“I almost got married once,” Vincent said a few minutes later, his gaze straight ahead on the television, his jaw tight.
Kell’s eyebrows rose. Vincent Hansen had almost been married? For as long as he’d known him the man had been more than a player. He was what their friend Lizzy called a man-whore. “Seriously?”
“Yep. After I got out of the Teams, right when I’d started working for Red Stone. I loved her too. Then one day she up and left without a single fucking word. She was just gone.” Still not looking at him, Vincent cracked open another beer and downed half of it in seconds. “I like Charlotte, but…be careful.”
Kell didn’t respond, just sipped his own beer and stared blindly at the screen. How the hell could he be careful? She already owned him, even if she didn’t know it yet.
* * * * *
Charlotte tugged her long-sleeved pink and white checkered pajama top on and went in search of Reece and Lizzy. Lizzy’s husband was working late, but they had two guards outside the expensive high rise condo.
The tall, beautiful Hispanic woman had offered—well, insisted was more like it—to take Reece off her hands so Charlotte could shower. Since Reece had gone willingly to the other woman, Charlotte had taken advantage.
She found Lizzy on the long white couch in the living room with a laptop on her lap and Reece sleeping in the bassinet next to her. Drapes had been pulled to cover the high windows that in the morning would bathe the living room and kitchen in sunlight. Lizzy looked up and smiled. “He drank one of the bottles and just went to sleep. That kid can sure eat.”
Charlotte smiled and sat on the loveseat on the other side of her sleeping son. “Tell me about it. He’s in the ninetieth percentile for height right now so something tells me he’ll be tall like Kell.” All that could change over the next couple years but Reece was a mini version of his father.
Lizzy’s dark eyes narrowed curiously at the mention of Kell. Without looking at her screen, she typed in a few commands, then shut the laptop, her gaze still on Charlotte. “What’s up with you two?”
Charlotte shrugged, not even remotely sure how to answer. She was pretty sure she’d completely fallen for Kell and had no clue what the right move was, especially considering she couldn’t even see him until this mess was settled. “Ah, I don’t know.”
“I’m totally being nosy so if I ask too many questions you don’t want to answer you won’t hurt my feeling if you tell me to shut up. That said—what made you decide to move in with him? I didn’t even know Kell had a…anyone, until Porter told me you needed a place to hide out.”
“Circumstances didn’t really give me much of a choice.” That was a vague enough answer and all she felt comfortable telling the other woman. “Not that I didn’t want to.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth she realized they were true.
No matter what she wanted to tell herself, she liked living with Kell. Liked being under the same roof as him even if the memory of their hot night together was driving her a little crazy. “Long story short, he deserves time with his son and my alcoholic sister moved back in with my parents. I was already looking for a place to move, but…” She trailed off, not wanting to get into the whole big thing with this woman no matter how nice she was.
Lizzy’s lips pulled into a thin line for a moment then she smiled. “All right, I won’t bother you with any more questions. Not until we get to know each other better…You want some hot tea?”
Charlotte nodded and turned Reece’s bassinet toward her as the other woman got up. Answering a bunch of questions was the last thing she wanted right now but she could definitely do with the female companionship. After she’d gotten pregnant with Reece she’d lost a lot of friends back in DC. She figured some people had known about her husband’s infidelities, but most people hadn’t. Or she assumed they hadn’t considering that people she’d thought were friends had come down so hard on her about something that was none of their damn business anyway.
Sighing, she laid her head back on the loveseat, listening to the sound of the teapot whistle from the other room. Tomorrow was a new day and she just prayed that whoever was after her would be found soon so she could figure out the rest of her life. One that hopefully included Kell.
Two weeks later
“Monique, this is getting really old,” Kell growled into the phone. Monique had been practically stalking him for the past two weeks, calling at all hours of the night and day. Hell, she’d even shown up at his house again a few times. Thank God Charlotte wasn’t there. After what she’d been through with her ex, he didn’t want her to think he actually wanted this woman around. The Red Stone Security guys thought Monique was fucking hilarious and a few single ones had told him to send her their way, but she was grating on his last nerve. With all the shit going on in his life and the fact that he hadn’t been able to see Charlotte or Reece over the past two weeks, his temper was on a hair trigger.
“I think I heard someone breaking into my house though,” she whispered, her voice teary.
