In Too Deep

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Nine

Up close, Nova could see the old cuts and bruises on his face that were already healing and fading. She hated him for being this close to her, but as twisted as it also was, she wanted him closer. Ever since their kiss the last time, she had been thinking about it. No one had ever kissed her the way Ghost had kissed her; with so much passion and intensity.

She shouldn't be feeling like this at all, considering he made her point a gun at him and threatened to kill her brother, and Nova was so annoyed with herself and with him that she instinctively shoved at his chest, but Ghost was like a brick wall and barely budged from where he stood, so she shoved even harder.

"We have nothing to discuss. I did you a favor and you're going to do me a favor by letting this go and getting the hell away from us," she hissed with a deep glare, her hands curling into angry fists.

Ghost grinned and hurled her into his chest, and she tried to pull away from him, but he hung on to her defiantly. "Hate to break it to you, but that wasn't a favor. It was my right that your brother handed to me, so you might want to think of something else to emotionally blackmail me with." There was firmness in his tone that threatened to push her happiness down a notch. "But the fact is, my boss is owed and only you have the ability to change everything.”

"I hate yo—"

"Do you still think about our kiss?" He cut her off suddenly, lowering his voice to a more intimate sound, sweeping his eyes over her lips with a lazy grin. The statement had caught her completely off guard. Ghost's smirk widened. Then suddenly, he grabbed her chin and made her looked at him. Nova shivered as she felt his hand on her skin. He looked like he was perplexed.

"'Cause I sure do. Can't seem to get these lips out of my head." He brushed his cold thumb across her bottom lip sensually, tugging slightly on it. He was so close; she could feel his breath on her skin.

Nova was careful not to let her expression betray her, but her heart was hammering in her chest as she drew in a slow breath, her eyes glued to his shinning one. Ghost's presence was intense but calming, almost to the degree that she wanted to fall into his arms and let him kiss her as he did before.

Ghost, however, seemed to be enjoying it a little bit. He grabbed both her wrists and held them between them. As she pulled, he pulled harder, forcing her to meet his playful smirk. Angrily, she pulled at her wrists again, giving a frustrated grunt when his grip didn't budge. "You need to let me go," her words came out icily.

"Sure thing." Like a man who respected wishes, he let go of her but didn't step away. "But if you keep looking at me like you want me to grab you by the hair and kiss you, I'm gonna do that. I'm a man of my word, after all." He walked backward until he sank into the couch. His hands were in his pockets and his feet were on the table. He was smirking at her as usual, but there was something different about it, and not in a good way. "I guess, back to business? Do you love your brother?"

She glared at him in return to his question and Ghost just let out a low chuckle, his smile growing even wider in amusement, or maybe really it was an indication of his bemusement at the game he was playing with her, and a game he was enjoying.

"I have a proposition for you. You help me out, I help you out, and we all get to be happy and shit."

Nova took a deep breath, and another before she replied, "What do you need from me?" Her tone was shaky. It amused him, she could tell. It was the way he licked his lips and leaned forward in a way that was practically asking for more.

"Nova," he said, her name rolling off of his tongue like water. "I need a side bitch."

She stared up at him with an open mouth, not exactly sure how to respond, until the only thing that left her lips was, "Excuse me?"

"I need someone I can trust, and finding someone to trust isn't easy nowadays; just take a look at your shitface brother. People just wanna disappoint, you know?"

His words lingered there, swimming around in her mind, the implication behind them clear. "You want me to work for you?!"

Ghost pointed his long finger at her for emphasis. "Technically, you're gonna work for my boss, but yeah." His eyes moved to his thigh, where his hand was rubbing against his jeans.

Nova felt a laugh that didn't belong surged up her throat but she didn’t let it loose; instead, it seemed to choke the words on her tongue. "Oh, God. To think I wouldn't ever hear stupid words coming out of anyone's mouth. You want me to work for gangsters? To be a criminal like you?" She did let out a disbelief laugh that sounded hollow to her ears.

He let out an unamused chuckle, a husky sound that settled warmly in the pit of her stomach. “Well, you can't be like me. There's only one me."

Her lips parted, but at first, no sound came out. No matter the situation, she always felt flustered around him. Clearing her throat and blinking out of her haze, she spoke, “No, that's not going to happen." She closed her eyes and exhaled, frustrated to no end.

Her statement was rewarded with another amused chuckle. "You love saying no, don't you? Might start to think you love it when I push you."

"You're asking me to work for a gang! You want to drag me into your crimes, and you think I would happily say yes?"

"To save your brother, yes. What's not clicking, muneca?" His features drastically changed, face suddenly hardening, jaw clenching and eyes darkening. When he spoke, his voice came out low, his serious tone sending chills down her spine. “Besides, I don't see you doing anything good with your life. This might be the only time you get to experience a thrill in your dull life. Now, people in your spot will nod and say thank you.”

"Oh, excuse me if I don't want to end up in prison or dead!"

Ghost gazed at her, eyes narrowed with a parted mouth, eyebrows furrowed deep in thought. “Can't deny that there's a good chance you might end up in prison, but dead? Nah, unless you piss me off, then I'd have to..." He raised his thumb as his hand mimicked a gun before he was pulling the trigger with his index and middle fingers. A second later, he dropped the hand with a smile. “Don't worry, I'm quite fond of you right now."

Nova reared back, eyes widening as his words danced around inside her head. She opened her mouth to speak before almost immediately slamming it shut. "I'm not going to kill anyone for you."

