Hank looked at the others. “The challenge is tonight, as you know. Midnight, out in that clearing where the old farm house used to be.”
“That’s up behind Sebastian Ellingham’s estate. His land, too, I think. He know about this?” Titus asked.
Hank nodded. “I’ve informed him and his brother Hugh. Hugh Ellingham already knew something was up since he was at the reception. They’ve both agreed to act as adjudicators.”
Bridget snorted. “You think Prescott is going to agree to the referees being in your pocket?”
Sam shook his head. “He doesn’t have a choice. The challenger can’t choose the adjudicators.”
“Right,” Hank said. “And Sebastian and Hugh aren’t in my pocket.”
“Then how do we get them on our side?” Ivy asked.
He patted her hand. “We don’t need them to be, because I’m going to win. What we need is for this to be a fair fight so that Prescott has no recourse when it’s over. Having the man who owns the land be one of the judges makes perfect sense. And the fact that the Ellinghams are vampires and not shifters also makes them seem more likely to be impartial. Prescott doesn’t need to know that we’re also friendly.”
Titus frowned. “He might assume that.”
“It’s a small town and I’m the sheriff. He has to know that there are very few people here I’m not acquainted with. It won’t be an issue.”
Sam flatted his hand on the table. “Prescott won’t even find out.”
“I hope not.” Ivy rubbed her temple. She’d been fitful all night, tossing and turning beside him when she wasn’t getting up to check on Charlie.
“You want me to stay at the house and watch Charlie?” Bridget asked.
“I could help,” Sam said.
“No, Charlie has to be there. He’s the subject of the challenge. Rules state he must be present. And I want you both there. I’ll ask Birdie to watch him.”
As if on cue, Birdie opened the door and stuck her head in. “You have a minute?”
“Only if it’s important.” Hank had told her not to interrupt unless something was on fire, which technically would be Titus’s department.
Taking that as an invitation to join them, she shut the door and sat next to Bridget. She rested the file she’d been carrying on the table, straightened it, then folded her hands on top of it.
Hank frowned. “You’re supposed to be watching Charlie.”
“Deputy Blythe is entertaining him.”
“While you’re in here to tell me what?”
She lifted her chin a little. “I ran Eric Prescott’s financials.”
Hank stared at his aunt. “You did what?”
“Don’t look at me that way. I know how to use the computer.”
Another shocker. “Then why haven’t you done it before?”
“Because you have deputies for that. And this is personal. This is for Charlie.” She flipped open the file and put her reading glasses on. “Do you want to hear what I found or not?”
He sat back. “I’d love to.”
“We all would,” Ivy added.
Birdie gave him a self-satisfied look over the tops of her frames, then aimed her gaze at the paperwork. “At 5:27 yesterday evening, a transfer of ten thousand dollars was wired into Prescott’s account. The transferring account belongs to Kincaid Industries.”
Ivy swore softly. “How could he?”
Hank’s anger simmered on low. “Because we let him know that his grandson could shift with the best of them, so Clemens decided to get him back using the most annoying tool in his arsenal. Eric Prescott.”
Sam looked sick. “I’m so sorry, Ivy.”
Birdie held up a hand. “I have more.”
Hank’s brows shot up. “What else?”
“Being that I’m the curious type—”
“Don’t you mean nosy?” Bridget asked.
Birdie’s gaze narrowed. “Don’t start with the sass-mouthing now, Bridget Irene.”
Bridget rolled her lips in and smirked. “Yes, Auntie.”
“As I was saying,” Birdie continued, “I started wondering why this man would come after our Charlie out of the blue like that. Ten thousand dollars isn’t that much money. Not to the nephew of an alpha. Then I thought, maybe he’s willing to do this for Clemens because it’s not the first time he and Clemens have done business.”
Hank could only stare. He’d never imagine such thoughts took place in Birdie’s head. To hear her talk like this was…astonishing.
“So I dug deeper. And found more wire transfers between Kincaid Industries and Eric Prescott. Some dating as far back as nearly eight years ago.”
Hank’s stomach soured at the thought of what that meant.
Ivy seemed to have a pretty good handle on it, too. Hers mouth hung open, her face pale. She held her hand out. “Let me see that.”
Birdie slid the paperwork down the table.
Ivy snatched it and ran her finger over the lines of information. A soft, choking sound slipped from her throat. “This can’t be right. That SOB.” She looked up at Sam. “Did you know about this?”
He shook his head. “I swear I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Hank put his arm on the back of her chair. The numbers and notations she pointed at meant nothing to him. “What is it?”