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Oh, hell, she’d just found another thing to worry about.
*   *   *
After a good-bye kiss filled with with pent-up frustrations, Steve walked her outside through the back door to avoid the approaching company. “I’m heading out in about an hour,” he said.
She nodded and laced her fingers with his. “Be good.” An unwanted vision of Jessie filled her head.
“You, too,” he said and she could guess what he was imagining.
He gave her hand a squeeze then leaned down and kissed her again. The birds and soft whisper of the breeze played background music.
That kiss was probably about as hot of a kiss as they should be indulging in, she thought, but then she found even that brief feel of his lips on hers to be alluring.
She only got a few feet away when her phone dinged with an incoming text. Her heart raced thinking it was Chase. But she didn’t check it until she got in the mix of trees—pines, a few oaks, a maple or two—away from Steve’s line of vision. The thought of hurting him sent a sharp pain to her chest.
And yet, if right now Steve was getting a text from Jessie, it would hurt like hell. If Steve cared even nearly as much about Jessie as she did Chase, Della would be damn pissed.
Shit. She had to be hurting Steve. But how could she fix it?
Two choices. Only two. Let him go or refuse to work with Chase on the case. Refuse to ever have anything to do with Chase again.
The realization tumbled around inside her like a ball of thorns. A few tears threatened to fall as her phone dinged again.
She looked at it.
Not Chase. Burnett. The message read, Come to the office.
She didn’t hesitate.
When she stormed into his office, he glanced up. “I hope you were close—if not, you came too fast. I’ve warned you not to—”
“I was close,” she said and it was only half a lie. She had been close, but she probably still came quicker than he would have liked. At least being Reborn came with a few perks, superspeed being one of them. “What is it?”
“I got a call from the Vampire Council.”
“Are they approving Chase and me working together with the FRU?”
“No. One of the council members called to ask if we’d heard from Chase. He missed a meeting with them and isn’t answering his calls. They say this isn’t like him.”
Della felt her blood pressure rise. “Do they think something happened to him?” She could still recall how he’d moaned when he’d taken her blood inside him during her rebirth. When he’d willingly done it, willingly taken on the pain to save her. I don’t love you, period. I go back and forth on even liking you.
“No. He seemed more concerned that I’d convinced him to work exclusively with us. When I assured him that wasn’t the case, he insisted that you would know where he was. They said he’s been obsessing over you lately.”
Obsessing? She shook her head. “He hasn’t called or texted me since we saw each other at the falls. If he had, I’d tell you.”
“That’s what I assured them,” he said.
Della pulled out her phone again and typed Chase another message. Worried. Vamp Council looking 4 u. U ok?
She stared at her phone, her lungs tight, praying he would text her back.
When it didn’t ding back in seconds, she looked up at Burnett. “Maybe I should go look for him.”
“I don’t know, but—”
“No. If you knew where he was, it would be one thing, but—”
Her phone dinged. She looked at the number. Chase’s number.
“It’s him.” She read his message—to herself.
Worrying means u care.
She clenched her teeth.
“And?” Burnett asked.
She ignored Burnett and typed: R u ok?
His reply came back quickly. Fine. Working our case. Later.
Della looked up, drawing in air. “All he says is he’s okay and is working the case.”
She half expected Burnett to ask to see the texts. He didn’t, and that showed a lot of trust on his part. She appreciated that more than he knew.
“Text him back and tell him I said for him to contact the council. We need him to stay in their good graces right now.”
She did as Burnett said. They sat in the silent office for several minutes, waiting for his reply. Her phone didn’t ding.
Finally, Della set her phone down. “What could Chase know, or the Vampire Council know, that we don’t? How can he be working on the case?”
Burnett’s expression hardened. “I don’t know. My people are still going through the files that we got. I know that one of Craig Anthony’s homes was torn apart before we got there. Maybe someone with the council found something. But I don’t think so. We found most of our evidence in the files at the funeral home and on his phone and computer.”
“I hate this,” Della said, and this time it wasn’t about her feelings for the crazy vamp, but for Natasha and Liam.
“I know, but right now there’s nothing we can do.”
All of a sudden, Burnett’s cell rang. He looked at the phone. “I need to take this.”
Della figured he meant he wanted her to leave, and she stood up.
As she took one step to the door, she heard the voice on the line. “It’s Leo. I got the approval, but we’re going in dark. We never got ahold of the owner. That said, we’re good to move tonight. Three a.m.”