This story features characters from The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries.
At the end of the day, Belinda knew she could trust Kyle.
She could trust her twin brother with her deepest, darkest secrets. She could trust him to come in first place in the Portside Yacht Club’s sailing regatta. She could trust him to bring home tasty leftovers after a day at the marina.
She could not, however, trust him to go out on a date with Colleen Maguire–TV reporter-slash-former-thorn-in-her-side–and not end up on the late night news.
Belinda followed Kyle in her car, trying to keep a safe distance so he wouldn’t spot her Mini Cooper. This was not her surveillance car of choice, but she didn’t dare ask to borrow Bennett’s car, and Kyle wouldn’t indulge her and say where he was meeting Colleen.
In fact, technically he hadn’t told her he was going on a date with Colleen at all. Belinda had accidentally seen a message from Colleen pop up on Kyle’s phone one evening when he’d left it on the kitchen counter. Then she “accidentally” read the series of texts Colleen and Kyle had swapped, discovering that they were meeting for dinner. And from the flirty exchange, it wasn’t a business meeting.
She’d played dumb that evening when Kyle left, all gussied up, not bothering to tell her where he was going. As soon as he left, she ripped off her robe and became Maya the Superspy, leopard print dress, wig, glasses, and all. So now she was stuck in Saturday traffic in downtown Portside, hoping not to lose sight of Kyle’s Jeep.
Belinda figured this meant she’d have to find a parking spot in the downtown melee, infested with tourists, and then keep Kyle in sight in her heels on the cobblestone and brick sidewalks. Check and check. What she didn’t prepare for was her heel getting caught between two stones as she hopped off the sidewalk to avoid other pedestrians.
She yanked to free herself, her foot jerking out of the shoe. Belinda toppled forward, crashing into a pair of wiry arms, her glasses going askew on her nose as her face squished into his chest. The man propped her up, then cajoled her shoe loose, helping her to slide her foot back into it. He finally stood straight and met her eyes.
It was Jonas.
Belinda tried not to gape as she adjusted her glasses, pulling away before he got too close and recognized her. “Thanks!” she said, spinning around and running after Kyle.
She caught up to Kyle just as he stepped into a shadowy restaurant, a hole-in-a-the-wall place close to the end of the strip. After a few seconds, Belinda followed. It took her eyes several seconds to adjust to the dim bluish lighting, but she found Kyle at a corner table with Colleen. Unbelievable.
That woman had been nothing but trouble, with the minor exception of the news spot that had gotten Belinda’s grandmother off her back. But that was a small thing, really, and Belinda’s general opinion of Colleen was still trouble with a capital T. And Kyle didn’t need help in that department.
Not that she should take this seriously. Kyle was flighty when it came to women. He’d always jumped around, and Colleen’s track record didn’t sound good either, from what she’d told Belinda about her brief relationship with Jonas. So more than likely this was about it. But what if it wasn’t?
Belinda took a seat at the bar to the side, in view of Kyle’s table, but hidden enough to stay out of view herself. What if Kyle did want to date Colleen? Would he tell her? Or would they secretly date until she was forced to confess she knew about it already?
Lost in all the frightening possibilities, Belinda jumped out of her skin when a hand rested on her bare shoulder. She whirled around as Jonas sat on one side, his green eyes twinkling. So he had recognized her. That was bad enough, but then her stomach really fell when another body took the other seat next to her, sandwiching her in.
She closed her eyes for a second, then slowly turned to face him.
“Belinda, what are you doing?” Bennett’s dark eyebrows arched ever so slightly, his gray eyes unwavering.
Belinda straightened her shoulders, refusing to meet his eyes straight on. “Practicing.”
“Practicing for what?”
“For the future. Now, go back where you came from and play pool or something before you ruin my cover.”
Bennett rubbed his lips together. “You would never make it as a spy. I hope you realize that.”
Belinda glowered at him, wrinkling her nose. Even if it was true, it was still an irritating observation.
Jonas squinted, gazing off across the room. “Kyle and Colleen…interesting.” Belinda wondered in passing if Jonas felt any twinge of jealousy. From the way things seemed to be going with Ardith, she doubted it.
“So what’s your plan?” Bennett said. “Are you just going to stare at them all night?”
“I just want to keep my eye on them.” Belinda absently opened a menu. “Kyle can be silly about women. He’s doing well, and I don’t want anything to change that.”
Bennett rested his hand on her back, sending a chill up her spine. “Nothing will. Let’s get a drink and go play some pool.”
Belinda felt herself melting under his touch, but she resisted the urge to cave in. “I can’t be seen with you like this. It’ll ruin my disguise forever.”
“That, or someone will see you and start a rumor that Bennett’s cheating.” Jonas met their annoyed glances and shrugged. “What? It’s just how life goes for you two.”
Belinda nudged Bennett’s arm with her elbow. “I hate to say this, but he’s probably right.” Bennett nodded reluctantly, skimming over her. Belinda smiled, pleased he still liked the dress.
Out of the corner of her eye, Belinda saw Kyle stand, and she watched him stroll toward the restrooms in back. As he passed the bar, Kyle waved, grinning widely.
Belinda turned pink, feeling Bennett’s eyes glinting, but she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. “Not. A. Word.”
~ * ~
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