Fantasy Man by Barbara Meyers
Length: 199 pages
Quinn Fontana never thought witnessing two murders would lead to her first taste of freedom. But when her overprotective brother puts her on a plane for L.A. to hide until it’s time to testify, she can’t stop the shiver of anticipation.
If her life is going to be cut short, she plans to live it to the fullest. And that includes seducing her intended protector—her brother’s best friend and star of her private fantasies.
* * * * *
The next day Reif came home with another package. Quinn was on the sofa with the TV pitched low and tuned to CNN while she read through more research notes for her thesis.
He held the package up. “I’ve got something for you.”
Quinn narrowed her eyes, suspicious of any shopping bag that came from a boutique she didn’t recognize. “Another present?”
“It’s a surprise. Close your eyes.”
“I don’t like surprises.”
“Really? But you said you liked the kitten.”
“I did. I do. But—”
“Weren’t you surprised to find it?”
“So you do like surprises.”
“Yes, but.” She eyed the bag in his hand once more. “I don’t trust you.”
Reif clutched at his chest. “You wound me.” He turned away. “Okay. Never mind then.”
Exasperating man. “Fine. I trust you. I’m closing my eyes. But if this is some juvenile trick where I end up covered in silly string, you’ll live to regret it.”
She sensed him moving close to her. “Keep them closed. Give me your hand.”
She did so. “You’re not getting down on one knee are you?”
“I’m down on both knees actually. I want to be sure I do this right.”
She felt the brush of his hand, heard and felt something snap around her wrist. She opened her eyes and stared at the thick black band. She turned her wrist over to see the face of what looked like some sort of complicated watch. Reif got to his feet.
“What is this?”
“It’s a tracking bracelet.”
“Sorry. They don’t come in hot pink leopard print.”
“I don’t like it.”
“Take it off.”
Reif grinned. “Not happening.”
“Then I’ll take it off.” She started fooling with the clasp.
“Good luck with that.”
There was no obvious way to unclasp the band that Quinn could see. Except for a tiny hole that looked like it required a special tool to access.
She threw Reif an accusing look. “I knew I couldn’t trust you.”
He sent her back one of unconcern. “The feeling is mutual. So this is our compromise.”
“Your compromise, you mean.”
“I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. They use these for patients with Alzheimer’s to keep them from wandering off. Bail bondsmen like them too.”
“What about what we talked about last night? You’re not my keeper. I’m not your prisoner. I get to make my own choices and have my freedom.”
“You do. Go wherever you want. Do whatever you want. All this does is allow me to monitor your movements. That’s it.”
Quinn stared at the bracelet. “I could just tell Tony about everything. About us.”
“You’re going to go back on your word and blackmail me again? Let me explain how that will work. You tell him about us, and I’ll tell him about the risks you’ve taken since you’ve been here. You’ll be back in Florida before I hang up the phone. Besides, I’ve been thinking I should come clean with Tony anyway. A lie of omission is still a lie and I’m never going to feel good about that. You do whatever you want.”
“I could leave, you know. I don’t have to stay here.”
He made a sweeping gesture toward the front door. “You’re free to go. It’s not like I won’t know where you are.” When Quinn didn’t move he picked up the bracelet’s packaging and left for the kitchen.
“I hate you,” Quinn mumbled at his back.
He turned and grinned at her. “No you don’t.”
“Yes I do!”
“Aww. But I love you!” He disappeared into the kitchen chuckling.
Quinn contemplated her tracking bracelet. It was, without a doubt, the ugliest accessory she’d ever seen. The last place she wanted it was on her wrist. She didn’t want anyone to see it, so she supposed it was a good thing that the cooler LA climate meant she mostly wore long sleeves when she was outside or at work. Maybe she could do something to it with glitter and a glue gun…