Billion Dollar Baby Bundle 2By: Simone Holloway
Ethan looked around. “I own a home, near here. It’s safe. I’d rather discuss it there than in this field.”
“Fine,” Selene walked back to the car, leaving Ethan to follow behind her.
The house was an old Victorian mansion hidden in the woods. ‘Spooky,’ was the first word to come to Selene’s mind when she saw it. It was dark, deserted and falling apart.
“It suits you,” she murmured.
Selene shook her head dismissively: “Nothing.”
Ethan tried to take her hand as they walked up the stairs to the front door, but Selene pulled away. Ethan sighed and unlocked the door. The house was as silent as a tomb.
The inside was beautiful but it gave Selene the chills. The antique furniture made the home feel frozen in time. She kept expecting to see ghosts around every corner.
Ethan led her to a parlor and pulled out a chair for her to sit on. It was surprisingly clean given the condition of the outside of the home. Selene brought her hands to her face and rubbed her temples.
“All this stress is bad for a woman in your condition.”
“My condition?” Selene had completely forgotten about the baby. When realization dawned on her she put her hands in her lap and breathed out heavily.
“I’ll get you water.”
“No,” Selene said, “I’m fine. Just tell me what’s going on.”
Ethan’s eyes wandered across the room, as if he was trying to decide where to begin. “My business- wait, let me go back. My family- they ran out of money a long time ago. I’ve been trading on their name: calling in favors, granting favors, helping acquaintances cut through red tape-”
“ ‘Cut through red tape?’” Selene raised her eyebrows skeptically.
Ethan cleared his throat. “It’s not all strictly legal, as I’m sure you’ve surmised.” He smiled at her sarcastically. “As I was saying, it’s sometimes necessary to perform opposition research. I hire someone to find out what my competitors are involved in: shady business dealings, infidelity, drug abuse, etc. I then present them with this information and well, persuade them to cooperate.”
“You black mail them.”
Ethan sat back in his chair and shrugged. “The important thing is that they cooperate.” He paused letting the implications sink in.
“Let me guess: you fucked with the wrong person.”
Ethan laughed and rubbed his face. A fresh stubble of beard was growing. When he was clean shaven he had an innocent, boyish look. Now he looked like a man who knew where a few bodies were buried. Unconsciously, Selene placed her hand over her
“I’m not sure who I ‘fucked’ with, as you put it, or what they want, that’s half the problem.”
“And the other half?”
Ethan sighed. “The private investigator I employ has disappeared, presumed dead. I’ve found out something that someone really wants to keep secret.”
“That’s the other half: I don’t know.”
“How does Belle Amie fit into this?”
“Things have been difficult for me financially. I use the girls to supplement my income.”
For the first time Ethan looked ashamed. “I provide Belle Amie with access to my rolodex, they give me a cut of the profits.”
“So the girls service your rich friends,” Selene said more to herself than to Ethan. “And those dummy corporations…”
“A way of laundering the money. Now you know what I know.”
A heavy silence fell on the room.
“What do we do now?” Selene asked.
“We wait. I have people on this. We should know more by later this evening.”
“Now that I’m-” Selene had trouble using the word, “pregnant, we’re through.” She said it more as a question than a statement.
“If that’s what you want.” He studied her closely. “I want to be clear with you: that’s not what I want. I know things are crazy now…”
Selene scoffed. She still couldn’t believe how cool he was about the situation. She suspected this wasn’t the first time someone had tried to kill him.
“…but once we figure out who’s behind this, I’ll take care of them.”
“I take it you won’t be going to the police.”
“These people operate outside of the law.”
“And so do you?”
“Yes, it’s how I’ve stayed alive and it’s how I’m going to keep you alive.”
“What if I went to the police?” Selene said defiantly.
“You could, but they’re easily bought off. I suspect most of the cops are on the payroll of half of the cities worst criminals. You’d basically be turning yourself over to the enemy.”