Love Walks In(10)

By: Samantha Chase

“You said ‘we just checked in.’ Who’s ‘we’?”

“It doesn’t matter. I checked in with someone and now I’m leaving. It’s not a crime.”

“No…but breaking and entering is.”

“You stole my suitcase!” she cried.

“Okay, we’re going around in circles here, Miss…?”

“Burke. Aubrey Burke.”

“Do you have ID?”

“In my purse.”

Hugh looked at her expectantly.

“It’s outside in the bushes.”

Without a word, Hugh hopped out the window and looked around. Tucked under one of the shrubs was a pair of white sandals and a purse. He scooped them both up and climbed back in through the window again. And mentally cursed himself for having to behave like this.

He didn’t hand the small white clutch to her—he opened it and pulled out her driver’s license, inspecting it. Aubrey Burke of Raleigh, North Carolina. He placed the card back inside her purse before handing it to her, along with her shoes.

“Now can I go?”

“It doesn’t prove the bag is yours.”

“Oh, for crying out loud. Are you for real?” When Hugh didn’t answer, Aubrey let out a sigh of agitation. “Okay, fine.” She took a step away from the luggage. “Open it up. Inside you’ll find a white bikini with a matching cover-up, a white silk nightie, a red dress, a black dress, and a blue one.” She stopped and thought for a moment. “There’s also a cosmetics case, a small pouch with some jewelry, and my laptop. And six pairs of shoes.”

“Six?” he asked with a smirk.

“I couldn’t decide which ones I wanted to wear so I brought a selection.”

Unable to help himself, Hugh walked over, crouched in front of the suitcase, and opened it. He should have just let her go. After all, who would lie about owning this hideous piece of luggage? Curiosity got the better of him and soon he found himself up to his elbows in all of the items Aubrey had listed.

And some she hadn’t.

“Oh yeah…and several pairs of panties,” she said with a smirk of her own. “Forgot about those.”

Hugh never would.

They were lacy and tiny and in every color imaginable. An image of the hot-pink pair she was currently wearing flashed through his mind and he had to stifle a groan. When he realized he was still touching the lingerie, he quickly dropped it, slammed the suitcase closed, and stood up. He cleared his voice before he could speak. “Um…so…yeah. I guess it’s yours.”

“I told you it was.”

“It still doesn’t explain why—”

“I know it was wrong to go through the window and all, but I was in a rush. And now, thanks to this little game of cops and robbers, my cab is probably gone and I’ve most likely missed my flight.”

It was on the tip of his tongue to apologize, but he quickly remembered he wasn’t the one in the wrong here.

“I’m sorry about that, but you have to understand—you broke into my office. I can’t simply overlook that.”

Aubrey’s eyes began to well with tears. “I’m sorry,” she said, her voice shaky. “I really am. You have to know I’ve never done anything like this before. I just… I needed…” She paused. “I never should have come here.”

“To my office?” Hugh asked.

She shook her head. “Here. To Napa. The resort. Everything.”

Something about her whole demeanor began to make Hugh uncomfortable. The situation was bizarre, to say the least, but Aubrey was clearly someone looking for a quick escape. “Are you in some kind of trouble?” he finally asked.

She shook her head and met his gaze. “I really need to leave. Please.”

Her plea was a mere whisper, and damn if it didn’t make him feel a tightening in his chest. He should be furious with this woman—he should be ranting and raving about her invading his privacy and pretty much pitching a fit because she had messed up his schedule. But one look at those big blue eyes and the slight tremble of her lips and he just couldn’t do it. Any of it.

Shifting uncomfortably, Hugh said, “I’m sorry about your flight. Is there anything I can do?”

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