Home > Shattered Lies (Web of Lies #3)(3)

Shattered Lies (Web of Lies #3)(3)
Author: Kathleen Brooks


 

* * *

 

He sat in the open air as the evening sun shone off the waters of the Black Sea. The note he’d received hours earlier was still in his hand. He didn’t want to do it, but nothing would stop his plans.

He heard the doorbell ring deep in the house. His housekeeper would get it, but he walked inside to greet his new guest anyway. A minute later, Sandra Cummings, the United States Secretary of State, stepped into the hallway looking worried.

“Have you heard?”

“Yes. I’ll handle it. You’re needed in DC now more than ever. Does President Stratton have any inkling of what’s going on?”

“No. He’s too caught up following his dick. If Claudia hadn’t gone after Tate—” Sandra let out a frustrated breath. “I don’t know how some gossip rag got hold of this story. And where the fuck is Fitz? Has George said anything?” He saw her glance out to media mogul George Stanworth sitting on the terrace.

“His daughter, Helena, mentioned her wish for revenge after Tate did a piece on law enforcement going easy on rich kids. I guess Tate said Helena’s daughter, Blythe, should be in jail.”

Sandra nodded. “Blythe was high and smashed her sports car into another car, killing a pregnant woman. The DA refused to prosecute.”

“I should have known when I asked George to assist us that he’d bring all his family baggage with him. Now Helena is even more focused on bringing Tate down.” He looked out over the sea, and it calmed him. “It’s being taken care of, though. Would you like to freshen up before the meeting?”

Sandra shook her head. “No, thank you. I’m ready when you are.”

He nodded to his housekeeper, who was waiting for his signal. She reached over and rang the old bell that had been in place since the house was a working farm. He escorted Sandra to the dinner table on the beach. Within minutes, the entire group was seated at the table as his housekeeper served them. It was a shame he’d have to kill her after his guests left. Loose ends could not be tolerated.

He was about to start the meeting when George’s cell phone rang. He gritted his teeth. “Sorry,” George apologized. He may be elderly, but there was nothing weak about George Stanworth. It was one of the reasons he’d been recruited to Mollia Domini, that and his ability to reach billions of people through his news outlets, TV shows, and movies. Not to mention his contacts with all of Hollywood’s influencers. It’s what made putting up with George’s family baggage livable.

“Come on, Dad,” Helena said, eyeing the phone. “Your bimbo can wait until later.” Of course she’d dislike George’s third—or was it fourth wife? The girl was young enough to be Helena’s daughter.

George silenced the phone only to look down at it a second later. “What the fuck?”

Helena leaned over and narrowed her eyes. “Is that your front door?”

He raised his eyes with impatience, but Helena and George weren’t paying attention to him. Frustration was boiling to the surface when George put the phone to his ear and made a call. He used his cane and stepped a couple feet from the table. Everyone kept their eyes on George the entire time. They all felt it. Something had happened, and it would affect them all. George finally hung up and slowly made his way back to his chair.

“What happened?” Helena asked as George threw back his wine.

George handed the phone to him. When the host looked down, he saw a picture of a dead Fitz Houlihan with his arm around another dead man. Someone he guessed had some relation to Fitz. “Who’s the other guy?”

“A cleaner named Hugo. He disappeared when Jeff Sargent did,” Helena answered.

“Tell me,” he ordered.

“Christine found them at our front door when she was going to spin class. There was a note. She read it to me, and I told her to burn it. She did so while we were on the phone,” George said, his breathing slightly heavy with anxiety. “The puppet strings have been cut. Mollia Domini is next.”

The host sucked in a deep breath through his nose. His rage was boiling. “Ah!” he yelled, shoving back his chair, reaching behind his back and pulling his gun. In seconds, George and Helena lay on the ground, their blood turning the sand brown. The remaining two at the table sat silently, staring down at the dead bodies.

“Their usefulness has run out. And because of them, we have to push phase three up. It’s forcing me to do things I hadn’t wanted to do. I’ve received word from a White House contact. I’m taking care of it since it appears I can’t depend on any of you.”

Sandra looked down at her plate. She didn’t know he had someone else in the White House. It had been naïve to think she’d be the only one trusted with guiding the president from within.

“May I offer some assistance?” the person across the table from Sandra asked.

He turned to the other side of the table, letting Sandra shake in fear. “Yes, have your men in DC at the ready. I’ll give you the orders in an hour. And we must get the bombs ready. Check in with your contacts and report back tomorrow with where we stand in terms of phase three readiness.” He stood up and dragged the bodies one at a time over to the water’s edge as Sandra and his other partner hurried inside. He kicked off his shoes, shed his clothes, and pulled the bodies into the sea. He pushed them past the waves, his anger cooling as his body thrummed under the exercise. With one big push, he shoved the bodies toward the open water and began his swim back to the beach. He should have known he couldn’t depend on anyone but himself.

 

 

3

 

 

Birch looked out the window of the West Sitting Hall as he waited for Tate to finish getting ready for their first official date. They’d slept in as long as they could that morning—all the way until five o’clock. Since then, it had been nonstop. Humphrey had had way too much coffee and spent the day running from office to office handing out reports, handling media, and working with Tate on presenting the correct story to the public. The story was of George Stanworth using the media as his own way to push his agenda with no concern or respect for the actual truth. What was interesting was that George and his daughter, Helena, were nowhere to be found to answer for the shitstorm now coming down on his company.

Jason had arrived back home and reported the packages had been delivered successfully and offered his help at any time. Maybe that was why George had disappeared? The numbness in Jason’s voice had reminded Birch of the pain of losing his own wife. That pain never went away. But as he turned to look at Tate walking down the hall toward him, he knew there was enough love in him for them both. He hoped that someday Jason would remember he was still alive. The pain was undoubtedly excruciating. So for now, Jason was doing what he needed to survive the tremendous loss.

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