Hopefully he and Molly would, as well.

Hunter stood. “I have to get back to work. I wish like hell I could help you two out but the court has me tied up with this case.”

Lilly slid her chair back and rose.

Ty did the same.

“I’m just glad you’re here and able to listen.” Lilly walked over and gave Hunter a quick hug.

“You’re doing exactly what we need,” Ty said, his gratitude evident in all he didn’t say.

“Listen, I’m going to go the ladies’ room. I’ll be right back.” Lilly headed to the door a few feet away.

Ty turned back to Hunter. “One more thing. I have a favor to ask.”

“Name it,” Hunter said.

“See what Molly knows about Dumont ’s relationship with Paul Dunne. I didn’t like the man at all and if they’re connected in any way, it can’t be good.”

Hunter nodded. “I hear you.”

Ty cleared his throat.

“I’m just sorry Molly’s involved with that bastard at all,” Hunter said. “Have the cops found anything remotely connecting Dumont to the fire?”

“No, because there’s nothing to be found,” Molly said as she came up behind Hunter, wearing a tight-fitting, fire-engine-red spandex top.

Hunter refrained from whistling. He was in deep enough shit already.

Ty glanced at Molly and grimaced. “I tried to warn you,” he said to Hunter.

“Well, you needn’t have bothered,” Molly said. “I deserve to know exactly what Hunter thinks of my soon-to-be stepfather.” She folded her hands across her chest, glaring at him.

“Bye, guys,” Ty said, and with a regret-filled glance, he stepped away, leaving Hunter to deal with Molly.

Ty had done the right thing. Molly’s anger was directed at Hunter. He had to fix things alone.

Unfortunately he didn’t think anything would mend this rift.

Not anymore.

After the start they’d made the other night, this was a huge setback and a knifelike pain stabbed him in the gut. Her opinion of him mattered and he’d obviously lost both her trust and her respect.

He stepped closer, speaking quietly. “To be fair, you know I never liked the man.”

Molly straightened her shoulders, her walls firmly in place. “But I didn’t think you’d go so far as to accuse him of attempted murder. My mother’s marrying the man. She’s in love with him. And I’ve seen the other side of him, the one you refuse to believe exists. I’m telling you, no matter what Marc did in the past, he is not a murderer now.”

Hunter merely nodded, acknowledging her words if not agreeing with them.

“You do realize that I was with Lilly at the mall. Marc wouldn’t win any brownie points with my mother by running me over.”

“I didn’t say what we believe is flawless. But if he hired someone, that person might not know who you were.”

He already knew now he and Molly would never see eye to eye on this subject. Too bad this wasn’t something on which either of them would be willing to compromise.

Instead of discussing the impossible, he changed the subject. “What’s Dumont ’s relationship with Paul Dunne, do you know?”

She cocked her head to one side. “The trustee of Lacey’s parents’ will? I’d think that would be obvious.”

He appreciated her spunk. “Why don’t you enlighten the less info rmed among us?” He didn’t know another way to get her to open up than to frustrate her with sarcasm.

She narrowed her gaze, clearly annoyed with him. “Paul Dunne is the trustee,” she said slowly, enunciating each word as if he were an idiot. “That means he dispenses the money as per Lacey’s parents’ wishes. Which also means he met Marc over ten years ago. So whatever plot you think you’ve concocted between them, give it up.”

At least she was answering his questions so Hunter figured he might as well keep going. “What about Anna Marie?” he asked.

“What about her?” Molly’s tone grew even more wary if such a thing were possible.

“When Anna Marie overhears things, who does she repeat them to?”

Molly rolled her eyes. “Nearly everyone. Why?”

He didn’t have a direct answer he could give Molly. Not yet. “And when Anna Marie finds out things in the courthouse from her job, have you ever heard her repeat them?”

“I’m not sure. What kind of things?” She lowered herself into a chair, indicating she wasn’t going anywhere for the moment.

Though he hadn’t breached her barriers, at least he’d piqued her interest. It was either that or the fact that he’d turned his questions away from Marc toward Anna Marie. Either way, the sparkle had returned to her eyes and she leaned toward him, not away from him.

He considered his answer carefully. “Things like which judge is sitting on my current case.”

As he spoke, he joined her at the table, careful not to sit too close and rile her up again. No matter how much he wanted to break through the distance between them, he knew better than to think she’d allow him to.

He paused before continuing and pinched the bridge of his nose, deep in thought. He could trust Molly and fill her in on his suspicions or he could walk away. For Lilly, and most of all for the sake of any relationship he might salvage with Molly, he opted to trust.

“I think Anna Marie told her brother, Paul Dunne, about my court case and he had her move it up on the docket so I’d be too busy to get involved with Lilly and her trust fund.”

Molly’s nose scrunched up as she considered this. “Why would Anna Marie care about the trust fund one way or another?”

“I don’t think she does. You know Anna Marie. She talks for the sake of talking without considering the consequences. In this case, it would be like collateral damage from a bomb when you consider who Anna Marie’s brother is and his connection to Lilly’s trust fund.” He picked up the pepper and shook it upside down, letting the grinds spread all over the table. “You never know what’s going to get hit or who’s going to get hurt.”

Her chin propped in her hand, Molly studied the pepper from his analogy, obviously mulling over the possibilities before speaking.

He enjoyed watching the wheels turn in that sexy brain of hers. And he did find her mind as intriguing as her looks.

Finally she glanced up, meeting his gaze. “Okay, so Anna Marie tells her brother about her latest case—”

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