The Last Betrayal:Brotherhood Protectors World

By: Stacey Wilk

Brotherhood Protectors World

Chapter 1

Eden King believed family came first. She also believed in getting the scoop. When the two mixed like whiskey and greasy beef nachos, her stomach fought back. She placed a hand on her middle to keep her dinner from making a reappearance. Johnny would not appreciate her vomiting on the table.

They sat tucked in a dark corner of Patrick’s Steak House. The wood paneled walls, low ceilings, and dim lighting offered the best place for someone to share a secret. The backs of the wooden booths were high and blocked the view from the other patrons. Televisions were strategically placed around the open room. Their sounds of newscasters and sporting events drowned out the real conversations.

She had chosen this place to tell Johnny about the new information she’d discovered because for one, it was their favorite place to hang out, and two, he wouldn’t make a scene in public. Johnny was known for making scenes.

She smoothed the napkin on her lap. “I have proof.”

“Proof of what?” He came up out of his cheesy chips covered in jalapenos like a diver coming up for air.

All the King men resembled each other with their sandy brown hair and eyes the color of amber. They all possessed a strong jaw, long eyelashes, and the need for power. Except her father. He wanted family more than power, and that’s what made him the black sheep of an influential family. Somehow, she and her cousin Johnny managed to be close even though his father, her uncle, craved power as if it were water.

She swallowed the knot in her throat to continue. “I can prove your father committed that crime.”

He dropped his fork with a clang. “What are you talking about?”

“I am in possession of video evidence proving your father assaulted a woman while he was in college.” She squared her shoulders. Uncle Thomas had sought a Supreme Court seat his entire career, and now all his dreams were about to end.

She would be the one to do it because even though family mattered most, the truth was just as important. Her job required her to report the news without bias. It didn’t matter who was involved. Her uncle would not get away with raping a woman and then saying that woman lied about it. Not when Eden had the proof.

And if breaking this story finally gave her the credentials and notoriety she craved, so be it. She wanted – no, needed - to prove herself. She was more than just her family’s name.

“You’re lying.”

“I’m afraid not. I’m sorry, Johnny. I needed you to know before I broke the story.” Eden placed two twenties on the table. “I have to go.” She grabbed her tote and her rain coat.

Her cousin gripped her wrist and leaned across the table. “You’re going to drop a bomb like that and just run?” He whispered his words like the cobra Nag to Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. His hazel-eyed gaze darted side to side as if he were checking for big ears nearby. A flush crept up his neck.

“I wanted to warn you that I’m running with this story in twenty-four hours because you and I are close. If you have any loose ends to tie up, do it. I don’t want you getting caught in the cross fire.” She slid from the booth before he could say anything else.

His footsteps followed her out into the parking lot. The Montana spring night had a bite to it. The thick clouds promised more rain. She was ready for summer and ready to go home. She wanted to put her feet up, drink another shot of Jim Beam Honey, and come to terms with crushing the King family. Her father couldn’t do it. He’d been a coward. Now she had to do what Samuel King could not accomplish before the Grim Reaper had come along and tapped his shoulder. Her father left her alone and at an ugly, dark cross-roads. If only he’d kept his mouth shut. She wouldn’t know what Uncle Thomas had done and how to find the proof. Now that she knew, she had no choice.

“Eden, wait.” Johnny gripped her arm and swung her around.

She teetered on her skinny heeled pumps. “Christ, Johnny. Let go.” She yanked her arm away.

He threw his hands up. “Sorry. I have to tell my father.”

“So tell him. I don’t care. He’s going to read about it anyway.”

“What if your proof is wrong?” He ran a hand through his thick hair.

“It’s not. I saw it.” She had not seen it, but she’d view the tape before she handed in her story.

“If you do this, you’ll drag me down too. I’m up for a promotion. Do you think the captain will give me a gold shield if my father has been convicted of a sexual assault?”

“You’re not your father. What he did has nothing to do with you. You weren’t even born when this happened.” She paused. “Unless you have something to hide too.”

She prayed he was clean, but knew the reality of a cop’s life. Plenty of them took bribes or skimmed off the top of drug money about to be confiscated and destroyed. Who was going to miss a few thousand when a child needed braces? She had never asked Johnny. Ignorance was bliss when it came to her family.

“Of course I have nothing to hide. But we’re family. He’s my father. You’ll ruin his life. Do you think it’s what Uncle Samuel would have wanted?”