“Yeah, I was thinking about that after we hung up. You’re right. We have to tell him. The man has as much right as mom for some sort of justice. But you need to tell him.”
“It’s going to hurt him, Chance. Is that justice? Do we want to do that to him?”
“On some level, he knows. Mom said she did, and she hurt all the time. Now she’s hiding in Europe. Is that what we want?”
“Of course not. And you’re right. He has to know, at least on some level. I’ll call him. Text me the number.”
“I’m fine,” I say. “I’m better than I’ve been in a long time, actually.”
“And Jax helped make that happen?”
“Yeah. He did. He’s a good guy. I know the Hunter stuff is a challenge, but I’m—I need you to step back from that. Please.”
He’s silent a beat. “Are you ever going to tell me what happened?”
Disappointment stabs at me that he hasn’t agreed to try with Jax, but I let it go. “No,” I say frankly. “I’m not.”
“I’m going to assume the worst.”
“Okay,” I say, because his worst isn’t going to be my worst. Not even Jax and Savage get how bad it was.
“That’s it?” he challenges.
“Yes,” I say, feeling no desire to explain myself, which, thinking back, has been part of my place in this family. I’m the one who explains myself away. No more. “Yes. That’s it. Text me the number.”
He hesitates. “I love you, Emma.”
“I love you, too.” We disconnect, and I consider the idea that he’s behind Hunter’s death or at least complicit, but I reject that immediately. Chance can come off as a jerk, but it’s only when he’s in damage control mode. When he’s protecting what he loves: the brand. I don’t see how Hunter could have ever threatened our brand. And Chance wouldn’t kill him anyway.
But my father might.
The journals made it seem as if he might. My phone buzzes with the text from Chance, and I stare at Monroe’s number in the message. I have to do this. I’m going to hurt him, but Monroe, like everyone, deserves someone who treats him better. I dial his number.
“Emma,” he greets, somehow recognizing my number. “To what do I owe this call?”
“I need to have a personal conversation with you about Marion. Something you don’t want to hear unless you’re alone. Can we set up a time?”
“Now,” he says, his voice hard. “Tell me now.”
I breathe out and hesitate, before I admit. “I hate doing this to you. I hate—”
“She’s cheating on me.”
“Was,” I say. “We have reasons, very definite reasons, to believe that Marion and my father—”
“Were fucking,” he supplies.
My throat constricts. “It seems they were.”
“Can you give me that proof?”
“Are you sure you want to see it? It could be painful.”
“Yes, yes, I will.”
“Emma, did it occur to you that I could pull away from your brand over this?”
“My brother and I talked about that, and also the pain it would cause you, but something my mother said to my brother swayed us. She said that on some level, she knew, and it hurt her. Now, she’s hiding in Europe to lick her wounds. I think the fact that she can’t confront him or ask why affects how she’s coping. Now, you can.”
He’s silent a moment. “You were engaged to York. How do you feel about him now? I invest in his company but he’s also Marion’s little bitch of a nephew. That doesn’t sit well with me for our future.”
“Let me just discreetly say, that before you choose to stay in business with him, hire a private investigator and check him out.”
“How diplomatic of you.”
“Yes, well, I had two choices here. Me spewing hate and warnings, which is unlike me but appropriate, or diplomacy. I assumed you to be an astute enough businessman to see the hate in the diplomacy.”
“Indeed. I have the impression I owe you more than I know just yet.”
“You owe me nothing. It’s called doing the right thing. I need no favor in return. I’d like to keep your business, but Chance and I both went into this knowing we’d be at risk.”
“Why didn’t Chance call me?”
“He’s the one everyone sees as an extension of my father. Neither of us thought you needed that right now.”
“Smart. Appropriate. And brave of you both. You have my business. And I do believe I’ll call your mother.”
“I think she might enjoy a kindred spirit on this.”
“Both of us would. Thank you, Emma.”
We disconnect, and I breathe out, emotionally exhausted. I text Chance: It’s done. He’s with us. More later. I need a timeout.
He replies with: You’re sure he’s with us?
I answer: Absolutely.
He replies with: Bowing to my badass sister.
I pick up my coffee and lean on the island, thinking about everything, a smile inside that is pride. I did it. I faced York, and I won. There’s a flash in my mind of me on my knees with God knows who behind me that zaps me pretty hard with a dose of reality. My stomach knots, and I set the cup down. That’s when Jax walks into the room, and suddenly, he’s standing in front of me: tall, gorgeous, his jaw so damn perfectly chiseled. He studies me, his blue eyes fixed on my face, probing, seeing too much and somehow seeing just right.