Rafe drags a hand through his hair as he listens to the beep, beep, beep echoing in his ear that eerily translates into the-recipient-of-this-call-is-out-of-the-service-area.

At least he hopes that’s all it means.

“What’s the matter?” Lisa asks, walking into the living room of their Palm Beach condo. Tropical palms frame a view of water and white sand out the wide two-story windows. Sunlight glints off her fiery-red hair.

Rafe frowns, stares down at the phone in his hand. “Pete’s not answering his cell. I checked around. No one’s seen him since the night of the auction.”

“He was with Maria, right? Maybe they decided to celebrate his hugely profitable success. Lock themselves in somewhere nice and quiet, get all cozy.”

Rafe shoots her a look. “This is Pete we’re talking about. He doesn’t get all nice and cozy with any woman. It’s not his style. Maria’s just a means to scratch an itch.”

Lisa’s smug look says volumes. “Sounds like someone else I know.”

Rafe tips his head and eyes her. “That was a long time ago. Before I even met you. Do you really want to do the whole ex thing? Because, querida, you’ve got just as many skeletons in your closet as I do.”

Lisa shakes her head and smiles. “Touche.” She settles onto the sage-colored couch, tucks her legs underneath her. “So if he’s not with Maria, and he’s not answering his cell, then where is he?”

“The question isn’t where is he, the question is who the hell is he with.” Rafe rubs a hand over his mouth and looks back at the cell. “And I have a really bad feeling about this. Something tells me he’s in trouble. Big trouble.”

Lisa glances at the phone in his hand. “I’m sure he’s fine. It’s not like he’s locked in a basement somewhere or anything.”

Rafe’s eyes shoot up to hers. The blood drains from his face. “Oh, crap. You don’t think . . .”

Lisa slowly rises from the sofa. Green eyes wide and the slightest bit worried. “No. She wouldn’t do that to him. Would She?”

“Holy hell, I think She just might. Depends on how stubborn he was being with her. You know what Pete’s like when he gets going.”

Lisa starts to chuckle, a slow rolling laugh that grows in intensity until her whole body is shaking with mirth and tears are rolling down her cheeks. “Oh, God. I would love to be a fly on the wall of that room. He’s not in trouble. He’s screwed!”

Rafe looks back at the phone and frowns. Friends stuck together, and right now it seemed his closest buddy was being fed to the wolves and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do to help. Poor sap. If Pete was really in The Basement, he wasn’t just screwed, he was SOL.

“Yeah,” Rafe mutters, taking the wimpy way out and thanking the heavens above it’s Pete and not him. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”