“Why don’t you ask him?”

“I will.” He motions to the door. “You need me in there.”

“I need you to protect Emma.”

“My men can protect Emma right now. You need me for this plan of yours.”

“And you’ll be involved, but right now, with Brody in the castle, it’s you I want protecting Emma. You’re who I know and trust.”

“Permission to fuck your brother up if necessary?”

“Just make sure it’s necessary.”

“I never indulge in random asshole beatings. I make sure they serve a purpose.”

He doesn’t even blink with that statement we both know isn’t true but right now, he works for me. He’s no bullshit, get the job done, and that’s exactly what I need right now. That and for my brother not to need an ass whooping by Savage.

I walk into the library and Grayson and Eric are lounging on a couch with food and drinks on the table in front of them. Both men stand up to greet me. Grayson tall with dark wavy hair and Eric equally as tall with brown wavy hair. Both mid-thirties. Both are in polo-style Bennett branded shirts and dress pants. Grayson was born into his money but smart enough to manage it into even bigger money. Eric, and his skills as a savant was part of how they both made insane amounts of cash.

And they did it all ethically. Grayson Bennett, like his father before him, might be a billionaire, but he’s a man of values. He’s a man you want to partner with.

A few minutes later, I’m in a chair across from them and we start the conversation. “I like Chance Knight,” Grayson says. “He reads like a good guy to me, but Eric shared your concerns where he’s concerned. It’s not hard for me to feel uneasy with him considering who his father was. In other words, you have my attention.”

“We have a strong interest in a merger with the Knight brand,” Eric says. “A change of leadership is often when these opportunities arise, but we need to feel good about how we go about this.”

“Then it’s a merger, not a partnership?” I ask.

“It’s evolved into a merger,” Eric confirms. “It started with talks of a brand partnership.”

“Honestly,” Grayson adds, “I’m spooked enough to pull of the deal all together, if this wasn’t such a damn good deal for all of us. A merger with Bennett controlling interest and our name on the hotels means market domination in a broader way.”

“He’s willing to get rid of the Knight name,” I say, a red flag that has my mind chasing his reasoning. “That’s unexpected. You’re sure about that?”

“It’s a surprising choice on his part,” Eric says. “But yes, in our private conversations, we were clear about this being an absolute must to complete this deal. He agreed rather easily, too easily, perhaps. Which in hindsight now, with your concerns on the table, is worthy of concern.”

“The only reason he’d make this decision,” I say, “in my humble opinion, is if he wants to bury something in the merger. And he wants to bury it deep.”

“Exactly where my head is at,” Eric agrees.

“Any idea what that might be?” Grayson asks.

Murder, I think, which I’ve alluded to with Eric, but do I really want to outright make such a statement, right here, right now, in Grayson’s company? The truth is, if I do, if I speak my mind, Grayson will kill the merger that Chance is clearly pushing to complete. In other words, revenge for Hunter’s death is here for my taking but at what consequence to my relationship with Emma?

***

Emma

Brody disappears into the hallway and I’m not foolish enough to follow him. Why would I? The man hates me. The man all but pushed me to my death. A thought that encourages me to eat another croissant while my mind keeps returning to that hourglass in Jax’s office. Why does it keep coming to my mind?

My phone blows up with several text messages from my real estate agent and my staff scouting property in Germany. Obviously, that country is still awake and working, which confirms why I need to be working. I should have asked Jax if I could use his office. I’m sure he won’t mind if I head that direction, but I really do want to be here when he finishes his meeting. I fill a plate with some food and walk to a table in the corner which is empty and actually has stools around it, wishing I had my MacBook with me.

I dial one of my German callers, and steal bites of cheese while the line rings and then in between my conversation with several people there. They’re panicking over the opening going well and while I’d normally be right there with them, riding that fear, I’m not right now. There’s more on my mind. There are bigger monsters to battle than an opening that might, or might not, go perfectly. And the idea of going to Germany right now is daunting. I need to stay here. I need to deal with the Knight and North war before it blows up into something worse than it already has become.


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