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Home > Smart, Sexy and Secretive (The Reed Brothers #2)

Smart, Sexy and Secretive (The Reed Brothers #2)
Author: Tammy Falkner

Emily

My dad doesn’t want me to go back to New York. He’s wholeheartedly opposed to it. But New York is where my heart is. It’s where Logan is. And we’re in a plane on our way there right now.

I met Logan in the fall. He took care of me when I needed a place to stay, and I took care of him when his brother got sick with cancer. Matt needed an expensive medical treatment, and the only way to get the money was for me to suck it up and take one for the team. So, I did. I went back to California, leaving the only man I’ve ever loved in New York, and returned to my estranged family—the one I’d run away from. Matt went into treatment, paid for by my father, and Logan went on with his life.

I have wanted to contact him so many times. But talking is difficult between us. Logan is deaf, and he communicates by writing. I have dyslexia, and reading is hard for me. So letters and phone calls are not possible for us. The Reed family is poor, and they don’t even have a computer. I considered buying them one and shipping it to them, so Logan and I could talk using sign language on Skype, but they are both poor and proud, which is a killer combination.

It’s been almost three months since I last saw Logan. It has been just as long since I’ve talked to him. I want to look into his eyes. I need to see him. Soon.

The pilot announces that we’ll be arriving in New York in twenty minutes over the intercom. Mom and Dad look over at me. Mom is smiling; Dad is not. Dad’s bodyguard sets his newspaper to the side and buckles his seat belt. My dad has money. Lots and lots of money. My mom spends money. Lots and lots of money. I am so glad my mom married my dad because no other man on the face of the earth could ever afford her.

Dad owns Madison Avenue. Not the street—the upscale clothing and accessory line. It’s a popular line of really expensive items that started in California and has now spread nationwide. My parents have more money than God.

“Are you excited, Emily?” my mother asks as the wheels touch down. I take a deep breath. I can already breathe easier just knowing I’m in the same city as him.

I look directly into her eyes since she knows how much I love Logan, and she’s actually in favor of us being together. “More than you know.”

“I don’t know why you feel the need to go to college, Emily,” my father barks. “You could have just gotten married and lived a life of ease and privilege.”

Last year, my dad tried to marry me off to the son of one of his business partners. That’s why I left California with nothing and took a bus all the way to New York. I didn’t take a dime of my father’s money, and I supported myself by busking in the subways with my guitar for change. My dad doesn’t know everything about my life away from him. Like how I lived in shelters when money was tight. And how I went for days without food sometimes. He chooses to think I lived an upscale life while I was away. But I didn’t. It was hard. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, though. Because it’s what brought me to Logan.

God, I want to see him so badly. I want my parents to go away, too, but they want to see me settled into my new apartment. It’s around the corner from the college I’ll be attending, Julliard. I’ve always wanted to study music, and now I can. That was my mother’s doing.

My mother smacks my father on the arm. It’s a breezy wave, but it gets his attention. “We’ve already discussed this, darling. She doesn’t want to get married. Least of all to the young Mr. Fields.”

I snort. I wouldn’t marry that ass if he were the last man on earth.

“Fields is a fine young man,” my father says. What’s really bad is that he believes it even though Trip is really just an opportunistic a**hole who wants to climb the financial ladder, and he wants to use me as the top rung. He’ll never get over this rung, I can say that much.

“Mmm hmm,” I hum noncommittally.

“Fields is an ass, darling,” my mother says. She gets her purse, and we disembark the plane. The limo is waiting for us outside, and we all slide in while someone I will never see unloads the luggage.

“He blows his nose constantly, Dad,” I say. “And he doesn’t shower after he plays basketball.” And he called me stupid in front of all his friends. But we don’t talk about that part.

My dad’s lips twitch. “That boy has a lot of potential. Great vision. He would make a fine husband.”

What he means is that we could combine the two families like a business deal, increasing the net worth of both. I have no interest in being richer. In fact, the happiest time in my life was when I lived with Logan and his brothers. He has four of them—two older and two younger. They live alone since their mom died and their dad left. They don’t have much, but they love one another like crazy.

My parents love me, but it’s not the same thing. Not by a long shot.

“You should partner with him, Dad. Because I never will,” I grouse. I can’t count the number of times in the past few months I have had this conversation.

My dad heaves a sigh. He is a master at business, but he knows very little about relationships.

“Do you plan to see that boy while you’re here, Emily?” my dad asks.

Only every chance I get, if he’ll have me. “I doubt he’ll want to see me. I left him without a single word and haven’t talked to him since.” He’s probably angry at me. So angry that he has moved on. My heart lurches at the very thought of it.

