A Calculated Seduction(10)

By supporting various events with the PBA, MacMillan Boots promoted their boots and western wear.

“We went over those this weekend.”

“Oh...I forgot about that.” He scratched his head and a knot of worry formed in Ethan’s stomach. Bill had been the one person he could always count on. Sharp as a tack, he’d started MacMillan Boots with very little money and a keen mind for business.

Since his return, though, Ethan had noticed Bill’s memory failing him more often than not. He supposed it was a natural sign of aging, but it still didn’t make it any easier to accept. He’d spent too many years away.

“It doesn’t matter. I don’t have anything this morning, do I, Miss Menendez?”

He glanced at Dulcy. Worry clouded her eyes as she looked from his uncle to him. He knew she was also worried about Bill.

“No, nothing until after lunch. You told me you wanted the morning free to work on that new computer program.”

“Come on, Bill, I’ll show you the promotion and maybe you can help me with the computer.”

Bill laughed and followed Ethan into the office that used to be his just a few months earlier. Ethan hadn’t done much to change it, having left most of his personal mementos at his Houston office. The office had a view of downtown Fort Worth, and on a low smog day, you could see as far as The Stockyards, a popular tourist spot where the world- famous Billy Bob’s honky-tonk was located.

Over forty years of Bill’s mementos filled the room. Pictures of him as a young man working at a boot factory in Justin, Texas to pictures with Bill’s deceased wife, Adelaine, graced the walls and credenza sitting behind the massive oak desk. He even had one area filled with pictures of Ethan from his preschool years through his time as a Marine.

“It must feel kind of strange coming into the office.”

“No. Not really.”

Silence filled the office and feeling a little uncomfortable,

Ethan busied himself with turning on his computer.

“I know I asked you here to help me, but I want you to understand Dulcinea Menendez is off limits.”

Ethan looked up, surprised at the steel in his uncle’s voice. He straightened, crossed his arms over his chest and looked him in the eye. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I mean you can’t play around with a gal like her. She’s the type of woman who wants to settle down, have a few kids.”

A jolt of jealousy soured his stomach. The thought Miss Dulcy Menendez would get married and live happily ever after bothered him. Why, he didn’t know, but it bothered him all the same.

“If you think so highly of her, why do you think she’s embezzling from the company?”

Uncertainty filled Bill’s eyes and he looked away.

“Yeah, well, I never said she did the act. The good Lord knows she won’t need the money in less than a year. Just helped someone. And even though she is pretty sharp, I can see her being used and not knowing it. Maybe she thinks she’s helping the person. ”

Bill shrugged. Ethan knew how he felt. Her personality just didn’t fit the role of conspirator. But someone with access to the files had moved accounts around, trying to cover the tracks of the embezzler. Only Bill, Dulcy and now Ethan, had access to those accounts in such a way they could hide any movement of money.

“And you think I should stay away from her because you think I’m not good enough for her.”

“Now, Ethan, I never said that, but you’re ruthless when you’re looking for an answer. It’s one of the reasons you’re so good at what you do. But, I don’t want you to think you can use her to get the embezzler.”


He held up his hand to forestall Ethan’s argument. “I don’t want that girl used. She has enough to worry about with that family of hers. And I remember just how devastated she was when her father died. Never asked Clarice for a penny and dropped out of college. She’d planned on switching schools to be with that Jason Fellows. I convinced her I needed her here, but she wouldn’t take the high salary I offered. She’s got gumption and I don’t want you to mess with her.”

Ethan nodded. “Why didn’t you tell me about her trust fund?”

Bill’s eyes widened. “I guess I kinda forgot.”

Ethan let it go, but he still couldn’t fight the irritation racing through him at the thought Dulcy Menendez had been engaged.

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