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 Episode Three

Larkin awoke when the first rays of sun crept through the drapes. She squinted at the brightness and tried to shield her eyes. She raised a hand to her achy head and pressed on her temple, where it throbbed. Why does my head hurt so much?

The first thing she noticed was the different colors of the walls. In her apartment, the paint was an off-white, but it just looked dirty to her. Wherever she was, the walls were a soft blue-gray, and she liked it better.

The next thing she noticed was that she was draped over a warm, muscular body. The hair on his chest told her it was male, and she didn’t know if she should feel relieved or not. She carefully scooted herself up and looked down at the man.

He was very handsome. His features were even, and she admired how square his jaw was. He had a dark complexion, like he was Italian or Mexican. It was hard to tell. She wanted to see what color eyes he had, but then he’d have to be awake, and she wasn’t sure she wanted that.

She watched his chest rise and fall as he slept deeply. She didn’t know what the protocol was for the morning after. It didn’t matter if she didn’t remember the night before very well. Deciding her best bet was grabbing her clothes, she slipped out before he awoke.

Larkin slid carefully out from under his arm. She tiptoed to the bathroom and closed the door. Then she took off the man’s shirt, startled that she was naked, although she figured if she was in a man’s bed, they’d probably had sex. She looked in the mirror, thinking she’d feel or look different and was disappointed when she looked the same.

She pulled on the dress she’d worn the night before, wrinkling her nose at the smell. Then she put the man’s shirt back on and tied it in a knot at her waist. She knew it was probably considered stealing, but she didn’t want to go out in the street in just her dress.

She quietly opened the bathroom door and spied her shoes by the bed. After she snatched up, she found her way through the large condo to the elevator. She knew right away she’d have to have a code to use the elevator, so she looked around for the stairs.

Larkin found them behind a door that she hadn’t caught it because it blended into the wall. She held tight to the stair rail with both hands and took one step at a time, letting her shoes bang against the metal. She knew not to put on her shoes because she was still unsteady and would most likely break her neck.

Long minutes later, Larkin tired. She hadn’t realized how far up they were, and she was glad she had to go down instead of up because she knew she wouldn’t have made it. Finally, she pushed through the first door that was unlocked and stood in a large, expensive-looking lobby.

“Miss, can I help you?”

Larkin jerked her head to the side to find an older man in a uniform. “Yes, I need to go home,” she said, hearing the edge of desperation she tried to hold back.

“Where were you?”

“I think I was at the top of the building.”

“You were at Mr. Marsh’s penthouse?”

Larkin shrugged.

The man looked at her sympathetically as she became dazed and agitated. “How about we get you a taxi?”

“I don’t have any money,” she confessed.

“I’ll give the driver money.”

Larkin shook her head. “Oh, no, I can’t let you do that.”

“I’ll make sure Mr. Marsh reimburses me. How’s that?”

“Will he get mad?” she asked.

“No, dear. He’s a very nice man. I’m shocked he let you leave like this.”

Larkin bit her lip and looked down.

“He doesn’t know you’re gone, does he?” The man likely guessed by the guilty look on her face. She was so easy to read.

“No. I can’t face him. I just can’t.”

“All right.” He had to see she was getting restless. “Let’s get your information down…”

“Oh, I don’t want him to have it. Although he might not remember me.”

The man tried to hide his grin. He seemed to have guessed Mr. Marsh would never forget her. “It’s for the taxi,” he explained.

She released a breath. “Oh. Okay. I’m sorry. I’m having a problem concentrating. I’ll write it down, but you have to promise not to give it to him.”

“Absolutely. I won’t give him the paper.” The man walked her over to the front counter and gave her a piece of paper and pen while he called the taxi.

Within a few minutes, the taxi honked outside.

She wrote down her address and then handed the paper to the man. “I’m sorry, but did you tell me your name?”

“No, miss. It’s Dempsey.”

Larkin held a hand out. “I’m Larkin.”

Dempsey shook her hand. “Let’s get you into the taxi.”

“Thank you.”

“Would you like to put on your shoes, dear?”

She shook her head. “No, I’m afraid I’d break my neck.”

Dempsey chuckled. “I understand.” He handed her into the back of the taxi and then gave the driver the address and money. “Take good care of her,” he advised the driver. “She’s a special friend of Mr. Marsh.”

The driver nodded. “Gotcha.”

Larkin waved. “It was nice to meet you, Dempsey.”

“You, too. I hope to see you again soon.”

Her mouth turned down. “I … maybe, if I walk past, I’ll wave.”

Dempsey grinned. “Be careful.”

She waved as the taxi drove off.


Darian reached out in his sleep and encountered cold sheets. He was instantly awake and looked around for Larkin. The light to the bathroom was dark, so he walked through the condo.

“Larkin?” he called out.

His stomach clenched when he realized she was gone. He raced to the house phone.

“Good morning, sir,” Dempsey answered.

“Morning, Dempsey. Have you seen a young woman?” Agitated, he ran a hand through his hair. “God, I don’t even know what’s she’s wearing.”

“She’s wearing a red dress, and I would guess one of your shirts over it.”

Darian relaxed. “Where is she?”

“She took a taxi home, sir.”


“But I happen to have the address. I told her I wouldn’t give it to you, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t just let you see it.”

“Good man. I’ll be down as soon as I get dressed.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll be here.”

Within five minutes, Darian had showered, dressed, and was down in the lobby.

Dempsey slid the paper onto the counter.

Darian grinned and memorized her address. “I owe you.”

Dempsey shook his head. “No, it was a delight meeting her. She’s very sweet.”

He nodded. “She is that.”

“I hope you find her, sir.”

“Oh, you can count on it.”

Two hours later, Darian walked back into his building.

Dempsey caught the look on his face. “Did you find her, sir?”

Darian shook his head. “I haven’t seen her yet. Her roommates said she was home for a minute to change, and then she left again to go to her best friend’s apartment, and they didn’t know where that was or her number.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m not worried. I know she’ll be at work tonight, and she can’t get away from me then.”

“My money’s on you.”

Darian grinned. “Mine is, too,” he said and walked to the elevator. He planned to get some work done before he met up with his runaway later that evening. She wouldn’t get away from him this time.

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