Tangled Trust (The Lust List: Kaidan Stone #2) (4 page)

BOOK: Tangled Trust (The Lust List: Kaidan Stone #2)
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Kaidan revs the engine and pulls away from the road, forcing them to scatter. He hightails it into the parking garage, leaving them behind, and zooms to the exit on the other side.

He flashes me a grin, and I let out a giddy laugh, my heart beating wildly in my chest. He leans toward me and cups my chin. “I wish I didn’t have to get back to work.” He gives me a hard kiss, then pulls himself away like it takes effort. “We’ll finish this later. If you get out now, I can lead the paps on a chase for a few blocks while you get away.”

“Okay,” I say, feeling breathless, “I’ll see you soon?”

“Dinner,” he says. “Tomorrow night. Text me your address, and I’ll pick you up around eight.”

“Perfect.” We look at each other for another second, sparks still dancing between us. Then I jump out of the car.

He drives away, back into the street as bait for the sharks, and I’m weightless as I run up the stairs to my car.

My brain tries to tell me I shouldn’t be happy, that there’s too much else wrong in my life to justify it… but none of that matters.

Right now, it’s just me and the memory of Kaidan’s lips against mine and the delicious promise that I’ll get to see him again tomorrow.

The next day, the thugs aren’t outside my building. Their absence makes me more nervous than their presence, but I should take advantage of it.

When I call my brother for the hundredth time, and he doesn’t pick up, I decide enough is enough. If Rowan won’t answer his phone, I’ll go to him. He needs to know what’s going on with our inheritance, if he doesn’t already. I don’t know his exact address in Santa Monica, but I know the name of the dive where he bartends. I should be able to swing by there and still make it to the restaurant in time for my date with Kaidan.

I’ve already texted Kaidan my address, so I text him again and tell him I’ll meet him at the restaurant. He replies quickly.

Sorry, I have to work late. Meet up at nine?
I text:
Sure, which restaurant?

He texts me the address for the restaurant, and at seven o’clock I get dressed, carefully curling my hair and applying my make-up, going for the hot smoky-eyed look. My boxes from Boston arrived a few days ago, so I dig out a slim-fitting black dress and slip into it and a pair of strappy heels. I also get my pepper spray and drop it into my bag, just in case… though pepper spray’s a useless defense against the guns Luis and Carlos carry.

I try out a few poses in front of my full-length mirror and try to ignore how much I look like Peyton. After spending so much time obsessing over her and Kaidan, I feel like I know every look she’s worn in the past two years.

I smooth my hair back, apply lipstick, and assess myself in the mirror. That
Werewolf Chronicles
bitch can eat it. Kaidan’s into
me
. Not her.

After taping a garbage bag over my missing window, I get on the freeway, sticking to the slow lane the whole way to Santa Monica. My gas gauge slips lower and lower, and by the time I pull into the parking lot of the bar where Rowan works, I realize I won’t have enough gas to get home.

Shit.
Do I have anything left on my credit card? I hope I do. I push the worry from my mind and focus on my task.

The neon green sign above the bar says
Dark Star
, and the tinted glass doors beneath it look ominous. I swallow, nauseous, suddenly not wanting to confront him. What if he causes a scene? What if he’s not even at work yet? What if he refuses to talk to me right in front of everyone in there?

Rowan’s four years older than me, and I feel like I barely know him anymore. Every year I’d come home for the summer, and he’d ignore me like I didn’t exist. And when we did talk, we did nothing but fight. He’s always said I didn’t deserve all the coddling I got, which was ridiculous, because our dad ignored me, too. Rowan never realized how lucky
he
was. Dad actually wanted him there—he let him stay while he sent me far, far away.

I take a deep breath and force myself out of the car and through the front doors of the bar, holding my clutch tight against my chest.

It’s way bigger than it looked from the outside—and more like some kind of lounge than the dive bar I expected. Electronica music pumps through the space, and dark and multi-colored lights play across the empty dance floor. Mostly empty booths line three walls, and a few couples hang out off to the side in a lounge area with couches.

