Torrid - Book Two(3)

By: Jayne Blue


“I’ll be right back, baby,” I said, putting a kiss on his cheek. “I’m feeling a little wilted. I just need to freshen up. Do you mind?”

Seth shook his head. “People are gonna start to leave in a few so don’t take too long. When you throw your bouquet, you need to aim for the mayor’s daughter. See her over there? She’s the one in the corner with the fat ass and the nose job.”

I froze when he said it. Seth’s drunk whisper carried the same decibel as a shout and several people near us heard it. “Whatever you say, baby,” I said, straightening. “Try and stay out of trouble while I’m gone.” When I turned, Seth delivered a stinging smack square on my ass and the same group of people who’d heard his insensitive comment about the mayor’s daughter had the decency to look even more disgusted. I put on my smile and straightened my back as I walked past them.

***

True to his word, Mrs. Barlow, the housekeeper, was nowhere to be found as I made my way back to Miranda’s study. Jack waited for me there, leaning against her massive wooden desk. I couldn’t help but blush again as the memory of letting Jack bend me over it flashed through my head.

“See,” he said. “Piece of cake.”

I shut the door behind me and went to him. I don’t know if he saw something in my face; I’d tried so hard to keep it neutral. But Jack pushed himself off the desk and wrapped his arms around me. I rested my head against his chest and let him hold me close.

“I hate that you’re doing this,” he said. “It’s dangerous and a little bit foolish, Tora. You’re going to get hurt.”

I should have pulled away. I should have stayed strong and kept my distance. “I’m already hurt, Jack. And now you know how much.”

He moved his hands to my upper arms and sat back down on the desk, holding me away from him a little so he could look me in the eyes. His were soft and kind but a line of worry creased his brow that I knew I put there.

“I want to get you out of here. Come with me. We can figure out a different way to help your dad.”

God, it was so tempting. I’d been carrying the burden and my secret for so long. But I also knew how close I was now to exposing the truth. Seth had confessed his part in framing my dad as a drug dealer in order to save George Pagano – an even bigger client. Now I just had to get hard evidence.

“I don’t need saving, Jack,” I said.

“Yes, you do!” He nearly shouted it and made me flinch. “Yes, you do.” He lowered his voice. “I more than anyone know how hard it is to go up against Miranda Manning. Remember, I tried it myself and lost.”

“Exactly. So you of all people should know what it feels like to have Miranda take away something from you. She took your father from you. Now she’s taken mine from me, except I have a chance to get him back. The only way that happens is if I stay close to Seth. Miranda’s in her grave. You see how weak Seth is. He’s nothing without her pulling the strings. I just need a little bit of time. I’ve come this far.”

I stepped back out of Jack’s arms. He let out a great sigh and ran his hand over his face. “Will you at least let me help you?”

“You are helping me. Just having someone else in the world that knows what she’s done and believes me. I hadn’t realized how much I needed that. So thank you.”

“At least let me take a look at the files you found in Miranda’s attic,” he said.

I shook my head. The whole reason I started this deception was to get my hands on those files. The answer was in there somewhere. In a witness statement. A bank document. Something. Miranda’s trail of lies started there and now Seth led me to where it ended. George Pagano. I needed evidence to connect the two. The George Pagano part was what I hadn’t yet shared with Jack.

“You don’t know what to look for,” I said.

“Neither do you!”

“Yes, I do.” I whirled around him. “I spent four months working in Miranda’s old firm. I know their shorthand.”

Jack slapped his hand against the desk. “Jesus, Tora. Do you think you’re gonna find some note in that file that says, September 1st, frame Declan McLain for RICO violation?”

My blood roiled. I’d been living in this nightmare for six months and thirteen years before that. I’d be damned if I’d let Jack unravel what I’d started. “I’m not an idiot, Jack.”

“I never said you were.”

“I know what I’m looking for and Seth’s getting weaker by the day. He drinks more than he doesn’t and now that he feels like Pagano has backed out on him, he’s getting angrier.” Shit. I’d let anger make me careless. It was too late though. Jack’s face had gone white and his brown eyes widened. He ran a hand over his face again.

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