Paper Princess Page 46

I blanch. “What do you mean?” I ask but dread the answer. He’s running to Abby? That makes me want to puke all over Easton’s deck shoes.

“Never mind.” He waves me off. “You two should either screw or stay away from each other. Staying away from each other is my vote.”

“Noted.” I start to open my bedroom door but Easton grabs my arm.

“I’m serious. If you need someone, just come to me. I don’t mind you so much.”

Ugh. I’m done with these Royal boys. “Gosh, Easton. That’s so generous. Does your pity sex offer have an expiration date? Or is it a coupon I can use whenever I feel like it?”

I stomp into my bedroom and slam the door in his confused face. It’s early, but I decide to go to bed because I have to be at the bakery before the sun rises and then school, and there isn’t a person in this house that I want to talk to right now.

I crawl under the covers and force myself to fall asleep, but I drift in and out, rousing at every door slam and foot stomp outside my bedroom.

In the late night hours, I hear furious whispering in the hall. The same furious whispering I heard the other night. Easton and Reed are arguing about something. I check the time. It’s about the same time too—just after midnight.

“I’m going,” Reed says flatly. “Last time you were pissed I wouldn’t let you come and now you’re whining when I invite you?”

Oh, that’s a guaranteed button pusher.

“Hey, excuse me for worrying that your head’s so far up your ass, you won’t see a fist coming,” Easton snaps back. Yup. Buttons pushed.

“At least I’m not panting after Steve’s daughter.”

“Yeah right,” Easton says derisively. “Because that’s why I found you nearly naked and tied to a chair. Because you don’t want Ella at all.”

They move off far enough down the hall that I can’t hear Reed’s full response but it sounds something like, “I’d rather bang Jordan than stick my dick in that trap.”

My anger has me tossing the covers aside and shooting out of bed. Those two have secrets that they don’t want me to know about? Well, if I’m in a war here at the Royal house, I need all the ammunition I can get.

I rush to the closet and throw on the first thing I touch, which turns out to be a miniskirt. Not the perfect creeper clothes, but I don’t have time to waste. I jump into the skirt and pull on a T-shirt, then push my feet into my sneakers and creep out of my bedroom as quietly as possible.

I tiptoe down the back stairs. There’s no one in the kitchen but I hear faint noises outside. A car door slams. Shit. I need to hurry. Luckily, the twins leave clothes, keys, wallets, and all kinds of junk down in the mudroom all the time.

I race across the kitchen to the connected mudroom and grab the first hoodie I find. There are keys and a wad of cash in the front pocket. Perfect. Ducking down beneath the window in the door, I peek out and see the taillights of Reed’s Range Rover blinking down the drive.

I wrench open the door and haul ass to the garage. When the button on the key fob lights up the twins’ SUV, I heave a sigh of relief and climb inside.

It’s tricky to secretly follow someone in a car on a dark night down a quiet street, but I manage to pull it off, because Reed doesn’t stop or whip his vehicle around to angrily confront me. He leads me into the heart of the city and then down several side roads until we arrive at a gate.

Reed parks his SUV. I cut the engine and shut off the lights. In the moonlight, I can barely make out the two brothers as they get out of the Rover and then clamber over the fence.

What the heck am I getting into? Are they dealing drugs? That would be nuts. The family is loaded. The hoodie I’m wearing has five hundred dollars in twenties and fifties balled up, and I’d bet the entire wad that if I went through each one of the pockets of the jackets hanging in the mudroom, I’d find loads of cash in every one of them.

So what could they be doing?

I run over to the fence to check if I can see anything, but all I can make out is a row of long rectangular-shaped structures—all roughly the same size. But no Reed or Easton.

Ignoring the inner voice that’s telling me it’s beyond stupid to climb a fence and rush into the dark, I do it anyway.

When I get closer to the buildings, I realize that they aren’t buildings at all, but shipping containers, which means I must be in a shipyard. My deck shoes are soft on the bottom and make no noise, so when I come upon Easton handing a stack of cash to some hoodie-clad stranger, neither of them hear me.

I duck backward, using the container as a shield while peeking around the corner like an inept spy in a terrible action movie. Beyond Easton and the stranger, there’s a makeshift circle set in the center of an empty space at the end of four shipping crates.

And inside that circle is Reed, stripped down to a pair of jeans.

He pulls one arm across his body and then switches to stretch the other arm. Then he bounces on the balls of his feet as if he’s trying to loosen himself up. When I spot the other shirtless guy, all the pieces fall into place. The secret late night trips out of the house. The unexplained bruises on his face. Easton must be betting on his brother. Hell, Easton might be fighting, too, if I remember the argument between the two of them last week.

“I thought someone was following us, but Reed wouldn’t listen.”

I jerk around to find Easton standing right behind me. Then I go on the defensive before he can give me shit about following them. “What are you going to do, tell on me?” I mock.

He rolls his eyes, then pulls me forward. “Come on, you sneak. You’re the cause of this. You might as well see it through.”

I let him drag me to the edge of the circle, but I do protest. “I’m the cause of this? How do you figure?”

Easton pushes people aside and muscles us up to the front. “Tying Reed to a chair buck ass naked?”

“He had underwear on,” I mumble.

Easton ignores me and keeps talking. “Leaving him hornier than a sailor after a nine-month stint at the bottom of the ocean? Please, sis, he’s got so much adrenaline in his body right now that it’s either fight or,” he looks down at me with speculation, “screw, and since you won’t screw him, it’s this. Hey, big bro,” he calls out. “Our baby sis came to watch.”

Reed spins around. “What the hell are you doing here?”

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