Home > Kept (The Enforcers #3)(5)

Kept (The Enforcers #3)(5)
Author: Maya Banks

   “It was my pleasure,” he offered formally before once more returning to the driver’s seat.

   Seconds later the car melted away into traffic and Hayley turned to walk the half block to her apartment, shaking her head at the most unexpected turn of events the day had offered.

   She was so absorbed in the task of mentally packing and arranging the few remaining hours left before she had to report to work that she didn’t notice Christopher standing in front of her building until she nearly bumped into him.

   “Hayley! I’ve been waiting for you,” he said in an angry tone, as if he expected her to be where he wanted at all times and had been put out by having to wait for her.

   She winced inwardly and only barely managed to suppress a sigh of exasperation. She didn’t have time to deal with a classmate who didn’t get the hint, no matter how many times she gently gave it, that she had no interest in any sort of a personal relationship with him—or anyone. If anything it seemed to make him all the more determined.

   “I’ve been busy, Christopher,” she said quietly. “I only have a few days to find another place to live before I have to move out of this apartment.”

   His lips twisted, his expression becoming sullen. “You could move in with me. You know that. I have money. An inheritance. And I get the bulk of it once I graduate with this ridiculous music degree.”

   There was a gleam of satisfaction and greed, as if he expected her to be so impressed that she’d throw herself into his arms. But then at his mention of the “ridiculous degree,” distaste glimmered in his eyes as though he found music repugnant. She was shocked by his reaction. Why on earth was he enrolled in the school if he found it—and music—so abhorrent?

   She shook her head because she wasn’t even going there. She didn’t care. Wasn’t going to ask, because she had no intention of doing anything to encourage him, and his raisons d’etre didn’t matter to her. The only thing that mattered was that he finally get the message and move on to someone else. Hopefully someone more receptive.

   “You wouldn’t have to work or worry about a place to live. I’d take care of you. You’re just being stubborn.”

   As kindly as she could when what she wanted to do was smack his head, she said, “I don’t have time for this, Christopher. I go to school and work full-time. Aside from that, I have no desire to become involved in any relationship. I am quite capable of taking care of myself, and if you don’t stop harassing me, I’m going to the police and swearing out a restraining order.”

   The last was said firmly, a hint of warning in her voice that she only had so much patience and that he was fast stretching the limits of it.

   His face reddened and his eyes glittered with anger and something else that made her extremely uneasy. Before she could examine that other uneasy emotion and before he could say anything further, she moved quickly around him and escaped into her building, hurriedly punching in the code to gain access so he couldn’t push his way in.

   At least he had no idea where she was moving to, and she planned to keep it that way. There was something about him that made her nervous, made her afraid to be alone with him. It was bad enough to have to suffer his presence around others. But at least now, the only time she’d be forced to see him would be in the one class they shared. The one where he spared no opportunity to display his overwhelming arrogance and sense of self-worth.

   Shaking off unpleasant thoughts of Christopher’s persistence and the equally unpleasant thought that he wasn’t one to give up so easily, she instead turned her attention to her new apartment and the manager’s kindness. As a thank-you she would bake him her father’s favorite dessert. Homemade triple-chocolate brownies. She’d bring them to him when she went in two days to pick up the keys and be let into her apartment. It wasn’t much, but it was from the heart and hopefully he would appreciate the sweet treat.

   Her apartment. Giddiness assailed her. Finally something of her own. She would be self-reliant and not dependent on the generosity and goodwill of strangers. Not that what the Forsythes had done hadn’t been welcome and deeply appreciated. When she first arrived in the city, she hadn’t the first clue of just how expensive housing was, and if it weren’t for them, she would have been on the first bus back home. But now she could make her own way, and that instilled satisfaction deep within her. She was one step closer to fulfilling her dream—and the promise she’d given her father as he lay dying.

* * *

   Silas strode into Drake’s office, meeting Drake’s look of surprise.

   “You’re late,” Drake said unnecessarily.

   Silas responded with a nod. “Something came up.”

   Drake lifted an eyebrow in question. “Anything wrong?”

   “Nothing business related,” Silas said vaguely, knowing Drake wouldn’t pry even if his curiosity had been aroused.

   “Any problems last night?” Drake asked, moving the conversation to the matter at hand.

   Silas relaxed, easily shifting gears, effectively ridding himself of thoughts of a raven-haired young innocent and the fact that he’d acted on impulse, something he never, ever did. And he didn’t want to delve into the reasons why, when his life had been a study of remaining in a state of complete control over every aspect of his life.

   “Everything went according to plan. The Vanuccis are spooked and have fallen back to regroup. They’re not happy about the alliance between you and the Luconis.”

   “That makes two of us,” Drake said grimly.

   Drake had always had a policy of not aligning himself with anyone, preferring to reserve his loyalty for his men, his brothers, and they for him. But his hand had been forced when Evangeline had been abducted and he’d had no choice but to ally himself with the Luconis in order to save her. His original plan had been to pit the two crime families against one another and watch them both fall. Now his focus was on keeping the Vanuccis in check while maintaining a civil relationship with the Luconis but at the same time keeping a very close eye on their dealings.

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