Page 20 of Conceal

My workspace.

My highly illegal workspace situated in a converted warehouse.

I bought this building with money from my trust that I placed in a shell company.

For all intents and purposes, I don’t own this building. Nor does anyone reside or work here. From the outside, it’s condemned. Fancy computer work on my part.

My mouth curves into a smile. Coffee in hand, I stare at my monitor. A retinal scan opens up the screens. I don’t just have one, though.

What fun would that be?

Grayson makes fun that I hack every girl I’m interested in, but there is truth to the jest. I won’t approach a woman who doesn’t want me. But on the off chance that she does, I always research my conquests or even potential ones at that.

I do it to protect my family fortune.

But also, because I’m good at it.

As my fingers start to tap on the keyboard, I stop.

Nope.

I fight the temptation to look because unlike other women, she’s given no indication that she’s into me. I won’t be finding out anything. Instead, I type in Cyrus Reed. The host of the poker game.

The sketchy as fuck banker definitely has hordes of skeletons in his closet. Now he’s a man I can look into. At first, I wasn’t going to, but since I had every intention of going back to the poker game this weekend, I need to see who I’m dealing with. The first thing that pulls up is his driver’s license. I stare at him.

He looks angry as fuck. Delving a little deeper, I pull up the finances of his business and go down the rabbit hole.

Hours later, I come up for air. I didn’t find too much. A few offshore accounts. Some less than reputable clients. I wonder why he hosts the poker game. Leverage, money, to get more clients? Is he using it to bring in new clients, or is the poker game used solely to clean the money?

Knowing he’s shady as fuck should put me off from attending another game. It shouldn’t make me want to go, but like all things in life, the things that should push me away the most intrigue me.

For the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening, I find out more about my host. Then when I feel satisfied that he’s not a human trafficker, I pick up my phone and fire off a text.

Me: Poker game on this weekend?

Trent: You know it. You in?

Me: Yep.

Trent: Fan-fucking-tastic.

I drop the phone back on my desk and then look toward the center of the room. From where I’m sitting, I stare out the window to a perfect view of the Hudson River.

The street is usually empty when I’m here, but today people pass by, so it must be the time of day. Walking with purpose to get to where they need to go. They can’t see me; they can’t even see in my building, but I can see out. Through the frosted and dirty glass, I have a perfect view of them.

I like to watch them. One of my favorite pastimes is imagining what they are thinking. Sometimes, I imagine I’m one of them. Going about my business, melding with the crowd.

I’m not, though.

I’ve been privy to too much bad to ever be like most.

These people are ignorant to the world. They don’t know what I have found with a click of a mouse. I know the evils most people hold, and I don’t trust anyone because of that.

Only my siblings. When you’ve seen what I have, you wouldn’t either. That’s why I built this place in this building off the beaten path. This secret sanctuary. Because behind that wall is so much more than meets the eye.

Like me.

Chapter Ten

Willow

Today is frustrating. There is no way for me to find out what I need. Not from here, at least. A sobering and scary thought pops into my head.

Go back. It’s the only way.

I shake my head back and forth because that can’t happen. If I go back . . .

No.

Sweat beads line my skin. Goose bumps form, standing tall on my arms.

No.

I won’t think about what will happen to me if I do.

I’ll have to find a different way. There must be someone I can ask to help me. I would ask Maggie, and I know she would if she could, but this is too much to drag her into.

I sit on the couch, lift out the picture I brought with me, and stare at the girl in the picture. How young and innocent to the world she was. Now, years later, I’m not that girl. I’m older and jaded.

And most of all, that girl in the picture wasn’t alone.

“Willow, you in for today? You want to work?” Maggie asks as she walks out of her bedroom and into the living room.

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