Summer page-turner: Chevy Stevens' 'Still Missing'

I looked him over. His khakis were perfectly pressed, and I liked that. Fluffing my clothes in the dryer is my version of ironing. His running shoes were glaringly white, and he was wearing a baseball hat with the logo of a local golf course on the brim. His lightweight beige coat sported the same logo over his heart. If he belonged to the club, he had money behind him. Open houses usually attract neighbors or people out on Sunday drives, but when I glanced at his van I could see our real estate magazine sitting on the dash. What the hell, a few more minutes wouldn't kill me.

I gave him a big smile and said, "Of course I don't mind, that's what I'm here for. My name's Annie O'Sullivan."

I held out my hand, and as he came towards me to shake it, he stumbled on the flagstone path. To stop himself from falling to his knees, he braced his hands on the ground, ass up. I reached for him but he jumped to his feet in seconds, laughing and brushing the dirt from his hands.

"Oh, my God—I'm so sorry. Are you okay?"

Large blue eyes set in an open face were bright with amusement. Laugh lines radiated from the corners, leaked into flushed cheeks, and were commas to a wide grin of straight white teeth. It was one of the most genuine smiles I'd seen in a long time, and a face you just had to smile back at.

He bowed theatrically and said, "I certainly know how to make an entrance, don't I? Allow me to introduce myself, I'm David."

I dropped into a quick curtsy and said, "Nice to make your acquaintance, David."

We both laughed, and he said, "I really do appreciate this, and I promise I won't take up too much of your time."

"Don't worry about it—look around as long as you want."

"That's very kind of you, but I'm sure you can't wait to go and enjoy the weather. I'll make it quick."

Man, was it ever nice to meet a prospective buyer who treated a realtor with consideration. Usually they act like they're doing us a favor.

I took him inside and chatted him up about the house, which was your typical West Coast style with vaulted ceilings, cedar siding, and a killer ocean view. He made such enthusiastic comments as he trailed behind me, it was like I was seeing the house for the first time too, and I found myself eager to point out features.

"The ad said the house is only two years old but it didn't mention the builder," he said.

"They're a local firm, Corbett Construction. It's still under warranty for a couple more years—which goes with the house, of course."

"That's great, you can never be too careful with some of these builders. You just can't trust people these days."

"When did you say you wanted to move by?"

"I didn't, but I'm flexible. When I find what I'm looking for I'll know." I glanced back at him and he smiled.

"If you need a mortgage broker, I can give you some names."

"Thanks, but I'll be buying with cash." Better and better. "Does it have a fenced back yard?" he said. "I have a dog."

"Oh, I love dogs—what kind?"

"A golden retriever, pure-bred, and he needs a lot of room to move around."

"I totally understand, I have a golden too, and she's a handful if she doesn't get enough exercise." I opened the sliding glass door to show him the cedar fencing. "So what's your dog's name?"

In the second that I waited for him to answer, I realized he was too close behind me. Something hard pressed into my lower back.

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