Home > Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(14)

Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(14)
Author: Lisa Renee Jones

“My initial thoughts,” he says, pausing as if in thought, before continuing with, “This could be a wounded-princess routine meant to manipulate you, but I’d have thought she’d have made sure you saw it before now, if that were the case.”

“It’s not been all that long ago that we met.”

“Agreed, and I’m not saying that she didn’t have a long game that she was playing, but it’s doubtful at this point.”


“I still think she would have made sure you saw this apartment, if it was part of a setup. But that said, this doesn’t mean she told the truth on the phone, either.”

“She’s telling the truth,” I say, no hesitation in my voice.

“I accept your judgment, because I know your judgment as good, but I submit to you that she might have been desperate, on the run, and in need of money and/or her new identity. Therefore, she was ripe for the picking for your family or another enemy to use as a weapon against you.”

“Her brother set up her identity.”

“She says,” he argues. “Think about it, Shane. Who knows what she might tell you to keep you from finding out the truth, especially if she was threatened. Or maybe she regrets her choices and just doesn’t want you to know what they were. Maybe she was promised money she desperately needs, and she loses the money she was promised if you find out. Maybe—”

“Enough,” I snap. “I’m quite clear on the possibilities behind her actions but I’ve looked into her eyes, and you have not. Not like I have. She is running scared, but not from me.” Uninterested in anything but facts, I cut off the conversation. “Let’s search the apartment and get back on the streets.” I cross the room and enter the bathroom, finding a few toiletries and nothing more. The picture I’m getting of her being alone, and now on the run, is cuttingly clear.

I yank open the middle drawer, and stare down at the velvet box inside the otherwise empty space. I reach for it and open the top, staring down at the delicate chain of a bracelet, Emily’s words replaying in my mind: It’s all I have left of her.


I shut the box and slip it inside my pocket, facing Seth.

“We located her.”

A mix of relief and dread washes over me that I don’t analyze or express. “Where?”

“At Union Square.”

“The train station,” I say in surprise, not because of the location, but rather the fact that she’s still here. “She could have been long gone by now. Why linger there and risk us finding her?”

“She didn’t,” he says. “We found her leaving it, which leads to the question, why go there and leave, without taking a train?”

“She must have thought paying cash would avoid her having to show identification. She didn’t want to be tracked.”

“Which would be an easy conclusion, except for one hole in that theory. There’s a big gap between when she left the hotel and when she left the train station. Surely she would have attempted to buy a ticket when she arrived, and left when she realized she needed identification.”

I pull my phone from my pocket and glance at my call log. “She called me thirty minutes ago and there was no background noise. She wasn’t in the train station, not even the bathroom. I’m guessing someplace close to it. In other words, she went there and something changed her mind. She’s afraid of a group of hackers. It’s reasonable to believe she thought she could pay cash and not show identification in order to buy her ticket.”

“Or,” he offers, “someone’s been pulling her chains, and they may have stopped her departure.”

“Or she decided she needed help after all, in which case, she’ll show up back at my apartment. Where is she now?”

His cell phone rings, and he reaches for it, answering me. “She was walking toward the convention center,” he says, taking his call, and then listening a moment before glancing at me. “Nick,” he tells me. “General update. Nothing new. I’m going to search the kitchen while we talk.”

I nod and he disappears into the other room while I consider the direction of Emily’s path and the possibility it’s not headed back to me. Inhaling a heavy breath, I turn away from the room and do a quick sweep of every drawer and cabinet, finding what few products she has are all generic, bargain brands, which drives home the reality of her empty apartment I wish like hell I’d known about. Walking to the closet, I find a small duffel bag and stuff everything I can find of Emily’s inside. She’s not coming back here. Ever.

With the bag on my shoulder, I exit the bathroom and walk to the side of the bed, grabbing a journal and a few other items she has sitting there, sticking them inside the bag. Zipping it up, I give the blow-up bed a grimace, and turn away. I can’t look at that damn thing. No wonder she didn’t want me here.

Entering the living area, I find Seth in the kitchen, opening and shutting drawers. “Anything?” I ask, leaning on the door frame.

He faces me and presses his hands on the counter. “She’s been eating on paper plates and using plastic ware. She has no mail. No connection to another life. We aren’t going to find answers here.” His phone rings again and he answers, listening several minutes, before saying, “Yes. Do it.”

“What was that?” I ask, walking to the bar that separates the living area from the kitchen where he stands facing me.

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