The Insiders

Page 85

Her words ground together, biting with disdain.

“I’m telling you this so you’re aware your mother wasn’t special. You weren’t special.”

I was almost captivated, in a horrifying way.

“No one worked with Peter until I came into his life.”

I couldn’t make myself pull away, and I only wanted to hear what else she had to say. There was a point. She was getting to it. The charitable Quinn was not beside me tonight. She was an altogether different sort of animal.

Bitterness. She was filled with that emotion. And it spilled out as she kept going, a cruelness peeking out over her face, pulling all of her features into a distorted twist. I’d never seen that on another human being. It was fascinating.

“My father was indebted to Calhoun, but he wasn’t the reason I seduced Peter—though seduce is a broad term for Peter. I looked at him, lowered my shirt a little, and promised him he could take my ass.”

So not needed. So not.


“My father was indebted to Calhoun…”


Then a different voice, a memory. “Quinn knows Kash’s family…”

Off. This felt off. And wrong.

Where was Kash?

I turned, looking for him, frowning. He was heading our way, but Victoria was there. Of course. Fucking cosmic timing, right? I expected him to pass her by, ignore, but no. That wasn’t happening. She touched his arm.

He was bending his head toward her.

A concerned look on his face, but his eyes lifted. He looked at me.

She said something more, tugging on his sleeve, and he looked back at her.

What was she doing? What was he doing?

I was stung.

This wasn’t normal Kash. He ignored her. He snapped at her. That was what he’d done before now. But then I flashed back to my speech. I had told him how it was going to be. I was declaring my feelings, saying he had to talk to me.

A stab of doubt pierced me. Had I been wrong to do that?

With horror, in slow motion, I saw him give me a hardened look before he turned and followed her.

He followed her.

What the hell?

I started to go after them, but Quinn got in front of me. She blocked me, and her mouth was moving. She was still speaking.

What was she saying?

She kept on. “He was only too eager. It wasn’t hard work to ensnare Peter, make him fall in love with me, or at least give him all the promises that he wanted. Infidelity was part of our agreement. I was fine with him being with other women. It was what I could offer that Colleen couldn’t. Your father had never curbed his need for women, still hasn’t, though his focus has been more singular lately.”

What was going on here?

Why was Quinn coming to me, telling me all this? Why now? Or—a lump was forming in my stomach—why here?

Because she felt safe.

No. I dismissed that thought, though it came to me in a whisper, from the back of my mind. That made no sense. None of this was making sense.

“Arcane was sent by someone who knows my grandfather…”

“Everything’s been fine. Everything’s been wonderful. Peter could fuck whoever he wanted, but so could I.” She paused now, looking at me again. Her eyes narrowed to slits. “That was, until your last essay to get that Phoenix Tech scholarship for graduate school. You talked about the father you never had, the lie your mother told you.”

I wrote that essay so long ago.

Go, get Kash.

That thought nagged at me, speaking up in the back of my mind.

It was a personal piece. We had to include our mentors growing up, along with the prospects of a proposed graduate project. The best of the best didn’t have to go to school, not in this career path, but Chrissy pushed school. She wanted a degree by my name, said education was the best way to cement your future. She didn’t understand the technology world, but as long as I could continue going to school with those scholarships, I went. I went for her, and I had learned it was my real father who had paved the way.

And that essay.

I should get Kash. It was more insistent now.

I talked about the father Chrissy told me about, the one who had fought for our country and died in an attack. She gave me names and credentials, and she had friends from the VFW who helped along her lie. She talked about my father and I poured all of that into that essay, saying I wanted to help our country but in a different way. I wanted to use the skills I had to continue his work, and I was just now remembering it.

My voice was so small. “Peter read that essay?”

“Quinn knows Kash’s family…”

“Read it?” She snorted. “He was infuriated by it. It pissed him off that he’d been replaced by a military hero. Your father isn’t a perfect man. He has faults, but he does have good qualities, and stepping back, respecting your mother’s wishes so you could have a normal and safe life, was hard for him. I had to respect him for it. He was trying, but he has an ego. He has pride, and learning how you were, that you were being guided by a memory of a lie, it set something off in him. He started talking more and more about that time with your mother. He started watching you more. He’d always kept tabs, but it was more. He asked Kash to personally take an interest, and once Kash started, he became captivated. I knew we were headed down a bad path.”


“Arcane was sent by someone who knows my grandfather…”

He’d been watching me that whole time?

I looked over to where he was, but he wasn’t there. An alarm sliced through me, but it wasn’t enough. Kash wouldn’t have stepped away, not completely. He would have worried about me, made sure I was fine.

But he wasn’t there. In fact, the entire group wasn’t there. They were gone.

I looked around, now seeing we were almost completely alone.

“Quinn knows Kash’s family…”

I was being plagued. Haunted.

What was happening?

“Drew Bonham is right now causing a scene at the front gate.”



I was confused, but then she kept going. “Victoria has probably pulled Kash into a bedroom. I’ve no doubt she’s trying to seduce him. No one is here to save you. No one is here to rescue you. At this moment, Drew is doing what he was told to do. So while you think you’re safe because everyone is around, they’re not.” She was so cold, but smug at the same time. “They’re all running, at this very moment, in the opposite direction. Away from you. And you, my dear, are completely alone.”

Tip: You can use left and right keyboard keys to browse between pages.