Dirty wicked, p.6
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       Dirty Wicked, p.6
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         Part #11.5 of Wicked Lovers series by Shayla Black
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  “I’m an opportunistic prick, not a heartless bastard. I’m not going to keep a sick kid in the rain.” He scowled. “Do you want to hear the rest of this or not?”

  She crossed her arms over her chest and paced away from him, bristling at his tone. He mentally filed away that trick to keep distance between them. “Carry on.”

  “After I got the kids in the ’hood to back off, I helped Mike return to his group. After that, he and his family kind of…adopted me. Jeanine tried to mother me.”

  That made Sasha smile. “My mother-in-law tried to mother everyone. Mike was crushed when she passed away.”

  Nick had been when he’d heard, too. “At least the heart attack was fast. Mike’s dad was a great guy. He often tried to give me guidance back then since my old man took off.”

  “Glen is lonely in that home, I’m sure. I’ve wished a million times that I could visit him, but I don’t dare risk putting him in danger. He probably thinks I’ve deserted him.”

  Same here. Nick had never had the balls to tell the old man that he’d managed to add to his rap sheet. Even if the conviction had been pure bullshit, he hadn’t wanted to see the censure on the old man’s face. “When this is over, I’ll go see him. I’m sure he misses Mike like hell.”

  She nodded. “I’ll take Harper to see him. He’d like that. Sorry to keep getting us sidetracked. So they kind of took you in…”

  “Yeah, when Glen was still running the freight company, he was having some theft problems. I helped him figure out who was robbing him blind. He suggested I become a P.I.” Nick shrugged. “It stuck. So I owe him. But you know Mike had a major Star Wars thing as a kid, right?”

  She huffed. “As an adult, too. God, he loved that stuff. It killed me to sell all his LEGO collectible sets and figurines.”

  “But you couldn’t take it with you, and you needed the money.”

  “Yeah. I was shocked to find out that the LEGO Death Star thing from 2005 was worth over twenty-five hundred dollars.”

  “If he’d bought the damn Millennium Falcon LEGO set, like I told him to, back in 2007, that sucker is worth sixteen grand now.” Nick shook his head because even he couldn’t believe the value of little plastic pieces. “Anyway, when he was a kid, we would meet in City Park a lot. He’d ride his bike down from Lakeshore, usually accompanied by Jeanine. We often hung out at Popp Bandstand. Know where that is?”

  “Yes. I had my bridal pictures taken there.”

  He would bet she’d looked beautiful in white lace and innocence with one of the city’s most delicate structures as her backdrop. “During summer evenings, we’d stay late. Sometimes a live band would play.”

  “The city is so full of music. That’s one thing I loved about it when I moved here.”

  “Yeah. And fireworks would light up the sky. That’s when Mike loved to pretend he was Luke Skywalker. I was Han Solo. We were in a raging battle, and the bandstand was the Death Star. He was going to be the hero, by god. I helped.”

  “You indulged a kid. Most teenagers would have ignored him.”

  Being with Mike had given him the opportunity to be a kid again, too. He’d barely gotten the chance to be one since his dad had taken off and money had become scarce. “I liked him.”

  “He was a wonderful man and I miss him every day.”

  Of course. She’d loved him. Mike had always been a lucky bastard.

  “Me, too,” Nick murmured.

  “So you think the evidence is somewhere around the bandstand?”

  “Yeah. But I need to call Xander, see if he can find out about the surveillance in the area, if there are any upcoming events… That kind of thing. It’s a public place, and there’s a coffee house nearby. It’s likely someone will see us. We have to seem as inconspicuous as possible, try not to draw too much attention.”

  “We can ask him about Harper, too, right?”

  She must worry about her daughter like crazy. How wonderful would it be for someone to miss him half that much? “Sure.”

  As he drew out his phone, she disappeared into the room’s little bath. He heard the splash of water, a long sigh. Sasha was trying to keep herself together. Nick would rather she leaned on him, but he knew why she wouldn’t. And it was better this way. Less emotional, fewer opportunities to trip on temptation. Comforting her could be disastrous for his self-control.

  Thankfully, Xander answered on the first ring, distracting him. “You there?”

  “Yeah. I need another favor.”

  “I need a new head of security,” the younger Santiago quipped. “Can we work something out?”

  “Bastard. Focus.” Nick asked his questions about Popp Bandstand. “Can you find that out?”

  On the other end of the line, he could hear Xander clicking. “I don’t see any events in the next forty-eight hours. I can’t tell you about surveillance, man. Finding that information would take me getting behind a firewall or something, and you know I’m a lover, not a hacker.”

  Damn it. And Nick didn’t have a computer with him so he could tap into the city’s security. “Every female north of Lake Pontchartrain knows that, man. And a few south, too, I’m sure.”

