Damien clears his throat, and Dallas looks appropriately chastised. “Anyway,” he continues, “I’d just stepped out of the market when I saw Nikki at the gate. And then I saw the man by the spa watching her.”
“And again I ask, what man?” Damien has lost all patience at this point, and it’s easy enough for me to see that he’s not only frustrated, but genuinely worried.
“I don’t know,” Dallas says. He glances at me as if for help. “You don’t know him?”
I shake my head. “I’ve never seen him before in my life.”
Dallas’s brow furrows as he looks from me to Damien. “You looked scared, so I was concerned. Especially since I’d noticed him watching you earlier.”
“You what?” I’m completely astounded.
“Some bastard’s been stalking my wife?” Damien asks at exactly the same moment.
“When? When did you see him watching me?”
“In the restaurant this morning. Well, around eleven, actually. You and Jamie were there for brunch.”
I nod. Jamie and I had walked along the beach, ostensibly because we wanted some exercise, but really because we needed time to catch up and gossip. I’ve been going a million miles an hour lately as my business has picked up, and now that she’s got a steady gig with a local affiliate as an on-air reporter, we haven’t had the chance to hang out as much as we’d like.
We’d walked the entire perimeter of the island, and then ended up at the restaurant, absolutely famished and ready to destroy all the good we did by stuffing ourselves full of fabulously delicious calories.
Our table was on the patio, and I was seated with my back to the restaurant so that I was facing both Jamie and the ocean. I didn’t notice anyone watching me, and since Jamie said nothing, I’m assuming she didn’t, either.
“So who was he? Where was he? I didn’t notice anything unusual at all.”
Dallas tilts his head slightly and looks up toward the ceiling as if trying to pull out a memory. “Clean shaven. Early sixties. Brown hair, going gray at the temples. Tan—he spends a lot of time in the sun—but he wears a hat and glasses when he does. Blue eyes—about your color, Nikki, actually.”
I glance over at Damien and see that he is looking at Dallas with as much interest as I am. Considering his reputation as a guy who just floats through life, he’s remarkably observant.
“Khaki shorts,” Dallas continues. “A henley style shirt. Started out green, but it’s been washed enough it’s leaning toward gray. Had a camera bag by his chair. A Billingham. Didn’t see the camera itself, but considering how pricey those bags are, my guess is the camera’s nice, too. The man spends more on his equipment than his clothes. He was sitting four tables over from me, just inside the restaurant by the French doors. Facing the ocean, so when he looked up he had a good view of you. And he spent a lot of time looking up.”
“That’s quite a report,” Damien says.
“I like to watch people.” Dallas shrugs, as if his recitation was nothing unusual at all. “I will say he didn’t seem dangerous. Not that you can really tell, but I didn’t get a bad vibe. Instead, he just seemed, I don’t know, curious, I guess. It wasn’t until I saw him later and realized you were spooked that I got concerned. But who knows? Maybe it was a coincidence and he just happened to be standing under an awning to avoid the rain when Nikki came by.”
“Maybe.” Damien turns to me. “Did he do something? Say something? What about him scared you?”
“I really don’t know.” I grapple for an answer, but find nothing. “Right now I just feel embarrassed. I think it was just the storm. The dark. Missing you.”
Damien nods slowly. “I hope that’s all it was, but I’m going to have Ryan see if he can track down the guy’s name.” Jamie’s boyfriend is Stark International’s chief of security. “If he’s a guest, he probably charged his restaurant bill to his room. If he’s not, he may have paid with a credit card. We have security cameras, so we should be able to find him again.” He squeezes my hand. “It’s probably much ado about nothing, but considering everything…”
He trails off and I know he’s recalling the blackmail attempt made last year around Valentine’s Day. We still don’t know who was behind that, and though we’ve had no more threats, every once in a while I recall that someone is out there with a vendetta against us—and that we have no idea when they will strike again.
“My shadow man might not be a guest,” I point out. The restaurant and the north beach are open to the public on weekends, and the identity of guests that come by boat isn’t recorded.
With a quick nod, Damien acknowledges my words. “We’ll just have to hope we get lucky.” He goes to the bar and grabs the bottle of scotch. “Dallas? You want to stay awhile and have a drink?”
He looks like he does, but then he shakes his head. “Better not.”
I smile at Dallas as Damien pours drinks for himself and me. “I really appreciate you watching my back.”
“My pleasure.” He turns his attention to Damien. “I’m heading to LA tomorrow morning, so I’ll see you at our meeting Monday if I don’t see you before.”
“Sounds good,” Damien says, walking him to the door. When he comes back to me, I’m on the couch, my feet curled up under me.
“Was it just me, or did it seem like Dallas was less than enthusiastic about going back to his love nest?” I ask.