Perfect Scoundrels Page 34


He handed the device to Hale, then smiled at Marianne, who walked to the leather chair where Hale\'s grandmother had sat. She ran her hands over the seat back, as if guessing whether or not she might fit.

’’You can work as little or as much as you\'d like,’’ Hale told her. ’’But the job is yours. As far as I\'m concerned, it was always yours.’’

’’Oh my.’’ Marianne gave Marcus a glance. ’’Brother?’’

’’Your mistress has asked something of you, Marianne.’’ He stood up straighter, as if to say it was a matter of pride. ’’I do not think it is our place to question it.’’

Marianne nodded slowly.

But Senior was shaking his head. ’’No. Just no. We\'ve already dealt with one outsider in that position, and look at what that got us. He\'s my son and he\'s a minor, and I will be the trustee of my family\'s company.’’

’’Actually, Mr. Hale,’’ Silas interjected, ’’a funny thing happened when we were digging around on the servers. We actually found a copy of your mother\'s will.’’

’’You did?’’ Senior asked.

Silas reached into his case again and pulled out a document. ’’Yes, sir. And Marianne was the original trustee. See?’’ He pointed to one of the pages. ’’Those were your mother\'s wishes.’’

’’No.’’ Senior shook his head. ’’I don\'t believe it.’’

’’It\'s what she wanted.’’ Hale\'s voice was calm and even. He wasn\'t trying to con them, Kat could tell. He just wanted to make them understand Hazel to understand him.

’’You\'re a child,’’ Senior spat.

’’I know,’’ Hale said. ’’But she chose me, Dad. I\'m sorry, but it\'s the truth. She chose me. And she chose Marianne. And you can either support us and help us, or you can leave. It\'s your call.’’ Hale raised his eyes. ’’It\'s always been your call.’’

Kat wasn\'t sure what they\'d say what they\'d do. She had seen enough people backed into corners to know there was no predicting how they would react. W. W. Hale the Fourth looked at his son like he was little more than a stranger. And Kat felt her heart start to break.

’’I don\'t have to take this.’’ Senior puffed out his chest.

’’No, you don\'t.’’ Hale stepped away. ’’But if you decide to try, Marianne will know how to find me.’’

His mother got her purse. His father reached for the door.

’’Scooter,’’ he said, by way of good-bye, ’’have fun with your friends.’’

But Hale was shaking his head. He put his arm around Kat\'s shoulders. ’’She\'s not my friend, Dad. She\'s my girlfriend.’’

Hale\'s parents must have walked away, but Kat wasn\'t looking. She was too busy staring up at Hale, trying to see into his eyes and know if he was okay. The sadness that had lingered for weeks was fading, and the boy that held her was the boy she knew. A boy who kissed her lightly.

Silas cleared his throat, and Kat remembered they weren\'t exactly alone.

’’I\'m sorry to bother you, Mr. Hale, but there is something we need to discuss before we go in.’’

’’What\'s that, Silas?’’

’’Well, the strangest thing happened. You know how Garrett filed the wrong prototype plans with the patent office?’’

’’Yeah,’’ Hale said, and Kat could tell he didn\'t understand where Silas was going.

’’Well, I called D.C. to see about pulling those plans and starting the patent process all over again, but this is what they sent me back.’’

The papers he handed to Hale made very little sense to Kat. They were covered with formulas and graphs.

’’What am I looking at, Silas?’’

’’Those are the plans for Genesis.’’ He leveled Hale with a stare. ’’The real plans.’’

’’So...Garrett didn\'t file phony plans after all?’’ Kat asked, wondering if they\'d gone to all that trouble for nothing, but then Silas laughed.

’’No, I don\'t think so. This was with them.’’ He handed a note to Hale.

It seemed there was a problem with the Genesis plans at the patent office. But don\'t worry. It\'s been taken care of. After all, there is always a way around.

Welcome to the family.

BB

’’Something wrong, Mr. Hale?’’ Silas asked.

’’No, Silas.’’ Hale slipped the paper into his suit pocket like it was the most precious thing he\'d seen since he first stared up at Hazel\'s fake Monet. ’’Everything is just right.’’

There was a knock at the door, and a young assistant popped her head in. ’’Excuse me, the board is meeting now.’’

And with that, Silas extended an arm to Marianne, who took it, and together, the two of them walked toward the boardroom, prototype in hand. But Hale didn\'t follow. For a second he just stood and stared out over his empire. It was like he was lost in a dream when he said, ’’So, your dad broke into the patent office.’’

’’Yep,’’ Kat told him.

’’How many goats am I going to owe him for that?’’

’’More than you\'ve got, big guy. Way more than you\'ve got.’’

’’Scooter?’’ The voice stopped him. Marianne was at the door, looking back. ’’What will you do?’’ she asked, and Kat thought she sounded...like a grandmother.

’’Don\'t worry about me, Marianne.’’ He smiled at Kat, took her hand. ’’I\'ll find some way to stay busy.’’


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