Home > Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1)(2)

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1)(2)
Janet Evanovich, Phoef Sutton

Myra turned back to the door and gave a disgusted grunt. “The dang thing closed behind me,” she said.

She tried the handle. Locked. She entered a number into the keypad beside the door. Still locked. She tried another number. Nothing.

“Shoot,” she said. “This is supposed to be a smart house. Why isn’t it smart enough to let me in?”

Myra shifted in front of the camera that was part of the keypad, pushed a button, and said, “Hello, Emmie,” a little too loud, like Riley’s mother did when she talked on a cellphone. “I’m locked out again.”

A man’s voice came over the intercom. “Aunt Myra? Is that you?”

The man sounded distracted, as if he had just been pulled away from finding a cure for cancer or a marathon binge-watching of Game of Thrones.

“Yes,” Aunt Myra answered. “Did you change the password?”

“I might have.”

“What did you change it to?” Aunt Myra asked, patiently.

“I have no idea. Who’s that with you?”

Riley leaned into the camera. “It’s Riley Moon, sir. From Blane-Grunwald. You were expecting me, Mr. Knight.”

“I received a message that a bank representative would be visiting. I didn’t respond. I assumed that indicated disinterest.”

“Let us in, Emmie,” Aunt Myra said. “Open the door!”

There was a faint click, Myra tried the handle, and the door opened.

Inside was all dark wood and high ceilings. A huge staircase with blood-red carpet rose up the center of the very formal foyer. The banister was mahogany. The elaborate chandelier and wall sconces were crystal. The side chairs, center hall table, and various chests and side tables were antique and reminded Riley of her gram’s Duncan Phyfe dining room set. When Gram passed on, the furniture went to Aunt Rose and Uncle Charlie, and it had looked very grand in the small dining room of their doublewide.

“Just head up the stairs. Go down the hall to your right until you hear the weirdo music,” Aunt Myra said to Riley. “That’ll be the library. I have to go make lunch. You’ll be all right. There’s nobody here but Emerson and me.”

“It’s a big house. No…staff?”

“No, they keep quitting.”

Riley climbed the stairs, and a dark little creature scuttled across the hall in front of her. The armadillo. Riley was from a small, windblown town in Texas, and she was more used to seeing armadillos as roadkill. This one was refreshingly unflattened by an eighteen-wheeler. It trotted along the carpeted hallway like some alien from another planet, its shell bobbing up and down as it moved. Okay, so it’s a little odd, Riley thought, but it was adorable all the same.

She’d been anticipating an eerie organ fugue, or monks singing Gregorian chants, or perhaps New Age music played on a pan flute. The music blasting out of the library was 1970s go-go funk.

“I feel like bustin’ loose. Bustin’ loose!”

Riley entered the library and looked around. The room was gigantic. A lot more dark wood. An intricate parquet floor, inlaid to look like a giant chessboard. A fancy circular wrought iron staircase led up to a balcony. The balcony encircled the entire room and provided access to two levels of towering carved oak bookshelves. A huge domed ceiling loomed above her, featuring an eighteenth-century Italian fresco. A large weather-beaten Coleman tent had been set up in front of a massive stone fireplace.

“Hello?” Riley called, not seeing anyone in the room. “Knock, knock?”

She crossed the room and peeked inside the tent. No one there, but it was very cozy with brightly colored silk prayer flags hanging from the sides and peaked roof. A lightweight sleeping bag was neatly laid out on a camp cot. A small wooden meditation bench and an altar hugged another wall. There were fresh flowers and some photographs on the altar.

Riley turned away from the tent and bumped into Emerson Knight, spearing his foot with her spike heel.

“Crap on a cracker!” she said, jumping away.

“That’s an interesting exclamation,” he said. “Is that regional to Texas? You have a definite Texas accent.”

Whoa, Riley thought. The man was gorgeous. He was about six two and lean. He was wearing loose-fitting gray cords, brown Converse All Star sneakers, and a gray T-shirt that was loose enough to be comfortable and tight enough for Riley to see he was ripped. He had a lot of wavy black hair, and dark eyes that could only be described as smoldering. He looked like the cover of a romance novel come to life. This was a complete surprise, as it wasn’t in the bio she’d been given. She’d expected Emerson Knight to look like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

“I’m so sorry!” she said.

“It’s perfectly all right,” he said. “The pain lets me know that I’m alive. Thank you.”

“I didn’t see you there.”

“Entirely my fault. I was exercising my power to cloud your mind, so you couldn’t see me.”

“You’re joking, right?”

“Not at all. In fact, I almost never joke.”

“Oh boy,” Riley said.

“What does that imply?”

“It implies that I don’t believe you.”

“Did you see me?” he asked.

“No.”

“There you have it.”

Riley decided the man was physically a ten, but intellectually he was a certifiable fruit basket. Probably did astral projection to Mars in his spare time. She sucked in some air and did a mental reboot, going into her rehearsed speech.

“Mr. Knight, Blane-Grunwald considers you one of our most valued clients.”

“Because I’m really, really rich,” Emerson Knight said. Not seeming to brag but simply stating the facts.

“Yes,” Riley said. The facts were the facts.

Crossing to a huge wooden library table, Emerson sat down in a spindly Louis XIV chair and gestured for Riley to join him at the table.

“At the risk of sounding rude, I see no purpose for your visit,” Emerson said. “I’ve repeatedly requested a meeting with Günter Grunwald. Obviously you aren’t Günter Grunwald. I find this all quite odd.”

Riley perched on a chair across from Emerson. “Mr. Grunwald is out of the office for a few days. Personal leave. I’ve been instructed to give you any assistance you might need in his absence.”

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