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Calista bristled, but managed to disregard his remark. “I need you to do something for me, Dane. Call Connor and tell him not to come.”

“What?” His eyebrows shot up in surprise.

“If this isn’t a coincidence and this man ran over someone I barely knew, I doubt he’ll stop at those closest to me. Please, I don’t want Connor anywhere near me with this maniac around. He won’t listen to me, but if you ask him he will. Please,” she said again with emphasis.

A curious expression crossed his face, he nodded. “I’ll take care of it.”

“Thank you.”

She stood to leave, but he interrupted her exit.

“Get freshened up or do whatever it is you need to do because in one hour we’re getting down to business. We have a lot of questions. I’m forewarning you that some of them might be uncomfortable, but we’ll try to make this process as painless as we can.”

She clenched her jaw together and retreated to the safety of her bedroom. Couldn’t he talk to her like a normal human? Why did he have to order her around?

Chapter 7

True to his word Dane rounded up Nikolai and Calista exactly one hour later ready to get to work.

They settled into her living room, and she couldn’t help but notice that she hadn’t cleaned up. Neurotic, she knew, but she hated that they were in her house and it wasn’t even straightened up. She also found herself wondering what Dane thought of her place. Not both of them. Just him.

Above the fireplace, three black and white prints of various sea life hung. An oversized sage rug covered a huge chunk of the wooden floors. On top of that a bamboo coffee table sat in the middle of two mahogany armchairs and an overstuffed coral sofa. The armoire in the corner of the room was covered with pictures of family and friends, as were the two smaller side tables encompassing the couch.

Dane’s voice startled her back to reality. “Tell us exactly what you know.”

Calista shrugged. “Honestly, you probably know more than I do. Robert just informed me this morning about the letters I’ve been receiving. That was only because I told him about a crank call I got a little after midnight.”

“Let’s start with that. Who has your home number?”

“It’s unlisted and I rarely use it so I don’t know how anyone could have gotten it. I’m gone so much I just use my Blackberry. I never give out this number.”

Nikolai cut in. “It doesn’t really matter. For enough money anyone can get anything off the internet.”

Dane continued his questioning. “What about last night? The caller mentioned you making a date. That means he must have been within earshot distance.”

Her throat constricted as the reality of her stalker being existent set in. Why hadn’t she realized that? “I didn’t even think about that.”

Dane leaned forward and placed a gentle hand on her knee. “Nothing is going to happen to you, not with us here. We just need you to focus.”

She nodded, surprised by his gentle gesture. It took a lot of willpower, but she ignored the tingle his touch created throughout her entire body.

She read the letters in their entirety and her stomach roiled. The crazed author mentioned about seventy-five percent of the parties and after show soirees she’d attended in the past six months with vivid detail. It was unfathomable that anyone hated her with so much intensity.

“I’ve had Nikolai cross reference the guest lists and he’s managed to narrow things down to about twenty people excluding Robert and your band members. Remember I told you that we might have to cover some uncomfortable subjects?

She nodded. “Yes.”

“We need any information about any ex-boyfriends who might hold a grudge.”

Calista smiled wryly. “How far back do you want to go?”

“Since these letters date back half a year, I think to be on the safe side we should go back five years. It’s probably not necessary, but we want to cover all our bases.”

“Okay, in the past five years I’ve had exactly two boyfriends, if you could call them that. Both musicians and both mistakes.”

“Who ended things?” Nikolai asked.

“In the case of Jude it was mutual.”

Dane interrupted. “That’s rarely the case. One person always has more invested.”

A smile touched her lips. “Trust me, it was mutual. We both had one very similar interest. All the signs were there and I really should have known. We never slept together and he was more interested in hanging out with Robert than me. Let’s just say he was very disappointed when he found out Robert was straight.”

Calista doubted that either Nikolai or Dane followed the tabloids, but she saw the genuine surprise on their faces and tried to smother a grin.

She answered the question she knew they both wanted to ask. “Yes, it’s the same Jude I’m sure you’re thinking of. I would appreciate it if this never left my condo. We’re still friends and he’s very private about his life.” The truth was it was killing Jude trying to keep up this pretense, but in his world of rock and roll and groupies, it was a necessity for the time being. At least he thought it was.

