Book 4 in the Silver Brothers Securities Family Saga
He had one job—to keep his goddaughter pure and protected.
And he failed.
He had one job—to keep his goddaughter pure and protected. He failed.
Trouble was Kendra’s middle name, and it sang to my every fantasy as a man.
But as her guardian, I’d made a promise to her parents.
My goddaughter was forbidden and untouchable. Then one day I stopped resisting the temptation.
She had one job—to avoid danger by staying hidden. She failed.
Julian Silver was my father’s best friend—and the hottest, most tempting bachelor a girl could imagine. By a cruel twist of fate, he was also my unattainable guardian. His job was keeping me safe from the outside world. But who would keep him safe from me? Well… certainly not me!
They each failed at their jobs—but together, they are unbeatable.
Silver’s Trouble is the fourth novel in the Silver Brothers Securities Family Saga and can be read as a standalone novel. Intended for mature audiences with a guaranteed happily ever after for the couple. Originally published as Layers Off in 2013 (no longer available), the novel was completely re-written.
Books in the Silver Brothers Securities
Silver's Trouble sneak peek:
Chapter 1: Julian
Trouble was Katherine’s middle name, and it followed her like a puppy follows its mama’s lead. The first time I babysat, I learned that chaos flowed through that girl’s blood. I was only eighteen, and the baby choked on a Lego just before her baptism. My Lego. Jake and Ashley would have killed me if anything had happened to their baby girl, but I saved little Katherine because the hero complex coursed through my blood. It turned out that wasn’t such a bad thing when you were a bodyguard. And Jake and Ashley never found out. They also never found out about the socks she flushed down the toilet. I spent half a day unclogging the throne. Or the time she fell in the pool because maintenance left the gate unlocked.
Like I said, they would have killed me. Over the years, Katherine grew, and I eased Ashley and Jake’s busy schedules by babysitting. I walked through the park with a stroller while Jake completed his political whatever-Ph.D. alongside his wife, studying somewhere on the bench. I graduated from NYU and did what all the Silvers do best: built relationships. Plus schooling. Lots of fucking schooling because that was what it took to be a good private investigator. And tonight, all that prestige earned me a late night emergency phone call from my best friends.
I scanned my card at the front entrance and hurried down the long hall to my corner office, where the night security guard was waiting by the door.
“Good. Inform me immediately if anyone buzzes downstairs.”
I pushed the door open. Jake and Ashley launched from the couch toward me, Jake in a pair of sweatpants and Ash in leggings and Jake’s sweatshirt. The power couple from D.C. were on their way to another Congressional nomination and a win, and they looked like someone had dragged them through the trenches.
“What’s going on?” I asked. “Is Katherine okay?”
Ash shook her head, crying, while their fifteen-year-old daughter sat behind my office desk, looking out the window into the night. The sky was clear, and the moon outlined Manhattan’s beautiful horizon, but if I had to bet, my goddaughter wasn’t paying attention to the city skyline. I glanced over at my goddaughter. She was picking at the skin near one nail, and she looked like an absolute mess. Her plaid skirt was shorter than I remembered. She must have hemmed it, and Ashley must have freaked. But the spunky girl I’d known since birth seemed off.
“No. Nothing’s okay. Nothing.”
I passed her a tissue. “Start at the beginning.”
“It’s Katherine,” she whispered. “She’s in trouble.”
She drew her thumb to her mouth and chewed on her nail, staring at where Lady Liberty’s flame lightened the night. Her statue posture and that stare gave me the shivers.
“Why is she in her school clothes?”
“We found her four hours after school was out, in our backyard. It rained, and she was soaked and didn’t want to change.”
“Are those blood stains?”
I hurried to the corner basket and picked up a white plush blanket, a gift from Stefanie. The psychiatrist gave my office a facelift last Christmas—and gave me a blowjob the next morning. I draped the blanket over her shoulders, and Katherine looked up. My body turned numb when I saw her face. Her long, tangled brown hair stuck to her face and neck.
“She’s been asking for you. She says you’re the only one who can help.”
I picked her up off my chair. A pack of bubblegum fell out of her pocket as I carried her to the other couch. She lay in a fetal position, shaking.
“Hey, Kay. You’re safe now. Whatever happened, we’ll fix it.” I turned to her parents. “Did anyone hurt her?” The words barely passed through my throat.
“I… I don’t know. I don’t think so.” Ashley’s tiny sob broke my heart in half.
“I can make things right. No matter what it is, we can make everything right.”
Katherine twisted my way in slow motion and looked up at me. The life I recalled in her saucer-shaped eyes had vanished.
