“Can I have a popsicle?” Gunnar asked, peeking his head through the door.
“Sure thing, kiddo,” Puck said. He pulled away from me to walk over to an old fridge he’d put out here. I heard the freezer drawer slide open, and then he was handing treats out to both the kids. “You want one, Becs?”
Stuffing the envelope into my back pocket, I shook my head.
“No, I’m good,” I told him. “I should go help Danielle.”
He held my gaze for a second, then shrugged.
“Love you, too.”
Leaving them, I headed back to the house, considering my mom’s note. Six years, four cards . . . Maybe a total of a couple hundred words.
So much for that relationship.
When I’d first gotten pregnant with Katy, I’d spent months worrying about all the things I might do wrong. In the end, it turned out to be pretty simple—feed them, kiss their boo-boos. Make sure their clothes were clean, or at least cleanish.
Oh, and fucking stick around.
No matter what else happened, I had that part covered. Guess I wasn’t my mother’s daughter after all.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This bonus scene takes place at the Northwoods Academy the same night as the raid on the Vegas Belles Gentleman’s Club in Silver Bastard.
I floated on my back, staring up at the vaulted glass ceiling over the most beautiful pool house in the state of Idaho. Like the rest of my prison, it’d been built in the 1920s by my great-grandfather Keiran McDonogh—a monument to his wife. She’d never liked the place, or Keiran himself, for that matter. Just one of many McDonogh brides who loathed their husbands over the past hundred years, setting an example I supposed my own wife would follow one day.
Assuming I lived long enough to marry, that was.
Hopefully after tonight my odds would be improving. My best friend and personal bodyguard, Rourke Malloy, was meeting with representatives from the Silver Bastard motorcycle club right now. With any luck, my stepfather—Jamie Callaghan—was dead already. I’d grown too cynical over the past four years to feel any real hope, but I guess this was the next best thing.
His death wouldn’t solve all my problems, of course. My own mother had tried to poison me once this week already. The only thing saving my ass was the fact she couldn’t risk actually killing me, which complicated the whole process. A permanent vegetative state would suit her purposes perfectly, though.
All because I’d been “lucky” enough to inherit the Laughing Tess silver mine. Now there was a fucking joke. Tess must be laughing at me specifically, because here I was, trapped in a luxurious prison just like my great-grandmother. Of course, she never had a court-ordered monitor strapped to her ankle. Lucky bitch.
Issues of personal dignity aside, that fucker chafed like hell.
The sound of a door slamming echoed through the vast chamber, and I righted myself. Roarke was back. He stood on the deck staring down at me and I could tell already that he didn’t have good news.
I started swimming toward him, enjoying the stretch and pull of my muscles in the water. The pool was the only thing to like about this hellhole. If I somehow survived intact and took over the McDonogh Corporation in six months, the first thing I planned to do was evict the tenants and blow the place up.
Reaching the edge, I boosted myself up onto the deck. Water ran down my back as I walked over to Rourke, who handed me a towel. I wiped off my face, then looked at him.
“Jamie’s not dead, is he?”
Rourke shrugged. “Not like we really expected it to work. According to Boonie, he’s got some serious fucking leverage. If it’s true.”
“What kind of leverage?”
My best friend narrowed his eyes, studying me almost like he’d never seen me before. Then he shook his head.
“It’s bad shit, Shane.”
“Do we know what it is?”
“You aren’t actually related to Seamus McDonogh. Callaghan did a DNA test on your mom—I got no idea whose kid she was, but she wasn’t his. That gets out, you’ll lose everything.”
“Holy fucking shit,” I whispered. Blood roared in my head, because this was something I’d not even started to imagine. “Grandma was fucking around on him?”
“Apparently,” Rourke said. “The minute you kill Jamie, it’ll blow sky high. He’s only sitting on it because he’s still hoping to use Christine to take over.”
I looked away, trying to process what he’d just told me.
“Do we know he’s telling the truth?”
“Only one way to find out,” he replied. “You really wanna risk proving you aren’t a real McDonogh? Hell, if I were you, I’d look into exhuming the whole damned family tree and cremating them.”
Fuck. He was right. I had just opened my mouth to answer when a loud clopping sounded echoed through the entire chamber. Spinning around, I dropped into a defensive crouch. Next to me Rourke had done the same—it’d been a long time since we’d had to literally fight for our lives, but we kept our skills sharp.
I looked around, searching for whoever was in here. A spy? Jesus, this was the kind of secret men would kill to protect. Men like me.
“Come out,” I said, keeping my tone conversational. Almost friendly. “We can talk about whatever you just heard, but we won’t leave until we find you. Could be a long night, and the longer I wait the less patient I’ll be feeling.”