Shattered King(6)By: Sherilee Gray
My brother watched me closely, gaze darting to Neco before he spoke. I felt my friend move in closer.
“It was Robert that called in the claim, but the painting was taken from Pierce’s home,” Van said.
“How can Robert claim it if it’s not his?”
Van’s shoulders relaxed a fraction when he realized I wasn’t about to throw down in the middle of his office, and kept talking. “Pierce made sure Robert co-signed every insurance policy . . . every fucking thing he owns. Which isn’t a whole lot, as it happens. Most of it’s tied up in family trusts, belongs to his wife Elizabeth’s family. Their homes were never theirs to begin with. Anyway, we both know Robert’s weak, follows Pierce’s lead like a goddamn puppy, would do anything for his brother, including insurance fraud.”
As much as it pissed me the fuck off, I got it, the secrecy. I understood my brother’s concerns. Anything to do with Lulu’s stepfather was a hot button for me, to put it mildly.
But he’d purposely kept this from me, and even though I understood his reasons, there was no way in hell I was sitting this one out. I couldn’t just do my job, find the painting, and forget the rest.
I crossed my arms. “Pierce has to be pulling the strings.” The guy had gone underground in recent weeks. I didn’t know why yet, but anything that might lead me to him, I was all in. “Selling privately, plus the insurance payout, would set him up nicely.”
Van dipped his chin. “Exactly.”
I had to find that painting. I didn’t know why Pierce needed the money, but I wasn’t letting that asshole get his hands on it. And I sure as hell wasn’t missing the chance to get my hands on the son of a bitch either.
Pierce needing fast money meant he was in deep shit, plain and simple. He’d either vanish, go deeper underground, or use the cash to scrape himself out of trouble. None of those options were acceptable. That fucker was well overdue payback, and any way I could make his life harder—or, better yet, draw him out—was a win for me.
“I’m in.” I locked eyes with my brother. “And if you ever keep shit like this from me again, or send me into a situation like that without all the facts, we’ll have a serious fucking problem.”
Van dipped his chin, jaw still hard.
I walked out of his office a short time later, taking the stairs to the lower level. There were several rooms down there: the surveillance room, gym, Neco’s office where he kept all his tech shit, and a bunk room that was occasionally used as a holding cell. I let myself into my friend’s office.
Neco walked in right after me, and leaned against his desk. “I wasn’t happy about keeping that shit from you.”
“You of all people should know how I’d feel about being kept in the dark. Especially when it comes to that family.”
Neco rubbed the back of his neck, not holding my gaze, looking cagey as fuck.
“What didn’t Van tell me?” I didn’t want to fight Neco. He was my brother in every way but blood, but I was this close to losing it.
“Hunt, man, you need to take a step back from this.”
I just stared at him.
The guy cursed. “Yeah, I have something. Shit. Not Pierce. Not directly, but someone else who might be able to get us the info we need. Maybe clue us in to where he’s been hiding out.”
Neco gave me a long, meaningful look, and something knotted unbearably tight in my gut. My friend shook his head, planted his hands on his hips. “I give you this, you don’t do anything fucking stupid. You go rogue, Van will lose his shit, and I’ll have to go after you and drag your ass home.”
I refused to make promises I couldn’t keep. “Will this info help us find Pierce, the painting?”
“Then give it to me.”
“Fuck.” Neco ran a hand over his cropped hair. “Pierce’s wife, Elizabeth. She’s been sick a long time, years. The family found out recently she doesn’t have much time. A matter of weeks. Cancer.” The guy held my gaze. “Pierce isn’t gonna risk his neck going to her, he’s gone into hiding for a reason. The guy’s running scared. Plus, that bastard’s ice cold . . . but she’s another story.”