Shattered King(3)By: Sherilee Gray
I’d picked up the skill so fast, I’d actually impressed the old bastard. The pride I’d felt when I did it on my own for the first time was something I’d never forgotten. Some people would think it was messed up that the only decent male role model I’d had taught me how to be a good thief, but I didn’t give a fuck. I owed Raul more than I could ever repay.
I crouched low, getting a good look at the safe. Getting into it wouldn’t be overly difficult. But before I pulled out my stethoscope, I entered several try-out combinations. Combinations that most new safes came with from the manufacturer. A lot of people never bothered to set a new one themselves, and that was always what I started with. None of them worked, so I searched around it. Another common mistake, writing the code down and keeping it close by. No luck there either. I went back into the office and searched the desk.
Shoved to the back of the bottom drawer, under a stack of Playboys, was a notebook. The fucking moron had actually written “passwords” on the front. I found the code I needed, then checked the time. There was still ten minutes on the clock.
I had the safe open in five seconds.
Empty. I had another flick through the notebook, just in case they had more than one safe. Nothing. It was a long shot, but this guy was obviously a total idiot. Definitely dumb enough to keep the painting at his own house.
I was heading for the door when a photo sitting on a bookshelf caught my eye.
My legs just fucking—stopped. Like a nail had been driven though the tops of both my feet mid-step, pinning me to the goddamn floor.
It was a family photo.
A Carson family photo.
I looked around the room again, almost giving myself goddamn whiplash, confused as hell.
Where the hell had my brother sent me? Anger flared to life, growing steadily, pumping through me.
Jesus fucking Christ.
One of those assholes lived here?
My eyes were drawn back to the picture, like someone else had control over them. Fuck, I couldn’t look away, heart hammering in my chest.
Standing there, big smiles on their faces were Elizabeth and Pierce. Lulu’s mother and stepfather. Alongside them her aunt and uncle and their kids.
A rough sound rasped up my throat, past my lips. Lulu. She was a little ways off to the side, on her own. She looked about sixteen here. She’d been a couple years older when I first met her, but her hair was the same—down and a little wild. Her gray eyes were aimed at the camera, and they sliced right fucking through me. I wasn’t prepared to see her face, hadn’t had a chance to sure up my defenses.
Something I hadn’t allowed myself to feel in a long time, hammered me from behind. I hadn’t seen her, not even a picture, not since she came to see me in prison.
And there she was. Tormenting me. Mocking me.
I picked it up, stared into her traitorous eyes. But the fury I’d lived off like fucking oxygen the last three years wouldn’t come, because this wasn’t the Lulu that tore me to shreds. She was a kid here, a kid who looked a little lost, and a whole fucking lot lonely.
The urge to fire it across the room nearly got the better of me.
I quickly put it down and got the hell out of there, before I did something stupid.
Jude was coming up the stairs when I hit the hall. Jude Wayland, ex-cop, and at six-foot-five, two hundred and fifty pounds of solid muscle, not someone you wanted to get on the wrong side of. He still had good reliable contacts on the force, not to mention his expertise with security systems—namely how to shut them down. Add to that his size and ability to be intimidating as hell, he’d become our go-to guy when someone needed to be leaned on. Persuasion was one of his specialties.
“Company.” He tilted his head to the front of the house.
We jogged down the stairs and I moved to the French doors off the living room, while Jude did his thing, reactivating the security system. We were shutting the doors behind us as the front door opened.
I turned to Jude when we were outside, fighting the rage pounding through me. “Who lives here?”
Jude rubbed the back of his neck, looking guilty as hell, and then tilted his head toward the living room window.
We’d walked out the door two minutes ago and already there was a woman bent over the back of the couch, pants yanked down around her thighs, while some guy, not her husband, fucked her from behind like he was in the throes of a fit.