The Villain

Page 32

“My least favorite pastime.” Sam palmed a handful of salted wasabi peas, throwing them into his mouth. “What about?”


“More specifically?”

“The inconvenient necessity of it. What are you waiting for?”

Sam thumped his red Marlboro pack on the table. One cigarette slid up obediently. He raised the pack and caught the cigarette between his teeth.

“Nothing.” He lit up. Sam was notorious for breaking city council rules. Smoking inside restaurants was among the least offensive things he did. “I have no plans to get married. It’s a surprisingly easy decision to make when you have no duty to continue a lineage and your biological parents are a back-stabbing asshole who deserved to die and a whore who left you on her ex-boyfriend’s doorstep when you were old enough to know what it meant to be abandoned.”

“Who’ll inherit everything you own?” I asked. Sam Brennan was rolling in it. I didn’t know exactly how wealthy he was. He probably declared no more than fifteen percent of his income to the IRS, but I would guess he was in the double-digit millions club.

Sam shrugged. “Sailor. Her kids, maybe. Money means nothing to me.”

I believed him.

“But you grew up with Troy and Sparrow Brennan,” I pushed, knowing nothing was going to come out of this conversation. The man was cagier than a zoo. “Boston’s golden couple.”

“Han Solo and Leia Organa on steroids.” Sam took a swig of his Guinness, smirking bitterly. “But that means jack-shit. I have neither Sparrow’s DNA nor Troy’s. I’m an orphan. An elaborated mistake born from vengeance. I have no plans of reproducing. Besides, what good would it be to have a child, knowing I could get locked up for life any day?”

He had a point.

“Now”—he tilted his pint in my direction—“back to business. Byrne and his puppet are out of the picture for good. The next step is to find Veitch. See where he’s hiding. What he’s doing. Put him on a leash. Maybe bring him back and throw him into Byrne’s claws. Kill two birds with one stone.”

“Leave him.” I waved him off. “Byrne is paid. Kaminski will be in a wheelchair for life. Veitch is probably dead. It’s done.”

“Dead? I don’t think so. I bet you Veitch is alive, and that as soon as he hears his wife got hitched to a billionaire, he’ll be back, making demands.”

“Not possible,” I insisted. “The divorce certificate should arrive tomorrow morning. He wouldn’t be eligible for a penny. I don’t need to know where Veitch is or what he’s up to.”

“He can contact Persephone and play on her heartstrings. He’s her husband.”


“She chose him.”

“She chose wrong,” I retorted.

“If anyone’s prone to take mercy on the asshole who left her behind, it’s your future wife,” Sam warned.

I cracked my fingers under the table. “Precisely. Better knock her up before she runs off with her ex.”

I didn’t want a fugitive bride. I didn’t trust Persephone not to run in slow motion into her ex-husband’s arms and break our contract the minute I dragged him back from the hellhole where he’d been hiding. Besides, the more time that passed without him knowing about me, the more chance I had to knock Persephone up without his interruptions.

Sam examined me coolly.

“It’s an unfinished job,” he cautioned. “I don’t do those, Fitzpatrick.”

“You’ll do whatever I tell you to do for your salary, Brennan.” I grabbed my whiskey, tossing it back and slamming the glass on the table. “And I’m telling you to forget Paxton Veitch ever existed.”

“The media is all over this shit like a hooker on a senator.” Hunter took a sip of his coffee, blowing a chef’s kiss. He sat in front of me in my office.

“Can’t blame them. The bride looks like proper royalty. A modern Cinderella.” Devon skimmed through the press release he was reading on his iPad, perched next to my brother.

I snatched the iPad from his hand, taking a look. I didn’t know how this Diana chick from PR had gotten her hands on this picture of Persephone—clad in a powder blue dress, her golden hair cascading down to her narrow waist, her pink lips puckered with a faint smile—but she was in for one hell of a Christmas bonus.

Royal Pipelines did a good job announcing my nuptials to Boston’s sweetheart: a preschool teacher, a churchgoer, and a woman of good faith, pedigree, and morals.

“Persy’s hotter than a Carolina Reaper.” Hunter tapped his lips, monitoring my reaction to the divine creature I was about to marry. “You’ve done well.”

“She’s done better.” I handed Devon the iPad back. “Her beauty will fade. My Forbes status will not.”

Persephone had been texting me nonstop for the past two weeks since we broke the news to our friends and family. Apparently, it was not enough to dump a budget more fitting to feed a medium-sized state in her hands and ask her to plan the wedding. She wanted to talk about things.

What venue I favored.

Which flowers I liked.

If I had any recommendations for a reputable catering company.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her I didn’t care if we married at the city hall, a church, or in a ditch. That, in fact, I didn’t have a heart at all. So I opted for ignoring all her messages. The strategy worked well. I fully intended to adopt it after our wedding.

“Still can’t believe she agreed to wed your ass. If I didn’t see her saying she accepted your offer with my own eyes, I’d think you shanghaied her.” Hunter rubbed his knuckles over his cheekbones. He and his wife handled the news as though we’d just told them one of us was dying. My parents, however, nearly pissed their pants. I wished it were a figure of speech.

Mother burst into tears, and Athair gifted me an entire drawer of vintage watches.

I was back to being mo òrga.

Golden, brazen, and cunning. Always six steps ahead of the game.

My father was specified, and my CEO position was saved. At least on that front. Hell knew what Arrowsmith had in store for me.

“I don’t give a toss what made her say yes. All I care is that she did. We needed that win. Especially with Andrew Arrowsmith back in town.” Devon tucked his iPad back into its leather case, glancing at me curiously.

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