I was pacing the floor in my penthouse suite like a wild man. Five days had gone by, and there was still no word on Rui Salko’s whereabouts. Patton was able to track Reyna’s phone to an abandoned airstrip. Sitting in the front seat, he found her purse along with her phone. Not even tracing the plate on the limo brought any comfort since he found it registered to one of Rui’s shady companies.
The men of The Society were doing everything they could, working day and night to find her. Still, it wasn’t enough. No sleep in five fucking days and yet nothing. Not a single lead showed us where that asshole took her. Every day that passed was one day too long. She would be under Rui’s control instead of here with me. The situation with Reyna might be different, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth. Rui had taken from me someone that I cared about, twice. This was just like five years ago. It scared me.
A long time ago, I buried away the memory of Gwen’s body propped up against that brick wall, but now it resurfaced. When I saw Reyna’s eyes filled with fear, it was the same fear I saw in Gwen’s. Fear, helplessness, terror, they were all visible. I failed her, just like I failed Gwen.
Exhaustion and defeat took over my body, but I wasn’t about to give up. There had to be something that we were missing. Pulling my phone from my trousers, I called my father.
“Davian, any news on Reyna?” I could hear the concern in his voice, matched with the lack of sleep I had deprived him of.
“You know Salko better than anyone. Is there anything about him you haven’t shared with me?” I was desperate. Learning everything I could about the bastard was my only option.
“I’ve told you everything, son. You know as much as I do about the man.”
“What about his connection to the mafia? Is there anyone who you trust?” Before he could answer, I remembered what Axe said about the goons outside the Regency. He had mentioned the name Braxton. “What do you know about the name Braxton?”
“Braxton?” my father questioned. “What does Rui taking Reyna to have to do with Louise Braxton?”
“Not Louise, someone else with her last name. There has to be something there.” I was sure of it. My gut instinct was telling me that was where I needed to look. “I’ve got to go, Dad. I’ll keep you posted if we get any leads.”
The minute I hung up with my father, I called Patton. If anyone could find out about this Braxton character, he could.
Patton’s sleepy voice sounded after the first ring. “Hey, Mr. Cross. I still have no leads.”
“That’s not why I’m calling. I think we may have a break. I want you to find out everything you can about the name Braxton. Find out if is there is any affiliation with Salko.”
“Will do, sir. I’ll let you know if I come up with anything.”
An hour later, I had showered and changed, with a fresh perspective on this fucked-up scenario. I still hadn’t heard from Patton, so I decided on some research of my own. The computer in my study wasn’t as high tech as the one in the safe haven, but it was adequate for the information I needed to research. Wiggling the mouse, the screen came to life and required my password. REYNA21 was the password I entered, which I changed three days ago. It was the day that Reyna turned twenty-one. She should have been here celebrating it me instead of with Salko. I was pretty sure that he couldn’t care less about her birthday. He didn’t seem like the celebratory type, at least not when it came to birthdays.
Focusing only on the positive, I entered Louise Braxton into the search engine. Within seconds a list of top links appeared on the screen. Most of them had to do with her death and the accident. As I continued scrolling down the page, my phone vibrated against my desk. Looking at the screen, Patton’s name appeared across the screen.
“Patton. Please tell me you found something.”
“I think you will be happy with the information I found.” Patton’s voice came over the line with a seemingly happier tone.
“Any information is better than what I came up with.”
“Does the name Giles Braxton Curtis ring a bell?”
When I heard the name roll from his lips, the memory of Gwen merged for the second time. I never knew Curtis’s middle name, but I knew exactly who he was. “Tell me what you found.”
“Giles Curtis, aka Braxton. Age 57. The only known address was in Athens, Georgia, but that was fifteen years ago. But that’s not all. Louise Braxton wasn’t Reyna’s mom’s actual name. She went by Louise Murphy until she legally changed it to Louise Braxton. I don’t know about you, but it seems more than coincidental that she changed her surname to Curtis’s middle name. Based on what you’ve told me about the letter, I think it was Curtis that she was referring to.”
“I think you’re right,” I said. Something about this didn’t feel right. Louise had a relationship with Salko, it was a known fact, but was she also having a relationship with Curtis? We confirmed that Salko was Reyna’s father, but then why would Louise take Curtis’s middle name?
My head was hurting with so many unanswered questions until Patton chimed in. “There’s one other thing I found strange.”
“Remember when the entire thing about the DNA test took place, proving that Reyna was Salko’s daughter?” Patton’s question brought me back to the day we confirmed that Salko killed my fiancée.
“And the research we did to locate Reyna?”
“Get to the point, Patton?” My patience was running thin, and time was ticking away.
“The social worker involved with Reyna’s adoption was also the same one who bounced her from foster home to foster home. Guess…”
Again with the runaround. “Just spill it, Patton.”
“Margaret Curtis. I’ve confirmed that she is his older sister and still works at the Social Services office.”