Brenda Joyce - [Francesca Cahil 02]

Brenda Joyce - [Francesca Cahil 02] by Deadly Pleasure

Book: Brenda Joyce - [Francesca Cahil 02] by Deadly Pleasure Read Free Book Online
Authors: Deadly Pleasure
laughed, the sound as cold and unpleasant as Hart’s previous laughter. “Why would I be jealous of a man who has no heart and no moral fiber? I do admire your intelligence, Calder, and I always have. But I cannot admire anyone who has stolen and cheated and slept his way to wealth and position.”
    “And how else would you have a poor bastard like myself achieve anything?” Hart asked with a shrug.
    “Rathe offered to bankroll you in a start when you dropped out of Princeton. I know it for a fact,” Bragg said, referring to his own father, Rathe Bragg. Then, “And we are off the topic. Way off. I am here on official police business, Calder.”
    “No, for this is so much better, I think. Have they told you?”
    Bragg stiffened. “Has who told me what?”
    “Has your father told you the news?”
    Bragg became wary. “What news?”
    “Apparently they have decided that life in Texas no longer suits them now that Lucy and Shoz are married and have settled down.” Lucy was Rathe and Grace’s eldest child and Bragg’s half sister. They had five other children, all boys. “Apparently young Nicholas is thinking of following in your footsteps at Columbia next year. He has made an early application. Rathe and Grace are returning to New York with Nicholas, Hugh, and Colin, and they intend to stay with me while they reopen their home.” Hart smiled and it was wide. “I believe Grace wishes for Rathe to sell the house and build a new one, smaller but uptown here on Fifth.”
    There was a short, surprised, and tamped-down silence. “I have heard nothing,” Bragg said quietly, at last.
    “I just cannot believe that beloved Rathe failed to tell his own
real
son of his plans! Of course, we both knew that their decision to stay in Texas after Lucy’s wedding would not last for long.”
    “Yes,” Bragg said, his jaw flexed.
    Hart laughed. “I am sure you will hear from him soon. They plan on coming up to town in another month or so.”
    Bragg smiled then. It did not reach his eyes. “How many points does this little coup of yours score—in your mind?”
    “I don’t know. I had forgotten what score we were left at.”
    “You have never forgotten the score,” Bragg said brusquely, “and we both know it.”
    Hart smirked and lifted his glass in a salute. “Bragg five hundred, Hart ten. I am catching up. Hurrah, hurrah.”
    Bragg ignored that. “Let’s get back to the business at hand so I can leave. I would not mind ending my day today at a reasonable hour—in spite of Randall’s death.”
    “And to think I thought you could not wait to leave me, as your little crime solver awaits you in the next room.” Hart laughed.
    “I suggest you cease with your innuendos about Francesca,” Bragg said harshly.
    “What? Will you lock me up or punch me?”
    “The latter is becoming a difficult notion to resist, Calder. Francesca Cahill means well. She is also a young lady—meaning she is naive in a way you cannot even imagine. Leave her be, and do not shatter her illusions.”
    “So now you are her champion,” Hart chuckled. “This is rich indeed!”
    “I am no one’s champion; I merely do what must be done—what is right.” His eyes were almost black now. “Where were you, Calder, last night, between five and nine P.M .?” Bragg snapped, clearly in a foul temper now.
    Hart laughed. “So I was right after all, knowing you as well as I do. Hart eleven, Bragg five hundred. You have come to see if your monstrously immoral brother has an alibi.”
    “Do you?” He smiled too nicely and waited.
    “I fear that I do. Thus I now ruin your day. Tsk-tsk.”
    Anger flashed in Bragg’s eyes. “Let’s get this over with, why don’t we? As I have more to do than to stand here and spar with you. Just tell me where you were during those hours and whom you were with.”
    “Very well.” He drank. “I was at my office until six-ten. My secretary can attest to that. His name is Brad Lewis.”
    “And after

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