The Other Side of Greed (The Seven Sins #5) - Lily Zante
Twenty years ago …
“Take me with you,” Kane begs.
“I can't. The lady said it's just me for now.” I'm crying inside because I have to show him I'm strong. I'm his older brother and I've got this. Kane hugs me, throwing his skinny little hands around me, like a wretched rat hanging on to a sinking ship.
“Come on, now, Brandon.” The lady from the home walks over to take my hand, but I'm not ready to go. I will never be ready to go, not like this.
Kane wails. “Don't go! Don't leave me.”
“Kane,” she says harshly. “Move away. Your brother has to go.”
“I don't want him to go.” His sobs shoot a round of bullets through me. I can't listen to this and walk away. I've never walked away. He is all I've got, and I am all he's got.
I hug him tightly. “I'll come back for you, okay? I promise.”
“Brandon.” The woman’s voice is stern. “You need to come with me NOW.”
I give Kane the biggest hug of my life. Life is cruel. It’s never been fair for the likes of us. “I'll come back for you, little buddy.” I kiss his head, he tilts his face upwards, looking at me with wet, soppy, sad eyes. My heart breaks into a million pieces.
“Step away before I—” The woman tries to pry Kane’s hands off my body, but he doesn’t give an inch. Instead, he kicks her. Hard. The sound of his boot smacking her shin is loud enough to make me wince. I felt that. She wails, reaching down to rub her leg. “You little—”
Two others grab my little brother. He's so small and skinny, powerless to fight them off. They grab him like he's a convict. “Come here you little shit. Don't even think of trying anything.”
“Brandon! Brandon!” he cries, as they drag him away, a tiny nine year old.
“I'll come back for you. I'll find you, I promise,” I yell. My insides fracture as he is taken, kicking and screaming, away. It’s the last vision I have of him.
When he disappears, I fall apart. My body shuddering as I howl, my sorrow twisting and tearing me to pieces.
“Wipe your face.” The woman shoves a tissue in my face. “You can't meet your new family looking like that.”
“The scent of money is intoxicating.” I hang up the phone and mimic a chef’s kiss. “Another deal done.” I savor the glow of warmth that spreads through me. There is nothing more satisfying than sealing another deal.
It’s better than sex.
“We should celebrate.” Neville, my lawyer, shuts his briefcase and looks hopeful. Because this deal has put another couple of million dollars into my coffers, he expects that I will celebrate with an expensive meal in one of Chicago’s finest restaurants.
Ordinarily, I would, but I have other plans. “Jessica is expecting me at the art gallery. I should show my face.”
Neville raises an eyebrow. “Are you dating yet, or are you still keeping this purely platonic?”
I pull at my shirt cuffs. “We’re good friends, for now.”
“Still just good friends? You disappoint me, Brandon. You’ve been sniffing around her long enough.”
“I don’t sniff, Neville.” And certainly not around someone like Jessica Montrose. A socialite and an art gallery owner, she is smart, polished, rich and powerful, all thanks to her father who once operated a hedge fund in the city.
I have recently taken over Hawks Enterprises, a conglomerate which my father founded many decades ago. He has recently retired due to ailing health—heart surgery has taken its toll—and he has passed the mantle to me. While I have enjoyed not being in the limelight—and I still prefer to fly under the radar—the idea of having this much power and wealth is overwhelming.
I have my eye on Jessica because she is perfect wife material. It’s one reason why I haven’t jumped into bed with her yet. I want to take things slowly. I’m taking them so slowly that I haven’t even made it to first base yet. I’m not inspired to. There’s no chemistry, yet. She’s … polished. Good for me and my brand. The perfect trophy wife.
“We’ll celebrate another time, then. A five-million-dollar deal is nothing to be taken lightly, even for someone like you.”
“Some other time,” I tell him, glancing at my watch. I want to go home and shower before I go to the art gallery.
Neville rises slowly, as if his portly and round body is too heavy for his knees. His jowls hang around his neck, giving him a