Sin showed me more of the estate and even took me to see his office in town. He barked at his staff to get to work as they gawked at the “mystery woman” on his arm. He hid me away in his private office. I ran my fingers over his many diplomas and reveled in his plush domain.

“Not bad for government work.”

He sat in his desk chair and pulled me into his lap. “Have you ever played a game called naughty secretary?”

“No.” I laughed. “Have you?”

“Of course not.” He ran his hands to my hips. “Though I’m quite disappointed to hear you’re unfamiliar.”

I rubbed my ass back and forth over his growing erection. “I’ve never heard of it, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be good at it.”

“I like it when you’re up to a challenge.”

“Always.” I stroked his dark hair, the strands soft on my fingertips.

He pulled me in for a kiss, his hands roving my body as he bit my bottom lip. The singular sensation of tingles and warmth, one that only he could draw from me, ricocheted around my stomach.

“Mr. Vinemont.” A woman chirped through his phone.

He growled into my mouth before reaching over and pressing a button. “What, Kim?”

“You have a visitor.”

“I don’t have any appointments today.” His tone turned cold, displeasure coating each syllable. “I checked.”

“He’s a walk-in. He believes you’d want to speak with him.”

“Who the fuck is it?” He clicked off the speaker and kissed me again, his impatience growing by the second.

“Leon Rousseau. He specifically asked to speak to the young lady you’re with.”

My heart fell at my father’s name. I hadn’t seen him since the trial, though Sin told me what he’d done to him. It had been gruesome, but I understood why it had to be.

Sin leaned back and looked up at me, his lips pressing into a thin line. “Fuck. He must have seen us arrive. I’ll send him away.”

“No. He can see me if he wants to. Both of us, I mean.” I took his hand and laced our fingers together. “He can see both of us.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. I think I’ll be fine. And maybe it will be a good thing, to finally see him face to face on equal footing. No more pretending.” The certainty in my tone wasn’t matched inside my heart. My love for my father had grown stale and brittle, but something remained. Would it always be there?

“Send him in.” Sin shoved the phone away.

I tried to stand.

He held me in place. “He can see you here with me, where you belong.”

“Claiming your turf?” I leaned my shoulder into his chest.

“If you’d rather I piss on you to mark you as mine, I will.” He dug his fingers into my sides and I squirmed, trying not to laugh. “Is that a yes?”

“No.” I grabbed his hands as the door opened.

My short-lived amusement died away as my father hobbled in, his back hunched and his face sorrowful. So many emotions rushed through me that I thought I might burst at the onslaught. Of all of them, pity won out.

He sank down into a chair across the desk as the secretary closed the door.

His bloodshot eyes found mine, and he held out his left arm, the end covered in graying gauze.

“Look at me. Ruined.”

Sin spoke through gritted teeth. “You got what—”

“Let me, okay?” I squeezed his forearm and he quieted, though he wrapped his hands around my waist. Meeting my father’s eyes again, I said, “Go on.”

“I need you, Stella. I need someone to take care of me. The money…” He shook his head, unshed tears wobbling in his eyes. “It’s all gone. No one cares about me. Dylan hasn’t spoken to me in months. I need you to come home. Please.”

“To the home you burned to the ground?”

His eyebrows rose, but he shook his head. “Who told you that? Him?” He shot a glance to Sin. “It was lightning. The damned insurance people wouldn’t pay up.” His tone turned bitter and his top lip curled into a sneer. “Only gave me half what it was worth.”

I saw right through him as if he were a pane of glass on a sunny day. “Can you still not tell me the truth, even now?”

“What lies has he told you? He poisoned you against me. You’re sitting in his goddamn lap like a pet!” As his voice rose, Sin tensed beneath me. I smoothed my hand up and down his arm, trying to tamp down the beast I could feel raging beneath his surface.

“Sin told me the truth. He showed me your signature. Stop lying to me.” The brittle love I had for him was breaking into pieces, disintegrating into the wind of his lies.

“That stuff can be forged. You know that. Why do you believe him? He’s the one who framed me, hounded me, convicted me based on lies. Don’t you remember?”

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