Home > Fallen Heir (The Royals #4)(5)

Fallen Heir (The Royals #4)(5)
Author: Erin Watt

The whole innocent-until-proven-guilty thing is a crock of shit if you ask me. We all know he’s guilty, and it drives us nuts that Steve’s not in prison for what he did. Not just killing a woman, but also not stepping forward when the cops tried to pin it on Reed.

Granted, the victim was Brooke Davidson, the evil viper who was trying to take down my family, but still. Brooke was a bitch, but she didn’t deserve to die.

“Hey, Dad?” Sawyer says warily.

Dad shifts his gaze to his youngest son. “What is it?”

“When Steve’s trial starts…” Sawyer pauses for a second. “Are they gonna bring up all that stuff about Steve and, um…” He trails off and closes his mouth, deciding not to finish that sentence.

Nobody else finishes it for him, but everyone’s expressions become strained, including mine. Seb reaches over and squeezes his brother’s shoulder. My dad takes Ella’s hand in his. She closes her eyes and takes a few calming breaths.

I watch my family as they all try to get a grip on their emotions.

I hate thinking about my mother these days. After Steve killed Brooke, it came out that Mom cheated on Dad with Ella’s dad. That’s some incestuous shit right there.

Thing is, I can’t even be angry at Mom for cheating. Dad was hardly ever around. He was too focused on Atlantic Aviation, the family business, and while he was away for long periods of time, Steve poisoned Mom’s mind with ideas that Dad was cheating on her.

But I am angry at her for dying, for taking those pills. Reed says there’s no way it could’ve been the same pills I was stashing in my room, but he doesn’t know for sure. I was hooked on Adderall and oxy back then. My prescription was completely legal at first, but when I needed more, there was a ready supply at school. My Adderall supplier suggested I take some oxy as a way to escape. He was right. It helped a lot, but the high didn’t last.

When Mom found my stash and threatened to send me to rehab if I didn’t straighten out, I promised to right my ship. And I didn’t question what she did with the pills. I handed over the bottles because I was a fifteen-year-old who would’ve cut off his arm if she’d asked. That’s how much I adored her.

Chances are, I killed my mother. Reed claims I didn’t, but of course he’s gonna say that. He’d never tell me straight out that I killed her. Or rather, my addiction did. Is it any wonder that I’m a self-destructive screw-up?

I’m off the pills now. Mom’s OD scared the shit out of me and I promised my older brothers I wouldn’t touch that junk anymore. But the addictions don’t go away. It means I have to feed the thirst in other, safer ways—booze, sex, and blood. Tonight, I think I’ll choose blood.

“Easton.” I find a worried Ella studying my face.

“What?” I ask, reaching for my water glass. The subject of conversation has shifted away from the trial, thank God. Dad and the twins are now engaged in an animated conversation about soccer, of all things. We’ve never been a soccer family. Sometimes, I wonder if the twins are even Royals. They play lacrosse, watch soccer, aren’t fans of fighting, and have zero interest in flying. That said, they have Mom’s features and the Royal blue eyes.

“You’re smiling,” Ella accuses.

“So? Smiling is bad?”

“It’s one of your bloodthirsty smiles.” She sneaks a peek across the table to make sure Dad isn’t paying attention to us. Then she hisses, “You’re fighting tonight, aren’t you?”

I drag my tongue across my bottom lip. “Oh yeah.”

“Oh, East. Please don’t. It’s too dangerous.” She presses her lips together in concern, and I know she’s remembering the time Reed got stabbed at one of those fights.

But that was a total fluke that had nothing to do with the actual fight. Daniel Delacorte, an old enemy, hired someone to take Reed out.

“That won’t happen again,” I assure her.

“You don’t know that.” Determination gleams in her blue eyes. “I’m coming with you.”



“No.” I raise my voice, and Dad’s sharp gaze swings toward us.

“What are we arguing about?” he asks suspiciously.

Ella smirks, waiting for me to field that one. Dammit. If I keep arguing with her, she’ll tell him I’m going to the docks, and we both know Dad’s not too keen on that idea anymore, not since Reed was knifed down there.

“Ella and I can’t decide what movie to watch before bed,” I lie. “She wants a rom com. I obviously want anything but.”

The twins roll their eyes. They know bullshit when they hear it. But Dad buys in. His deep chuckle washes over the patio. “Give it up, son. You know the woman always gets her way in the end.”

Ella beams at me. “Yeah, Easton. I always get my way.” When I get up to fill my glass, she follows me. “I’m going to stick to your side like glue. And when you go to the fight, I’m going to make the biggest scene ever. You’ll never be able to show your face there again.”

“Can’t you go pick on the twins?” I complain.

“Nope. You have my sole and undivided attention.”

“Reed’s probably throwing a party because he’s not under your thumb.” I hear her breath hitch, and I look up to see her cheeks turn from pink to white. Oh, crap. “I didn’t mean that. You know he can’t stand to be away from you.”

She sniffs.

“Seriously. He was on the phone with me before dinner crying about how much he missed you.” Silence. “I’m sorry,” I say, and I am, truly sorry. “My mouth runs ahead of my brain. You know that.”

Ella raises one eyebrow. “You should stay in to make it up to me.”

Check. Mate.

“Yes, ma’am.” Meekly, I follow her back to the table.

“Giving in without a fight?” Sawyer murmurs when we take our seats.

“She was going to start crying.”


After dessert, I nudge Ella with my foot and nod toward the twins. She nods back and then turns to my dad.

“Easton and I have calculus homework, Callum. Do you mind if we go?”

“No, of course not.” He waves us off.

Ella and I escape inside, leaving the twins to clear the table. We used to have staff to do that for us, but Dad fired everyone after Mom died. Except for Sandra, who cooks for us, and his driver, Durand. There are maids who come in a couple times a week, but those aren’t live-in positions.

As Ella and I desert them, Sawyer and Seb grumble about how they’re going to be late to see Lauren, the girl they’re dating. I feel no sympathy. At least they have plans tonight, instead of staying home.

Upstairs, I get comfortable on my king-sized bed and flick the TV on. The football season hasn’t started yet, so there’s no Monday night game. ESPN is playing highlights from pre-season, but I’m not paying attention. I’m too busy scrolling through my phone contacts. I find who I’m looking for and press Call.

“’Sup, Royal,” comes Larry’s deep baritone.

“’Sup, nerd,” I say cheerfully. Lawrence “Larry” Watson is a two-hundred-and-eighty-pound offensive linesman, a good buddy, and the biggest computer geek I know. “I need a favor.”

“Hit me.” Larry’s the most easygoing guy in the world. He’s always down to help out a friend, especially if he gets to use his hacking skills in the process.

“Can you still hack into the mainframe at Astor Park? I’ve got a pair of Tokyo twenty-threes chilling in their box.”

“The Air Jordan fives that were only released in Japan?” He sounds like he’s about to cry. Larry’s a huge sneakerhead and he’s always wanted this pair that my dad picked up during a business trip to Tokyo.

“The same.”

“What do you want? Grades aren’t out yet.”

“Just some student information. Full name, address, phone number, that kind of stuff.”

“Dude, that’s just basic contact info. You ever heard of Google?”

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