Page 20

Reeve took a seat behind the desk and groaned in obvious relief when she did so. She was barely showing, but growing another person was hard work, especially in a place like this.
"I can't believe you're going to have a baby. Are you planning to leave the city once it's here?"
"No. Our life is here, and if that means making sure a baby is safe in that life, then that's what we'll do. Plus, you should see Bax." She laughed. "No one believes me when I tell them that I think he's more excited about this kid than Titus is. He calls me at least twice a day to check on me."
I blinked in shock. "I thought Bax hated you." There was bad blood there because Reeve had been involved with something that threatened Bax's girlfriend, Dovie. It hadn't ended well, and Bax wasn't the kind of guy to forgive and forget.
She lifted a shoulder and let it fall. "He's not my biggest fan, but he is infatuated with this little human inside of me. I think the idea of something new, the thought of a fresh start, appeals to him. This kid couldn't have a better guardian angel looking out for him or her in this city."
I laughed. "No kidding." Bax was a brick wall when it came to protecting those he cared about. It would take an army to get through him if he was keeping his new nephew or niece within his protective circle. Not to mention the baby's dad was armed and dangerous in his own right. If any newborn had a fighting chance of having a normal life in this very abnormal place, it was this one.
"I'm happy for you, Reeve."
"Thank you. Now tell me what's up. I assume this look on your face is because you wasted no time in seeing the man behind the curtain when you got back to Oz."
I shoved my hands through the longer part of the front of my hair and tugged at the roots. "I'm losing it, you know? My mind that is."
She lifted a midnight-colored eyebrow at me and settled farther back into her chair. I tugged on my hair harder.
"I can't stop what I feel for him. I can't stop playing his stupid games. When you mentioned the club, all I could hear was him whispering that he had a business proposition for me. I thought it would be ridiculous, that it was just one more way for him to keep me close so he could silently pull the strings in my life. And it is, but it isn't. He really wants me to buy into the club, and the profit margin is huge."
"He's a brilliant businessman. The things he does with money are fascinating to watch. He's building his own infrastructure."
"He's building an empire. He wants to control all the money and commerce that happens here. He's going to be untouchable." Except from me. I was determined to touch and to get him to touch in return. I needed his hand on me in order to have the upper hand in all our dealings with each other.
Reeve rolled her eyes. "Look around, Key. He already is untouchable. Nothing that happens here doesn't have his fingerprints on it somewhere. He's been infecting the Point for years and now it's spread so far and wide there's no antidote."
"I know. That's exactly why I wanted to tell him to shove it, but it's too good of an opportunity to pass up. It's legitimate money without having to shake my ass and show my tits ." I snorted. "Well, there will be some of that since he wants me to get people in the door."
"Like I said, he's a smart businessman. People will show up because you're there. Your sex appeal is enough to get the curious in the door, and once they're in, Nassir will rob them blind."
I nodded in agreement. "I buy in and I have to stay. I can't throw money at him and run. He won't let me."
"Of course not. He wants you here. He wants you, period."
I gritted my teeth and my hands curled into fists where they were resting on my thighs. "He told me he wouldn't touch me. He said it'll be business only and he'll keep his hands off. How in the hell am I supposed to work with him and be around him when I came back because I couldn't stay away from him? He makes everything so fucking hard."
She bit down on her lower lip and twirled a piece of dark hair around a finger.
"So what are you going to do about it?"
Wasn't that the million-dollar question? I threw my hands up in the air and let out another broken laugh. "I don't know, and because I can't stop myself from pushing back when he prods at me, I asked him to let me stay with him until I figure out where I want to live now that I'm back."
Her eyes widened and she opened her mouth then shut it, because really there were no words to describe how truly stupid that idea was. "Wow."
"I know. I'm an idiot."
I saw her blue eyes get darker and could almost see something working in her head. Reeve hadn't lasted on the streets as long as she had by being stupid. She was a crafty young woman and had a hot cop and a baby on the way as proof. She tapped her fingers on the soft swell resting in front of her and considered me thoughtfully.
"If you want an even playing field with him, you're going to have to bring him to his knees."
"Can you picture Nassir on his knees for anyone?" The idea was laughable, but she nodded.
"For the right person, even the most formidable man can bend. I've seen it happen with my own two eyes more than once."
I swore and looked down at the shiny toes of my stilettos. "What do I do if he does bend, Reeve? I end up fucked? Literally and figuratively? What happens if who I am disappears for real this time because Nassir is enough to suck even all of this into that vortex of menace and danger that swirls around him." I gestured to my body and my painted face. Not easily missed but practically invisible compared to the natural charisma and allure of my devil.
"I guess that depends on what you do now that you're back, Key. You wanted more before you left, you were working because you wanted to do something good. If you manage to do that, then you'll never be overshadowed by any of the darkness that lives here, including Nassir."
I lifted my gaze back up at her and glared. "You are such a bitch." It would take a pregnant former criminal and current strip-club manager to remind me that my ultimate goal had been to be my own woman, a woman of worth, a woman that would never let her light and brightness be eclipsed or undone by the man that moved between her and her world.

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