Home > Kept (The Enforcers #3)(2)

Kept (The Enforcers #3)(2)
Author: Maya Banks

   Still, she hesitated outside the entrance with a sign above it indicating that the management office was inside, wondering how much more disappointment she could take in one day. But the fact that she only had three more days until she was homeless made her spine straighten. She sucked in a deep breath and pressed the bell, opening the door when it buzzed to enter.

   Her gaze swept the empty lobby, her eyes widening in surprise. Despite the worn look of the exterior, the inside had an updated look that didn’t scream modern. It was warm and comfortable, a place where someone could immediately feel at home.

   Don’t get your hopes up. You’ve been disappointed time and time again. Why would this time be any different?

   When an older man appeared from the office just off the lobby, Hayley donned her most hopeful and warm smile but clenched her fingers together in front of her in an attempt to allay her hope and desperation.


* * *

   Fresh from a shower, Silas sauntered through his living room, or command central as it was more appropriately deemed. Here he had a bird’s-eye view of not only his entire apartment building but the streets surrounding the block. After Evangeline, his partner and brother’s now-wife, had been abducted a few months earlier, he’d expanded his reach by installing street cams that extended well beyond the area immediately surrounding his domain.

   He had slept past his usual time to wake, before dawn, because of a problem the night before that had taken him until well into the morning to handle. Thus, he was in a hurry to dress and report back to Drake that the issue had been taken care of. Something Drake would already know, but would want the details regardless.

   He paused, coming to a complete halt when he caught sight of the monitor that gave him a view of the front office—and anyone who entered his building.

   A young woman was standing in the small lobby, obviously nervous and ill at ease. Silas hurried to turn up the volume on the feed that recorded that area and took a seat, studying the woman more closely.

   She was stunning. She had an arresting look that would make a man stop in his tracks and take a second and third look at her. Long, raven hair with startling blue eyes the color of the ocean at high noon on a cloudless day. And young. She looked far too young and innocent to even gain the notice of a man like Silas. He felt a hundred years old under the weight of all he’d seen and done in his lifetime just looking on the beautiful stranger.

   “I-I was inquiring as to whether you had a vacant apartment for rent,” the woman asked hesitantly.

   Silas wondered if she even realized that she wore desperation like a flag and that yearning hope glowed in her eyes.

   “As it happens, we have a basement unit with a walkout to the street,” Miles, his property manager, said cheerfully. “It’s small, but utilities are included and we have very good security. And there aren’t any broker fees either.”

   Silas watched as the woman held her breath, battling against the burst of hope threatening to bloom on her expressive face.

   “When would it be available? And how much is it?” she blurted.

   Silas watched as her face whitened at the amount specified, her shoulders sagged in defeat and any vestiges of hope leached from her eyes, leaving her looking utterly lost.

   “I see,” she murmured. “I’m sorry to have wasted your time. It’s far more than I can afford, but thank you anyway. I’ll just be on my way. Again, my apologies for interrupting you.”

   She handed Miles a small card, grimacing as if she realized the futility of her action.

   “If . . . if you should have something less expensive come available, will you call me?”

   She turned, like an aged woman instead of the vibrant young girl Silas had witnessed upon her arrival, and shuffled toward the door, head bowed. He thought he caught a glimmer of tears on one cheek as her profile was briefly presented when she opened the door to slip out onto the busy sidewalk.

   Silas bolted from his chair, fists gripped into tight balls at his sides as he watched her walk slowly down the street, tears trickling down her pale cheeks. In that instant, he threw sanity and caution to the wind and yanked up his phone, punching the button that would immediately connect him to his manager.

   Miles answered on the first ring.

   “Yes, sir,” he said briskly. “What can I do for you, sir?”

   “The woman who just left,” Silas said hoarsely. “Find her. Give her the apartment to the right of mine but tell her she won’t be able to move in until day after tomorrow. It will take that long to have the workers replace the wall dividing it from mine and to refurnish the apartment.”

   “Pardon?” Miles asked in a shocked voice.

   “You heard me,” Silas snarled. “Offer her a ridiculously low rent and let her know it comes fully furnished with utilities paid. Make up something. I don’t care. Tell her construction was finished ahead of schedule and you only just received notice that it would be ready for a tenant just after she left. Just make damn sure you find her.”

   “Yes, sir. Right away, sir,” Miles stammered.

   “And have my driver offer her a ride home. I’ll call him now.”

 

 

2

 


   Hayley dodged the first few raindrops and then cursed under her breath as she glanced again at the ever-darkening sky. Yep. Perfect foil for the day she’d had. The week she’d had, for that matter. At least she’d had sense enough to leave her violin at home instead of bringing it with her in her urgent search for a place to live.

   Knowing it would cost her precious money she didn’t have, she hurried in the direction of the nearest subway stop and dug into her pocket for enough to purchase a subway card to get home.

   Her cell phone rang and for a moment she was tempted to ignore it, her focus more on getting out of the rain, but she’d left her number with every place she’d been to in her apartment search and couldn’t afford to assume it was nothing more than a telemarketer.

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