Bedding the Secret Heiress(4)

By: Emilie Rose

His chilly tone belied his words and made her wonder if Trent had poisoned yet another mind against her. She reluctantly put her hand in his. That same breath-stealing surge shot through her again, and something flickered in his eyes, making her wonder if he felt it, too—whatever it was. Didn’t matter. That wasn’t a trip she’d be taking.

“I’ll do my best to deliver smooth, punctual flights.” Ripping her hand free, she spun on her heel and hustled her boots out of the throne room. Killjoy Trent shadowed her to The Sphinx’s desk.

“Lauren, Gage is a close personal friend.” He pitched his voice low enough not to carry back through the open door of his office. “Don’t blow this or you’re out of a job.”

Ah. The catch. She rocked back on her heels. Trent had assigned her to work for a spy—one who would help him find grounds to get rid of her.

Wasn’t that a show of brotherly love? She bit back the urge to tell him to kiss her butt. But she’d deal with Trent’s tricks until she got what she needed. Then she’d tell him what he could do with his big head and bad attitude.

“Piece of cake, big brother. I’ll treat your buddy like precious cargo.”

The obvious grinding of his teeth when she called him brother nearly made her laugh out loud. Score one for baby sister. But she knew better than to let down her guard. This battle was far from over.

Angel or badass?

Gage’s gaze tracked Lauren Lynch out of the room. The woman was a walking contradiction with her big teal eyes, flawless honey complexion and the black leather biker gear hugging her lean curves.

The bone-jarring effect of her touch had been an unwelcome surprise. Even if she weren’t Trent’s sister, she was too young for him, and he had no time or inclination for complications—not when he was this close to reaching his goal of having Faulkner Consulting be the best in the industry and having six million in secure investments.

“Your announcement was a bit premature,” Gage said the moment Trent closed the office door. “You haven’t convinced me to fly with Hightower Aviation yet.”

“I will.”

Maybe. Maybe not. But he’d give Trent a chance to state his case. He owed him that much. “Lauren gives you a hard time.”

“But she’s smart enough to keep from crossing the line and giving me grounds to fire her. She has my mother wrapped around her little finger.”

“Are you sure? Jacqueline’s pretty sharp. You have to give her credit for keeping Hightower Aviation from going under after her father died and yours dropped the ball. She even managed to take HAMC international by convincing her jet-setting friends to employ your services on their pleasure jaunts.”

Trent sat behind his desk. “Mom’s been hoodwinked this time.”

“How does this involve me? Your message said you needed my help, but you left out the details.”

“Eighteen months ago Mom flew to Daytona. Shortly thereafter she began making large cash withdrawals of between twenty and thirty thousand on a regular basis. She’s returned to Daytona bimonthly since then.”

“Is it company money?” Embezzlement would be bad news.

“No, it’s my mother’s personal funds, but her accountant called me with a heads-up. I ordered him to alert me to any unusual transactions. Remember my father’s stunt? And yours?”

Gage’s gut tightened. “I remember.”

He might have only been ten when his father overextended himself, borrowing against his business and their home until he’d lost everything, but living in the family car for six months wasn’t something Gage would ever forget. Trent was the only one Gage had ever trusted with those details.

“Why would Jacqueline suddenly go off the deep end now?”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out. If Mom’s judgment is faulty or if she’s getting senile, then I need to get her off the board of directors before she does serious damage.”

“You’re going to need more than speculation to unseat her.”

Trent glanced at the papers on his desk. “Mom’s spending and visits to Daytona escalated a few months before Lauren moved to Knoxville. Lauren is from Daytona. My guess is she discovered her birth mother had deep pockets and decided to cozy up and dip her hands into them.”

“Lauren doesn’t look like a con artist.”

“Don’t let those big blue eyes and her innocent girl-next-door look fool you. If I didn’t have good reason to suspect she’s tapped my mother’s financial vein, I wouldn’t have called you.”

Trent, like Gage, wasn’t the type to ask for help. That his friend had called meant he was desperate. “If your mother is channeling money to your baby sister—”

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