“I need you to detail everyone at the castle and their role. We’ll check them all out.”
“Most importantly,” I say, “Jill is my operations manager. She’s also my brother’s ex-fiancée.”
“And you brought her up because something hits you wrong about her?”
“Something in the way she seemed to want to get me away from here and Emma.”
“We’ll start with a focus on Chance, Randall, Jill, and Emma.” He arches a brow, waiting for me to cut him off for naming Emma. I don’t, but not because I think Emma is guilty of anything. There’s a reason she’s shut out of the family, and I don’t even think she knows what it is, but maybe, just maybe that reason has something to do with all of this.
Savage leans closer. “Emma could become our weakness. Make sure she tells you everything.”
“Speaking from experience, man, she hasn’t. She’s known her family her whole life and you only a few days. Even if she’s your future wife, right now, she doesn’t know that and neither do you. If this is about murder, one misstep could make her the weakness that gets you killed.”
After inhaling two more pieces of pizza, I grab my father’s journal and sit down on the bed, holding it. Tightly. I don’t want to open it and yet, inside I know there are clues that I dread for the pure logic of what they say about my idol. I’m not a big drinker, but for inspiration, I go to the fridge, pull out the mini bottle of North Whiskey and head back to the bed. I open the lid and down a drink, the burn sliding all the way to my belly. I do it again, starting to feel warm all over. With a deep breath, I open the journal and start reading, page after page, until I finish the bottle. The voice on those pages has me getting another bottle, and by the time I’m ten more pages in, and it’s gone as well, my head is spinning. I lay on my back and rest the open journal on my belly. There are secrets in this journal I don’t understand, but there are things that I do understand.
Things I haven’t told Jax, but if I do, he might destroy my family business and me with it.
On the walk back to the room, I remember what shouldn’t have been forgotten. Emma swearing to York she would hold onto a secret, one with Marion at the core. I know Marion. I know she’s related to York. If York is involved in whatever this is with my brother—and his showing up when he did, his timing right as I arrived on scene, tells me he is—maybe Marion and her husband are as well. I need to know what that was about. By the time I reach the room, I’ve decided that has to happen now.
Entering, I scan the living area, Emma is not in easy view. The man in me, the one who can’t get enough of this woman, would be more than happy to find her naked on top of the bed, waiting with open legs and arms. I’d forget questions about York and Marion for at least a good hour or two. I’d forget a lot to have Emma all to myself and naked right now.
I round the corner to the bedroom and quickly discover that I’m not that lucky tonight.
Emma’s on the bed all right, her head on the pillow, her long dark hair draped over her shoulders, but she’s also fully dressed, on her back, her eyes shut. Adding to my certainty that this scene doesn’t play out how it had in my head are two empty mini bottles of whiskey beside the bed. At least it’s North Whiskey, which would lead me to believe she had me on her mind, but she also has that damn journal laying on top of her stomach and thanks to Savage, I really want a damn look inside.
I step to the foot of the bed, staring at that damn thing where it lays open on top of Emma, and I know that no matter how valiant Emma might be on this topic, I have to make a choice: the journal or the woman, and the answer comes easier than I expect. For once in my life, when given the choice between a woman and something else, the woman wins. Rounding the bed, I gently pick up the journal and lay it on the nightstand.
“You could have looked at it,” Emma says, surprising me by scooting to a sitting position and leaning against the headboard.
“You’re awake,” I say, sitting on the mattress next to her, leaning over her, and pressing my hand on the other side of her hip.
“Read it, Jax.” She overemphasizes her words, speaking slower than usual but more precisely, clearly feeling the whiskey. “Oh God,” she presses her hand to her face, “I’m a horrible drinker.” She drops her hand. “Really bad.”