Landon turns in his chair and tilts his head. A combination of confusion and admiration plays out in his smile. “I’m not sure what your deal is. You aren’t showing up for practice, and that’s never happened. You act like you don’t give a shit that Charlie has been screwing Brian Finley. And then you have the balls to bring her here? After all the shit Dad and Brett went through?” He shakes his head. “I’m surprised you escaped his office without a bloodbath.”
He spins back around and leaves me to process everything. I turn and rush toward my bedroom.
Brett Wynwood, Brett Wynwood, Brett Wynwood.
I repeat his name in my head so I’ll know exactly what to search when I get to my computer. Surely I have a computer.
When I reach my room, the first thing I do is walk to my dresser. I pick up the pen Charlie handed me earlier today and read the imprint again.
WYNWOOD-NASH FINANCIAL GROUP.
I search the room until I finally find a laptop stuffed in the drawer of my bedside table. I power it on and enter the password.
I remember the password? Add that to the list of shit that makes no sense.
I type Wynwood-Nash Financial Group into the search engine. I click on the first result and am taken to a page that reads, “Nash Finance,” with the Wynwood noticeably absent. I scroll quickly through the page and discover nothing that helps. Just a bunch of useless company contact information.
I back out of the page and scroll through the rest of the results, reading each of the leading headlines and the articles that follow:
Finance gurus, Clark Nash and Brett Wynwood, co-founders of Wynwood-Nash Financial Group, have been charged with four counts of conspiracy, fraud and illegal trading.
Partners for over twenty years, the two business moguls are now placing the blame on each other, both claiming to have no knowledge of the illegal practices uncovered during a recent investigation.
I read another.
Clark Nash cleared of charges. Company co-chair, Brett Wynwood, sentenced to fifteen years for fraud and embezzlement.
I make it to the second page of search results when the battery light begins to flash on the laptop. I open the drawer, but there’s no charger. I look everywhere. Under the bed, in the closet, in my dresser drawers.
The laptop dies during my search. I begin to use my phone to research, but it’s about to die, too, and the only phone charger I can find plugs into a laptop. I keep looking because I need to know exactly what happened to make these two families hate each other so much.
I lift the mattress, thinking maybe the charger could be stuck behind the bed somehow. I don’t find the charger, but I do find what looks like a notebook. I slide it out from under the mattress and then take a seat on top of the bed. Right when I open it up to the first page, my phone vibrates with an incoming text.
Charlie: How are things with your father?
I want to learn more before deciding what I want to share with her. I ignore the text and open the notebook to find stacks of papers stuffed into a folder. Across the top, the papers all read “Wynwood-Nash Financial Group,” but I don’t understand any of them. I also don’t understand why these were hidden beneath my mattress.
Clark Nash’s words from downstairs repeat in my head—I know you don’t think she took those files from this office, Silas, but I know she did.
Looks like he was wrong, but why would I have taken them? What would I have needed with them?
Who was I trying to protect?
My phone buzzes again with another text.
Charlie: There’s this really neat feature on your phone called, “read receipts.” If you’re going to ignore texts, you should probably turn that off. ;)
At least she put a winky face.
Me: Not ignoring you. Just tired. We have a lot to figure out tomorrow.
That’s all she says. I’m not sure if I should respond to her effortless reply, but I don’t want her to be irritated if I don’t respond.
Me: Goodnight, Charlie baby. ;)
As soon as I hit send, I want to retract it. I don’t know what I was going for with that reply. Not sarcasm, but definitely not flirtation, either.
I decide to regret it tomorrow. Right now I just need sleep so I can make sure I’m awake enough in the morning to deal with all of this.
I shove the notebook back under the mattress and see a wall charger, so I plug it into my phone. I’m too exhausted to keep searching tonight, so I kick off my shoes. It isn’t until I lie down that I notice Ezra changed my sheets.
As soon as I turn the lamp off and close my eyes, my phone vibrates.
Charlie: Goodnight, Silas.
Her lack of endearment doesn’t go unnoticed, but for some inexplicable reason, the text still makes me smile. Typical Charlie.
It is not a good night.
The trapdoor to the attic is in the closet I share with my sister. After I text Silas goodnight, I climb the three shelves—which are bursting with fabric—and push upward with my fingertips until it shifts left. I glance back over my shoulder and see that Janette hasn’t looked up from her phone. This must be normal—me climbing into the attic, leaving her behind. I want to ask if she’ll come with me, but it was exhausting just to get her to come to dinner. Another time, I think. I’ll figure out how to fix things between us.
I don’t know why, but as I hoist myself through the hole and into an even smaller space, I picture Silas’s face; the tan, smooth skin. His full lips. How many times had I tasted his mouth and yet I can’t remember a single kiss.