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Melanie slides her hands around my waist and buries her face in my shirt, and I pull off my gloves and shove them in my pocket so I can run my thumbs down her cheeks to track her tears.


She’s the most restless woman I know, but she gives me peace. Things were perfectly planned.

Melanie was in Seattle. I was here in Denver gathering the evidence for my second-to-last mark. I was going to steal into his place at midnight, blackmail and harass him for payment, so that by tomorrow, I’d be able to fly back to her.

But hours ago, Derek texted me that she was at the airport. By the time the incompetent f**k parked, she’d checked in and he lost her past the security checkpoint. I barked at him to buy any f**king ticket, get past security, and find her. He got a ticket, but failed to find her. So I asked C.C. to search the flight records while I finished the damn appointment with Tina and got to things myself.

But no. Melanie ended up here, at the same f**king restaurant, at the same time as Tina Glass and I were here, and she saw me. I couldn’t afford to have a criminal like Tina Glass get any wind of us, otherwise Melanie would be exposed to Zero’s world, and she would be vulnerable.

God, but the hurt in her eyes? If that wasn’t enough to bring me to my knees, it almost was when I saw her in that ass**le’s hotel room.

You can’t hurt a woman like Melanie and expect her not to react. You can’t expect her not to try to peel away the hurt so she’s the happy girl again everyone knows.

I feared I’d lost her.

I feared the determination in her eyes when the door to that hotel room opened and I saw her.

And I saw the hurt in her eyes.

And I was angry, so f**king angry, but the most gripping, surprising, infuriating emotion in me was the fear.

Fear of never again tasting those lips, never feeling those eyes on me, never playing her stupid games with her . . . The only times I ever feel good are with her. Good not at killing, blackmailing, and doing what I was taught to do. Just good.

She moves now, and fire in my veins sizzles and smokes as her hair brushes against my neck. The curves of her body fit perfectly against me. She’s sitting on my thigh, and her hip is against my cock. When she shifts, I groan softly into the crown of her hair, my muscles knotting. Lava flows over me at the mere feel of her.

I want to f**k her so hard, punish her for thinking any other bastard would do.

Her hair is messed as if she’s rolled out of that ass**le’s bed, but she’ll never be satisfied until she rolls out of mine.

Her eyes are glazed with tears for me.

Every muscle in my body tight, I brush her hair aside and kiss the back of her ear. “I want to taste your bare skin very, very desperately,” I murmur.

She jerks my shirt out of the waistband of my pants and sets her hand under my shirt, over my heart, touching my nipple ring. We remain like this, her eyes closed, her cheek to my chest, her closeness turning me inside out.

I duck my head and she holds her breath as if she’d been praying for me to, and she tips her head up so we can kiss. Our lips meet, softly. There’s the tightening in my cock, the rapid beat of my pulse, the taste of her on my tongue. My hunger spins out of control as I open her wider and kiss her slow, but deep.

Each repetitive flick of her tongue sets loose a wildness in me, that elemental pull between us stretching and strengthening.

She eases back and I look down at her, absorbing the feel of her as she slowly lifts her eyes to mine, pure green, and I feel like my chest is being torn open and she’s squeezing my heart with those dainty white hands. I feel more for her than I’ve felt for anyone in my life. I never thought I could be capable. I lost something I loved too young. I built a fortress around myself, and it’s been there, not allowing anyone a fraction of real, raw emotion from me.

But what I feel for her . . .

Nobody has ever had the power to hurt me like she now has. Since my mother left, nothing has been truly important to me. I’ve never let myself care for anything or anyone. Not for my father, my uncle, my brother.

Now a little girl whose father calls her grasshopper has the power to break me in two—me, a f**king criminal, alone most of his life. And if any one of my enemies knew, they’d use her to take Zero down in a heartbeat.

And now we’re too far in for her to stay in the dark any longer. I need to know if it’s me she loves, or the idea of me.

She will leave you. Despise you. Reject you.

I’m already mourning the loss of her as her hand wanders to the zipper of my pants, and the merest brush of her fingers gets me hard while my chest throbs with the loss.

