“You’ve had your hands full. The company lost two CEO’s in a year.”
I’ve spent my time calming down customers and managing financial decisions made by both. It’s consumed me, but I won’t allow those things to become excuses. “Tell Dana I said hi,” I add, referencing his wife. In other words, I’m getting back to family. I’m taking control.
He studies me a moment and then replies with, “I will,” and turns away.
I shut the door, but I don’t shut out that encounter. Ross is our most senior employee. He could have sent someone else with the bags. He didn’t. He wanted to say something to me, and I don’t know what held him back. Aside from me letting Jill have far too much control. What the hell is she thinking? A tyranny isn’t how my father or brother ran this place. It’s not how we’re running it now.
Picking up the bags, I head upstairs, setting them by the closed bedroom door before I walk back into the kitchen, pour myself a cup of coffee, and fill it with lots of cream and Splenda. I sip from the cup, replaying what just happened with Ross. What didn’t he tell me? Somehow in a seemingly unrelated memory, I’m back to walking in on Hunter with a visitor. I grab my phone from my pocket and walk into the living room that forms a circle with stone walls, framing leather furnishing, and dangling round lights hanging from beams above. I love this damn room. I love this damn castle and so did Hunter. Hunter loved the company. He loved this family. He didn’t want to die, but I can’t deny he wasn’t himself in the end.
With that said, I walk to the double patio doors, open them and step outside. I’m about to call Savage, screw the time, he can get up, I need him, but my phone buzzes with the door alarm again. Of course, the damn security camera is out because of the random power issues in the front of my place, so I can’t see who it is, but it has to be Ross. He wanted to talk to me. I exit the patio and hurry through the castle to the basement entry. Irritated that I can’t look at the security feed, I decide right then that with Emma here, I need to pay whoever, whatever it takes, to fix the electricity.
I open the door and immediately look down to find a large envelope lying there. I pick it up, and it’s not addressed to me. It’s addressed to Emma.
I lock the door and consider the envelope. It has to be from Brody, the bastard. I dial him, but he doesn’t answer. I dial again. Three times I attempt to get him on the line and fail. I leave a voicemail and then call Savage. He answers in one ring. “What’s cookin’ this fine morning?”
“Where’s Brody right now?”
“In his bed asleep.”
“Are you sure?”
“He snores like a motherfucker, that’s how sure I am. I have him wired. That’s how fast and good I am.”
“Do you have me wired?”
“I was politely—because I’m a polite motherfucker myself—waiting for permission. But for the record, your wiring is a fuck show. I looked at it to see what it was going to take.”
“Easy, man. I have a tech genius flying in this morning. He’ll have it up and running in no time. And I’ll have the manpower to watch everything at once. In the meantime—”
“In the meantime, someone left an envelope for Emma at my door. It has to be Brody.”
“Brody’s in bed,” he says. “I told you. He’s all but sucking his damn thumb. He didn’t leave that envelope. I had his phone tapped from the minute he left the castle. The window that he could have called someone else to leave something for Emma is almost zero.”
“No one else would know Emma to leave her something.”
“But they know her family. How many people work here at the property?”
“Twenty in various shifts.” I eye the stairs and decide to stay put in case Emma is now awake.
“How many have been here long enough to know your father?”
“Most of them. My father bred loyalty.”
“Then there are people who know perhaps more than you do about what went on between her family and yours. But I didn’t ask the obvious. Did she open it?”
“She’s in bed.”
“Did you open it?”
“But you want to.”
“Of course I fucking want to.”
“But you’re not going to.”
“No. I can’t do that.”
“I can. Put it back on the doorstep. I found it, not you. I’ll be right there.”
My lashes lower, and I draw in a deep breath. “We have enough lies between families,” I say. “I’m not going to lie to Emma.”
“She can’t open that until I confirm it’s safe. It shouldn’t be in your house right now. Is it?”