Better When He's Bad (Welcome to the Point 1) - Page 19

“You have my money?”

The guy’s gold eyes drifted up to me and I felt like he was looking right inside of me. I felt my breath hitch. Wow, that was some powerful mojo he was working with. No wonder he had two supermodels fighting for his attention.

“I do, but I think I have a better option for you. It looks like you bulked up in the joint. What are you pushing now, two-eighty, two-ninety? You can hold your own with some of the big boys. Why don’t you let me set something up, double or nothing, and I’ll only take a fifteen percent cut instead of my normal twenty.”

“You actually gonna set up something clean, Nassir? I told you before that last fight you set up before I got locked up that I’m not playing with amateur hour. I don’t have any time for it.”

“Out only for a minute and already back to making demands. You always did have balls the size of watermelons. I’ll keep it as clean as I can.”

“Do you actually have fifteen grand on hand to go double or nothing?”

I felt my eyes pop wide. I had no clue what they were talking about, but fifteen grand was a lot of money. Who in the hell was this guy my brother considered his best friend, and what kind of life had Race been living before he rode to my rescue?

“I’ve never shorted you, Bax. I’m not a stupid man.”

Bax gave a jerk of his head and cast me a look out of the corner of his eye.

“You see Race around since he came back to town?”

The dark-haired man turned back to the computer he had in front of him. “No. He never cared for how I did business. I haven’t seen him since he asked me to track down someone for him. That was a month before your arrest.”

Bax climbed to his feet. “Who did he ask you to track down?”

The man waved a hand dismissively. “Some girl. He was very intent about it. I found her over in Carlson and passed the info along. He was supposed to owe me a favor, but I never saw him again, and then you got busted, so he was no use to me anyway. I heard Novak was frothing at the mouth to locate him, though, so I’m not surprised you’re asking or that he’s nowhere to be found.”

My heart was thudding loudly in my ears, and I think I might have toppled over if Bax hadn’t clamped down on my arm and hauled me to his side. I was the girl. I was from Carlson. Race had used this smooth, obviously connected man to track me down even before Bax had gone to prison. I was on his radar well before he had realized there would be no saving his best friend. I wasn’t sure what to do with that information, but it felt significant.

“Be here Friday, Bax. I hope you remember what it’s like.”

Bax just lifted an eyebrow. “You mean it’s different from trying to keep your ass safe in the yard every day?”

Nassir laughed and I saw both his companions’ eyes glaze over in arousal. Man, he was potent.

“Good point. It really is good to see you, Bax.”

Bax didn’t respond in kind, but gave me a little shove so I was leading the way down the staircase. Once we were back on the main floor, he couldn’t seem to get out of the club fast enough. I almost had to jog to keep up with his purposeful and long-legged strides back to street level and the car.

I had a million and one questions I wanted to fire at him, answers I wanted to demand, but his jaw was locked and he looked mad. Not at me, not at his criminal cohort, just mad at the world in general, and I didn’t want any of that pointed in my direction. I hadn’t survived as long as I had on my own without knowing when to keep quiet and disappear into the background.

We drove in silence for fifteen minutes out of the city. I was surprised when he pulled the car to a stop in front of a cute little bungalow right on the border of the Point and the Hill. This was a nice neighborhood. Kids could play outside here. Parents didn’t need bars on the windows or handguns under their pillows. That being said, I had no idea what we were doing here or what I should do when Bax parked in the driveway and turned the loud engine off. I turned to look at him and noticed his jaw was clenched and that the star was throbbing as the vein under his skin moved.

“This is my mom’s house.”

I wasn’t going to ask. I didn’t think it was my place to do so, but something was off, so I had to wade in.

“Okay. She won’t mind me staying here until I can work something else out?”

His jaw clenched and I was pretty sure I heard his back teeth crack under the pressure.

“She doesn’t live here. The place is empty. It has been for years.”

I blinked in surprise. Mostly because I never would have pictured him coming from a nice, suburban background like this.

“I’m sorry. Did something happen to her?”

If it was possible, his jaw got even tighter.

“No. I bought this house for her right before I got locked up.”

I blinked at him. “Didn’t you go to jail when you were just a kid?”

He made a noise in his throat and rolled his head around on his shoulders.

“You grew up in the ghetto. Are we ever really kids?”

It was a valid point, but that still didn’t explain a nice house in a pricey neighborhood.

“Why doesn’t she live here if you did something so nice for her? It had to cost an arm and a leg.”

I was really starting to think Race hadn’t bothered to tell me anything about his life before finding me. A few insights into his complicated friend would have been really useful right now.

“Whoever said crime doesn’t pay is an idiot. It pays great, which is why there is so much of it. I bought her a house because I knew eventually I was going to end up dead or in jail and I wanted her to be okay no matter what happened to me. The one stipulation I put on her was that she had to be sober. She can’t stay here while she’s drinking.”

I hissed out a breath, because addiction and mothers were a sore spot for me as well.

“You mean to tell me she has this house free of charge and all she has to do is not drink?”

“Yep.”

“Wow.”

He looked at me and opened his door. “Anyway, it’s empty and no one knows about it because she never dried out enough to move in, so you’ll be safe here for a while. We’ll try and figure out some food and clothes tomorrow.”

I got out of the car and looked up at the house. This was my dream. A cute little house in a safe place. I had never even been close to something like this. It was just sad that some people couldn’t let go of their vices long enough to appreciate a gift like this.

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