About Love and Genius: Book Two of the Moore Family Series
File Size: 604 KB
- Print Length: 196 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: BookBaby; 1 edition (May 1, 2012)
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0083BON9C
- To purchase a copy of this book just click here.
- To follow along on the Pump Up Your Book Blog Tour and read what other reviewers are saying about this book, click here.
Dr. Kathryn Archer is a brilliant woman and a well-respected scientist. She is also beautiful, strong and painfully isolated from the world around her. A dark past has taught her to guard her heart and it is a lesson she learned too soon and far too well.
Major Joe Moore is a handsome man, a soldier at the top of the army’s most elite group. As a single father, Joe is dedicated to his son and his career and he has put the pain and loss of his past behind him.
When Joe is charged with solving a military mystery he seeks out Kathryn’s expertise to help guide him. Their sparks fly immediately and it’s soon more than one puzzle they are trying to solve. Can they find the answers they are charged to seek when all they can feel is the heat building between them?
This is the story of their beginning. Their first, heady, romantic, steps toward the incredible family they create together. A love story as remarkable as the family they become.
About Sara Kay Jordan:
Sara Kay Jordan holds a BA in English, and is a lifelong daydreamer, a combination that prepared her in equal measure to pursue her dream to be a writer. Her first novel, Snatching Genius, was released in 2011 to warm praise. Her family includes two grown children and one cranky old dog. Sara lives in Springfield, MO.
Follow her online at sarakayjordan.com and on Twitter @sarakayjordan
Follow her online at sarakayjordan.com and on Twitter @sarakayjordan
Enjoy the first two chapters of the book:
Joe Moore would always consider the moment he met Doctor Kathryn Archer the most infuriating of his professional career. It was also the best moment of his life.
It began in the usual way, just a normal day that gave him no clue to the enormity of what was about to happen. He had managed to get his son to school on time, and surprisingly, with both shoes, a jacket and even his lunch all accounted for. That feat alone meant his day was a good one.
He had snagged the last hot donut from the break room for a perfect addition to his morning coffee. And now he was organizing his office in preparation for a brand new job. He liked the start of a new assignment. There was a feeling of anticipation, like beginning a journey, and that appealed to his sense of adventure. His days of rushing around the world for excitement and intrigue were over, and he took his thrills in smaller doses now.
A knock sounded at his door, and he looked up from the desk he was organizing to find the smiling face of Captain Kyle Harrison. “You getting all settled Joe?”
“Trying,” he answered. “My last assignment didn’t come with such a swank office, but I think I’m settling in.”
Kyle looked at the bare gray walls of a standard Pentagon office. He laughed. “Swank?”
“Yeah, well, I’ve been in the field or on the training grounds for years. Spending more time in the hot sun or wading through mud and water, than behind a desk, means having a place to hold my pencils seems like a luxury.” His buddy laughed at the joke as Joe tossed a handful of pens and pencils into a ceramic holder.
“What is that?” Kyle quirked an eyebrow at the vaguely cylindrical object that now held Joe’s writing implements.
“It’s a pencil holder, Captain,” Joe barked. “My kid made it.”
“It’s an excellent piece of sculpture, Major,” Kyle quickly corrected himself.
Joe looked at the present his six-year-old had given him last Father’s Day and smiled fondly. “Yes it is.” He dropped the last of his office supplies into a drawer and flicked it closed. “Did you need something?”
“Yeah.” The officer held out a file. “Your last assignment may have been in the elements, but you’ve moved on to command, all you’ll get around here is an avalanche of paperwork. Good thing this job is temporary.”
Joe reached out and took it. “I’ve been in a real avalanche,” he joked. “The paper kind might be more fun. And with my luck, the next assignment will have me in something worse than bad weather.” He flipped the folder open. “What is this?”
“The lab report you requested.”
“What does it mean?” Joe scanned the summary sheet.
“Hell if I know.” Kyle chuckled. “Those folks over at Quantum don’t speak human, just science.”
“What am I supposed to do with this if I can’t tell what it means?”
