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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2320994
In which Jet, and Rome and Talay find evidence of fraud.
Truthfully, Jet is no more supportive of Kai’s decision to return to OmniVentures than he was last night. He just doesn’t want to argue about it anymore.
Whether because he knows he’s already on the losing end of the argument or because his brain and body currently feel as though they’re barely functioning, Jet has no clear idea. But if his little brother insists on making such a stubborn, reckless decision…
Jet doesn’t complete that thought as he dials the number. The person he’s calling answers on the seventh ring.
“You know it’s Sunday right? And seven-thirty a.m.?” Clearly, Rome is one of those people who likes to sleep in on weekends.
Jet can’t help but smile at the annoyance in his voice. It matches Jet’s own. “You took my brother off medical leave.”
“And I’m not going to apologize for it.” Rome’s answer is exactly what Jet thought it would be, which doesn’t exactly help either of their moods. “Especially now that Nail’s seen Kai looking perfectly healthy and fighting fit.”
“That’s not funny.”
“It’s true,” But Rome doesn’t make a second attempt at humor. “Keeping your brother away from OmniVentures isn’t going to help either of you. He’ll be there tomorrow whether you like it or not, and if it’s all the same to you I’d rather just let him get on with it.”
“I’m not calling to ask you to stop him.” Jet’s calm reply catches Rome off guard, judging from the brief silence on the line.
“You’re not?”
“No,” Jet allows the slight smile to be heard in his voice. “I told you before that I trusted you, and I meant it. So I’m not asking you to stop Kai from whatever he’s doing while pretending to be an intern. I just want you to keep a close watch on him.”
“You know perfectly well that Kai's going after Chalam, same as you,” Rome points out. “I can’t make any promises, but I’ll see what I can do. Have you gone through the documents I gave you?”
“Kind of,” if Rome is going to do him this little favor, Jet might as well be truthful. “I honestly don't know how much good it will do.”
“I have a friend who might be able to help,” Rome offers. “If you don’t mind letting one more person in on this investigation of yours.”
“Fine. I’ll send you my location. And thank you.” Jet hangs up the phone and goes inside.
One of the many reasons that Jet and Kit get along so well is that they’re both early risers, even on weekends. Knowing Kit will already be awake, Jet doesn’t even bother being quiet as he goes into the condo. All the windows are open, and Kit is on the balcony.
He raises one eyebrow as Jet joins him. “Wow.”
“Don’t tell me. I know what I look like.” Jet presses his eyes closed, leaning on the balcony railing and pinching his nose between his thumb and forefinger. When he’d tried it in the car, that had done nothing to dull his headache. But for some reason, it was working now.
Kit looks amused. “Can I guess what you smell like?”
“No.” Jet doesn’t bother saying he could ask Kit the same question. He glances down at the cigarette in Kit’s hand. “I’ll take a shower in a minute. I thought you quit.”
“You thought wrong.” Kit takes another drag.
Jet cocks his head. “How many voicemails have you left now?”
“Eighty-seven.” Kit exhales a stream of smoke, making an effort to sound casual and completely failing.
The throbbing in Jet’s head has receded enough that he can raise one eyebrow. “Doesn’t that border on stalking?”
“I thought you were going to take a shower.”
“I said I would in a minute.” Jet plants both hands on the railing of the balcony. “You’re up early.”
“You’re just getting in, and wearing someone else’s clothes.” Kit doesn't bother to point out that he’s always up this early, no matter the day. He’s also the type of person who enjoys stating the obvious, especially if he can annoy his friend while doing it. “And you have a hangover.”
“I’m aware.”
“Someone like you doesn’t usually get that wasted.”
“I’m aware.”
“Are you going to tell me why you suddenly thought that was a good idea?” When Jet doesn’t answer, Kit decides to push, carefully flicking ash off his cigarette before asking the next question. “Does your reason have something to do with a certain shark?”
Jet’s body tenses.“He tried to kill Mali yesterday. At least, I think he did. Then Nail showed up at the gym, and Kai is off medical leave.”
“So you woke up this morning with a hangover.” Kit finishes for him. “Not the smartest thing you could have done.”
“Tell me something I don’t know. You don’t have any plans for today, right?”
“No.” If Kit is startled by Jet’s question, he doesn’t show it. He exhales more smoke before answering. “Why?”
“Just curious.” Jet goes inside before Kit can ask another question. “Put that out. It stinks.”
Kit’s retort follows him into the bathroom. “Why else do you think I’m outside?”
There are more products in the bathroom than Jet believes a single man would need, but that also gives him plenty of choices. He grabs a shampoo bottle at random. Turning the water on as hot as it will go, he locks the door. He can’t help but notice the clothes he’s currently wearing are of higher quality than his used to, but feels no qualms about leaving them in a crumpled heap on the floor.
