Savage calls in his men. “Let’s get this done,” he says, returning the walkie-talkie to his belt and eyeing me. “You needed to talk?”
I glance at Jill. “Whatever you need for the festival, email me.” I motion to the door and start to turn when Jill says, “I need you to talk to the customers who normally come but aren’t this year.”
I halt, that list Emma found of our customers jolting into my mind. “Get me the list.”
“I will. There are too many of them. It feels off. I know you’ve made investments that have paid off, but this is still our core business. I don’t want to lose it.”
“We won’t,” I assure her. “I have this under control.”
“Is that why she’s here? To ensure we keep that business.”
That hits ten nerves in one blow. “Emma doesn’t control the hotel brand, and if there’s anything you should know about me, it’s that I don’t use people.” I motion to Savage and start for the door.
“Jax!” Jill calls out. “Jax, I’m sorry!” I stop walking, Savage with me, my jaw clenching with the rollercoaster ride of trust and distrust that is this woman. “I’m sorry,” she says again, softer this time. “I know that’s not who you are.”
Savage cuts me a disbelieving look, his position on Jill quite clear. His ride isn’t a rollercoaster at all. It’s a straight, smooth line of distrust that I cannot dismiss. Not when that’s where my gut leans. I glance over my shoulder at her. “Get me the list, Jill. Sooner rather than later.”
“Right away,” she says, and with that, Savage opens the door, and we exit the castle.
A series of greetings from the staff follow, and it takes a full five minutes for Savage and me to reach the trail that leads to my private tower entrance. “Can you try not being such an ass to Jill, Savage?” I ask.
“I don’t trust her. I don’t like her. I have reason for that assessment we can cover. And for the record, my team already has the guest list from last year as well as the guest list for this weekend. The people Emma’s father investigated, declined, if that’s where your head is at.”
I stop walking and turn to face him. “We already knew that list led no place good, but what the hell was Emma’s father up to?”
“We’re already working on an answer to that question,” Savage says. “But it appears he was stripping your business. I’d guess to make you dependent on him.”
“To force my brother to sell,” I assume, and because I need a place to put the anger blasting through me, I turn and start walking.
Savage falls into step with me. “The question now is—did Emma’s brother pick up where her father left off?”
“Which is why I just set a trap he won’t be able to resist,” I say, as we cut left down another trail.
“A trap for a rat,” he says. “Tell me more.”
“After you tell me about that envelope.”
“It was empty,” he says and that has me stopping and looking at him. “Empty? What the hell?”
“Either someone wanted to fuck with you or someone took what was inside before you and Emma saw it. How many people know your cameras are down?”
“Then let’s keep it that way,” he says, settling his hands on his hips. “We can make it look like the wiring doesn’t work when it does. You’ll still be lights out to the naked eye, but we’ll have the cameras rolling.”
“If you can even get power to this tower.”
“You underestimate us if you think we can’t get power to the tower.”
“We’ll see,” I say.
“Yes. You will see,” he counters. “Now, are you going to tell me about the trap before or after we walk inside with Emma?”
A loud slamming rips through the air that sounds like my front door being forcibly shut. “Emma,” I say, and take off running with Savage by my side.
By the time we’re in my patio area again, the wind catches the cracked door, opens it and slams it shut. A knife might as well be slicing my heart open. Emma is in there. Emma could be hurt. Savage draws his weapon. “Stay here.”
“Not a chance in hell.”
He’s already kicking in the door and entering the tower. I’m right on his heels. “The elevator doesn’t work!” I call out, and he launches himself up the stairs. The next three minutes fade into slow motion. Savage heads to the bedroom, and I follow, certain that’s where I’ll find Emma, but she’s not there. Savage exits the bathroom and heads toward the rest of the house. I linger and search Emma’s suitcase and find her coat missing. She left. Fuck. She left, but was it by choice?
Remembering her comment about exploring is a small comfort with the front door standing open; I take off running, seeking out Savage. I find him in the living room. “She’s not here, and there are no signs of a struggle. Did you leave the patio doors open?”