“Beats me.” His friend shrugged. “But you better figure it out. The Hill is watching this one. It’s bad enough to lose four soldiers in a training accident—it’s a shit storm when one of them is a Senator’s son. I saw another report on the news last night. Senator Pendleton isn’t going to let it go until he has answers.”
“So why not give it to JAG?” Joe wondered in a rare flash of insecurity. “I don’t have an experience as an investigator.”
“The old man thinks he needs a real soldier on the case—” Kyle leaned over and patted Joe on the shoulder, “—and you, my friend, are the best we got.” He stood up and headed for the door. “I guess that’s why you got the special assignment and the swank new office, so you can figure it out.”
“Don’t make me regret requesting you as an assistant, Harrison.”
“Never, sir.” Kyle stood at attention and saluted with overstated formality.
Joe’s exaggerated scowl quickly twisted to a smirk. They had been through too much, and been friends too long, for him to worry about Kyle taking his threat to heart.
Kyle paused in the doorway. “Hey, I’m up to grab a beer after work if you want to celebrate the new duty.”
“Thanks,” Joe answered without looking away from the file he’d begun reading. “But I can’t. I need to pick Parker up before six, he has a swim lesson.”
Kyle nodded. It had been a long shot. Single parents didn’t have much free time and Joe rarely agreed to any activity that would keep him from his son.
“Another time,” he said easily.
Joe called a good-bye and focused on the report. There were words on the page he couldn’t even hope to sound out, let alone interpret, and after ten minutes he sighed in frustration and snapped the file closed. “This is ridiculous,” he complained under his breath.
Standing, he jerked his uniform jacket from the back of his chair and hastily tugged it on. It fit snugly over his muscled arms and broad shoulders. Picking up the file, he rounded his desk and took long purposeful strides to the door. “I guess I’ll just have to ask,” he muttered as he pulled the door shut behind him.
The drive to Quantum Labs took little time. The state of the art facility had been constructed in an area of DC that had once been an embarrassment. The choice of location had been praised by the city leaders as a positive step to revitalize and energize the community, an effort by its wealthy benefactors to make a contribution to the city even as they pursued their own agenda.
Those benevolent aspirations were of little concern to him, but Joe was quick to appreciate the proximity to his new office in the Pentagon. He had been briefed on the capabilities of the research facility, and he had orders to cultivate a relationship with what was proving to be an invaluable tool to military and government agencies. Learning that he wouldn’t have to waste his work day commuting back and forth to the facility was a positive.
His military ID got him through the gate, but he chaffed at the delay when he was required to wait for entrance into the lab itself. When the guard finally confirmed that he was indeed the investigator assigned to the Pendleton inquiry, the buzzer sounded and he pulled the door open with an irritated yank. A second set of doors required he submit to a retinal scan, but the process took far less time than the guard’s confirmation. Annoyed by the delay but impressed with the security he moved into the lab proper.
He wasn’t sure what he had expected, but as he stepped inside he had to pause and gape. The place was everything he would have imagined at the words lab or high tech. The foyer in which he stood held a few green plants, and what had to be expensive art, that gave the small space a warm feel. But as he moved forward, it opened into a cavernous room with high ceilings, exposed metal beams and glass walls that gave it a sleek look. The place had a sterile, clean smell that was part hospital, part library, and there was a sense of quiet calm that made the thought and discovery that happened here almost palpable.
A series of raised platforms dominated the center of the room. Each had a metal exam table under heavy lighting, and Joe had a mental image of men in white coats gathered around in fascination as something like Frankenstein’s creature came to life. Shaking his head at the fantasy he looked around for some clue about where to find his new associate.
A small man crossed the room in front of him. To Joe he looked like the quintessential mad scientist with a curly mop of out of control brown hair and a white lab coat. Several days’ growth of beard darkened his chin and cheeks, adding to the impression he was too busy thinking to worry about such mundane matters. He was walking and reading through a large stack of paper, oblivious to anything around him, and he jumped when Joe spoke.
“I’m looking for Dr. Archer?”
The scientist recovered quickly. He turned, almost as if he were going to physically confront the question. “Who are you?” The mouse of a man demanded, with more authority than Joe had expected.
“Major Moore, special investigator for the Pendleton inquiry.” Joe tried not to sound as irritated as he felt over the question.
