High-Powered, Hot-Blooded(10)

By: Susan Mallery




But the man standing there wasn’t her date and he didn’t look happy.

“What the hell did you do?” Tim demanded as he pushed past her into the house. “Dammit, Annie, you don’t have the right to force me to go to one of those places.”

“I see you finally decided to talk to me,” she said coolly. “I’ve been leaving messages for three days.” Ever since she and Duncan had made their deal.

Her brother faced her, his blue eyes flashing with anger. “You had no right.”

“To do what?” she asked, feeling her own temper rise. “Help? You got into this, Tim. You stole money from your boss. How could you?”

He shifted slightly and dropped his gaze to the floor. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“I’m sure that’s true. You have a problem. It’s either rehab or jail.”

“Thanks to you,” he said bitterly.

She put her hands on her hips. “This is not my fault. I’m not the one who gambled and I’m not the one who told Duncan Patrick this house was yours. You stole and lied, Tim. You were willing to risk everything on a roll of the dice.”

“I play cards.”

“Whatever.”

He glared at her. “You’re my sister, Annie. You’re supposed to help me, not throw me into some institution. What would Mom say?”

A low blow, she thought, more resigned than angry. “She would think you’re a big disappointment. She would tell you that it was time to grow up and take responsibility.”

Tim didn’t even flinch. “It doesn’t have to be like this,” he said. “You could mortgage the house. It’s half mine, anyway.”

“It was half yours. I bought you out, remember? I’m tired of this, Tim. Tired of you expecting me to bail you out. I’ve always taken care of you and you’ve never been grateful or tried to change.”

“You owe me.” Tim moved closer. He was a lot bigger and taller. “You’re going to mortgage the house, Annie. One way or the other. Do you hear me?”

She was too surprised to be afraid. Before she could figure out what to do next, Duncan walked through the half-open door.

“McCoy,” he said.

Tim spun to face his boss. “What are you doing here?”

“I have an appointment with your sister.”

Tim swung back to Annie, then looked her up and down. “You’re going out with him?”

She nodded.

Tim’s mouth twisted into a bitter smile. “Figures. I’m getting screwed and you’re going on a date. Nice. Talk about ignoring your family.”

The accusation burned down to her belly. “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” she whispered. “This is about saving our family, something you don’t care about.”

Duncan grabbed Tim’s arm. “She’s right. As we discussed, you’ll report to the treatment facility by nine tomorrow morning or there will be a warrant for your arrest.”

Tim looked between them. “You’re in this together. You’re selling me out with this bastard? Dammit, Annie.”

Duncan stepped between them. “Enough, McCoy. It’s time for you to leave. Remember, by nine in the morning.”

“Why wait?” Tim asked bitterly. “I’ll go now.”

“That’s probably for the best.”

Tim shook off Duncan’s hand, then walked to the door. He paused and glanced back at her. “Do you even care?”

Annie pressed her lips together and refused to answer. Tim would manipulate her if she gave him the chance. She’d never been able to stand up to him, but maybe it was time to start learning how.

She squared her shoulders. “Good luck, Tim. I hope this works.”

He glared at her. “It doesn’t matter if it does, Annie. Either way, I’m never going to forgive you.”





Three


Duncan drove toward the hotel. Annie was silent, but he was aware of her next to him. He could inhale the scent of her subtle and feminine perfume. When he turned his head to the right, he caught a glimpse of her sleek thighs. Every now and then he heard a soft sigh.

“Are you mad at me or Tim?” he asked.

“What? Neither of you.” She shifted toward him. “Mr. Patrick, I really appreciate your help with Tim. And he will, too. Eventually.”

Unlikely, Duncan thought. But he’d been wrong before. Maybe rehab was what Tim needed. If it didn’t work, he would screw up again and find himself in jail.

“I’ve been calling him all week,” she admitted. “Trying to explain. Today is the first time I’ve seen him since we made our deal. He was so angry.”

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