A hostess dressed in a low-cut dress approaches me with a menu. “How many?” she asks.

“Is Rowan Wade working tonight?”

Her brows go up as she recognizes me. “Are you—”

“His sister? Yeah.”

Her eyes are bright as she waves me to follow her. She leads me past the row of booths to a door at the end of the room. I glance back at the bar in confusion.

My dad’s assistant told me over a year ago that Rowan had moved out of my dad’s house in an act of defiance and that he was living in a crap apartment in Santa Monica,
bartending
at
Dark Star
. Am I being led to some kind of employee back room?

The hostess turns to me, shouting over the music. “He’s right up the stairs at the end of the hall!”

I’m baffled as I enter the narrow staircase and ascend the creaky wooden stairs. It smells in here—like a mixture of pot and vomit. I breathe through my mouth until I get up the stairs and down the tight hallway. There’s just one door, and I’m so off balance by the whole situation that I don’t think of knocking. I just open the door like an idiot.

I will never be able to unsee this.

My
brother
is sitting in front of DJ equipment in a swivel chair, his pants around his knees, a gorgeous girl straddling him. He’s got one of her very ample breasts in his mouth, and as I stand there agape, the chair moves, and I get a full-on view of
everything
. The girl’s jean skirt is hiked up around her hips, and her ass bounces up and down as she rides him with abandon.

I tear my eyes away and step back into the hallway, slamming the door behind me.

Oh God oh God oh God. Whhhhhy? I so never wanted to see that. Not ever. I’m scarred for life.

I stumble down the hallway, but before I reach the stairs, the door creaks open behind me.

“Hayley?”

I freeze at the top of the stairs and slowly turn, my cheeks flaming. I kinda wanna throw up. My brother’s standing there, green eyes like mine wide with surprise. His pants are buckled, thank God, but the smear of lipstick on his neck and his mussed brown hair announce what he was doing. The light bulb above us flickers as the chick that was riding him squeezes past, fully-clothed, and hurries down the hall on her walk of shame.

I press myself against the wall so I don’t accidentally touch her, because I’m
so
squicked out right now. Rowan’s a freaking ho like our dad.
Just
like him!

I narrow my eyes at him. “Is
she
the reason you won’t return my calls?” I ask, my tone laced with venom.

Rowan turns away without a word and heads back into the DJ booth.

Anger floods me, and I march in after him. I stand there, shaking, trying to forget what just happened on the red pleather chair. “Answer me.”

Rowan’s staring out the one-way mirror at the dance floor below. He reaches out a hand to mess with the laptop hooked into the equipment, and the song changes. Finally, he sinks into the chair and swivels around to face me.

“Why’re you here, Hay? Shouldn’t you be in a mansion somewhere, sipping cocktails?”

“You know, you’re a hypocrite,” I say, my voice breaking. “This is what dad used to do… ignore my calls while he screwed half of LA.”

His face darkens. “Maybe I just don’t want to deal with your bullshit. What did you do now?”


I
didn’t do anything.”

Rowan rolls his eyes.


Dad
did this,” I say. “He—”

“Dad’s
dead
,” Rowan snaps. “Whatever you did… There’s no one to save you from yourself anymore.”

My eyes burn at his words, and I clench my hands into fists, trying not to tear up. Rowan’s considered me a fuck up since our Dad sent me away all those years ago. Well, he’s wrong.

“Maybe I did make some mistakes growing up,” I say. “But… but at least I’m not twenty-six years old and hanging out in this… dump. Pretending to be a…” I glance around the room, at his laptop and the sound equipment. “Are you seriously pretending to be a DJ? Does it help you get laid?”

Rowan presses his lips together, and I can tell by his eyes that he’s livid. “I don’t need
help
getting laid. Now if you just came here to insult me, you can take your little ass out of here and go back to sucking some Stone cock.”

My mouth drops, and I see absolute red. I let out a growl and take two steps toward him to whack him hard on the chest with my clutch. Once, twice—tears pricking my eyes.

He rips my clutch from my grasp and tosses it on the table. “Are you done?”

