I typed a quick text message to Sam Brennan. The first time I’d ever contacted him. I asked Sailor for his special access code shortly after I’d been hired by the Arrowsmiths, knowing there were some things I simply wasn’t equipped to do. Once the message had been sent, read, and replied to, I looked up and smiled at the little boy.
“Hey, Tin-Tin, feel like baking some cookies at home while watching Peter Pan?”
I stuffed him into his booster in my Tesla with burning eyes and headed to the Arrowsmith residency for the very last time.
The cookies were going to be almost as bad as the meal I’d tried to cook Cillian on our first “date.”
I knew that when I tore open the ready-made mix without bothering to read the instructions. I dumped the powder into a bowl and grabbed the ingredients on the package hurriedly. Tinder protested when I didn’t take the time to do everything together with him—crack the eggs, measure the milk, count each drop of vanilla. I kept glancing at the overhead clock, waiting for the doorbell to ring, feeling like a criminal. I was a criminal. What I was about to do was against the law. But it wasn’t just about saving my husband’s company—it was also about Tinder.
We scooped uneven balls onto a pan, shoving it into the oven before it reached the right temperature. Tinder’s irritation morphed into confusion. I’d always been the one person he could count on for patience.
“W-What’s happening?” He frowned. “I-I don’t like doing everything quickly. Are you going anywhere?”
“Not before I make sure you’re okay,” I muttered, frantically throwing a bag of popcorn into the microwave. I put Peter Pan on Disney Plus and sat Tin-Tin in front of the movie with his popcorn and juice.
“I’m going to be a little busy in the next few minutes, okay? But when I’m done, we’ll sit down with cookies and some chocolate milk and we’ll have a talk. I need to tell you a few things. Don’t worry, you are not in trouble.”
But his father sure was.
When Sam knocked on the door, I jerked him inside at the speed of light. He was wearing a black dress shirt, jeans, and his usual no-bullshit frown.
“His laptop is probably going to be password protected,” I warned, still holding the doorjamb, my heart in my throat.
I never broke the law. Ever. For anything or anyone. Hell, I didn’t even jaywalk. My obsession with my husband was turning me inside out.
Sam passed the living room, not sparing the young boy a look, and ascended the stairs. I followed him, pointing at Andrew’s study. He slipped a pair of elastic gloves on, produced a foldable door lock opener from his backpack, and opened the locked door effortlessly.
We both entered the room. I was hyperaware of Tinder sitting in front of the TV downstairs, waiting for me. Guilt wrecked me. I was going to turn his life upside down, and even though I knew it was the right thing to do, considering his abusive father, I also knew Tinder might never forgive me.
“So Kill was right,” Sam said tonelessly, powering up the laptop as he took a seat in Andrew’s chair. His fingers were gliding on the keyboard. He shoved a USB drive into the device. “You’re not completely useless, after all.”
“You don’t think very highly of women, huh?” I turned outside, to the hallway, craning my neck to look downstairs and make sure Tinder was okay.
“I thought you were a gold-digger,” Sam said bluntly, clicking away on the laptop, his eyes glued to the screen. “Shit, there’s a lot of stuff in his cloud. Amateur mistake.”
“Copy everything. I want to sort through all of it,” I instructed him, standing at the door, returning to our initial conversation. “And I’m not a gold-digger.”
“No shit.” He chuckled. “You’re risking your ass here. You know that, right? You can get a lot of jail time for what you’re doing.”
“Really?” I widened my eyes comically. “I had no idea. Dumb it down for me. What’s jail? The one with the bars, right? I think I’ve seen a movie.”
Sam’s eyes drifted from the screen to me. He smirked.
“So that’s why he kept you all this time. You talk back.”
I glanced through the window, hugging my midriff, speculating whether Andrew’s house was wired like Cillian’s or not.
“The coast was clear.” Sam read my thoughts. “The house is wired, but the idiot’s cameras have crappy street view due to overgrown trees. Apparently, his conscience wouldn’t let him trim the fuckers.”
He stood, handing me a disc-on-key.
When I reached for it, he tilted it away from my reach.
“You sure you don’t want me to go through it myself? That’s a lot of data. You can’t mess it up.”
“I will do a thorough job.”
“Let me make a copy for myself. Just in case.”
“If you make yourself a copy, I’m going to make sure you lose your job with the Fitzpatricks.” I tilted my chin up warningly. “There may be some private things in there I don’t want anyone to see.”
“Like a sex tape?”
Sam Brennan was a handsome man. Then so was Ted Bundy. I didn’t find him attractive, especially seeing as his weekly body count surpassed Ted Bundy’s entire career. I honestly couldn’t see what Aisling’s fascination was with him. Then again, the same could probably be said about Kill and me.
“You do understand the concept of an arranged marriage, correct? Nothing about what you have with your husband is real.”
“Samuel,” I used his given name, my tone haughty, as I did when one of my students was misbehaving, “give me the flash drive, please.”
He tucked it into my dress pocket, laughing softly.
“I didn’t get it at first.” He dipped his head down, scanning my face. “I thought he wanted Emmabelle. Every time the three of you were in the same room, his eyes were on her. But then I realized,” he dropped his voice, “the timing was peculiar. See, Kill always looked at Emmabelle exactly at the same time you looked at him. He wanted to throw you off. To make you jealous. The first and last human thing I’d ever seen him do.”
Sam took a step back, looking around the room.
“I’ll relock the study. Andrew will never know we’ve been in here. Proceed as normal when they get here.”