  “I only have eyes for my wife now.”

  With anyone else, Nick would have called bullshit, but from everything he’d seen, Xander was dead serious. “Mike left Sasha a key. I have no idea what it belongs to. Anything in the area that makes sense? It would have to be something he felt sure no one would disturb for months…years.”

  “I haven’t been to New Orleans in a while. Sorry. I’ll ask Javier. If he can think of something, I’ll ring you back.”

  Sasha emerged from the bathroom. Their eyes met. Hers pleaded. Nick wished she wanted him half as much as she wanted his phone right now but he couldn’t afford to be a dumb, desperate fidiot. Jesus, why hadn’t he managed to get laid before she’d knocked on his door last night? On the other hand, would it have mattered?

  “Great,” he said to Xander. “I’m going to pass you to Sasha so she can ask you about Harper.”

  “Sure. Good kid. She seems to be doing better.”

  Nick was glad to hear it. She probably had Mike’s disposition, too. “Talk to you later.”

  When he handed the phone to Sasha, she clutched it like a lifeline. “Hi. How’s Harper?”

  Xander must have said something reassuring because she smiled as if someone had lifted a megaton weight from her slender shoulders.

  Cupping her elbow, Nick snagged her attention. “I’m running to the drugstore down the street. I think I’ve got a plan to get us into the park without raising too many eyebrows. Hungry?”

  She shook her head. “The burger filled me up.”

  He nodded. “Lock up behind me. Don’t answer the door for anyone else. I’ll be back.”

  She gave him an absent nod, then turned her attention to the call once more. “So she fell right asleep? Is the medicine helping? Did she cry at bedtime?”

  He slipped out the door, hearing the click of the deadbolt, and hit the twenty-four hour pharmacy nearby, grabbing supplies with a bit of help and tossing them into the basket. When he got to the cashier, Nick figured Sasha wouldn’t like everything he’d bought…but better safe than sorry. And if she wanted to fight about it, he would handle that, too.

  * * * *

  When Sasha let him in the motel room, she was still clutching the phone with a warm smile.

  “Everything all right?” Nick asked, gripping the bag from the drugstore.

  “Yeah. Xander filled me in. Harper’s fever is coming down. She’s been sitting in bed most of the evening, watching movies she’s never had the opportunity to see. Apparently she loves Frozen.”

  Nick wasn’t entirely sure what that was, but hearing the news that her daughter behaved like a typical little girl seemed to fill Sasha with relief.

  “And they’re reading her some books, too. She loves them.” Sasha bit her lip. “She’s missed out on so many normal childhood things.”

&
nbsp; “Don’t blame yourself. Clifford is the one who fucked up your life.”

  She winced, and Nick realized belatedly that she probably hadn’t heard that kind of language too much. Mike had never been one to swear. He remembered him once saying that Sasha had grown up very sheltered with small-town, religious parents. Nick resisted the urge to shake his head in self-reproach. His first spoken word had probably contained four letters.

  “Sorry,” he mumbled.

  “No. You’re right. I didn’t want this life for Harper. For myself. I certainly wanted more than an early grave for Mike.” She sighed. “But Walter Clifford changed all that, and it’s too late to undo his damage. All we can do is try to pick up and move on. Will something in the bag help us accomplish that?”

  She reached for the items he’d procured at the drugstore. Nick thought about stopping her, shielding her. He didn’t. Better that she understand now. “To start, yes.”

  When he handed the sack to her, she peeked in. Pausing, she frowned as she grabbed the first of two matching boxes. “Hair color? Rich dark brown?”

  “Clifford is looking for a blonde with a toddler, not a brunette with a boyfriend.”

  Sasha zipped her stare to him, her lush lips parted in surprise. “A what?”

  “Boyfriend. Me. We’re going to the bandstand about midmorning, after the joggers but before the stroll-through-the-park-at-lunch crowd. The moms pushing strollers that time of day won’t pay us much mind. If Clifford has surveillance on the area, all he’ll see is two people hand in hand, seemingly in love.” He picked up the Saints ball cap he’d bought and shoved it on his head. “Not only will you look different, but by tomorrow morning, I’ll have enough stubble to pass as a beard. With the bill over my face and these”—he extracted a pair of cheap, dark sunglasses, tag dangling—“no one will recognize me. You have a pair in there, too.”

  “And makeup?” She ignored the glasses and started pulling cosmetics from the bag.

  He shrugged, hoping he hadn’t fucked up. “One of the female clerks helped me.”

  Sasha studied the BB cream that was supposed to adjust to her skin tone, the soft peachy-pink blush, and a translucent powder. A little compact with some brown, gold, and rosy shadows pressed into the shape of an eye shimmered behind the plastic lid.

