Torrid - Book Two(8)

By: Jayne Blue

“And,” Seth put his tablet down and leaned across the table, “George Pagano will be there for the entire week. I’m going to make sure we have dinner alone with him a couple of nights we’re there.” My blood ran cold as Seth tapped the end of my nose with his index finger. “Like I said, just get me in a room with him for a few minutes and I’ll straighten him out.”

Seth tweaked my nose. He could have tweaked my spinal cord and I don’t think I would have felt it. We were going to spend an entire week in the same place as George Pagano. I wasn’t stupid enough to think I’d just corner him one afternoon during a shuffleboard game and get him to admit to framing my father for felony drug dealing ... but an entire week in the same place!

“Sounds wonderful, baby,” I said, hoping my voice wasn’t shaking. “You’re so good to me.”

“That’s right,” Seth said. “Yesterday we made your dreams come true. Now it’s my turn.”

Smiling, I set my coffee mug on the table.

Chapter Four


“Thanks for clearing your schedule for me.” I shook Reed Burnett’s hand as we walked into his downtown office.

“You know you just have to ask,” Reed said, running a hand through his thinning white hair. “I just wish I had more I could tell you.” He gestured to the leather couch in the sitting area of his office. This was a casual visit, no reason for him to sit behind a desk.

I sat down and Reed sat across from me. “I’m going to smoke,” he said, reaching into his suit pocket. “Damn secretary’s out for the day and it’s my damn office. You want one?”

I waved him off. “No, but knock your damn self out.” I figured at Reed’s age, he ought to be able to make his own “damn” decisions about what he put into his body.

“Ahhh.” Reed took his first puff as he shook out the match and tossed it on the glass coffee table in front of us. “They’re either on me about my weight – and the cigarettes help – or they’re on me about these.” He waved a circle of smoke away from his face.

“I won’t tell a soul,” I smiled.

“Anyway,” Reed started. “Like I said. I wish I had more good news ... or any news for you, Jack. I had a chance to look over the trust document your dad actually signed. And I looked over all of Miranda’s estate filings. There just isn’t really anything we can do at this point to wrestle those software rights out of Seth’s hands. I don’t know why he did it, but your dad gave her absolute authority to do whatever the hell she wanted to with them.”

I nodded. “I figured as much. I’m just curious, though; do you know when he did it? When did he make those changes?”

Reed sat back. “At the end of 2003. Well before his mind really started to go bad.”

My father had suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s. He started showing symptoms in his mid-fifties. The last seven or eight years of his life, he didn’t always know who I was. He’d only been sixty-one when he died. But years before that, he’d given everything he owned to Miranda and shut me out. I never understood why. Whenever I tried to see him after that, we fought about it. Finally, Miranda tried to block me from seeing him altogether and more or less succeeded. It was something I tried not to think about. Staying clear of Chicago and Lake Bliss helped. But now, all those feelings of hurt and loss bubbled just below the surface.

“I figured as much,” I said. I kept my face and my tone flat. Losing my temper over it again would serve nothing and Reed was squarely on my side. “So, basically, unless Seth decides to grow a moral compass and signs those rights over to me, we’re pretty much done.”

Reed nodded as he leaned forward and ground out his cigarette. “I can’t prove he was unduly influenced without a witness. There’s just you and you’re the one who stands to financially benefit from it. We don’t have anybody who will talk that’s neutral.”

I nodded. I knew all of these things. It was only a fraction of the reason I came to see Reed. “Well, I appreciate you even taking the time to think about it, Reed. It means a lot to me that you know the truth. Dad did not mean to cut me out of his life like that.”

“Jack.” Reed leaned forward and put his hand on my knee. “He absolutely didn’t. I know it in my bones and you should too. Miranda was a selfish, insecure, manipulative, power-hungry bitch. Margie would kick the shit out of me for speaking ill of the dead, but that’s the honest-to-God truth even if you and I are the only ones left to know it.”

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