Bax growled and made a move like he was going back after Race, so I put a hand on his forearm and reached up to wipe off a trickle of blood that was trailing out of his nose with the edge of my thumb. I shook my head, and with my eyes, I pleaded with him to let it rest. It must have worked because he stuck the end of the cigarette in his mouth and headed toward the door.
“Well, maybe you should have left written instructions with someone before you dipped out, leaving her on her own to deal with half the Point trying to get their hands on her in order to get to your stupid ass. Sorry, as usual I wasn’t in on your goddamn plans, Race, so I just made up my own rules as I went along.”
“That’s what you always do, Bax, and look where you ended up.”
I saw Bax’s jaw clench and his hands curl into fists.
“Not without some help, Race.” His eyes lifted to me and it made my heart sink to see that all those swirling shadows were firmly back in place. “I’ll be right back.” I wasn’t sure if that was a threat to my brother or a promise to me, but either way it raised goose bumps all along my arms.
When the door closed with a fierce bang, I flipped on the overhead light and finally looked at my older brother. He had flopped into the worn-out chair and looked about as haggard and spent as its threadbare fabric. He was a big guy, not as bulky as Bax, but wherever he had been, he hadn’t been taking very good care of himself over the last month. His cheeks looked hollowed out, he had an unkempt scruff decorating his handsome face, and his eyes, identical to my own, were far too dark. In addition to the weight loss and general disarray of his clothes and normally perfectly styled hair, there was now a gaping wound on his cheek, his eyebrow was split open, and there were rusty smears of blood along the back of both of his hands.
I sighed and walked to the tiny kitchenette to get him a damp rag to clean up with. “Where have you been?”
“What are you doing in bed with Bax, Dovie? Do you have any idea what he’s capable of, what kind of guy he is? I never would have left you alone had I thought you would be dumb enough to end up sleeping with him.”
I gritted my teeth and tossed the rag to him. I narrowed my eyes at him as I propped myself up on the counter and watched him.
“You left me alone after I got the crap kicked out of me and told me to wait for him, Race. Who are you to show up now and judge what’s happening here?”
His eyes, so like mine, flared dark with anger and guilt. “I had to leave you. They would’ve just kept coming and I had to figure out who I could trust.”
“They would’ve grabbed me to get to you, Race. Do you even care about that?”
He shoved his hands through his golden hair and started to pace in front of me. “Of course I care. Every move I’ve made has been to keep everyone safe. I knew Bax would find you. Would stand between you and Novak.”
I crossed my arms over my chest and leveled him with a look. “What if he hadn’t? What if he had gotten out of jail and taken off? That’s a big risk you took with my life without talking to me about it, Race.”
“I know Bax.” His gaze drifted to the rumpled bed. “At least I thought I did.”
“I thought he was like your brother, your best friend. Isn’t that why you told me to trust him if he showed up? Even if he was scary, even if he seemed dangerous, you told me to trust him.”
“That was before I knew he would sink so low to pay me back.”
“What are you talking about?”
He lumbered to his feet and started pacing back and forth. “I never thought he would sleep with you to get back at me for sending him to jail.”
I sucked in a breath so hard it hurt. I shook my head and frowned at Race. Even though I missed him, was worried about him, I wasn’t going to let him waltz in and start getting things all tangled up.
“He didn’t. He didn’t know about the setup until tonight when he cornered Lord Hartman. He suspected you had something to do with it, were involved somehow, but he called Titus tonight for the real story. He took me to bed way before that, Race.”
“Jesus, Dove, I don’t need details.”
“Then stop being an idiot. You pulled a gun on the only person in the world who gives a crap where you’ve been and if you’ve been okay besides me.”
“I wasn’t expecting to find you naked, in bed with him.”
“That justifies putting a gun to his head after everything he’s already been through?”
Race’s eyes flicked up at me and then he squeezed them shut and shoved his fists into them.
“You’re in love with him.”
I lifted a shoulder and let it fall. “Maybe a little bit. Regardless, he’s been here and he’s done what you intended him to do. Benny, Novak . . . none of those guys have gotten close to me, and they want to because whatever you have going on is making everyone very nervous, Race.”
The door to the apartment swung open and Bax stalked back in looking no less pissed and battered than when he left. His face had fared better than Race’s, but his knife wound was all broken open again and the scab looked like something out of a horror movie. He made his way over to where I was standing. He put a finger under my chin and tilted my head up and looked at me hard.
“Fine. You need to rewrap up your side.”
He looked down where he was steadily leaking blood and shrugged. “It won’t kill me.”
He took a position similar to my own and crossed his arms over his chest and glared at my brother.
“So, Race, why don’t you tell us what you have on Novak that’s enough for him to want you alive, even though you threatened to take him down? Why don’t you explain to your sister why you brought her back here, knowing everyone was going to be all over you?”
Race muttered something under his breath and folded back into the chair. He clasped his hands in front of him and looked at something on the floor between his feet.
“The night I grabbed the old guy, I knew there was no way you were going to kill him and no way Novak was going to let him live. I set up a bunch of wireless remote cameras on the meeting point.”
Bax shook his head. “Smart bastard.”
Race heaved another sigh. “Yeah, only the footage is blurry. You can tell it’s Novak, you can see him pull the trigger, but then everything kind of went crazy because you took off in the Aston Martin. I was supposed to stick around and give the footage to Titus, and Novak was supposed to go away for murder, only none of that happened. After you went to jail, Novak told me if I didn’t scram he was going after Dovie and after you behind bars. I told him he didn’t want to mess with me, but I didn’t want to tip my hand too early. When I knew you were getting out and could protect yourself, I knew it was time to come back.”