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The Scotch King (Scotch #1)
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Joseph Ingram made the mistake of stealing from me—four million dollars. He took my intelligence without paying for it. And thought he could get away with it.
Now I’ll take something from him—something irreplaceable.
But even when Joseph doubles the amount of money he owes me, I don’t give her up.
Nope. I have an image to maintain.
So I keep her.
And I’m not giving her up.
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Handcuffed and sporting a black eye, Joseph Ingram sat in the black chair with his hands bound behind his back. The left side of his lip was swollen from a powerful fist, and his tailored suit possessed holes from the burning end of a cigarette. Two of his men flanked him on either side, just as bloodied as he was.
Stirling Castle was so ancient my mind couldn’t comprehend it. Built in the 12th century, my Scottish ancestors lived in luxury. Times had changed, but the family line had remained intact. I was the owner of this fine landmark, but its sole purpose was for business endeavors.
Like this one.
I entered the room in my black suit with matching black tie. My silver cufflinks caught the dim light as I took my seat across the table from Joseph, a man I despised immensely. When it came to business, personal opinion was irrelevant. Whoever paid the right price was entitled to whatever I had to offer.
But this man made the mistake of betraying me.
He couldn’t meet my gaze, afraid of my wrath. Foolish for thinking he would get away with it, he was now at my mercy. I could do anything I wanted, and he knew it. I could kill him and bury him in the graveyard where my ancient ancestors rotted. I could cut up his body and drop the pieces off the coast.
Joseph bowed his head slightly, as if the muscles of his neck couldn’t keep his head upright. He reminded me of a baby, too weak to carry his own weight.
I crossed my legs under the table and unbuttoned the front of my suit. One hand rested on my propped-up knee as I examined my foe, this idiot with an ego too big to handle. I traded him some valuable intelligence for a premium price—four million dollars.
But he didn’t pay up.
Instead, he gave me counterfeit bills.
Like I wouldn’t have figured it out. “You insulted me, Joseph.”
The second I spoke, he flinched slightly. He adjusted his body in the chair, and no matter how much he tried to hide it, he shook. I spotted the tremble in his arms, the shake of his extremities.
“And you know what I do to people who insult me.”
He cleared his throat, his Adam’s apple moving as he swallowed. “Crewe—”
“Mr. Donoghue.” Dunbar was my right-hand man, serving out his life in voluntary servitude. I saved his life and gave him the vengeance he deserved. As a result, he devoted his life to serving me—loyally.
Joseph cringed at the false move. “Mr. Donoghue, I’m sorry.”
I chuckled because he was making it worse. “Don’t apologize. Men like us don’t apologize for our wrongdoings. We have every intent of lying, stealing, and misleading our victims. Own up to it—like man.”
Joseph fell quiet, knowing he was out of excuses.
“I’ll respect you more for it.”
Joseph finally looked at me, his brown eyes showing his weakness. “I’ll double the amount I owe you. Eight million. Just let me go.”
“Now we’re talking.” I adjusted the sleeve of my suit, meticulous about my appearance, like always. I wore power like a fresh suit, filling out the clothing as if it were made for me. An invisible crown sat upon my head, something I balanced at all times.
“I can get it to you in twenty-four hours,” he said. “All in cash. Just let us go.”
“A tempting offer.” Now that we’d cut to the chase, things were a lot more interesting.
“Do we have a deal?” He adjusted his arms to get comfortable. The bite of the metal around his wrists must have been painful.
I gazed at his two cronies, both equally unimpressive. While they were burly with muscle, they didn’t have true strength and agility. Their eyes hinted at stupidity, following orders without understanding what they were doing. That’s how they got into this mess in the first place—because their boss was even dumber. “Money doesn’t mean anything to me, Joseph. Reputation is everything.”
His eyes fell with devastation. “I’ll make it twelve million.”
The corner of my mouth rose in a smile. “You need to learn how to listen.”
His rate of breathing increased, his chest rising and falling with his impending doom.
“I have an image to maintain. If I let you off the hook that easily, my other business partners won’t hesitate to cross me. Obviously, I can’t allow this.”
“Don’t kill me…” His voice shook in desperation. “I made a mistake. You’ve made mistakes too.”
“But it wasn’t a mistake.” Now my voice deepened, my anger slowly growing to enormous proportions. “You aren’t a child, Joseph. You understood what you were doing when you did it. Your only mistake was the idiotic belief that you could get away with it.”
He bowed his head, his chest moving at a quicker pace.
“I don’t accept your money. However, I’m going to let you go.”