As Evangeline disappeared out of sight, the urge to protect Sebastian strengthened in Tessa. What on earth was Evangeline up to? She wanted to know that as much as she wanted to know how Sebastian didn’t go up in flames during daylight hours.
What Tessa did know was that if Evangeline was headed to the theater, she wouldn’t be in her room.
Tessa went upstairs, straight into the guest room. She stood at the door, filled with the sort of bravery she hadn’t felt since her days at battle camp.
She stepped into the room. Evangeline’s things were everywhere. Neatness wasn’t high on her priority list apparently. Tessa had no idea what she was looking for, but there had to be some clue in here as to Evangeline’s true motives.
She found Evangeline’s purse. If the woman was hiding something, it might be in there. But a quick riffle through determined the handbag held nothing but the usual stuff. Tessa glanced toward the door every minute or so, hoping Evangeline really was ensconced in a good movie.
Tessa stood and looked around the room, trying to think like a vampire. A traveling vampire.
Her gaze shifted to the suitcases. There were three of them in descending sizes, matching hard shells on rolling wheels. Sleek black carbon. Very modern. The largest one looked big enough to hold a person.
Tessa went closer. Did Evangeline ever use it to take shelter from the sun? In a pinch, it might do. She stared at the thing, wondering what else the suitcases might be used to hide.
She stuck her head out of the room to look for Evangeline. No sign of her.
Tessa grabbed the big suitcase, unzipped it and had a look. The bag was lined with charcoal nylon printed with the company’s logo. And it was empty.
She moved on to the medium one with the same result. Nothing inside. With another check for Evangeline, Tessa unzipped the smallest one, probably a carry on. It was empty too.
She sighed in frustration and was about to zip it back up, when something white caught her eye.
The edge of a piece of paper.
It stuck out from a hidden zipper in the lining. Tessa ran her fingers over that part of the nylon. There was definitely something under it.
She released that zipper and freed the paper caught in it. Then she reached in and pulled out a thin sheaf of papers. They all had dates scrawled on them. A span of the last ten years or so. And each paper held a copy of a newspaper article that had been clipped from the Nocturne Falls Tombstone.
Every article was about something happening in town. Many of them were about the charity events that Sebastian had told her about. One showed the dedication of the new blood bank. Another the opening of a business. But all of them had two things in common. They were all accompanied by pictures.
And all the pictures had Sebastian in them.
Sebastian’s meeting with Julian went well. His brother was in an odd mood. Almost contemplative, which wasn’t a state Sebastian was used to seeing Julian in. Whatever the reason, it had made Julian easier than usual to talk to and they’d agreed upon a budget in less an hour, which was probably a family record.
Nocturne Falls was about to get its first wedding chapel. Technically, it was already operational, but once the grand opening took place, it would be in full swing. New businesses were always good for the town, and while Sebastian had his doubts about the necessity of this one, Julian felt strongly that it would succeed.
Sebastian hoped that was true, but with the budget done, his part was over. It was Julian’s to deal with now.
Sebastian pulled into his driveway, past the main entrance and into the first garage. He locked the Aston Martin, a habit even though the car was inside, and went into the house.
He heard Tessa and Greaves in the kitchen. He passed through the mudroom and joined them. Both had slices of custard pie in front of them and a Mummy’s Diner shopping bag sat on the other counter. “Don’t tell me you’re having pie for lunch?”
“No,” Tessa said. “We had actual food first.”
Greaves tipped his head toward the refrigerator. “There’s a steak sandwich in the icebox if you’re hungry.”
Sebastian glanced at their empty take-away containers. “What did you two have?”
“Open-faced roast beef sandwiches,” Tessa answered. “They were so good. That diner is a winner.”
“It’s very popular with tourists and locals. We order from there often enough.” Sebastian checked the floor. “Where is that small furry thing you like to call baby?”
She grinned. “He’s upstairs. Possibly sleeping. Possibly shredding your ties.” She shrugged. “Hard to say.”
He frowned at her. “I believe Duncan and I have come to an understanding. If he shreds those ties, it’s at his own peril.” He gave her his sternest expression. “If I have to banish him to the guest house, I will.”
She laughed, then rolled her eyes. “I wish you could banish someone else out there.”
A sense of concern filled him. “Did something happen while I was gone?”
“Nothing major. I’m just making conversation.” She shot a quick look at Greaves, then went back to her pie.
Sebastian got the sense that she wanted to talk but not in front of the rook. “I have a few things to finish up in my office. Tessa, when you’re done with your pie, come see me.”
“I’m done now. I’m stuffed.” She closed the clamshell container it was in. “I’ll save the rest for later.”
“I’ll clean up and put things away,” Greaves offered. “You two go talk.”