“All right what about the next guy?” Nikolai asked.

“Ah, Richie, he was a real winner. I ended things with him a little over two years ago, but only after I found him in bed with two very young girls.”

“How young?” Nikolai demanded.

“Oh, not like that. They were probably eighteen or nineteen. He’s not that stupid.”

“How did he react when you found him?” Dane asked.

“He acted like it was no big deal and asked me to join them.” She shrugged her shoulders when Dane’s dark brows snapped together. “I told you he was a winner.”

“There’s no one else?” Nikolai looked incredulous.

“I’m on the road a lot and it’s hard to develop anything meaningful. Of all people I should think the two of you would understand better than most.”

“That’s not exactly what I meant. What about any one-night stands or…” Nikolai spread his hands out in apology.

She clenched her jaw in an effort to keep from saying something she’d regret. They’d told her the questions might be uncomfortable, but she wasn’t exactly comfortable talking about her sex life with either of them.

“I don’t do one-night stands.”

Dane coughed and spread out some of the papers on the coffee table. “Since we’ve gotten that out of the way we should focus on the list.”

A knot formed in her stomach, but she forced her body to remain calm. “All right, let me see it.”

As Calista scanned the list, she slowly crossed off names until there was no one left. When she handed it back to Dane he threw it on the coffee table.

“Look, I know it’s hard for you to believe this, but more likely than not, your stalker is on this list.”

“There’s no way.” Calista shook her head vehemently and stood up. She stretched her arms above her head and tried to focus. Everyone on that list she’d known for years. Why would someone all of a sudden develop such a sick interest in her? It made no sense. None of this did. It’s not as if she was that famous anyway. She kept her name out of the tabloids by avoiding drama and…

“Nice tattoo. I’ve got to say, I didn’t expect it out of you.” Nikolai’s voice brought her back to the present.

“Hmm? Oh right.”

She chuckled, but dropped her arms in the process. When she was younger and much more impetuous she’d gotten a tattoo on her hip.

“Can we please focus?” Dane snapped and glared at Nikolai, which only seemed to cause Nikolai’s smile to widen.

“I don’t know if Calista would appreciate us focusing on her body, but if you insist, I’m up for it.”

Nikolai winked at her, and she was under the impression that he needled his cousin all the time. She lowered her eyelashes to hide the laughter she was sure was on her face and grabbed the list off the table. For the next hour they dissected each name and were able to label them as either socialites, photographers, wanna-be actors, journalists, or quasi-friends. Unfortunately, none of them struck a cord as possible stalkers.

“Cross out all the women and we’re down to seven men.” Frown lines creased Dane’s face as he stared at the list, but she thought he seemed a little happier.

Not that she would be able to tell.

“Seven isn’t great but at least it’s a start.” Nikolai stood and stretched before disappearing into one of the guest rooms.

“Where’s he going?” she asked.

“He’s going to start researching the seven names.”

“Aren’t you going to help him?”

“No. Not when he’s on his computer. Trust me, he doesn’t need my help. He’s like your brother in that aspect, very methodical and does not like to be interrupted.”

Calista nodded and started clearing up the living area.

“I see you and Connor are similar too.” Dane commented as she straightened the magazines and coasters on the coffee table and fluffed the pillows.

“Cleaning gives me a sense of control,” she said without looking up. She inwardly sighed. Sometimes it was the only control she had.

“Believe me, I understand.”

“Why did you decide to retire?” If he was going to be in her house, she wanted a lot more details about him.

“It’s not exactly retirement. I’m too young to stop working anyway.”

“Yeah, I think the retirement age is fifty-five so you’ve got what, three or four years until then?” She glanced up and gauged his expression.

His lips turned up at the corners. Not exactly a real smile, but close enough. She shook her head and picked up the rest of the leftover takeout boxes and he followed her into the kitchen.

“You and your cousin like to evade answering questions. If you don’t want to talk, I understand. I was just curious.”