“You looked beautiful in those photos,” he says softly.

Okay. That was the last thing I expected him to say. I should not be pleased by his compliment. Absolutely no way should his words make me happy. But they do. “Thank you,” I murmur, feeling awkward.

“I know you’re scared,” he continues. “And I know you hate me. You have every reason to feel that way toward me, but I swear to you, Lily, I’m not going to leave your side until this—problem with Pilar is over and done with. You need to go to your sisters and father and tell them what’s going on. We discovered more information on there. More than you know.”

It’s the right thing to do, I know it is, but I’m scared. Scared that they won’t believe me. “What did you discover?”

“You didn’t finish reading the emails between Pilar and Felicity Winston. Pilar sent her information. Confidential information in regards to Fleur’s product line,” Max says grimly.

My mouth drops open. “What?” I whisper.

He nods. “Pilar did it in the hopes she’d get a job offer. After she received the information, Felicity ceased all correspondence with her.”

The dots are back, spotting my vision, and my head spins. “Shit. Shit, shit, shit.” I close my eyes hard, then blink them open. “I should’ve never left. I need to tell my dad.”

“I have the laptop with the proof, Lily,” he says, his voice calm. I need that right now. I feel like I’m about to leap out of my skin, I’m so freaked out. “Plus, Levi took a series of screenshots of the in-boxes, the emails. They’re all located in a Dropbox account, plus on an external hard drive.”

I gape at him, unable to find the words to thank him for what he’d done, and that he did it all for me. That was my biggest fear once the laptop disappeared. How would Daddy believe me if the evidence was gone? Though now I realize I could have obtained the information off my iMac, too. I handled everything wrong. All of it.

Thank God for Max gathering up all the evidence. I can now show everyone in my family what Pilar was plotting. They’ll have no choice but to believe me.

I’ll break my father’s heart. He’ll probably get mad at me. I’ll enrage both Violet and Ryder, probably Rose and Grandma, too, but at least everyone will be aware of what’s going on.

Plus, I’ll be free of Pilar’s hold once and for all. She can threaten me all she wants, but I have everything I need right here in front of me.

And I owe it all to Max.

Chapter twenty-five


“YOU SON OF A BITCH, I saw you with her.”

I grip my phone close to my ear and sneak into the bathroom off my bedroom, quietly closing the door. Fucking Pilar. I don’t want to talk to her. I’d hang up on her normally. After all, our business is finished. I failed her. Gave her back every dime she paid for my services, and I’m done.

But I want to hear what she has to say. Plus, I have an app on my phone where I can record this entire conversation. That’s called evidence.

“What are you talking about?” I ask innocently as I lean against the counter.

“Stop being such a moron. You know exactly who I mean.” She pauses, clearly for dramatic effect. “Lily. How stupid can you be? Why are you with her? Are you trying to get in her pants or what? Or are you still trying to get that damn laptop? Because if you are, I will pay you handsomely for it.”

“I thought we were done.” I don’t even acknowledge the “get in Lily’s pants” comment.

“So did I. In fact, I hired another investigator to finish up the job you were too incompetent to complete.” I ignore her jab, though my teeth are on fucking edge. “He reported back that she spent the afternoon with a certain gentleman and his description sounded eerily like you. Then he sent me photos, and what a shock. It was you.” Another pause. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

“What does it matter? I don’t work for you any longer,” I say, emphasizing the last couple of words.

“But if you are trying to get that laptop …” Her voice drifts.

“What the hell is so important on that laptop, anyway? Does she have something on you or what?” I decide to play dumb. She likes it that way, I think. Makes her feel superior.

“Of course she does. But if she thinks she can double-cross me? Lily Fowler has another thing coming.” She laughs, making me wince. The woman is fucking loud.

And fucking annoying.

“What exactly does she have on you?”

“None of your business,” she snaps, all humor gone. “So tell me. Are you going after that laptop or not?”

“I’m sick and fucking tired of talking about this laptop, that’s for damn sure,” I mutter as I rub a hand across the back of my neck. Just listening to this woman stresses me out.

“You were supposed to do your job,” she says. “And you didn’t. It’s your own damn fault.”

“If I get it to you, what will you give me?” I ask, an idea forming in my head.

“Double the original fee we agreed upon,” she says promptly.

“Done.” I end the call before she can say anything else.


Slipping my phone back into my pocket, I exit the bathroom and go out to the living room, where Lily sits perched on the edge of my sofa, her cell phone cradled in her hand. She’s bent over the lit screen, apparently scrolling through messages, and when she hears me enter the room she looks up, her gaze full of wariness.

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