I gave Daniel, and then Margo, a quick kiss on the cheek and waved goodbye. Blake grabbed my bag on the way out.
Blake held out his hand to me and nodded to the Tesla. “Let’s go.”
I stared at him, the details of our morning returning to me. “Blake, I’m not going home with you.”
“No, you’re not. We’re going to go somewhere so we can talk, and if you still want to go home, or wherever, you can.”
“Where are we going?”
He didn’t answer.
“I’m really not in the mood to be stuck on an island with you right now, Blake.”
We were at the ferry station and Blake was begging me to not to leave. He’d locked the doors and driven us onto the big boat, and now he was doing everything in his power to keep me there.
“I promise, we can turn around and take the next ferry back if you don’t like what I have to say.”
“You’re being insane right now, you know that? This is like kidnapping.”
“Promise me you won’t get off.”
I groaned. “I promise, now let me out.”
He released the locks, and I walked up the ramp to the upper level of the ferry where we’d spend the rest of the ride to Martha’s Vineyard. If Blake thought he could romance his way out of the doghouse, he was dead wrong.
I walked through to the front of the boat, stepping out onto the deck. I picked a table for two near the end, knowing Blake was on my heels. I sat, and he joined me a second later. I finally met his stare. His eyes glittered from the setting sun reflecting against the water. God help me, he was as beautiful as he was maddening. We sat in silence for a few moments while a few of the other tables filled around us.
“Are you going to tell me how you found me? You don’t have a tracking device planted in my stuff do you?” If I was going to be subjected to this odyssey, he needed to start filling in the gaps quick.
“Sid told me you were going to visit with your father.”
“You asked, and he just told you?” I sincerely hoped Blake hadn’t horrified Sid the way he had a habit of doing with almost everyone else I came into contact with lately.
“Actually, yes. He wasn’t wild about you staying with a complete stranger either.”
“What about Mark? How did you know he’d be there?”
“I dug up every possible affiliation he had when I tracked down his identity, His step-father and employer were notable. When I found out where you were staying, I figured there was a very real chance Mark would be there too.”
Of course he would. He’d known Mark’s identity for a couple weeks now, so heaven knows what else he’d cooked up. If he’d meddled at all though, Mark didn’t seem the wiser.
“And you managed to track down his house on the Cape.”
“Erica, don’t insult me, please.” He drummed his fingers on the table.
“How did you learn how to do all this?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re a hacker. It seems like a strange descriptor for someone with as much money and resources as you have, but clearly you still do it.”
“I only use my powers for good.” He flashed me a wicked smile.
“Has that always been the case?”
His smile slipped. “Listen, let’s talk about the deal with Max. I need to explain some things.”
“We’ll get there. Tell me how you became a hacker.”
“Countless hours on the computer and a propensity for math. Satisfied?”
“Listen, if you’re not going to be honest with me, I don’t need to be here.” I stood to leave.
He caught my hand. “Please, don’t leave.”
The look he gave me made my chest ache, but I was determined to hold my ground.
“Talk.” I sat back down.
He sighed. “I was a bored antisocial adolescent. I begrudged society. Hacking became a creative outlet, gave me options, made life seem a little less insignificant.”
I tried to imagine the beautiful man in front of me as angry teenager, shaking his fists at the world for whatever reason. “How had society wronged you so horribly? Weren’t your parents teachers?”
“Yes, and they were grossly underpaid. Anyway, they had nothing to do with me being that way, trust me. They tried like hell to get me out of the house, to be normal, I guess. I think I was just too...intellectual, maybe, for my own good. The news, politics, the economy. Basically everything that’s still wrong with the world today felt overwhelmingly wrong to me at that age. I had a hard time justifying living a normal, happy life and sticking my head in the sand while atrocities were happening everywhere.”
“So you thought you could save the world from your computer.”
“Not really. I don’t know…”
“How did you end up working with Max’s father?”
He blew out a slow breath. I glanced over my shoulder. They were just beginning to untie the ropes from the dock. I still had time.
“Now or never, Blake.”
“Fuck, fine.” He leaned in on the table, lowering his voice so only I could hear him. “I hooked up with a hacker group called M89. A handful of other pissed off kids like me. We came up with a plan to deplete the bank accounts of some top executives on Wall Street.”
“They were getting rich off some Ponzi scheme and trying to take down the whistle blowers who threatened to expose them.”
“So what happened?”
“We got caught,” he said. “I narrowly avoided jail time, and in the process somehow I caught Michael’s attention. He took me under his wing, figured out how to get through to me. I guess it took a hard-nosed capitalist to paint a view of the world that made sense.”
Wow. Blake was so measured, so in control of every area of his life now. To think of him being so reckless frightened me. How we’d both made our way to this point in our lives could not have been more different.
“We both wanted to do something big, so I pulled all-nighters to graduate with honors and you hacked people’s bank accounts.”
“And here we are, together.” He pressed his lips to my knuckles, barely grazing them with his tongue.
My belly quickened, but I forced myself to focus on the matter at hand. “How did you avoid jail for what you did?”
He leaned back, his lips lifting mischievously.
I turned in my seat and saw that we were already several feet away from the dock, fully on our way.