She was magic.
They kept Joe company while he dozed. Archer sat on a chair at one side of Joe’s bed, Elle on the other side reading a Cosmo magazine whose cover claimed “Guys Think about Sex Every Five Seconds.”
“Is that true?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she said flipping pages without looking up. “You tell me.”
He thought about it. “I mean I think about it a lot, but I also think of other things.”
This had her lowering the magazine to eyeball him. “Like . . . ?”
“You,” he answered truthfully.
She cocked her head. “In what way?”
This had her arching a brow. “Always?”
“Depends,” he said.
“On . . . ?”
“On if I’m hungry or not.”
She snorted and went back to her magazine. But she was smiling now and he felt like he’d won the lotto.
Archer stayed all night with Joe and Mollie, and so did Elle. He figured that had to mean something. At dawn, Joe woke up and said he wasn’t going to die and that they all needed to get some rest because they looked like zombies.
Archer gave Elle a ride home.
“You’re not coming in,” she said when he parked in front of her place. “Don’t follow me up.” She started to get out, sighed, and then turned back. “But thanks for the ride home.”
He smiled because it was hard to be polite and murderous at the same time but she managed it like no one else, looking sexy and adorable at the same time. “I’m going to follow you up, Elle.”
“No, you’re not. I’ve been preoccupied, but I had time to think all night and I realized something. In order to get me this job when I needed it, you must have been keeping track of me for longer than this past year. You’ve been keeping track of me for eleven years and I had no idea. And now I want to be alone with that and stew in my mad.” She pointed at him. “And you’re going to let me.”
Yeah, he was. He had to. She deserved the time. “Get some sleep,” he said quietly.
“I only have time to shower, I’ve got homework.”
She’d be exhausted by the end of the day. “At least let me in and I’ll make you breakfast while you shower.”
She held his gaze. “No cracks about wanting to help me soap up?”
“Well, I don’t like to brag,” he said, letting a teasing tone come into his voice, hoping to lighten the mood, “but I’m really good in the shower.”
“Admit it,” he said with a smile. “You’re a little tempted.”
“Maybe,” she said, her gaze dropping to his mouth. “And maybe more than a little. But I’m also angry and confused. I need to get unangry and unconfused, Archer.”
“I could help you with that too.”
“I’ll let you know,” she said.
That had been two days ago.
Joe was out of the hospital and laid up at home, pissed off because Archer wouldn’t let him work until the doctor cleared him for light duty. This meant Mollie was also off because she was taking care of Joe, leaving him without a receptionist, forcing them all to pick up the slack—which, for the record, they hated.
Archer had had no idea just how much Mollie did until she wasn’t around. All of them universally hated answering the phones, so they were taking turns and fighting about it.
Yesterday Morgan had showed up out of the blue and offered to answer phones. He’d been desperate enough to let her, but there was a steep learning curve and he wasn’t sure he’d ever heard a bunch of big-ass grown men whine or bitch so much.
Morgan appeared in his office doorway. “The latest searches are in your email,” she said.
In his line of work there was a lot of computer footwork, something else they all hated. It was quiet, boring work that none of them wanted to do, and he figured it was safe enough to put her on it. Also it would keep her occupied and out of trouble while he figured out if she was still trouble herself.
His own investigation on her had assured him that she’d been in things deep as late as six months ago but that she’d kept herself clean ever since. Still, the difference in her claimed timeline and the truth troubled him. “Thanks,” he said.
She nodded and shifted her weight around, giving herself away. Elle would never have done that but Morgan was far more transparent.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“I know it’s only been two days and I haven’t done all that much yet,” she said. “But I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to prove myself to you.”
“You don’t have to prove yourself to me.”
“To my sister then.”
He leaned back and met her gaze. “I’m not sure that your working here is going to do that.”
“I’m hoping that seeing me work a real job is going to help change her mind about me.”
“I don’t have that much power,” he said. God didn’t have that much power.
“You underestimate yourself. You could talk her into being my sister again if you put your mind to it.”
He let out a low laugh because he doubted his ability to talk Elle into anything.
“I know I’ve asked a lot of you but will you at least think about it?” she asked. “About helping me get back on Elle’s good side?”
He looked into her baby blue eyes that were so like Elle’s and sighed because he knew he’d try. Not for Morgan.
But for Elle.
Because she deserved that. She deserved family. Hell, she deserved the damn moon. He didn’t know if it was because he was so fucking proud of who she was and what she’d made of herself, or if it was because he’d had a taste of her now and was afraid he might never get a chance at another, but he wanted, needed, to make things good for her.
The next night Archer managed to catch Elle as she was coming out of her office.
“Still stalking me?” she asked politely.
“Maybe I just missed you,” he said as they stepped into the elevator together.
“That would require emotion, Archer.”
“You think I don’t have emotions?”
She sighed. “I know you do. I just think you don’t like them.”