“Aren’t you going to ask me in?” Runyan asked with a smile.
“Now why would I do a thing like that?”
“Maybe to hear how I’m going to carry out your sentence,” he said smoothly.
He watched the color drain from her face and felt a momentary pang of guilt. He brushed it away. She turned quickly and rushed inside the house. He followed and found Cassandra sitting by Bianca on the sofa. “Have you come to gloat over what you’re going to do,” she snapped.
“No, I haven’t come to gloat,” he assured her, his tone a little chilly. “I told you that as soon as I made a decision I’d share it with you.”
“You must find this rather rewarding.”
He frowned and tilted his head. “Rewarding? How’s that?”
Cassandra jumped to her feet, confronting him. He could see her jaw working in frustration. “Not only have you caught your culprit which must bring you all kinds of jollies but you’re ripping a child right out of his mother’s arms! I hope that makes you feel better.”
“You’re jumping to conclusions, Cassandra. You have no idea what my plans are.” He switched his gaze to Bianca who sat quietly with her hands clamped so tightly in her lap, her knuckles were white. “I’m going to put an offer on the table that will suit everyone involved.”
“How can anything that you’ve determined make everyone happy? Someone is bound to be hurt by this,” Cassandra pointed out, although she was hoping that whatever he’d decided would suit them all.
Cassandra slowly drifted downward to sit by Bianca again, not taking her eyes off Runyan. She wasn’t sure she liked what he was about to say. There was the beginnings of a tell-tale smirk on his mouth.
“What is it?” Bianca as on a low whisper.
“First, though,” Runyan began and took a seat opposite them. Each of the women were staring at him through hopeful, wary eyes. “I want to say it wasn’t an easy decision.”
“I can understand that.” Cassandra reached over and stilled Bianca’s constant moving hands then took one in her own. Just the way Runyan was looking at her, as if she were a treat to be savored, made her blood run hot while shivers of foreboding danced along her spine.
“It’s not a bad solution, girls. The only one that’s not going to be happy is you, Cassandra.”
“Then you’ve decided to allow me to take the rap for this?” Was he really going to do it? God, she hoped so. Just the thought of Bianca going to jail made her skin crawl. She was better equipped to handle something like that.
“You could say that.” Runyan adjusted his long frame in his chair, giving time for those few words to sink in. He took in the worried gaze of both women, their white-knuckled hands clutching at the other. “I’ve taken your advice under consideration.”
This was too much to hope for, Cassandra thought as Bianca’s grip tightened painfully on her fingers. “So, you’ll deduct the amount my sister owes from the sale price?”
“Yes. But you will have to consent to my demands.” He gave them each a direct look. “This is the part that you will not like, Cassandra.”
“And what is that?” She kept her gaze on his features, searching for a sign of what her sentence was going to be. She could tell nothing from the expression of cold veneer on his face.