Page 51 of Hardline (Hacker 3)

I leaned forward, studying her. I began to see that she had no idea what had happened between Max and me.

“Risa, Max drugged me and tried to have sex with me last week. That’s how much he wants to hurt Blake. Trust me, you have no idea how depraved he is until you’ve walked in my shoes.”

“What?” Her jaw fell open, her eyes fixed on me. “Oh my God. I didn’t know. I knew he and Blake fought, but I had no idea.”

I tensed against the emotions that threatened. I couldn’t lose my shit in front of her, as much as Max’s behavior still tore at me. I clung to my anger instead.

“Yes. You should ask him about it. I’m sure he’ll spin some story about how I came onto him at my own engagement party. And maybe since you thought it’d be a fun idea to tell Blake about James, you can swap stories about what a whore I am.” I clenched my teeth, barely resisting the urge to leave. If nothing else, I’d wanted to meet Risa once more to get my verbal pound of flesh. Who knows when I’d get another chance to tell her what I thought.

“I don’t think you’re a whore. At one point, in the heat of the moment after you’d fired me, I mentioned that I saw you with James to Max. He’s the one who wanted me to tell Blake. I didn’t want to, really. Blake looked so angry when I told him that I regretted it immediately. I didn’t even know you and Blake were engaged.”

I lifted my chin, my lips in a tight line. “And thriving, somehow, despite all this. Despite you and Max trying to ruin my business and our relationship, me, we’re stronger than we ever were. So what do you want now? He’s the one you chose. Now you have to live with that choice.”

“I want to leave him. I really do.” Her eyes glistened. The napkin in her hand was twisted nearly to shreds. God, she was a legitimate mess.

“Then leave him. It has no bearing on me.”

She nodded quickly, her head down. “I want to,” she whispered. “I’m afraid he’ll ruin me. Whatever happened between you, he’s a completely different person. I don’t know who he is. I think he’s in financial trouble. He said he can’t fund the site anymore. Everything we worked for, down the drain. And I’ve been overhearing conversations with his father. I don’t know for sure, but I think he’s cutting him off. Everything is so fucked up right now.”

“I know, Risa. But I don’t really care either.”

She released a heavy sigh. “Let me make it up to you. I felt terrible before, but now...I can’t believe what he did to you.”

I laughed. “I don’t want you to make it up to me. I want to move on with my life, and you’re not going to be a part of that. It sounds like you fell prey to a horrible person with terrible motives, but I’m not the person to reach out to for help.”

Her dark brown eyes looked serious for a moment. “I can help you find Trevor.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “He’s pretty elusive. I have a hard time imagining he’d let you or even Max get very close.”

“I can try to find proof that Max paid him, maybe an address so you could track him down. He’s not going to stop. If anyone hates Blake more than Max, it’s Trevor.”

I narrowed my gaze at her, curiosity burning through me. Would I have a chance to find one enemy through another, or was this just a dangerous step that would bring Risa closer to my world when I wanted anything but?

“I’ll admit I’m intrigued, but not enough to take the bait. Trevor isn’t a concern of mine right now. Unlike you and your partners, I don’t plan my days around revenge and counter attacks. I just want to move on with my life. I have a wedding to plan and a business to run. I’m sorry Max took advantage of you. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I actually cared about you, Risa, and that’s hard to forget. I hope if nothing else you learned a lesson from all of this.”

“I don’t expect you to take me back, but I want to make it right. I’m going to make it up to you somehow.”

* * *

I leaned against the wall in the cool dark hallway outside the office while I considered an early retirement. This had to have been the most emotionally exhausting day back to work in history. I lifted my phone and pulled up Blake’s number.

“What’s up, baby?”

I sighed, still unable to process all of it. “So…I had lunch with Risa today.”

“What?” His concern came through clearly in that one word.

“I brought Alli with me, and Clay drove us. It was fine.”

“What did she want?”

“I guess she wants to make it up to me. Says she feels horrible about everything, though not surprisingly, Max didn’t tell her what really happened at the party. She just thought you two got into a fistfight.”

He snorted.

“But at least for now, she’s still with him. She seems worried about him retaliating if she leaves. Honestly I feel sorry for her, even if she’s made her own bed.”

“They deserve each other,” he muttered, the clicking of a keyboard quiet in the background.

“She thinks that Michael is cutting him off.”

Silence hung in the air. No clicking, no words, only the faint sound of Blake’s breathing.

“Why does she think that?”

“She said she overheard conversations between them. And he told her that he can’t fund PinDeelz anymore. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that might have something to do with the site being down. It says M89 hacked it right now, which makes no sense.”

“I hacked the site.”

My mouth opened to speak, but the words lodged there for a second. “You hacked their site?”

“Don’t act so surprised. He had it coming.”

If I weren’t so shocked, I might have felt a little sorry for them. “But how…if Trevor built the site?”

“Trevor is a troll, not a developer. And he obviously didn’t build their site with the same dedication he has for hacking. I was able to get in and wipe the server with very little effort. He’s a shitty programmer.”

“But wait, what about the M89 logo?”

“I just did that to fuck with Max’s head.”

A short laugh escaped me. Blake was devious, but I kind of loved it.

“Maybe it worked. Risa mentioned that Trevor fell off the map. Max can’t reach him.”

“No doubt because he’s not paying him anymore. The business Max was using as a front to pay Trevor was dissolved a few days ago. If Michael is cutting him off, that might be why.”

Tags: Meredith Wild Hacker Billionaire Romance