He laughed. "You ain't got nothing to worry about that. That's for professionals only."

Her eyes widened, horrified as the meaning of his words sank in. “How can you say that like you take pleasure in ending someone's life?" She swallowed as she forced her heart rate to decrease.

"I take pleasure in a lot of things," he confessed huskily, burning a hole in her face with his pensive eyes. "Like this deal you and I have. I'm taking a lot of pleasure from it. And two, you’ll find that killing someone has an oddly calming effect."

She didn’t think she was comfortable talking about that anymore, nor did she want to imagine him killing people with the hands that touched her.

“What about my job? I can't just quit and come work for you. What will my friends say if they ask me what kind of job I have now? I'm sure telling them I work for a gang is going to earn me a good clap."

"Didn't say anything about you quitting your job. All you gotta do is come when I call. No matter where you are and what you're doing, when the king calls, the queen has to answer."

If she was flattered by his words, she did an expert job of hiding it, her expression no less guarded than it had been two minutes ago. "I’m not your queen."

"Sure you are. Every king needs a queen, baby." And there was that pet name, cooed so easily off the tongue even while the gleam in his eyes was so much darker. "Or do you prefer when I call you my side bitch?"

He only smirked at the clenching of her jaw, and damn it, she hated him. "I would rather you stop calling me names and just call me Nova. That's my name, remember?"

"Nah, that's boring, and I don't do boring."

She wasn't sure if she wanted to laugh or scream at him. “What kind of job will I be doing for you?" she prodded further, getting impatient. "As you can see, I don't have any experience as a criminal. I would rather go back to saving your friend's life."

A tiny, quiet, far-back corner of her mind yelled out a warning that the rest of her ignored, about the danger in liking the sound of what he was asking her to do. It was a complete opposite of what Nova had in mind, and diving back into Ghost’s world again would prove to be dangerous. It was different this time around; she wasn’t saving his life, but she was going to work for him. That meant prison time. He had assured her on that, but she was only trying to do this for Grant. She wouldn’t even consider the other option.

Ghost looked so smug. Like he owned the world. Like he was immortal. "I'm afraid that position has been filled by someone who qualifies for it," he told her because he couldn’t seem to help himself, couldn’t seem to resist not playing with her.

She blinked, wetting her lips with her tongue. Knowing it would drive him mad. That wasn’t even her intention. “Terrorizing yet another poor, innocent soul, are you?"

"You're hardly innocent,” he drawled, his voice raspy and slightly teasing, but there was honesty behind every word. "With a little push, I can show you how bad you can be."

Nova rolled her eyes. "No, thanks."

"You're just scared because I'm right. You never know, you might come to love it."

She looked surprised for a moment as if she hadn’t expected it but briskly schooled her expression. “Don't presume to think you know me, Ghost."

"Ghost?" His chuckle was light as he stared at her through his lashes, his eyes clouded over. “Aw, you got a lil nickname for me? I'm flattered.”

"It's not a nickname. I just don't know your name so I'm bound to call you something, aren’t I? So, are you?" She was dissatisfied with the way her voice croaked slightly when he asked it.

"Am I what?"

"Are you going to tell me your name?"

Ghost shook his head. “Nah."

She visibly reeled back and blinked a few times, her eyebrows furrowing, and once she had recovered, her response was immediate. “What do you mean nah?" The question slipped from her mouth as her brows drew upward into a tight frown. If there was anything she had anticipated, it wasn’t him denying her his name. “I have to know the name of the person I'm working for. I'm not going to go around calling you Ghost."

He didn’t quite let her remark sink into his mind before he was on his feet and prowling towards her, backing her into a wall. Her heart sped up and her eyes widened as he slammed his hands against the wall beside her head, causing her to gasp. He bent down, bright eyes boring into hers from underneath his lashes. His hair fell into his face and his lips were set in a smirk as he brought one hand down to finger one of her strands

“There are ways we can work that out.” Nova found that her throat was beginning to get tighter at the sound of his husky tone. His smirk suddenly grew as he raked his eyes over her, his hand trailing along her waist. “Another taste, perhaps?”

Her heart lurched, and her eyes widened in response to his request. He wanted another kiss? No way. He may have stolen a kiss from her, but she wasn’t going to let him take it again—willingly or by force.

“Never.”

He didn't answer, and for quite some time, she was under the impression that he never would. A smirk tugged at the corner of his lips as he slipped his hands into his pockets.

“That’s what they all say.” He turned around to walk away, and she finally relaxed against the wall, not realizing the moment she had shut her eyes to breathe in relief. When she opened them, Ghost was turning to face her as he stepped in closer again, which was not what she was trying to achieve here.

He didn’t get quite as close this time, but all he had to do was lean in and her heart sped up. She didn’t know if it was out of fear or attraction; either way, she didn’t like it.

"Don't let me down, muneca, and I'll keep you." He brought his fingers down to graze her cheek, a slow smirk taking over his lips. She gasped when his pointer finger and his middle finger came under her chin and tilted her head up. There she was again, just centimeters from his lips. “I’ll be seeing you real soon, Nova. I look forward to working with you.”

She felt her wild heartbeat for completely different reasons than terror at her name rolling off his tongue like that and echoed around her head.

She swallowed, chest heaving.

Then he turned and headed to the door, whistling as he exits the house. He was gone.

Nova stayed frozen where she was for a while, still full of confusion and adrenaline. She had to sit back as she tried to absorb all that happened, and she kind of felt it settled over her like a mantle.

Just what has Grant gotten her into?

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