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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18
The broker rose from his chair and glared at the imbecile standing on the other side of the desk. “We paid you well to steal that boat. Where is it?”
Jeremy Hightower smirked. “Well now, that’s the question of the night, isn’t it? I went to a lot of trouble to get that boat for you. It took planning and cunning. Finding a marina worker uniform that fit and a couple of guys to help. Unfortunately, the measly twenty-five grand you forked over isn’t going very far. I need more.” He looked around. “And it’s obvious you have plenty.”
Rage pounded through him. He should have known better than to trust this worthless piece of an excuse for a human.
The broker rounded the desk and jabbed a finger at the greedy man. “Planning? Cunning? I planned it down to the last detail and simply told you what to do! Now tell me where that boat is and I might let you live!”
“Not until you wire another one million dollars to this account number.” He tossed a piece of paper onto the desk. “I had to hire some help to get it done and they demanded payment up front. When I have confirmation the money’s there, I’ll tell you where the boat is.”
“Do you know what happens to people like you? People who betray me? They die. Just ask Reuben Kingman. Oh wait.” He laughed. “You can’t ask him. Because he’s dead!” He slammed a fist on the desk and leaned forward. “And I’ll kill you just like I killed Reuben.”
“Then you’ll never get the location of the boat.”
The fact that his outburst and threats didn’t seem to faze Hightower didn’t sit well. His blood churned faster. He needed those pictures in the boat’s safe. Pictures that showed him wielding the knife and killing yet another who’d betrayed him. “You had help. I’ll find them and get it from them.”
“Good luck with that. They’re dead.” This time it was a picture he flung onto the desk.
The broker studied it. Two very dead men stared at him with sightless eyes. He returned to his chair behind the desk, pausing a moment to draw in a breath and consider his options. The picture told him a lot. “You planned this from the beginning,” he said.
Hightower shrugged. “It was hard not to.”
“I’ve killed men for less.”
“So have I.” Hightower’s stare remained solid. Unwavering.
And the broker knew this latest traitor wouldn’t back down. “So. It’s come to this, has it?”
“I’ve been your go-to boy for a long time now,” Hightower said. “It’s time for me to branch out.”
The two men turned at the voice that came from the corner of the room. The broker scowled. “Stay out of this. It doesn’t concern you.”
“Of course it does. If it concerns you, it concerns me. Now, wire Jeremy the money.”
He reluctantly considered his friend’s advice, then opened his laptop with one hand. With the other, he pulled his weapon from the holder he kept attached to the underbelly of the desk. He raised the gun and aimed it at the man who would dare try to blackmail him. At the brief flash of fear in Hightower’s eyes, satisfaction flowed. “Are you sure you don’t want to tell me now?”
“If you pull that trigger, you’ll never find it.”
“Oh, I’ll find it.”
“Put the gun down.” His friend rose to his feet. “Think about this.”
Hightower laughed. “You shoot me and you’ll all go to prison.”
“What are you talking about?” the broker asked.
“I was followed. She had a tracker on my car that I found later.”
“She took pictures of me on the boat. She’ll report it and the location, the cops will go get it and return it to its rightful owner, who’ll then have access to the contents of the safe—and the pictures—and you’ll be done.”
For a moment, he thought his blood pressure might actually do him in. His eyes closed for a moment. “I’ll find it,” he muttered.
“No, you won’t. I disabled the GPS, as you’ve probably already discovered.”
The broker turned to his friend, who sat still, hands clasped loosely between his knees. “What do you think?”
His friend’s jaw tightened, the only indication that he was affected by the scene playing out before him. “Pay him. And he and I will work together to get rid of anyone who knows anything.” His eyes studied Hightower. “Don’t make me regret this.”
“No regrets. I get my money, you get your boat.” Jeremy nodded at the man. “But we’d both better make sure that nosey reporter dies. She’s the one who can bring everything down for all of us.”
“We’ll take care of her,” the broker’s friend said.
“I have a guy who can get it done and he doesn’t ask questions.”
With a scowl, the broker picked up the paper with the account number on it and turned back to Hightower. “Seems like you need her dead as much as we do. When it’s done, let me know and I’ll transfer the money.” He jabbed a finger at Hightower. “And so help me, if you betray me again, I’ll take my chances and just kill you. Am I clear?”
“Get out of here.”
Hightower smiled as he exited and closed the door behind him.
“I want him dead,” the broker said. “No one crosses me like this and lives. Have him killed.” He paused. “No, don’t.”
The broker snapped his fingers. “New plan. Keep Jeremy away from that reporter until you can get the location of the boat from her, then let him get rid of her. Once she’s dead and we have the boat, I want you to bring Hightower to me so I can take care of him myself.”
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