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“Your family has already accepted you. At some point they deserve to know the real you.” Acting on impulse, he swung his leg over hers and straddled her hips. “Just like I know the real you.”

“You don’t exactly like me all the time,” she reminded him.

“But I’m an idiot.” He grinned at the admission.

“You’ve got a point.”

His body liked their positioning and his penis hardened against his already open jeans.

“Does this mean you’ve forgiven me?” she asked.

Hunter groaned. Grabbing her arms, he drew them up and over her head. “It means I accept you for who you are.” And that meant he had to accept her need to keep her family together at all costs, which he supposed he could do for the short time he remained here with her.

“It’s a start,” she said, obviously pleased.

“So’s this.” He slid his hands down to her br**sts, then lowered his lips to hers, the kiss long and lingering. His tongue tangled with hers and his body demanded more.

And that was his signal to leave. With regret, he rolled away from her. “I’d better get going before the little snoop returns and catches us doing more than sleeping.”

“The kid is adding to her list of sins,” she muttered.

He knew she was kidding, but he heard the frustration in her tone, matched only by the frustration inside him.

***

AFTER SHOWERING, Molly’s first stop was Jessie’s room. Although she and Hunter had only slept in the same bed, she still hardly felt in a position to yell at the teen for entering without knocking. Still, Molly figured she held the moral high ground since her half sister had stooped to attempted extortion. Molly’s clothes in exchange for Jessie’s silence about finding Hunter in her room. Sheesh.

Molly knocked once and let herself inside.

Jessie yelped and turned around, hugging her shirt against her chest. “Hey!”

“At least I knocked and gave you warning,” Molly said as she stepped into the room and shut the door behind her.

Jessie frowned and turned her back to Molly so she could pull her shirt on in relative privacy before pivoting back to face her. “I’m sorry I didn’t knock.”

The teen’s apology took Molly off guard. “Thank you. And for what it’s worth, I was sick last night and Hunter stayed with me. He must have fallen asleep. I would have preferred you didn’t walk in on us but there wasn’t anything going on.”

“Are you here to yell at me?”

“For your barging in? No, you apologized for that. For attempted blackmail? That we can discuss further. At my age, I don’t think anyone’s going to punish me for having a man in my room, and if you think you’re going to win me over by snooping in my things or threatening me, then you’re mistaken.”

“You have to admit it was worth a shot.” A sheepish grin crossed Jessie’s face.

Apparently the progress they’d begun making wasn’t all lost. Molly rolled her eyes. “No more nonsense. Promise?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jessie muttered.

“Good.” Molly inclined her head. “I brought you something.” She pulled the bright yellow cardigan sweater from behind her back and tossed it Jessie’s way.

“Cool!” The young girl’s eyes opened wide as she wrapped her fingers around the soft material. “Thanks.” She met Molly’s gaze, gratitude evident in her expression.

“No problem. I’m not rewarding bad behavior, mind you, but I do think yellow is your color.”

Jessie had the decency to blush. “I’m sorry I give you such a hard time.”

“I can handle it. But I like you better when you’re more like this. So how’s Seth?” Molly asked, deliberately changing the subject.

“He seems better. He says he looked up Hunter on the Internet and that he’s got an awesome track record of getting people off. That seemed to settle him down a lot. I think he’s worried about losing my dad and his dad, if that makes sense.”

“It does,” Molly said softly. “And he’s right about Hunter. Our dad’s in good hands.” She deliberately tossed the volley to Jessie.

She curled the sweater in her hands, holding it up to her face. “Yeah, he is.”

No fight over whose dad the general really was, Molly thought and released her breath. “Enjoy the sweater. It looks best with dark jeans, by the way.” She turned to go, pleased with the progress made.

“Thanks again. Hey, I was thinking…” Jessie said.

Molly glanced over her shoulder. “About?”

“Maybe this weekend you could take me to Starbucks. You know, just us. Unless Robin comes, then uh, maybe the three of us could go?”

Molly grinned. “Now, that sounds like a plan.” And a darn good one at that.

***

HUNTER FOUND the general outside on the porch. The sun shone overhead and the older man stared through a pair of shades into the distance.

“Mind if I join you?” Hunter asked.

“Be my guest.”

Hunter slipped his sunglasses on and sat down beside him. “Is freedom tasting sweet?”

“Bitter.”

Hunter nodded. “I hear you.” Molly’s father was happy to be out of jail and petrified he’d have to go back. “Can we go over a few things?”

The general nodded. “I’m happy to do something to help my own case. I’m not used to being idle.”

Leaning forward, Hunter thought through the events they needed to discuss. “Your office manager hasn’t been to work, has she?”

“No. No letter of resignation, either. Lydia has disappeared and since Sonya’s been willing to fill in during the day, I haven’t worried about where she is.”

“Molly and I are going to Atlantic City later on today. I want to show Paul’s photograph to the staff at the motel where he used to stay. In the meantime, can you and Sonya go through both the business bills and Paul’s personal ones and get me a list of dates when Paul was out of town on business?” As much as Hunter needed the information, he sensed Frank needed even more to be busy and involved in his defense, something Hunter understood and respected.

“Not a problem. What are you thinking?”

Hunter shook his head. “Nothing certain at this point. I’m just wondering if Atlantic City was a side stop when Paul went on his various business trips for you. And if so, was it because he was gambling? Did he owe even more money than he already lost? I’m looking for other suspects so we can plant reasonable doubt in the jury’s mind. Or even more importantly, maybe convince a judge to drop the charges against you altogether due to lack of evidence.”

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