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

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

“No games. Your real name.”

“That person I was doesn’t exist anymore.”

I grab the envelope that is still in the center of the counter, removing the damning evidence of her betrayal inside. “Explain that,” I say, plopping the highly confidential paperwork Seth found in her desk in front of her, the word “spying” ringing too damn true for comfort.

She glances down and immediately back to me. “Shane—”

“Who are you working for?” I demand, my voice low, tight, wrapped in barely contained anger, when nothing I do is ever “barely contained.” She has pushed buttons I don’t want pushed. She is a woman I let into my life and mind, who I trusted. Who I foolishly want to believe can explain all of this.

“I was collecting those documents for you,” she says, giving me an answer I do not expect.

“You’re going to have to do better than that, sweetheart.”

“Have you even read them or did Seth just tell you they’re damning so you believed him?”

“You tell me,” I order. “About the papers. About everything.”

“Your father is up to something with the hedge fund he’s putting together. I pulled together the paperwork for you to look at.”

“There’s a lot more in those documents than information about that hedge fund.”

“I was alone in the offices and I snuck into your father’s office.” She presses her hands to the counter and looks at me, really looks at me for the first time since I confronted her. “Shane,” she says softly, a plea in her voice, a vulnerability in her eyes I’m not sure can be faked. “I know how this looks, but I swear to you that I did not betray you. This situation I’m in really isn’t about you or your family.”

I study her, trying to figure out why I want to believe her, when I have no reason to give her that trust at the point. “Then what’s it about?” I demand.

“It’s complicated,” she says, another tremble to her voice.

I resist an insane urge to close the space between us, grab her, kiss her, and fucking tell her everything is going to be okay. “Tell me.”

“I can’t.”

Rare, uncontained frustration rolls through me. “Damn it, Emily,” I growl, scrubbing fingers through my dark hair, which will no doubt soon be gray. I then rest my hands back on the counter to face her head-on. “What the hell is your real name?”

“Emily,” she repeats. “And this is going nowhere.” She pushes off the island. “I’m sorry. I should have never gotten involved with you. I’m leaving and you won’t see me again.”

She walks in my direction because she has no choice. It’s the only straight line to the door, and while I get that she is a caged animal trying to escape right now, that’s not going to happen. “You aren’t going anywhere until I get some answers,” I say, shackling her arm before she passes, turning her to face me, letting her see the distrust burning in my eyes. “This isn’t just about the two of us. This is about a company I pledged to protect.”

“Check the hotel security footage,” she says. “I was carrying a folder when I came here last night. Not that I can prove it had this information in it, but it did.” She pulls against my hold, which I tighten. “Please let me go,” she says, the plea laced with what almost sounds like regret, but then, what is real with her? What was ever real?

Seconds tick by, heavy like stone, and I stare at her, taking my time to reply, containing my simmering anger, but I let her see it. I let her feel the steel wire whipping here and there, and I don’t give her a path to dodge it or even soften its blow. Finally, I release her, but before she can move, I’ve gripped the waist of her blouse again, dragging her to me, the impact of her soft curves against mine a little too right to be so damn wrong.

“Tell me,” I demand, my tone roughened by the emotions I don’t want to name or feel for that matter, nor do I want to be staring into her eyes, looking for whatever the hell I’m looking for that I won’t find. Or maybe I will, and that’s the problem. She doesn’t want me to see it either, cutting her gaze to stare at my damn buttons again. “Look at me,” I demand of her.

She inhales, a soft sound that I don’t want to be sexy, but holy fuck, everything about this woman is sexy to me and that only pisses me off again. She lifts her chin, looking at me with those too blue eyes, and whispers, “I am sorry.”

“Is that a confession?”

“It’s an apology.”

“For what?”


I don’t like that answer. In fact, I hate that fucking answer, and I don’t hate any more easily than I love. Worse, I’m pretty damn sure I’m headed to one or the other with this woman; maybe I’ve already reached both. My gaze lowers to her mouth, lingering there, mine ready to claim hers, to punish her. “I wonder,” I say, my gaze finding hers, heat simmering low in my limbs, one part lust, another part fury, “how it is that I didn’t taste your lies. I wonder if they’ll taste differently now that I know they exist.”

I lower my head, leaning into her to find out when she shoves my chest, and says, “No!” before twisting away from me, leaving me no option but to risk hurting her if I don’t release her. I let her go; my idea of “punishment” is defined in many ways, and that includes her willing submission.

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