His clenched fist hit the surface of his desk with a thump. Wesley Masterson glanced at the document in front of him, his face screwing up in a scowl. The Last Will and Testament of his now departed brother and his stupid bitch of a wife stared back at him.
The document should have provided him with the final piece he needed to get his fortune back, but instead, it made sure that he'd never legally have access to the land that should have been his.
All that opportunity wasted on his worthless nephew. Brice would never take advantage of the riches buried within his inheritance, even if he knew of their presence. In fact, the fool had openly stated that he would rather donate the land rather than exploit it.
What kind of a moron just gave his assets away, seeking nothing in return? Masterson's fury at the thought of all that money going to waste was enough to leave him ill.
His pulse accelerated until his heart banged away hard and fast, moving pain through his chest. Taking deep breaths, Masterson wiped the sweat off his red face and tried to get his temper under control.
The doctor had warned him to take it easy, to try and keep his blood pressure down. But situations like this made taking that advice no easy feat. Breathe in. Breathe out. After several minutes his fists unclenched, and he was able to think more clearly.
The decision of the court was just another roadblock he would have to overcome. But hurdle it he would. He'd spent too much time cultivating contacts in local government to let them go to waste now. As long as he kept the operations under wraps, he should be able to get what he wanted out of the land without anyone being the wiser.
And even if his crimes were exposed, his contacts should keep him out of jail. So what if they gave him a fine? The money he'd pull out of those hills would be enough to cover any slap on the wrist and then some.
Sure, no crime was without risk, but the perils of walking away this time were greater than any legal threats. If he didn't do this, he'd be broke. Shit, he was already broke, in the hole, in fact, by several hundred thousand dollars. And his creditors were no longer content to bide their time.
A broken limb or two were in his near future if he failed to pay off the men he owed. And that was only the beginning. Thankfully, he'd been able to maintain his prosperous image while his ship was rapidly sinking. Even his son hadn't caught on to the fact that they were hanging on to the upper class by their fingertips.
And those creditors would not hesitate to step on his hands to drop him off the cliff.
Decision made, Wesley Masterson picked up the phone and dialed.
"Stevens here." The voice that answered was irritatingly rough, like sand that made its way into a shoe and rubbed until it chafed.
"I've got a job for you. Interested?"
"I'm always interested in making money. What's the job?"
"I need a team of mining experts. Ones that can be bought and stay bought, or ones that have enough dirt on them that we could bury them if they talked."
There was a slight pause while the big man considered the request. "Mining experts, huh? That could take a little time, but shouldn't be impossible."
Experts weren't the only thing they'd need if they were to pull off a heist of this magnitude. "And we'll also need the security team, so let them know they'll be receiving new orders soon."
"Understood." There was a pause, and then, "A question, if I may?" After a gruff agreement from Masterson, he continued. "I'm assuming the mining operation you're establishing is not sanctioned?"
"I'd never presumed to doubt you, but there are obvious risks involved, the first of which will be covering things up."
Masterson grinned. Stevens missed very little. That's why his services were so expensive. "Leave that to me. The area we're hitting is unincorporated and uninhabited. It's far enough out that we shouldn't attract any attention."
"And if we do attract attention?"
"I won't let anything stand in my way on this. Got it?"
"That's exactly what I wanted to hear."
The predatory smile in his voice reminded Masterson of precisely why he employed Stevens. He was ruthless. Wesley felt comfortable leaving things in the large man's capable, and if necessary, deadly hands.
Tossing down the phone, he picked up the copy of his brother's will, his scowl returning. In a sudden burst of anger, he crumpled the document in his hand then tossed it into the marble ashtray on his desk. Taking out an expensive cigar, he clipped the end and then lit it, pulling long drags into his throat and expelling them, coaxing the cigar to light. When the end flared bright orange, he held the tip to the ball of paper and watched as it ignited.
With the flames chasing shadows across his grinning face, Wesley Masterson got down to work.