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An ant sneezing would have sounded like thunder in the dead quiet. All eyes focused on her with varying levels of shock, confusion, pity, and in Curly’s case, understanding.

“What—” Spec started until Liv squeezed his arm.

“Excuse me.” Harper cleared her throat. She felt naked beneath their stares, as though they could see beneath the steely mask she wore to the vulnerable woman beneath, and she hated it more than she hated hearing that guilty verdict all those years ago. “Curly, I’ll call you tomorrow about the security system, if that’s okay?”

“Of course, Harper. One of our prospects brought your car here. The keys are in it.”

Right. Her car.

How humiliating would it have been if she stormed out of there only to have to slink in again and ask for a ride home?

“Thank you.” Tears burned in her eyes, but she’d be damned if she started crying on top of her little outburst. A few more seconds and she’d be outside. She could keep it together for that long.

“You’ve been through a lot tonight.”

Yes, she sure as hell had.

“Would you like an escort home?” Curly asked.

She shook her head. “No. I got it.”

Waves of fury radiated off Jinx, so thick she could feel them. He opened his mouth, probably to blast her stupidity again, but Curly lifted a hand, cutting him off. His mouth snapped closed, and he settled for glaring at her.

She nodded once to the group, then mumbled “Good night” and left.

Walking with her head held high took more energy than she had, but she powered through. These people did not need to know how much the night had rattled her. They didn’t need to know she wanted to curl up in a ball and cry herself to sleep. They didn’t need to know how much she’d love to let them take over and iron out this chaos for her.

No one had the power to organize her life anymore.

She had it, and that meant taking the hard times with the easy.

But when she arrived at her car and discovered an ice-cold pint of ice cream sitting on the driver’s seat, she wondered if it would be so bad to let these people in a little.


HIS BACK ACHED, his eyes felt like they’d been blasted with sand, and his hip had a knot that twinged whenever he moved from sitting to standing.

That’s what he got for spending the entire night sitting in his car on the street below Harper’s apartment.

The area remained quiet all night, thankfully. After the drama he’d caused yesterday, Lobo had to know the Handlers would ramp up security. Jinx forced a new prospect to keep watch with him. They switched off every so often so they could grab a few hours of shut-eye.

Hadn’t worked, though. Jinx spent most of his off time staring at the car’s ceiling and mulling over the bomb Harper dropped on him.

The woman had spent seven years in prison.

Holy fuck.

No wonder she had impenetrable steel walls twenty feet high and five feet thick. How on earth did that woman—hell, girl at the time of her arrest—end up behind bars for the better part of a decade? What she’d done didn’t actually matter. He didn’t condemn her for it. Jinx had been arrested a handful of times for a variety of misdemeanors in his younger days and risked another longer stint every time he conducted business for the club. But even with a slew of arrests under his belt, he’d never spent more than a few consecutive weeks locked up.

Seven years? That was a life-destroying time.

The way she’d told the story, the tone in her voice, led him to believe it wasn’t so straightforward as her being punished for a crime she’d committed. He’d love to know the details, but she tended to be as closed as a clam most days.

She’d blown his mind with the little bit she’d opened up last night.

He wanted her.

Rather, his dick wanted her. It had from the first time he’d laid eyes on her. And with each meeting, she intrigued him even further, to the point that he’d spent the entire damn night sitting outside her house, thinking about her.

Would Lobo have sent someone to her home?

Probably not.

Most likely not.

But even a point-five percent chance had been too much, so he’d gone against her wishes and set up camp on the street below her apartment. And damn, did that prospect snore like a fucking chainsaw. He’d been tempted to rip out the guy’s throat to spare himself the constant noise.

To top off his fantastic night, now he was standing outside Lock’s home at seven in the morning with two vats of coffee while listening to the baby scream his face off.

Fuck my life.

Since his hands were full of God’s nectar, he kicked the door with his foot a few times.

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