My heart picked up speed. Jake’s desperate glance over at his daughter punched me in the gut.
“What the fuck happened?”
“I need to speak to you privately.” Jake stood up.
It was that serious.
“All right. Come with me. Ash, we won’t be long, and you’re safe. You’re both safe. I promise you that.”
“I know.” She smoothed her hand over Katherine’s arm, whispering softly, “I’m sorry.”
Jake followed me through the revolving bookcase. I poured us both a scotch and handed him a glass.
“What’s going on?”
“We’ve already spoken to Fred and Jacob. All the Silvers are on board with the plan. I called you earlier, but you weren’t available.”
I’d left the office early today for a date with Stefanie. Jake called, I answered, and guaranteed myself a pair of blue balls.
“I had a date.” I waved my hand. “It doesn’t matter. What plan are you talking about?”
“Julian, you’re her godfather. You’ve taken care of her since she was in diapers.”
“I love her like my own.”
“That’s why I know we’ve made the right decision.”
He handed me an envelope I hadn’t noticed him holding. “In case something happens, this is a key to a safe deposit box. You’ll find the instructions with documents. Tristan and James are setting up the operation for tomorrow, and I hope you agree… to this. We both hope you agree to this because we need you to become Katherine’s guardian. Temporarily, of course.”
Where the fuck did that come from, and why hadn’t I woken up yet?
Blood drained from my face, and I set my glass aside. I knew the Moores were in the middle of a Congressional fight, but I did not realize they were in trouble. “What the fuck happened?”
“We need to disappear for a little while.”
“You’re going into witness protection?” I guessed.
“Yes, but we can’t take Katherine.”
“The profile of a couple with a teenage daughter will draw everyone we need to avoid. It won’t be possible to give her a normal life, or as close to normal as we’d like.”
“The Federal Witness Protection program deals with this every day. I’m sure they can handle Katherine.”
“But you’re the only one we trust to give her what witness protection won’t: a life. A normal life.”
“What about New Zealand? She was born there.”
“But her life is here.”
“What life, if she’s in hiding? You haven’t thought this through, Jake. I’m a single man without kids for a reason.” Work was my life, and dating an extra-curricular activity I enjoyed mostly in bed. Or against the wall.
He shook his head. “It’s the only way to keep her safe. Your father and brother are already prepping for tomorrow.” He lowered another thick manila envelope to the table. I refilled my glass and emptied it in one painful but extremely satisfying swig.
“What’s happening tomorrow? And what happened to Katherine?”
“There was an accident at the school, so she can’t go back. She’ll have a private tutor from now on, and we’ll keep in touch. Maybe not immediately, but soon. She’ll stay with you, close to your parents. She loves your family, and I know you love her too. We should be back by summer.” He said it like they were going on a vacation.
“Jake, I don’t even have a kid. I don’t have a wife or a girlfriend. How am I going to explain having a teenager?”
“The great thing about you, Julian, is you know how to adapt. And you’re a good best friend and a great godfather. If everything goes according to plan, it won’t be long before we’re back. The FBI will find the evidence against Donaldson, and we’ll be in the clear.”
“The one and only.” He gripped my shoulder like the deal we’d made to take guardianship of my best friend’s daughter, all in secrecy, was final.
She was my goddaughter, and I’d vowed to protect her when her parents couldn’t. The answer to that promise was simple, and Jake must have seen it in my eyes because along with my hero complex flowed a lot of courage.
“Thank you. I knew you’d come through.”
“I didn’t say yes.”
“Your eyes did, and that’s enough.”
He handed me the other envelope with a thick stack of papers, marked Kendra, he’d been holding under his arm until now. How many of those did they have?
“Ashley liked the name as a new one for Katherine. For now.”
“And does your daughter know it?”
“Obviously not. We’re not paying you the big bucks to do all the work, Julian. She’ll need a psychiatrist, and I know you know a good one.”
I couldn’t get Stefanie involved in this. The reason we worked was because we were free of drama.
“Jake, I know we’ve been friends for a long time, but—”
“But there’s no one else who can do this job better than you, and I trust no one else. You’re her godfather, and it’s only for a few months, Julian. After you hear the plan for tomorrow, you’ll agree you’re the best thing for Katherine. She already knows you, and she’s comfortable with you.”
“What’s happening tomorrow again?”
“It’s in the envelope. We have to find a place to clean up and hide out for the night, but if we’re alive by the morning, I’ll see you then.”
He turned around and went back to my office. I set my glass on the counter and hurried behind him to where Ashley was sitting beside her daughter. Katherine lay curled in a fetal position. I’d never seen the bubbly girl so frail.
