GOING HOME ISN'T EASY Part 14
Logan stared at his brother in disbelief. "Rylee and Maggy aren't pawns to be used in whatever twisted game you're playing on behalf of her father and ours."
Rory offered up one of his patented sneers. "Seriously? You really think those two fools are the masterminds behind all of this? Right now they're running in circles and trying to figure out why all of their precious money keeps disappearing."
Rylee joined the conversation. "Well, we sure don't think you're the brains behind it. When people in our society talk about the McCaig with the brains for business, it's Logan's name that comes up. Not your father's and certainly not yours."
It was hard not to laugh at her outrageous claim, but that would only make an already dangerous situation even more volatile. That didn't keep Rory from rising to the bait. "That's a lie. No one missed Logan when he skulked away from the clan. He was nothing but an huge embarrassment to our family."
Rylee's laughter rang out through the tunnel. "You're wrong about that, Rory. People look at how you and your father struggle to maintain your clan's fortune and then at what Logan has accomplished all on his own. That's the reason you and your father have found it harder and harder to find financing for your companies."
By that point Rory's fangs were on full display. "Again, that's a lie. Besides, that doesn't account for why your father is having the same problems."
She shrugged her shoulders. "What can I say? He's failed to keep up with the changing times. The young people in our clan have left in droves to find their own way after Logan set the example. They want the same freedom he's had to make their own choices, not to mention the right to keep the money they earn rather than having to fork over a huge percentage of it to self-entitled vampires like you, your father, and mine."
Rory sneered. "They owe it to us. It is only through our efforts that the McCaig clan has flourished for so long."
"Keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better, Rory. But the truth is that vampires like you and our fathers are little better than leeches. If you would get a real job and work for a living, you might actually contribute something useful to your clan. Instead, you can't stop the increasing number of clan members who have renounced their allegiance to the McCaigs. Eventually you will lose everything because there aren't enough people left to provide the income to support your extravagant lifestyle. You, your father, and even mine will end up living on the streets. Personally, I can't wait to see it."
Now wasn't the best time for this discussion, but all of it came as a shock to Logan. Was any of it true or was she making it up on the fly to irritate his brother? Even if Rylee was exaggerating, there had to be at least some truth to her claims. Rory had been trained from birth to eventually take over the reins from their father. Logan was sure that his brother knew everything there was to know about how to run the clan exactly as their father always had.
The trouble was neither of them had an ounce of creativity or any desire to keep up with the rapidly changing economy of the Coalition. Nor had they made any effort to establish financially beneficial relationships with humans, Chancellors, or even the shifters. They probably thought it was beneath their dignity. Instead of looking for ways to innovate or diversify their holdings, the pair stuck to the tried and true even if the old ways weren't working anymore.
When their investments failed to meet expectations, they responded not by admitting they'd been wrong but by increasing the amount that members of the clan were expected to contribute from their own earnings. Not only did that breed discontent, it also reduced the standard of living for everyone across the board. Logan had argued long and hard against his father's shortsighted thinking, but all that had gotten him was forced out of the family and the clan.
With Rylee and Rory still exchanging insults and barbs, things were bound to come to a head sooner rather than later. The sound of shooting outside was faint, but growing more sporadic. No doubt Ian and his people were on the verge of eliminating the threat presented by the mercenaries. When that happened, the wolves would enter the house above, trapping Rory between them and Logan. There was no telling what he'd do then.
Logan took a half step forward, drawing his brother's attention back in his direction. "Let Maggy go, and you might actually live to see another day."
Rory yanked on Maggy's hair, causing her to whimper, "Like I said, I'll trade your human for my fiancée."
Rylee tried to push past Logan, but he blocked her way. "Sorry, but Rylee's not your fiancée, Rory. Not now, not ever."
His brother leaned down closer to Maggy, making sure she got a close up look at his fangs. "Here that, little human? He had the chance to save you, but he'd rather let you die than give me back what's rightly mine."
While his brother's focus was on Maggy, Logan leapt forward and slammed him into the wall. Rory fought back with a frenzied attack. While normally he wouldn't have presented much of a threat to Logan, this time he battled with a strength that reeked of desperation. As Logan concentrated on subduing his brother, he was relieved to see Rylee help Maggy stand and then put some distance between the two of them and the grappling brothers.
