“I really need to be going. No need to make a decision now. You can get back to me. Lilly’s birthday isn’t for a few weeks.” Paul patted Marc condescendingly on the back.

Marc shrugged off his touch.

“If you remain a good boy, you can console yourself with the fact that you won’t have to go through alcohol withdrawal in jail. That wouldn’t be pleasant at all.” Paul turned and headed for his car, settling himself inside and starting the engine.

He waved as if they’d had a social visit, then pulled down the long driveway, leaving Marc alone to ponder his fate which looked bleaker by the minute.

Marc was cornered and the bastard knew it. All choices led to the same result. He could do as Paul asked and never be able to look himself in the mirror again—which probably wouldn’t matter since he’d end up in jail—or he’d wind up there anyway thanks to Paul Dunne’s so-called proof and the other man’s stellar reputation in the community.

“Damn.” He kicked his foot against his tire, accomplishing little perhaps except breaking his toe.

He winced at the throbbing pain and slowly walked to the house. At one time, the mansion had represented everything he’d wanted out of life. Today the old house merely stood as glaring proof of what jealousy of his brother had done to Marc’s life. How ironic, now that he could no longer stand to look at the place, he was destined to get his wish and lose the house and a whole lot more.

Unless he could find a way to outwit Paul Dunne. It was either that or cave in to his demands.

What a choice, Marc thought. Unfortunately it was nothing more than he deserved.

Twelve

L ater that night, Ty stood behind the bar at Night Owl’s, filling in for Rufus so he could go to his son’s Back to School night. The place filled quickly and he appreciated how many people remembered Lilly and stopped to talk to her, making her feel welcome. He was glad she didn’t have time to think about trust funds, her uncle, or someone trying to hurt her for at least a few hours.

When his cell phone rang, he glanced down and saw Derek’s number. He picked up, told Derek to hang on, then turned to the other regular bartender. “Hey, Mike. Hold down the fort for a minute, will you?”

The guy nodded, freeing Ty up to take the call. He glanced at Lilly who was deep in conversation with Molly. Certain she was in good hands for a little while, Ty walked into the hall and closed himself in the quiet back office.

“What’s up?” he asked Derek.

“I think we got ourselves a break.” The other man’s excitement hummed through the cellular lines. “ Dumont had a visitor around 11:30 this morning.”

Ty seated himself on the top of Derek’s old desk. “Finally. Who was it?” he asked, his own adrenaline increasing.

“I didn’t know at first so I had Frank run a check on the license plate and get this. The vehicle belongs to Paul Dunne, of Dunne and Dunne, LLP. It’s a—”

“Law firm,” Ty said, finishing Derek’s sentence. “I know exactly who we’re dealing with.”

What he didn’t know was why Paul Dunne would pay Dumont a visit unless it involved Lilly’s trust fund. Of course it was possible the two men were friends, but it was even more likely Dunne was filling Dumont in on his earlier meeting with Lilly.

“Good job. Keep it up.”

“Will do, boss. Anything else I can do for you?”

He thought for a minute before replying. “As a matter of fact, there is. You can have Frank see what kind of connection, if any, he can dig up between Marc Dumont and Paul Dunne other than Paul being trustee of the Dumont estate.”

Hell, Ty figured Hunter could ask Molly to get some answers out of Anna Marie, as well. That is if Molly was willing. Ty had no doubt she had a thing for Hunter, but he didn’t know whether she’d put her love life before her family. They didn’t have much time to find out since they didn’t know when her uncle would strike next.

“Consider it done,” Derek said.

“Thanks.” At least Ty would get info rmation from somewhere.

Derek disconnected the line first.

Ty dialed Hunter who was working at his office and asked the other man to drop everything and meet Ty and Lilly here for a quick meeting. Then Ty headed back to the door, a part of him frustrated that he couldn’t do the digging himself. He enjoyed his work and would love to be the one to find the info rmation to nail that bastard Dumont once and for all. But keeping Lilly safe was his priority and he needed to be around to do that.

He rejoined the noisy bar and his gaze immediately zeroed in on Lilly. He immediately decided not to tell her about Paul Dunne’s visit to her uncle just yet. She’d been so excited to join him tonight, to see how he worked, who his friends were and to just enjoy the evening. He didn’t see the point in disrupting the only time she’d had to forget about her problems. She’d find out soon enough once Hunter arrived.

He wiped down the bar with a damp rag, lost in thought, his attention drifting to Lilly in between serving drinks.

Finally he heard a familiar voice. “Sea Breeze please, Bartender.”

He glanced up into the eyes of Gloria, the woman he’d been dating—make that sleeping with—

up until Lilly’s return to his life.

Since he and Lilly had discussed Alex this morning, Gloria had been on Ty’s mind. He’d decided to set up a time for them to meet while Lilly remained at home with his mother. He’d called her while Lilly showered, but she hadn’t been home and he hadn’t felt comfortable leaving a message. For one thing, he didn’t want her calling him back while Lilly was around and for another, Gloria deserved better than a quick brush-off.

Sometimes, no matter how well he tried to plan, life had a way of screwing things up anyway, he thought.

“Hi, stranger.” Gloria squeezed in between two people lined up at the bar and leaned closer.

“Hi, yourself.” He treated her to a warm smile and mixed her drink, sliding the glass toward her.

“Here you go.”

“Thanks. Do you think you can take a short break so we can talk?” she asked, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.

She’d pulled her dark hair into an updo thing he usually found sexy but now he just felt sick.

Still, he hoped he had a good enough read on their no-strings relationship that she wouldn’t be needing her drink after they spoke.

He nodded and came around to the front of the bar. On the way, his gaze strayed to Lilly but thankfully she seemed busy.

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