The Villain

Page 69

“Maybe something got stuck in his teeth.” Hunter tapped his cards against the table. “Like, you know, feelings or something.”

“Zip it,” I warned.

“No. They’re right. You’re beaming.” Sam frowned at me in abhorrence. “It’s disgusting. People are trying to eat here.” He dropped his sandwich onto his plate.

“Leave him alone. I think it’s cute.” Hunter took a pull of his beer. “Kill caught a case of the feels, and there’s no vaccine for what he’s experiencing.”

“Are you really one to talk about being pussy-whipped?” I plucked a card from the stack in the middle of the table. “Your balls have been MIA since your wife came into the picture, and no search unit in the world can find them.”

Every head in the room snapped in my direction.

“What?” I bared my teeth.

“You said pussy-whipped.” Devon’s forehead creased. “You never curse.”

“Pussy is not a curse word.”

“I have a gay joke on the tip of my tongue.” Hunter squirmed as though he was trying hard not to pee.

“Swallow it,” I snapped.

“That’s what he said.” Hunter couldn’t help himself. I shot him a look. He zipped his lips with his fingers, making a show of throwing the key across the room.

“Sorry. Had to get it out of my system. I’m done now.”

Jokes aside, I knew I’d have probably not used the word six months ago. The necessity to utter profanity did not appeal to me, but how else could I direct my wife to park her pussy on my face? To ride my cock? Bend down and let me rope her ass?

Calling what she had between her legs a vagina would make me one. I wasn’t her OB-GYN. I had no business calling pussy anything other than pussy.

“Anyway, point is, you say you’re immune to feelings, and I call bullshit on it.” Hunter laughed.

“I’m not immune to feelings,” I countered. “I have two: pleasure and pain.”

“Your wife’s pussy gives you pleasure,” Devon, who had assumed the role of Captain Obvious for the night, supplied. “But when was the last time you felt pain?”

“Very soon, when Persy finally realizes she married a robot and kicks him to the curb.” Hunter chuckled, tossing his cards at the center of the table. “I fold.”

“Kill,” Sam lit up a cigarette, “I need a word in private.”

“Perfect timing. Game’s over.” I threw my cards.

“We’ve only just started.” Devon frowned. “I have a good hand going.”

“Mine’s about to snap your neck if you don’t get out of here.” I smiled politely. Hunter and Devon left. Now all I needed was to get rid of Sam, and I could visit my wife’s bed.

“What’s up?” I leaned back in my chair.

“It’s about Andrew Arrowsmith.”

I’d lawyered up since I’d heard about the lawsuit, did my due diligence regarding Green Living, and made sure to show my face at charity events with my wife on my arm and sign fat checks to nonprofit organizations.

I’d also paid some local media outlets handsomely to run less than flattering items about Andrew, lured potential donors from investing their money in Green Living, and made sure I choked Andrew’s workplace financially the best I could.

I did everything by the book ahead of the court date, which was scheduled for September twenty-third, still a couple of months away, but I knew Arrowsmith had a strong case and the public’s sympathy.

Taking a dump on one of the world’s most delicate natural resources was apparently severely frowned upon.

“I did some digging. Spoke to one of his lawyers.” Sam handed me his iPad from across the table. “One of the angles they’re going to use in court is defamation. Specifically, the poor state of your marriage. They’re going to imply your character is flawed through your estranged relationship with Persephone. Basically, they’re going to heavily suggest you’re an abusive husband. Your wife is employed by them and receives a salary from them. She visits their house three to four times a week, which I’m sure you are aware of.”

I’m not, goddammit.

What did you do, Persephone?

“Not only is Persy spending most of her time with the Arrowsmiths, but you don’t have a family life to speak of. It looks bad. The apartment you’re still renting for her, your separate bank accounts…”

I held up a hand to stop him. “Rewind. Separate accounts?”

Persephone signed an NDA and was definitely in no position to tell anyone about that.

Sam puffed on his cigarette, eyeing me wryly.

“Don’t tell me you were dumb enough to add her to your bank accounts, Kill.”

“No,” I gritted out. “But I deposit a sixty-thousand-dollar monthly allowance into her checking account. Seeing as she lives under my roof, eats my food, and generally lives at my expense, I figured this would be a sufficient amount for her not to look for any side gigs.”

“Well, that’s what she told the Arrowsmiths. You did know she works for them, correct?”

I did, and I didn’t.

Persephone told me months ago that she was planning on doing so but never followed up. I assumed—fine, hoped—her declaration to tutor Tinder Arrowsmith was just another way to get on my nerves. Trying to milk a human emotion out of me was her favorite hobby.

I didn’t think she would actually follow through.

That Tinder kid was a pathetic excuse for a…

“Cillian?” Sam slanted his head. I cleared my throat, tucking my hands under the table and cracking my knuckles.

“I knew,” I lied.

“Why didn’t you stop it?”

“Because I don’t care much what she does in her free time as long as she doesn’t nag me to spend time with her.”

“Well, start caring if you want to win the case against Arrowsmith. Tell your wife to drop their asses, pronto. If there’s one thing you don’t need right now, it’s for Persephone to give Arrowsmith ammo.”

“How much does her word really weigh?” I snarled. “She is just a stupid kid.”

“A stupid kid you’re married to,” Sam reminded me. “Dismantle her.”

“I will.”

“Why don’t we tail Goldilocks?” Sam flicked his cigarette straight into the ashtray, scanning my face for a reaction. “See what she’s up to.”

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