Chapter Twenty-Five

Start from the beginning

"It won't give us all the answers, but at least we'll know where he is."

Poppy breathed a sigh of relief. She didn't need all the answers—she'd probably never have those.

She just needed to know that Asprey was safe.

* * *

Asprey had only had two headaches in his lifetime that competed with the one currently threatening to split his skull in half. The first was the direct result of an overconsumption of alcohol when he was thirteen, before he knew that too much of a good thing was painfully, palpably real. The second occurred in his favorite Balinese jail. It was a good story, and he loved dropping that term around whenever he could, but the truth had been that there was a lot of pain, not a lot of healthy air to breathe, and a prison guard with a grudge against rich American tourists.

Still. He'd have taken either of those situations with a glad heart instead of the one currently keeping him bound to Louis. To Louis, of all chairs. His brother should have just dug up their father's bones and done a voodoo dance through town with them—it would have been less disrespectful to the dead.

"It's your own fault, you know." Graff looked up from the opposite side of the room. "If you'd just taken the painting without examining it first, I would have let you walk out of there."

Asprey was having a hard time getting his line of vision to clear up and stop making multiples of everything, but he would have known this place even if he'd been blindfolded.

Home.

His loft, smelling of leather and the potted rosemary he kept above the sink. Of all the places they could have dragged his limp, lifeless form, they had to choose the one that made his head reel with more than pain.

"I can forgive for you a lot of things, Graff," he said, managing a small grin. "But letting me butcher a genuine Pollock would have been too much."

Graff snorted. "How ridiculously noble of you."

"I wish I could say the same of you."

Graff was on his feet in seconds, across the room and crouched in front of Asprey so that he had no choice but to focus his gaze on his brother. Brother. That seemed an awfully dirty word these days. "Don't. You can't even possibly begin to understand my motivations, so don't judge me."

"Where's Winston?"

"He's heading here from work—you know, the place that even now doesn't occur to you? The place the rest of us have spent years of our lives trying to keep afloat while you've been off playing airplanes with your friends?"

Asprey winced. He was pretty sure a cut tore apart the better part of his forehead, since that small movement had blood dripping in his line of vision. It hurt, but not nearly as much as the knowledge that he'd been so blind for so long.

"Considering I spent the last six months helping you try and save the company from Winston, doesn't that seem a little harsh?" Asprey asked, striving to keep his tone light. He wouldn't let Graff see his pain—either kind. "Talk about judging others."

Graff laughed and rose to his feet. There was no humor in the sound, no joy in his movements. "Don't kid yourself. You were helping me save your portion of the profits."

"Oh yeah? And what were you and Winston doing?"

"Saving your portion of the profits." Graff checked his watch. "Winston should be here any minute—he's as much a part of this as we are."

"Did you give him all of Todd's money too? Or was that part of some other plan?"

Graff's eyes softened. "Todd Kennick had it coming—I wasn't lying when I said he had a string of robberies at his back. He would have only used that money to hurt more people."

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