Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep.
“Lily.” I turn to see Rose standing in the kitchen doorway, her gaze lingering on the wineglass on the counter. “Wow, that looks good, but I can’t drink.” She rubs a hand over her belly.
I go to her and give her a hug. “How are you?”
“The real question is how are you? And is that hunk shaking my husband’s hand your Max?” she whispers close to my ear.
“Yes.” I give her an extra squeeze. “There’s more to this story than what I told you.”
“I can see that, considering the last time you saw Max he was in Maui and stealing your laptop.” Rose withdraws from me and turns to Max, who’s making small talk with Caden. “I’m Rose, Lily’s nosy youngest sister.”
He cracks a smile that takes my breath away and takes her hand. “Max. Nice to meet you.”
She doesn’t let go of his hand. “You’re not here to steal anything from us, are you?”
Oh, God. Why did she go and say that? Even Caden looks uncomfortable, but hello, he’s a former thief, so anytime the word steal pops up, he squirms.
Max’s smile fades, his expression turning sincere. “No. I plan on doing right by Lily from now on.”
Rose studies him, her eyes getting squinty as she finally releases Max’s hand. Pregnancy has really done a number on my baby sister. “Good. Because I’ll rip your balls off if you hurt her again.”
“Rose,” Caden says, his voice stern. I can say nothing because I’m mortified beyond belief.
“Well, it’s true,” Rose says with a shrug as she sends me a look. I don’t think she regrets telling Max that whatsoever.
“I appreciate how protective you are over your sister,” Max says. “And if I did something to betray her again, I’d deserve to get my balls ripped off.”
Rose starts to laugh and pats Max’s chest. “I like you.”
Another knock sounds at the door and we all pause, looking at each other. Ryder suddenly appears, his dark hair damp, his gaze zeroing in on Max before he turns to Violet. “Everything okay?”
“Sounds like Father’s here,” Violet says, her voice soft, her head tipping toward Ryder when he slips his arm around her waist and holds her close.
“I’ll answer it,” Ryder says, pressing a kiss to Violet’s forehead before he releases her and goes to the door.
“Let the good times begin,” Rose says, her voice loaded with false cheer.
“I DON’T—” Daddy swallows and leans forward, studying Max with an intensity I’ve dealt with before. The same kind of intensity that would make me squirm in my seat and eventually confess all my sins. “I don’t want to believe any of this.”
Max doesn’t even flinch, making me admire him all the more. He hands over his iPad to my father. “I understand, sir, but I need you to look at this. There’s your proof.”
The rest of us remain quiet as Daddy reads over the emails from Pilar to Zachary Lawrence, to Felicity Winston from Jayne Cosmetics. Violet is also reading over the emails on her own iPad, after Max just sent her a link to the Dropbox account. I look over at her and see the way Ryder has his arm around her shoulders in a protective gesture, his face full of barely contained rage as he reads over her shoulder.
“Why would she give up such confidential information so easily?” Violet asks, lifting her head to study all of us, her gaze snagging on Max. I’ve let him talk the entire time, an offer he made on our way over to Violet’s that I took him up on. Yes, it makes me feel like a chicken yet again, that I can’t be the one to explain what happened with Pilar. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to explain myself thoroughly enough. I’d get too emotional and Daddy would probably yell at me. Everyone would take sides and it would turn into a huge, ugly mess.
Daddy hasn’t yelled at Max once, and I’m sure that’s because he’s explained everything so thoroughly, so objectively. He told of how he was hired by Pilar, how he followed me to Maui, got to know me, got closer to me, and then stole the laptop. He then proceeded to tell them what happened next, the information he and Levi discovered, how he lied and told Pilar he didn’t have the laptop after all.
And now he’s sharing with everyone exactly what he found in Pilar’s in-boxes. The same information I stumbled upon but didn’t look at closely enough. The plan to sabotage Fleur and leave the company in the dust. I still can’t believe she had the balls to do such a thing.
Well, I can believe it. This is Pilar we’re talking about.
“Once Felicity received the information, she never contacted Pilar again. At least via email,” Max explains. “I don’t know why she gave up the goods so quickly, but it looks like her impulsive actions bit her in the ass.”
Violet—ladylike, perfect Violet—snorts. “Finally the bitch gets what she deserves. At our expense, though.”
“Exactly, and that’s what pisses me off. She ran and blabbed her mouth so easily to the fucking competition. You’d think she’d know better than to fuck with me,” Ryder says, his eyes glimmering with repressed fury.
Unease slithers down my spine. I know I sure as hell wouldn’t mess with Ryder.
Daddy lifts his head, staring at Violet like she’s lost her mind. “She’s been filling my head with your incompetence lately.”
“Who? Pilar?” Violet asks incredulously, and I almost roll my eyes. She’s upset, though, and obviously not thinking clearly.