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Chapter no 27

Never Lie

I drop the sleeping bag and pillow where I found them, my heart pounding. I’ve got to get out of this attic. Because I’m not sure I’m alone in here anymore.

I take brisk steps to the trap door. My hands are trembling so hard, I’m afraid I’m going to slip and fall through the door. I have to take a few deep breaths to calm myself down. Nobody is going to attack me in this attic. Not when Ethan is within earshot.

By some miracle, I make it down the stairs to the second level without falling. As soon as my feet touch the floor, I turn to the bedroom door that’s closed and start pounding on it. After a second, I realize it probably isn’t locked, so I try the doorknob and it twists under my hand.

“Tricia?”

Ethan is sitting at the desk in the room, his hands positioned over the keyboard of his laptop. He looks shocked to see me standing there.

“There’s someone in the attic!” I gasp. Ethan leaps to his feet. “What?

“I…” I’m starting to hyperventilate. My breaths are coming too quickly. Ethan rounds the desk and puts his arm around me. “There’s a…”

He squeezes my body close to his—protectively. “A man?”

I shake my head. “A sleeping bag.”

“A…” His protective grip on my shoulders loosens slightly. “A sleeping bag?”

“Yes! And it’s clean!”

“I… I don’t get it, Tricia.”

I shrug off his embrace, upset that he doesn’t seem concerned anymore. “Somebody is sleeping in the attic!”

He rubs the growing stubble on his chin. At home, he usually shaves every morning. “Just because there’s a sleeping bag up there, it doesn’t mean somebody is sleeping in the attic. People keep sleeping bags in the attic.” “But it’s clean!” I’m desperate to make him understand.

“Everything in this house is so dusty, but the sleeping bag has been recently used. It’s not dusty.”

“Maybe it was under something that was keeping it from getting dusty?”

I glare at him.

“I’m sorry, Tricia,” he sighs. “I just don’t think a sleeping bag in the attic is evidence that there’s some stranger in the house. We haven’t seen anyone here. I haven’t seen any signs that there’s another person here.”

“Are you kidding me? There have been a zillion signs that there’s somebody here! There was a light on upstairs that mysteriously turned off. All that food in the fridge. The footprints on the floor. I heard a crash when I was downstairs. And the painting that moved…”

I stop talking because it’s obvious from the look on Ethan’s face that nothing I’m saying is convincing him even a little bit.

“Fine,” I grunt. “Don’t believe me.” “It’s not that I don’t believe you…”

“Hmm. Isn’t that exactly what this is?”

“I just think…” He reaches for me again and I reluctantly allow him to put his arm around my shoulders. “You’re under a lot of stress right now. I mean, we’re stranded here without phone service. And your body is in the middle of making an entire other person. I don’t blame you for feeling tense. Also…” He rubs his hand up and down my arm, which I now realize is covered in goosebumps. “You’re freezing.”

With the excitement of finding that sleeping bag in the attic, I forgot all about the reason I came up here. “It’s really

cold in this house.”

He nods. “I know. Unfortunately, I don’t know how much warmer it’s going to get. The insulation is terrible. We’re going to have to put in some major funds to get it fixed.”

Great. My teeth are on the verge of chattering. “So what are we supposed to do? Wear our coats?”

“Well…” He glances down the hallway. “The master bedroom has an entire walk-in closet filled with clothing. There’s got to be some warm stuff in there that’s more comfortable than wearing your coat around the house.”

I grit my chattering teeth. “I am not wearing a dead woman’s clothing.”

“All right, but you have two choices. Either wear her clothing or wear your coat. Or be cold, I guess.”

I hate the idea of going through Adrienne Hale’s closet and scavenging for clothing. But it’s not comfortable to sit around indoors in my coat. Maybe I am being silly. I could grab something from the back of the closet. Something she rarely wore. Hell, I’m willing to bet a woman like that probably has a few outfits still with price tags on them.

“Fine,” I grumble. “I’ll check the closet.”

Ethan kisses me on the top of my head. “Good. And after you find something warm to wear, we can go downstairs and have lunch.”

“Not bologna again. Please.”

He flashes a crooked smile. “I saw turkey too.”

I am going to be so sick of cold cuts by the time we get out of here.

Ethan returns to his laptop while I walk down the hall to the master bedroom. I will take one sweater from her closet and that’s it. And I’m just borrowing it. I’m going to put it back before we leave here. In the exact condition I found it.

When I return to Dr. Hale’s walk-in closet, it’s even more stuffed with clothing than I remember. I have a lot of clothes

—I’m not going to lie—but her clothes are classy. Everything she wears is at the height of fashion. And not just that—she

doesn’t own anything casual. I looked through some of her drawers last night and it seemed like the lady didn’t even own a pair of blue jeans.

I would wager that there isn’t one piece of clothing in this closet that cost less than two hundred dollars.

I had intended to find something in the back of her closet that she rarely wore. But my attention goes back to that white cashmere sweater I had been slobbering over last night. I love cashmere. I mean, everyone does. What sort of freak doesn’t like cashmere?

And the sweater is so white. Like unblemished snow.

I grab the sweater and pull it off the hanger. I throw it over my head, almost groaning in ecstasy at how nice the fabric feels against my skin. I love cashmere.

Okay, I didn’t do exactly what I said I was going to do. But it’s almost a crime for a sweater like this to be sitting in a closet, never worn. It’s begging to be worn. Crying to be worn.

And it’s not like Adrienne Hale is going to come back here and want to wear the sweater, for God’s sake.

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