Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 55


I step out of the rental car, pressing my phone to my ear as I look up at the building in front of me. “How’s she doing?”

Ezra sighs on the other line. “Not great, Mr. Sinclair. She’s out for a walk right now, but she isn’t herself.”

“She’s walking alone?”

“You’d think I’d let her roam alone?” he asks, his tone offended. “No, I’ve followed her. She just doesn’t know it.”

I let out a hum of approval. “Thanks, Ezra. I appreciate it.”

“Want to talk about what happened?”

I scoff, shielding my eyes from the California sun. “Absolutely not.”

“Understood,” he clips. “Is there a reason Miss Moretti is talking to your friend Camden?”

I smile, despite how hollow I feel inside. That’s my girl. It doesn’t shock me that she’d use this time away from me to follow her dreams. There’s nothing I want more for her than that. I just hope her dreams still lead back to me. “Because she’s stubborn as hell,” I answer truthfully.

Even if Camden gave her a chance to speak with him as a favor to me, that’d be as far as a favor would go from him. Her work would have to do the talking to keep him interested. It appears she got rid of the middle man—me—and found a way to get Camden’s attention herself.

“Got it. I’ll make sure she makes it back to your place safely, Mr. Sinclair.”

“Thank you, Ezra. I’ll check back in later.”

I end the call and slide the phone into the inner pocket of my suit. My eyes focus on the brick building in front of me. It doesn’t take long for my footsteps to eat the distance from my parking spot to the entrance.

A brunette sits at a large desk. She smiles appreciatively at me. “Welcome to Booth and Associates. How can I help you?”

I give her my most charming smile. “I’m actually here for a meeting. I’m running a few minutes behind so you wouldn’t mind if I rushed back there, would you?”

She looks uneasy at first, her eyes glancing at her computer monitor. “If I could just know who you’re seeing, I could call them and let them know you’ve arrived…”

“I’d really appreciate it if you just let me go back.”

She nods, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “Okay,” she responds anxiously. “As long as they’re already aware you were coming.”

I don’t want for her to change her mind. People watch me carefully as I look for a familiar face. I hadn’t lied when I said had business here in San Jose. I do have a meeting for Sintech. It just isn’t until this afternoon.

More importantly—it’s time I pay my little brother a visit.

I haven’t forgotten the reason shit hit the fan the way it did. He’s got some sins it’s time for him to atone to.

I hear him before I see him. He laughs with a group of men. His laugh is too fake—like he’s trying too hard. Trying too hard is really the story of his life.

He stops laughing the moment his eyes land on me. I give him a sinister smile.

This will be fun.

“Hey, brother,” I say smoothly, coming to a stop in front of his group. I tuck my hands into my pockets, giving him a nonchalant grin. “Miss me?”

Carter gives the men surrounding him a cautious look. Good. It’s best he’s anxious about how unhinged I can become. One simple slip of a comment from my mouth and I could ruin the reputation he’s created.

“Beckham,” he says through a tight-lipped smile. “What brings you to California?”

I give the men a knowing smile. “Business.” As if any of them have any fucking clue what it takes to run a business. This office is filled with men with rich daddies whose last name got them their positions. It certainly wasn’t their work ethics.

“Let’s have a chat,” I tell Carter, nodding my head in the direction of a small office with his name on the door. “We’ve got lots to catch up on.”

His fingers clench at his sides. If he tries to give me some kind of smart-ass response to impress his friends, I’ll make him regret it.

He chooses wisely. He looks to his friends, “We’ll finish this later.”

I follow behind as he leads me into his office. The moment the door closes behind me, I shove him into the wall, grasping at the collar of his dress shirt.

“It’s about fucking time we talk, Carter,” I bite, pushing into his neck.

He lets out a surprised grunt, his beady eyes flashing with fear. “What the fuck,” he growls, attempting to shove me off.

His attempts are pathetic. He’s got no muscle on me. I could keep him pressed against the wall for as long as I desired.

“Did you think you wouldn’t have to pay for all the trouble you’ve caused?” I growl, looking down my nose at him.

