Page 59 of Coercion

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The building’s peaceful when I go in.I nod at the doorman and head straight for the elevators.The doors open on a quiet lobby, all the lights turned off.An afternoon glow makes it muted rather than dark.Whole place feels like it’s waiting for something to happen, but it doesn’t exactly feel empty.

If it is empty, and I’m wrong, then I’ve wasted a trip to the city and a few hours I could’ve spent with my family.

Because I have a family now.A real one.

And in a very bizarre way that should seem less real than it does, Finn Hughes is part of it.So we’ll figure this out the way family does, by arguing with each other in person instead of formal bullshit on our lawyers’ letterhead.

Outside his office is a pocket of silence so heavy that I’m beginning to think Emerson was right and something has gone haywire with my brain.

And then someone sighs.

It’s an exhausted sound and definitely not meant for an audience.

I step into the threshold and find Finn sitting at his desk, face in his hands.He’s not wearing a suit.His weekend clothes, along with the Sunday-afternoon light, make him look younger.He normally wears a suit to make him look older than twenty-nine.

We knew he was young before the news broke.We knew his dad had stepped into a figurehead position and Finn was CEO for years.But nobody knew just how far it went.


He startles, head coming up from his hands.“Leblanc.”


“What are you doing here?”

“I came to talk to you.”Before he can get all uptight and kick me out of his office, I stride across the space and sit down in one of the chairs across from him.Then I make a point of rearranging it so the angle is more casual.I don’t care if he has a fancy executive chair and mine is in a lower class of office furniture.

Finn watches me do it.“You could’ve made an appointment with my secretary.And brought your lawyer.”

“I could have, but I remember us having this great conversation where you said…” I glance at the ceiling.“I’m not trying to screw anyone over.Especially someone who’s like family.”

He grimaces.“I did say that.”

“Did you mean it?”

Finn’s chin comes up.“I didn’t lie.”

I give him the same look I use on my brothers when they’re full of shit.“Don’t fuck around.Did you mean it?”

“Yeah.I meant it.”

“Then we can work on similar terms.I don’t try to screw people over, either, especially people who are like family, or who are actuallyinmy family.And, yes, I give my brothers shit all the time, because that’s what brothers are for.Especially when they’re telling you the things you don’t want to hear.Hard truths.”

He runs his fingers through his hair.I don’t know whether he looks more suspicious or resigned.“Hard truths.Like what?”

“First off, you look like hell.”

Finn snorts.“Thanks.”

“You’ve got bags under your eyes and you’re in here alone on a Sunday, sighing like you just figured out that your plan backfired on you.”

He narrows his eyes.“Will.”

“Which part of what I said isn’t true?”

“You don’t have any right to decide if my choices backfired.You have no idea what I was trying to do, you sanctimonious ass.”

“And you have no right to forge your dad’s signature on any number of contracts and agreements, including when you acquired a company from someone who islike family.You could have run the company on your own.You had the legal standing to do it, but you didn’t want people to know he wasn’t involved.”

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