Deadly Vacation (Hardy Brothers Security Book 10) (4 page)


“Let’s go to a voodoo store.”

Mandy seemed so excited with the prospect, Sophie could hardly say no. “That sounds fun. We can get our tarot cards read and buy some stuff.”

“Are you sure?” Emma didn’t look convinced.

“Why not?” Mandy asked, confused.

“What if we get cursed?”

Sophie fought the mad urge to laugh. “I think we’ll survive.”

“But … seriously … what if they curse us?” Emma was deadly serious.

“We’ll protect you,” Sophie said. “I have powers of my own.”

“And I’m surrounded by an aura of light and love,” Mandy added.

Emma sighed. “Fine. If we get cursed, though, I’m blaming the two of you.”

“I understand,” Mandy said. “We’ll probably have it coming.”

“Speak for yourself,” Sophie said. “If we get cursed, I’m blaming you, too.”

Mandy muttered something under her breath that Sophie couldn’t quite make out.

“Let’s go to a voodoo store,” Sophie said. “Let’s go to a fake one, though. Let’s not press our luck.”

“Aren’t they all fake?” Emma asked hopefully.

“I don’t think we’re that lucky,” Sophie said. “With Mandy’s dismal luck, we’ll stumble across the only real one.”

“That shows what you know,” Mandy scoffed. “I have great luck.”

Sophie pressed her tongue to the roof of her mouth as she considered how to respond. “You’ve been stalked, shot at, blown up, and chased by armed thugs because someone slipped a flash drive in your purse on your honeymoon,” she said. “How is that good luck?”

“I also found the man of my dreams and we’ve discovered love together,” Mandy pointed out.

Sophie sighed. “That is lucky indeed. Let’s go see some voodoo.”


this store really isn’t so bad,” Emma conceded after they’d been inside the two-story tourist trap for about ten minutes. “It’s actually kind of cute. I love the masks and shirts.”

“What were you expecting?” Sophie asked, tipping a candle upside down and checking the price before sniffing it. “This smells really cool.” She pushed it in front of Emma’s nose.

Since her stomach was sensitive – and certain odors often tipped her over the edge – Emma took a step back when the overbearing scent hit her olfactory senses. “Ugh!”

Sophie regarded her with a half-smile. “I forgot how sensitive you are right now. How did the crawfish sit with you last night, by the way?”

“Actually, it was pretty good,” Emma said. “I liked it. The break-in was more of a problem than the crawfish.”

“Yeah, that was weird,” Sophie agreed. “I think it was just a maid looking for loot. I wouldn’t worry about it. Were all your underwear there?”

“I didn’t think to look,” Emma said, conflicted. “Do you think it was a pervert?”

Sophie immediately regretted her offhand comment. “I … that was a really stupid thing to say. No. It was a joke.”

“What was a joke?” Mandy asked, peering from around a clothing rack with a long skirt in her hand. “What do you think of this?”

Sophie studied the brightly-colored skirt with limited interest. “I don’t think James is going to like that skirt.”

“Why?” Mandy was affronted.

“It’s too long,” Sophie replied. “He likes your legs visible – except for those garters he loves so much – so he can have easy access to the goods.”

Mandy made a face. “The goods?”

“You know what I mean,” Sophie said. “I think the skirt is too long. How is he going to get his hands up there?”

“It has an elastic waist,” Mandy pointed out. “He can just yank it down.”

“Oh, well, he might like that,” Sophie said, grinning.

“It also jangles,” Mandy said, shaking it. “There are little bell things on the waist.”

“That’s kind of cool,” Sophie said, moving closer. “Plus, if you don’t wear underwear, he’ll be able to imagine what’s underneath.”

“Who told you about that?” Mandy asked, suspicious.

“Who told me about what?” Now Sophie was the one who was confused.

“That I don’t wear underwear sometimes so James has something to think about while he’s at work,” Mandy said.

Sophie barked out a hoarse laugh. “You two really

“Oh, like you and Grady don’t do stuff like that,” Mandy said.

“We don’t,” Sophie said. “I’m around cops all the time, and they don’t like me. If I get arrested, I’d very well better be wearing underwear before the cavity search.”

Mandy snorted. “Nice.”

Emma’s gaze was busy as it bounced between her two friends. “Do you really not wear underwear to work?”

Mandy shrugged. “Once a week I give James a little thrill. It drives him crazy. By the time I get home from work, he’s pretty much ready to go. Those are my favorite nights because I can get him to agree to anything.”

“That’s manipulative,” Emma said.

“Oh, you’re so sweet,” Mandy chided. “Eventually you’ll learn that manipulation is a valid way to get what you want. Embrace it. Don’t run away from it.”

“But … .”

“She’s right,” Sophie said. “You just have to figure out the best way to manipulate your man. For example, when I want Grady to do something, I compliment his hair. I don’t do it in an obvious way. It’s more like I slip it into general conversation. ‘Oh, give me a kiss honey. Your hair is like satin.’ You know, stuff like that.”

“You really do love his hair, though,” Emma pointed out.

“I do,” Sophie said. “I’m not obsessed with it like he is, though. Do you know he deep conditions it once a week? He’s like a woman.”

Mandy giggled.

“Oh, don’t get high and mighty,” Sophie said. “I happen to know that James enjoys painting your toenails. He’s just as much of a woman as Grady is.”

Mandy was nonplussed. “I think it’s cute. That really gets him going, too.”

“Is there anything that doesn’t get him going?”

“He’s not a fan of chick flicks.”

“Oh, Grady loves chick flicks,” Sophie said. “After my accident, you had a pile of them in that bag. Grady was goofy happy after we were done watching them.”

“That’s because you had sex with him because they got you going,” Mandy said. “It’s the same reason James will sit through three shark movies in a row. He doesn’t like them.”

