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pulsed through me as to why my father had brought this mess upon us. I shouldn t have
refused to talk to him before he died. If I had listened to what he had to say, maybe I d know
what was going on and figure a way out.
Taking a deep breath, I sat in my chair and retrieved the spreadsheet files. I had too
much on my plate, and I couldn t afford another distraction. The company and my relationship
with Brooke came first. I d deal with the club later.
Brooke was late and a workaholic. I wouldn t have been surprised if she had forgotten
about our date. My phone cradled between my shoulder and my ear, I waited for her to pick up
her cell phone. The line went straight to voicemail like it had for the last few hours. I
should ve checked on her after her conference, but shareholder calls kept trickling in and I had
no time. Besides, I figured she d be busy and we d talk over dinner anyway.
 Fuck. I slammed my phone on my desk and turned to look out the window. Clearly she
was pissed, and I had no idea why. I d probably gone too far by telling her she couldn t break
up with me. Brooke didn t like to be told what she could or couldn t do. But damn it! The
woman had issues.
 Can I get you anything before I head home? Emma asked from the doorway. I turned,
realizing I hadn t even heard her walk in. She was dressed in a fitted trench coat and was
holding a briefcase in one hand. A handbag dangled from the other arm. I wondered how much
they had cost her. My father hadn t been known for his generosity with his mistresses. Maybe
he had been more smitten with this one than the rest, even though they all sure looked the
same, albeit they were getting younger with each new conquest.
 No. You can go, I said.  On second thought, have you seen Brooke?
 She left during her meeting. I haven t seen her since.
I frowned.  Which meeting?
 The one that started at eleven a.m. She didn t return for the afternoon acquisitions
talks. Your brother jumped in. She smiled.  Want me to call him? He might still be around.
 I ll do it, I said to get her to leave. Even if I called Nate, he probably wouldn t know more
than I did.
Emma s gaze lingered on me as if she wanted to say something else, and then she settled
on,  Have a good weekend.
I mumbled a  yeah, have a good one, too and turned my attention back to my cell phone.
After she closed the door behind her, I sank in my chair, my fingers tapping on the huge desk
in annoyance as I recalled my conversation with Brooke. I was sure I d heard her correctly
when she agreed to talk over dinner. Why would she do that and then leave without telling
me? I always thought of her as responsible, which made me assume whatever issues she had
wouldn t encourage her to run from me. It wasn t like her. Or maybe I didn t know her as well
as I thought I did.
At 7:30 p.m. and countless calls later, I realized she wasn t going to pick up, and I dialed
Sylvie s number. The line rang a few times before she replied.
 Where s Brooke? I asked by means of introduction. The television was blasting in the
background. A brief pause ensued, during which she lowered the volume.
 Jett? She sounded surprised, probably not expecting to hear from me.  I saw her
yesterday. She hesitated.  Is everything okay between you guys?
Sylvie probably knew we weren t okay, but I wasn t ready to go into that.
 We re good. She told me you met, I said.  Apparently she left work early, and I thought
she might be with you. We were supposed to meet for an early dinner. I got us a table at Le
 Wow. That place is booked months in advance. Wish I could come along. Sylvie let out
a sigh of relief.  I m so glad things worked out. I was worried she might be too scared to tell
Tell me what? I frowned, realizing I was missing a part of the picture. Brooke hadn t been
particularly talkative the night before. In fact, I had never seen her so quiet. The following
morning she had been even more cryptic.
 So what do you think? she asked.
 About what? I asked cautiously.
 About how I found the book with the disk tucked inside my handbag, she said. I froze.
 I swear it was an accident, but I m taking the blame even though Brooke s adamant she put
them inside my bag. Don t listen to her, though. She laughed.
 What the hell are you talking about? I rubbed my temples as I tried to make sense of
her drivel.  What book?
The line remained silent for a moment.
 She didn t tell you, did she? Sylvie whispered eventually.  Oh, shit. The line went dead.
Without a second thought, I redialed her number because no one hung up on me. This time
Sylvie picked up on the first ring.
 Sorry, Jett. I got disconnected. Bad signal. She laughed. What was it with people and
laughing when they were lying?  So, Brooke s not there?
Ignoring her question, I decided not to beat around the bush.  Are we talking about the
same book and disk that were stolen in Bellagio?
 Yep. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on the way you see it. They were not
stolen, just  she paused   misplaced.
I took a deep breath and let it out slowly as I sorted through my thoughts.
 Where are they now, Sylvie?
 With Brooke, of course, she said, and then she started to chat away. Her words flew so
fast it felt like a sledgehammer was pounding inside my head.  Honestly, I thought she had
told you already. She wanted to do it last night because she knew you d be angry and she
wanted to get it off her chest.
 Whoa, slow down. I pinched the bridge of my nose.  First, why did Brooke assume I d
be angry? That s crazy.
 I don t know. Maybe because you could blame her for your father s death? She made
the question sound like a statement.
 Bullshit. I was so angry I felt like I could hit a wall.  I d never blame her for anything.
 Brooke told me how guilty you feel about your father s death. She thinks that since the
book was never stolen, she might have caused his death.
 What the fuck? For someone so clever, Brooke s reasoning sucked.  That s the most
fucked-up thing I ve ever heard. She knows Robert and I never had a close relationship. I
stopped grieving about my father a week ago. Right after I found out about the missing fifty
million dollars.
 Right. The way you say it makes it all sound really stupid. Brooke was convinced you
blamed yourself.
 I do. My voice dropped to a whisper.  But for different reasons than you think. I stood
and began pacing the room up and down, my anger coursing through me.  Look, I m worried
about the company. I ve kept us from drowning for years, but my father s legacy is a huge
financial hole that could swallow half New York City. The books don t make sense, and I can t
tell anyone about it without risking the shares taking a dive. I know you have a business
degree, so you can imagine what that would mean. My glance fell on the clock on the wall.  It
doesn t matter now. I need to talk to Brooke. Do you have an idea where she might be? Coffee
shops she frequents? I m not comfortable with her being alone. Not when she has that damn
book and she s in a conflicted state of mind thinking I m the enemy.
 Have you tried calling her?
 Yeah. I cringed inwardly, not stating the obvious.  It s switched off. I wouldn t have
called you if it wasn t.
 Switched off as in  you can t reach her because she s blocking your calls or switched off
as in  switched off ? she asked.
 Sorry. Sylvie continued in her annoying  sorry for even asking voice.  I just can t
believe she would switch off her cell. She never does. Maybe the battery s dead or she left it
somewhere. Did you guys have a fight? [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]