Page 26 of Corrupt Kingdom

An odd sense of unease finds me, but I push it down. Normally, I would say fuck yes, but this is different. The leader of the organization has been evading me for years. I don’t say that to Trent, though. He’s already a loose cannon as is, I need to rein him in, not send him off the deep end.

“Better than you can. But I need you to stop calling me. Stop calling attention to yourself and me. Right now, where does Boris think she is?”

“I told him she was away.”

“And how long do you think that will buy you. A week, two? The one saving grace for you, is that they think she’s worth not killing you. Not just for the money, but for whoever she’s meant for. You need to contact Boris, and tell him you will pay off your debt, tell him you need more time.”

“I’m not calling that motherfucker.”

“You will. Because if you don’t, he will kill you. Tell him you will pay him back with interest. Anything you have to make him not murder you. You understand?”

“Yes.”

I’m about to hang up, but then I remember what Ivy asked of me and how broken she was. “Trent.” It might make me sound weak to ask this of him, but the look on her face has me asking anyway. “I need you to take care of your mother. Ivy is worried about her.”

“I am. She’s staying with me.”

“Good. Don’t call me again.” I hang up and pick up my glass and drink the remainder of it.

The door to my office opens and Z comes striding in like he owns the place. I’m too bothered by the reaction I have to Ivy to do something about it. Instead, I grab the bottle of Louis XIII and pour myself some more. Nothing like the earthy taste to bring me back down to the ground.

“What’s going on, boss?” Z asks, stepping farther into the room.

“Aldridge again.” I motion to the bottle of cognac on the counter. “Want some?”

“Nope. I’m good. What’s the problem now?”

Placing my glass down, I lift my hand to scrub at the headache that’s starting to form. “He wanted to check on his sister.”

“Okay . . .” he leads, wanting for me to go on.

“To make sure she was fine.”

“Doesn’t he understand what could have happened to her. Fuck. The bastard should be grateful you stepped in. Those bastards would have destroyed her by now.”

“I informed him.”

Z chuckles, he knows what that means. Typically, it means I threatened his life. Not too far from the truth. “How’d he take it?” he asks.

“Honestly, I probably made him shit himself.” It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Trent Aldridge was vomiting right now after our conversation of Boris and his associates.

“Better that than the alternative.”

“This is true.”

Z’s expression hardens, and then he takes a seat across from me.

“Speaking of, boss. I think we should leak to Boris that we have her.”

“No.” The word falls from my mouth before I can stop it.

“But—”

“Not yet.” My voice is firm, but Z now looks confused. His eyebrows have knit together and a large line forms between them.

“That was always the plan. Why not now? Keeping her logistically is a nightmare. Boris will probably kill her family and then we will be stuck with her.”

“It’s taken care of.”

“How?”

“Let me worry about that. You just keep up surveillance on the island when I’m not there. The timing isn’t right.”

The timing will never be right.

But handing her over as bait to catch a bigger fish, is wrong.

* * *

Friday night is here, and the game is on. Tonight, I’m here for no other reason than I need to distance myself from the temptation waiting back on the island for me. Each day that I’m there feeding her, it gets harder and harder not to give in to my primal urge to push her against the kitchen counter and show her just how much she truly wants me.

That’s why I’m here tonight, even though I should be bringing her more food.

I’ve chosen a spot by Matteo Amante tonight.

“Boss.” I hear from behind me. “Aldridge is here.”

I turn to face Z. Stern as always, he stands behind me with his lips thinned and his arms at his side. Watching. Waiting. Observing. The best man to have covering your back.

“Does he never learn?” I mutter to myself.

One would think after losing his daughter, he would have learned something, but nope, this fucker came back.

“Not senior,” he clarifies.

“Trent.”

Z gives me a small bob of his head before turning to face where the man must be waiting in my foyer.

“I told him not to come back.” I start to walk out of the parlor room of my estate where tonight’s game is being played. Trent is in the foyer, pacing back and forth. When he sees me, he halts his steps. “Thought I told you, you were no longer welcome here.”

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