Cinderella Scandal(10)

By: Barbara Mccauley

Still, Tina watched Reid glance at his wristwatch, she could look, couldn't she? As long as he didn't know she was looking, what was the harm?

That's when he glanced up.

With a gasp she jumped back, praying he hadn't been able to see her through the half-open blinds.

Darn it, darn it.

"That's what I get for being nosy," she told Delilah. "And you know what they say about curiosity."

As if annoyed by the comment, Delilah jumped from Tina's arms and strode away with a flick of her pretty tail.

"It's just an expression," Tina called after the cat. "No need to be waspish about it."

Resisting the urge to creep back to the window again, Tina headed for the bathroom, stripped off her work clothes and stepped into the shower. It felt good to let the hot water pound on her shoulders and neck. Slowly, her tension from the day eased.

A year, she told herself. Surely she could manage twelve short months. Fifty-two weeks. She smiled, remembering the look on Reid's face when she'd told him she'd be counting the days. When he'd looked her in the eye and told her he'd be counting them, too, she'd almost felt as if it were a challenge.

God help her, she couldn't resist a challenge.

Yes, you will resist, her mind yelled at her. Determined that she'd spent enough brain space on the man, Tina stuck her head under the spray of water. The time would pass quickly enough. Before she knew it, the man would be out, and she would be in.

The thought lightened her mood immensely.

After she toweled off and passed a blow dryer over her hair, she slipped into a pair of jeans, a pink cotton T-shirt and, because she was going out this evening, a bra. Dinner and a movie with Rachel would take her mind off Reid, Tina told herself.

She found a black leather ankle boot under the end table beside the sofa and was searching for its mate when she heard the sound of muffled voices drifting up from a floor vent. She could almost make out what the men were saying. Was that Reid's voice, too? she wondered, then got down on her hands and knees and listened. They were saying something about turning the desk at an angle.

It was utterly rude to be eavesdropping, of course, and she started to move away until she heard a deep voice say something about the blond babe at the bakery. They were talking about Sophia, Tina knew, but when the man made a crude comment and the rest of the men laughed, Tina gasped.

How dare they talk about her sister like that!

"Hey—" she shouted into the vent "—you down there. That's right, I'm talking to you."

She waited a beat to get their attention, but before she could say anything else, she heard Rachel's voice behind her.

"Tina, what on earth are you doing?"

Startled, she slammed the top of her head on the end table and swore. Rubbing her head, she crawled out backward. "Rachel, for heaven's sake," Tina said, glancing over her shoulder, "you could at least—"

She froze.

Standing next to Rachel, his brow lifted and a smirk on his face, was Reid Danforth.

Please let this be a dream, was her first thought, the next one was to compose herself as quickly as possible.

"—help me look for my shoe," she finished her sentence, though that wasn't what she'd been about to say.

When Reid's gaze drifted down and lingered a moment on her behind, Tina scrambled to her feet.

Why should she be embarrassed he'd caught her on all fours, yelling like a crazy woman down an air vent? He'd invaded her space—again—and she could act any way she wanted. What this man thought about her didn't matter in the slightest.

"Mr. Danforth needs the key to the service panel," Rachel said awkwardly.

"Reid," he corrected Rachel, then smiled.

Rachel blushed and glanced away.

Tina was certain she could bean him with her boot at ten paces and wipe that smile off his face.

"I'm not sure, but I think it's in the kitchen somewhere." Tina hooked an arm through her sister's and smiled. "Rachel, why don't you help me look?"

"I—" Rachel blinked, then met Tina's glare and nodded. "Ah, okay."

When they rounded the comer and were out of sight from Reid, Tina dragged her sister to the laundry room on the opposite side of the kitchen and closed the door. "Why didn't you warn me?"

Rachel furrowed her brow. "Warn you about what?"

"That you were bringing him here," Tina hissed.

"I actually did call, but you didn't answer the phone." Rachel chewed on her bottom lip. "I'm so sorry, T. Did I do something wrong?"

Shame had Tina releasing the tight grip on her sister's arm. "I'm sorry, Rach," she said with a sigh. "I'm just a little upset over losing the space downstairs, that's all. It makes me crazy that Dad and Mom both treat me like a child."

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