She’s f**king lost to me already.

I groan and close my eyes as I battle my own urge to take her, right here, right now; instead I stop her wandering hand and kiss her. I want to dip my hand up her skirt, edge the panty aside and slip in a finger. She’s already panting hard and clinging to my neck, her head falling back in pleasure against my shoulder. But she’s drunk and I’m angry, and I’m jealous and want more than her body. I want her f**king soul, and I want her to give it to me knowing who I am.

Fucking fool, she won’t.

Groaning in pain, I lean into her mouth, and she kisses me hard.

She mumbles my name, and I hear myself whisper that she was an angel in the rain . . . the only woman I’ve ever spent the night with, bought a home for, followed around just for a glimpse . . .

A new tear slips down her cheek, but I’m the one undone. What shakes me is the tenderness in the way she curls to me even as she’s crying.

I press a kiss to the top of her head and I can’t seem to stop pressing kisses into her hair, my own self-loathing growing by the second.

Just one more mark now. I’ve got the evidence to nail him. And then I just need to whisper in her ear, to give me that f**king necklace I gave her because I’m going to give her another one, a better one, and that this one will take care of everything.

I’ll get control of the Underground. I’ll be smarter, better organized, I’ll make sure my mother is safe, and as for Melanie . . .

I tap on the car roof and lower the partition separating us from Derek. “Drive over to get her friend, the happy one,” I say with sarcasm.

Mumbling some sort of protest under her breath, she shakes her head. “Don’t go. I’ve been dreaming about you.”

“And call one of the guys,” I tell Derek. “I’ll need you to stay with princess while someone drives me to the airport.” I pull up the partition between us and Derek and groan. “Don’t say that now,” I whisper.

She grabs my hand and puts it on her tits. “When I see you, my boobs hurt.”

God. She’s so f**king drunk. “When you’re sober, I’m going to tell you some shit you won’t like,” I whisper, a gruff warning. “Don’t say anything now.”

“Greyson . . .”

“I’m going to tell you something about me but I don’t want you to try to fix me. I can’t be fixed. You either need to accept who I am or tell me you want to leave, and I give you my word I’ll let you go if you ask for that.”

She stops and blinks, her voice emotional. “You sound like you think you’re bad for me.”

“I am.” I glance out the window and grind my molars, tightening my hold because this might just be the last time I hold her like this.

“You’re not. What you did for me in the rain is one of the nicest things anyone has done for me.”

“Fuck. Stop saying that; you’ve said that before and that pisses me off.”


“Because you should be inundated with people doing nice shit for you. To you.”

She smirks. “I don’t like them doing nice things to me, I like it when they’re a little bad. Like you.”

I laugh. “Yeah, you’re so drunk. You wanted to kill me just now. Then f**k me. Now you want to canonize me?”

“Because you’re a bad boy, but a good man, and I’m in f**king lov—”

I shut her up with my mouth because I can’t take it. I can’t take her sincerity, the thought that she might seem to have forgiven me now, but she won’t when I tell her what I do, is something I can’t take. It’s grown too big, the way I feel for her, the way I respect her, like her, admire her, the way I want her to be happy and the torment of knowing that every moment I’m with her, I could be putting her at risk. I can’t risk her. She has to know.

And Greyson King will have zero future with her.

♥ ♥ ♥

SHE’S ASLEEP BY the time Derek brings her angry friend, who’s f**king fuming as he loads her and Melanie’s suitcases into the trunk.

She slides into the car. “What the f**k did you do to her?” Immediately she signals to Melanie’s neck. “She never takes off her precious necklace. It’s always under her shirt and today it was right on top of it. So, what did you do to her?”

For the first time I notice.

Melanie did take off my necklace.

There’s a roiling in my gut, a feeling like I’m sinking as I brush my fingers regretfully over her bare throat. I wanted her to use it, didn’t I? I wanted her to sell it.

It shouldn’t hurt like this, it shouldn’t even f**king matter.

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