Tangled Page 65

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After her words sink in, I ask her seriously, “Mackenzie? Did you tell Kate that I said I wanted you to grow up to be just like her?”

You see that smile? That’s not the smile of a four-year-old child. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the smile of a genius.

“Yep.”

I close my eyes. And chuckle. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this myself. Mackenzie is the perfect weapon. My very own baby Borg. Resistance is futile.

“Sweetheart,” I say, “you did Uncle Drew a huge favor. Anything you want for Christmas—name it and it’s yours. And I mean anything.”

Her eyes widen at the possibilities. She glances at my sister and then whispers conspiratorially, “Can I have a pony?”

Oh, boy.

I think about it for exactly one second.

“Absolutely.”

She squeezes me tighter and squeals.

“Only…don’t tell mommy until after it’s delivered, okay?”

I may have to enter the witness protection program after this one.

Mackenzie kisses my cheek, and I set her on her feet. She skips back to Alexandra, and I wave as they walk out the door.

Chapter 25

I WALK INTO KATE’S OFFICE like a soldier storming the beach at Normandy. She’s at her desk writing rapidly on a yellow legal pad.

“I’m back. Miss me?”

She doesn’t look up. “Desperately.”

Sarcasm is the oldest defense in the book. I play along. “I knew I was wearing you down. What put me over the top? Sister B?”

Kate pushes back from her desk and crosses her legs. She’s wearing new shoes. I didn’t notice before. Black Mary Janes with a wicked high heel and a strap around the ankle. Good God. They’re the perfect blend of naughty and nice. Sweetness and sex. And my poor neglected c**k convulses as I picture all the fantastic—and semi-illegal—things I could do to her in those shoes.

I’ve never had a fetish, but I’m thinking about starting one.

Kate’s voice drags me away from my impure thoughts. “No. It was the visit from your sister, actually. Subtlety doesn’t run in your family does it?”

Uh oh. I was afraid of this.

“Alexandra has deep-seated psychological issues. She’s unstable. You shouldn’t listen to anything she says. No one in my family does.”

“She seemed completely lucid when she was here.”

I shrug. “Mental illness is a tricky thing.”

Her eyes squint doubtfully. “You’re not serious are you?”

Crap. No lying.

“Technically, she’s never been diagnosed. But her ideas about justice and revenge are certifiable. Imagine Delores…with a decade more experience to perfect her technique.”

Kate’s face goes slack with understanding. “Oh.”

Yep—welcome to my world, sweetheart.

“She brought me coffee,” Kate says. “Should I drink it?”

We both eye the Starbucks cup on her desk suspiciously.

When I was thirteen, I auctioned off a pair of Alexandra’s underwear in the boys’ locker room. Dirty ones. When she found out through the grapevine of older sisters, she played it cool—never let on that she knew. And then she spiked my Coco Pebbles with chocolate-flavored laxatives. I didn’t leave the bathroom for three days.

Now, I realize she’s not carrying that kind of grudge against Kate, but still…

“I wouldn’t.”

She nods stiffly and slides the cup back away from her.

“What’d you think of Mackenzie? I really wanted to be here when you met her.”

Her smile is warm and genuine. “I think she’s amazing.”

“I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to hear she used your calculator on me when I ran into them downstairs.”

Her smile widens. “That’s nice.”

I shake my head, and Kate says, “I see now why Alexandra started the Bad Word Jar, since you seem to spend so much time with Mackenzie.”

“What do you mean?”

She shrugs. “She talks like you. It’s not every day you hear a four-year-old say Prince Charming is a douchebag who’s only holding Cinderella back.”

That’s my girl.

“Swearing is good for the soul.”

Kate stifles a laugh. And she looks so tempting I can’t help but lean over her chair, trapping her with my arms. Small talk is over. Time to get back to business.

“Come for a walk with me.”

My voice is low. Persuasive.

“No way.”

And utterly ineffective.

“Come on, Kate, it’ll just take a minute. I want to show you something.”

She snorts. “What’d you do? Hire Ringling Brothers to do a show in the lobby? Organize a ticker-tape parade in my honor?”

I laugh. “Don’t be ridiculous. I wouldn’t do that.”

Kate raises one skeptical brow.

“Okay, you’re right—I would so do that. But not today.”

She pushes me back and stands up. I let her.

“You’re not scared, are you?” I ask. “Afraid you won’t be able to control yourself if you’re alone with me?”

To people like Kate and me, a dare is kind of like a hooker at a sex addicts’ convention. There’s almost no chance they’re going to get turned down.

“If you mean am I afraid I’ll kill you if there aren’t any witnesses to testify against me, then the answer’s yes. Although I must admit, twenty-to-life is looking like a small price to pay at the moment.”

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