Home > Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(21)

Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(21)
Author: Lisa Renee Jones

“I would have been,” I confirm. “But staying here at this hotel wasn’t putting distance between us. What changed?”

“I’d lost enough time that I knew you’d have the streets covered. I needed a place to rest and think. I needed a plan I didn’t have.”

The certainty that someone, most likely her brother, has been directing her actions comes to my mind. “No one told you to come here?”

Her brow furrows. “Who would tell me to come here? What kind of question is that?” Her eyes go wide. “Do you think I’m supposed to be meeting someone?”


“You do.” Anger flashes in her eyes, and she tries to move away, but I tighten my grip around her legs.

“Emily,” I try again.

“Let me go,” she orders, pressing on my shoulders. “This is what I was talking about. Even if I tell you everything, you will never trust me.”

“It’s not like that. I admit that when you first came here, I thought you were meeting someone. Perhaps someone who was blackmailing you, but that isn’t why I’m asking now. You call someone on that extra phone of yours, I assume to be your brother, and I need to know if he or someone else is involved.”

“My brother is who I’ve been calling.”

“No one else?”

She shakes her head. “No one else.”

My questions are many, and I start with the most basic. “What’s your real name?” She hesitates and I press. “You need—”

“I’m not that other person. I can’t ever be her again.”

“You can be her with me. Just me. Right here right now. What is—”

“Reagan Morgan,” she blurts out.

“Reagan,” I repeat, squeezing her legs. “Nice to meet you, Reagan.”

“Emily,” she corrects. “That’s the name I have to keep if I’m going to stay safe.”

“If you’re staying Emily Stevens, then you need the holes in your identity fixed. Did you call your brother tonight?”

“Over and over,” she says, and I don’t miss how her fingers curl into her palms where they rest on her knees. “But as always, he’s impossible to reach.”

“Why is that?”

“He says he’s fixing things, but he told me he’d fix things weeks ago. That’s why I stayed with you. I thought this would be over, and then I could tell you everything. But it’s not over and I’m starting to wonder if it ever will be. Honestly, I don’t know how I thought it would ever be over.”

“It will be,” I say, cautiously moving toward the meat of her story, slowly gathering facts. “What’s your brother’s name?”

“Rick,” I say. “Also Morgan.”

“And your stepfather?”

“Cooper Wright.”

“I need the name of the hacker group you’re running from.”

“I can’t give that to you.”

Again, I tighten my grip around her legs, but I soften my voice. “I can’t protect us from an enemy I don’t know. I won’t see them coming and neither of us can know if they’ve found you or me. And if they haven’t, they still might end up right here.”

She pales. “They could already know who you are, and I let that happen.” She doesn’t give me time to reply. “The Geminis,” she blurts out. “And they’re powerful, Shane. Really, scary powerful.”

I know her and she doesn’t spook easily, but she’s close to this. Maybe too close to see a solution, or a weakness, in what could be a two-bit hacking operation. “Why are they after you? What did you see?”

She presses her hands to her face. “Something bad. Really bad.” She looks up at me. “I was in law school, Shane. Two years in and now I’ve thrown it away.”


“The University of Texas, but I got accepted to Harvard.”

Her eagerness to talk about my Harvard experience comes back to me. “Why didn’t you attend?”

“I was worried about my brother. I just … I knew he was headed into trouble. He’s not like me. He’s impetuous. He’s wild. He’s into hot cars, hot women, and money. He’s addicted to the money the Geminis represent to him. I think he’s addicted to the danger.”

“You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved.”

“In my mind I know that, but in my heart, he’s my baby brother, and I’ve been protecting him since my mother checked out.”

“Checked out?”

“She was different after my father’s suicide and blind to any flaw that was my stepfather’s. Therefore, with my brother working with him, learning a craft, she wanted to believe it was all legit. She all but pushed my brother into a life of crime.”

“What did she do for a living?”

“She was an English professor, and it’s the one thing she hung on to. Everything else was about my stepfather. He ordered her around. She almost seemed scared of him at times, but she was head over heels.”

“How was it when he took over guardianship?”

“He barely spoke to me. He kept me around to satisfy my brother and I’m pretty sure he had my brother try to recruit me to work with him.”

“But you refused.”

“Of course I refused, but I darn sure took all the cash he threw at me as a method of parenting. I saved twenty thousand dollars for school that way.”

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