When I came to, the curtains had been closed and my hands were tied again. Richard sat beside me. He held up a glass of water. Reluctantly, I allowed him to help me drink. After I downed half of it, he set the container on the nightstand.
“Let me guess.” Richard sat tall. “Your bodyguard taught you how to fight?”
“Yeah,” I said proudly. “He insisted it would come in handy someday.”
Richard’s eyes crinkled in the corners. “You know my dad will try again?”
I nodded. “It doesn’t matter. My answer will always be the same.”
He gave me a disbelieving stare. “Do you know where to find the code?”
I sighed. “What do you think?”
“I think that you’re going to mess around and get hurt or worse.” He touched my cheek, and I flinched. “It’s a little too late for ice. Maybe it’ll be a reminder to you that my dad is serious.”
“Speaking of reminders… Who knocked me out?”
“Nobody important. Just someone else on Dad’s payroll.” Richard cupped my chin and tilted my head back. “I suggest you try hard and remember the code. I’m sure your father gave it to you or at least told you where he kept it.”
“I told you—”
“Think!” Richard commanded as if that was all it would take to jog my memory. “It’s probably in the last place you’d expect it. I bet he gave you something—”
Suddenly, I knew exactly where to find that damned code. It wasn’t something Father gave me. It was more like something he let me have—a tattoo. Before he morphed from Dad to Father, he allowed me to get a design. I was seventeen and wanted something to remind me of Mom and Jackie. It was a simple infinity symbol with their names. I didn’t go to a standard tattoo parlor for the ink. Father had someone come to the house. After it was done, the artist removed a special light from his kit and used it on my lower back.
“Is this what you wanted, Mr. Daniels?”
Father came over. “It’s perfect. Finish up.”
The man completed his task, covered my new ink with a bandage, and then left. A year later, Dash told me the artist suffered a fatal fall while taking a picture in a national park.
“Peyton.” Richard’s voice snagged my attention.
The fucking code was hiding in plain sight, but I’d do whatever it took not to let him or his father see it. Instead, I asked, “What will it enable you to do? If I know, maybe I can help you find it.”
Richard lowered his hand and scrubbed it across his face. “I shouldn’t tell you.”
I batted my eyelashes. “Come on, Rich. It’s not like I’m going to report you to your father.”
“True.” My captor bobbed his head a few times. “It allows us to access the Daniels International vault. All of its research, upcoming projects, financial records. Everything would be ours for the taking.”
They wanted to take down the powerhouse from the core. The board of directors would believe it was an inside job. Maybe even speculate that my father was behind it somehow. I made eye contact with Richard.
“Now, it’s your turn to think hard. Father has never confided in me. He sees me as the one responsible for the deaths of my mother and brother. Why do you think he’d trust me with company info?”
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