Boulder (Riders of Apollo #5)

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Ford Wilson

I’ve tried calling her eight times. We all have. No one’s seen Riley since late Monday evening and it’s Wednesday morning now. She hasn’t answered phone calls or anything. The girls even knocked on her door and didn’t hear a thing.

I’m worried. You know what, that isn’t even the extent of it. I’m fucking terrified. The last two weeks have been the best weeks of my life. I never thought I’d find a woman I’d wanna spend a lifetime with. After watching my parents marriage, I just didn’t think it would be possible for me but Riley... Riley makes me feel like I could have that.

And now there’s a chance she’s gone. Whether that means having gone back to England or having died. Either way, I don’t like the idea. “Have you seen her car anywhere, Romeo?” Bear asks, Romeo has been clicking away on his laptop for twenty minutes and it doesn’t normally take this long.

It’s putting me on edge.

“By the looks of things, she sold the car.”

“What?” Lexie launches herself out of her chair to look over Romeo’s shoulder. “Do you think she just left without saying goodbye?”

“Now why on Earth would I do that?” My entire body relaxes at the sight of Riley standing in the doorway of the lounge with a tired smile on her face.

“Where have you been?” Bear demands and Riley just walks over to the remote and switches the TV on. It just shows the news, that the FBI apprehended a ship full of contraband. The crew saw a woman kill all the French ops and then disappear without a trace.

I look at her again and recognise the bulk of the Kevlar, the soreness in her walk and the exhaustion in her eyes.

“The boat was my last mission. That’s the last of the French stock.” Bear looks amazed at the idea and looks between the TV and her over and over again. “I brought you presents, Runner.” She passes the bag slung over her shoulder to him and he grins as he pulls out gun after gun. She then pulls a massive wad of cash out and crouches in front of Ollie, “make good bets, little man. I want to see this tripled before I get back in a few weeks, yeah?”

“Thanks, auntie Riley!” He squeezes her tightly and she looks surprised at it. He’s a loveable little thing and you can’t help but want to squeeze him to death, especially when he calls you family.

“You’re leaving, aren’t you?” Lexie looks ready to cry, squeezing Riley’s hands to comfort herself.

“My flight is booked for tomorrow morning.” She replies and I feel my heart ache. I know she’s coming back but that distance is gonna kill me. We hang around downstairs for a few hours before I’m able to coax her upstairs so I can talk to her. “Are you okay?” She asks and I just look at her.

“I don’t want you to leave.” I lean against my door and she leans against my bed.

“I’ll be back.”

“And then what? Then you go back to England and I only get to see you once every few weeks?”

“Yes. My job and my family is in England. My career is my life.” I rub my face irritably and look over at her. “I can always come back, Boulder. They’d never stop me. That’s what I can offer you. Me.”

“No, it’s not you. I’ll see you for half the year and what do I do with the other half? Huh? Wait like a good little husband for you to come back?”

“What do you want me to do? Give up my entire life and move here? Live in your house and do your laundry, raise your kids?”

“I don’t know!” I hiss back, trying to keep my anger under wraps.

“I can’t give you that. Not now. My career is everything to me, I can only promise to always come back to you. That’s what I can give you.”

“It’s not enough.” I leave her there. I don’t mean to but I just need to escape. Go anywhere that isn’t here. I feel like someone is sat on my chest and no matter how much I beg for breath, they're not budging.

I drive to our club and immediately sidle up to the bar to get absolutely wasted. Anything to numb the feeling in my chest.

I drink scotch, the bottle to myself basically while I ignore anyone trying to talk to me.

“Hello handsome.” I turn to look at the petite brunette that just perched herself at the bar next to me. Her hand is on my arm and her skin in warm against mine. Her hair is long and her eyes are dark, the complete opposite of Riley. “What are you drinking?”

“Scotch.” I respond shortly, downing my glass.

“May I?”

“Help yourself.” She gets a glass from the bartender and pours herself a healthy shot of it.

“You look like you’re having a bad night.”

“Something like that.” She trails her fingers around my tattoos and looks at me with her big brown eyes.

“Tell me?”

“Nothing important, just a bad fucking night.”

“I can make it better for you.” Her hand drifts from my arm to my leg and she squeezes my thigh. I think about not doing it, about not giving in for once and just stay here drinking my life away.

Her touch is warm, her voice is soft and she’s here.

“I have no doubt about it.” She grins brightly and pours herself another drink. Still touching me and talking away. I find myself not really caring anymore. I want what I can’t have but I can have her. “I’m Boulder by the way.”

“I’m Nicole, you can call me Nikki.”

“Okay, Nikki. Are we going to yours or mine?” She laughs and drags me out of my seat.

“Mine.” She winks and leads me out to an UBER that she called for a few minutes ago. I consider again just staying here but decide not to.

Fuck it. I’ve done one-night stands before, they’re fun and uncomplicated. Nothing to fucking worry about except her skin on mine.

Sounds like a fair deal to me.

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