The scientist was still regarding him with suspicion, so he held up the file he couldn’t decipher. “I have a question about a report she sent regarding the investigation.”
“Jack Holmes.” The scientist identified himself, finally offering a handshake and a less confrontational tone. “Sorry, we try to limit Kathryn’s interruptions, and lately the requests for her time have been a bit intrusive.”
Joe’s memory quickly supplied the details he knew of the scientist. Jack Holmes was the money behind this operation. Like Archer, he held multiple degrees, but it was his family wealth which had allowed them to establish the lab in the first place. According to the dossier he was an excellent scientist, but he didn’t quite have the same brilliance as his partner. “Dr. Holmes, you’re Dr. Archer’s partner?” Joe asked.
“That’s me,” Holmes answered modestly. He turned and pointed across the large room. “Dr. Archer is in lab three. I’d introduce you, but I have something I need to attend to. Besides,” he added with a smirk, “You look like you can handle it.”
“A conversation with Archer,” Holmes said with a chuckle. “Good luck,” he called as he walked away.
Joe had never met a billionaire or a world’s leading expert on anything, but as he watched Holmes walk away, he wondered if the combination made the man so weird or if he just came that way.
Pushing thoughts of wealthy mad scientists from his mind he turned the direction Holmes had indicated and strode across the room with purpose. He had heard Archer was a tough nut, and Holmes’ attitude seemed to support that, so he mentally prepared himself as he stepped into the small lab. He had expected another strange academic like Holmes. He had expected the cold attitude he’d read about in the lab’s dossier. He had expected brilliance that threw out words like those on the report that had prompted this visit.
What he didn’t expect, was the strikingly beautiful woman who looked up when he entered.
“I’m busy,” she said dismissively and dropped her gaze back to the apparatus she was using.
Joe tried valiantly to ignore the reaction he was having. Damn, she was gorgeous. It was the only thought he could formulate. But when she summarily dismissed him without even a polite greeting his temper flared.
“Dr. Archer, I’m Major Joe Moore. I’m the investigator assigned to the Pendleton inquiry.”
She continued to ignore him and his temper spiked again.
“I need to discuss something with you.” His words came out a bit more harshly than he had intended and he grimaced.
Archer however, didn’t appear to be offended by his tone. “It will have to wait.” She maintained her focus. “As I already stated, I’m busy.”
“It’s about this report.” Joe waved the file in his hand.
“What about it?”
She still wasn’t looking at him, so he took a few steps forward. The action worked to draw her attention, but as she stood and lifted her beautiful blue eyes to his, he wondered at the suspicion he could see in them. He froze briefly under the intensity of her gaze then once again, he lifted the file.
Her eyes were incredible, and although he couldn’t look away from them, he ignored the thoughts they prompted. “I’m afraid I need some translation. I’m not sure what I’m reading.”
Archer rolled her eyes, breaking the lock he had with them, and spoke with exasperation. “Well you actually tried, that puts you up on everyone else it was sent to.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means the Army is woefully uninterested in facts, when they don’t fit their own agenda. I stand behind the report, Major. I mean every word of it.”
“That’s great,” Joe answered his tone slightly aggressive as he reacted to hers. “Now if I just knew what it said maybe I could clue the world’s leading military unit into what they’ve been missing.”
His retort reduced her reluctance to contrition. She lowered her eyes, seeming almost to turn inward rather than admit she had a change of heart. “Leave it. I’ll go back through it when I have time and dumb it down for you.”
“Well, you don’t have to say it like that.”
Her eyes snapped up again, and that willfulness was back. “Didn’t you just say you didn’t understand it?”
“Well, yeah, but it’s not like I don’t get any of it. I just need some help understanding the science.”
“Exactly. You need it dumbed down.”
She stared at him coolly and Joe fought for control. He wanted to shout at her. He wanted to demand she give this issue the kind of attention it deserved. He wanted to wipe that cold look off her face.
He wanted to kiss those damned red lips.
That terribly inappropriate thought brought him up short, and he took rigid control of his emotions. “I’d appreciate it if you could get back to me at your earliest convenience.” With quiet calm, he dropped the file on the table then turned. “The soldiers killed deserve our attention.”
