“I thought you would have given up on that now that you’re out.”
“I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I’m in too deep. He’s going to be looking to collect on his payment.”
“Do you really believe he pulled those kinds of strings to get you out on bail just to gain a worker? He can find someone like you on any street.”
He spit the words out harshly, but I knew he didn’t mean it as an insult. The fact of the matter was he was right. “I told him I would hand deliver his mole.”
“You’re double-crossing Mario?” His eyebrows raised in surprise as he studied me with doubt evident in his eyes.
“He was in on it. He wants to draw him out just as much as I do.”
“Why didn’t you stop all contact with him when he returned you to your uncle?”
“I didn’t hear from or see him again for years. It wasn’t until I went to juvie that I saw him again.”
“You saw him?”
“Yeah. He came to visit me.”
Q sat up straighter and ground his jaw. “He’s been keeping an eye on you the whole time, hasn’t he?”
“He’s been watching the both of us,” I clarified.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Do you really think you would have wanted to know? You’ve spent the last ten years avoiding your past.”
His fist slammed down on the table before he ground out, “That doesn’t give you the right to keep this from me.”
“And Diana? What’s the story between you two? You never told me you knew his daughter.”
“You didn’t even know she existed before.”
“Exactly my point. You hid things, too.” We could have spent all night hurling accusations but we both knew it wouldn’t get us anywhere. “What did you mean he used her to make money?”
“Your golden boy isn’t clean. He’s as dirty as they come,” he spat.
“I know. He’s greedy, but he isn’t Arthur.”
“Then obviously you don’t know half of what you think you do.”
“Enlighten me, Quentin,” I snapped, using his words from earlier.
“Did Mario ever tell you why he broke his partnership with Arthur?”
“He said Arthur was becoming too suspicious, and his cover was in jeopardy when he started pressing the issue against child pornography.”
Quentin’s grim expression deepened as he shook his head and leaned forward. “That motherfucker wasn’t against child porn. He broke it off because he wanted a bigger cut.”
My mind raced from all the implications and before he could say more, I was already piecing together the rest.
I’d been played.
“Arthur was cashing in on the majority of the share because he was supplying the fresh talent. How do you think Arthur was so successful keeping his business undetected by the Feds? Mario was his eyes and ears, and for that, he believed it should have been a fifty-fifty partnership. When Arthur refused, Mario decided to break it off and start his own line of business while stealing from Arthur’s supply.”
“How do you know this?”
“Because I was his first recruit.”
Son of a bitch. “And Diana?”
“She was a convenience he made useful to get his business up and running.”
“He used his own daughter?”
“To him, he didn’t believe he was selling her. That motherfucker made us do sick shit to each other every day in front of a camera. We were just kids, man. We had no clue what we were doing. He coached us through it. Showed us what to do. When we complained too much, he beat us.”
“And then what happened?” I asked though I already knew.
“You showed up.”
“How did my appearance change things? I wasn’t there long before he brought me to the States.”
“Mario is sloppy as hell and isn’t as nearly as careful as he thinks. I overheard a lot of his business dealings. I didn’t understand much of it then, but I remember all of it. The bureau got word of him spending too much of his time outside of the United States jurisdiction. Arthur had business dealings in Canada, as you know, and within the States. They pulled him from the case because he had apparently failed to bring the bureau evidence that would allow them to convict or at least bring him in with a good chance of the charges sticking.”
“He was found out.”
“Big time. The bureau began investigating Mario. He lost his job, but the only reason they weren’t able to convict was because he was never caught with anything illegal.”
“Bingo. He brought us here to save his own ass. Being caught with us meant a conviction and time behind bars and becoming the bitch of a beefy inmate named MacDaddy.”
“Where was Diana being kept? I never met her.”
“With her mother, I assume. We were never left together long before and after sessions. He brought her in when he wanted to film and she always left after.”
“Why would he bring Diana here knowing you lived in the same city? He had to know I would find out.”
“He wouldn’t think you’d care.”
“Why do you say that?”
“You impressed a lot of people back then, Keiran. You were able to channel your emotions and throw away childhood possibilities and become what they needed of you.”
“Are you trying to say they broke me?”