  “The woman said these colors would work for most anyone. When I told her you had hazel eyes, she recommended those shadows.”

  “You remembered?”

  The color of her eyes? Yeah, he’d never forgotten. “There’s a nude lip in there, too. Whatever that means.”

  Nick wished like hell Sasha would give him some sort of reaction. Was she pleased? Pissed? Or just puzzled?

  Suddenly, she smiled at him. “This is the most makeup I’ve had in what seems like forever. Oh, the lipstick looks pretty. Mascara!” She hugged it to her chest. “I’ve missed this. Thanks.”

  He sighed with relief as she pulled out a couple of toothbrushes, toothpaste, a new brush, a travel-sized lotion. “You’re welcome. Sasha—”

  “What’s this?” she asked of the last item in the bag.

  He saw the instant she realized what he’d bought. She turned a rosy shade and set the box on the counter carefully.

  “Condoms,” he confirmed, still not sure whether he’d bought them to remind her of his “demand” so this mood between them would be less cozy…or just in case his restraint didn’t last.

  For a long minute, she didn’t say anything. Finally, she swallowed as if she worked up her courage and looked at him. “Thank you for thinking of protecting me. Am I coloring my hair now or in the morning?”

  Despite her matter-of-fact reply, Nick had to work not to get hard while thinking about Sasha and condoms in the same sentence. No luck.

  He turned away. “In the morning is fine. I’m going to take a shower. Make sure the motel door is locked.”

  Without waiting for her reply, Nick disappeared into the bathroom. He stripped down, soaped up, and stroked himself to climax, biting back a groan at the thought of crushing Sasha’s delicate mouth under his as he surged deep inside her. Self-pleasure barely shaved down the edge of his need, but better to work off as much as he could before he crawled in bed beside her.

  Cursing, he wrapped a towel around his waist and jerked the door open. His backpack with his clean underwear was still on the bed, and he’d forgotten—

  The sight in front of him zapped every fucking thought from his head.

  “Sasha?”

  She’d folded down the ratty bedspread and eased between the starched white sheets, sitting with her knees tucked under her, ass resting on her soles. She wore a sleeveless white nightgown that ended just above her knees. Sheer lace trimmed the gentle slope of fabric covering her breasts and the hem at the bottom. It was plain as hell and not meant to be sexy in the least. But it was probably all she had. She had unfastened the top two buttons of the garment, revealing a hint of her shadowy cleavage.

  Jacking off in the shower had been futile.

  Bowed head, hands clasped, Nick watched her shoulders rise and fall with every nervous breath. She looked like a goddamn sacrificial virgin.

  “I’m ready,” Sasha whispered.

  No, she wasn’t.

  Nick rubbed at the back of his neck. “Listen—”

  “Mike told me once that you like to be…in charge. In bed.”

  Damn his old pal. “Sasha—”

  “I can be…” She grappled for words. “Compliant.”

  He snorted. Unless she could be eager, he would never touch her. “Look at me.”

  Sasha blinked up, clearly confused—until she caught sight of him. She gasped. Her eyes bulged, her stare walking all over him. Her mouth hung open.

  Her visual worship gave his ego a boost. Knowing she liked what she saw got his dick harder, too. But it didn’t really change anything between them.

  “What the hell are you doing?” he asked.

  “Well…you’ve done everything you said you would to keep Harper and me safe. We made a deal.” She was breathing hard. “You gave me last night to be with her. Now I’m living up to my end of the bargain.”

  He noticed she hadn’t said she was dying to have his cock inside her tight pussy as she clawed her way to climax.

  “Have you ever had sex with a man other than Mike?”

  “No.”

  “You ever had a man eat your pussy until you’re so sensitive you had to plead to make him stop?”

  Her cheeks went rosier. “No.”

  “You ever wanted a man so much you begged him to fuck you until your throat felt raw?”

  “No.” Her voice turned breathier.

  “You ever come so hard you weren’t sure you had any bones left in your thoroughly melted body?”

  Sasha’s saucer-wide eyes told him she wondered if such reactions were even possible. “No.”

  “Ever even fantasized about those things?”

  Her gaze dropped to her lap again. She swallowed. “Why all the questions?”

  “Yes or no?”

  “I agreed to give you my body, not my mind.”

  Nick had no right, but that answer pissed him off. If he was going to risk her hatred and his own self-loathing, then by god he wanted all of her.

  He grabbed her chin in his grip and forced her gaze up to his. “If you can’t even answer me, then you’re not ready for the way I intend to fuck you. Not even close.”

  Sasha jerked from his grip. “What more do you want? You can
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