The Insiders

Page 53

My door was opened by a guard, so I got out as well.

We were led past a few of the stalls to a door. It was opened and we went up the stairs, stepping out onto the second floor that spanned the entire length of the barn. It was a full apartment.

Then the doors were being opened below.

Matt’s car was driven out, and we could hear the staff returning.

Matt said to me, “Don’t worry. No one will come up here. We have security all over the barn.” He nodded to the two who took point just inside the room, standing by the entrance.

“Is that the only way up here?”

“Yeah, unless someone tries parasailing in from the deck.” He motioned toward the open patio area. “But even they’ll be shot down, and we got the guys behind us. They’d rush the interloper.” He patted me on the arm before moving toward the bar. “You’re good to go. Let’s drink and relax, yeah?”

I was slower to move forward.

This didn’t feel right. There were too many people around. Then again, Matt had been the one who took me to the nightclub that night. Kash hadn’t been happy I was there. After that, Kash was the one who took me to the other two events, but those had been house parties. We were in and out, no lingering around.

I glanced uneasily at one of the security staff.

He noticed and approached. “Ma’am?”

“You guys haven’t gotten ahold of Kash?”

He was frowning. “Ma’am?”

I lifted a shoulder, skirting around the rest of the loft to him. “I … Just … He’d want to know I’m here, right?”

Understanding cleared and he nodded. “Yes, ma’am. We’ll continue to update him with our location. We always do anyway. It’s protocol.”

“Oh.” My head perked up. “That’s good then.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He nodded forward. “You can relax, have a good time, as Mr. Francis is doing right now.” I caught the slight grin on his face and looked ahead.

He was right.

Matt was getting a drink, already flirting with the bartender. The female bartender.

She was flirting right back, until she saw me. A nice frosty layer cooled her smile, until Matt said, “This is my—” He caught himself. “Distant cousin. Family. Extended family.” He rolled his eyes, pulling me to his side. “Come on, cuz. Let’s have a shot.” He beamed at the bartender. “Shots for both of us. You, too.”

After that, the bartender warmed up to me, but she was friendlier with Matt.

When another bartender came up to relieve her, an hour later, she stayed, sitting on Matt’s lap the rest of the time.

I settled back.

The whispering should’ve alerted me. It didn’t.

There was movement in the corner and I looked over, seeing the first bartender standing up. Her hand was in Matt’s, and she was leading him off the couch.


Whoa. I stopped. I was feeling that third glass of wine. The barn had started to move. The horses. Where were the horses? There’d been horses in the field in front of us a moment ago. But then I heard sounds beneath us. The horses were coming in. A match was done. Horses were being led in and out. Watered. Fed.

It’d been like this the whole time we were here. Another match would start up. But Matt.

I looked for him.

He was gone.


He was in the corner, whispering into the girl’s ear.

He came back over, leaning down. “You mind if I sneak off for a quick romp?”


He was smiling at the bartender, a dirty look in his eyes.

“I’ll be quick.”

I snorted. “I wouldn’t lead with that with the ladies.”

He flashed me a grin. “Seriously. Do you mind? You have the guards. Only a few will go with me. I won’t be long.”

I looked over my shoulder. There was a sitting area behind me. A long table. Three couches in the other corner. A kitchenette against the wall—with an island, even. Then a hallway, and I was assuming there was a bathroom and a bedroom, probably more than one. “Just go back there. Why do you have to leave leave?”

He made a face. “Because that’s gross. Embarrassment aside from last time, I don’t want my sister to actually hear me get my rocks off.” He nudged my shoulder. “Come on. I’ll just be a bit. I’ll go over to the main lodge. There’s rooms for this thing, and I’ll stay, say hi to some friends, then come back.”

It wasn’t a good idea. Not at all. I wasn’t going to say yes.

“Bailey.” He crouched down, peering at me intently. His voice was coaxing. Soft.

Damn him.

“You’re supposed to stay here.”

“Please.” He bumped my forehead with his, grinning. “She’s got me all worked up. I’ll go have my fun, then come back. We can take off after that if you want.”



I was so not happy with this, but he was going to go anyway. I might as well get something out of this. My stomach was rumbling. “Food. I want food. I haven’t eaten today.”

“Why didn’t you say something?”

I shrugged. “Because you gave me wine? I don’t know.” I hadn’t said anything because I didn’t want to be a nuisance, and I still didn’t, and I knew that’s why Matt was going to do what he wanted here. Because I didn’t have the balls to stand up and insist we leave. The same reason I didn’t speak up when I started to have a bad feeling about coming to this place.

“Please, please, please.” He whispered, “I promise to take you anywhere you want for dinner, once I get back. How about that? Or we can order food in, have a movie night at Kash’s? Bowling? Pool party. Anything. I will owe you. Promise.”

I hated promises. They were always broken.

But, lowering my head, I moved it up and down, enough to indicate a nod, and he whooped. His hand squeezed my shoulder. “Thanks, Bailes. I’ll be right back. Promise, promise, promise.”

Then he was gone.


Gah. I liked that he gave me a nickname.

The guards went with him, and two others rotated up. I recognized them as the ones normally assigned to me. Standing, I went to the banister and watched as Matt and his bartender walked around the field, heading toward the main lodge area. Three guards tailed them.

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