GOING HOME ISN'T EASY Part 10
Rylee had had years to perfect the mask she wore in public, the one that hid both her emotions and her insecurities. The upper echelons of vampire society was cutthroat to put it mildly. Their predatory nature was given to tormenting the weak and the wounded, something she'd learned firsthand at a very young age.
She refused to cower at Logan's display of dominance when he ordered her to tell Vivian that the two of them were in perfect accord when it came to their relationship. Instead, she offered him a cool smile. "I would say that we are in agreement on some points, but a few are still open to debate."
His eyes widened as Vivian took a step back, putting a little distance between two vampires who were both fangs-out and eyes alight with aggression. Logan's smile widened as he offered her a short bow. "My apologies. You're right, of course."
At least he dialed it down a bit when he glanced at the third member of their party. "Sorry, Vivian. It's been a while since I've gotten drawn into the give and take of my relationship with Rylee, and I'm a bit rusty."
He turned his smile back in her direction. "But I'll get the hang of it."
Rylee blinked, her own desire responding to his. She fought to tamp it down. Now wasn't the time. "Weren't you going to talk to Declan about investigating our clans' finances?"
At least he took the hint and took a step back, both literally and in hauling his own hunger back under control. "That I did."
"Then you should run along and do that. Let me know if I can help."
Instead of walking away, he stalked back toward her. His gaze seethed with heat and all the power of a high level vampire male in his prime. His strength and power spoke to her in ways that no other man ever had. He moved in closer, his intent clear.
Rather than let him be the aggressor, she fisted his shirt and yanked hard, closing the last bit of distance between them. She kissed him or maybe he kissed her. It didn't matter which was true. All she knew was they were each staking a claim on the other, and she was fine with that.
Then she broke it off and gave him a small shove. "Let me know what you learn."
He gave her a salute. "Yes, ma'am. And if you two ladies will excuse me, I need to get to work."
Vivian finally joined the conversation. "Declan is in his office. It's down the hall and to the left."
When Logan was out of sight, Vivian fanned herself. "Wow, lady. I thought dealing with an alpha wolf was bad. You're going to have your hands full with that one."
She wasn't wrong about that. While Logan might lack some of the slick sophistication of his older brother and father, he made up for it in sheer strength and determination. She suspected the rough edges he showed the world were just as much as a disguise as her own cool façade. His father and brother might view his lack of polish as a weakness, but they were fools. When push came to shove, Logan would destroy them both if that's what it took to settle the matter.
Then he'd once again walk away from vampire society and never look back. She liked that about him. The only question was if he would take her with him when he left.
It was too soon to know. Rather than worry about it, she smiled at her hostess. "You said something about it almost being dinner time. Is there anything I can do to help?"
Vivian nodded. "It should be ready in about twenty minutes. If you'd like to make the salad, I'll put the finishing touches on everything else and set the table. Then we'll have to physically pry them away from the computer. Once they're on the trail of their target, it's darn near impossible to call them off the hunt."
Rylee hated the widening ripples of people being drawn into whatever mess their two clans had landed in. "If things go badly, Vivian, you need to protect yourselves. Your pack depends on you and Declan. They should come first."
The other woman gave Rylee a quick hug. "I know it's hard to let other people help you, but there's one thing you need to remember. Without Logan's help, I don't know where I'd be. He gave me a job and a safe space to live when no one else would. If I'd kept running, eventually the former leader of the pack would have found me. Either he would have forced me into mating with him or he would have killed me. I thank the stars that Declan was the one who tracked me down and that he was an alpha whose honor defines him. Logan and Declan combined forces to save me. Without them, I would have no pack, no home, no peace, no happiness."
She stepped back. "Declan and I both owe Logan, but that's not why we're helping. We're doing that because he's a friend and matters to both of us. He deserves to find what we have. You both do."
Four hours later, Logan stretched his arms out wide and twisted in an attempt to work out some of the kinks that came from sitting too long in front of a computer screen. As it turns out, Declan's brother had already taken the initiative and started the deep dive into the finances of both the McCaig and the Byrne clans before Logan had even asked.
