Home > Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(13)

Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(13)
Author: Lisa Renee Jones

I’m already on my feet and entering the bedroom when Seth answers. “She was here,” I say. “She changed clothes. She has on a beanie. Probably sweats and a hoodie.”

“Holy shit,” he says. “She’s got balls.”

“She’s got brains,” I correct, stepping into the closet and toeing off my shoes, already working on changing into running gear.

“Hold on,” he says. “I’m with Nick. Let me have him get the word out.”

He starts talking to Nick and by the time he turns his attention back to me I’ve pulled on sweats, a black T-shirt, and a hoodie. “Nick’s getting the word out to the team,” Seth says, “and I’m going to grab the security footage to the hotel and try to get a handle on when and how she left the building, if she did.”

“She has,” I say, grabbing my socks and shoes. “And I know her better than anyone. I’m changing into running clothes and hitting the streets. I’m going to jog in the direction of her apartment.”

“And if she decides to come back to you? Then what?”

“She has a key that she’s proven she’s willing to use,” I remind him.

“If she sees you, she might go underground.”

“If she’s not underground already, she wants me to find her. I’m leaving now.”

I end the call, part of my conversation with Emily a grim repeat in my mind. Where are you? I’d asked. And her reply had been a confident: Somewhere you won’t find me. Undeterred, I head for the door.

She’s smart, but she’s failed to understand that I don’t lose. Not my cases. Not Brandon Enterprises. Not the woman who is either the best thing that ever happened to me or the worst.



It’s cold and snowing when I step outside, close to twenty degrees if I estimate right, which means there is no way Emily, who gets chilled even on warmer nights, is going to be lingering outside. I pull my hood over the top of my beanie and start walking, shoving my cold hands in my pockets, while scanning for Emily. She said I’d never find her, which could mean she’s already left the area. In fact, knowing we wouldn’t have yet found out she’d changed clothes, the most likely move would have been to leave the area.

That means a cab, a bus, or a train, which I have no doubt Seth will have covered, but then, he also thought Emily hadn’t left the hotel. Refusing to be defeated, I start jogging, covering the two blocks that lead me to the always busy 16th Street Mall area where the road is sealed to traffic, the sidewalks framing food booths and lined with shops and restaurants. Any of which she could be hiding inside. I start walking, looking in windows and at the random packs of people.

I cover four blocks, up and back, and despite the impossibility of this task, I know Emily more than any stranger looking for her. If she’s in the neighborhood, I have the best shot of finding her. My cell beeps with a text message and I glance down to find a text picture of Emily from a security picture along with a message: Emily leaving the hotel garage at exactly 8:52. I glance at my watch, to find it’s already nine forty-five. She’s long gone. My phone rings with Seth’s number, and I answer. “Tell me you have more than this photo.”

“I don’t,” he says grimly. “But she’ll have to use an ID to check into a hotel or travel. We just have to hope she didn’t have another fake ID on her.”

“She doesn’t,” I say with certainty. “I’m three blocks from her apartment. I’m going to go check it out. I’ll call you if I find any clues there.”

“I’ll meet you there,” he says, and I end the call, already starting to jog again, my mind going to her brother. Why would he do a half-ass job of setting up her identity? Even if he did it quickly, surely he’d have fixed it by now? My mind tracks back to the night I’d met her. She’d taken a call and been angry, playing it off as a maintenance issue at her apartment. Was that her brother? If not, who was it?

I blink and find myself covered in snow as I cross the parking lot to Emily’s apartment, but once I’m at the door, the realization that I don’t have a key hits me. I grab the frame on either side of me. “Damn it,” I murmur, deciding I’ll have to break the window.

“I’ve got it,” I hear Seth say from behind me.

Pushing off the door frame, I turn to find him approaching, now wearing a trench coat. “You have a key?” I ask.

He stops beside me, and pulls out some sort of tool from his pocket. “Close enough.” He inserts it into the lock and opens the door, but before he walks in, I grab his arm. Seth looks at me and nods his silent understanding, stepping aside. This is my woman and her personal space could contain my personal demons. I enter the apartment and tug down my hood, my heart sinking at the sight of an empty living room and kitchen.

I cross to the bedroom, the only other room in the apartment, and stop dead in my tracks in the frame of the open door. “Holy mother of Jesus,” I mutter, staring at the blow-up bed in the corner, and not another piece of furniture in the room. How did I not know she was living like this? I cross to the bed—if you can even call it that—and squat down next to it, the sweet floral scent of Emily everywhere, while she is nowhere I can seem to find her.

“I take it you haven’t seen this place before?” Seth asks from behind me.

I stand again and face him, hands on my hips. “If I had,” I say, “she would have already been living with me.” And while I have assumptions based on what I’m seeing here, I want to know what an ex-CIA operative thinks before I voice them. “What does this say to you about who and what she is?”

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