Sophie turned to Emma. “What about Finn? What’s his weak spot?”

Emma was flummoxed. “I … I just realized that I’m really boring.”

“What are you talking about?” Mandy asked.

“You guys do all this … stuff … for Grady and James all the time. I don’t do any of that.” Emma’s face was dark. “I’m a horrible girlfriend.”

“First off, you’re going to be married in a few months, so you’re technically a horrible fiancée,” Sophie said. “Secondly, you’re not a horrible anything. You’re just a little more nervous where this stuff is concerned than we are. That’s not a bad thing.”

“She’s right,” Mandy said. “Finn loves you because you’re you.”

“I want to do something fun for him, though,” Emma said.

“Well, if it’s any consolation, Finn told James your pregnancy hormones make him feel like the king of the studs,” Mandy said.

Sophie chortled. “I heard that, too.”

“I want to do something special,” Emma said.

Mandy held up her hand. “Okay. I actually think we’re in the right store for this. Let’s look around. Sophie, try to pick out a few candles that won’t make Emma gag. Are there any scents that don’t bother you right now?”

“I’m fine with florals,” Emma said. “I can’t deal with anything citrus or … funky.”

“Define funky.”

“Anything that makes me want to puke.”

“Oh, well, just stick to florals,” Mandy said. “There’s some cool lingerie over there, and I think I saw some other fun stuff on the wall. I was going to grab a few things before we left.”

“What kind of fun stuff?” Emma asked.

Mandy’s face split into a wide grin. “Oh, just you wait.”


wear this,” Emma said, glancing down at the sexy teddy Mandy and Sophie had forced her into. They were in the dressing room, Sophie and Mandy selecting their own lingerie, and Emma was mortified.

Mandy poked her head around the purple curtain and raised her eyebrows, impressed. “Good grief. How big are your boobs now?”

When she strode out of the dressing room, she was sporting a lavender ensemble with matching garter belts.

“Oh, you look so cute,” Emma said.

“She doesn’t look cute,” Sophie said, drawing back her own curtain and showing off a sexy two-piece number. “She looks hot. You should definitely get that, Mandy. It makes your butt look really cute.”

Sophie moved over to Emma’s side and studied the outfit. “You look stunning.”

“I look like a circus freak. My legs are too long.”

“Yeah, that’s a problem most women wish they had,” Mandy said. “Your boobs really do look great in this.”

“Are you sure?”

“Finn will go wild,” Mandy promised. “When you add in all the other things we bought, he’s going to have a great night. Can’t you just trust us for once?”

“I do trust you,” Emma said. “I just … what if he laughs at me?”

“Honey, he won’t be laughing,” Sophie said. “Okay, let’s get back in our clothes. I want to look at that shelf with all the massage oils again.”

“Me, too.”

Ten minutes later, the three women were gathered in front of a series of packed wall shelves.

“Look at all the fun stuff,” Mandy said, grabbing a can of flavored whipped cream and reading the ingredients. “This tastes like strawberries.”

“Hand me one of those,” Sophie instructed.

Mandy did as instructed, and then eyed Emma. “Can you taste strawberries?”

“Probably not.”

Sophie leaned over and grabbed a different can. “What about chocolate?”

“I can deal with chocolate,” Emma said.

“Hand me one of those, too,” Mandy said.

“How much sex are you and James planning on having this week?”

“I can always take it home,” Mandy said, grabbing a pair of padded love cuffs from the shelf. They were purple and fuzzy. She eyed them for a second and then dropped them in her basket.

Sophie pretended she didn’t notice while Emma’s eyes grew wide. “You’re going to let him cuff you?”

“Of course not,” Mandy scoffed. “I’m going to cuff him. I’m the boss tonight. Grab some of the massage oil. Get the stuff that heats up.”

Sophie grabbed three bottles. “Are you going to make your slave rub you with this tonight?”

“I might rub him a little, too,” Mandy said, her eyes sparkling.

“This is all so overwhelming,” Emma said, studying the shelves. “How do you know how to use all of this?”

“Most of it is self-explanatory,” Mandy said. “Trust me. When you get there, you’ll know how to use it.”

“And if you don’t, I’m sure Finn can figure it out,” Sophie said.

Mandy moved away from the shelf so she could scan another one a little farther down. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a hint of furtive movement and lifted her head to meet a pair of familiar green eyes.

It was the man from the breakfast bistro the previous day. He was busy looking through a rack of clothes, but every few minutes his eyes lifted – and landed on Emma.

Mandy wasn’t sure what to do. They were in a busy shop. If the man was a tourist, his appearance could be a coincidence. Given the events of the previous evening, though, she didn’t want to take any chances.

“I see our friend is back,” Sophie said, joining Mandy at the rack.

“What do you think?”

“I think we need to get Emma out of here before she notices him,” Sophie said. “I’m going to start herding her to the checkout.”

“You do that,” Mandy said. “I’m going to have a quick chat with our friend.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“It will be fine.”

“I don’t think James is going to think it’s going to be fine,” Sophie said.

“Then we won’t tell him.” Once Mandy was sure Sophie and Emma were out of earshot, she headed straight for the blond man. “Hi.”

He seemed surprised by her forward attitude, but he didn’t try to run. “Hi.”

“I’m Mandy.”

“I’m … Shane.”

“Well, Shane, it’s nice to meet you,” Mandy said, refusing to back down. “I can’t help but notice that you keep showing up and staring at my friend.”

“I … what are you saying?”

“I’m saying that we’ve seen you twice, and both times you were staring at my friend,” Mandy said. “I want to know why.”

“I’m not doing anything,” Shane protested. “I was just browsing.”

“And staring.”

“Fine,” Shane conceded. “She’s just really pretty. She could be a model.”

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