Clay grimaced. “No. Do you think it would be better if it were?”

Brady’s eyes traveled over Clay’s bruised body, wrapped ribs, and broken knuckles, and he shook his head. “No.”

“Me neither.”

“We’ll find them, Clay. We’ll have justice.”

Clay nodded and wished he had as much faith in the legal system as Brady did. But he knew too much, and sometimes, the bad guys just got away. Sometimes, the bad guys won.

Chapter 5


Clay scrubbed his face with his hand and tried to wipe away the frustration of these damn broken ribs. It had been nearly two weeks, and it still hurt like a bitch. He chased the two pain pills with a swallow of scotch. That would drown out the pain for a few hours while he dealt with this goddamn New Year’s party.

“Well, I’m sure that mixes well,” Andrea’s slow drawl carried down the stairs of their second-story house in the suburbs of northern Virginia, just outside of D.C. They both had their own apartments in the city, but when they wanted to leave that behind, they came here to their place.

Clay finished off the scotch and set it back down on the bar. “It does.”

“Are you already drunk?”

“Course not. Do you know how much liquor that takes?”


Clay’s eyes traveled the length of her shimmery champagne floor-length dress that hugged every tiny curve on her body. He wished the pain meds would kick in right about now, so he could rip that dress off without wheezing through the activity.

“Don’t drink that much tonight,” Andrea told him. She walked forward and brushed her fingers over the bow tie of his fitted Armani tuxedo. “There. Perfect.”

“Thanks, babe.” He grinned.

It was good to see Andrea all done up again. Even if it was annoying that she’d spent the last several hours upstairs with a personal stylist doing her hair and makeup, he couldn’t argue with results. It was night and day from the Lululemon and Nikes she’d been wearing around the house as she insisted on taking care of him.

Smothering him was more like it. Sure, he had been beaten up and had a few broken ribs, but he could still handle his life like a man. Frankly, he was glad to be getting out of the house even if it was for this stupid party.

At least most of the worst swelling had gone down, and he was okay on his feet again. The doctor had said he would have another month to recover before he should be doing any physical activity, but he was too stir-crazy to listen.

Andrea must have seen something change in his expression because she frowned. “Are you feeling okay? We don’t have to go.”

“When you look like that, you might be right.”

She looked like she wanted to fight him on that, but instead, she just trailed her hand up into his hair. “You’re thinking about fucking me, aren’t you?”

“It’s been two weeks,” he groaned. He pulled her body up against his and tried not to wince at the contact.

Andrea simpered exaggeratedly. “And you miss me?”

“You keep looking at me like that, and I’ll show you how much.”

“Another night, lover. Need to make sure you’re…up for it.” She raised her eyebrows.

“I’m sure you’ll take care of that.”

“I’m sure I will.”

Clay leaned forward and planted a kiss on her lips. This felt good and right. Andrea hadn’t been this flirtatious since the night she’d left without, opting to go home with Bad Suit. He still hadn’t fucking figured out what had happened with that douche, but he knew better than to bring it up when she was finally in a better mood.

They took the waiting limo into the city. Andrea popped open champagne in the backseat and was sipping from a crystal flute as she absentmindedly browsed on her phone. Clay stared out the tinted window. He liked to act like the attack hadn’t been bothering him at all, but now that he was faced with his first public appearance, he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He swallowed hard and tried to drown it out, but his aching ribs were a constant reminder.

“Are you excited to see your sister?” Andrea asked. She glanced up at him and frowned. “You look a little pale, Clay.”

“I’m fine.”

“Are you sure it’s okay to take those pills with alcohol?”

“We both know it’s not, Andrea. Just drop it.”

She returned to her phone. “Fine.”

“And, sure…I guess I’m excited to see Savannah.” Clay shrugged.

“Do you know if she’s bringing her boyfriend? What’s his name again?”

“Easton, I think.”

“I’m surprised she hasn’t finally started dating Lucas.”

“What?” Clay sputtered. Savannah and Lucas? Chris’s younger brother?

Andrea looked up from her phone with an amused turn to her lips. “Surely, you know they’ve been hooking up on and off for years. It’s rather obvious.”

“I’ll murder him.”

Andrea giggled. “I like when you turn all alpha, but I don’t think any murdering is going to happen, especially if she brings the boyfriend. Try not to do anything stupid tonight, okay?” Her words seemed to carry more weight than just in reference to his little sister’s love life.

“Do I ever?”

She quirked an eyebrow in response.

The rest of the car ride was a natural silence as they traversed the hellish D.C. traffic. The pain meds kicked in about halfway to their destination, and already, he could feel the slight buzz helping to numb the pain.

They pulled up in front of a swank hotel on the water that was bustling with people. A red carpet was rolled out in front of the location, and Clay half-expected paparazzi to be hounding the elite guests entering. But it seemed to be just the standard fare for the evening.

Clay removed the gold monogrammed tickets from his suit jacket to hand to the man at the front door.

“Clay and Andrea Maxwell,” the man said, checking off his list. “Right this way.”

Clay opened his mouth to tell him that they weren’t married, but Andrea gently nudged him, and he closed his mouth. She smiled up at him a little dreamily, and he was afraid to know what that look meant. She wrapped her arm around his elbow, and they walked inside.