Beneath This Ink (Page 69)

The dock creaked with the weight of a person. I leaned back in my chair and swigged my whiskey. I wouldn’t resist. I would cooperate.

But the person who sat down beside me wasn’t Hennessy. It was Lord. My brother. The one I never told anyone about because he didn’t want people to know unless they figured it out themselves. He was a weird motherfucker, but considering the shit he’d been through after we’d been separated as kids, I didn’t push him on it. That was his story to tell. Once I’d finally opened up to Joy and Andre about Lord, they’d started trying to track him down. He’d been a runaway, so finding him wasn’t easy. Andre’s private eye didn’t get a lock on him until just before I graduated from high school. Lord had popped up in the system because he’d enlisted in the Army. So I did the same.

“I was expecting the cops,” I said.

“I figured. You got me instead. Thought you’d want to know that your girl’s at the hospital.”

My hold on the whiskey bottle slipped, and I grabbed it just before it hit the wood. “What the fuck? Is she okay?” I demanded, fighting the urge to bolt out of my seat and go to her.

“The old man collapsed after you walked out the door. I called an ER nurse I’ve been fucking, and she filled me in. EMTs worked on him all the way to the hospital, but he didn’t make it. Probably a heart attack.”

My tensed muscles didn’t relax at his explanation. Fuck.

“So I killed him anyway.” My grip on the glass tightened, and I made myself lift my arm and take another drink. “Now I’m even more surprised the cops aren’t out here to take me in.”

Lord lowered himself into the chair beside me and sat something on the table between us.

The gun.

My eyes cut from the revolver to Lord. “What the hell?”

“Your girl gave it to me. Told me to take it. She covered for you. Said they were all working late and she found him collapsed on the floor.”

“What about Hennessy? Titan said he’d called him. Said he was on his way.”

“A bluff.”

“Fuck.” I dropped my glass onto the table next to the gun and swigged the whiskey straight from the bottle, welcoming the burn as it slid down my throat. “Taking it to his grave, then.”

“I doubt it. Your girl doesn’t seem like the type to let something like this lie.”

“I think after tonight, it’s safe to say she might take issue with being called my girl.” I hated to say the words, but they were undoubtedly true.

“You might be surprised.”

“After I killed her great uncle? I doubt it.” I stared at the horizon, lifting the bottle to my lips once more.

“So you’re just going to walk away from her? Let that Titan prick have her?”

The thought gutted me.

For once in my life I should be the better man. Let her go. Or at least not chase her down when she walked away.

Lord snagged the bottle from my hand, interrupting my thoughts, and took a long pull.

We passed the rest of the night like that, only moving to get another fifth. We drank in silence, both lost in our own thoughts, until the sun rose over the lake.

I would be pulling a funeral dress out of the closet yet again. My emotions were all over the map. I was still trying to reconcile the facts that Lucas had uncovered with the Archer I had known until yesterday.

Not to mention trying to process what Con had—and hadn’t—done. And the aftermath.

If I’d wanted to run away and hide from the world before, I desperately wanted to do it today.

But I couldn’t. I had to sit in my office, white knuckling the arms of my chair while the board of directors held an emergency meeting. In that meeting, Lucas would lay out all of the information he’d discovered. We’d discussed it, and I’d agreed. It would be up to the board to decide what to do with the foundation. Even though it was my heritage, I was just an employee without a say. Hell, I didn’t even get to attend—not unless the new chairman invited me. Which he hadn’t.

So instead, I sat and wondered what Con was doing. If he’d washed his hands of me. If I should be washing my hands of him.

I was having a difficult time holding what he’d done against him.

The need for vengeance had been driving him for so long, I wasn’t sure he knew how to operate without it. And the fact that his vengeance intersected with my relative’s nefarious activities… that was something I couldn’t see him ever getting over.

I honestly didn’t know what to do.

One thing I was certain of: I needed to hear what the board decided before I’d be able to face him. I needed to be able to tell him that steps would be taken to make things right. Or if not right—because things could never really be right again—at least… better. Somehow.

I stacked all of my project folders and notes about the new headquarters and nonprofit incubator in a box. It would never happen now. I thought of the deed in one of those folders. How Con had given it to me because he didn’t want to wonder if that was the reason I was with him. How pissed he’d been when he’d thought I’d taken it and walked away.

What should I do with it now? Tear it up? Give it back? I was supposed to go to the parish clerk to have the deed recorded and made part of the legal chain of title for the property, but I’d kept forgetting to take it there.

Maybe that was fate.

Because now it seemed abhorrently wrong that Con had donated it when he’d already lost so much because of the foundation.

Regardless of what the board decided today, I would give it back. It would at least give me a flimsy excuse to go see him.