Page 60 of Hardline (Hacker 3)

My stomach plummeted as I mentally ran through the list. Sid, Alli, Marie...maybe even Heath knew now. But none of them would have any reason to benefit from the information being made public.

Blake had his own reasons to out Daniel, but would he do that? Even after I’d made him promise me he wouldn’t? Maybe learning that Daniel had hit me would have been enough to nullify that promise. In the context of our new arrangement, maybe his promise meant nothing at all if Blake deemed it in my best interest. Still, that seemed an extreme position to take. The repercussions of this information going public would be damaging for Daniel, but I couldn’t see how Blake would want to bring the extra attention to me either. He wouldn’t do that to me. Would he?

“Daniel, Blake knows I’m your daughter, yes, but I really don’t believe he would leak the information. He assured me he wouldn’t do that to you.” I hoped he couldn’t hear the doubt in my voice, because above all, I wanted to keep us safe. I’d lived under the fear of Daniel’s death threats before.

He laughed again, sucking in a long drag on his cigarette.

“He promised me,” I insisted.

“I promise Margo about ten things a day. Keeps her happy just to hear me say it even if I don’t always deliver. Sorry if I don’t put a lot of stock into your hacker’s promises. Lot of fucking thanks I get for getting his ass out of a jam too.”

I frowned. “What are you talking about?”

“Who do you think got the charges dropped?”

“You did that?” I hesitated as I absorbed this news. “How?”

He looked at me sidelong, an almost bored expression on his face. “Shouldn’t surprise you that I have a few prosecutors who owe me favors. Wasn’t too much to ask someone to look the other way for someone defending a sexual assault. He tuned Max up pretty good though, I’ll say that.”

“Then you know what happened.”

He nodded, his expression still blank, if a little more tense.

“But if he came to you, isn’t your firm defending Max?”

He grimaced then. “Fuck no. Jesus, who do you think I am?”

My eyes went wide, too wide maybe in response to what he was asking. Who was he? One minute he could be tugging at my heart strings, and the next he could be ruthlessly threatening to eliminate the man I loved. I couldn’t ever be sure what kind of man Daniel was.

He exhaled sharply. “As much as I may not want the world to know it, you are my daughter. And the man drugged you and tried to rape you. I’m probably going straight to hell anyway, but I’m not completely fucking heartless. It’s enough I have to live with what Mark did. I may not always follow the rules, but I’m not about to help Max get off scot-free.”

My brain spun with all of this new information. I would have never told Daniel about the attack, but a small part of me was glad that he knew, especially if it meant snubbing Max from the protection of one of the most prominent firms in the city.

“What are you going to do now?” I asked quietly.

“I’ve got to talk to my PR people about damage control. I’d say it’s only a matter of days before all this hits the presses.”

He studied me a moment. “If you really believe Blake didn’t leak the info, then you can tell him to at least help me find out who did.” He tossed his cigarette on the ground, and stamped it out. “Because I want to talk to that person.”

I believed him, and I had little doubt he had plans to do more than talk.

* * *

I offered a quick hello to Cady, who looked up from her desk outside Blake’s office. Her hair was a bright shade of pink today.

“You can go right in.” She motioned toward the door though it went without saying that I could, and I would, whether Blake liked it or not.

“Thanks,” I said, and entered.

Blake spun in his chair when I shut the door behind me.

He smiled, and my heart melted a little. So much had happened since I saw him a few hours ago, and there was no one I wanted to see more.

I walked toward him, and he rose to meet me. He pulled me to him and pressed a kiss to my forehead. I leaned in, welcoming the relief of being in his arms, even if my relief might be short-lived after we started talking. He tipped my chin up. His eyebrows drew together.

“You’re upset.”

I sighed, exhaling the relief in the same breath.

“I saw Daniel today. I went to the police station to give my statement, and he was there. He’d been talking to the same detectives who interviewed me last month.”

“Did he say something to you?”

He guided me to the couch on the other side of the room. He sat down beside me, his worried look demanding I tell him everything. I was prepared to tell Blake the truth, but I wasn’t sure if I was entirely prepared to hear it. I was giving him more control than I ever had, but he had no right to release this information, no matter how much he hated Daniel.

“The police know that Daniel is my father. Someone tipped them off. Did you tell them? Please just be honest and tell me if you did.”

Blake’s frown deepened. “No.”

I looked into his eyes, studying his expression for any signs that he might be lying.

He flinched slightly. “Erica, have I ever lied to you?”

“No,” I admitted finally, sliding back into the smooth leather of the couch. I realized suddenly that learning Blake had done it would have be easier to accept than grasping at the unknown. It was a miracle I could sleep at night for all the people who’d made it their life’s mission to tear one of us down.

“Did Daniel threaten you again?” he asked.

“No, thank God. You’re his number one suspect though. Obviously, I assured him you wouldn’t do this, but he doesn’t take much stock in the promises you’ve made to me. He’s pissed, and he can’t wait to get his hands on whoever gave the police this information. He says if it’s not you, you should find out who it is.”

“What if it was an anonymous tip? How the hell am I supposed to trace that? Tell Daniel to fuck off and do his own research.”

“Blake.” I glared at him.


“This is serious. The police know, and I’m pretty sure they’ll want to talk to me again soon.”

“You should have told them the truth when you had the chance. Now you have to keep up with the lie and risk obstruction of justice.”

“I didn’t want to see Daniel behind bars.”

Tags: Meredith Wild Hacker Billionaire Romance