I stare him down, and he glares right back from his chair. He’s just as stubborn as I am. He probably won’t speak to me again for another few years after this. Maybe we’d both be better off.

“I need to pay some drug dealers back,” I say, my voice even.

Rowan’s brows shoot up, and the defiant look on his face fades to worry. “What did you do?”

“I didn’t do
anything
! Dad owed them. They want their money back.”

Rowan laughs then, and his worried expression vanishes. He spreads his arms wide and enunciates each word. “Then give it to them.”

I tilt my head to the side. It sounds like he’s completely clueless about everything going on with the inheritance. “Have you called Jim back?”

“Jim who?”

“Our lawyer—James Nordstrom. He said he was going to call you about your half of the inheritance.”

“Oh, don’t you know?” Rowan lets out a breath and crosses his arms over his chest, leaning back in his chair. He looks positively smug. “I signed my half over to you. I didn’t want a dime of Dad’s money.”

My jaw drops so far I can barely scrape it off the floor. “No. No one told me that.”

“Well, it’s true. So you should have all you need to pay off dad’s debts. I don’t want anything to do with it.”

I lick my lips and cross my arms over my chest, mirroring Rowan. “I don’t have the money, Row.”

He narrows his eyes at me. “You blew it all already?”

“Dad put a condition in the will… and I have to fulfill it before I get our…
my
inheritance.”

“So fulfill it, and pay the deadbeats what Dad owed. I need to get back to work—”

“And I have to get back that diamond Dad gave Serena Lynn,” I blurt out.

A stupid smile appears on Rowan’s face, and he looks like he’s trying really hard not to laugh. “Yep. Sounds like dad.”

“This isn’t funny! My allowance is cut off. I can’t pay my rent. I can’t afford food. Those dealers want their money, and they won’t go away till they get it!”

Rowan scoots his chair closer to the table and fiddles with his computer, not looking at me. “I guess you could just be a loser like me and get a real job.”

My stomach hollows out. Why did I bother to come? He’s not taking this seriously. “I didn’t call you a loser.”

“You sure about that?” Rowan asks, his voice hard.

I grab my clutch off the table and hover beside him, but he puts on his headphones and clicks around in his program. I stand there for a few minutes, my chest tight, until he takes off the headphones and turns back to me.

“You’re overreacting, okay?” He says. “Seriously, everyone and their mom sells coke and other shit. Just give ‘em what they’re owed, and they’ll go away. They’re deadbeats.”

“It’s not like that—”

“I have faith you’ll figure it out,” he says dismissively. He wants me gone. I can see it.

I wish I could somehow repair the awful rift between us, but my kneejerk reactions to everything he says don’t help. We’ve spent years apart, and whenever we’re together, we act like this, pushing each other’s buttons. I can’t fix it.

“You don’t understand,” I say. “These are really bad guys. I think they might even know where you live.”

“I’ll be fine.”

I head for the door, defeated, but when I reach it, I remember my empty gas tank. I turn back to Rowan.

He’s still looking at me, and he raises his brows, waiting for me to speak.

“Um—I kind of used up all my gas getting here,” I say, as the last bit of my pride withers away. “Can I borrow some money?”

Rowan gets this look like he pities me and my lame troubles. He fishes two twenties from his wallet and hands them to me.

“Thanks.” I shove the cash in my purse.

There’s really nothing left to say, so I get the hell out of there, practically running back to my ghetto car.

My nerves are a mess, and I’m shaking as I drive down the street to the nearest gas station to fill my tank.

If my brother won’t take my problems seriously, who will? I remember Kaidan’s soft kiss, the way he looked at me before things heated up between us in the car. He likes me because I’m real, and here I am, hiding this from him.

Maybe it’s time I come clean. I don’t know Kaidan’s deal with his dad, but it’s clear they have some issues. He understands how I feel about my dad, and I don’t think he’ll judge me about my situation, even if it is crazy. He’s been around celebrities his whole life.

BOOK: Tangled Trust (The Lust List: Kaidan Stone #2)
2.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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