I grinned against her pursed lips and licked the tight seam for good measure. I felt her tremble, in either desire or annoyance, and I didn’t care which. When I pulled back, I winked at her and saw that she was glaring daggers at me. I squeezed her neck in warning and turned to look at Benny with a smirk.
There was no missing the black-and-purple bruising around the white bandage that covered the bridge of his nose. He looked pissed.
“I think it’s an improvement.” I nodded at his battered face and grinned just to get a reaction.
He growled at me and I moved Dovie so she was pressed all along my side. She didn’t want to relax, and that wasn’t going to do anything to sell that I was into her to Benny. Not to mention she wasn’t my normal type, so chances of him buying it were slim already.
“Your buddy is gonna crawl out from under his rock sooner or later, Bax, and then you’re all mine.”
“You gonna sucker-punch me again, Benny? Might be harder now that I know you’re coming.”
His gaze flicked to Dovie and then back to me. “Picked up right where your boy left off? There really is no honor among thieves.”
I snorted. “Well, we all know Race owed me. And like you said, five years is a long time to go without. I’ll take my payback however I see fit.” I tilted my head in Dovie’s direction and tried not to grunt as she dug the pointy tip of her elbow into my ribs.
“Why her? I’ve seen the girls you usually roll with. She doesn’t fit the bill.”
I lifted an eyebrow and looked at her sideways. I could literally see where she was biting the inside of her cheek to avoid saying anything. She was pretty cute when she was indignant and put upon. Just to aggravate her a little more, I snatched her slouchy hat off her head and snapped the elastic band holding her hair back off her face. The red waves sprang free like they were escaping from jail.
“I’ve lived in grime and filth for my whole life. Maybe now I want something clean and unblemished by this life. Don’t pretend like you know me, Benny. You never did.”
“I’m starting to think this girl has something magical going on. First Race and now you. Maybe I’ll have to give her a spin to see.”
He wanted me to react, to get mad, so he could have his goons work me over and pay me back for his nose, but I wasn’t stupid, and this was a game I had written the rules to, so I just reclined in the booth and pulled Dovie with me. She put a hand on my stomach and looked up at me under her rusty-colored eyelashes. She wasn’t happy, but she was smart enough not to fight me.
“You can try. A couple of black eyes and a crooked nose will be a picnic after I’m through with you if you do it, but you’re more than welcome to push your luck.”
He grimaced and pulled his pants up with a jerk on his oversize belt buckle.
“Maybe she wants to try a man on for size instead of a boy. Roxie said you forgot all about what a woman wants while you were gone.” He turned to Dovie. “How about it, sugar? Wanna give ol’ Benny a try?”
His leer was enough to make me want to punch him in the nose again, not to mention the fact that he was actually stupid enough to proposition a girl he had just recently knocked around. What a douchebag. I was going to tell him to piss off, to just leave her the hell alone, but I didn’t get the chance because she grabbed my face with both hands and pulled me down so she could kiss me.
There was no closed-lip, restrained press of mouth against mouth this time. Her quick little tongue darted between my surprised lips and stroked across my own. Her fingers curled into the side of my face, rubbing over the black star inked at the corner of my eye and around my neck, and every breath she took I breathed in and felt like she was trying to give me something I had never had before. I nipped the inside of her bottom lip with my teeth and pulled her closer so I could show her what happens when I kissed someone like I meant it. By the time she finally pulled back, her already-full lips were puffy and devoured-looking and her dark green eyes were almost as black as my own. Her chest was rising and falling in a rapid rhythm, and all we could do was stare at each other. Kissing wasn’t a big deal; in fact, it was normally boring and just a motion I went through to get to the main event. This wasn’t boring at all, and now I really, really wanted to know what she had going on under those ugly, baggy clothes.
She blinked at me and tossed a saucy grin at Benny and his boys that looked all wrong on her innocent face.
“I’m good. He’s better, so no thanks.” She dropped her head on my shoulder and batted her eyelashes up at me. I had to bite down a laugh.
“You heard her. Move along, Benny. Stay out of my way and watch your step.”
“You always were too sure of yourself, Bax. It’s gonna blow up in your face.”
I shrugged and grabbed Dovie’s hand to pull her out of the booth behind me.
“I’m surprised it hasn’t already, but it’s going to take someone bigger and badder than you or Novak to do it.” I pulled Dovie out of the booth and pushed past the goon closest to me while tucking her under my arm. I gave Benny one last look over my shoulder. “You know how I drive, Benny. Stay out of my way or you and all your boys will get run over.”
I pushed my luck and guided my companion out the front door with a hand on her surprisingly firm ass. I needed to see this girl in clothes that actually fit her. Chuck stopped us at the door and I gave him the obligatory fist bump.
“Lemme know if my little visit stirs anything up. I need to find Race.”
“Oh, it’s going to stir shit up, which I’m pretty sure was your point, son. You better watch your back with Benny. He didn’t get to be Novak’s right hand by being reasonable and forgiving.”
“I got this, Chuck. I have five years of ‘fuck you’ pent up and it’s all directed at Novak and his crew. I’m not going anywhere until he knows exactly what I think about how that last job went down. I just need to make sure Race is okay and not playing at something too dangerous for him to handle alone.”
“I’ll keep an eye out. I take it you don’t want the boys to know Little Miss Sunshine is related to him?”
“No. Let them think she was just a piece on the side. It’s safer for her that way.”
“Playing with fire by sticking your tongue down her throat. Benny thinks she means something to you, he’s gonna get ideas.”
“Good. Let him. Come on, Copper-Top, let’s get you tucked into bed all safe and snug.”