In the Running (Dee Lloyd) – Chapter Sixteen

That evening, Matt and Reenie have dinner together, talking about Gus and Tommy’s birthday party the next day. Matt spend his day in front of the computer, and now enjoys the food and Reenie’s presence.

Matt bit into a juicy pecan tart. “Mmmm,” he said, with an appreciative grin as he licked a bit of flaky pastry off his lower lip. “These are terrific.”
The man was sinfully attractive. [What’s so attractive about a man, who gets crumbs all over him? Not that it doesn’t happen to me, too, but I wouldn’t see it as an attractive trait of mine.]
“I made them for Tommy’s party tomorrow afternoon,” she said, wishing she could forget everything else, climb onto his lap and share the sweetness of the tart with him. [Her often mentioned tart sweetness or the pecan tart’s?]

Before things can get too hot sweet, though, they concentrate on their usual problems – murder, money laundering, bad guys, missing persons.

The next day, they’re surrounded by seven year olds enjoying a birthday party, which must be the party to end all parties with Mini-Olympics, prizes and at least as many adults as kids to entertain them.

Reenie had noticed Matt’s fondness for his nephew from the first minute she saw them together, but she’d never seen him with a group of children before. With his quiet smile and his low voice, he drew them like the Pied Piper. [I know, it’s sexy and appeals to the basic nest-building instincts when a guy knows how to handle kids. But is it really such a good idea to compare him to the Pied Piper? I mean, that’s not the most positive relationship an adult can have with kids…]

The party goes well and is a full success, with everybody involved. But at one point, Wyn talks to Reenie, telling her that Sandra Field called her the other day, asking questions about Reenie, like why she would need brown contacts and that she looked remarkably like Maura Fitzgerald. Wyn told her not to be ridiculous and that the Hansons and the Kellys had been friends for years. Reenie starts to explain, but Wyn stays sceptic. Before they can finish the talk, they get interrupted.

A pink-cheeked, fortyish woman whose fair hair was attempting to escape from a fat French braid scooted up to join them on the sidelines.
“Only three more events. I’m exhausted just from watching.” She extended a capable- looking hand to Reenie. [A capable-looking hand? Capable of what, exactly? And how would you see that from her hand?] “I’m Donna Franklin. Jeff’s wife. You must be Reenie. Matt sent me over to warn you the kids will be ready for food in about half an hour.”

Wyn asks Reenie and Matt to come over that evening to tell the rest of her story. The party’s over soon and Reenie tells Matt what happened.

The moment they were alone, Reenie told Matt about his sister’s defense of her to Sandra Field and her demand that they come to her house at eight o’clock and explain why Reenie was hiding from Jon.
“So Sandra’s the one who called the hot line,” Matt muttered. “Too many people know or suspect you’re here. [If there’s too many people knowing, then how can he be sure that Sandra called the hotline? And why does their always have to be a rejected female, who ruins everything?] We have to take Walt up on his offer of a safe house.”
“No. I can count on you and Pete. I want to trust Bronwyn. Nobody else,” Reenie stated simply. “I’m staying with you.” [Dear Reenie, you can’t have it both ways. On the one hand, you constantly fear that you involve the Hansons in your problems somehow, on the other hand, you don’t want to leave and make them safer.] 
“And I want you here.” Matt cupped her determined little chin in his hands. “I don’t know if I could stand the uncertainty if you were out of my sight.” [Okay, that is entirely too creepy for my taste. If my boyfriend can’t stand me being out of sight, then that’s good-bye my friend. I need some personal space. Like for going to the toilet or working or something…]
The brief kiss they shared spoke of something more abiding than the passion that flared every time they touched. [Oh my goodness. Get over yourself.] The emptiness he carried deep inside him stirred as if it anticipated relief. [What emptiness? Was it mentioned before? I don’t think so. But then again, a man without a wife MUST have emptiness inside him. Emptiness that somehow lives and is able to stir. *shudder*] That he could even imagine filling it with Reenie’s warmth startled him. [Why? All they ever talk about is how in love they are…] He’d never pictured himself needing anyone. [Everybody needs somebody, sometimes, *sing*]

Matt is really disappointed that they have to go to Bronwyn’s, because he was making some progress with the files and can’t continue to work on it. But he also wouldn’t stay at home, so my pity isn’t overboarding.

