Home > Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(15)

Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(15)
Author: Lisa Renee Jones

“She just entered the Hampton Inn by the Coliseum. Our man followed her inside, which brings us back to her ID and hackers. She can’t travel, or rent a hotel room in her name, which we have to assume based on her actions thus far, she knows. In other words, she could be meeting someone.”

“Or someone rented a room for her,” I surmise, not liking where this is going.

“My thought exactly,” he confirms. “But we have an opportunity here. People show their true colors when they don’t know you’re watching. What she does now will tell you who she is, far more than her true identity on paper ever could.”

“More like who is controlling her.”

“I’ll head over there then,” he says. “And I’ll personally stay the night and let you know if anything happens.”

“I’m going with you.”

“You’re the boss,” he says. “But in my opinion, you’re too close to this to get any closer.”

“All the more reason I need my questions answered.”

“I can answer them for you, and nothing may even happen tonight. Go home, Shane. I’ll call you.”

“One way or the other,” I promise him, “something is going to happen tonight.” I don’t give him time to make his case further, already walking toward the door and exiting. The wind greets me, swiping my face and dusting me in snow flurries, the possibilities of where the next few hours could lead as icy as the droplets they become.

Seth joins me, pulling the door shut behind him, and my cell phone begins to ring. I reach for it, hoping like hell it’s Emily, to find my ex-boss calling instead, no doubt trying to recruit me back to New York yet again. I decline the call and without the hesitation of the past. I have a mess here my family created that I have to clean up, once and for all this time, and lord help them if they’re behind what’s going on with Emily.

I glance up to find Seth already at the driver-side door of his car and I walk to my least favorite place—the passenger side. I don’t like being the one taken on a ride, but then, that’s a trait I share with the Brandon clan. The whole bunch of us prefer the driver’s seat, which wouldn’t be a problem if we all shared the same destination.

Seth clicks the locks, and I toss Emily’s bag in the backseat before joining Seth in the front. He cranks the engine and the heat, placing us in reverse and then forward. “I need to know how you plan to handle any visitor she has,” he says, pulling us onto the main road. “Because we have a chance to watch her and see her true colors.”

“You said that already.”

“And I’m saying it again,” he says. “No matter who shows up to the hotel to meet her, we need to sit back and watch.”

“Negative,” I say. “If Emily has a guest that bears the Brandon name, the game is over. There’s no reason to sit, watch, and wait.”

“And if it’s someone else?” he asks, already pulling us into a spot across from the hotel.

“We sit, watch, and wait.”

His cell phone rings yet again and he kills the engine, grabbing his phone and eyeing the screen. “She checked into a room.” He glances at me. “We’re working to find out under what name.” Another car pulls into the spot behind us, and a light flashes several times in the back window. “That’s Nick,” Seth adds. “I’ll be right back.” He opens his door and disappears, shutting me inside the car, alone.

I eye him in the rearview mirror, watching as he climbs into the black SUV behind us, and then turn my attention to the door, where people come and go, and I don’t look away. Ten minutes pass, then fifteen, and Seth climbs back inside the car with me, an iPad in his hand. “She rented a room with cash using a fake name, but no identification. She convinced the manager she lost her wallet at the airport.”

“And we know this how?”

“The man we had tailing her paid one of the girls at the front desk to get the details for him.”

“At least we now know she didn’t check in on someone else’s account,” I say, motioning to the iPad. “That has a purpose I assume.”

“We have footage of Emily at the train station and then in the hotel, neither of which is eventful.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” I say, and even in the shadows of the car, I can see the thinning of his lips, but he swipes the iPad and brings the screen to life before handing it to me. I hit the play button on the video and find a ticket line at the train station at the same moment that Emily leaves the line, her hand pressed to her face, before she digs in her pocket and removes her phone. She dials it and seems to fret about no one answering. Three more times she dials before she rushes toward the exit. The feed cuts to her outside, in front of a drugstore not far from here. She’s dialing her phone again. She paces. But what really gets me is when she squats down on the ground and leans against a wall, her hand back on her head. She’s lost. She’s scared. She’s alone. It punches me in the gut and then twists. The feed shifts again to her going inside the hotel. Her walking to the check-in desk, and after a pleading conversation with the concierge, heading to the elevator bank, the doors closing her inside, and then the video goes black.

I look up at Seth. “Is this it?”

“Yes,” he confirms. “Like I said. It’s far from eventful.”

For him. For Emily, I doubt it’s so simple. It damn sure isn’t for me. “What room number?”

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