I knew that I was giving Logan up when my dad paid for his brother’s treatment, but I didn’t think it would be permanent. I look down at the tattoo on my inner forearm. My father hates it; I love it. It’s a key with Logan’s name printed down the shaft. Logan unlocked my world. He accepted and loved me exactly as I am, or at least how he thought I was. I just hope he still does.

It’s taking forever to get to my apartment. I have to listen to my dad talk about how fit Trip would be as a husband the whole ride. My mom makes a face at me. She makes me laugh. We have a new understanding since I spilled my guts to her after coming home. I think she gets it, and she’s on my side. But that doesn’t make things any better with my father.

“If that boy is smart, he’ll stay far, far away from you,” my father nearly snarls. He’s adamantly opposed to me being with someone so poor.

Logan is rich in all the ways I wish I were. He’s rich in family, steeped in love and compassion, and he loves what he does for a living. Logan’s an amazing artist, and he works at his family’s tattoo parlor, putting his fabulous art on people’s skin. The last time I talked to him, he wanted to go back to college. He got a scholarship, but he had to get a deferment when Matt got sick. They took out a lot of loans to pay for Matt’s first treatment, and when Matt couldn’t work anymore, Logan quit school and took over for him.

“If that boy has any sense at all,” Mom says, “he’s just waiting for you to come back to New York.”

I hope that’s the case. But so much can happen in three months. Women throw themselves at Logan every day. It’s asking an awful lot for him to wait for me for three full months while I find my way back to him.

Mom pats Dad on the knee. “How is his brother doing, darling? I know you get reports.”

I scoot to the edge of the seat. Please tell me he’s okay. Please. I have asked him this more times that I can count, and he refuses to answer me, reminding me of the bargain we made.

“Fine.”

That’s all he says. Just that one word. I flop against the seat back.

“Elaborate, please,” my mom says, smiling at my dad.

“The treatment is working, but he’s not out of the woods. He has to have scans every month, and then they’ll start spreading them out as time goes on.”

My heart clenches in my chest. Matt is better. My sacrifice wasn’t for nothing. Tears start to burn my eyes, and Mom reaches over to squeeze my knee. “That’s good, darling,” she says to Dad. “I’m so glad you were able to help him.”

“I did it so she would come back home,” he says. He glares at me. “Our deal was that she would come home, not go to Julliard.”

Mom pats his knee again. “She did come home, darling. And now she’s going to Julliard.”

“I just hope he stays away from her,” Dad grumbles, more to himself than to either me or Mom. We all know who he is. And he had better not stay away from me. Not for a day. Not for an hour. Not for a minute.

We arrive at my apartment, and my dad scowls. “This is the best you could find?” He glowers at my mother.

“It’s perfect,” I say. It’s pretty, with a small garden out front. I’m on the tenth floor, and that’s all right with me. There’s a doorman, an older gentleman, and he smiles at me, bowing to all of us as we walk into the building.

“Ah, Mr. Madison,” he says. He knows who my dad is. He doesn’t hold out a hand, though he does take mine when I extend it. I am not better than this man, and I want him to know it. “Miss Madison,” he says, grinning at me. “Henry is my name.”

“Mr. Henry,” I say, squeezing his hand in my grip.

“Just Henry will do.” He looks over at my father’s scornful face.

“Don’t make friends with the help, Emily,” my dad warns.

Henry’s face falls.

I wink at him. “I wouldn’t dare try to make friends with Henry,” I say. “He’s way too good for the likes of us.”

Dad’s eyebrows draw together. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Kindness trumps money, Dad,” I say. I learned that the hard way. And even though I can’t read well, I feel so much smarter than my dad right now. I bump knuckles with Henry, and he smiles at me.

He holds up a finger and goes to a locked box beside his desk. He retrieves a key. “I’ll be sure your luggage is delivered, Miss Madison.”

“Thank you, Henry.” I wink at him again as my family walks to the elevator. He smiles back at me with genuine kindness.

My parents are quiet on the ride up. My dad taps his thumb on the railing, and Mom just stands quietly.

“I don’t know why you felt the need to come here. I can settle myself in.”

“I’m not sending you off to a strange city all by yourself.” He glares. He knows I was all alone in this city last year. “That was your choice,” he says quietly. “Not mine.”

I step up on my tippy toes and kiss his cheek. He looks down his nose at me, which makes me grin. “I’m glad you’re here.” I just hope they don’t stay long. I want to go see Logan. It’s Friday night, and he’s probably at the club working. He’s a bouncer there.

My dad walks around my new apartment, appraising it with a critical eye. It was rented furnished, and it’s actually really cute. It has two bedrooms, and an alarm system that Homeland Security couldn’t beat.

I wanted to be in the dorm, but Dad felt like it was a bad idea. At least I’m close to the school.

My mom winks at me and then turns to Dad. “Darling, I think we should get to the hotel, soon.”

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