She had big blue eyes, and an Angelina Jolie mouth that made him think of dirty sex. Maybe she read his thoughts for a faint blush rose in her cheeks.
Good. A little payback only seemed fair.
Besides, she was a real pleasure to look at. Not beautiful in the classic sense like some of the women he knew, but with those dimples and big blue eyes, she was way beyond cute.
“Nice to meet you, Ms. Warren.”
The smile was gone and she assessed him coolly. “Aunt Ellie tells me you’re a friend, as well as an investigator.”
“I like to think that’s true.”
“Of course it’s true,” Ellie said. “That’s why I know we can count on Ty to help us.”
Wariness slid through him. Ellie had a way of bringing him clients who were nothing but trouble. “How’s that?”
“Well, you see, three months ago Haley’s father died when his power boat exploded.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” he said to her.
Grief flashed in her eyes an instant before she glanced away. “Thank you.”
“At the time everyone thought it was an accident,” Ellie continued, “a gas leak of some kind that turned deadly. Haley’s stepmother doesn’t believe it. About a month ago, Betty Jean started emailing Haley, trying to convince her to come to Los Angeles and help her find out the truth.”
Ty focused on the leggy blonde. “And you think she’s right because…?”
“I don’t know if she’s right or not. I’ve never met her. Before he died, my father and I had been estranged for nearly five years, ever since he left my mother and ran off with another woman.”
“Betty Jean,” he said, just to make sure he was getting this straight.
“That’s right. After he moved to L.A., Dad tried to mend our relationship, but I just…I couldn’t get past his desertion.” She glanced down and her eyes misted. “Now my father’s gone.”
Ty nodded, beginning to get the picture. “So your dad’s dead and you regret not mending your fences.”
“Yes, I do. Very much. But the thing is, some of the things Betty Jean says make sense. I owe it to my father to find out what really happened.”
He flicked a glance at Ellie, whose features looked a little too bland to suit him. “I take it you’re here to convince me to help her.”
“That’s right. You know how good you are at these things, Tyler. Johnnie’s out of town on some case or other. And Haley will be helping you. That’ll save you from having to do everything by yourself.”
Haley would be helping him. He could think of any number of things he’d like her to do for him, but none of them had anything to do with business. The fact was Haley Warren was Ellie’s niece. Seducing her probably wasn’t a good idea.
“Have you talked to the police?”
“Betty Jean has,” Haley answered. “The police said there was nothing to indicate any sort of foul play. But my stepmother isn’t convinced and if she’s right–“
“I’ll tell you what. I’ll look into the circumstances of the accident, see if anything looks suspicious. I’ve got friends in the department. If something’s not right, I’ll talk to them myself.”
Haley reached over and caught his arm. He felt a little zing of awareness and figured she must have felt it too since she stepped back as if she’d been burned.
She glanced away, took a deep breath and forced her eyes back to his face. “I want to be involved in this, Mr. Brodie. I need to find out for myself. I owe it to my father to find out the truth.”