Though I might be inclined to try, I couldn’t actually argue with his logic. I needed to switch tactics.
“We don’t know where an investigation like this might lead,” I explained. “It’s possible that this could be connected to my father’s assassination.”
I swallowed on that final word. Even after a year and a half it was still unfathomable that he had been taken in such a violent manner. Finding out that he had a secret son could be a mere skeleton in the closet or it could be more.
“It seems unlikely—if you want me to be honest.” He tacked on the last bit as an afterthought.
“I do want you to be honest,” I assured him, “even when I don’t like it. But how can we be certain if we don’t look into it?”
“We can’t,” Brex said, “but I suspect the matter of this…discovery is more about curiosity than it is a matter of national security.”
“We can’t rule it out. Not without knowing more.” My gut told me that I was right about this. None of the secrets my father kept were innocent. “He paid the mother of his love child to keep quiet.”
“And he was still paying her at the time of her death,” Brex reminded me gently. “Look, I’m not telling you to not look into this, but don’t divest all your resources. There were other interesting pieces of information in the files the Americans gave us. We need to examine all of it.”
“I need someone I trust looking into this. If you’re right and this brother is a nobody, his anonymity will be short-lived if the press find out about him.” There had been plenty of speculation regarding my father’s romantic life after my mother’s untimely death. Even the insinuation of this affair would fuel a tabloid frenzy. Until I knew more about why he’d kept this secret I needed to protect it from the outside world.
“If I focus on this, you’ll need to put someone else in charge of the assassination investigation.”
That wouldn’t be a problem. “A temporary shift in focus shouldn’t be a problem since we haven’t had any new leads in—”
Brex cut me off, “As I mentioned, the CIA gave us some new information to consider. We’ve been following an important lead.”
“That I haven’t been informed of?” I roared as the friendliness I usually felt toward Brexton slipped.
“I considered it prudent to look into the matter further before I briefed you—for the sake of Parliament.”
“Parliament?” I repeated. Could he be implying that the conspiracy had its roots in our very government? Judging from the placid detachment in Brexton’s eyes that was exactly what he was doing. As soldiers, we’d been taught to compartmentalize. By keeping our emotions in check we wouldn’t make decisions based on our feelings. Brex still had that ability. I did not.
For the first time, I allowed my control over the room to falter. Dropping my head into my hands, I considered the position I found myself in now. Neither avenue of investigation could be dismissed outright. Both need to be examined—thoroughly and by people I trusted.
“Could Norris?” Brexton suggested as though he could sense my dilemma.
I shook my head, finally lifting it to meet his gaze. “He’s in charge of Clara and Elizabeth.”
No matter how my situation might change or what information became available, they had to remain my primary concern. No answers and no justice were worth putting the two of them at risk. Clara still ruffled at my security measures, but she’d grown accustomed to Norris’s presence. But not only was it a matter of my wife’s happiness, it also came down to the fact that he was the only person I trusted with the two people I loved most in the world.
“In that case, that only leaves one other person.” We both knew who he was talking about, but there was no missing his hesitation. It wasn’t a suggestion he would make lightly given my history.
“You trust her?” I asked. The number of people in a position to take over Brexton’s work was limited. That meant that I needed to delegate some of the decisions to him. But even so it was a tough pill to swallow.
“I do. I know the two of you had some issues in the past.”
I raised an eyebrow as I tried to decipher what he was really saying. If he knew the true nature of my relationship with his colleague or if he’d merely guessed. I didn’t have many secrets from my friend, but I didn’t discuss Georgia Kincaid if I could help it.
“She’s discreet.” It was the most complimentary trait I could find to describe her. Georgia had once helped initiate me into the world of Dominance. As far as I knew she didn’t brag that I’d been a past client nor did she share the other men of power she’d submitted to. Our relationship had never been sexual but rather a therapeutic proposition. I’d realized far too late that it had been a power play on behalf of her employer to keep me under his thumb. “But she’s also a mercenary. Her loyalty can be bought.”
Brexton’s shoulders tensed, a vein ticking in his neck, at my words. Even so he was remarkably calm as he responded. “She was a mercenary. She’s proven her loyalty to our side.”
I bit my tongue before I could ask when he had fallen in love with her. His attachments were none of my business, and Brexton was smart enough to handle her if she proved to still be trouble. I should have seen the inevitability of the romance, but I’d been too caught up in my own affairs to redirect his attention.
“I suppose people change,” I offered. I had changed with Clara’s help.
“Yes, they do.” There was a finality in his tone that even I didn’t dare question. “It’s your call.”
It was my choice. Every possible decision had its disadvantages, but none of them outweighed the danger of inaction. “Brief her.”
Brexton nodded, maintaining a professional detachment at my proclamation, but I spotted a gleam of triumph in his eyes. He stood, straightening as if he might salute me. Thinking better of it, he headed for the door.
“Brex,” I called before he could leave my office, “tread carefully.”
The triumph faded but he managed a much more curt nod of acknowledgment.
He might not like to hear it, but it was my responsibility as a friend to warn him. Perhaps my past associations with Georgia had left me prejudiced against her. Still despite our differences, I was certain of one thing: no one ever really knew Georgia.