Once she was settled back into her seat, I dialed Mario and headed back to Six Forks. “I need you to double security,” I said by way of greeting. He didn’t miss a beat or bother with the nuisance of conversational courtesy bullshit.
“I just saw Arthur. He touched my girl.” I heard the intake of breath from the passenger seat but chose to ignore my slip-up. I was still reeling from the reality that I’d just come face to face with the man who thought he could own me.
“Shit. Is she all right?”
“Yes. I want to know how he could possibly know about her?”
“What do you expect, man? You haven’t exactly been laying low when it comes to the girl.” I gripped the steering wheel tighter, realizing he was right. Monroe drew me like a moth to a flame, and even when we were practically enemies, I still found reasons to be near her.
“He was going to grab her as payment for not delivering you. We need to move faster.”
“We can’t move faster. I don’t have everything in place.”
“You don’t have what in place?” I barked. I could see Monroe jump from the corner of my eye. She turned her wide eyes on me while her hand fluttered near her chest where her heart lay. I wondered what she saw when she looked at me.
“I need to make sure I have concrete evidence in place to put him away forever. I’ve already lost my career to this motherfucker. I want him to get a lethal dose of what it’s like to fuck with me.”
“If you want him dead, you should have just said so. I can end this now.” I was tempted to turn the car around and do just that. I had to protect Monroe. She was part of the stakes now.
What about your brother?
I forced myself to shake off the thoughts. Arthur had successfully planted a seed in my head that was spreading faster than a deadly disease. I had no reason to betray the man who’d given me a shot at life. It was Mario who had brought me home, and it was Mario who was there when I was released from juvie, ready to do anything I needed to exact my revenge against the bright-haired, blue-eyed drug sitting next to me.
There was no way I could double cross him.
But there was no way I could let my brother die when there was a way to save him.
“No,” he rushed out. Suspicion naturally perked up at his rejection, but I shook it off. “We don’t kill him.”
For some reason, I heard the unspoken ‘yet’ in his statement.
“Because if we kill him then another will take his place. It won’t bring down his organization. We need to do this carefully. We need evidence, and we need Arthur vulnerable. If we flush out everyone, we can take his organization.”
“I don’t want to take anything. I want him dead or rotting in a jail cell. Either way, he suffers.”
“You know that’s not what I meant,” he laughed.
“Just fix it, Mario.” I hung up the phone and texted Q and Dash to meet me at my place. First, I needed to get her home.
“How did you find me?” Her small voice infiltrated my attempt to block her out.
“Would you believe me if I told you I was passing by?”
“It’s true. I passed you on the way into town. I wasn’t going to follow you, but that lasted only a few miles. I had no clue where you were going, but—”
Hell, I had no clue what I was doing. I was prepared to track her all night if need be. This had to be the first time when my obsession with her came in handy.
“But what?” she pressed.
“But nothing. I’m just glad I did.”
“So if he knew how to find me, why did he come after me and not you? He said he wanted to take me as an alternative payment.”
I felt my blood boil and my knuckles whiten further as I gripped the steering wheel tighter. I was surprised it didn’t bend under the pressure.
“He was likely going to use you as leverage rather than payment. He still wants Mario, and as long as I can deliver him, he won’t do anything drastic.”
“You don’t call public kidnapping in broad daylight drastic?”
“He could have killed you.” I couldn’t resist meeting her gaze if only for a moment.
“I am done getting caught in the middle of your shit storm, Keiran.”
“I tried doing the right thing and letting you go. You are just as much to blame.” When she turned me in, she broke any resolve I managed to build to stay away from her, and now my biggest enemy knew about her. Of course, I had no idea who was feeding him information, so it was likely she would have been a target whether I stayed away or not. It all began when I decided I had to have her and used revenge as an excuse.
“You killed Trevor and Anya!” she shouted.
“You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.”
“What are we going to do about my car?” It only just occurred to me that it was left behind. I wasn’t even sure what station it was we had just left. From the corner of my eye, I watched her pull out her phone as she sent a text message.
“What were you going to dinner with Jesse for?” I asked instead of answering her question.
“I don’t know. What do people usually go to dinner for?”
“Have I ever told you that I find your sarcastic nature sexy?”
“Don’t make this about sex, Keiran.”
“It’s always about sex.”