Lone Star Seduction(10)

By: Day Leclaire



“Discrepancies have been discovered in the club’s financial accounts. Checks have been paid out to at least one bogus company.” His mouth took on a taunting slant. “Checks you endorsed.”

Sebastian’s hands clenched into fists. “The only checks I’ve written have been in response to legitimate billing statements.”

Alex folded his arms across his chest. “Like to Helping Hearts?”

Rebecca frowned. “Don’t you mean Helping Hands?” she asked. “That’s the women’s shelter where Summer works. Aren’t they part of an outreach program that the Texas Cattleman’s Club funds?”

“Helping Hands is the outreach program we assist. I couldn’t tell you what Helping Hearts is,” Alex replied. Though he addressed Rebecca, his gaze remained fixed on Sebastian. “But since your father cut several generous checks to them, I’m hoping he can tell me. Especially considering all of them were cashed at the same bank by none other than the president of that fine, upstanding institution—who, coincidentally enough, joined TCC shortly before the first check was cashed.” He allowed that information to sink in. “So explain it to your daughter, Sebastian. What exactly is Helping Hearts?”

To Rebecca’s shock, beads of sweat broke out across her father’s forehead. “I’d have to check the records, examine the invoices, assuming they can be found.”

“That’s easy enough. I have a copy of the checks in question, all signed by you and approved by your banker friend, Rhymes. But the invoices are conveniently missing.”

Sebastian’s chin lifted. “Then I don’t see how I can help you.”

“All of the invoices for Helping Hearts are missing,” Alex repeated softly. “Quite a coincidence, wouldn’t you say?”

“It happens. They were probably misfiled.”

“Or shredded, assuming they ever existed.”

Sebastian shrugged. “If that’s all…?”

“Not even close. There’s going to be an audit, Huntington. And when it’s done, you will be, as well. How much will they find missing? From what little we’ve been able to dig up, it’s in the neighborhood of three hundred grand.”

“Dad!”

Sebastian flinched. “You have no right—”

Alex stepped forward, his voice low and hard. “We have every right, you son of a bitch. You sit in your fine mansion and act as though you’re somehow superior to everyone else.”

“I can trace my birthright back to—”

Alex cut him off. “Who cares? You think that will matter to the board? Save it for your cellmates. Maybe they’ll give a damn who your ancestors were and what they accomplished. Personally, I don’t see a pedigree when I look at you. All I see is a thief.”

Sebastian pulled at his tie as though it were choking him. “You have no proof!”

“How long do you think it’ll take for me to get it? Do you think Rhymes will stand by you when we trace those checks back to him and accuse him of fraud? Where do you think he’ll point the finger, especially if he’s offered a deal?” Sebastian’s breath quickened and he wiped his brow with a hand that trembled, but it was clear that Alex wasn’t finished. “Just like Gentry is going to point the finger at you as the instigator when we pin him for torching Brody Oil and Gas and my barn.”

“What?”

Sebastian stumbled and Rebecca darted to his side, helping him to the nearest chair. Then she hurried across the room and splashed a generous finger of whiskey into a tumbler. Returning to her father’s side, she pressed the glass into his hands.

“Easy, Dad. Drink this.”

“I swear to you, Rebecca,” he said in an undertone. “I had nothing to do with those fires. I have no idea what Montoya is talking about.”

She believed him. “Why would my father ask his foreman to set those fires?” she demanded of Alex. “What possible motive could he have?”

“We wondered the same thing,” he admitted. “But considering how everyone’s been running around like a bunch of crazed ants when their anthill has been kicked over, the motive became clear enough. Your father needed to keep the Brodys, me and several other key members of the TCC too busy to look at the accounts. To keep us fighting among ourselves while he covered his tracks.”

“You’re insane,” Sebastian whispered. Then his eyes widened. “My God! You think I don’t see what’s going on here? You’re behind the arson fires—assuming it really was arson.”

Alex laughed in genuine amusement. “Why would I burn my own barn?”

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