His mouth opens and closes like a fucking fish. How the hell are we related?

I pull my fist back, my knuckles connecting with his jaw with a loud smack.

He yelps like a child. As quick as it happened, I let go and take a few steps back, stretching my fingers at my side. “That’s for scaring, Margo,” I seethe. “And touching what’s mine.”

I look to his desk. “Sit.”

Carter looks at me manically. “You just assaulted me,” he screeches.

I roll my eyes, unbuttoning my jacket and taking a seat in his office chair. He glares at me when he takes a seat in the small chair on the other side of his desk.

“That punch was nothing compared to what I want to do to you.”

He rubs his jaw dramatically. “Say what you came to say.”

I smile. “You know me so well.”

He watches me cautiously. I don’t blame him. I’ve had time for my anger to marinate. It would’ve fared far better for him if I’d just taken my anger out on him at the engagement party. This is far worse. I’ve had time to plan what I’ll do to keep my brother far a-fucking-way from the woman I love. Plus, he’s got to pay for the rest of his actions as well.

“On with it,” he pushes, sitting back in his chair.

My eyes roam over his tiny office. It’s unkept and quite frankly gross. There’s a takeout box that has to be days old as well as gum wrappers. He’s grown-ass man. He should take care of his space more. What if a client had come to see him?

“I’m going to cut right to the chase,” I begin. “I don’t want to spend any more time here than I have to.”

His only response is a grunt.

“For starters, if you ever fucking think about touching my future wife again, that punch will be nothing compared to what I’ll do to you.”

“She deserved to know your lies,” he spits.

My fingers steeple underneath my chin. “You’re right. But that doesn’t concern you. Going forward, nothing about Margo should concern you ever again.”

“That seems like that’s up to her, not you.”

“One thing I can guarantee is the fact Margo never wants to see you again.”

“And how will you stop me if I decide I’m not done with her?”

This makes me smile. Reaching into my pocket, I pull out my phone and scroll until I find what I need. I lay my phone out on the desk between us, directing his attention to it. “Because if you even think about speaking with her again, I’ll have no choice but bring all the debt you’ve developed to light.”

Carter’s eyes go wide with fear. He snatches the phone from the desk, scrolling through all the proof I have of his immense gambling debts. “How did you find out?” he says accusingly.

“Threaten what’s mine and I’ll discover every dirty secret you have. Don’t ever forget that.”

He continues to scroll through what I have on him. I had to admit, when I realized just how in debt he was, I was shocked myself. If there was anything my father hated, it was men who gambled their money away. As teenagers, we’d get lectures from Dad to never risk losing money. “Why gamble when you could invest wisely?” he’d say. The warnings stuck with me, but apparently not with Carter.

I hadn’t expected for Carter to develop a nasty little habit of doing it. I especially didn’t expect him to gamble away almost every dollar to his name—including the generous inheritance from our father. Mine still sits in the account, completely untouched. Carter’s is almost depleted, and he’s had his far less time than I’ve had mine.

Reaching across the desk, I pluck the phone from his hands and tuck it back into my pocket. “I don’t want to see your fucking face again unless it’s at a family function. And even then, I’m allowing your pathetic presence for our parents and our parents only. Don’t talk to me. Especially don’t talk to Margo. Or I’ll have to let Dad know of how much of a disappointment his younger son is. It’d be tragic really, considering how much of a let-down you already are to him.”

Any nasty remark he wants to say to me is left unsaid. The fury still rages in his eyes. At least he’s not dumb enough to say any of the thoughts running through his head.

I clap my hands together, standing up and hovering over him. “We’re done here. I’ve said what I have to say.”

I’m standing in front of the door when Carter finally speaks up. “Wait,” he calls, turning to face me. “If I do as you say. If I disappear—you won’t tell him?”

I give a curt nod. “I’m being gracious to you, brother. You deserve much worse than what I’ve done. It’s best you remember that.”

Pulling the door open, I escort myself out of his office.

Now that that’s handled, I can only hope that it’s only Carter that’s out of Margo’s life. I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle if I’m also cut out of her life as well.


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