Treasure Me
Clean’s duffel bag still propped in the corner. Given the amount of gear he’d arrived with, he’d probably run out of shelf space in the bedroom closet. Sifting through the bag, she found a pair of sweatpants and another softly worn sweatshirt like the one she’d stolen from him earlier today. This one was emerald green.
    Pulling it on, she threw back the only rejoinder that came to mind. “In the restaurant, what did you mean about a play-by-play?” She sat back down and reached for her plate.
    Thankfully the question doused the passion in his gaze. “I don’t want to go into it.”
    “Why not?”
    Darting his fingers through his hair, he gave himself a sexily disheveled appearance. When his ebony gaze wavered, her heart lurched. Doubt bloomed on his face.
    Some cajoling was in order. “C’mon, Hugh. Your secrets are safe with me.” The hesitancy in his eyes made him more likeable even if she was loath to consider why. “How bad can it be?”
    “Let’s just eat and hit the sack.”
    “I’m not sleeping with you.”
    “I didn’t mean together. Not tonight.” He stabbed repeatedly at the spinach poking out of his omelet. When the leaf was suitably impaled, he stuck it into his mouth.
    Now the man was as buttoned up as a stockbroker on Wall Street. Which was fine. He liked putting her on the hot seat with questions about her line of work. Time to take as well as he gave.
    She let out a theatrical sigh. “I’m waiting,” she said, and immediately regretted the desire to push. The question bore down on him, curving his shoulders and sending pain flashing across his brow. The fear scuttling his features took her by surprise. He really was upset.
    The silence grew full. Finally, he said, “I wrote an exposé fourteen years ago when I started out at a newspaper in Cleveland. It was my first big story, about an investment firm in the city. The guy running the place was playing fast and loose with the sweep accounts.”
    She tried to keep up. “What’s a sweep account?”
    He warmed to his story. “If a company pours millions of dollars through an account, a bank pays interest daily. Let’s say you keep, on average, twenty million in the account. You rack up interest every day.”
    “Nice deal. Where’s mine?”
    He swiped his hand through the air, silencing her. “The investment firm used the sweep as a way station for client funds before putting them into the stock market, mutual funds—wherever clients were investing. The firm’s owner stole from the sweep. I found out about it.”
    “You wrote an article about the theft?” She’d have to watch her step or he’d be writing about her .
    “It was front page news.” Hugh laughed, but the sound was hollow. “I was so proud of the scoop even though I knew the guy would only get a slap on the wrist. He had powerful friends and a crack attorney. His wife was wealthy and all the money was repaid to the investors. But it didn’t end there. What I didn’t expect were the repercussions the publicity had on his wife.”
    Dread shivered across Birdie’s skin. “What happened?”
    “She learned why her husband was stealing from the sweep. He was seeing another woman and had bought her a pricey condo. The works. All sadly predictable—a bored middle-aged man and a hot blonde ten years younger.”
    Birdie thought of her mother, how she glided through life on other people’s money. But she stole from innocent men, not bastards who cheated on their wives. The bastards had it coming to them. “Please tell me the blonde took him for all he was worth.”
    “She did, but it gets worse. His wife had a shouting match with the other woman in the middle of a department store. Because of the wife’s standing in Cleveland—she was a prominent socialite and philanthropist—it made the gossip columns. Not to mention every radio talk show from here to Cincinnati.”
    An awful memory edged to the corner of Birdie’s mind, a fleeting image of a woman in an

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