“We’re in business, Simon. This should do—”
“Tell Grams I’ll see her in a bit.”
Her gaze shot to the door. She’d recognize that voice anywhere. Griffin was here. Now. Outside the door. She shot to her feet, shoving the candelabra in front of the fireplace.
She’d trapped Simon. She grabbed the cat, put him on the floor, and scooped up the bucket and sponges while frantically searching for somewhere to hide. The balcony. She didn’t care if she froze to death; she couldn’t let him find her here.
As she turned to run, Ava heard the beep of the passkey. She wouldn’t make it. She spun around and ran the short distance to the bathroom. Her breath coming in panicked puffs, she stepped inside the bathtub and carefully inched the crimson and gold shower curtain across the rod. She sagged against the tile wall, praying his in a bit meant he’d drop his bags off and leave.
If it had been anyone other than Griffin, she’d pretend to be cleaning the room. But she remembered all too clearly the humiliation of being discovered by Griffin and his ex-wife the last time they’d stayed at the manor. He’d looked at Ava like he hadn’t known who she was, and his wife had asked for fresh towels, acting as though Ava hadn’t done her job.
And then there was the book. She couldn’t leave without it.
“How did you get in here?”
Her gaze jerked to the curtain, her heart beating double time. She let out the
breath she’d been holding when the bed creaked. Simon. Griffin was talking to the cat. “Better question would be, what have you been up to? Your paws are black. Off the bed, buddy.”
Her toes curled in her shoes, a warm, fluttery sensation settling low in her stomach in response to the slow drawl of Griffin’s deep voice. He always spoke in that low, unhurried tone. Even when he was angry or when he was whispering how much he loved her or when he was talking her out of her temper. Only then there’d been a hint of laughter too. Her temper used to amuse him. He had a long fuse; she had a short one. She used to, at least.
Her lips curved at the memories; then her wistful smile faded when the consequences of what he’d just said penetrated her lovesick brain. Simon’s paws were dirty. All she’d need was for Griffin to start looking for the source. She had to…
There was the rasp of a zipper, then the light thud of something hitting the floor. At the sound of heavy footfalls approaching the bathroom, Ava’s eyes went wide, and she pressed her back against the tiled wall. A bare, muscled arm reached past the curtain, a large hand turning on the water. The cold spray from the showerhead hit her in the face, and a small, shocked squeak escaped before she could contain it.
Griffin whipped back the shower curtain. His thick, toffee-colored hair glistened under the fluorescent light, his dazzling, deep blue eyes wide in surprise. She opened her mouth to say something, but the words got stuck in her throat as her eyes drifted down his body. He was completely and gloriously naked. And even more beautiful than she remembered.