The Insiders

Page 42

Chester shot him a dark look. The friend didn’t care. Even the girl laughed.

I was trying to remember her name. Fleur! It was Fleur.

How’d I forget that name?

Chester shot her a look too. “Shut it, PussyPedal.”

She gasped. “Ass!”

He lifted a shoulder, smirking. “Karma, honey. Karma.”

“Kash! Kash!” Matt was ignoring his friends, stumbling over to Kash. Slapping a hand on his shoulder, Matt didn’t notice the look that Kash gave the hand. He was waving a tequila bottle in the air again. “Guys. You all have no idea what Kash does for our family. No idea.”

“And they won’t, because you’re done.”

Kash nodded to the guards, and like last night, they went into motion. The girls were herded out of there. Nuts, PussyPedal, and the friend were next. Kash plucked the bottle from Matt’s hand and tossed it outside the tent. It fell, spilling on the ground, but then was snatched up right away. A guard was walking away with it.

“That’s the second time in eighteen hours that you’ve threatened to spill secrets.”

It took a second for me to register the quiet warning from Kash, but once I heard it, chills traveled over my spine. I snapped my gaze to him, and there it was. It wasn’t prominent, but it was simmering and it was deep.

Kash was furious.

Matt scoffed, his eyes still wild. “Whatever. What secrets? I don’t know anything. Dear old Dad doesn’t share shit with me. You don’t, either. I don’t have a clue what’s going on.” His head was swinging around, swinging, swinging, and it caught on me. His eyes narrowed.

It was then that I saw it. The mean streak in Matt, the one Kash had warned me about last night.

“Except her.”

His eyes were calculating now, a bitter hint just underneath.

“I know her secret. Quinn hates that I know.” He took another unsteady step toward me, and as I moved back, the hairs on the back of my neck standing up, Kash moved an inch so he was between us. His movement was slight, but it was there.

Matt kept on. “And Dad.” He threw his head back, a shrill laugh ripping from him. “God. It’s the best. Dad hates that she’s here. Hates it.” He looked back and his eyes narrowed once more, a cruel giddiness showing. “You think you had it bad, Bailey? You didn’t. You had it good. A loving mom. None of the bullshit we deal with. Yeah, yeah, poor little girl whose daddy abandoned her. Right? That’s what you think in your head, but you’re so wrong. Wrong.” His nostrils flared. “You had it good. Like you won’t be secured for life with that brain of yours. Fuck. I bet you could write a program that’ll make millions in just a day. Not me.”

He leaned toward me, but Kash had inserted himself almost completely between Matt and me. His arm went up. My brother still leaned forward, hate flooding his gaze, the drunkenness and wildness dissipating. “I’m the dumb one. I had the dumb mom. Not this one.” He clamped a hand on Kash’s shoulder, who stiffened underneath it.

Matt wasn’t done. “Not Seraphina or Cyclone. Shit. Quinn might be a cold prude, but she’s still smart. You know?” He paused again, thinking, and laughed to himself. “No, no. You wouldn’t know, would you? You don’t know anything about us. Nothing. You know our name. You know your daddy, what the magazines and websites and shows tell you about him, but you don’t really know him. There’s so much you have no clue about. No clue.”

He was fading. He turned, his eyes downward now. “She doesn’t. Does she, Kash? She has no clue about you, about your family, about—”

“Enough,” Kash said. “You have two choices. Walk out there with us, or get carried out.”

“Why?” Matt’s nostrils flared as he took one large sniff.

“Mama Quinn wants a family day.” Kash’s words were short. “All of us.”

Matt rolled his eyes upward. He swung a hand out again, gesturing to me. “Not her. She’s not included, and you know it. What are you going to do with her?”

“Her” was standing right here.

“She’s coming with.”

Matt studied Kash, looking at a face I couldn’t see because Kash was still mostly in front of me, and whatever he saw, he began laughing. He slapped his knee. “This’ll be good.” He bobbed his head, mind made up. “All right. You don’t have to knock me out. I’ll come willingly. Anything for those fireworks.” His eyes swung my way on that last word.

I wasn’t getting a good feeling about this.

“Let’s go.” Kash stepped farther back, his arm extending toward the tent. He wanted Matt to lead the way, and noting it, Matt mumbled, “Yeah, yeah.” His hand fisted in his hair a second before falling to his side as he headed for the tent’s entryway. Hearing the end of our conversation, a guard opened the flap, and Matt was able to step right through.

He didn’t wait, veering in the direction of the cars. He had to right himself a few times before walking into someone, but Kash commanded, “Flank him.” And the guards left us alone, hurrying to close ranks about Matt. They steered him toward the cars.

I was waiting, but Kash didn’t move to follow. He was watching Matt’s progress, still from inside the tent. The flap was being held open by one remaining guard.

Not knowing what was going on, I started forward.

Kash caught my arm. “Hold up.”

“What is it?”

I wasn’t feeling good about this—or, well, about any of it. Matt was mean, seriously mean. Hearing about it, being warned about it by Kash, hadn’t fully prepared me for what I saw just now. It was like walking on a bed of embers. I had no idea where to step to go forward, and I was starting to become wary about Kash, too. It seemed there were even more secrets he was hiding.

He closed his eyes for a second, rubbing at his forehead, before he looked at me. There was exhaustion in there, but also the same wariness I was feeling. “I need to know how you’re doing.”

“With what?”

He nodded behind me, his hand going into his pocket. “With Matt. His attitude. With what he’s spilling, or insinuating.” A new light shone from him, bright and yearning, and before he blinked it out, he stepped close to me. His head dropped so he could see me better. Only a few feet separated us, so he also dropped his tone and I could still hear. “Matt is more bark than bite, but his bark can hurt. I’ve witnessed it before, and he’s doing it again. These guys…” He looked past my shoulder, his gaze hardening. “They don’t grow up wanting things. They grow up being bored. They don’t have normal worries like the rest of us.”

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