.”

“You must be rich or crazy.”

“I’m not rich,” Naomi said, adding a half smile because the pouty blonde’s statement struck her as more baffled than needling.

“You know it’s haunted, right? They should’ve told you it was haunted.”

“I don’t think anyone mentioned it.”

“I’d be scared out of my mind staying there alone. You take pictures, right? Patti figures you’re looking to open a photography studio.”

“No. I don’t do studio photography.”

“What other kind is there?”

“How much time do you have?”


“I’ll come over next break.” Xander gave the hand currently stroking his clavicle a pat.

“Okay. Then maybe . . .” She leaned down, put her mouth on his ear, and whatever she whispered had Xander’s lips curving.

“That’s a hell of an offer, Marla, but I don’t want Chip coming after me with a hammer.”

She did the pout again. “We’re divorced.”

“And still.”

“Well, you think about it.”

“Hard not to,” he murmured as she hip-swiveled back to her table.

“What was the offer?” Kevin wanted to know.

“I’ll tell you later.”

“She just can’t help it.” Jenny glanced at Naomi, apology in her eyes. “She doesn’t mean any harm. She’s just a little clueless.”

“Did she do any harm?” Xander wondered.

“Not to me.” Naomi lifted her margarita, sipped. “But then, she didn’t make me an offer.”

“Ha. She’s hoping Kevin will tell Chip she did—”

“Which I wouldn’t.”

“No, but she’s hoping you will, and that would rile Chip up enough he’d go by her place, and they’d fight about it, have pissed-off sex, and she’d kick him out again after.”

“That’s about it,” Kevin agreed. “They have a strange relationship. He wouldn’t come after you with a hammer because he knows you—and you’re a bud.”

“Add in, Chip’s sweet,” Jenny claimed. “I know he’s punched a couple people over her, but she pushed him into it. He’s a sweet man.”

“She doesn’t think she wants sweet. She’d be wrong about that,” Xander added. “But that’s their problem. You guys want another round? I can let Loo know.”

“Another glass of wine and I’ll be a wild woman. What the hell?” Jenny decided. “It’s Friday night, and we’ve got a sitter.”

“I’ll keep up with her,” Kevin said.

“Not for me. I’m driving, and I really should go.”

“Stick around.” Xander sent her a lazy look. “Make a request—something on your playlist. Come on, play stump the band.”

She considered. “‘Hard to Explain.’” A choice, maybe because it had played in her ear right after he’d walked out of her bedroom the other day.

He grinned, pointed a finger at her, then walked off.

“I don’t know that one,” Jenny commented. “But I bet Xander does.”

He sent over another round—water for Naomi.

And she didn’t stump the band, who played the Strokes’ old classic as if they’d rehearsed it that morning. She stayed for most of the second set, then realized if she didn’t slip out, she’d end up staying until they closed.

“I’ve really got to go. Thanks for the drink—and for talking me into coming out.”

“Anytime. See you Monday.”

“I’m going to come by soon,” Jenny told her. “If you’re busy, Kevin will show me around.”

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