I looked at him and scoffed. “Mason Kade? Being the voice of reason in a fight? Since when?”
He smirked. “I’ve matured.”
“Yeah, well, your brother hasn’t.”
As soon as the words were out, a different heaviness came over the room.
“When you want the bomb to explode, you call Logan.” His words were quiet.
It was almost sacrilegious that we hadn’t called Logan from the jump, but he was right.
When Logan came in, everything ramped up five levels. He was the dynamite we could send in to mess everything up if that was what we wanted, but right now, in my state, I needed studious and calculating.
I needed Mason.
I just hadn’t fully expected him to come right away. I thought within a day or two. He must’ve been out the door within thirty minutes, flying from Boston straight here.
“Thanks for coming.” My voice was a little raw, but that was how I was feeling.
“Thanks for asking.”
I glanced over, and he was watching me steadily.
There was a message there.
I never asked when we were younger. He was right.
“Thank you.” I said it again because it felt right to repeat it.
He nodded. “You gotta know that the Royas Casino…”
“Rumor is that there’s a mob connection to it.”
“How do you know that?”
“My dad. He looked into expanding up here with a couple of his companies and ran across the Royas Casino. Corporate world is sometimes a small world. I recognized the name when you said it.”
“He backed away because of the connection?”
Mason’s face hardened, which it normally did when he talked about his father. “Let’s just say there was a conflict of interest. Don’t give James any credit.”
I nodded, sipping my coffee as I mulled that over.
James Kade was not an upstanding businessman, so the way Mason talked about that topic told me there was a whole lot there I probably didn’t want to know. Noted.
“You know how strong the connection is? If there’s a fight, that’s who we’re really fighting?”
He let out a sigh, raking his hand down his face. “I don’t know. I hope not because we don’t take on those kinds of fights.”
“Channing could maybe help.”
His whole face tightened. “No. He couldn’t. That’s the conflict of interest.”
I stared at him a moment, letting his words digest. Then I got it.
That wasn’t good.
Channing was another friend from high school who had connections to a powerful motorcycle club. If that was the conflict of interest, then he was right. Channing couldn’t help us, but besides Channing’s connections and Mason’s father’s illegal connections, we had nothing going for us if it was a fight like that.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t go there.”
Mason sighed. “Let’s hope.”
“So, then we’re going legal.” I stared at him.
He stared back.
Legal was Logan’s world.
And that meant inviting the bomb early, earlier than I was ready for.
As if reading my mind, Mason stood. “Let’s get the paternity test first, and then go from there.”
I nodded, but I was remembering the conversation downstairs.
How smooth she’d been.
She’d been nervous.
She needed to take two shots before saying anything, then it came out almost as if she couldn’t stop herself. She blurted it out and slid the papers over immediately.
She’d been very un-smooth.
Which gave me an opening.
She was nervous about either me or asking me to sign away my daughter.
Good. She should’ve been more terrified than she had been, but that also told me she knew it’d been wrong. She knew she was in the wrong.
Or I was hoping. Again.
“I’ll call the aunt.”
Mason was scanning the suite. “I had like three hours of sleep before you called. You got a guest bedroom in this fucking huge-ass suite?”
I covered a grin, nodding to the small hallway. “Take my bed. Sheets were changed, and I didn’t use it.”
I grabbed my phone and gave him a long look. “Like I’m going to be sleeping anytime soon?” I gestured to the couch. “If I need a nap, I’ll grab the couch.”
His eyes fell to my phone. “You want me to wait?”
“Nah.” Even thinking about the conversation I needed to have with Quincey made everything inside me lock down.
“I’ve got it.”
He clapped a hand on the wall, picking up his bag. “Wake me when we gotta go.”
He headed to the room, the door shut, and I took a breath before moving back out to the patio.
Then I dialed the phone.
I felt like the female lead in The Cutting Edge when the hockey guy was coming to her personal home.
I had a sudden and fierce empathy for that character because that was what was happening here. Nate called this morning. I’d been up all night, unable to sleep, and when I saw his name on the phone, I knew this was just the start of the war. And that was a deeply unsettling feeling.
Here…he was coming here, to our home, my home, my territory.
I was standing in front of the living room’s grand window. It looked out over our entire estate, and since we had a long driveway with a picturesque field of horses right next to it, we could see who was coming almost a mile away. Trees arched over the driveway on the other side as it led to a circle that looped in front of the main entrance.
If my other opponents were coming here, I’d have an edge of intimidation over them by seeing them first.
This place was impressive and intimidating to some.
The sprawling mansion had a pool behind it and three barns on the property. One was for the horses, and one was all mine as my personal dance studio. I was yearning to be there right now. I needed to dance off these nerves, pull walls of steel around me because I knew Nate Monson wasn’t going to give a flying fuck about this place. It wouldn’t scare him one bit. So my edge over my enemy was taken from me simply because of who he was.