“Well then, I won’t have to convince you.”
“Convince me of what?” he gritted.
I had chosen my words carefully before I spoke. “That I will do anything I can to make you do my bidding.”
“Stay away from her,” he warned.
It was all I could do to keep my fists from his clothing and yanking him across the table where I could pummel him. Instead, I let amusement show rather than anger. Quentin tensed on the other side of the table, ready to break up the fight he sensed coming.
“She isn’t yours to protect.”
“She’s my friend.”
“And she is JUST mine.”
“You have a lot of nerve staking a claim that you have no right to. You do nothing but hurt and torment her.”
“What do you think you know about it?”
He leaned back in his chair with a smirk that held too much confidence. “Whose shoulder do you think she cried on when you were just another statistic?”
I shot up from my chair, intent on breaking his face when Quentin stopped me with a heavy hand on my shoulder and a hard look.
“Keiran, chill.” He shot a pointed look at the guards standing around the large room against the blank, depressing walls. All of their attention was now focused on our table.
“960, you got a problem?” The closest guard called out. Without acknowledging the guard, I sat back down and in my peripheral, I could see their shoulders relax and their nervous looks fade. They may have been the ones with the handcuffs and the weapons, but I was the one with the power. Just for kicks, I blew the guard who challenged me a kiss and smirked when his face and neck reddened. Nutless fuck.
“Are you done?” Quentin asked annoyed. I ignored him and focused back on Fitzgerald.
“I need you to find someone.”
“Why would I help you?”
“You know why. Are you really going to make me say it?”
“Do you really think your reach is that far?”
“I know my reach is that far, but are you willing to test it? Besides,” I continued before he could respond, “you’re already here. There is no time like the present.”
His jaw muscles clenched and unclenched, and I could read the indecision in his eyes and the moment he made it. “Who do you need to find?”
“Quentin will give you the information you need to know. He’ll also make sure you don’t try anything. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you—”
“You don’t,” he interrupted, “but you should know I’m only helping you because of her. I’m not afraid of dying.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure until you’ve looked death in the eyes.” I leaned forward to get my point across. “Because it won’t be swift, it won’t be painless, and it won’t be reversible.”
“Are we done?”
I leaned back and watched him rise from the chair followed by Quentin, who remained silent throughout the exchange. “For now.”
He started to walk away, but my next question stopped him.
“Do you want her?” The question came out blunt and laced with my irritation with Monroe for sharing a part of us with this douche—even if it was the ugly part.
“No,” he answered just as bluntly. “It’s never been like that with us—”
“There is no us.” The growl erupted from my chest and was a shock to everyone around the table including me.
Jesse’s face was stuck in astonishment before he stated accusingly, “You like her.”
There wasn’t much that caught me off guard, but his accusation caused my tongue to feel like it shriveled and died in my mouth. “What?”
His eyes narrowed as they pinned me to my seat. “Admit it.”
“No.” A grin spread his face as he stared at me. “Please share the joke.” My patience had just about hit its peak.
“The joke is you so obviously care for her and it’s making you miserable. Tell me… how does it feel to be on the receiving end?”
I stood up to… what? Fight? To leave? I didn’t care for the way his questions left me feeling exposed. The vulnerability was worse than a kick in my nuts. “Fitzgerald.”
“Yeah?” The smirk on his face pissed me off even more.
“If you say anything to her and if you cross me, I’ll murder your entire family. Including the pet goldfish.”
His smirk was finally gone.
* * *
I placed the phone call a week later after Quentin delivered a slip of paper containing the ten digits to my freedom. The only hiccup was it wasn’t the direct line to my target, so I pissed off a lot of people including the man himself.
“Whoever this is better have a damn good reason for calling this number.”
“Arthur, it’s been a while.”
I smiled into the receiver. It wasn’t joy that brought the smile to my face. Jesse had delivered. It was a wonder what a few well-placed threats could get you. The fact it only took him a week was impressive in itself.
“Who the fuck is this?”
The generally calm and authoritative man had become unhinged. It wasn’t every day someone was brave enough or stupid enough to call making threats until he could speak with the man in charge.
“Keiran Masters.” I gave my name even though I knew he wouldn’t know who I was.
“That’s right. You never cared about names, did you? Well, let me refresh your memory. Ten years ago, you had a trainer named Frank. He liked to play with little girls and boys, but he liked the little boys the most. He was your favorite puppet and bodyguard. Ten years ago, there was a little boy who lodged a hunting knife in his throat, and well… no more, Frank. Does that jog your memory?”