This Man Confessed (Page 134)

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‘Fine,’ His notepad catches my eye. ‘Why is my brother’s name written down there?’ I reach forward to pull it closer, but too slowly because it’s soon whipped from under my nose and shoved in the top drawer of Jesse’s desk. I pull my hand back on a shocked jump at his fast movement. ‘Daniel Joseph O’Shea?’ I frown to myself, thinking I definitely saw numbers on that paper, and it wasn’t a telephone number. ‘Why have you got Dan’s bank account number written down?’

‘I haven’t.’ he quickly dismisses my question, and he’s tense. Damn him, he hasn’t learnt at all.

I remove myself from his lap and place myself to the side of him, punishing him with a stare equal to his don’t push it glare. ‘I’m giving you three seconds, Ward.’

His lips press into a straight, aggravated line. ‘The countdown is mine.’ he claims, childishly.

‘Three,’ I even hold three fingers up, in the most provoking fashion possible. I’m just as bad as he is. ‘Two,’ I lose a finger, but I don’t get to one or zero because I have an obvious moment of lucidity. ‘You’re giving him money!’

‘No.’ He shakes his head in the most unpersuasive way possible, shifting his feet in his seated position. He’s becoming as bad at lying as I am. I’m so glad.

‘You’re a s**t liar, too, Ward.’ I swivel on my heels and make a run for it, mainly to catch my brother before he leaves, but also to escape Jesse before he catches me.

‘Ava!’

I take no notice of the threatening shout of my name, as per usual, and break into a full on run when I reach the summer room. I know he’s in pursuit, and not just because of his thundering footsteps, echoing behind me. I pass the kitchens, the bar and restaurant and skid on my heels when I find Dan standing by the huge round table in the entrance hall. He’s not doing anything or talking to anyone. John is here, too, and I know why that is. It’s the same reason why John accompanied me everywhere in the early days. I watch in apprehension as Dan looks around and John tries to usher him on, but he’s not shifting, not even for the big guy.

Jesse’s chest hits my back, and I’m picked up and turned in his arms. He’s not happy. ‘For f**k sake, woman! You’ll give the babies brain damage! No running!’

If I wasn’t so concerned by my brother’s location and behaviour, I would laugh at the crazy idiot holding me firmly in his arms. ‘Get a grip!’ I wriggle free and swing around, finding Dan watching us. His brow is completely furrowed, and John looks on edge.

Dan takes a leisurely gaze around the entrance hall again, then his inquisitive eyes land on Jesse. ‘If this is a hotel, then where’s the reception area?’

‘What?’ Jesse’s tone is impatient, almost defensive, and I wish it wasn’t. It’s a dead giveaway and I’m praying for him to think up something quickly.

‘Where do your guests pick up the keys to their room? And what about local attractions? Isn’t it common to have one of those stands with a s**t load of leaflets in, telling people where to visit?’ He looks up at John. ‘And why the need to have a gorilla escorting me everywhere?’

I cringe, Jesse tenses and John growls. My brother is a bit quicker on the uptake than me. I didn’t consider any of those points, except John. I’m wracking my blank mind for something, anything, but it just isn’t happening. I, or we, have been caught completely off guard. And then I hear a voice and it’s the only voice in the world that I would wish not to hear right now.

Kate.

I visibly sag on the spot, and I feel Jesse’s hand on the small of my back. Why isn’t he saying anything? I watch and listen in horror as Kate and Sam dance down the stairs, giggling, feeling each other up and generally looking all sexed up. This is a disaster. I can’t help elbowing Jesse in the ribs, a silent demand to say something. Oh God, please say something!

Kate and Sam are completely oblivious to the silent peanut gallery awaiting them at the bottom of the stairs, as they fondle and pet each other, saying inappropriate things, of which one sentence definitely included the word dildo. I’m in hell, and no one has even said anything, except my delinquent best friend and her cheeky chap of a boyfriend, not that they are aware… yet. I expect all of that will change soon, though, and it doesn’t look likely to be Jesse who’ll speak. He’s silent behind me, probably just as torn as me. I’m stuck in limbo. It’s the closest I’ve come to watching a train crash, all very slowly. Dan and The Manor; Dan and Kate; Dan and Sam; Dan and Jesse. The s**t is going to hit the fan in a big way.

‘Oh!’ Kate’s delighted shriek echoes around the entrance hall, followed by Sam’s sexed up growl. Then they land at the bottom of the stairs in a messy bundle of entwined arms and frantic lips, eating each other alive. They should have stayed in the suite because they are nowhere near done. ‘Sam!’ She laughs and falls back over his arm, catching my eye, her happy face beaming further, until she clocks my brother. She’s not laughing now. In fact, she looks close to seizure. She scrambles up and slaps a disgruntled Sam away before smoothing down her wild red hair and pulling at her dishevelled clothes. But she doesn’t say anything and neither does Sam as he looks to and fro between the quiet observers.

Dan breaks the screaming silence. ‘Hotel?’ He’s drilling holes into Kate and Sam at regular intervals, back and forth, before turning his questioning eyes to Jesse. ‘Do you often let your friends carry on like this in your establishment?’

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