Home > Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(8)

Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(8)
Author: Lisa Renee Jones

I hand Seth back his phone. “How the fuck did you get that?”

“What you don’t know can’t hurt you. Don’t ask. Don’t tell.”

“Now you sound like Emily.”

He arches a brow. “For some reason, I thought you indicated she was giving you answers?”

“She’s in trouble and she doesn’t want to drag me into it.”

“That gets my vote.”

“Yes, because leaving someone I care about to crash and burn on her own is who I am,” I say, that remark of Emily’s about being selfish still weighing on me. I have a brother in bed with a drug cartel. How safe am I really keeping her?

“Easy, man,” Seth says. “I didn’t realize this was as serious as it clearly is.”

“Back to the pill bottle,” I snap, crossing my arms in front of my chest.

He settles his hands on his hips under his jacket. “Unfortunately it was empty, but I have the bottle. Nick can get it tested for residue.”

Nick being his ex-FBI buddy whose private security team I now employ. “I’m going to call Brody and invite him to dinner on the pretense of corporate sponsorship,” I say. “If I can sit down with him, I can evaluate where his head is right now. Maybe I can even get him to talk.”

“Brody isn’t our problem,” Seth says, “at least not immediately. It’s his wife. She’s running her mouth and getting noticed. It’s only so long before the FBI gets word of her claims and the Martina cartel as well. And for her, that could be lethal.”

“She wants money,” I say. “Give it to her. In payments with a confidentiality agreement that ensures she won’t hold us captive for more.”

“As in how much?”

“Start low and cap it at three hundred and fifty thousand, but you handle it. Not Nick or one of his people. I trust you. Not them.”

“Understood,” he says. “I’m actually meeting Nick here at the hotel to hand over the medicine bottle in fifteen minutes and then heading home, but we have people watching the hotel and her apartment.” He eyes the bathroom area as an elderly woman exits the hallway. “Unless you need me to stay?”

“Go. I’ve got Emily handled.”

He studies me for several beats, as if he wants to ask the questions about Emily that I can’t answer, then inclines his chin and starts walking. My gaze goes to the bathroom, which Emily has yet to exit. Something feels off. I walk toward the bathroom and I’m at the archway, fully prepared to enter the bathroom again, when Rita catches my arm. “No,” she snaps. “You are not going back in there no matter how much you pay me.”

“Go inside and find Emily for me. Petite. Long brown hair. Blue eyes and she’s wearing a navy skirt and blouse.”

She glowers, but sighs and heads in that direction. I follow her to the door and wait, ready to just walk in myself. She has ten seconds and then I’m going in. One. Two. Three. Four. The door opens. “There’s no one in here.”

“Holy fuck.”

“Wow,” she says. “Shane Brandon’s been blown off.”

I ignore her, already walking toward the lobby, my phone in my hand and Seth’s auto-dial punched in. “Emily slipped past us. Tell me someone is following her.”

“She hasn’t come out the front door. I’m calling my men.”

“Meet me at the front door.”


Still reeling from Shane’s confrontation, which I’d foolishly convinced myself would never happen, I round the corner to enter the lobby now bustling with people, leaving Shane, along with a piece of my heart, behind in the bar. White tiles line my path to the front exit of the hotel Shane calls home, that I dared to believe I might be able to with him. But this is no yellow brick road, with an emerald palace waiting on me, and it never was. I should have left a long time ago, before I got this close to Shane, before someone like Seth thought I could be a problem. I can’t believe a kiss and a promise from Shane almost made me forget how unfair the burden of my confessions would be to him. And how dangerous. Even knowing this, standing there in that bathroom, he’d made me believe he could take on every monster in my closet and win. To exit the bathroom and find him absorbed in an intense conversation with Seth had thrown much-needed water in my face. I don’t have one monster to defeat. I have many, some of which are not just powerful, they’re capable of destroying him, which means if I lead them to him, I’m the one destroying him.

I can’t do that. I won’t do that.

The sudden urge to turn and look behind me comes with the prickling of the hairs on the back of my neck and a sense of being followed or watched. It’s all I can do not to at least peek over my shoulder, or quicken my pace, both of which will draw attention to me, which I can’t afford. If Shane or someone else is pursuing me, nothing changes. I’m getting in a cab, even if it means making a scene. How I’ll escape from there, I’ll figure out later. I’m about to pass the hallway leading to the elevator bank, and my plan changes. It’s a dangerous decision, and a good way to get trapped, but I cut right and down the hall, hoping for a true escape. All I need to do is get outside, and lost in the many nooks and crannies of downtown Denver. It’s not a good plan, but it’s my only option.

Reaching the cars, I punch the call button and hug myself, nervously watching for Shane or Seth or who knows who else to round that corner. Almost instantly, the doors to one of the two elevators open and I rush inside, facing the panel, about to punch the garage level, when a realization hits me: There’s a camera in the elevator. My mind racing for yet another plan, I punch in the gym level, and hope that it will appear I am hiding there, which could buy me much needed time. Hugging myself again, I wait to be sealed inside, collapsing against the wall when no one stops my departure. Then I watch each floor tick by.

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