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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2320631-20-Deception
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2320631
In which Nail and Pepper have a conversation and a secret comes out
“I’m sorry,” Kai blinks at her. “Say that again?”
“I can interpret the OmniVentures financial records for you,” Pepper repeats. “I told you, I studied accounting at university. I already do it for Kam and Bel, so I can just as easily do it for you, too.”
Kai shakes his head. “I can’t let you do that.”
“Let me?” Pepper raises her eyebrows. “Try and stop me.”
“I’m the only one who has this information,” Kai’s hand covers the pocket holding his phone to emphasize his point.
“And how do you know Luca didn’t take a screenshot to send to himself before he gave it back to you?” Pepper doesn’t lower her eyebrows as Kai’s expression slips a little bit. “You still haven’t changed your password, right?”
The look on Kai’s face answers her question. Pepper holds out her hand, and Kai takes his phone back out of his pocket and hands it to her. Both are quiet for a minute as Pepper’s fingers move across the screen, expanding different parts of the hand drawn infographic.
“It’s disproportionate.” She murmurs.
“Maybe if you looked at it on something bigger than a phone screen, it wouldn’t look so bad.” Kai tries to keep his voice neutral, rather than be offended at Pepper’s words.
“Not your drawing,” Pepper’s eyes are still on the phone screen. “The rise of OmniVentures’ finances. From what I can tell the number of silent partners and holdings doesn’t match up to the company’s declared assets.”
“I know he’s a fraud,” Kai grinds his teeth together. “And a murderer, I’ve told you that, I just--”
“Can’t prove it?” Now Pepper looks up. “You can prove fraud if you have the right financial records. Get those and I can help you find and figure out the irregularities and Chalam will be backed into a corner. Documentation doesn’t lie, and the law isn’t kind to fraudsters.”
“Tell me something I don't know.” Kai snarks.
“Get me the financial documentation first.” Pepper doesn’t look at all offended by Kai’s sarcasm as she hands him back his phone. “When you go back to OmniVentures on Monday.”
“I’m supposed to send you sensitive information over LINE?” Kai still doesn’t bother to keep the sarcasm out of his voice. Part of the question is genuine, but the other part of him is amused that they’ve gone from being half-naked to discussing OmniVentures questionable business dealings in a matter of minutes.
“Or,” there’s ironic amusement in Pepper’s voice too. “You send me a LINE when you find it, and I’ll tell you where to meet me.”
“Like the ‘Under the Sea’ room?”
Pepper smacks him. “I told you, don’t call it that.”
“Why?” Kai rubs his stinging forearm. “Bel isn’t around to care. You hit hard.”
“Only when the person deserves it.” Pepper goes over to the door and pushes it open. “You’d really better go home now. It’s really late and people could wonder where you are.”
“I doubt it,” Kai mutters, but follows Pepper down the hall. As they reach Nightshade’s front door, he pauses, hesitating. “But thanks for the concern.”
“If it’s not clear enough now how much I worry about you, and why, then you’re more of a jackass than I thought.” Pepper has pushed open the door and is holding it open so Kai can leave. Bits of conversation float into the now silent nightclub. There’s still traffic on the roads, but not as much as there is during the day. “How will you get home? The BTS and MRT will be shut down by now. ”
“Good thing Grab operates twenty-four seven then, huh?” Kai has already opened the appropriate app. “You want to share a ride?”
It’s on the tip of Pepper’s tongue to accept, but then she remembers the other fob in her pocket.
The one that Luca gave to her earlier this evening.
Jet’s car fob.
“That’s ok,” Pepper swings the door wider so that it’s fully open to the street outside, a clear indication that Kai really should leave. “I can get my own. I have to go get the durian I left in the kitchen anyway. I can save you some if you like.”
Kai smiles. He can’t help thinking how funny it is that so many of the relationships in his life recently have either progressed or regressed over food. “Durian’s tomorrow’s breakfast?”
“Most likely.” Pepper is fully aware that Kai’s question is only half serious, but her answer is fully so. “I can’t finish closing up until you go.”
“I’m going. I’ll send you a LINE about what I find at OmniVentures on Monday.” Kai moves toward the street, but stops in the doorway. “Pepper.”
“Hmm?” She turns her head toward him, and they are nose to nose.
Kai hesitates, then gives her one last impulsive kiss. “Thank you.”
It’s only two words, but Pepper knows exactly what he’s not saying.
Nightshade doesn’t have valet parking, but there’s a parking garage just up the street, which is where Luca said Jet parked his car. Pepper has worked at Nightshade long enough both to know which parking garage Luca meant, and to exude confidence as she walks up the street. The garage is brightly lit, and Jet’s Lexus is parked on the first level in one of the stalls closest to the street.
Except Pepper can’t unlock it to drive home because there’s someone leaning against the driver’s side door, preventing her from getting in.
“Do you have any idea how adorable you and Kai look together?” Nail smirks.
