I still worked at the group home. In fact, after Reeve’s quick exit, they had offered me a promotion. I was tempted to take it, but every other weekend away from Bax was already pushing it, so I had turned it down. It hurt a little to say no, but every time I came home after not seeing him for a few days in a row, he was sporting a new bruise or busted-up knuckles, meaning he was out getting into trouble while I was away. He didn’t come right out and say he was still letting Nassir set up fights for him, just like he didn’t openly admit all the cars he had coming in and out of the shop weren’t there by their owners’ request, but for the most part he was keeping his nose clean. Well, as clean as a guy like Bax could.
Titus was keeping an eagle eye on him and he was pretty invested in making sure he stayed out of jail for my sake, so I didn’t pry, and I wasn’t really too worried about those kinds of speed bumps.
Speaking of the devil, he came wandering out of the backroom pulling his shirt on over his head as he went. He wasn’t as bulked up as he had been when I first met him. He was leaner now, less intimidating in sheer size, but that didn’t mean he had lost any of his badass swagger. I didn’t miss the little sigh of appreciation that left Brysen’s parted lips as Bax bent over the back of the couch and placed a stinging, hard kiss on my mouth.
“Gotta finish the rear end on the Hemi ’Cuda. The garage is empty tonight and Race has plans. I’ll be back in a bit.”
I ran my thumb across the star on his temple and gave him a softer kiss. “See ya later.”
He ran a hand over my hair and pulled one of his thousand hoodies on as he headed out the door.
“Is it okay to tell you that he is equal parts terrifying and hot?” Brysen asked.
I snickered and tossed the pen I was holding onto one of my books. “Yeah, because it’s true.”
“I don’t know how you do it. He’s so . . . dark. It’s like it just oozes out of him.”
He wasn’t always dark, in fact lately he was the one having to pull me into the light. I didn’t feel bad for shooting Novak, he was an awful man and what he put Bax and my brother through made me glad he was gone, but being the one to pull the trigger had changed something in me, made me have a touch of the dark, and without Bax around, there was a good chance I might have just slipped into it.
“He’s a lot to handle. Good thing most of the time he makes it worth my while.”
“Is he still pretty close with your brother?”
She still wasn’t the biggest fan of Race’s. I wasn’t sure what that was all about considering they hardly spent any time around one another, but it didn’t matter enough for me to really investigate. Race was stirring up enough trouble on the back end that worrying about who liked him and who didn’t would make a full-time job.
“There are some serious trust issues working between the two of them. Race doesn’t love us together and Bax doesn’t love that Race isn’t living clean. Ultimately they are best friends and have each other’s backs, but Race sent Bax to jail, and Bax is screwing Race’s little sister, so it can be tense.”
Race had taken his knack for numbers and his newfound understanding of the underworld and picked up where Novak had left off. My brother was running numbers like clockwork. Considering Lord Hartman no longer had an in with the criminal underworld, and there was no longer a threat to my well-being, he had cut Race off . . . no money whatsoever was coming in from the Hill, and Race was too resourceful to let that stop him. If he was going to be a bookie and a loan shark, he was going to be the best, most affluent one the Point had ever seen.
If Bax was still operating outside the law, he was being far more hush-hush about it than my brother was. I tried not to worry about him, but Race was taking big chances, making a name for himself, and not in any kind of good way. Something had happened to him; he was being bold and brazen and trying his best to take up the mantle that had just been shaken off of Novak.
“I can see that causing some problems between two hardheaded guys like that.”
Testosterone wasn’t something I was lacking in my life for sure. Between Bax, Race, and now Titus, who was always popping in and out, I had never felt more secure, more protected, and never more loved and valued than I did now. It wasn’t always an easy road to travel. There was a lot of testosterone, a lot of attitude, a lot of quiet conversations that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, but there was also a sense of moving forward. It was with eyes on the future, and what could be, and not on the past, and what all of us had left behind.
“Life is rarely boring, that’s for sure.”
She gave me a little grin and climbed to her feet to collect her things. She was already enrolled at the university and only had a year left before she got her degree. Occasionally, she liked to drop in and study because she said living at home as an adult was ridiculous. I didn’t get the whole story, I knew she worked, had her own money, but for some reason she still stayed at her parents’ fancy house at the base of the Hill. I liked Brysen a lot, we spent more time together now that I wasn’t living in the inner city, but I didn’t know her all that well and I was starting to think that was by her design.
“Well, you look really happy and I’m glad everything worked out for you. I’ll see you at work tomorrow, okay?”
I nodded and walked her to the front door. I saw her gaze slide over the sexy muscle car parked in the driveway and she gave her blond head a shake.
“I can’t believe he gave you that car. If a guy handed me a ride like that, it would earn him blow jobs every night for a year.”
I laughed and tilted my head to the side. “He said everyone knows it’s his car, so no one would mess with me if I was driving it. It’s also fast . . . like crazy, scary fast. He told me I attract too much trouble and I need to be able to outrun it all.”
She laughed a little and walked to her own BMW that was parked behind the Runner.
“Silly. Doesn’t he see you ran headfirst into the biggest trouble you could find and then never wanted to let it go?”
I just shrugged in response and waved at her as she turned around and headed back down the road. I loved the car, loved that it showed how much Bax cared about me, and I had indeed thanked him quite vigorously in the front seat, in the backseat, and maybe again on the hood. I liked driving it, it made me feel like I had a part of him with me, surrounding me. I also got to give Marco his promised ride, which only kind of thrilled him because he told me I drive like a girl. The kids at the group home also loved that I could tool them around town in the sleek and loud car, so it was thrilling for more than just me.