“Where to start?” she said on a sigh. “Oh, I know. How about the fact that you’re a he-slut? Or do you prefer the term ‘man-whore’?”
His sense of irritation grew. No wonder Noelle had warned him about the girl.
“Have you lived your life so perfectly you’ve earned the right to judge me?”
John stopped in front of them and held out a tray of crab cakes, golden eyes bright with determination. “May I get you anything, sir?”
Blue wanted to say “A rack and flogger,” but didn’t. John would have found a way to get the items for him. “Not yet,” he muttered, dragging the girl toward the terrace.
“Are you daft?” she demanded, picking up their conversation as if it had never lagged. “Everyone but your girlfriend knows about your affairs. Have you ever dated a woman you haven’t cheated on? Wait. Don’t answer that. If my opinion of you dips any lower, I’ll be tempted to murder you—just like I’m tempted to tell Noelle what you’re doing to her. I happen to like her and think she deserves better.”
All right. So. The worst had happened.
Through gnashing teeth, he managed to say, “You know why I’ve done what I’ve done.”
“Yes, and at any time you could have told Michael no. My guess? You like sharing your love juice behind your girlfriend’s back,” she said.
Love juice? What, were they fourteen?
Before he could comment, she tripped over her own feet, surprising him with her clumsiness when she’d been so graceful before, and bumped into—
Their target, he realized. The wife of a government official. A woman who had no idea she’d been caught selling her husband’s secrets to the highest bidders.
“I’m so sorry,” Evie said to her. “The big oaf hasn’t learned to share the walkways.”
Blue worked his jaw in an effort to release tension. The attraction he’d first felt for Michael Black’s daughter had been in the process of withering, and this just finished the job. He moved his arm to her waist, locking her against him, just in case she decided to bolt from the coming wrath.
The curves of her body fit perfectly against him. The heat of her burned his palm in the best way. Not that he noticed.
“Do you have any idea what you just did?” he snarled softly.
“Of course I do,” she replied, using the language Michael taught all of his agents. A language of his own invention, ensuring no one else understood. “I took care of things. Our target will be dead within the next five minutes.”
He shook his head, but it only intensified his confusion. “What are you talking about?”
“I stuck her with my ring.” She raised her hand and wiggled her fingers. A walnut-sized sapphire twinkled innocently.
“You what?” he shouted. The people around him cast dark frowns his way. Lips pressed tightly together to silence a stream of curses, he hauled Evie past Solo and the terrace doors.
Solo sealed them outside, giving them a moment of privacy.
When Evie faced him, Blue was ticked to realize his attraction hadn’t died like he’d thought. In the moonlight, the woman was a goddess, and he was momentarily struck dumb. Her pale skin glowed, making her look like a priceless pearl trapped in a dark sea.
Then she opened her mouth and ruined everything. “You heard me,” she said, her tone snotty. She raised her chin. “I just did your job for you. You’re welcome, by the way.”
Harpy! “Your arrogance is unprecedented.”
“Thank you.” She fluffed her hair, as if he’d just given her the best of compliments.
“And undeserved,” he finished with a snap. “It’s going to get someone killed.”
Her brow furrowed adorably. “Isn’t that the point of tonight’s entire operation?”
“Someone. As in you,” he corrected.
“Are you jealous? Is that what this is about?”
He snorted. “Jealous? Please.” Maybe a little.
Her smile was as sharp and cold as a blade. “Liar. But I’m afraid you’ve got a hard truth headed your way. I only get better. A lot better. I’m as good at defense as I am at offense.”
Can’t kill her.
She’s Michael’s daughter.
You respect Michael. Love him.
If he had to remind himself a thousand times, he would. And how foolish was he, to have craved a challenge? Challenges sucked. “Just so you know, I will be writing a review of your performance, Miss Black.”
“Great. I will pretend to care.”
Michael isn’t that good a friend, he decided. “You aren’t as superior as you think you are. You have no real experience.” A slight gust of wind danced a lock of hair over the deep V of her dress, drawing his gaze to her cle**age. Little teacup br**sts, perfectly displayed. His hands fisted. “The target’s death was supposed to seem natural.”
“And so it will. I used a potion of my own creation. Completely untraceable.”
“Nothing is completely untraceable.”
“You haven’t seen my work. Yet.”
He scrubbed a hand down his face. He wasn’t going to get through to this girl, was he? “I should put you over my knee.”
She snorted. “A spanking? Really? That’s your solution?”
“To start.” He wouldn’t contemplate the way he wanted to finish.
“Why are you so angry, anyway? It wasn’t like you had many choices. You couldn’t shoot or stab her. Your only real option was to sex her to death.”
I think I hate this girl.
“Look,” she said on a sigh. Dark eyes softened, revealing . . . a hint of vulnerability? “I admit I was predisposed to dislike you, John, and Solo because—well, it doesn’t matter. It’s my problem, and I’m trying to deal. I’m sorry I’ve been so harsh with you, but I needed to make this kill.”
Blue had always been able to sense the emotions in others. In fact, at the start of each new day, he purposely deactivated all things empathic. Only, Evie’s emotions were so strong they penetrated his shields. He felt her bone-deep hurt. Raw anger. Gut-wrenching fear.
He was desperate to know.
He stepped away from her. End this. Now. “Apology accepted,” he said. “For future reference, you made two critical errors tonight. You didn’t work with your team—and the plan we already had in place—and you allowed arrogance to direct you. That’s the best way to make the worst decisions. You won’t be the only one killed.”