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No Ordinary Billionaire (The Sinclairs #1)(2)
Author: J.S. Scott

Survivor’s guilt.

That’s what the department psychologist was calling it, telling Dante it was common, considering the circumstances. That comment had made Dante want to send the little head-shrinking bastard across the room with his fist. What the hell was normal about wishing himself dead?

“You okay?” His brother Grady’s low, concerned voice came from the doorway of the small bedroom. “Need anything? We’re only about an hour out from landing. I thought I heard something crash in here.”

It was ironic that Dante and his siblings had always wanted to protect Grady—too often unsuccessfully—from being the primary target of their alcoholic, abusive father. And now Grady was the brother who was trying to take care of him. Every single one of his siblings had been at the hospital in Los Angeles, flying in as soon as they had heard that he was injured. But he was going home with Grady to his vacation home in Maine, a house Dante owned but had only seen briefly a few times since it had been constructed. Every one of the Sinclair siblings had a home on the Amesport Peninsula, but only Grady had actually made his house a permanent home. Dante hoped he could escape there, stop reliving the last moments of Patrick’s life in his nightmares. Right now the only thing he could see every time he closed his eyes was Patrick dying.

At the time, Dante hadn’t realized that Patrick was taking his last breath as his friend hit the ground with a gasp, his eyes still open and his head covered in blood. Now that he did know, Dante couldn’t stop seeing that horrifying vision over and over again in his mind.

They were currently in flight on Grady’s private jet, making their way from Los Angeles to Amesport, Maine. They’d be landing in a small airport outside of the city limits.

“I could use a beer,” Dante told Grady in a tortured voice, not looking at his brother as he buried his face in his hands. “Ouch! Shit!” Dante moved his hands away, the pain of the still-tender wound on his face irritated by his actions.

“Alcohol and painkillers don’t mix,” Grady mentioned calmly as he picked up the laptop from the floor. Miraculously, the computer was still working, and Grady frowned as he opened the top and saw what his brother had been viewing. “You were watching the funeral? We were all there, Dante. I know you feel like shit because you couldn’t be there. Every one of us went for you because you couldn’t.”

They all had, and the fact that his brothers and sister had attended the funeral for him while he was laid up in the hospital, to pay their last respects to a man they never even knew, touched him deeper than they would ever know. They’d stood in his place, united in their support of him at Patrick’s funeral. It had meant a hell of a lot, but . . .

“I had to see it myself.” Dante looked up at his older brother, his expression stony. “And I’m not taking the painkillers.” Maybe it was stupid, but feeling the pain of his injuries seemed to somehow make him feel less guilty that he was still alive. If he was fucking hurting, he was paying the price of still being alive while Patrick was buried six feet under.

The psychologist thought he was having self-destructive thoughts.

Dante didn’t give a shit.

“Hold on,” Grady answered gravely, leaving briefly and coming back with a bottle of beer. He screwed off the top and handed it to Dante. “It’s not exactly the healthiest thing for you to have right now, but I doubt it will do much harm.”

Tossing his head back, Dante took a gulp of the cold liquid, letting it slide down his throat, suddenly questioning the intelligence of doing so. The taste brought back a flood of memories, all of them about the many times over the years that he and Patrick had hung out together having a beer. He finished it quickly as Grady watched him pensively, handing the empty bottle back to his brother after he drained it. “Thanks.”

Grady took the bottle from Dante’s hand with an uneasy scowl. “Are you okay?” he asked again in a husky voice. “I know your wounds hurt like hell, but they’ll heal. That’s not what I’m asking. I need to know if you’re okay.”

Dante stared at his older brother, the concern on Grady’s face nearly breaking him. Although the Sinclair siblings had all scattered to different areas of the country after they’d left their hellish childhood and adolescence behind, the affection they all had for each other had never died. They might only get together on rare occasions, but they all still cared. He had seen it in every one of his siblings’ eyes at the hospital.

The anxiety and distress that was lodged deeply in Grady’s gray eyes finally made Dante admit for the first time, “No. I don’t think I am.”

Patrick was dead. Dante wished he had died in his place. His body was racked with pain, and everything inside him was cold and dark.

Right at that moment, as his anguished eyes locked with his older brother’s, Dante wasn’t sure he would ever be okay again.

CHAPTER 2

“Did you read my column today?”

Dr. Sarah Baxter bit her lip to keep from smiling as she looked at her elderly female patient, still sitting on an exam table after a routine visit. Elsie Renfrew was eccentric, but she was also a member of the Amesport City Council, and the biggest gossip in town, so she was far from demented. Sarah had grown very fond of the older woman, but she knew just how wily she actually was, and that Elsie knew the personal business of almost every resident in Amesport. Most people in town called her Elsie the Informer, but Mrs. Renfrew had enough power and clout locally that nobody would dare mention that moniker to the venerable woman face-to-face. Sarah rather admired the older woman’s spunk, but she found herself constantly and carefully monitoring anything she said to the chirpy, inquisitive woman. Even a casual comment about another Amesport resident was likely to end up in Elsie’s What’s Happening in Amesport column of the Amesport Herald if there was even a hint of juicy information. Sarah might admire the fact that her patient was over the age of eighty and still so active in the community, but she’d also readily admit that Mrs. Renfrew terrified the hell out of her sometimes. Just the slightest slip and the seemingly sweet woman would twist the information around and make it the subject of town gossip. Not that Elsie was mean-spirited. She just felt it was her duty to report any news in Amesport since her roots in the area went back to the time the town was founded.

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