Mason and Polly had handled the setting up of the boardroom, instead of allowing the administrative assistant whose job it usually was to do it. It was essential to the plan that there be no interruptions. Plus we didn’t want to run the risk of someone else overhearing all our personal junk.

Once we got to the boardroom, I saw my plan B sitting in the waiting area outside the door and gave her a nod.

“He’s already inside,” she told me.

“And our guest?”

“Waiting in the empty office down the hall.”

“Good. Keep your ears on in case I need you.”

“Will do,” she said. As I started to go inside, she stopped me. “Hey, handle that shit in there, or I will. You feel me?”

Plan A was to confront David with all we knew and the proof that could ultimately destroy him. If that didn’t work, plan B would go into effect. There was also a plan C, but it was a last-ditch effort, a desperate move that we didn’t want to make unless it was absolutely necessary. I hoped like hell it wouldn’t come to that.

A simple nod of my head in understanding was all the exchange we needed. Turning the handle on the door, I stepped inside.

I had to hide my snicker when I saw David’s bruised and battered face, and I wondered what kind of story he’d made up to explain it away. He was already situated toward the front of the table, next to where his father, Harrison, used to—and sometimes still did—sit at its head.

Harrison had turned his control of Scarlet Lotus over to David, and although he sometimes showed up at the board meetings, it was on very rare occasions and only when something big was on the agenda. I had a sneaking suspicion David had insisted he be present for this one because he really thought he had some shit on me that might finally make him look better in his father’s eyes.


I almost felt bad for him.


I took my seat across the table from David with Mason at my side. David, the smug bastard, shot me an I-know-something-you-don’t-know grin that looked mighty painful considering the split in his lip (courtesy of moi), but other than that, he kept his trap shut. It was probably the smartest thing he could’ve done. I, on the other hand, found it extremely difficult not to launch myself across the table and kill the fucker with my bare hands. In my mind, I kept seeing him hovering over my girl, trying to take something that didn’t belong to him, something she had no intention of giving freely. But I kept myself in check. It was time to get this shit over with for good.

His assistant was there, of course, but she shouldn’t have been. At least not for the purpose of this meeting. “Get out, Mandy.”

She and David looked at each other and then at me before he guffawed. “Did you bump your head or something this morning, Crawford? Mandy is my assistant. She doesn’t take orders from you.”

I gave him a stone-cold stare. “You and I need to have ourselves a little chat. You like chatting, remember? Only I don’t think you’re going to want witnesses around for this one.”

He laughed. “Have you been smoking crack?”

“Nope,” I said, relaxing back in my chair. “Haven’t been snorting anything, either.”

He flinched, although it was barely perceptible.

“Fine, Mandy can stay. How’s Izzy?” I asked with a smirk.

There it was. The slight widening of the eyes, the straightening of his posture, and then the look away. “The board meeting didn’t get moved to an hour earlier, did it?”


David cleared his throat and turned to Mandy. “Give us a moment.”

Confused wasn’t even the word for the expression on Mandy’s face. I’d say clueless fit it to a T, as that was what she was most of the time, but she got up and did as she was told, like a good little assistant.

“And what about your boy?” David asked, clearly indicating Mason’s presence.

“Mason already knows everything. He stays.”

“How about you tell me what this everything is?”

“Gladly. But first, do you have my contract with you?”

He grinned and sat back. “That’s what this is all about?”

“Wasn’t that exactly what you planned to make the board meeting all about?”

“If you pulled this stunt to try to talk me out of it, then you’ve wasted your time and mine,” he said. “But if you’re here to wave a little white flag and hand over your half of Scarlet Lotus in lieu of your total annihilation, I might be convinced to accept.”

“Oh, I don’t think it’s going to go down like that at all. In fact, I think you’ll be the one handing over your shares before we’re done here.”

“What do you know about Izzy? Better yet, how do you know about her? Have you been talking to Scott?” He couldn’t have believed Scott Christopher would rat him out any more than I did. On the other hand, when a ship is sinking, rats tend to hop on board any flotation device they can find to save their own hide. Christopher wasn’t plan A, though.

“Show me your hand and I’ll show you mine,” I challenged.

David sucked at his teeth as he met my stare. His fingers drummed on the table before him until finally he slid his briefcase in front of him, popped it open, and took out a single sheet of paper. After closing the briefcase, he held up the contract for me to see.

“Here you go, Crawford. Proof that my dick really is bigger than yours,” he said with a smug grin.

I’d seen his dick when it was ramming away into my slut of an ex-girlfriend’s ass. Not even close.

“So what is it that you think you have on me?” he asked.

“I know you’re using cocaine.”

David chuckled, the relief in the sound revealing his nervousness about what I’d had to say. “Prove it.”

“A mandatory drug test from the board will handle that.”

He shrugged. “Fine, but it’s nothing more than a slap on the wrist and my promise to get help for my addiction. I’m still sitting pretty, but nice try.”

“You tried to rape Lanie.”

Again he shrugged. “Her word against mine, and I have proof that she’s a whore. Which means all I have to do is tell the police and the board that she told me she’d make that claim if I didn’t pay her money. Simple case of blackmail. I’m the victim. What else do you have?”

I had plan B.

“Mason,” I said without averting my attention from David.

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