Fifty

Brendan jerked upright in his chair at the sound of the front door slamming open, blinking sleep from his eyes even as his hand automatically went for the sidearm that he should have been wearing. Instead, the gun lay on the coffee table four feet away. He hadn’t meant to fall asleep in the easy chair near the fireplace, but it had happened anyway.

If it had been anyone other than Alana and Ezra, there might have been trouble.

“What’s wrong?” Brendan asked, scrubbing his hand over his eyes and falling back into his chair.

Ezra shut the door as Alana collapsed onto the couch, her face white, pinched in pain. “Where’s Lindsay?” she asked.

“At Rachel’s with her parents, digging through old records and books, looking for more old alliances we might be able to take advantage of before this is over. Why?” He swallowed hard as his throat tightened. “What’s going on?”

“D’Arcy threatened you,” Ezra said, slumping against the door.

“Threatened me?”

“I was down by the beach clearing my head.” Alana shook her head, blinking rapidly, as if something had gotten in her eyes. “D’Arcy caught up with me down there. He—I—Brendan, he wants to hand you over to Chinasia.”

“Tell me something I didn’t already know,” Brendan said, swallowing the bile that crept up into his throat. “It’d get me out of the way. One less layer of protection for Lindsay and a way into the good graces of Chinasia Corp.”

“The bastard wanted her to help,” Ezra snarled. His eyes were dark with anger, his jaw tight and teeth grinding.

Breath hissed out of Alana and she shuddered. “I have never wanted to be so sick and have never wanted to murder someone so much as I did when I realized what he was suggesting. Just the thought that I would do that to Lindsay…”

“What did you say to him?” Brendan asked.

“I made an enemy today,” Alana said, her voice flat. “Does that answer your question?”

“He was never our friend,” Brendan whispered. He covered his face with his hands, stomach roiling as his heart began to beat faster, almost too fast. “Damn. Damn, damn.”

“What are we going to do?” Ezra asked, finally stepping away from the door and seating himself next to Alana. He wrapped an arm around her, drawing her tight against his side.

“There weren’t any witnesses to the conversation, were there?” Brendan already knew the answer.

There’s nothing we can do. D’Arcy gambled, but he still holds too many cards.

“You already know there wasn’t.”

“I was hoping to be wrong.” Brendan managed a weak, wry smile. He shook his head slowly. “There’s nothing we can do. He’s won this round. We’ll just have to be ready for round two.”

“Are we going to tell Lindsay?” Ezra asked, looking between them.

“It’ll just upset her,” Brendan said. “There’s nothing she can do.” She’ll be pissed as hell—pissed at D’Arcy, maybe enough to make her reckless. But if we don’t tell her, she’ll be pissed at us and maybe not as on guard as she should be. He sighed, rubbing his forehead. “But she needs to know in case he tries something. He’s probably got something up his sleeve where she’s concerned, too.”

“He’s afraid of her,” Alana said in a whisper.

“I know,” Brendan said. “He’s afraid of anyone psychic, truth be known, he just tries to hide it—badly, but he tries.”

“The Morgause family never had problems with psychics before his generation,” Ezra murmured. “I wonder why he’s different from everyone else in his line.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Brendan said. “Either way, we have to deal with him and his being the way he is. There’s no other choice for us.”

“We could kill him.” Alana’s voice was almost too quiet to hear as she stared at a spot somewhere deep in the ground beneath the coffee table. “That would solve a lot of problems.”

“And bring up new ones,” Brendan said, his stomach twisting uncomfortably. “Alana, we can’t just kill him.”

“Why the hell not?” she whispered. “Treason, Brendan. He’s plotting treason against us all. He will tear the Foundation apart brick by brick with what he’s doing. He’ll gift-wrap us and hand us over to the congloms and he’ll think that he was right to bloody well do it.”

“We’re not going to let—”

“Let it happen?” Her chin came up and she stared at him, rage smoldering in her eyes. “What are we going to do to stop it?”

“I don’t know,” Brendan said, jaw tightening painfully. “But we’ll figure it out. Trust me on that.”

“Lana—”

“Don’t tell me to calm down,” she snapped, glaring at Ezra. “Don’t even start. If there is one thing that I am more than welcome to get riled up about it’s this. He’s going to tear everything apart and pretend that he’s saving the Foundation and the colony and all he’ll really be doing is destroying the legacy that Sarah Farragut and Ryland LeSarte and their allies built when the Foundation began. D’Arcy will pretend it’s all for our own good and we’ll be damned lucky if we see the blows coming before they land, before we start to see the cracks. We have to figure this out and stop him dead in his tracks or we’re all screwed.”

“So do we tell Rachel?” Brendan watched Alana process the question, a maelstrom of emotion flicking through her eyes as she considered her answer.

“No,” she finally said. “No, this is the three of us—the four of us after you tell Lindsay.”

“Frederick Rose could help,” Brendan said quietly.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Alana said with a grimace. “Right now, it needs to stay between us. I’m not so sure Rose wouldn’t let it slip to his wife or to Rachel or Marshal Windsor. Better to keep it in-house for now.”

In house. A strange way to put it. Brendan shivered.

Things were, in fact, far worse than he’d ever thought they could be, his wife’s visions nonwithstanding. Things weren’t supposed to be this way.

Unfortunately, he didn’t control the world they lived in and things typically didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to. They just happened, for good or for ill, and they had to figure out what to do in the aftermath.

This was just another storm, and they’d have to find a way to make it through alive.

Somehow.

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