Jet is the type of person who could spend hours in the shower, and today is no exception. The combination of steam and hot water does more than ease what’s left of his hangover, though the painkillers and hangover pill he took earlier probably helped. Standing under the gushing shower head, Jet’s mind wanders as the remaining soreness in his body seems to disappear.
“I’d say it’s the best decision I’ve made all night.”
The memory of Luca’s words sends a spasm through Jet’s body. He flips open the top of the shampoo bottle and scrubs the viscous liquid through his hair with more force than he needs to. He can still smell Luca’s scent–earthy, woody, with a little bit of spice--an intoxicating blend stronger than memory. Jet rinses off, then raises the shampoo bottle to his nose. The warm, rich scent clings to his nostrils.
“You’re really talkative when you’re all liquored up.”
What exactly had Jet said? “Talkative” could mean anything, and that haze that had settled over him after the second--third?--Black Russian made everything blur together. Jet does remember talking, and Luca answering--or was it the other way around?
“I just need to know your coffee order, favorite breakfast, maybe your LINE ID—”
Apparently, one of the things that had been said was something about his favorite breakfast, since Luca had made him an omelet. Not just eggs and cheese, either, but just the right amount of cilantro, chicken, and more bell peppers than onions. Luca had made that omelet perfectly to Jet’s taste. If he’d said bananas and cream, would Luca have made that instead? Was that all they had talked about?
Jet snaps the shampoo bottle closed and scrubs the rest of the suds out of his hair, but the scent feels thicker, more lingering than the soap. It doesn’t matter. None of it. Jet knew that type–someone with a new conquest every night.
“When I sleep with someone, it’s because we both want it.”
Luca’s timing was deliberate--he had only said that because Kai was in the room. His magnetism and charm were undeniable, and he knew exactly how to use them. Luca was a distraction–a shallow flirt who took care of him because Jet decided to get knee-walking drunk and that was it.
That's it, Jet. No distractions.
If Jet said that enough to himself, maybe he could make it sound believable.
Forcing his mind to a more pragmatic train of thought, he mentally flips through every bit of information he has on Chalam so far, from the SD card Talay gave him to the manila envelope from Rome. He hadn’t done more than glance through them long enough to see that it was a collection of spreadsheets and reports that most likely had the same information that Talay had given him earlier.
Which meant he was still going around in circles, and Chalam still had the upper hand.
Maybe it was a good idea for Kai to go back to OmniVentures after all. As a company intern, Kai could have access to places that Rome and Mali didn’t, and could get information on Chalam that Jet didn’t have yet.
Unless Nail figured out what Kai was up to.
The buttery smell of frying eggs greets Jet as he comes back into the kitchen. Kit is standing at the bar, sprinkling granola over yogurt. There’s also a plate of cornetti at his elbow.
“You’re having an Italian breakfast this morning?” Jet eyes the crescent shaped pastries with raised eyebrows. Kit usually sticks to Thai food when in Bangkok, but apparently this morning is an exception.
“You make that sound like a bad thing.” Kit pushes a pill bottle across the bar to Jet. “Take these.”
“Already did.” Jet pushes it back. “And a hangover pill.”
Kit raises his favorite eyebrow. “Hungry?”
“Already ate.” But Jet picks up a cornetti anyway. He rolls his eyes at the expression on Kit’s face. “Don’t do the Eyebrow Thing.”
“Hangover pills and breakfast?” Kit doesn't lower his brow. “I never thought Luca was that type.”
Jet chokes in his bite of cornetti. “How did you know it was Luca?”
“Your face, for one thing,” Kit’s other eyebrow rises to join the first as Jet glares at him. “I saw you with him last night, for another. Chew your food before you swallow it.”
Rather than deny it, Jet finishes chewing before he responds. “These are filled with strawberry jam.”
“Yes,” Kit’s voice is carefully neutral.
“That yogurt is strawberry flavored too,” Jet points out. “I can tell by the color. And last night, you had a strawberry mojito. Strawberries and cigarettes—”
“Are you trying to change the subject?” Kit snaps.
Jet shrugs. “Will it work?”
“Isn’t there a song that has that name?” A new voice quips from the doorway. “We would have knocked but the door was already open.”
Rome comes the rest of the way into the condo, while Talay stays leaning against the doorway, arms crossed and looking at Kit in amusement.
“Don’t even start.” Kit shoots Talay a warning look. “I don’t remember extending a breakfast invitation.”
“You didn’t,” Talay rolls his eyes. “Jet did.”