Joe walked out with all the dignity his service and career had earned him. His back straight and his head high, he marched to the exit without a backward glance. He was boiling with an irritation that demanded an escape, but he would be damned if he gave that woman the satisfaction of knowing she had gotten to him.
But she had gotten to him. So, when he reached his car, he climbed inside and finally allowed himself the luxury of a response. “How can someone be so annoying in such a short time?”
Annoying was only the start. She was condescending and abrasive. She had dismissed him like some unimportant irritation, as if her time was far too valuable to bother with a conversation with the likes of him.
He closed his eyes, trying to gain control over this uncharacteristic turmoil he felt. He was an elite solider, he didn’t overreact, he didn’t get emotional. Except right now, he was definitely both of those things.
The moment his eyes closed, he saw her again, tall and thin but with the kind of curves that suggested a luscious body beneath that white coat. Her auburn hair was pulled back into a youthful, utilitarian ponytail, but he could image it spilling to her shoulders in warm waves if she released it. Her skin, pale and smooth—damn near perfect. The creamy complexion accentuated her eyes. Those eyes were what he remembered most. They were gorgeous, the most incredible blue he had ever seen. But it was more than the color. It was the sharp mind they revealed, and the strength that gave the impression she was made of steel, despite the soft body that said exactly the opposite.
Joe’s eyes snapped open and he rubbed a hand over his face. What the hell was wrong with him? He didn’t do this. He had barely noticed a woman, any woman, in over two years and he certainly didn’t objectify coworkers like they were some beauty pageant contestant. She was a scientist and a brilliant one if all he had heard was true. More importantly, she was his colleague. He was supposed to be cultivating a relationship between the Army and her lab, not ogling her. He was supposed to be using her expertise to reveal why four soldiers had died, not fantasizing about what she would look like with her hair down.
He took a deep breath and ordered his thoughts. He knew what to expect now, he would be prepared, he could control himself. Slipping his car into gear he headed back to his office, his mind firmly directed to the job that lay before him.
It worked fairly well. He was good at his job, and he had long ago acquired the kind of discipline necessary to avoid all types of outside stimuli—he could go days without food or sleep, could sit for hours in weather so cold or wet that his body tried to shut down and still he felt no discomfort. He could do what had to be done. The jobs the Army saw fit to burden on only a select few, he could do them without hesitation.
Keeping his mind focused on the investigation, and not those blue eyes, wasn’t the hardest thing he had ever done and he finished his day with an iron control on his thoughts.
One question, however, made his control falter.
“Hey, Bro. How was your day? Make any new friends?”
He froze for only an instant before taking the final step inside his house, but she saw it. His kid sister had always been far too interested in his personal life. She had followed him around when they were kids, spied on him when he was in high school, and she hadn’t lost her interest just because she was now a grownup.
“Joe?” she demanded with suspicion.
“It was a day, Charlie,” he answered evasively.
“Yeah, a day. I got up, I went to the office, I met some colleagues. It was a day.”
“What are you not telling me?”
He bit the inside of his lip trying to distract from the picture that had popped into his mind, trying to erase the image of those two blue eyes of steel and satin. “Where’s Parker?” He tried changing the subject for his own good. “We need to get going.”
Charlie waved toward the other room. “He’s changing clothes.” Her hair was darker than Joe’s, a coal black compared to his dark brown, but her eyes were the same chocolate brown and they revealed a hint of his same strength.
Those eyes were watching him now, with suspicion. She knew him too well and she wasn’t fooled. She stepped in front of her brother and looked him in the eye, squinting as she assessed his mood. “What’s up with you?”
“Nothing,” he scoffed. “It’s been awhile since I had a desk job, okay? I just need to adjust.”
“Okay,” she agreed, willing to accept that for now. She turned and called down the hallway as she walked toward the kitchen sink. “Parker! Your dad is home. Shake a leg, Bub.”
“He was good?” Joe flipped through the mail she had left for him on the counter.
“He’s the best nephew ever born.” She grinned. “Of course he was good.”
“You didn’t let him fill up on junk after school, did you?” he worried. “I don’t want him getting into bad habits.”
