Over the next couple hours JD tread lightly around Gráinne and peace settled between them. He hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to her again with the evening prep, but as he looked at his watch he knew her shift ended soon.
He’d tried almost every tactic he could think of to get her to reveal more about herself and he was getting anxious at her continued aloofness. He didn’t want to have to resort to seducing her. While the idea of getting her into bed was appealing, he just preferred to do it under other circumstances. He fancied her like hell, but he couldn’t let his libido get in the way of his job. She was his best hope at getting the information he desperately needed. So he’d have to resort to another tactic if he was going to get her to talk. Blackmail was one he was loath to use, but at this stage in the game, he had little choice.
There was a lull in the pub now that the afternoon crowds were gone and the evening prep had been done. If he was going to confront her, he had to do it now.
Gráinne stood at the end of the bar flipping through a magazine. The twinkling Christmas lights over the back bar shone on her dark hair. As she moved, the highlights reflected like electric current through the strands curling around her face. His heart thumped a little harder looking at her.
He reminded himself he wasn’t here to bartend. He was here to gather information. His future depended on it. He couldn’t afford another wasted day so it was now or never.
His pounding heart made it suddenly hard to breathe. He hated having to do this to her.
“Gráinne, can we talk?”
“Talk?” She put her magazine aside. “About what?”
“I think you know.” He locked gazes with her. He could tell she was nervous by the way she started fidgeting.
Then she turned away, refusing to look at him for longer than a millisecond. “My love life is none of your concern,” she told him, reminding him unnecessarily of their previous discussion.
“That’s not what I’m talking about.”
“Then I don’t know what you mean.” She spun on her heel, intent on leaving the bar area.
He grasped her arm. To his surprise, she didn’t struggle. But something odd happened as he loosened his grasp. He felt something powerful pass between them. His fingers tingled as he touched her. It radiated up his arm and shot through his body.
For the second time today, he felt himself stiffen, and wished that circumstances were different, that she was naked beneath him and gazing up at him with eyes he knew would undo him.
She glanced over her shoulder, but not directly at him. “Let me go.” Her barely audible words shook him back to the moment. It wasn’t a command, but he couldn’t help noticing her words were tinged with pleading.
“Will you stay to talk with me? I think this is important.” His own voice was softer now. When she relaxed he reluctantly released his hold. She kept her gaze averted, her arms folded protectively in front of her, refusing to look at him. He knew she was waiting for something, anything, to draw her away.
Reaching under the bar, he extracted the black plastic sack he’d brought in with him today. He knew the item inside would shatter any peace he hoped to make with her.
He looked at the sack for a moment, thinking about what could never be between them. There was a job to be done and it didn’t include getting emotionally involved. He hoped the more he reminded himself of this fact he’d eventually come to believe it.
Sighing, he extracted a black velvet bra and held it up for her inspection. She only cast it a side-glance.
“I take it you know where I got this.”
“Well then, I have no idea.”
He saw her swallow hard then move over to the taps to pour herself a cola. She swallowed deeply from the glass.
“I think you do. Let’s not . . . dance . . . around the subject, Gráinne. We both know where I got this, and I’d lay odds at Paddy Powers your brother doesn’t know what you’ve been up to.”
His heart ached as he forced himself to goad her.
The look she shot him would have incinerated the average man, but he wasn’t average. He was a man with a mission, and Gráinne was the only one who could help him.
“By that look, I’d say I’ve hit the nail on the head.”
“So, what of it.”
“Why haven’t you told Kieran?” he asked, trying to keep his voice calm.
“I somehow doubt he’d understand why I’m . . . moonlighting.”
JD chuckled lightly. “Moonlighting? Is that what they’re calling it these days?”
“Just stop. What do you want from me? Not that it’s any of your business what I do on my own time.”
“I need your help.”
A single brow arched over her eye. “With what? Wait, let me guess,” she seethed, throwing her hands on her hips. “You want a private show. Or you want me to entertain some friends. And you’re going to use this,” she fingered the bra he still held in his hand, “as a bribe to get me to do it for free.”
“Not quite. While I wouldn’t mind a private show, it’s not entertainment I’m looking for.”
“What’s this?” Kieran suddenly appeared behind the bar, startling them both. JD saw Gráinne’s face go pale, and thought she would faint then and there.