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Eric follows me to the aisle and turns me to face him. “What is it?”

“What if Gigi sent me to get you so she could frame you for my murder in some way?”

CHAPTER NINE

Eric

What if Gigi used her to set me up and frame me for her murder?

The plane starts to quake around us again. Harper and I still stand in the middle of the aisle, almost as if the damn universe is answering her fears, telling us that yes, Gigi plotted Harper’s murder, and in turn, my blame for her death.

Death.

Harper’s murder.

Just the idea of finding her to lose her again guts me.

“Eric?” Harper presses when I haven’t replied. “You aren’t saying anything. You think I’m right, don’t you?”

The plane quakes again, this time violently. I catch the ceiling, and mold Harper close, holding onto her, the way I plan to hold onto her from this point forward. I can’t explain how she’s become that important to me, but she has. I think she’s been a part of me since I met her, I just didn’t want to admit it. Not when, in my mind, she was one of them.

“Let’s sit back down,” I say. “We need to buckle up.”

“Do you think Gigi—”

The plane drops and I have to grab the damn seat to keep us from tumbling. The minute I have stable ground, if you can call anything about where we’re at right now stable, I rotate us and plant Harper in her seat. Another rumbling of the plane beneath my feet has my hands planting on the arms of her chair. “Eric,” she breathes out, grabbing my shirt as if she’s trying to protect me, not steady herself. Like she could hold onto me and keep me from flying if we jolted much more. “I won’t let them use me to get to you.”

She says those words with such passion and emotion that I wonder how I ever doubted her, but I know. They are why I doubted her. I let them get into my head and I judged her the same way they judged me: by where she came from. “They don’t get to use either of us anymore, Harper. No more.” The plane calms for a moment and I buckle her seatbelt. “We’ll win. I promise you.” I sit down and secure myself in my seat.

She turns to me and gives me a turbulent look. “Do you think Gigi—” she begins again, but I cut her off.

“All I can confirm, and all I know right now, is that I wouldn’t be surprised if Gigi popped champagne when my mother killed herself.”

“You really think they were trying to kill me tonight, don’t you?”

I stroke her hair. “Sweetheart, I’ve got you. I will protect you.”

“That’s a yes.”

“That’s a ‘we won’t rule out any possibility.’”

“What happens when they come for me in New York City?”

“They won’t be that foolish,” I assure her, and I believe that to be true. “They know I’ll be waiting. They know I’ll be ready, especially after tonight.”

“If they believe I’m the way to cover up whatever you’re about to discover, they might be desperate.”

“That bank account was wiped out,” I remind her. “They can’t pin anything on you.”

“We have no idea what else they might have on me, what else they framed me for.”

“We knew about the bank account,” I counter. “And anything else digital Blake has found.”

“There could be paper trails, things I did that I didn’t know I was doing. Eric, that meeting with the union I was supposed to have—it felt weird. It felt like a set-up. I actually thought that when I found out about it.”

“What kind of set-up?”

“At the time, I thought they were going to make it look like I screwed things up with the union to fire me. A way to get rid of me for bringing you here. Now, I’m not so sure, Eric. Maybe it was something more nefarious. Who knows what kind of ways they’ve been setting me up to be a fall guy. After tonight, I’m afraid I’ve been blind and stupid.”

“No,” I say. “You’re not blind. You’re not stupid. You had a gut feeling about the union meeting. When we get to New York City, we’ll sit down and tune into any instinct you had that might guide us. Sleep now. We only have a couple of hours until we land and we’ll plan this out.”

“How can I sleep? The plane. This damn family. My mother back there with them.”

“Your mother is safe.”

“Can we warn Walker Security that Gigi might be involved? What if me leaving has them turn on her?”

“You know Walker is already watching her. They’re damn good. They’ve thought of everything we’ve thought of.”

“How can you be sure? If this was your mother—”

“You’re right,” I say. “You’re absolutely right.” The plane is calm enough, for the moment at least, that I unbuckle and walk to the table where I left the MacBook in a compartment under the wooden top. I grab it, hold on as we shake a good thirty seconds and then make my way back to my seat. Once I’m secure again, I pull up the MacBook and try to connect but this time it’s a no-go. I show Harper the message I’m getting. “Sorry, sweetheart. It’s just not going to happen.” I shove the Mac into a pocket by my chair and turn to Harper. “Adam’s in charge in Denver and he’s damn good. He’ll protect your mother with his life. I promise you this. Rest, princess.”


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