Pepper raises her eyebrows. “This isn’t your car.”
“You think I don’t know what Jet Saetangmasawat’s car looks like?” Nail levers himself fully upright. “Why are you driving it?”
“As a favor.” Pepper shoves him out of the way and gets in the car. Nail gets in the passenger seat as she presses the ignition. “The hell do you think you’re doing?”
“I need a ride, obviously.” Nail clearly has no intention of getting out. “And you’re going to give me one.”
Pepper rolls her eyes. “Why would I do that?”
“Because your little brother is asking you nicely,” Nail’s expression becomes deadly serious. “And you’ll be very interested in what I have to say.”
Pepper’s curiosity overwhelms her annoyance. Instead of kicking her brother out of the car, she drives them both out of the garage and up the street. As much as she knows that she should ask Nail where she’s driving him to, part of her knows that Nail doesn’t ask for rides from anyone--least of all his sister--without a reason.
Usually, a very devious reason.
She doesn't turn on any music--mostly because she doesn’t want to mess up Jet’s radio presets, if he has any--but she does turn on the AC, because she would be an idiot not to. The hiss of air blowing out of the car vents is the only sound, apart from the muted sounds of traffic outside.
Nail is the one who breaks the silence. “Aren’t you going to ask me where I’m going?”
“I thought you’d given up on your Muay Thai demonstrations after you graduated from uni.” Pepper isn’t about to let her brother bait her, but that doesn’t mean she won’t try to annoy him.
“I did,” Nail affirms, annoyed that he didn’t get the answer he wanted. “But someone suggested I start doing them again.”
“Someone or some shark?” Pepper snaps.
Nail raises his eyebrows. “Get that contempt out of your voice, Pepper. I didn’t hurt your boyfriend.”
Pepper’s cheeks change color but not with embarrassment. “Because you were under orders to intimidate rather than attack?”
“If the question you’re actually asking is did I go to the gym where Kai is to threaten him,” Nail looks amused at Pepper’s implied accusation. “Then, yes, I did. He took information that doesn’t belong to him.”
“Yes,” Pepper’s voice drips with sarcasm. “You told me that before you tried to turn him into pulp.”
“And you offered to help him use it,” Nail speaks as though Pepper hadn’t said anything, and he doesn’t bother to make it a question. “Because you think that will do some good.”
Pepper rolls her eyes. “Psychic aren’t you?”
“Did you tell him the reason you’re the one who can actually help him?” Nail’s next question is rhetorical and they both know it.
Pepper’s face closes up. “He didn’t ask.”
“You mean you didn’t offer.” Nail pushes. “Because you don’t know what your boyfriend will think if he knows you’re keeping something from him.”
Pepper snorts. “Kai isn’t my boyfriend.”
“Not yet, you mean.” The smirk on Nail’s face widens. “So he has no idea you balanced the books for OmniVentures before you did the same thing for Nightshade.”
“I thought we’d established that.” Pepper points out.
“How do you think he’ll feel when he knows someone else is letting him down? Kai’s been alone most of his life. His brother abandoned him, the sister he used to spend time with is distracted with a personal life of her own, the girl he likes is lying to him—“
“What do you want, Nail?” Pepper is done with whatever game her jackass brother is playing. “If all you want to do is gloat, then get the hell out of the car.”
“You should be careful.” Nail’s concern sounds almost genuine. “Chalam doesn’t like when people get in his way.”
“Just as well that I’m staying out of it, then.” Pepper keeps her eyes on the road, rather than Nail’s face. “Your boss has one less potential enemy to worry about.”
“You never were a very good liar Pepper,” Nail points out. “It’s how you ended up where you are in the first place.”
That puts Pepper on the defensive. “I like ‘where I ended up’. Nightshade is a place where I don’t have to be someone that I’m not.”
“Is that what they use as their slogan?” There’s a mocking note in Nail’s voice now. “Or just something they tell their employees as part of the on-boarding process?”
“Are you going to tell me where I'm taking you,” Pepper snaps. “Or did you just want a free ride in a car you don’t own?”
“Free rides are always nice.” Nail smirks at his sister. “And you haven’t answered any of my questions yet.”
“Give me an address.” Pepper retorts. “And I might give you an answer.”
Nail’s smirk widens. “Don’t tell me you forgot where I live.”
“If it’s the same condo that shark is paying for, then you can walk from here.” Pepper pulls over. “Get out.”
Nail doesn’t argue. But he doesn’t get out of the car, either. “I mean it, Pepper. Your boyfriend doesn’t like liars. I heard he’s off medical leave. He’ll be back at OmniVentures on Monday.”
“If you do anything to hurt Kai or any member of his family again,” Pepper looks her brother in the eye. “I will kill you. And I mean that literally.”
“You are welcome to try.” Nail winks at her as he finally gets out of the car.


"21. Morning After

Read from beginning: "1. Ignored
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