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Grayson didn’t know what to say. On the one hand, he knew there were relationships of convenience out there. In his line of business, compatibility and common goals were more important than romance. Sometimes it was easier to get to the top as a power couple. And if you didn’t care about the sanctity of marriage, it was the perfect solution.

Senator Grayson loved his wife. From the moment he met her, he knew they’d get married. He’d always had political aspirations, and while she had been content as a kindergarten teacher, she’d given it up to become a politician’s wife. Their marriage wasn’t always perfect, but it was real.

Was he capable of manipulating his son like that? Was having a shot at the presidency worth allowing Apex to play his son like a fiddle?

Anastasia must’ve seen the gears turning in his mind. “It wasn’t a request, Senator.”

He swallowed the bile that had crept up his throat. “I’m aware, Ms. Bolton. I was momentarily considering the consequences should any of this come to light.”

“It won’t.” She picked up her tablet again. “Apex is where we turn your dreams into reality. You want a son you can control? We’ll make it happen.”

Grayson’s smile was tight. This wasn’t what he had in mind when he had signed on with Apex, but he’d be lying to himself if he said he hadn’t known who he was getting into bed with.

Another knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. “Come in.”

A man in a black suit entered the room. His name was Alex Murphy, and he was the head of the senator’s security team. He was an imposing man with short-cropped hair, a clean-shaven face, and eyes as piercing as Grayson’s. He stood a head taller than the senator, and every day, Grayson was happy the man was on his team and not someone else’s.

“What’s wrong?” Grayson asked.

“It’s your son, sir.” Murphy didn’t mince words. Another reason Grayson liked him. “We can’t find him.”

Grayson stood up behind his desk. “What do you mean you can’t find him?”

Murphy gave Anastasia a quick glance, but he’d learned long ago that no topics were off limits when it came to discussing important matters in front of her. “After your argument last night, he crossed the border to South Carolina and spent the night in Rock Hill. On his way home, he gave my team the slip. We weren’t too worried about it until he didn’t show up to any of his classes today.”

Anastasia finally turned in her chair. “How did a nineteen-year-old boy give your team the slip?”

Murphy’s face was neutral, but Grayson saw his eyes narrow. “Unfortunately, it happens from time to time, ma’am. Tailing someone is not an exact science.”

Grayson cursed under his breath. “Do you know what he was doing in Rock Hill?”

“Not yet, sir. I have someone retracing his steps. I just wanted to inform you of the situation. I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.”

Everyone in the room knew that was a practiced lie.

Anastasia turned to face the senator again and raised one perfect eyebrow. “What did I tell you?”

Senator Grayson put his back to both of them. The clouds in the sky had darkened, threatening rain. He hoped his kid was safe, but at the same time, he wanted his son to learn a lesson he’d never forget. Connor’s last scandal had nearly cost Grayson his seat in the senate. His opponent had brought up Connor’s DUI, saying that if he couldn’t handle what went on in his own household, how would he ever handle an entire state-worth of issues.

Grayson had skated through by the skin of his teeth, appealing to people’s humanity and spinning a story about his family being just like everyone else’s. Anyone who tried to present a picture of perfection was obviously lying, and he, Lawrence Grayson, was no liar. He was doing his best, just like his constituents, and he’d do better moving forward.

It had worked. Barely.

Grayson turned back to the room. “Keep me updated, Murphy. Every hour. Let me know what’s going on.”

Murphy nodded and left the room.

He turned back to his publicist. “Let’s go through worst-case scenarios. I want to be prepared.”

Anastasia was on the move. “I’m calling Apex. They need to know we might have a shitstorm ahead of us.”

“Is that really nec—”

“Yes.” She already had the phone to her ear. “You never win by keeping secrets from Apex.”

When she left the room, Grayson loosened his tie and pulled out the bottle of whiskey he had stashed in the back of his desk drawer. It was for celebrations and emergencies only, and this felt like one more than the other.

Whatever Connor had done, Senator Lawrence Grayson knew deep in his bones it was about to change everything.

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