by Rosemary Kubli
Even the most cunning femme fatale has her weakness
Jonathan proves to be an easy mark, but he's also enticingly irresistible. As their relationship heats up, her plot to steal his multi-million-dollar antique trinkets begins to unravel. Noticing a subtle change in Jonathan's demeanor, Marie questions whether she's still in control of the con or if she's blindly become the gullible victim of her own scheme.
Marie stared at Jonathan Woodward’s number on her cell phone, hesitant to make the call. She and Jonathan hadn’t spoken with each other in nearly a year, and she worried their rapport, which she’d worked so hard to nurture, might not have withstood the test of time. She berated herself for not considering this possibility before agreeing to Gus’s Somerset Necklace scheme. Well, there’s only one way to find out if Jonathan is still under my spell. She took a deep breath, touched the screen, and listened as the call rang once…twice…
“Marie! What a welcome surprise!” Jonathan sounded happy to hear from her, an encouraging sign.
“Hello, Jonathan,” she said in her sultry voice, the one that usually hooked her unwitting target within seconds. “Am I catching you at a bad time?”
“No, not at all,” he replied, his tone soft and intimate. She’d successfully set the mood. “We haven’t been in touch for a while. How are you?”
“I’m well, thank you. I wanted to call you before now, but I hated to intrude on your privacy.”
“I appreciate your consideration. My family has had a rough year, but I think we’re finally on the mend.”
Marie understood loss. The sadness in Jonathan’s voice elicited memories and emotions she preferred to keep buried. When she responded, her empathy was sincere. “It takes a while to recover from such a tragedy.”
“Yes, longer than we imagine, unfortunately.” Jonathan sighed heavily. “So, what prompted this call? Is something interesting going on the auction block?”
Marie giggled coyly. “Oh, I’m sure I can always find some little trinket for you to add to your collection. But this isn’t a work-related call. I just made plans to spend this weekend in Boston. You live near there, don’t you?”
“Yes, in Burgess, just west of the city. Why are you traveling up this way?”
To keep things casual, so she didn’t appear to be aggressively pursuing him, Marie fed Jonathan a tall tale about a weekend reunion. “A couple of friends from college invited me to join them for a girls’ getaway. I’ll be in Boston Friday night through Sunday afternoon.”
Dead silence. Then, “That’s nice. It’s always fun to get together with old friends.”
The disappointment in Jonathan’s voice came across loud and clear. He’d probably assumed Marie was traveling to Boston to meet him in person as they’d discussed the last time they spoke, then realized she was instead calling to ask for recommendations on restaurants and sightseeing venues.
“Yes, I’ll be happy to see them. It’s been a long time since we were last together.”
“Well, if you need my input about places to go or things to do, don’t hesitate to call.”
Okay, time to get to the point. “Thank you for the offer. But Jonathan…gosh, I hope I’m not being too forward.” She paused to give the impression she was worried he’d reject her suggestion. “I was hoping we could get together while I’m in town.”
Again, silence. Uh-oh. Had she misread the playful insinuations he’d made during their previous phone conversations? Or perhaps, in the months since they’d last spoken, he’d become involved with someone and was no longer interested in pursuing a relationship with her.
At last, he said, “I’ll need to rearrange my schedule. How’s Saturday, mid-afternoon?”
Relieved, she breathed easily again. “Saturday afternoon works for me, but I don’t want to interfere with your commitments. Perhaps I could make a trip to Boston another time.”
“No, no,” he said hastily. “We’ve waited long enough to meet as it is. Text me the name and address of your hotel. I’ll find a café close by where we can spend the afternoon getting better acquainted.”
“That sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to meet you.”
“Same here. I’m afraid I need to go for now, but I’ll call you Saturday morning to finalize the details. Take care, Marie.”
Marie grinned with satisfaction as she strolled over to her closet to select her wardrobe for the upcoming weekend. Her plan was moving along perfectly. As a matter of fact, Jonathan was playing right into her hands.
Rosemary Kubli writes the type of books she loves to read - intrigue and suspense mixed with a pinch of romance and a clever plot twist or two. Her professional experiences run the gamut from Human Resources and training to accounting and banking, with publishing being her most recent endeavor. Aside from the seven years she lived in southern California, she has always called the northeast corner of Ohio her home. Rosemary and her husband of 45 years enjoy traveling - on land to visit family and friends and on sea to any destination a cruise ship will take them. When not working on her next novel, she can be found discussing the latest in literary fare with her book club, playing a rousing game of Bunco with some of her oldest and dearest friends, researching her ancestry, volunteering in her community, burying her nose in a book, or obsessing over the latest binge-worthy TV series.
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