“Do you two know each other?” Rome asks the obvious question, while Jet just stares.
“We went to uni together. Then Kit joined Interpol and I joined NIA, but we still work together occasionally. Jet knows me because I’m his little brother’s Muay Thai trainer. Are those made from scratch?” Having established all the necessary connections, Talay grabs a cornetti, breaks it in half, and tosses the other half to Rome. His eyebrows shoot up toward his hairline when he sees the red jam in the middle. “Is this--”
“Exactly what you think it is, yes,” Jet cuts in. “You never told me you knew Rome.”
“You never asked me.” Talay shrugs. “I’m guessing what Kit and I found wasn’t much help.”
It’s Rome’s turn to raise his eyebrows. “You never told me you already had information.”
“Public information,” Jet corrects him. “Not like what you gave me.”
“Which you haven’t even looked at yet.” Rome points out.
“But if I do it now, you’ll be able to tell me what I’m looking at.” Jet drops the envelope on the bar in front of them. “Breakfast in exchange for translation.”
Rome and Talay glance at Kit, who rolls his eyes and shrugs.
“Fine. Not like I had anything else planned for this morning.” He turns back to the stove and cracks some more eggs into the frying pan while Talay opens the envelope.
For a couple of minutes, the only sounds in the condo are the sputter of frying butter and eggs, and the whisper of papers being read and turned over. As much as Jet wants answers now, he forces himself not to push, biting into the cornetti a little harder than he should. Rome’s eyes are on Talay, and Talay’s eyes are on the documents on the table. Kit busies himself flipping more fried eggs, stopping only long enough to take a spoonful of his yogurt and granola.
Jet phone buzzes, and he automatically glances at the ID. The number is unknown, so he ignores it. Scammers and telemarketers are not people he has time for at the moment. Some small part of him wonders if it could be Luca calling, except Luca’s number wouldn’t be unlisted.
Would it?
Jet quashes that thought.
No distractions.
His phone buzzes a second time, with the same number.
Then a third.
“You going to get that or what?” Kit’s voice sounds a little annoyed.
“Telemarketer.” Jet turns his phone off. “Not interested.”
“You’ll be interested in this.” Talay finally looks up from the documents, which he has spread over the surface of the table. He taps each one as he names it. “Certificates of Incorporation, Bylaws, Office Address, Shareholder and Director information. Only things missing are the Tax IDs, Annual Reports and Bank Account Documentation.”
“Businesses and companies that operate under OmniVentures.” Jet translates.
“Which we already knew about,” Kit points out. “So how is that helpful?”
“Because,” Rome is smiling at him. “All of these are shell companies. Most of the business addresses are empty warehouses, and I have it on good authority that if there are bank account numbers, the actual accounts don’t exist.”
“How did you get these?”
Kit’s next question makes Rome raise his eyebrows, tapping the documents on the table.“The heir to the company can access the archives to get any information he wants. That’s how Mali and I found this list of shell companies and silent partners.”
“That explains why you were able to get information I couldn’t.” Talay looks annoyed, exchanging a surprised glance with Jet.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jet raises an eyebrow.
Talay shoots Jet a look. “You didn’t know Rome was NIA?”
Jet’s eyes widen, but he keeps his voice carefully neutral. “He never mentioned it.”
Rome shrugs. “The National Intelligence Agency isn’t exactly a casual topic of conversation.”
“But in this instance it’s worth mentioning,” Kit points out.
Another shrug from Rome. “Neither of you asked.”
“Does Mali know?”
“No,” Now Rome’s voice is as carefully neutral as Jet’s. “Your sister’s in enough trouble as it is.”
It’s not intended as a jibe, and both men know it.
Kit turns off the stove and joins them at the table. “So we have documentation of shell companies and silent partners, but no financial information, to prove OmniVentures is guilty of fraud.”
“Among other things,” Jet mutters, and Kit shoots him a warning look.
“Let’s just stick to fraud for now.” Kit turns back to Rome. “How do we get that information?”
“There I can’t help you,” Rome looks deeply apologetic. “My uncle keeps financial records separate from other documentation. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to look.”
“Let Kai look for them.” Jet’s words are quiet, and this time the looks shot in his direction are ones of surprise. “If he’s going to be at OmniVentures anyway, why not give him something specific to look for?”
Rome looks a little guilty, and Talay looks both curious and confused.
Kit says what they’re all thinking. “I thought you didn’t want Kai anywhere near that shark.”
“I don’t.” Jet confirms. “But he wants the same thing we do, so--”
“So you’re going to ask him for the favor you wanted in the first place.” Kit finishes for him.
Jet nods. “Progress, right?”

"23. A Lot More

Read from beginning: "1. Ignored
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