When I started training for The Organization, I learned a lot. Like, know your enemy’s weaknesses and use them to defeat them. It works with terrorists, drug cartels, and almost every kind of criminal we fight.
It also works with ex-girlfriends.
Begrudgingly, I agreed to cover for Iskander. It’s eleven, and I’m so fucking glad that I accepted. Nydia is Ms. Manners. Her grandparents taught her to be polite, kind to others, and never make a scene. Every time I walk to the hostess’s station, I lean close to her and whisper something in her ear. It’s delightful to see her squirm but not say a word because God forbid she behaves with anything but decorum in front of the town.
Maybe that’s one of the things I didn’t like much about her. She cared too much about what others thought and cared too little about how that affected her. It’s unsustainable to keep everyone happy, and she’s still doing it. I don’t mean any disrespect to Abe and Hattie, but they asked too much of her—she wasn’t born in the 1950s. Nydia should be herself. Her grandparents are gone. Dead. She should do whatever the fuck she wants without caring what the rest of the world thinks.
As I walk toward the station, I notice a guy leaning against the hostess desk and smiling at her.
“We could do something after your shift is over.” I hear him say as I approach.
I groan and almost tell him to get the fuck out, but I don’t because my brothers will beat the shit out of me.
“Would you like to be seated in the bar? We have space in there?” I offer.
“Oh no, I’m just chatting with this lovely lady.”
I turn to look at my lovely lady and say, “Why don’t you take a break? I can cover for you.”
She frowns. “I just have a couple of hours before I have to leave.”
She’s lying. She’s scheduled to be here until we close. I lean closer to her and whisper in her ear, “It’ll help us both if you leave, or I might beat the shit out of this guy for looking at you like you’re Little Red Riding Hood while he pretends to be the Big Bad Wolf. I’m the only wolf that gets to eat you.”
She gasps, those big brown eyes open wider, and I’m so close to her, I feel the heat of her body rise. The things we could do together. Fuck, I shouldn’t think about them. We won’t do anything because I know what happens when I play with fire—with her fire. It burned me years ago. There were too many things happening that distracted me from the pain, but I know it’d kill me if I…I don’t finish the thought. It’s over. This is just a silly game to make her writhe while I’m in town. A game that I plan on winning. It might be a little payback to avenge the boy who died when she left him.
Poor bastard, he died of a broken heart.
“You’re out of your fucking mind, Cantú,” she says, and I can hear her teeth grinding.
I don’t know if it’s anger, frustration, or the tension between us. I’ve been teasing her so much all fucking night that she’s about to burst into flames with need. I know I am. We might not know each other or love each other now, but we still have that same explosive chemistry we shared when she turned sixteen.
“Are we cussing, Ms. Vega-Knapp? Tsk, tsk, tsk.” I shake my head, planting a kiss so close to the corner of her lips she almost jumps off the barstool. “You’re naughty, and I like it.”
I glare at the guy. “Leave.”
The guy does as I say, and I offer again, “Do you want to go on a break?”
“You haven’t eaten.”
“I ate at home.”
I cross my arms. “I don’t believe you.”
She rolls her eyes, cups her face with her palms, and gasps in horror. “Oh no, you don’t believe me. What am I supposed to do?!”
“You’re not funny. Either go and eat something before they close the kitchen, or I’ll bring you something.”
“Stop being a pain in the ass, Cantú.”
“You haven’t seen anything yet,” I warn her. “Go.”
“Are you threatening me?”
“Maybe,” I say. “Making your life a living hell might be my new favorite hobby. There isn’t much to do in this town.”
She places her index finger in my sternum. “I know hell. Nothing you do will compare to what I’ve lived. So, try your best, just know that for every hit I take, I’ll punch twice as hard.”
Is it crazy that this side of her is making me hot? And the question is back. What happened to Nydia? Where is my sweet girl?
Who the fuck is this woman?
The scariest part is that I’m dying to get to know her, even if she destroys me during my attempt to tame her.
You can read the prequel Maybe It’s You: