Twisted Roses

Page 15

My hand finds my rose pendant and I fiddle with it as I consider the possibility this is all connected. Salvatore and I spent months searching for the man who assaulted me. What if we were wrong all along believing it was tied to the mob?
Could NorthamNeptune123 be involved somehow? Is he a member of the Neptune Society, which would explain the ring he wore that night?
“Knock, knock. Ms. Adams?”
Hesitant knuckles scrape against my office door. I’m half distracted as I mutter for the person to come in. Cade enters with a sheepish smile. He scratches his messy, windswept hair and holds up my briefcase.
“You left this at Cyber Crimes.”
I meet him halfway across the room with a shake of my head. “I probably should’ve noticed sooner that it was missing.”
Bumping into Flynn and seeing his ring had distracted me so much I didn’t even notice I’d left my briefcase behind.
I thank Cade as he hands over the briefcase.
“Don’t worry about it. I needed the exercise. It can fry your brain being stuck in a poorly lit computer lab all day,” he says, chuckling. He rubs his neck and glances around my office.
I sense he’s stalling. My left brow raises. “Cade? Is there something you wanted to say?”
His nervous smile spreads and he scratches his mop of wavy brown hair. “I was, uh, trying to be smoother about it.”
“About what?”
It hits me the second after the question tumbles past my lips.
“About asking you… how about we scrap all those lattes and do dinner?”
The surprise must flit across my face because he backtracks a second later. His face deepens from a rosy pink to bright red.
“I hope I’m not coming across like a creep. It sounds stupid, but I’ve been wanting to ask you for a while. You just always seem to have a lot going on. The timing’s never seemed right. I wasn’t even sure if you were single, but I heard one of the detectives mention you and the investment banker were no longer together.”
…yes, because my mafia ex-boyfriend bribed him to dump me.
“One of the detectives told you that?”
“Lombardo. I’m pretty sure he was thinking of asking you out himself.”
“I don’t typically date any work colleagues…”
Many of the male detectives on the police force know this—which is why they’ve all but given up on even asking. It was a growing pain I had to experience my first year as ADA.
But as I stand in front of Cade and watch him rub the back of his neck, I’m wondering if I should make an exception.
We’ve never spent much time together, but we’ve always been friendly. He’s cute in a casual, everyday guy kind of way; the quintessential boy-next-door-grown-up vibe if there ever was one. In his polo shirts and jeans and mop of brown waves, he looks like the guy you’d go for strolls with on Sundays. Maybe for coffee and to a local bookshop.
“Anyway,” he says, smiling through his disappointment. “I’ll see you around.”
My love life is dead. The late-night trysts with Salvatore don’t count—another shameful secret of mine I’d like to keep hidden. A bad habit I’d like to kick.
Dating a new man might help. It could get Salvatore out of my system. Something I’ve failed to do on my own.
“Sure,” I answer before he can walk away. “Why not? Dinner sounds nice. Friday night? I think that’s the only night I’m free this week.”
Enthusiasm shines in Cade’s gaze. “Great, I’ll call you to iron out the details.”
Cade leaves my office with his nerves replaced by a triumphant air. I smile watching him go.