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“Keep his name out of your mouth.” I was barely able to hold back the anger.

“Such a fiery young man, Alexandros. Anyway, I can hear that you’re hot under the collar right now, and not in the best position to make such drastic decisions. But let me show you a little something else that might make doing the right thing a little easier. One moment.”

I heard footsteps on the other end, followed by knocking.

“Is he ready?” Nico asked. “Good.”

A door opened.

“Ah, very nice,” Nico said. “Now, how to take some pictures…” He chuckled. “I can never figure out these new phones. Here… Alexandros, I’m going to send you something to take into consideration while you’re making your big decision.”

A few moments passed, my phone shaking in my hand with incoming texts. I checked the screen, seeing that they were pictures.

My stomach sank when I saw what they were.

The photos were of a man tied to a chair, his face swollen and bruised, his throat slit, blood soaked into his clothing.

The victim wasn’t just any man.

It was Bolter.

“Nico, you fuck!” I shouted into the phone, my voice booming so loudly that it filled the house. “You’ll pay for this!”

Nico laughed. “Bolter… he was never the sharpest tool in the shed, as the Americans say. When he started poking around town in his obvious way, I put together pretty quickly what was going on. And I decided he’d work quite well as a message. You know what I’m capable of, Alexandros. In case you forgot, here’s your reminder.”

I gripped my phone so hard that I worried it might shatter in my hand.

“Come to New York, come home. Put in your time, and that will be the end of it. Otherwise, I’ll have to come find you. Say, that blonde bombshell of yours, she’s really something else. I think it’s only fair that if I have to go to all the trouble of tracking her down in person, I should be able to give her a little of my special attention.”

“Nico, you miserable fu—”

“Two weeks. You have two weeks to make your decision. Call me at this number when you’re ready to do the right thing. I’ll be waiting, Alexandros.”

With that, the call ended, the line going dead.

There was no way in hell I was going back. Nico would come for me.

I had to be ready.

Chapter 23


Inoticed two things when Alex arrived that evening—the overnight bag in his hand, and the strange, tense expression on his face.

Even so, he leaned in and kissed me exactly how I wanted to be kissed. In fact, the kiss lingered for several moments, long enough that I had to wonder if it was going to lead to something more right then and there.

“You look good,” he said, taking his lips from mine and stepping back.

“So do you.” I let my fingers drag down the taut muscles of his arms underneath his coat. Once the kiss was over, however, my attention went right to the duffel bag at his feet. “What’s the story with that?”

His face flashed, as if he’d forgotten all about it. “Well, I got an idea right before I left. What if I stayed over here for a little bit?”

“A little bit? How long?”

“Maybe a week, maybe a little more if that’s alright with you, of course. Figured that we ought to get used to spending plenty of time together with the girls.”

I smiled, loving the idea.

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