When Knight told me all that was going on with Lana, an ominous feeling poured over me. No way in hell did I want Jackson anywhere near Lana or her political cronies. Antonio’s roots went deep in the underground world and they wouldn’t go away easily with his death. I had no idea what Lana was up to, but all it would take was for the wrong people to surround her and our family could be in danger.
I caught Jackson as he was making his way to our gym. “Hey, bud, can we talk for a minute?”
“No, Dad, I’m busy. I only have thirty minutes to work out then I’m meeting up with a friend later.”
“Jackson, this is important. I promise it won’t take long.”
“Talk to me tonight when I get home then.”
“No, I’m talking to you now. Meet me in my office. Got it?” Jackson was the king of putting things off. I knew I’d be asleep by the time he got home and this ultimatum I was about to give couldn’t wait.
He sighed loudly and huffed, “Fine.”
When we got settled onto the couch, I asked, “Pops tells me you did a protest against Lana. What’s going on?”
He shrugged. “Well, there’s evidence that seems to prove Lana tried to steal Pop’s legacy. They think she used a bogus company to funnel Pop’s funds out, making it go bankrupt. Then, once he gave up, she miraculously got the funding back. That’s all I know.”
Just what I thought. Lana couldn’t be doing this alone. I was sure some bad characters were at the heart of this.
“I want you to stay out of it, Jackson. No more protesting. And I don’t want you to go near this intelligence company or whoever they are that’s investigating her. Pops told me he was interviewed by them.”
Jackson scoffed, “What? Why can’t I protest? The public needs to know what a dirtbag Lana is. It will only help when the evidence is turned over to the FBI.”
“That’s just it. Let the FBI handle things. You have no business showing your face against her. You don’t need a target on your back.”
He shook his head, turning away. “It’s not like Lana is going to snuff me out or something, Dad. You’re going overboard.”
“I know these people, Jackson. They’re evil. And they’ll do anything they can to silence people to protect themselves. Promise me.”
He didn’t say anything for a long time. His jaw just twitched. He was so much like Knight, it was mind-boggling.
“Jackson...do I have to threaten you? Take away your phone? Your car? I’ll do it if that’s what it takes.”
“Okay, fine. You win. I won’t protest, geeze. Now can I go? I need to workout today.”
I waved him out the door, pretty put out that he would get himself wrapped up in something that could be so dangerous.
Over and over, I tried to think about what I could do to protect him and get to the bottom of what was going on with Lana. I’d hoped she wasn’t involved in such horrible crimes as what Jackson seemed to think.
There was only one thing left for me to do.
Taking out my phone, I called an old friend. “Hey, bro! ...It’s good to hear your voice, too. What, it’s been like two years since the reunion? We’re doing great, for the most part...yeah...I know. We were devastated by Antonio’s death. Knight took it pretty badly, but he’s better now...yeah...we do need to get the girls together. I promise. But...I was wondering if you could do me a favor. I need a little of your investigative skills. Yeah...just like old times...”
When Daddy handed me the files to the Lana Richardson case, I almost shouted with glee. But wanting to be the respectable lady that I was, I took the files, with a confident air all the while wanting to race back to my bedroom and tear into the results.
Closing the door to my room, I dove into the reports as a smile simmered, hoping to break through.
Yes. All the evidence was here in black and white. That little Lana couldn’t scrape her claws out of this cauldron, and my Jackson-hubby would get his legacy back. I squeezed the files to my chest, a tingle rippling through my body. How I wanted to call Jackson and tell him who was behind making all his dreams come true. My six-year plan could not wait. We needed to be together. Now. After all, prom was only two months away.
I had a lot to do.
First thing was first. My little Jackson was spending waaay too much time with my minion, Luci. Who knew that little hussy was this good at turning my darling’s head? He assured me at school during our office aid time that he was only friends with her, but I couldn’t take that chance. I needed to weasel my way into his heart and this case file was the key.
“Jackson, my babydoll, I’m coming for you. Be prepared.”
This was the third time Luci and I hung out at Grids and Vids Café. Since it was new, no one really knew about it, so we had it to ourselves most of the time.
“I love this character, Jenny, in this movie. She’s so strong, fighting for her people. She doesn’t even care about the nukes.”
I lifted the side of my mouth. “She’s like you, huh?”
“Me?” she chuckled. “Hardly. I couldn’t protest against some giant nuclear army.”
I stared into her gorgeous green crystal eyes. “Are you kidding? You’re doing that right now. Taking on the big bad guys of one of the largest cities in our country. I really admire you, Luci. There’s not a lot of kids who would do that much less even care.”
Keeping me hostage with her gaze, she said, “That means a lot to me, Jackson. Thank you.”
We stared at each other for a moment too long, and I broke away. I didn’t want to feel anything more than friendship for Luci. We had something special that was even beyond what I had with Victoria. It was a deeper connection. She was so smart and strong. I’d never met anyone like her before. She felt everything deeply and no one would ever get in her way if she thought it was worth fighting for. She was a way better person than I was. I sort of felt like a spoiled rich kid in comparison to her.
She lived on her own in an apartment in Newcrest, having two jobs to pay for everything. An exchange student, she lived away from her folks, but they were far from wealthy. She had to get a scholarship just to come over here, but you’d never know she was from overseas. She only had a slight accent.
Luci would be going back home to Windenburg once she graduated. And that was another strike against moving things over to the romance zone. I was not into long distance relationships.
Laughing nervously, she looked around. “I wonder when we’ll get the results back from the investigation. It should be soon.”
I hadn’t told Luci I couldn’t protest anymore or have anything to do with Lana’s investigation. I was ashamed. Why couldn’t Dad see how important this was?
When I didn’t say anything, she said, “Hey, do you want to watch something else? This kind of stuff can get a little boring.”
Nudging her, I said, “Nuclear protests, high action plots, grisly blood baths...hardly a snore fest.”
“Yeah, well...I guess you’re right.”