Reed (Allen Securities #1)

By: Madison Stevens

Chapter One





It was not shaping up to be a good day. In the course of an hour, Olivia had managed to blow her radiator, break a heel and twist her ankle. Maybe the radiator hadn’t been her fault, but the mechanic certainly chewed her ass over it. So what if the car had been getting a little hot? Up until a month ago, she’d still been in graduate school with no real income. Or at least not one that would pay for anything beyond housing and food.

Olivia looked up her bank account balance for about the millionth time on her phone as she limped home. Yup, first real paycheck was still there. The new job at the library was everything she always wanted. For the first time in her life, she finally had more than she needed.

She sighed as she slipped around the people milling about the sidewalk. At least she had enough to get the car fixed and get Ben out of whatever trouble he’d gotten himself into this time.

Fighting down the nausea, Olivia focused on how best to help her brother. Normally he lived on his own, paid his own way and even stopped by to help with things, but this last week he’d been all but living at her house. Not that she minded the company, but his skulking shadiness made her worry. Ben was no stranger to trouble, and something was brewing. Something big.

She gingerly made her way up the flight of stairs to her apartment, her ankle throbbing, gripping the rail with such strength that her fingers lost feeling at the tips.

When she came to her door, she stopped to take a deep breath.

“Please, please, please,” she whispered.

Olivia turned the knob and walked in. Cans of soda and beer littered the coffee table. Discarded plates stood stacked haphazardly to the side of the couch. Chunks of food were crusted to them like glue.

She rubbed her eyes hard and drew in a deep sigh. It really shouldn’t have been a surprise. She had gotten in late last night from work and then left to run errands early that morning. It was naïve to think Ben would get up and take care of it. After all, she had helped create the mess monster snoring loudly on her couch.

Olivia stomped over to the couch. The pain in her ankle almost seemed to fuel her anger. She yanked the covers off her sleeping brother and slapped him on the ass. The sound cracked though the air.

“What the fuck!” He shot up, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“No.” She crossed her arms. “I think that’s my line.”

“Why?” Ben rubbed the spot she’s smacked. “I didn’t come and abuse you.”

“No.” Olivia gestured to the space around him. “You abuse my apartment instead.”

Ben looked around and then lowered his head, looking sheepish. “Yeah, okay. Maybe I should have picked up.”

Olivia sighed and plopped down on the couch. When she propped her foot up, she could see the nasty swelling already taking place. It wasn’t sprained, though twisted for sure.

“It’s my fault,” she said. “I really didn’t have time to teach you better.” She looked over at Ben. Although the siblings had never known their father well, both were his spitting image, same ruddy brown hair. Both sported their father’s light blue eyes with flecks of yellow.

“You did what you could.” Ben’s face hardened. “Maybe if Mom had stopped drinking long enough to take care of things, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in.”

Olivia tensed up. “And what situation would that be?”

She held her breath. Whatever it was, it was going to be big.

“The one where you have to live in this little apartment and struggle to pay off student loan debt.” Ben stood and collected the plates on the floor.

Olivia followed him into the kitchen and watched as the plates clattered in the sink.

“And what about you?” Olivia prodded as she sat at the table and placed her foot on a chair.

Ben grabbed a pack of peas from the freezer and carefully placed them on her ankle. He looked up at her from his stooped position, boyish grin in place.

“I’m working on that.” He winked at her and stood. “I’ve got some things to do. I’ll stop in and see you at the library later.”

Olivia sighed inwardly. Whatever was going on with him was almost over. She smiled when he kissed her on the head. He moved off, back to the living room. The sounds of him rummaging about grabbing a few things and then the sound of the door closing followed.

She leaned her head back and let her foot soak up some much needed rest. Her mind was just starting to blank when her eyes shot open.

“Son of a…” Olivia glared at the living room. “Thanks for cleaning up, jerkwad!” She shouted at the empty room. Yes, this day was not going to get any better.



***



Reed didn’t like it. The client said this would be an in and out thing, but they had already been undercover for two weeks with few results. He paced back and forth in his office, sparing an angry look at the file on his desk.

“Today is the day,” Megan said.

Cage nodded. “Neil confirmed it just an hour ago.”

Reed raked his fingers through his dark brown hair. This had to end. Today.

“Where is this happening?” Reed sat loudly in the large chair.

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