With the women safely out of reach, he turned his full attention to bringing Rory to heel. It didn't take long even if Rory had managed to do a little damage along the way. Logan pinned his brother to the rough concrete floor using his knee to hold him down while he stripped off his belt and used it to secure Rory's hands behind his back.
When he jerked him back up to his feet, Logan finally drew a full breath. By that point, Rory was cursing a blue streak and making a lot of threats that he was in no position to deliver on. Finally, Logan got right up in his grill and snarled, "Shut the hell up. Considering Ambrose O'Brien is coming personally to take you into custody, you might put your energy to better use figuring out how to deal with him."
For the first time Rory looked scared, but his focus wasn't on Logan. Instead, he appeared to be staring back toward Rylee and Maggy. "NO, please no. I promised I'd get the money and I will."
What was he rattling on about now? Logan glanced back over his shoulder to see what Rylee was doing that had his brother babbling like a fool.
But it wasn't Rylee or even Maggy who was the new problem. They were both seated on the ground staring up at a whole new threat. It was Cormac standing there with his pistol aimed right at Logan and Rory. His smile was cold, his eyes glittering with intensity.
His gaze flicked in Logan's direction and then back at Rory as he sighted down his gun. "Sorry, Rory, you had your chance. Then he pulled the trigger, leaving Logan the last McCaig standing.
Maggy screamed in horror. Rylee was pretty sure she had, as well, but she kept her focus on Logan. He stared at his brother's body for the longest time before finally turning to face Cormac. "I would ask why, but I don't care what a soon-to-be dead man has to say."
Cormac scoffed. "Seriously, Logan. You hated your brother every bit as much as I did. Possibly even more, not that it matters now. Besides, I did it for you and the clan. As long as Rory drew breath, your father would have never turned control over to you. It's what you've been waiting for all these years. You could show a little appreciation."
Logan shook his head as if having trouble processing what Cormac had just said. "I haven't been waiting for anything. When I walked away, it was because I wanted something different out of life. I was happy until you showed up on my doorstep and dragged me back into vampire politics."
Rylee slowly rose to her feet, taking care to keep herself between Cormac and Maggy. If he decided to get trigger-happy, she stood a far better chance of surviving than the human still huddled on the floor.
She debated asking Cormac if she could get Maggy out of the line of fire by either leading her back to Logan's house or letting the terrified woman return to her own home. The gunfire outside had stopped completely, which hopefully meant that Ian and Ambrose O'Brien's forces were now in control. But before she could decide, a movement from down the hall caught her eye.
Declan and his brother were headed their way, wearing body armor and moving fast. She was willing to bet that Logan saw them coming, but he gave no sign of it as he reengaged Cormac in conversation.
"So what about my father? Say I do return to the fold. Do you really think he's going to surrender control of the clan to me?"
Cormac shrugged. "If he wants to continue living, he will. Same goes for Rylee's father. When you two marry, you will be in charge of both clans."
His matter of fact statement sent chills up Rylee's spine. She and Logan each had serious issues with their respective fathers. That didn't mean they wanted to see them murdered. Her heart skipped a beat when Logan took a step toward Cormac.
"And what will your role be in all of this, Cormac?"
The other vampire smiled. "I would have thought that would be obvious, Logan. I'll do what I've always done. I'll serve the McCaig clan just as I always have."
He nodded in the direction of Rory's body. "I know you've always wondered why I've stuck around. I do all the dirty work, so you McCaigs can keep your hands clean. It's paid well over the years. The added bonus is that I know where all the bodies are buried, which means job security. I have safeguards in place, so your father could never get rid of me. The scandals alone would destroy him and everyone in your clan."
"And if I don't care about that?" Logan asked, although he did care very much.
"I'd destroy everyone whoever meant anything to you, Logan. It would be a shame to see your beloved grandmother's name tarnished with the same brush as your father's." Cormac's smile would have been better suited to one of the wolves than a vampire as he added, "What do you say, Logan?
The threat against his grandmother was one threat too many.
Logan flexed his hands and straightened his shoulders. "I say you die."