“What am I, a bad influence?” Charlie joked.
Joe leveled an accusing glare and she cracked. “Okay, I let him have a milkshake. But we were celebrating.”
She gave him an impish grin as she turned away from the now clean dishes that had been sitting in his sink. “We were celebrating the opportunity to have a milkshake.”
There was the sound of pounding footsteps on the wood floor, and then a small form in red swim trunks, and nothing else, came barreling through the doorway. Joe abandoned the lecture he wanted to give his sister and scooped up his son, as Parker leapt into the air. He held him close, feeling his tension fade, as two small tanned arms wrapped tightly around his neck.
Ruffling the long blonde hair, that was starting to curl wildly without a haircut to temper it, he kissed his son. “Hey, Bub. You ready for a swim?”
“Yep.” Parker crowed excitedly. “Charlie says it is a big pool!”
“It is?” Joe asked with enthusiasm. “I bet you can’t swim the whole thing.”
“I can too,” Parker giggled. “I’ll show you.”
“Do you have to make everything a challenge?” Charlie scolded with a laugh as she picked up her purse. “Honestly, Joe, it’s a swim lesson not a competition.”
“It makes it fun,” he answered, and Parker nodded in agreement.
Charlie rolled her eyes and shook her head, making her dark locks sway. “You are two peas in a pod,” she teased. Leaning in, she puckered for a kiss, and Parker dutifully responded, adding a quick hug as well. She dropped another quick peck on his forehead and then stood on her tiptoes to give Joe’s cheek the same treatment. “I’ll pick him up at school tomorrow, same time.” She headed for the door. “Have a good night.”
“Thanks,” Joe called after her.
Charlie paused in the door and gave him another long look. “You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine,” he growled in warning.
“Okay, okay, don’t get all green beret on me.” She laughed as she stepped through the door.
“I’m fine.” Joe repeated to Parker.
“Daddy, I’m ready to go.” He squirmed excitedly, a huge grin on his face.
“Okay.” Joe dropped him to his wriggling feet. “Let’s go little man, let’s see if you can swim that pool.”
“I can do it!”
Beaming, Joe opened the door and followed his son outside. “You are going to have to prove it, little man.” Thoughts of irritating scientists slipped from his mind—the joy he found in spending time with his boy was a better weapon against her allure than all his discipline.
Kathryn Archer watched the tall figure retreat, and she felt a stab of regret. She hadn’t meant to do that. She knew how important his investigation was and she was more than willing to help, but she had not reacted well to that man’s appearance in her doorway.
Part of it was her usual irritation at an interruption in her work—she always found a break in her thought to be annoying, especially when her project was as sensitive as today’s work. Part of it was the way he had stood there, expecting her to be at his beck and call. She might be a military consultant, but she did not work for the government and she refused to be treated as if her time was at their leisure. The broad, straight back of the retreating officer disappeared from her view, and she sighed as she admitted the rest—part of it had been because that was the most attractive man she had ever seen, and he scared the hell out of her.
Shaking her head to clear such irrational thoughts, she returned to her work. She could find peace in the science, there were no distracting biological responses or emotional surprises in her work, and she let her mind focus. It had always been that way. In all the dark times in her life, whenever her emotions threatened to control her actions, whenever life brought suffering and confusion, the science saved her.
This was only a minor issue. A temporary response to what was obviously a strong, desirable male that triggered her body’s natural chemical reaction, and it was no match for her disciplined mind. Ignoring the way his hard, dark body and chocolate colored eyes made her quiver, she returned to her experiment and gratefully lost track of everything else, until her partner popped into her lab a few hours later.
“Hey, did you get the contract signed?” Holmes asked.
Kathryn stood up, her back complaining slightly at the first upright position she had taken since her earlier visitor had gone. “It’s over there.” She waved a hand in the generally correct direction.
Jack crossed to the table and picked up the investigation file by mistake then he tossed it back down and picked up a second file. “So, I met that Major Moore.” He flipped through the contract, checking for her signature at all the correct locations.
“What?” Kathryn shrugged. “Oh, the major—typical military. He needs my report dumbed down,” she scoffed, “and it’s my fault he can’t read the findings.”