He'd sent the file of what they'd found so far to both Logan and Declan. They were still trying to make sense of it all. Something was definitely wrong. The numbers almost added up-but not quite.
Declan set a cold beer down in front of Logan. "So who do you think is cooking the books?"
"That is the question, isn't it?"
He stared at the screen, sure the answer was hidden somewhere in the columns of numbers. "I might not like my father much. He's ruthless and arrogant and a total jackass at the best of times. He's always been pretty cutthroat when it came to his business dealings, but he never cheated or lied. That would be beneath him. The McCaigs are inherently superior, you see, and shouldn't need to stoop to shady dealings to outdo their competitors."
"And Rylee's father?"
"One reason he and my old man never got along is that they're too much alike. Family honor is everything even if it means throwing your own kids under the bus."
Declan dragged his own chair over next to Logan's. "So that leaves your brother. Where does he fit into all of this?"
"Good question. Rory and I have never gotten along, mainly because he's a younger version of my father and saw me as competition. He plans to take over the clan the minute Dad shows even a hint of weakness."
Logan grinned at Declan. "Wolves aren't the only ones who fight for dominance. It's just that vampires carry out most of our battles in the board room."
Alpha wolf that he was, Declan huffed a small laugh. "We do a fair amount of that, too. Any pack leader who expects to hold onto his position for long has to figure out how to make sure the pack as a whole prospers. He or she can't just line their own pockets and hope to survive."
Logan sighed. "That's something my father never understood. He likes to keep most of the profits for himself and our family. That leaves everyone else scrambling to keep up."
Declan gave Logan a considering look. "I'm guessing you don't operate that way."
"I reward hard work and loyalty with good pay and decent benefits. It only makes good financial sense in the long run to treat your people right."
"So do you think your brother is behind whatever is going on?"
Before Logan could answer, his phone rang. He glanced at the screen and frowned when he saw the call was from Maggy, the assistant manager at the bar.
"Mags, what's up?"
"Logan, I'm so sorry…"
He jerked upright. "What's wrong, Maggy?"
"It's the bar…it was torched earlier tonight. No one was hurt, but it was a close call. We managed to get everyone out, but the building is a total loss."
Fury burned straight through the heart of him. "All that matters is everyone is okay. We can rebuild. Tell our people their paychecks will continue until we reopen."
"I will. That will help, Logan. Tell me what I should do next."
"Give the fire marshal my contact information. I'll call the insurance company myself. You take the next couple of days off and rest. I'm still in the middle of some family business, but I'll head back there as soon as I can."
There was a brief silence before Maggy spoke again. "There's one more thing, Logan. There was a note on my doorstep when I got home. It wasn't signed, but it says that you need to give back what you stole or I will pay the price."
Logan fought for control. How dare they threaten her? Maggy didn't deserve to be caught up in a vampire feud. "Lock yourself inside, Maggy. I'm going to make a call and send help. They'll be from Ian Lyell's security company. Pack a bag, and they'll take you someplace safe. I'd come myself, but they can get there more quickly."
"I'll be ready."
Then she gasped. "Logan, now there are armed men lining up outside my house. They look like mercenaries. Well, except for one. He's dressed in a suit and looks a lot like you."
It had to be his brother. "Take your phone and head downstairs. If you hear them trying to get in, go inside the tunnel and lock the door. Don't follow the tunnel to my place. It's probably not safe. When Ian's people get there, we'll let you know what to do next."
"Be careful, Logan. They look like they mean business."
"Don't worry about me, Mags. I'm on my way."
Declan was already on the phone talking to his brother. He handed it over to Logan so he could fill Ian in on the details. "We'll be ready. Thanks, Ian. I'll let Maggy know what's happening."
He called her back as soon as he hung up on Ian. "Maggy, we're coming. Stay in the tunnel until I give you the all clear."
"Will do, boss."
Logan hung up and waited for Ian to call back with final instructions. He headed for the living room to find Rylee. Just the thought of Rory trying to get his hands on her was infuriating. That his brother would play games with Logan's friends and employees only added fuel to the fire.
When he walked into the room, Rylee took one look at him and rose to her feet. "What's happened?"
He smiled, fangs out and ready for blood. "My brother just signed his own death warrant."