She frowned. “I’m not going anywhere until I know what’s going on. Why are we running?”
He finished on his phone, lifting his gaze level with hers. “Are the relics you sell donated to your charity?”
She sighed. No sense lying now. “Not exactly.”
“You steal them.” For some reason he didn’t look shocked or judgmental.
“You don’t seem surprised.” She crossed her arms. “Why is that?”
He flashed his cell phone in her direction. A black and white low-resolution picture of her wearing her black beanie filled his screen. The beanie she wore the night when she snatched the box from the docks.
John’s voice dropped to an urgent whisper. “The government agent who sent me this picture just texted me because he saw us enter your building together. You have something he would very much like returned.”
“How…” Her voice trailed off, mind racing. Why would a government agent have John’s cell number? Unless they figured out where she worked. And if they did, why was John helping her instead of turning her in? Her jaw went slack for a second. “Why are you telling me this?”
“I’ve been asking myself that same question.” The Lyft pulled up before he could finish. They got into the back seat and John glanced her way. “We’ve worked together for five years, and I never knew…” He shook his head. “You’re the reason. The project I needed to work on, the one that would keep me away from the office––was you.”
“What?” She frowned. “Are you an undercover agent or something?”
“Something.” A muscle tensed in his cheek as he stared out the window. “The agent asked me and my crew to locate a missing relic. When I agreed, I didn’t realize it was stolen by you.”
Sweat broke out under her arms, her pulse racing. “Are you going to turn me in?”
“No.” He took her hand. The simple touch warmed her in a very non-businesslike way. His gaze locked on hers. “But we’ve got a lot to talk about.”
She had a million questions about his dealings with the government. Why would an investments broker moonlight helping the government recover historical artifacts?
Before she could spit out a single question, the Lyft driver pulled up in front of a gorgeous mansion on Chippewa Square in the historic district of Savannah.
Savannah was built around the park-like squares, but this one was probably the most popular with tourists since Forrest Gump came out. People of all ages flocked to Chippewa Square to sit on Forrest’s park bench for photos, but locals knew the bench didn’t exist. Magic of Hollywood props.
A couple was snapping late night selfies as she got out of the car. The mundane, normal event seemed surreal right now.
She glanced over at John as he punched in a code to open the iron gate in front of a three story mansion. “Do you get tired of the constant flow of tourists in the square?”
He opened the gate, his hand resting at the small of her back as he guided her inside. “No. Most of the ghost tours have told such salacious stories about my house that I probably don’t need the alarm system. No one would dare enter.”
She raised a brow. “Your house is haunted?”
He chuckled following her up the front steps. “Only by me.”
He unlocked the door and deactivated the alarm before stepping back to allow her to pass by. Her eyes widened as the heels of her flats clicked along the hardwood floor. The ceilings were at least twelve feet high, with elaborately carved crown molding that came together in the corner––she squinted up at it. It looked like a…
“Figurehead.” John pointed at the object of her attention. “It’s from the Sea Dog.”
“Isn’t that one of the pirate ships that sank near the mouth of the Savannah river?”
“Yes.” He nodded. “My friend Colton built a full-size replica of the ship, I opted for a smaller reminder.”
She raised a brow. “Reminder of?”
He blinked like she’d broken a spell of some sort. He cleared his throat. “Sorry.”
Without answering her, he led her into an expansive sitting area with giant mahogany pocket doors. She walked into the room, and he rolled them closed behind her.
John approached, gesturing to an antique sofa upholstered in deep purple velvet. “Please, sit.”
She did, staring at John, trying to figure out why he’d brought her here. Time to stop dancing around the gigantic elephant in the room. “Why aren’t you turning me in?”
He sat in the chair across from her and loosened his tie, popping the top button of his dress shirt. “I suppose I’m hoping I can convince you to return the item you took from the docks. I might be able to negotiate clemency on your behalf.”
Harmony eyed him for a moment, her thoughts racing at breakneck speed. “The Sea Dog was a pirate ship.”
His brow shot up. “I’m not sure what that has to do with returning the stolen relic.”
She crossed her arms. “You weren’t shocked when I told you I stole the artifact we’re trying to sell.” She pointed to the figurehead at the corner of the room. “I think you admire pirates.”
There was that belly laugh from him again. Her bloodstream warmed, and this time it had nothing to do with wine. He rolled up the cuffs of his dress shirt, with a light in his eyes she’d never seen before.
“Admire isn’t the word I would choose.” He settled back into his chair, one leg crossed over the other, and resting his chiseled forearms on the armrests. For a second, he looked every bit like the rogue pirate king on his throne. “I suppose I brought you here hoping I could get you out of this mess. Purely selfish on my part. I can’t take time off from Privateer Capital unless I have someone I can trust at the helm in my absence.”
“You said I was the reason you were taking time off, remember?” Harmony tipped her head, pondering. “Wait. You still trust me after finding out I stole something valuable from the government?”
The corner of his mouth quirked into a crooked smile. “You’ve never stolen from me.”
She leaned in closer, baiting him. “How do you know?”
The playful light in his eyes dimmed into the meticulous employer she’d worked with for the past five years. “Because I’ve seen every scam, and I look over every deal. No one steals from me.”