One to Keep (One to Hold)

One to Keep (One to Hold) by Tia Louise Read Free Book Online

Book: One to Keep (One to Hold) by Tia Louise Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tia Louise
Tags: detective, Romance, Adult, sexy, steamy, Military, Alpha, beach, Desert, hea, nonteen
scrolled to her number and typed a text. Tell me if you ever need anything.
    Her reply flashed back. Stop being so nice. Haven’t you learned?
    I breathed a laugh. Bye, Peg.
    Bye, Bingley.

Chapter 4 – Safety Off
    Bank fraud was the last thing on my mind as I sat at my desk Monday morning. All I could think about was Kenny. Not like I wanted her, although it was nice having her in my bed and definitely nice getting laid. Somehow, despite what happened in the car, my feelings changed through what happened between us to something different and new—to me, at least.
    Rubbing my forehead, I realized she’d seen straight through me, and she’d managed to drag the real me out—the guy who could love someone enough to get hurt. Badly. I’d intended to keep that guy good and locked down. Maybe permanently.
    She’d said we helped each other, but at the moment I was feeling shaken, off my game. Like I wasn’t as hardened as I’d thought.
    For Kenny and me, love had kicked both our asses, and in our own ways we’d shut it out, put up the walls, closed shop. I wasn’t ready to reopen for business, but she’d put a crack in my barrier.
    Now she was headed back to everyone who’d told her not to follow her heart in the first place. I wanted to go back with her—not as her boyfriend, more to punch anyone in the face who might try to say I told you so . I wanted to protect her from that. I wanted to protect us both.
    It was a strange arrangement to love somebody I didn’t want to screw—who wasn’t my sister. Thankfully, Derek stopped at my door, interrupting all the cognitive dissonance bullshit.
    “We hitting the gym this afternoon?” He was slightly less formal today—still in the suit, but no tie.
    “Sure.” I blinked back to my computer.
    He stayed in my open door a beat longer. “Williams was impressed by your report Friday. If you’re interested, I can give you the Alliance account.”
    “Thanks,” I nodded. “I’ll take it.”
    “Now I’ve got to straighten out this shit on my desk.” He turned, and I heard him call Nikki in a tone that was sharper than usual. My brow lined. Even though she’d turned me down, Nikki was cool. I didn’t like how he talked to her.
    God, I was a gooey mess today. I had to fucking get it together.
    She swished past my door, wearing a bright yellow wrap-dress. I shook my head and turned back to my computer. “Whatever,” I said under my breath. Nikki was a big girl as she’d let me know.
    Five minutes later, a loud slam had me out of my chair and into the hallway. Derek’s door was the source of the noise, and inside Nikki was yelling. I couldn’t believe my ears. For a few moments, I waited… this wasn’t exactly a domestic disturbance, but I knew from my training about walking in on these kinds of things. His door opened again, and I heard him speak.
    “You need to calm down,” he said in the sharp tone I knew from experience would get the exact opposite response. “I was just saying—”
    “You were just implying I was incompetent. Again.” I’d never seen Nikki mad, but her eyes were flashing as she spun back to her desk and snatched up her bag. From this angle, I could also see she was hurt. “You can do it yourself,” she said loudly. “I quit.”
    My stomach dropped, and Derek and I both sprung forward at that.
    “Wait—” I started.
    “Stay out if it, Patrick,” she snapped at me. “I’ve been here a lot longer than you, and I’m sick of his shit.”
    “Nikki, you’re making a mistake.” Derek used neither the tone nor the words I knew she wanted to hear. She wanted an apology.
    “And you need to get laid.” She spun on her heel and pushed through the glass doors. I caught a “Goodbye, Patrick” as the door breezed shut again.
    Anger clear on my face, I turned back to my business partner. “The fuck?”
    He shook his head and went back into his office. “I’ll handle it,” he said, slamming his dark wooden door.
    For a

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