Home > Danger Rising (Red Stone Security #20)(6)

Danger Rising (Red Stone Security #20)(6)
Author: Katie Reus

Lana wasn’t going to argue with that. The sweet orangey citrus sponge cake was pure heaven and she was going to drown her feelings in food. Some days, that was the only thing to do for a hurt heart.

 

 

Lana glanced at her reflection in the mirrored glass doors of the small condo building, and pulled in a breath. She looked nothing like she normally did—nothing like just a couple hours ago at Belle’s place. Not with her platinum bob wig which was cut in a sharp angle, covering her ears and parts of her face if she kept it tilted just right. And her large sunglasses did a great job of covering the rest of it.

She’d opted to wear a bandage-style dress in bright pink, with matching pink heels that had little pink bows on the back. Her purse was slightly bigger than a clutch—she needed something to haul away her necklace if she ended up finding it today.

Right now she was hitting all of Jeremy Cashe’s known properties. He also had a safety-deposit box, but that was last on her list. She wasn’t quite sure how she would pull off getting into that. At least not without a partner. And with her mom gone… She swallowed hard, but instead of pushing back her emotions, she leaned into her grief.

She needed to muster up some tears for the man behind the desk.

The security in the six-story exclusive condominium building, which had only two condos on each floor, was decent. Nothing she couldn’t break into, but this was the easiest, quickest way to get into Cashe’s condo and get a peek around. She’d done enough recon of this place to know that this was the right time of day and the right doorman/security to target. He was a father of three girls and she had a feeling he would be sympathetic to her plight based on some phone conversations she’d overheard when he’d been on break.

“Hi,” she said as she approached the desk. “I’m hoping you can help me.” She allowed a tremble in her voice, her bottom lip quivering. Unlike her mom, she wasn’t great at acting. She could pull things off in a pinch, but she didn’t love this. Heck, she didn’t miss any of this. When she’d been working jobs with her mom she’d been so young, in her teens. She hadn’t really been afraid of getting caught, but she had been worried about her mom getting caught. If something had happened, Lana had known she’d have no one to take care of her.

“Is everything all right?” He was about six feet tall, and his little nametag read “John.”

She wiped at her eyes under her sunglasses, keeping them on for now. There were a couple security cameras in here, and while the goal was to never get caught or cause a need for anyone to review the cameras, she was aware of them. “I hope so. I…was here a few nights ago as a guest of Jeremy Cashe.” She instantly saw the change in John’s stance.

Distaste flickered across his face before he schooled his expression. Yeah, he didn’t like the guy either. “Mr. Cashe isn’t here.” He looked around the minimalist-style lobby but there was no one there. Just as Lana had planned. It was right after lunch, and from watching the place, from now until about two the lobby was usually empty. Tons of natural light streamed in, the bottom floor all windows. There was a small seating area that faced the quiet two-lane street, for guests to wait, as well as a coffee and water bar.

“I…I know.” She wiped at her face again. “It’s over between us. I found out he’s been dating at least four other women behind my back. He told me he loved me, that…” She sniffled, then stood up a little straighter. “Well, it doesn’t matter now. I was stupid for believing him. My father told me he was too charming and I didn’t listen.”

The tenseness in his shoulders lessened and he let out a sigh. “Ma’am—”

“Look, I’m not asking for much. I just left behind some things,” she said, dropping her voice. “And he refuses to give them back to me.” She looked away, as if embarrassed. “It’s silly I guess, just a pair of heels—but they were a gift from my mom. They’re Louboutins and I can tell you exactly where they are, exactly what they look like.” She mixed truth into her lies, something her mom had taught her.

“Ma’am—”

“They’re beige leather, four-inch open-toed heels. The little straps around the ankles and across the toes have gold spikes on them. And obviously they have a red leather sole. I…” She sniffled again, felt bad about his panicked expression as she started crying now. She leaned harder into her grief, thinking about her real loss, not imaginary shoes. “My mom bought them for me when she was in Italy on an anniversary trip with my dad. She recently died and this was my last gift from her. It’s not about the shoes. It’s the memory. And he doesn’t need my shoes, he’s just being mean because I ended things. I even gave him back the jewelry he’d given me, but he didn’t care. What kind of monster does that?” Lana got into her role even more, letting a little sob-hiccup out. “Maybe you could just peek in his place? I know you must have a master key. I can wait down here and—”

“Ma’am!” His tone was more forceful now, but he was torn. She could see the indecision in his face. He was in his forties, and from the phone conversations she’d overheard previously, he talked to his daughters daily—usually about their problems. “You can file a police report about your shoes if you feel he’s keeping them from you.”

She snorted, then sniffled. “He’ll just deny having them. And he’s powerful. No one will believe me. Even if they do, he’ll have already tossed them, I’m sure. And let’s face it, they’re just shoes. I…” Lana let out a defeated sigh, realizing that pushing wasn’t the way to go. Now she needed to shift tactics, to ease off and let him make the decision. “It was stupid to come here. I’m so sorry, I know of course you can’t look for them. I’m just so upset right now, I was feeling desperate. I’m sorry to have bothered you. And thank you for being so kind and not tossing me out.” She started backtracking toward the glass doors, still sniffling away.

“Wait…” He glanced around, seemed to be making a decision, then he said. “Hold on,” before he hurried to the main doors, locked them. “Come on. You’ve got two minutes. That’s it.”

Holy Christmas, it had worked. “Really?”

“Yes.” His jaw was tight, as if he was already regretting this. “You know where you left them?” he asked as he ran his keycard over the elevator panel.

It whooshed open immediately. “Yes, in the main closet. Thank you so much,” she whispered as she followed him into the elevator. “I can’t tell you how much this means.”

“Don’t tell anyone about this.”

“Oh, right. Oh…gosh,” she said, wondering if she was laying it on too thick. Man, her mom would have been proud though. “I don’t want you to get in any trouble. If he realizes they’re gone he might want to look at the security cameras. No…just take me back to the ground floor.” She took off her sunglasses, giving him the full doe-eyed look her mom had taught her, only feeling a little bad. “I can’t let you get in any trouble. But I do appreciate the thought.”

His expression fully thawed at her words. “It’s fine, I promise. I can erase the last ten minutes without it being an issue. We have glitches sometimes. Just be quick, okay? And maybe start taking your father’s advice from now on, huh? Dads usually know best,” he said as they stepped out onto the sixth floor.

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