A sigh slipped past his lips as he followed her over the railing and dropped to the ground behind her. He let her lead this time, simply because he loved watching her ass. That and the fact that the threat of danger was minimal. No one had ever said he wasn’t an overprotective male chauvinist when it came to a woman and a mission.
Slipping around the back of the house, he was surprised when she found the concealed window into the underground garage. Opening it smoothly, silently, she shimmied inside and disappeared into the darkness of the garage.
Travis followed, wedging his shoulders through the narrow opening and grimacing at the snug fit. Even wearing the black slacks and t-shirt, he found the opening was barely wide enough for him to get through.
Dropping to the cement floor, he landed as silently as she had as he surveyed the area quickly with the night vision glasses he’d slid over his eyes before leaving the room.
“Unoccupied.” Her voice came through the small earbud receiver at his ear as he located her on the other end of the cavernous parking area.
The garage wasn’t filled with vehicles, but it was damned close. Guests’ vehicles driven personally had been stored in the underground garage for their convenience and to keep the smaller parking area outside free. Each vehicle was worth a damned fortune, if he wasn’t mistaken. Not that he was surprised, just rather amused as usual.
His Viper was parked in a far slot, the valet that had parked it obviously enamored of it, as he had made certain that the spaces beside it were empty.
“How many guests were here last night?” Travis asked, his tone soft as he flipped the night vision glasses to the top of his head and slid out the small flashlight he carried in his back pocket.
“When I left here this morning and headed to your place, the three guesthouses were already filled, and half the guest wing,” she answered, her voice a breath of sound at his ear. “This garage was three-quarters filled at that time.”
“Plenty of hands to do the devil’s handiwork then.”
A light laugh escaped her lips. “That’s funny. I remember someone else who used to say that.”
“I doubt they said it as well as I,” he grunted, though he hoped he managed to pull off a casual tone.
He was going to have to start watching himself closer. He had known her before his “death.” Not so much personally as socially. As Lord Xavier Travis Dermont, the heir to the Dermont legacy, he had attended many of the events Lilly had.
“His name was Travis as well,” Lilly stated, causing him to grimace though he knew there was truly no way for her to make the connection between Travis Dermont, MI6, and the Elite Ops.
“He was a good man then.”
“Yes, he was a very good man.”
Travis paused, his gaze finding her shadow as she set the small motion alarm at the entrance to the garage to alert them if anyone entered.
“You knew him well?” he asked her.
“He was married to a faithless little whore,” she said, sighing in regret. “The bitch was killed in the explosion that she set to get rid of him. She betrayed
his mission and his cover to a particularly nasty set of criminals and actually thought she could survive it.”
He didn’t have to fight back the rage and pain anymore. He’d buried that part of himself long ago. His wife had destroyed him, there was no way to fight against it. Unlike Lilly, there was no going back for him. There was no rebirth.
“Was he a good friend of yours?” The hatred in her voice when she spoke of Katy surprised him, though. She’d always been cordial, friendly, despite his dead wife’s ignorance whenever she was around.
They hadn’t been friends, though, not she and his wife, nor he and Lilly.
“No, but I thought well of him.” The reservation in her words had his gaze narrowing on her then.
“You were in love with him?” he asked, barely managing to hide his incredulity. How the fuck had he managed to miss that?
“ ‘Love’ is a strong word to use.” She sighed. “I was incredibly drawn to him, though. Remember, it’s been six years since I disappeared, and he died two years before that. So I was very young and he was very married.”
And she had never displayed her crush, nor attempted to gain his attention at the time. Travis nearly shook his head at the thought.
“I danced with you once, you know, just before your disappearance.”
“When?” She was moving along the far edge of the garage then, her own penlight trained on the ground as he moved to do the same.
“The party you disappeared from. I was there with another agent. We danced the waltz. You were dressed in a soft autumn brown ballgown with tiny silk leaves cascading through your hair.”