“You do have a big vocabulary,” Jack teased as he turned for the door. “I heard he’s pretty good though.”
“What are you saying, Jack?” She couldn’t hide her exasperation. “Just tell me. I don’t have time to try and figure it out. You know I’m terrible at that anyway.”
“I’m saying, by all reports, this guy is good, really good. And maybe he’s not the average jarhead you’ve come to hate working with.”
“What’s a jarhead?”
Jack chuckled. “Look it up,” he called as he walked away, “maybe that vocabulary isn’t as big as you think. I’m headed home.” He waved good-bye, leaving Kathryn still feeling confused. “See you tomorrow.”
She chewed absently on her lower lip as she considered her friend’s words. Jack knew her. He was possibly the only person who truly understood her, and he didn’t do things randomly. She knew he had checked up on the Major. He made it his business to know everything about the people they worked with—it was his business—and if he was impressed by Moore, she should be as well.
Her eyes fell to the file still lying on the nearby table, and she felt a new wave of chagrin over her earlier behavior. She had not been polite, or even professional, and that was no way to start collaboration with him. She made a few necessary adjustments to the experiment she was conducting, preparing to leave it for the night.
When her process was finally complete she picked up the report and carried it to her office. The lights throughout the lab were dimmed, letting her know that, as usual, she was the last person to remain. With the exception of security personnel she was alone—a state she was comfortable in and accustomed to.
She entered her office and took a seat at her desk. The quiet helped to focus her thoughts as she reorganized the words on the page. Lifting a pen, she began making corrections.
When her phone rang and shattered the silence, she jumped slightly. “Hello?” She continued reading through the file.
“Hi, Annie,” she answered with affection. “Jack isn’t here. He already headed home.”
“Well that’s good. We have a hot date tonight.” The woman on the other end of the phone sounded more than eager. “What are you doing?”
“Altering a report so this new Army investigator can better interpret my findings.”
“Had to dumb it down, huh?”
“Exactly,” Kathryn agreed, thankful that her friend could see it as she did.
Annie chuckled. “Sorry you have to break in a new guy,” she said sympathetically. “I know how irritating that is for you.”
“Jack says I should be impressed by him.” Kathryn sat back in her chair and tugged on the hair tie. Her hair spilled to her shoulders, and she shook it loose, enjoying the relief she felt as it fell free and thick.
“He does, huh?” Annie asked. “I wonder what that’s about?”
“I assume his professional credentials are exemplary—I don’t think it was the body that impressed him.” Kathryn bit down on her bottom lip and winced, immediately regretting letting that comment slip.
“Why? What about his body?”
“Nothing. Forget I said that.”
“I don’t think so,” Annie said suspiciously. “Any man that makes you take note has got to be a hunk. Maybe I’ll have Jack provide me with some details.”
“It was just a stupid remark,” Kathryn said plaintively. “Please?”
“All right, don’t get excited. Are you headed home soon?”
“After I finish this and read through a few more projects my interns were submitting today.”
“Doll, you can’t be there all night. You need to go home, have dinner, sleep—all those annoying human functions you need to adhere to once in a while.”
“I will.” Kathryn granted, although they both knew it would likely be hours before she actually did so.
“Okay. I have to go, I just heard Jack come through the gate. Wish me luck.”
“Are you ovulating?” Kathryn asked with clinical curiosity.
“I’m as ripe as a peach,” Annie joked. “Hopefully the good doctor and I have a little better result with this month’s experiment.”
Kathryn knew how badly her friends wanted a baby, and she smiled, putting all her good will into her reply. “Enjoy the process.”
The chuckle that came was dark and playful. “Oh, I can guarantee that. Have a good night, Doll. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Bye.” Jack and Annie were the only family Kathryn had, her only true friends, and she found she cared deeply that they receive the child they wanted. Sighing at her concern for something she could not influence or even assist, despite her good will, she let her thoughts move back to the report. It took another half hour to alter the wording enough that she thought a layperson could understand.
Kathryn’s hand hovered over her phone for a moment as she contemplated what to say. Jack’s warning, and her own guilt, made her nervous. She feared to engage in a second conversation that could do more damage than she had already done to this new working relationship. She took a deep breath and dialed the number attached to the major’s contact information.
