“Don’t say things like that,” she whispered.
“Isn’t that exactly what you want? For me to die so you can be free?” I turned to her to see her reaction, to see the emotions dancing across her face.
“I definitely want to be free. But no, I don’t want you to die.” She left the bedroom and walked to the living room.
I followed behind her and slipped a pistol into the back of my jeans. My beat-up truck was packed with shotguns and weapons that were practically hidden in plain sight. If someone tried to fuck with me, they were dealing with an armory.
With arms crossed over her chest and that same irritation in her eyes, she looked pissed that I was leaving. “Will Heath be downstairs?”
“No. He’ll be at the Underground with me.”
“But there are fifty highly trained men down there. I don’t know how many times I have to say it, but they’ll keep you safe.”
“Balto, it doesn’t matter how strong they are. They aren’t you.” She hit the button on the wall so the elevator would rise to our floor. “I guess I’ll see you sometime in the morning.” She rose on her tiptoes so she could plant her hands on my chest and kiss me.
Kiss me like she would actually miss me.
Kiss me like I meant something to her.
My hands moved around her waist, and I pulled the t-shirt tight against her body. I could feel the steep curve in her back, the prominent feminine features that made her so perfect. She had a tight back that led to a gorgeous, nectarine ass. I pulled her against my chest as I kissed her, realizing I was kissing a woman goodbye, something I’d never done before. I hardly kissed women at all. When it came to sex with whores, it was right down to business. With one-night stands, sometimes there was lip-locking but not much.
But I seemed to kiss this woman every single day.
The second I walked into the Underground, Brutus came to my side. “Hunter’s replacement just delivered his fee. Not only did he pay his portion for the last distribution, but he made up for all the payments Hunter missed.”
I moved past the other men and headed to the bar. “I like this guy.”
“He’s a good replacement.”
“Should have been him in the first place. Looks like we won’t have any problems from here on out.”
“Not if he wants to keep his skull intact.”
I stopped when I noticed Heath sitting at one of the tables with the topless bartender in his lap. His glass of scotch was beside him, and he was feeling her up underneath her skirt. She had men to serve and tables to wait on, but my brother’s mind immediately went to pussy. “We’ll talk later.” I left Brutus and interrupted my brother’s playtime. “Let the woman do her job, Heath.”
“Come on, she deserves a break.” He gripped her thigh and kissed her neck.
I didn’t want to sit there and watch soft porn. “Denise, get me a scotch on the rocks—now.”
She was a sassy woman, but she didn’t question my tone. She left Heath’s lap immediately and headed back to the bar.
Wise decision. I would have fired her ass if she disobeyed me.
“What the hell, man?” Heath rounded on me. “Don’t cockblock me.”
“Bartenders are off-limits. You know that.”
“Why the fuck are they off-limits?” He glanced at her before he turned back to me. “She’s wearing a tight little skirt while her tits hang out. You expect a bunch of Skull Kings to behave ourselves around tits and booze?”
“You can fuck her after her shift but not during. If she’s grinding against your dick, then our mouths are going dry. Consider this to be your one and only warning.” My brother’s personality was really blossoming now that he’d been out of jail for over a month. He’d shed his hard, outer layer and finally returned to the pain in the ass he used to be. I was happy for him, but he had to obey me. This was my joint, and I couldn’t give him special treatment. The respect of my men was worth everything to me. Once you lost it, it was gone forever.
Denise returned and set the glass of booze beside me. “Anything else, Balto?”
With my elbows resting on the table, I looked up to meet her gaze. “Yes. Stop fucking around, or find a new job.”
She didn’t talk back to me or give me attitude. I was so used to Cassini always giving me hell for everything that I expected Denise to do the same thing. Instead, she held her tongue and walked away.
Heath gave me a cold look but didn’t say anything.
“There’s plenty of pussy out there, Heath. You’ll be fine.”
He grabbed his glass and took a long drink. “We’ve got some big players coming to the auction tonight. But I guess they’re expecting younger meat.”