Alexander closed his eyes and steadied the world as he waited for the car door to open. Sheridan’s threat to come in after him if he wasn’t ready in twenty minutes had been a good one. He found the strength to be ready in eighteen minutes, a full minute before she would have burst into his bathroom like a cyclone to roust him out from under the warm water. The stubble on his chin had been sacrificed appropriately. Lore always preferred him clean shaven with his silver hair cut short. She said it made him look classy and sophisticated behind his sunglasses.
His driver, Marcus, opened the door and held it for him to step out. If he was going to say something about Alexander’s disappearance from the public eye, he chose to keep it to himself.
The club smelled familiar; alcohol, sweat, and cleanser, as he stepped inside. A few people stopped to look at him as he moved through, but no one said anything. He crossed the floor and up the spiral staircase into the VIP section behind which he kept his office. Stepping into the office, he let himself breathe.
Lore’s favorite coat, adorned with a blood stain, lay across the back of the chair where he’d left it. Apparently no one had seen fit to remove it. He picked up and buried his face in the collar for the faint scent.
“Sheridan called to say you were coming, but she didn’t mention you looked like you’d been on a deserted island for the past month.” Anton gestured to the shaggy look of his hair.
“My appointment with the barber could wait until our business was concluded,” Alexander said before sitting down behind his desk with Lore’s coat in his lap. He petted it like a stray animal. “She mentioned you wouldn’t talk to her about everything. So what’s going on that can’t go through her?”
“I know you trust Sheridan implicitly but she doesn’t have the authority to sign checks in the name of this organization. Only you do. You might want to consider that the next time you decide to take a hiatus from the rest of us.”
The tone of reproach was unmistakable.
“Anton, I have no intention of taking further time away from my business interests. So why don’t you bring me up to date about what is going on.” Alexander dug his fingers into the fabric of the coat.
“Alexi,” Anton used his formal name. “One of your bartenders is skimming the till. I’m not sure which one, yet. The dancers know about it though and I found evidence of it in discrepancies with receipts from certain nights, but you haven’t been here to say anything to, so I’ve just been keeping an eye on the situation. I was thinking I might have to call the Magnus if I didn’t hear from you soon.”
A low growl came out of Alexander’s throat. The Magnus did not want to be involved in his affairs and anyone who connected the Magnus to his business would have hell to pay for it.
“Anton, find the thief and get rid of them. I give you the authority to do it. Involve Sheridan if you need the assistance of the dancers, but fix the problem.”
“Does that include permanent removal?”
“If necessary, do it.” For a moment, he had a bit of remembrance regarding Lore’s distaste for when he ran his business like an old-fashioned gangster. He’d been firm but mostly benevolent during her time with him.
The phone rang.
Anton headed for the door; their meeting had concluded.
“Alexander,” Alex said.
“Good to hear from you, grandson.”
“A pleasure to speak with you, Magnus.”