Part 2

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Wincing, he looked away.

My frown deepened.

Silent, our steps slowly evolved into a matched pace as our paths converged on his car.  Ticked, my arms began to swing. Damn it, this had been something illegal.

I forced my jaw to unclench as the Lincoln drove off, tires popping on the gravel. It was an upscale marina, but we were in the service area and gravel gave under the weight of the boats being put in and out whereas concrete might crack. Trent unexpectedly took several jogging steps to reach the passenger-side door first, opening it up and gesturing for me to get in.

Suspicious, I came to a hip-cocked halt, looking at him before turning to the lights of the Lincoln now flashing over empty boat cradles. We were probably on camera somewhere, but with them gone, I could be a little freer with my opinions. I was filling in for Quen, not replacing him. Trent was not my boss in any way shape or form, especially after this.

“I’ll drive,” he said, door open in invitation. His voice was one of his easiest tells, and he was angry and a little flustered. Angry at me? The man in the Lincoln?

“It’s my job,” I said, allowing anger to color my voice and hopefully draw him out. 

Trent shifted his feet a bare inch, his long fingers never letting go of the open window.  “I’ve been taking defensive driving classes.” His eyebrows rose. “Have you?”

No, I hadn’t, and he knew it. His reflexes were probably as good as mine, if not better, and if he was driving, I could keep a more secure eye on the road. But the reason I handed him the keys was because I knew Trent loved his freedom, loved it so much he was already mourning its loss when the girls came back from Ellasbeth’s and Quen resumed Trent’s everyday security.

“They come in handy I bet,” I said tightly as the leather seemed to fold around me and I settled myself in the scent of money. “Especially when you’re out doing illegal stuff.”

My door shut with the solid echo coming back from the flat water. His hands were still on it, and I looked up, squinting at him in the darkness. “Well?”

Trent’s long fingers slowly slid from the car. Motions veneered in calm, he went to the driver’s side, his steps silent on the gravel. I should have expected nothing less than this, and I was as mad at myself as I was with him. It wasn’t as if I didn’t know he was a drug lord and dealer in illegal genetic medicines. The entire world knew it. Hell, the best brimstone on the streets was known as Special K. The proof, though, was elusive. Too many people needed what he offered in a standardized, clean form, so naturally no one knew where it came from.

I settled my bag on my lap as he got in. It was a nice car, not his usual one, but nice. I could smell the wine and cinnamon of him over the new-car scent already, and it felt close when he got in, even with the top open. The engine started up with a precision hum that made me ache in envy, and I froze when he put his arm over the back of my seat so he could see to back up.

Unexpected tingles made their delicious way from my shoulder to my neck. I didn’t move as the car swung into reverse, my breath catching when his arm trailed along my shoulder as he drew it back to himself. Expertly working the clutch, we started for the gate at a slow crawl.

Uneasy, I put an elbow on the open window and held my hair out of my eyes. Trent had touched me before. This wasn’t the first time I’d worked with him, and he was a tactile person—even if he was somewhat aloof—but ever since a half-drunk confession and not one but two mutually consenting and poorly thought-out lip locks, even his casual touch zinged through me.

I’m not going to do this, I thought, head down as I dug through my bag for a scrunchie. I am not going to get involved with a man ten times my tax bracket who deals in brimstone to fund his illegal genetic studies.

Easing around a stand of empty boat cradles, Trent looked at me. “It wasn’t brimstone. I wouldn’t ask you to do that.”

I hated it when he seemed to read my mind, and I turned the vents to try to drive the damp out of me. “Yeah?”

He sighed, slowing to almost a crawl when he saw the car ahead of us still working through the unattended gate. “Diabetes runs in Amos’s family. Why shouldn’t his children and grandchildren grow up free of it?”

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