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She'd left the lights on in the entry. Considerate of her. Maybe she was thinking of him. He slipped the scrap of paper with her alarm code back into his pocket. She'd even taken the fucking dog, so he had a free hand. He sauntered up the stairs, taking his time. Enjoying himself. No need to rush. She'd be gone all night.
At the top of the stairs he paused outside her officehe'd come back to that. Her bedroom drew him. The big bed she'd shared with her husband was gone. Good. Thinking of Ned in her bed made him clench his fists until his nails threatened to pierce his latex gloves. That fool didn't deserve to be married to a woman like her.
The new bed was smaller. A flowered quilt covered it, tucked in on one side, but folded loosely on the other. That must be where she slid beneath the covers. His heart beat faster as he stepped closer. He raised her pillow to his face, breathing in the clover-and-spice scent of her hair and the smell of clean linen and smiled at the pleasant tightening in his groin. He wondered how her clothes would feel against his skin, and almost opened the closet, but that, too, would be a pleasure to save for another time. He lingered in the doorway, gazing again at her bed. She had no idea how often he had wanted to be here, watching her sleep, having her all to himself. When he decided it was time, he would tell her. Soon.
Ned's office was empty now except for a box of books and a dog toy in the middle of the room. He laughed softly. Nothing could have said more clearly Ned was really gone. He knelt beside the box and searched through the books, fanning each volume. Nothing hidden there. Only a bookmark from a shop in Redmond. He replaced the books just as they had been.
His breath came a little faster as he headed back down the hall.
Her computer was turned off, but it didn't matter. Ned had left her password in the top drawer of his desk, along with the spare house keys. She hadn't even changed the locks when Ned moved out. All the better for him, of course, in so many ways. He wondered why Ned had backed up his files to her computer. Staking a claim, maybe. Certainly not caution. As far as Ned was concerned, caution was an alien concept.
He logged on with Ned's password first. Child's play. Carefully, he scanned the directories for the information he needed. He had to know for sure. He couldn't afford to take foolish chances at this late date.
Nothing. He exhaled with relief, and logged off. At the dialog box he typed in Gemma's password and hit Enter. A chime sounded, and a second dialog box appeared, with a polite message requesting he re-enter his password. He stared at the screen, annoyed, and entered the password again. The dialog box reappeared. He couldn't believe it. She'd changed her password. What would the new one be?
He needed a little time to find out, but he would. He would. He enjoyed a challenge, and Gemma was all of that.
He smiled as he shut the system down. Time to go. He'd be back.