“I don’t know… If he set up Addison…” Jase’s thoughts are left unfinished, but I know what he’s thinking. If Marcus is after us, it’s only a matter of time before we find out what he truly wants.
And if he went after Addison, he won’t stop until he has her.
“The cameras and men have the safe house fully under surveillance?” I question Jase, although it’s more of a reminder to myself. He nods with his thumb brushing across his lip.
“Yeah, there’s no way he’d get in without us knowing.”
“And who knows?” I ask him as the pieces fall one by one into the puzzle of how to handle this.
“Who knows what?” he asks to clarify, a brow lifting.
“Who knows we had someone steal from us and then they turned up dead?”
“Jared and two of his men. The men in our pocket at the station want to know what to do; they haven’t asked outright, but they think it was our hit on the fucker.”
“Good.” My quick response in a hardened voice surprises my brother. He should know better by now. “Tell Jared I handled the prick who broke in. Tell the police that we’re grateful for their cooperation and pay them off.” Jase’s eyes go wide and a look of outrage is there for only a moment. But as soon as it comes, it’s gone.
“So, no one thinks we don’t have this under control?” he surmises.
“But we don’t.”
“It’s about perception, Jase. One moment of what could look like weakness and our allies become enemies. The men we have under our thumb think they can wiggle free and take a shot back.”
“What do I do about finding out who did this shit?”
“Put Declan on it. He needs to go through home security system footage around the river starting at the dead fuck’s house. We can’t rely on the city surveillance.”
As Jase nods, he settles into the chair. No one steals from us or fucks with us. Even Marcus wouldn’t dare. I never thought it was him when it came to Addison. Daniel came up with that shit himself because he had no one else to blame.
“I’ll let Declan know,” he tells me, still nodding in agreement.
“You’re not going to tell me one thing and then turn around and tell our men something else, are you?” I let the words slip out with my disappointment and a trace of animosity evident in my tone.
“Don’t do that shit,” he bites back, shaking his head. “Tell me I didn’t do the right thing, and I’ll apologize.”
The large clock ticks steadily in the background as my grip tightens on the armrest and a tic in my jaw spasms.
“You were… in a state where I think you would agree I needed to step in.” He raises his hands quickly as my gaze narrows and the temperature of my blood rises. “It was a difficult night, and I would have never stepped in if what happened wasn’t exactly how it happened.”
My blunt nails dig into the leather armrests as I try to contain my anger, even as my brother sits there as if we’re just having a casual conversation as if he’s no threat to me.
“I won’t do it again,” he tells me easily, and then clears his throat. “I didn’t want…” he trails off and looks away over to his left, to the box still on the ground and out of place. “I just,” he looks back up at me and I can read the sincerity on his face, “I didn’t want her to hate you.”
It takes a moment for him to contain the uncertainty and pain in his expression. With each second, every tick of the clock, the truth of what he says chips away at the resentment I feel over what he did. “You’ve been mad at me before; I know you’ll get over it. This isn’t the first time I’ve crossed the line and it won’t be the last. But I love you, as my brother and my friend, and I didn’t want her to hate you. I know you love her.”
I haven’t seen Jase like this in years. Not since the last funeral he went to. And the second his confession is over, he starts up a new conversation, never giving me the chance to respond.
“I didn’t come in here to bother you with this shit.”
My throat is dry, and I reach behind me for two tumblers and whiskey before asking him, “What shit did you come in to bother me with then?”
“About Aria meeting with Nikolai.”
“I know she decided to go. I spoke to Eli when they left.”
“She already left?” he questions, shaking his head. “What is he going to tell her?”
“It doesn’t matter,” I say to put an end to his bullshit. “I let her go. She wanted to go to him.” I down the whiskey in my glass before pouring myself more and then pouring three fingers into his glass and offering it to him.