She thinks I’m going to hurt him. She thinks she wants a man who will hurt her and her family, and there lies the real problem. That’s why I came. She knows it. I know it. I don’t even consider denial.
We both know why I sought her out, and we both know that’s not easy for her to put aside, but I do now. I focus on her and where this problem of our two families leads her. I focus on how her experiences may lead us to some semblance of closure. “How close are you and Chance, Emma?”
“We have dinner once a week. We live in the same building. We have coffee a couple of mornings a week. He’s pulled away since dad died, but grief is something we all handle in our own way. But it makes no sense that my father went after your brother for the castle but he didn’t come to you when you took over. And yet, my brother told you the will said he had to make an offer?”
“Nothing about this makes sense,” she says. “I feel like I just need to go and confront Chance.”
“Here’s the thing, sweetheart. You can do that, but he’s going to tell you just what he told me and us already. Making an offer on the castle was in the will. He’ll stick to that story.”
“Maybe, but maybe not. Not if I push him. I think the biggest obstacle I have with Chance is him wanting to protect me the way I want to protect him. We both want to preserve the good memories of our father.”
Preserving her father’s memory might well be Chance’s way of preserving her opinion of him, as well, but I don’t say that. We’re going to find out one way or the other who her brother really is, but it’s not going to be here and now. She knows it. I know it.
Emma brushes off her hands and stands up. “I need to show you something.” She disappears into the bedroom where I hear her messing around in what I believe to be her suitcase. I stand up and join her to see if I can help.
By the time I’m there, she’s holding up an accordion file and the journal. “I’m house sitting at my parents’ house, or my mother’s house now. I went through my father’s desk and I found the journal but there was more. There was this file. Everything, and everyone, in that file is some sort of target he went after.”
My gaze narrows. “Went after meaning what?”
“It looks like he had each one investigated.” She reaches inside and hands me a sheet of paper. “I wrote down a list of everyone he went after. Your brother’s name isn’t on the list.”
I take the sheet of paper and scan the names, my lips thinning. “But North Whiskey has done business with every name on this list.”
Emma’s face pales. “So much for me thinking this debunked your brother as a target. You think this list is a list of people to use against your brother?”
“I think that’s exactly what it is.”
My cellphone buzzes with a text and I glance down to find a message from Savage: I’ve arrived. I’m in the bar drinking because you haven’t hired me yet, but for the record, a drunk Savage is a dangerous Savage. I’m the big guy with a beautiful scar down my cheek, but don’t mention it. I’m highly sensitive that way.
I might be put off by this if I didn’t know his type. He’s one of those guys that hide behind humor but will cut your throat out. And considering my brother is dead and in the ground, that works for me right now. I flip to my camera and take a picture of the list of names before handing the paper back to Emma. “I have a security person meeting me downstairs.”
“You really think we need security?”
“After that incident at your building, I’m not taking any chances.”
“Have him come up here.”
“I’m not even sure we’re hiring the guy. I’m not having him up to the room.”
“And you want to talk to him frankly about my family.” She folds her arms in front of her. “Got it.”
I settle my hands on her arms. “If I hire him, I’m going to have his team look into this list and more.”
“Good,” she says tightly. “I think we both need answers.” She doesn’t even think about unfolding her arms.
“If I hire him—”
“Go talk to him, Jax,” she says, her tone still just as tight as seconds before. “Like you said, we both need answers.”
She’s right. We do, but I’m not sure either one of us is going to like what we discover. I lean into her and kiss her, but I say nothing and with reason. I’m pretty damn sure that if I tell her that I believe her family had my brother murdered, she’d leave. And since I don’t want her to leave, that’s a problem I’ll solve only one way. I leave the room without her, hoping like hell this Rick Savage character can get me an answer that doesn’t turn Emma into an enemy but I feel every step that separates us like a mile. I know I’ll pay for doing this without her, but it’s necessary.