Falling for the Guy Next Door(10)By: Claire Robyns
“I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
“Less talking and more walking, if you don’t mind.”
“I should be in bed. It’s not even light outside.”
“Your bed’s right back there. I’m not holding a gun to your head.”
“Well, I’m up now…might as well see what all the fuss is about.”
“We’re not going to get to see anything if you don’t—” The owner of the voice cut off as she stepped into the clearing.
Blue eyes, a crop of blonde hair, heavy olive green cargo pants, hiking boots and a pretty decent camera strapped around her neck. Her frown went from Jack to the tripod holding his camera, then back to him. “Seriously? Has London run out of socialites trashing each other for a good story? See?” she flung over her shoulder. “I told you something funny’s going on and now the paparazzi’s here.”
Before he could protest, a second woman came barrelling through the trees and grabbed one hundred percent of his attention.
“Oh, hi!” she exclaimed. “I mean, hi.” She shook her head on a smile. “I mean, it’s Jack, right?”
“Hi there.” He had no problem remembering her name. Megan Lane was just as cute and sexy as he remembered. Even bundled up in a thick duvet, furry bunny slippers sticking out at the bottom and a mess of dark curls and sleepy eyes sticking out at the top. Actually, he corrected, especially then.
Her gaze went past him to her friend. “This is Jack, Mr. Marlin’s nephew, not the paparazzi.” She looked at him, lowering her voice. “You aren’t the paparazzi, are you?”
“No, I’m…” He lunged toward the ledge to retrieve his camera as the friend lifted it out of her way, then returned to Megan’s side. He grinned. “I am a photographer, but I stick to wildlife and nature.”
“You’re American, right?”
“On my father’s side,” he explained. He carried both a British and American passport, but didn’t spend a lot of time considering specifics such as which was home. “I was born in New Jersey and lived there my first couple of years. I did a chunk of schooling out there as well, and studied photography in California.”
The sound of rocks spraying down the side of the mountain turned them both toward the source.
“Kate!” Megan yelped.
“I’m fine.” The blonde was perched on the very tip of the ledge, one leg dangling over the side. Her eyes were glued to the camera lens and aimed down the valley in the direction of the castle. “The helicopter’s on the ground.”
“Kate runs the local paper,” Megan explained to him. “Castle Darrock was sold a couple of months ago and she’s convinced there’s something shady about the new owners.”
“They’ve been in residence two months,” Kate called back to them, “and they haven’t put a foot in the town. No one’s even seen their faces.”
“And you intend to splash their faces all over tomorrow’s paper?” After she’d accused him of being paparazzi.
“I’m not taking photos,” she said. “I’m just using the lens to zoom in and that—” She glanced at him over the top of her camera “—is not snooping. It’s called investigation. This is the third time some or other contingent has arrived by helicopter. It’s in the public interest to know if Castle Darrock has been taken over by mafia or cartels or whatever else they’re hiding from us.”
“Maybe they just like their privacy,” Jack drawled.
“Oh, sorry to invade your morning peace.” Megan grimaced, her cheeks splotching with pink. “This is the only place she can get a view on what’s happening behind those walls.”
“There’s a fine line between privacy and secrecy and this one’s been crossed,” Kate added, then seemed to settle into a conversation partly with herself and partly, he assumed, with them. “Come on, what’s with the hat? I can’t see her bloody face. They’re stepping down from the helicopter. You should see this coat, Megs, I bet anything it’s sable.”