He sat in the big leather chair that gave him a clear view to the bathroom’s door. He opened up his laptop and logged into Skype. He clicked on Phoenix’s icon first.
The image of Phoenix popped on the screen. “Hey. We all here?”
“Nope. You’re first.” Denver clicked on Jackson’s icon next. The ringing sound went on and on. “Where the hell is he? I told you guys nine-thirty for this video conference, didn’t I?”
Phoenix answered, “Yes, you did.”
“Fuck.” He clicked Jackson’s icon again, and the ringing stopped. “Hopefully, Dallas is around.”
Dallas answered immediately. “Jessie’s out of earshot?”
“Taking a bath.”
“I think this is smart to talk this way, bro. Good idea. If we all came over there with our intel, she’d want to know everything. Sub or not, she’s not a pushover about these kind of things.”
“True, bro.” Phoenix nodded.
Denver agreed. A ringing sound and Jackson’s icon popped up on the upper left part of his screen. He clicked it. “About time, lil’ bro.”
“Sorry, guys. I’m at the mansion. Brought Pappy Jack here instead of his place at mom’s insistence. Granddad didn’t like that, but couldn’t figure out how to persuade mom otherwise.”
“So? That fucking doesn’t fly, Jackson. The woman you love is in trouble, and you’re making excuses for being late. You should’ve been here like the rest of us.” Denver’s aggravation grew. He loved his youngest brother, but sometimes his carefree ways pissed him off. “There’s Internet service at the mansion.”
“Hey, I’m here. And, yes, there’s service here, but that storm jacked up the parents’ wireless router the other night. It took me longer than I thought it would to get it reset and up and running again.”
Denver felt bad that he’d jumped down Jackson’s throat. “Sorry. I’m on edge knowing someone is still out there who wants to harm Jessie.”
“It’s okay, bro. Me, too.” Jackson’s face darkened. “We all want to find out who’s responsible for the explosion and the brake lines.”
“So, what have you found out?” Denver asked.
Dallas spoke first. “Rich, the teenager who broke his leg in the Old Mine, works as a mechanic at the gas station. It’s only a block from Jessie’s hotel, so he’d have time and the know-how.”
Jackson shook his head. “Circumstantial. What would be his motive to do it? I’d think the kid would want to let Jessie do her job just in case she could uncover some infraction by the mine. That way he’d get out of hot water for climbing over the fence onto clearly marked private property.”
Dallas shrugged. “I know. Just trying to fill out the list of possible suspects.”
“Keep digging.” Denver looked at the door of the bathroom. “What have we learned about the explosion?”
Phoenix frowned. “I’m checking the inventories of explosives at the mine, but so far nothing. I think your house is the safest place to keep her for now with its basement and surveillance cameras.”
“Oh yeah. Besides, I’ve checked. No sign anyone has been within a mile of my place but me and Jessie.”
“Bro, you didn’t leave her alone?” Jackson asked. “That wouldn’t be safe.”
“Chill, lil’ bro. I took her around the entire perimeter of the house on a ruse of showing her my property. What I was actually doing was looking for planted dynamite.”
“She bought it?” Dallas asked.
“You’re a better liar than me.”
Phoenix snorted. “Everyone’s a better liar than you.”
Denver continued, “There’s a problem. Jessie does have a job here. I’ve been able to keep her away from the mine for a few days, but she’s made it clear tonight that she plans on getting back to work on her investigation in the morning. Without going completely Dom on her, she’s going back.”
“Shit.” Dallas’s eyes narrowed.