Mom looked close to tears as she buzzed around the porch, almost knocking off the colorful purple and orange mums. She stopped, spinning toward Reece. “I have to call your mom. We need—”

“Oh for the love of God.” I threw up my hands. “Someone broke into my apartment in the middle of the night and took a picture of me while I was sleeping and I’m probably being stalked. That’s why I’m here!”

Both of my parents stared at me.

“Nice way to break that to them,” Reece said dryly under his breath.

Dad turned to me, letting the door swing shut with a slam behind him. “What?”

I wanted to throw myself down on the porch and flail like a toddler having an epic meltdown.

Reece placed his hand on my lower back. “Why don’t we head inside and talk? We’ll tell you guys what’s been happening.”

And that’s what we did, except before we could get the story out, Gordon and his wife, who were in the kitchen making meatballs, assumed that Reece and I were moving in together tomorrow, getting married next week, and popping out a baby before Megan was even due.

Megan was sitting at the oak table, my brother standing near the island. I had no idea how they were working together like that. Gordon had the meat. Megan had the eggs and the bread. There was a good five feet or so between the island and the table. Trying to figure it out made my brain hurt.

My brother was stocky like my dad and he inherited the crappy vision from our mom. However, his wire-frame glasses seemed to never slip down his nose like mine. Gordon grinned in a way that told me he was about to say something that was going to embarrass me. “Did you know she’s had a crush on you since she was fifteen?”

“Honey,” said Megan, shaking her head.


Reece smiled. “Oh, I know.”

“Everybody knew,” Gordon tacked on. “I’m pretty sure she sketched a picture of you on the wall in her bedroom, and Dad had to paint—”

“Gordon! Shut up!” I screeched.

Dad entered the kitchen. “Yeah, Gordon, shut up. Someone has been messing with your baby sister.”

Gordon lifted hamburger-covered hands from the bowl and his look turned serious in a nanosecond. “What?”

I plopped down at the table, across from Megan, figuring I needed to sit through this conversation. Between Reece and me, we told them everything. Well, almost everything. I left out the undies in the dishwasher thing, because seriously, I didn’t need to share that with my parents, and I also didn’t tell them about the wild monkey sex for obvious reasons.

As expected, my mom freaked out and then got angry, really angry. “How dare someone do this to my daughter!” She slammed her fist on the table, rattling the little bowls of food, and then twisted toward Gordon. “You still got that shotgun? Wait.” She held up a hand, glancing at Reece. “Earmuffs, boy. Because I’m about to suggest some laws be broken.”

Reece clamped his mouth shut.

“Mom,” I protested weakly.

That went largely ignored. “You still have that shotgun, right? You go and stay a night at her place and if someone comes in that door, you—”

“Mrs. Arks, I don’t think that’s a wise idea. I think Gordon wants to be home for when his first child is born,” Reece interjected wisely. “Roxy is safe, and right now, that’s what matters.”

“What matters is you all catch this sick SOB.” Dad’s arms were tensed, folded across his chest as Reece explained everything that was being done. The cell phone was being searched for prints. My apartment would be wired with an alarm system. I’d be staying with Reece until that was done.

It took a while to calm down my parents and brother. Not that I blamed them for their reactions. They loved me and were worried about me, and I didn’t want them to be afraid—and I didn’t want to be afraid of a nameless, faceless freak.

Maybe an hour or so passed, the scent of garlic and meat filling the air, when Mom invited us to join them for their weekly Sunday spaghetti dinner, and when I glanced at Reece, he nodded and I felt that stupid fluttering in my belly, like a nest of butterflies were going to gnaw their way out. As I got up to help get the plates, I realized we were missing someone.

“Where’s Thomas?” I asked, placing the stack of plates on the table.

Dad grabbed a beer out of the fridge. “Oh, he’s over at a friend’s, worshipping Satan or whatever it is he’s doing.”

My brows slowly inched up my forehead as I met Megan’s gaze. Grinning, she ducked her chin. “Well, that sounds like fun.”

“True.” Reece grinned from where he sat. “Nothing like a little satanic worship on a Sunday.”

Mom smacked Dad’s arm on the way back to the table. “Thomas is with his girlfriend. And they’re studying.”

Gordon snorted.

“Now, see what you all made me do.” She lifted her hands, clad in oven mitts. “Forgot to get the garlic bread.” When she had the plate out, she spun toward me and the bread shifted precariously along the baking sheet. “Oh! I almost forgot to tell you, since I didn’t get over to see you yesterday, which apparently was a good thing, because I probably would be like Dog the Bounty Hunter on someone’s ass right now.”

Dad sighed.

I couldn’t keep a straight face and giggled as I sat down next to Reece. “I’m picturing you with a blond mullet now.”

“I’d make that look good.” She scooped the bread into a basket. “I ran into Miss Sponsito. Remember her? She’s a curator at one of the museums in the city.”

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