Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(27) by Jennifer Estep
“What about tonight?” Bria asked. “What were the two of you meeting about tonight?”
“A couple of weeks ago, Dee-Dee asked me to put her in touch with some folks who could help with her charity exhibit, and she was telling me how well everything was going.” He paused. “Although she wanted to take me out to dinner, said that there was something else she wanted to talk to me about. Something personal. I guess I know what that is now.” He barked out a harsh, humorless laugh.
“What about Hugh Tucker?” I asked. “What’s his story?”
Finn shrugged again. “Your typical assistant. Fetching coffee, taking messages, and the like. He’s come into the bank with Dee-Dee several times now. She rented some safety-deposit boxes in the basement vault for her jewelry, and he carried in the briefcases for her. Nothing unusual there.”
Nothing unusual at all. Many wealthy people in Ashland employed personal assistants. Still, the wealthier the person, usually the more obnoxious the assistant was, some of them even more aggressive than giant bodyguards about not letting you get close to their bosses. At least, not without an appointment. And most assistants were actually concerned with, well, assisting their bosses, not drinking, texting, and being bored like Tucker had been tonight. Silvio would have given him a stern talking-to about proper decorum.
Finn fell silent again and stared at his glass of Scotch, brooding.
“That’s all?” I asked. “That’s all the contact you’ve had with her?”
I could have told him that something about Deirdre just rubbed me the wrong way. I could have told him that long-lost relatives didn’t appear out of thin air for no reason. I could have told him that it was obvious that she wanted something from him.
But I held my tongue and kept my suspicions to myself. Finn had gotten a brutal shock, one he was trying to drink into oblivion, and he wasn’t thinking straight right now. He was too close to the situation, too involved, too hurt and curious and hopeful and a hundred other things to wonder exactly why his mother had chosen this exact moment to reappear in his life after being gone for the previous thirty-three years of it.
But I was here, I was thinking clearly, and I wondered all those things. More important, I was determined to get answers to every single one of my questions. And if Deirdre was, in fact, conning Finn, then I was going to rain down a whole lot of hurt onto her for daring to think that she could sashay back into his life and use him for her own dark, devious ends.
But first, there was something else I needed to do.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you sooner, that I didn’t tell you the second I found her file. I just . . . didn’t know how. Of all the bad things that have happened to us, of all the secrets the old man kept from us, your mom being alive . . . it’s not something that I had ever even considered.”
Finn snorted, but his face softened, and a little more of the cold anger leaked out of his eyes. “You and me both, sister,” he muttered, sounding much more like his usual cheerful self. “So what do we do now?”
I grabbed the glass out of his hand and set it on the table. “You are going to go upstairs, take a shower, and crash here for the night. Then, in the morning, you’re going to call in sick so you can sleep off your hangover. After that, you’re going to put on your best suit, come to the Pork Pit, and talk to your mother.”
Finn nodded. “Sounds like a plan to me.”
He got out of his chair, took a step, and wobbled. He would have done a header onto the floor if Bria hadn’t rushed up and grabbed hold of him. Even then, he kept wobbling back and forth.
Owen started forward to help Bria with Finn, but Sophia got there first. She swung Finn up into her arms, as though he didn’t weigh any more than Rosco.
“My Princess Charming,” Finn drawled. “Sweeping me off my feet.”
Sophia snorted. “Lightweight,” she said, a fond note in her gruff voice.
He gave her a drunken smile, his glassy eyes indicating that he was feeling no pain now, and pointed toward the hallway. “Yep, that’s me. Finnegan Lane, lightweight drinker. Now, to the shower, my lady!”
Sophia carried Finn out of the salon, with Bria following them. That left me with Owen, Jo-Jo, and Rosco. The basset hound had apparently had enough drama for the night, because he hauled himself to his feet, waddled over, and curled up in his wicker basket in the corner.
“I wish I could tell you more, Gin,” Jo-Jo said. “But Fletcher kept Dee-Dee to himself.”
I nodded and rubbed my temples, which were throbbing like I’d just downed as much Scotch as Finn had. I started pacing back and forth, even though the snap-snap-snap-snap of my stilettos against the floor added to my headache. My troubled thoughts were as quick as my steps, and more and more questions crowded into my mind.
“You really think she’s up to something?” Owen asked.
“For Finn’s sake, I hope she’s not. This is one instance where I would be happy to be wrong.”
“But?” he asked.
That photo of Deirdre staring down at newborn Finn with no expression on her face popped into my head again. Funny, but that was exactly how Finn had looked at me tonight, as if I didn’t matter to him at all, and it had shaken me far more than I cared to admit.
“Gin?” Jo-Jo asked.
I stopped pacing and looked at her and Owen. “But something tells me there’s a lot more to Deirdre Shaw than just a mother trying to reconnect with her son.”
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