Body Work by Bonnie Edwards
Body Work by Bonnie Edwards
Tyce Branton wiped his hands on a rag and settled against the hood of the Cadillac coupe. She had great lines, long and lean, with headlights that could stall a man’s heart. Lines that could make a man’s hands itch.
Maybe it wasn’t the car that revved him up after all. Maybe it was the woman closing the back kitchen door of her Tudor mansion. Like the Caddy, her color was cream-and-white blonde while the sweep of her long-lined midsection gave her the look of speed, grace, and agility.
She was possessed of a body a man could drive and drive and drive.
Come to Papa.
And she did.
Straight across the courtyard she came. Her long legs eating the ground, hair flying back just enough to show the pink lobes of her ears, the Widow Delaney approached the middle bay of the three-car garage where Tyce stood.
Much younger than even rumor had it, she was a ripe beauty, made for a man to hold on to. Stretch out over. Sink into. As he drank in the sight of her purposeful approach, Tyce recognized a familiar swing to her walk. The set of her shoulders and the light, graceful flow of her hands by her thighs reminded him of someone.
He straightened immediately, alert to an inner rhythm he hadn’t felt in years. As her sandals hit the cobblestones, he felt an answering tattoo in his chest and farther south.
It was as if he’d seen her walk toward him thousands of times.
But this woman was no recent acquaintance. He’d never even met the deceased husband. So where and when had he met her?
The sandals she wore had slim straps at the ankles. Thin, elegant ankles. Rhinestones glittered on the toe straps. Her legs were smooth and shiny like those of a pampered mistress. Arms loose, her gait was easy but determined. Her breasts were high, firm, probably fake, while her head was set in a haughty way that said she was very much the lady of the manor.
Tilted in just that way, her chin spoke of determination and pride.
Word was she’d demanded his personal attention. His hands and no one else’s would do. This bit of information came straight from the law firm that hired him. No one else’s hands but his. The lawyer had been adamant. Still, if he’d known this woman before, he couldn’t place her, didn’t know how she’d come to ask for him.
But he was about to find out.
To cover his study he struck a match, held it to the cigarette in his mouth, and kept one eye on the Widow Delaney. From what he’d heard, keeping an eye on the widow was the smartest thing a man could do. The old guy she’d married had been taken for a ride.
He flicked the spent match away, drew on the smoke, and watched as she stuttered to a stall about five feet away.
“Tyce Branton.” Her voice, husky and soft, gave him his answer.
His belly dropped, his heart slipped a gear.
“Lisa Brady.” He said her name as a bald statement, devoid of the shock he felt.
“It’s Lisa Delaney now.” After all these years, Lisa Brady was where she wanted to be: which was as far away from where she started as a woman could get.
“I wasn’t sure you’d come,” she said. There was warmth in her gaze he didn’t care to see.
“I didn’t know it was you.”
She blinked at that and the warmth cooled to a chill. “I need the best and all reports say that’s you.”
He held up both hands so she could see the grease for herself. “Yeah, who’d a guessed?”
He watched for the curled lip of disdain he’d replayed all this time.
It didn’t come.
She clasped her hands in a gesture he remembered. She was nervous. Afraid he wouldn’t keep to his contract?
Everyone says Body Work by Branton makes a difference at auction.” She hesitated, then lifted her chin and went on, “I need all the money I can get. My husband–”
“Oh yeah, Harris Delaney.” He cut her off, so she’d know how little he cared. “Real old guy, right? And real rich.” He flicked the cigarette to the cobblestone pavement and turned back to focus on the engine. “I’ve got work to do.”
“He was only sixty-seven.” She spoke quietly but not defensively as if even she knew their age difference was indefensible.
“How long will this take?” she asked.
Her soft tone made him want to grind at her little-girl-lost routine. She’d never lost her way. Not Lisa, not once.