He answered immediately. “Moore.”
The strength in his voice sent a shiver down her spine. Kathryn faltered but quickly recovered. “This is Dr. Archer,” she identified herself with what she hoped was equal professionalism.
He was silent for a beat and she wondered if she had already done too much damage. “Major?”
“What can I do for you, Doctor?”
“I finished revising the report,” she informed him. “I wanted to let you know it would be ready for you first thing tomorrow. I’ll just leave it here with Security, or I can have it delivered to your office if you prefer.”
“You’re still at the lab?” There was a sense of surprise in his voice, as if he had picked up on her wording.
“Yes, although I don’t understand why my location is relevant.”
“It’s...I mean, it’s not,” he stammered. “I was just surprised I guess. That’s a long day.”
“I am quite busy, Major,” she said primly. “You will find I am dedicated to my studies.”
“Hey.” He softened his tone. “I didn’t mean to offend you. Your reputation precedes you, Doc. You are known worldwide as a dedicated scientist.”
“I am known worldwide,” Kathryn agreed without humility.
He chuckled and she found herself smiling. Normally she would take offense, assuming that laughter could only be at her expense, but somehow she knew that in this case that wasn’t so. His laughter was soft and comforting and she found it pleasing. “Don’t laugh at me, Major,” she scolded lightly.
“I wouldn’t dare.” There was a pause, and then he continued, his tenor a bit conciliatory as if he wanted to start over. “So, can you give it to me in a nutshell?”
“The report, can you give me the basics?”
“Oh, yes I suppose I could give you the basics, but there are quite a few facts to consider.”
“Just the gist of it,” he said easily. “I’ll stop by in the morning and we can go over it in detail. How’s that?”
Kathryn heard the offer in his voice and she nodded even though he couldn’t see her. “That would be acceptable,” she answered. “The victims were killed by blunt force trauma to the chest.”
He was quiet and Kathryn grew curious as to why. “Major?” she prompted when he remained silent.
“That really doesn’t fit the scenario, you know?”
“It does raise some additional questions,” she agreed, “but with further examination all questions are answerable.”
Joe chuckled again. “Is that scientist-speak for we can do this?”
“Find the truth in this investigation.”
“I always find the truth, Major.”
“I like your attitude, Doc.”
Kathryn laughed ruefully, and found herself imagining his lips curled happily as he spoke those words. “I would have thought our earlier exchange insured you did not like my attitude.”
“Yeah. Sorry about that.” Joe sounded sincere. “I shouldn’t just show up and expect you to be available.”
“I should be more accommodating. Your request was made in good faith, and I should not have held you responsible for the shortsightedness of your predecessors.”
“So maybe we both could have done better.” There was a peace offering in his voice. “How about we start all over tomorrow?”
“I would like that,” she agreed, unsure why the offer filled her with warmth.
“I guess I’ll see you first thing tomorrow then,” Joe said. “Good-bye, Doc.”
Kathryn sat quietly holding the phone in her hand long after he had hung up. She wasn’t really thinking anything, wasn’t doing anything, she just sat enjoying the warm feeling of satisfaction she had.
Finally shaking herself out of her stupor, she tried to focus on the reports she needed to review. Uncharacteristically she found her attention wandering, and after the third pass through of the same paragraph she dropped the material and stood up. Obviously this was not an appropriate time to assess her student’s work. Perhaps she needed that rest Annie had lectured her to get.
Gathering her bag, a few articles she might want to read later and her jacket, she headed for home. Her place wasn’t far. It was much more practical to live close to the lab, and she was soon curled on her couch munching the remnants of last night’s stir-fry.
Normally she would use this time to catch up on some reading, or complete a few household chores, but tonight she just couldn’t find comfort in her normal routine. Sighing, but unsure why, she climbed to her feet and tossed the remains of her dinner in the trash. A warm bath sounded appealing and she proceeded to draw one, letting the heat and scent of lavender she’d added fill the master suite with an indulgent feel.
As the tub filled, she crossed to her closet and stood idly flipping through her clothing options for tomorrow. Kathryn decided against examining why the choice she made seemed so important.