Gabe watched as Mattie rested a gentle hand on the boy’s narrow
shoulders. The kid looked up at her touch. “Are you taking me to
Mattie shook her head. “No, Enrique. It was brave of you to tell
the truth. Angel is your friend and you stuck by him. I’ll talk to
Captain Daily, see what he can do. But they’ll probably want to
talk to you.”
The boy nodded dully.
“You did the right thing, son,” Gabe said.
He walked Mattie back down the stairs and they left the run-down
apartment building. As they drove back downtown, Gabe flicked a
glance at the woman in the passenger seat. The lady was a looker.
The splash of freckles across her nose and the high bones in her
cheeks only emphasized the fact. And yet the clothes she wore and
the way she had drawn all that glorious red hair into a tight knot
at the nape of her neck made him wonder at the sort of woman she
“I think Enrique’s statement will help your case with Angel,” he
said. “I’m not sure it’ll be enough.”
“I want to talk to him,” Gabe said. “I want to hear what he has to
say about the night of the fire.”
“Sidney Weiss is acting as his attorney. He’s arranging bail. You
can talk to Angel after he’s released--if Weiss says its okay.”
“I think Enrique was telling the truth. But being downtown
vandalizing property isn’t exactly a terrific alibi. I thought you
said Angel was turning over a new leaf.”
As the pickup wove through traffic, Mattie sighed. “He’s been doing
so well. I don’t understand it.”
“You said he likes to help his friends. Maybe Enrique pressed him
and he caved.”
“I don’t know. Angel is the kind of kid who thinks for himself. He
isn’t easily influenced by his peers.”
Gabe let the subject drop. He was involved in this case to the tune
of several thousands of dollars, the deductible on his insurance
policy. He wanted whoever set the fire to pay for what he’d done.
But he wanted to be sure the right person was paying.
“It’s early yet. Why don’t we stop somewhere and have dinner? You
“I’m a vegetarian, mostly. Besides I’ve already eaten. Thanks
Just his luck, a vegetarian. A little too independent to suit him
and probably a raging liberal. He was a meat eater and more a
conservative. Still, politics and palates aside, the woman
attracted him as no woman had in a very long time.
And he didn’t believe she’d had supper. She wasn’t a very good
liar--a point in her favor. She just didn’t want to have supper
“Maybe some other time,” he offered.
Mattie made no reply, which kind of unsettled him. He couldn’t
remember the last time a woman he was interested in hadn’t returned
They drove in silence the rest of the way downtown.
“Where do you want me to drop you off?”
She cast him a sideways glance. “I live in the Elm Street Lofts.
You can drop me off in front.”
He grinned. “Why’d you suddenly decide you could trust me with your
“I Googled you. You’ve been in Dallas for nearly ten years. You’re
quite a respected figure in the community. You’ve even won awards
for contributing to the beautification of the city.” She looked up
at him and smiled, the first relaxed smile he’d seen. “Beside you
were raised in Wyoming.”
He laughed at that. “A good ol’ country boy, you figure?”
“Something like that.”
“If you’d known me back then, you wouldn’t be trusting me to take
She arched an auburn eyebrow. “Why not?”
“I would have driven you to the nearest motel and tried to convince
you to let me get us a room.”
Her cheeks colored beneath the scattering of freckles on the high
bones in her cheeks. “I assume those days are past.”
His allowed his gaze to roam over her, taking in the small waist and
nicely curved breasts. At the moment, the idea held an amazing
amount of appeal. “Mostly,” he said.
The soft flush deepened. “This is it,” she said abruptly, and he
wheeled the truck over to the curb. Mattie opened the door and
climbed down to the sidewalk. “Thanks for your help.”
“I still want to talk to Angel.”
“I haven’t forgotten. I’ll arrange a meeting once he’s released,
assuming his attorney approves.”
Gabe nodded. He watched her walk away, liking the fit of her jeans
over her nicely rounded ass. He found himself hoping he would see
her again, even if she was a vegetarian. He had her phone number,
he reminded himself. He could phone her any time he wanted.
He wondered if he’d ever make the call.