I thought, as a “WOOHOO TODAY IS AWESOME” celebration, I’d post a short snippet of AHW5 for my readers. Note: this is unedited and, therefore, subject to change, but thought you guys might like a glimpse of a teensy bit of angst and character history. Enjoy!
“Don’t blame me for what *you* chose to become,” Georgia spat.
“*I had no choice,*” Lucas roared. I saw his body trembling as he released his mother’s arm, hands curling into fists. “Everything I was, everything I had, was locked up in this company. That was taken away, then I was accused of stealing thirty million dollars, and I took the only option available to me that didn’t come with jail time.”
“Selling weapons to the highest bidder?” Jeremiah interjected in a wooden voice. “That was your only recourse?”
Lucas blinked at the interruption then stepped away from Georgia. He looked shaken, his eyes hollow as he looked back at his brother. “It didn’t start out that way. I needed to get out of the country and a man I once considered a friend needed a skilled negotiator to broker a deal on some cargo. I didn’t know until I was in the air what that “cargo” consisted of or I swear, I’d have walked into the jail myself.”
Georgia snorted. “And you want to lay your choices at my feet?”
Rage exploded through me. “He’s your son,” I exclaimed, unable to contain myself any more. Every face in the room held varying degrees of disgust and astonishment at the older woman’s behavior and words but nobody would speak. “They’re both your sons! Don’t you care for them at all?”
“Of course I love them,” Georgia snapped, giving me a haughty glare. “Keep your opinion out of matters that don’t concern you.” She rolled her eyes and casually inspected her nails. “The reason doesn’t matter. He is what he made himself – I’m not the one who should live with the shame.”
I wanted to throttle the sanctimonious bitch but at her words Lucas’ face shut down. “You’re right, mother,” he said, chin coming back up. I recognized the moment his familiar mask snapped into place. He gave the woman a tight-lipped smile even as she ignored him. “We each have to live with our own mistakes don’t we?”
Jeremiah stepped forward finally. I looked up in his face and saw emotions at war across his beautiful visage. I laid my hand on his arm and felt him tremble, a sure sign of the deep emotional upheaval he kept locked inside, but his attention was only on Lucas. “Brother…”
“Do you know our mother is shopping around a biography about the Hamilton family dynasty to various publishers?” Lucas said, interrupting his brother. The scarred man’s gaze was riveted on the haughty woman who merely ignored him. The sudden color in her cheeks gave away her anger at having the news made known however. “An insiders look at our family dynamics, from our dear departed father to the current leader of the family business. She, of course, is the beleaguered heroine in this tale of wealth and corporate espionage. Reportedly the bids for the book were up into seven figures before every last editor pulled out.” At Georgia’s shocked look, Lucas waggled his fingers. “You’re not the only one with “industry contacts” willing to help you.”
“You filthy little…”
“AND, she’s also selling access to her billionaire son. If a businessperson can’t gain an audience with the CEO, why, he or she can be an impromptu “guest” at the family home, conveniently timed to run in to the new head of the family. All for the right price, of course.”
The color on Georgia’s cheeks was high as she glared at her eldest son, then turned to Jeremiah. “Tell me you don’t believe this drivel,” she demanded, hands on her hips.
This time I took a step toward the woman, the intent of bodily harm foremost on my mind, but Jeremiah’s sudden grip on my arm pulled me up short. His gaze was intent on his brother, ignoring his mother completely; Lucas didn’t flinch from the probing look. “You can prove this?” Jeremiah finally asked.
“I can,” Lucas replied as their mother huffed in outraged affront.
“You take *his* word over mine.” Georgia gave Jeremiah a disappointed look whose sincerity, given her previous outbursts, rang hollow.
*Does she even know how she looks to everyone?* I wondered. Judging by the way she ignored the guards and other occupants of the room, I highly doubted it. The woman seemed locked inside her own little world; the opinions of others didn’t matter. *What a horrible way to live your life.*
Jeremiah stepped forward until he was standing in front of his mother. He leaned forward, and while I couldn’t see his face I did see Georgia flinch away. “I swear mother, if what he says is true, I’ll…”
“You’ll what?” she challenged back. “Throw me out? Cut me off? Do you really think you’re the first Hamilton male to make those threats to me?” Georgia snorted. “How do you think I stayed married to your father all these years? Good looks and charm? No, I always had something over him – it was the only security I had.” She met Jeremiah’s glare with one all her own, but the color had drained from her face. “I knew that old bastard wouldn’t leave me a red cent when he croaked, but how was I supposed to know he’d go so soon? You two thought I was no different than your father, and maybe that’s the truth now, but I knew for certain the only person I could rely on was myself.”
“So you threw *me* under the bus.” Lucas’ statement wasn’t quite a question, but it was obvious he wanted answers.
Georgia blanched, mouth moving silently for a moment. “Lucas, I’m…”
The front door opened and a familiar woman’s voice shouted, “Lucas!” Every head turned to see a disheveled Anya Petrovski stumble through the entryway door, flanked by two guards.