Matt glanced at me.
“I mean, what exactly does he do? How’d he grow up with you guys?”
“He hasn’t told you?”
I shook my head, slowly.
Matt’s eyelids shuttered closed for a second before lifting to continue watching the road. He spoke tightly. “I think you should wait for that conversation with him.”
His tone softened considerably. “Kash takes care of us, and that’s not because he’s paid. He took that role on himself, and even I don’t know the reasons. I’m just saying, he’s complicated. If he tells you everything, then you’ll know more than any of us.”
“You don’t even know?”
“I know some. I know…” He bobbed his head to the side. “I know what I’m allowed to know, I guess I should clarify. Kash is … like I said—”
I finished for him. “Complicated.”
“Yeah.” His hand tightened on the steering wheel, and then we were slowing down. The turn signal was put on and we were going down another road. This one wasn’t as empty as the others had been. Cars were lined up along the side of the road, and the farther we traveled, the more compact they were becoming. They weren’t normal cars, either. They were rich ones. Bentleys. Navigators. More than a few brand-new Audis. A couple Rolls-Royces. Range Rovers. Porsches. A Bugatti, even.
“Who plays in this tournament?”
Matt spared me a grin, slowing the car again, as the rest of the traffic had backed up to where we were. We weren’t moving, so he sat back, his wrist resting on the steering wheel, and he went to switching on some music.
A knock came on the window.
It was one of Matt’s usual security.
“The manager said we can pull around and come in through the back entrance, but the loft isn’t available. Your father gave specific permission to the party occupying it to have it for the whole day. She’s tried to get in touch with your dad, but he’s unavailable right now.”
Matt swore. “What about Kash? He can override those orders sometimes.”
“We’ve been, uh”—his eyes darted to me, then back—“trying to get in touch with him ourselves, about another matter. His phone was turned off.”
Turned off. That’s not a big deal.
But there came those nerves again. It wasn’t a common event for me, but I had reached out to him a few times over the last few weeks. A simple text, and every time, Kash had replied right away. Sometimes he could call.
He’d never had his phone off.
“Shit.” Matt leaned back, scowling. “There’s no point in coming if—”
The guard’s phone went off and he showed us the screen. “It’s the manager. Hold one moment.” He answered it, moving away. We didn’t wait long before he came back. “She said the party left on their own. They’ve moved to another location. We’re cleared to go in.”
We couldn’t move, but within ten minutes a caravan of vehicles was leaving the tournament, going past us. They went past us at a slow pace, and I recognized a couple movie stars. A pop princess was in one of them.
“Holy whoa.” Trying not to gape here.
I was gawking.
“Those were probably the guys in the loft. That girl’s manager knows Dad.” Then he flashed me a smile and jerked forward in his seat. Now that we had the go-ahead, and now that the line was starting to inch forward, Matt’s mood got dramatically better. He’d been relaxed and normal, but now he was becoming restless. Impatient. I was recognizing the hyperness that he’d exhibited before. His words were more clipped. His smile was on edge.
We were pulling ahead.
The first security team was paused. One of the parking attendants spoke to them and they were waved forward. We were led onto a back road, going around the field, the main building where most of the crowd seemed to be gathering. A barn was farther off, at the southern end of the field, and seeing a patio hanging off the end of it, I was guessing that was where Matt was taking us.
We bypassed more cars, all the people drinking and mingling beside the field. The back of the main lodge was beautiful. Everything was, and I was glad that I had listened to Matt when he picked my outfit. He had chosen a pair of black capris and a white tank top that crossed my chest. It was lace and frilly and I felt exposed in it.
It was perfect.
Noting all the dresses, I gave Matt a look. “You told me I didn’t need to wear a dress.”
He grinned. “My sister does not need to show off her legs. To anyone.” He shrugged, turning onto another gravel road, which was leading straight to the barn. “Besides, we’re just hanging in the loft. Anyone who comes over won’t care. They’ll just be happy we’re allowing them in there.”
“I thought it was just you and me hanging out today?”
“Hmm?” But he was distracted.
Two large barn doors were being pulled open for us. A myriad of staff were running around inside the barn, bending to pick things up off the ground.
I leaned forward, my hand resting on the dashboard. “What’s going on?”
“Cars don’t usually drive into the barn. Scares the horses. But we’re making an exception today. They’re making sure it’s clear for the tires. Nothing will puncture them.”
It seemed a lot of work, but we’d come this far, and with this whole caravan we had going, we’d attracted a fair amount of attention.
I asked, wondering to myself, “What do they all think of this?”
“Of us.” I motioned to the barn.
Matt shrugged again, making a dismissive face. His mouth moved to the side before speaking. “I don’t know. Who cares? It’s not like anyone will get close to you. We have an army around us.” He winked at me before pulling all the way into the barn. This was the Matt when he was high, when he was raving in the tent, or at an orgy party.
I was recognizing him now. Dread crawled up in me, digging a hole.
We parked in the middle of the barn and waited. Most of the guards came in with us, checking the barn, and waited until the staff were asked to leave. One guy was arguing, but a guard was handling him. The last few were walked out and the doors in the front and back were both shut. The guards took position as Matt was getting out.