Home > Fourth Debt (Indebted #5)(14)

Fourth Debt (Indebted #5)(14)
Author: Pepper Winters

Sickness drenched my senses with agony.

“Drop her, Daniel!” Cut yelled.

Daniel’s fingers were suddenly torn from my hair, letting me slouch backward, landing in my chair. Jasmine fought off her brother, slapping him away. “Don’t fucking touch her. What did I say? I’m in charge. I’m the oldest.”

My eyes watered as more blood gushed from my nose. I didn’t think it was broken, but the room spun with an induced vertigo wave.

God, what was I thinking?

The plan was to remain cool and invisible, looking for the perfect chance.

Now I couldn’t think straight with pain.

“You’re not in fucking charge, Jaz. She’s mine.” Daniel pointed at Marshall. “Tell her. Amend it, so my sister can shut the fuck up about the rules.”

Marshall looked awkwardly at Cut. “Sir?”

Cut ran a hand over his face, slowly sitting back down. “No, the conversation we had yesterday still stands.” His lips turned up at the rapidly building stain from my nosebleed. Every red drip redecorated the table and the front of my cardigan. “Someone get her a damn napkin.”

Jasmine shuffled in her wheelchair, pulling out a white handkerchief. “Here.” Shoving it into my hand, her eyes flickered with compassion.

It only made me hate her more.

Scrunching up the material, I held it to my nose, getting sick joy from destroying the white perfection. The stuffiness made me breathless, and my eyes drifted to the corner where initials had been embroidered.


I dropped it.

Oh, my God.

My hand splayed open, tinged with crimson and sticky but unable to hide the two tattoos on my fingertips. JKH.

Jasmine kept her brother’s handkerchief.

Why? To rub salt in already hollowed wounds or to laugh over fooling him just like she’d fooled me.

I locked eyes with her, pouring all my rage into my stare. “You’ll pay for what you’ve done.” Glancing at Bonnie and Cut, I added, “You’ll all pay.”

Marshall cleared his throat loudly. “I think the little interlude has come to an end. Shall we continue?”

“Yes, let’s,” Bonnie sniffed. “Never seen something so unruly in all my life.” Sniffing in my direction, she tilted her chin. “Another word out of you, Weaver, and you won’t like the consequences.”

Daniel moaned, “But Grandmamma—”

“Buzzard, zip it,” Cut growled. “Sit down or leave. But don’t fucking talk again.”

Daniel muttered under his breath but plonked back into his chair.

Jasmine grabbed the red-sodden material and shoved it under my nose. “Hold this, shut up, and don’t get into any more trouble.”

The skirmish ended; no one moved.

Silence hovered thick over the table.

The only sound was the heavy ticking of a grandfather clock by the gold ladder leading to the limited editions above. Side lamps had been switched on, filling the large space with warm illumination, while curtains blocked any remaining light that dared trespass on priceless books or fade cherished words.

Finally, Marshall sucked in a breath. He rearranged his fountain pen again. “Now that we’re all on the same page, I’ll carry on.” Looking at me, he said, “For the rest of this meeting, you may address me as Marshall, or by my first name, which is Colin. These are my colleagues.”

Pointing to the man closest to him: a potbellied, watery-eyed bald guy, he continued, “This is Hartwell Backham, followed by Samuel Cole, and my son Matthew Marshall.”

My nose ached but the bleeding had stopped, leaving me stuffed up. I glowered at the men. There wasn’t an ounce of mercy in their gazes.

They were here to do the job they’d been entrusted. Their loyalties were steadfast. Their intentions unchangeable.

I doubted they saw me as human—just a clause in a contract and nothing more.

Daniel poked me under the table. “After your little stunt, the least you can do is be nice.” His voice deepened. “Say hello.”

Yet another way to make me obey. He didn’t care about pleasantries—only about making me submit to his every childish whim.

I sat straighter.

I’ll do nothing of the sort.

Jasmine nudged me. “If you won’t listen to him, listen to me. Do it.”

I glared at her. “Why should I?”

“Because you belong to her, you little cow.” Grabbing her cane, Bonnie struck her chair leg as if the furniture would turn into a horse and gallop her away from there. “Start. Now.”

Marshall launched into action. “Of course, Madame Hawk. My apologies.” Slapping open the file in front of him, his partners copied. Ledgers flung open and pens uncapped.

“Let me assure you that we’re honoured to once again provide service to your impeccable family,” Marshall twittered like a buffoon.

Cut groaned, steepling his fingers. “Lose the arse kissing. Did you bring the file or not?”

Paper scattered the wooden tabletop like fallen snowflakes, reminding me all over again of the icy way Jethro protected himself—the arctic coolness and thawing as I slowly made him want me.

The pain in my nose shot to my heart.

He’s dead.

He’s dead.

Don’t think about him.

Marshall selected a certain page. “I did.” Looking at his son—the blond buzz cut douchebag—he pointed at a box by the exit. “Grab that will you, Matthew?”

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