Page 55 of Forced Alliance


The Camaro lived up to its name.

They’d made it back to the city in record time.

But Josie couldn’t enjoy the ride. She stared over at Connor, all the trust built between them crumbling like decayed bricks. “You suspected and yet you failed to mention that because...?”

“Because it’s just a hunch, and because I was waiting to see what transpired.”

“Waiting? Connor, this isn’t about waiting. This is about being honest with me. You didn’t speak up when Beaux told us there might be a second son. Are you trying to break free from this man’s grip or are you protecting him because you’re really on his side?” She turned in the seat and hit a hand on the dash. “You’re still playing games with me.”

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “I should have told you right up front, but I don’t have any proof. He just mentioned it once, when we were cruising in this car.”

Still reeling, Josie asked, “And what exactly did he say?”

“He told me he wished things could have been different...for his sons.”

“Sons? Plural.”

“I just thought he’d used the wrong term. He looked broken and sad and...I don’t instincts told me he wanted to say more.”

“Did you question him?”

“I tried. I asked him about Lou and why he never came around. He gave me a sad smile. He said, ‘I don’t make him feel loved.’”

“What else did he say, Connor?”

Connor downshifted as they exited the interstate. “He said he wasn’t sure who would inherit his estate.”


“And he replied that another man would get the bulk of it. That’s when I figured he had a silent partner.”

Josie’s mind went into overdrive right along with the zooming car. “A silent partner who is his secret son?”

“I don’t know. When I asked him about it, he brushed it aside and changed the subject, but something about that day stayed with me.”

“And yet, you didn’t tell me any of this until now. How do you expect me to believe anything you say to me?”

“Look, I’m working hard to prove myself, but...I told you this is just a hunch. When Beaux told us Armond might have another son, I figured that was why he was so morose and depressed that day.”

“You can say that again,” she replied, anger shimmering underneath her still-shaky heart. “Nothing about this makes any sense. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you’ve been taking me on a merry chase down a rabbit hole.”

“I’m not doing that,” he replied. “I want to find out the truth, too. We need to come up with a con to get them all talking.”

“No, no cons, no more lies. Just take me to my office.”

“I’m taking you to my apartment,” Connor said as they cruised through early-morning traffic. “We can shower, eat and get some rest there. And maybe we can do some more research, come up with a plan.”

“I don’t want to go to your place. I need to report back to the office.”

“You can’t do that. It’s not safe.”

She pinned him with a burning glance. “Says who?”

“Me. What if someone is watching your apartment? What if someone in your office is in on this?”

“I’ve got people handling that.”

He gave Josie a quick glance. “You think you’ve got people handling that.”

“So while you’ve had me on the run, you’ve also been working behind my back.” Putting her hands to her head, she clutched at her hair. “You are seriously driving me nuts, Connor. I can’t trust you, and I’m sorry I ever thought I could. Now, take me to my apartment.”

* * *

Connor decided to oblige her. She was the one who couldn’t see what was clearly in front of her. This wasn’t just about Armond and him. Somebody wanted her dead, too. If she hadn’t managed to duck and crawl away when the shooting had started at Mama Joe’s, she would be dead right now. Then the fire and Vanessa Armond luring her inside that burning building. He couldn’t figure that one out, since Vanessa could have died, too, but Connor’s gut told him Vanessa was planted there to distract Josie.

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