“What are you doing?” I step out of his hold.
His eyebrows pull together and he looks down the hall to where we are heading. “Kai didn’t tell you I’ll be your security?” he questions, and I shake my head. “Well, me and Pika will be, but he is not here right now, so it’s just me until he gets back.”
“I thought I was safe now?” I murmur, wrapping my arms around myself.
“You are safe,” he says, concerned, looking me over. “No one will get to you.”
“Can you just take me to Kai?” I ask softly, feeling anxious. Even though I don’t really know Kai, he is the one person I trust right now.
“Of course,” he says quietly, taking my hand and leading me down the hall.
When the hall opens up, we are on the third floor. A glass banister that gives a clear view of a large, wooden staircase is in front of us. The stairs lead down to a level with wooden floors. Then another set leads to the beach below. I have never seen something so amazing. The ocean is just yards away, but the beach is literally inside.
“It must be expensive to keep this place clean,” I mutter to myself, looking out at the ocean and the sand that is spread across the bottom level of the house.
I hear Aye chuckle again before he tugs on my hand and begins leading me over a bridge, down another hall, and into a large dining room, where Kai and another man are sitting with papers spread out in front of them. As soon as we enter the room, both of their heads turn towards us. Kai’s eyes travel from my still-wet hair to my sock-covered feet before he holds a hand out in my direction, nodding his chin ever so slightly. I don’t want to go to him, but something in the look he’s giving me tells me to do it. I walk to him and take his hand, not even flinching when he pulls me down onto his lap.
“Makamae,” he whispers against the shell of my ear, placing a kiss there.
My stomach knots and I dig my nails into the palm of my hand as I turn my head to look at him. When our eyes connect, I try to silently understand what he’s doing.
“You found some clothes,” he says quietly as his fingers play along the edge of my shorts.
“I hope you don’t mind,” I murmur, grabbing his hand and stilling his movements.
“I would never deny my wife,” he mutters, holding my eyes.
I fight to not look away, to not cower.
The moment I met him, I knew he was not someone I would ever want to cross, but he was my savior. Even knowing he promised not to hurt me, I still feel the urge to pull away from him and the energy that is wrapping around me.
“Are you feeling better, now that you have showered?” He searches my face as his fingers come up to run along the underside of my jaw.
“Yes,” I mutter as that knot in my stomach loosens and another feeling begins to take root.
“Good,” he murmurs, leaning forward and brushing his lips lightly over mine.
My hand goes to his chest, feeling the warmth of his skin and the beat of his heart through the material of his shirt. When he leans back, his eyes search mine for a moment before looking away. The moment the connection is broken, I pull in a breath and turn on his lap to face the man across the table.
“Myla, I would like you to meet detective, Nero Wolfe. Nero, this is my wife, Myla Kauwe.” He squeezes my thigh when my nails dig into his.
“Nice to meet you, Myla.” He smiles, showing off a dimple in his left cheek, which is highlighted by his tan skin. His dark-brown eyes look between Kai and me as he shakes his head, causing his shaggy, dirty-blond hair to slide against the collar of his dress shirt. If he weren’t wearing a suit, I would’ve guessed he’s a surfer, not a detective.
“Nice to meet you,” I murmur, shifting slightly under his gaze. I knew we would eventually need to talk to the police about what happened, but I was hoping I would have a few days for myself to accept everything.
“Kai has filled me in on most of what occurred, but I do have a few questions for you. If that’s okay?” he asks softly.
I war with myself on turning to look at Kai for permission. I was not prepared for this, and I feel like I have been put on the spot.
“Of course.” I nod and pull away from Kai, moving to my own seat.
I need to remember that this is all a lie; we may be married, but it’s not out of choice—it’s out of necessity. I can’t let my personal vulnerabilities affect this situation. And as much as I hate to admit it, Kai has an enormous effect on me.
“Well, let’s get started, then,” Nero says, rearranging some papers on top of the table. “I know you and Kai were married yesterday in Vegas, but can you tell me what happened the day before?”
I wrap my arms around myself and look over my shoulder towards the door, where I want to escape, but my eyes land on Aye, who nods and gives me a small smile. Then I feel a squeeze on my thigh and the roughness of Kai’s palm as it moves along my skin.
I turn my head back towards Nero without acknowledging Kai. “What would you like to know?”
“Start from the beginning.” He gives a slight smile, picking up a pen.
I nod again and pull my feet up under me on the chair, trying to get my thoughts in order before I begin.
“I own a bakery in downtown Seattle called Raining Sprinkles.” I swallow, remembering that my bakery is nothing but ash and rubble now.
“Take your time,” Nero says comfortingly.
“Like I said, I own a bakery, and on Sundays, I open the bakery alone and give my girls the day off because it’s normally pretty slow in the shop. Really, the day started out like any other day. I got there around five, made a pot of coffee, and took care of some stuff in the office until around six. At six, I went to the kitchen and threw together a few batches of muffins, put them in the oven, and then went out to start stocking the display cases. At eight, I flipped the sign from closed to open, and not long after that, my first customer came in.”
I pause, taking a breath while wrapping my arms a little tighter around myself. “The rest of the day was uneventful. There was nothing out of the ordinary. I was busy because I was on my own, but I expected that. At around two thirty, I went to the back and pushed a load of dishes through the dishwasher, and when I got back out front, I realized the man from that morning was still sitting at the same table he had been when I first opened.”
I close my eyes and open them slowly. “I went and made sure he was okay and that he didn’t want anything. Then I told him I closed at three. When three o’clock came around, he was gone. I took care of a couple of customers who had been waiting for me to box up their items and walked them to the door to leave. As soon as they were gone, I shut the door, and I was flipping the sign over when the man from earlier came running up to the door, telling me through the glass he thought he left his phone in the bathroom.”