“She fell asleep,” Ashley whispered. “I gave her my Xanax.”
“You gave her what?” I stopped mid-step. “Ash, those are addictive. I’m not sure a fifteen-year-old should take Xanax.”
She turned to Jake and anchored her gaze to his. “Didn’t you explain what happened?”
“I had no time for that part,” he replied.
“We have to leave and hide before tomorrow.”
“Okay, just give me a sec to catch up.”
I pulled out the papers from Jake’s envelope and flipped through the pages. “Oh, crap.”
“You see our problem?”
I saw their problem, but I couldn’t see a way out of my predicament even if I tried. No matter the choice, there’d be trouble. Lots of trouble.
“Where are you guys going tonight?” I asked. “Where are you staying?”
He pulled his fingers through his hair. “There’s a contract on our lives. Donaldson hired a hitman… his name is Martinez, but that’s all we know. I’m not even sure whether the security out there is sufficient. I don’t know where to take my wife and my kid to keep them safe.”
I lowered my hand to his shoulder and gave enough pressure so he could sit beside his wife and daughter.
“You’re already where you need to be. You can take Tristan’s bedroom by his office. There’s a shower there, too. I’m sure he won’t mind. I’ll move Katherine to my bed when she wakes up.” God, what sounded so innocent at the time would become one of my dirtiest fantasies. Had I known the trap I was setting for myself, I would never have agreed to the arrangement.
I pointed to the stack of papers from my father. “Looks like I have some reading to do before morning. There’s food in the staff room; I wouldn’t risk ordering out. Don’t make any contact. Turn off your cell phones. In fact, hand them in right now.”
“We already gave them to Tristan.”
“Good. Well, maybe we should have started with that.”
I wanted to explain the task they’d asked of me would be hard; pretty much impossible. But Silvers were great at the impossible, and I couldn’t let my friends down. I’d hide Katherine in my house, and… yeah… impossible.
I didn’t know it then, but I wasn’t ready for the trouble my best friends were handing me. I was totally out of my mind, thinking Katherine could stay with me.
Then again, I hadn’t been ready when Ash and Jake came over to my penthouse when Katherine was four. That emergency evening of babysitting ended with little Kay applying makeup to my face. The smeared lipstick stains over my bathroom counter weren’t as appreciated. Katherine washed them off with my toothbrush. Dipped into the toilet.
“Wait a minute. What about her godmother?” I asked. “What was her name—Jodi? The one from your mother’s side, Ash?” I waved my finger in the air like it was a wand and I could make Jodi appear out of thin air.
“Jodi passed away from cancer three years ago.”
Ashley lowered her cold and shaky hand over mine. I could ask my parents, but Emma was only eight, and they had their hands full. Besides, I wasn’t about to cop out. That wasn’t in my blood.
“Julian, we wouldn’t ask you to do this if we didn’t have to.”
Ashley’s raw voice and pleading eyes broke through the thick wall around my heart. I covered her hand with mine and gave her a comforting smile. Katherine had definitely inherited her mother’s beautiful eyes.
“I already said I’ll do it,” I whispered. “I’ll do whatever you need me to. It’s what families do, and we’ve been a family for a long time.”
“Thank you,” she sobbed, slobbering into another tissue.
I stood up and loosened the top button on my shirt.
“You two know where to find Tristan’s office, and I’ll have Greg show you the private quarters. He’s waiting out in the hall with your security, which I assure you you don’t need in this building. We’ve got plenty.”
“Thank you, Julian.” Jake handed me one more envelope. How many of those did he have?
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Details about tomorrow’s plan.”
I scanned the papers all the way to the end, where my father and uncle had signed off on an agreement with Jake’s crazy plan. We were taking a private train ride across the mountains, and tomorrow, we’d throw off the search for the Congress members and their daughter with a single flick of a switch.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
“It has to be real, Julian.”
“Best way to stay out of the way is from six feet under. Katherine can’t come with us. She needs a normal life, and you can give that to her.”
They had no clue what they were asking, but the point was they’d asked, and I couldn’t say no.
Ashley and Jake left for their room, and I moved Katherine to my room and my bed. I removed her shoes, coat, and sweater and tucked her in before settling back at my desk. I read over the plan my father and uncle had put together more than a dozen times that night. It was an ambitious plan with too many holes and moving parts, and it nurtured my insomnia until the morning.
I watched Katherine sleep that night completely clueless it would be the first of many nights I’d spend with this girl. And not a single one of them would be easy, because Trouble was her middle name.