For the brief time they’d dated she’d been cool, elegant and almost standoffish—until the last few days before he’d ended things. She’d started acting needy and…weird. “Then hang up and call the police. Stop calling and stop coming by my house or I’m filing a restraining order.” Not waiting for a response, he hung up on her.
He thought he’d gotten rid of his problem by programming his smartphone to send any calls from her number directly to voicemail. Unfortunately she must have figured it out because she’d been calling from different numbers. Up until now he’d tried to be as polite as he could, but that clearly wasn’t working so he had to try a different approach. Especially since Charlotte and Reece were coming home tonight.
The last two weeks without them had been hell. He’d spoken to Charlotte on the phone, but until he’d been absolutely sure the cartel wasn’t a problem, he hadn’t been willing to see her or Reece in person. Now Red Stone, the gang unit and vice from the police department had all confirmed that the cartel had no beef with Charlotte. She was nothing to them other than a confirmation of who’d been behind the killing of Mateo Diaz. If anything, they were probably grateful for her because without her statement to the police, they might not have ever known who’d killed Mateo. And Cecil Talley had fallen off the face of the earth. The cops had questioned his grandmother multiple times and the woman had told them she’d seen him last week and he’d said he was leaving town for good. Supposedly she didn’t know why.
Kell wasn’t certain if that was true, but the confidential informant that the gang unit had within the 19th Street Gang had reiterated that Talley was gone for good. So it seemed as if he wasn’t a problem. With the cartel wanting his blood, he’d probably never come back to Miami.
Didn’t mean Kell was letting his guard down though. He was bringing Charlotte and their son home, but for the next month he still planned to have a guard on them at all times. He also wanted to enroll her in self defense classes.
Their safety meant everything.
At the sound of his doorbell, he tried to tamp down the need humming through him. Two weeks without Charlotte after feeling her climax around his fingers, after seeing that satisfied expression on her face, and he was going a little crazy. The past year without her had been difficult, but things were different now. She wasn’t just coming off a bad marriage and hell, they had a son together. A son he desperately missed.
Even though he could sense her hesitancy to commit, Charlotte wanted him physically and he didn’t mind playing up that connection. He’d use that against her every chance he got—in the shower, on the kitchen table, in the bedroom—anywhere she’d have him until she got the message that they were meant to be together.
After checking the peephole, he opened the door. Charlotte stood there holding a gurgling Reece against her chest. Even though Kell was pretty sure he was too young to recognize him, Reece made a loud giggling sound when he saw him and started waving his hands around with no coordination. Charlotte looked surprised but smiled and handed Reece to Kell as they stepped through the front door. He held his son close, savoring the feel of his small body against his. Reece stared at him with those big eyes, his expression so open and trusting it was hard to fathom that he’d helped create this tiny life. That Reece was a part of him.
Her guard for the drive over, Travis, who supposedly had piercings in places Kell didn’t want to know about, stepped inside carrying two big bags. All business, he nodded once at Kell, letting him know the ride over had gone smoothly.
Charlotte wrapped her arms around herself, looking uncertain as she smiled tentatively at Kell. Was she nervous to be back here?
Before he could contemplate what that expression meant, she turned to Travis and gave him a genuine smile. The sight was like a punch to the gut. Why wasn’t she looking at Kell like that? “Thanks for your company these past couple weeks. And please thank Noel for all the cookies she sent over. Once things settle down here I’m going to stop by her shop and meet her in person.”
Travis smiled broadly and rubbed a hand over his head. “She’d like that.” He tilted his head toward Reece. “Bring the little guy too, she loves babies.”
Kell was more than thankful that Harrison had sent his best guys to guard Charlotte, but he didn’t like the foreign feeling of jealousy welling up inside him. Travis was happily engaged and it was clear there was nothing romantic going on, but still, Charlotte was so damn relaxed around the other guy. Why wasn’t she like that with him? After the way they’d left things he’d expected her to jump him the minute she saw him. Okay, maybe not that soon, but he’d expected a warmer reception.
As soon as Travis was gone and it was the three of them, Charlotte gave him that tentative look again, as if she didn’t know what to say. He started to say something when he got a whiff of an unpleasant smell coming from Reece. His son giggled and squirmed in his arms as if it was hilarious. “I’m gonna change his diaper but I’ll help with your bags in a sec, okay?”