Anyway, they arrive at Wyn’s and start to explain everything that happened.

As soon as they were seated in her bright, orderly living room, Bronwyn asked, “Now, tell me. Why would you imagine that Jon Casen wants to kill you?”
“It’s not a delusion, Wyn.” Matt’s tone of voice held a distinct warning that he was not going to tolerate any bullying or ridiculing of his woman. [Because his woman (I hate it when people talk about their women or men) can’t speak for or defend herself, obviously.]
“The simplest way to convince you to believe my story is to start with these,” Reenie said, handing her the envelope of photographs. “They were the first clue that nothing about Jon was what I thought it was.”

Bronwyn accepts the evidence from the fotos and Reenie tells her story, not mentioning Walt Ames as the IRS guy, though. Bronwyn wants them to tell Gus everything. Matt tells her that he doesn’t want to do that yet, not until they have enough evidence.

Suddenly, Gus turns up. Matt furiously blames his sister for calling him in without listening to them first. But Wyn tells him that she didn’t and that he was supposed to be out of town. Matt tells Reenie to hide upstairs in Wyn’s room.

Reenie leaves and Gus enters. He explains that Walt Ames asked him to follow some leads about Maura’s disappearance with him, so he couldn’t go hunting. But, naturally, they weren’t successful.

Their matter-of-fact voices faded as they moved into the living room. As soon as they were out of earshot, Reenie moved cautiously down the hall. The first door on her left was wide open. A well-placed Batman night-light [I want one of those, too! How cool is that?] enabled her to see Tommy lying sound asleep in what looked to be a handcrafted mate’s bed. She inched along to the next open door.
This room was dark but she could see the dim outline of a bed and the sheen of a mirror over a long dresser. From the lingering scent of lavender and another delicate flowery perfume in the room, she figured this must be Bronwyn’s bedroom. Matt’s sister was an interesting mix of imperious matriarch and ultra-feminine woman. [Actually, I think Bronwyn is the one strong female figure in this book. She’s not imperious, she just knows what she wants and what she needs to get it. And ultra-feminine? Not that that would be a bad thing, but Bronwyn? Seriously? Just because her room smells like perfume? Are strong women not allowed to smell good? And is ultra-feminine the same as smells good?] 

Reenie starts to think about her situation, again. She decides that maybe she really should leave the marina, as she’s endangering everyone and not safe anymore there herself.

She’d known Matt barely two weeks. Although it was hard to imagine trying to carry on her life without him, she could feel the hot breath of her pursuers raising the short, dyed hairs on the back of her neck. [Wonderful mental picture. Just wonderful…] Most of the hunters were faceless. [The stuff of nightmares…] Any of the people she met on the street or in a shop could be willing to deliver her to Sal Gerardo for the twenty thousand dollar bounty – or hand her over to Jon out of the misdirected goodness of their hearts. She didn’t think she’d ever met the Detroit men Jon had commissioned to kill her. The only enemies who had faces she’d recognize were Jon and Wilson.

She thinks about going to her cabin. Now that she knows how to shoot, she can take care of herself [Isn’t that sad?]. She wonders if she is able to kill someone, but gets slightly hysterical and stops. Instead she thinks about Matt again. [We probably should get her a bracelet with WWMD? engraved on it. For What Would Matt Do?] Anyway, she decides that she couldn’t leave without telling him first, but that she would stay only one more day.

Finally she falls asleep in Wyn’s room until Matt comes and wakes her up.

“Come on, sleepy head,” Matt said, softly. “Time to get home to your own bed.”
“The birthday party wore her out,” Bronwyn said. “And she’s been under a lot of strain.”
“You didn’t tell Gus,” Reenie sat up, wide awake at the sound of Bronwyn’s voice.
“To be fair, I’ll give Matt some time to search Jon’s files.”
“We’d better get home then. I can’t do anything about those files here,” Matt said.
The gleam in his eyes as he pulled her slowly up off Bronwyn’s silken bed hinted strongly that he was not planning to devote the whole night to the computer.
“Let’s go home then,” she murmured, feeling the answering heat rising in her cheeks.

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