He texted her to meet him in a bar, one Nova had never been to. She had no clue why he wanted her here, what crazy scheme he had prepared for her. The bar was located downtown; small and authentic, but not exactly the place she would find him at. She guessed Ghost would prefer somewhere a little loud and a little crazy to match his personality.
It wasn't surprising that she was quick to point him out lurking in the shadows considering there were only eight people in the bar, but she managed not to approach him. He wasn't alone in his table; a dark-haired woman sat opposite him, grinning at whatever he was saying and nodding her head like she was ready to agree with anything that came out of his mouth. Nova narrowed her eyes, unwelcome jealousy tightening her gut.
She didn’t walk over to them. No, she would rather let him finish his conversation. The bartender gave her the water she ordered, and Nova could feel her jaw clenching and unclenching, as her breaths were becoming faster and more shallow as the minutes ticked by.
Someone sat at empty stool beside her. She didn’t have to look. She knew exactly who it was. Even if she hadn't already expected it, she would recognise the way the oxygen felt like it was being sucked out of her and the way her toes tingled, and the musky scent of his.
Nova took a sip of her water, aware that he was leaning closer to her, could practically feel his breath on her shoulder and goosebumps travelled their way down to her arms.
"Who is she?"
He chuckled, and she could see some of his face out the corner of her eyes as he propped his elbow on the bar ledge. "You sound jealous," he commented above a whisper but sounded loud enough in her ears.
She scoffed in retaliation. "Not really. Just curious, that's all. No need to make it something that it isn't." She finally levelled him with a gaze. He was dressed simply tonight; dark jeans and a grey shirt that tightened his shoulders.
He just gave her a knowing look, his gaze drifting from her eyes down to her sleeveless dress, the v neck exposing her cleavage. "Aight. Let's say I believe you."
"What am I doing here?"
"Someone gave me an intel about a guy who could know the whereabouts of Vipers, so I'm here to shake him until I find answers. And I called you because I needed company, and also to avoid looking suspicious. I don’t exactly look like I give out candies.”
"You seem to be doing fine two minutes ago."
Ghost made a noise of displeasure. "Yup, but it's you I called, so it's you I want." His eyes trailed on her like he always did, and she felt heat kiss it's way down the back of her neck.
Nova’s throat gave a small clear. "So, your intel; is he sure about the guy?"
"He is, and check him over there." Their knees knocked together when he shifted closer and looked past her right shoulder. "That's him."
Hers followed his to the guy sitting at least five tables away from them, drinking alone. She turned back to Ghost. "Well, let's go.”
"No." His hand closed over hers, as tingles gathered and shot straight between her legs. He leaned back again, but their legs still touch, the heat of his skin through the fabric of his jeans was extremely distracting and created a sensation.
He continued in a low voice, "The bar is owned by a member of Vipers. If he sees me walk up to that guy, we're both going to get gunned down before we get to the question part. The only reason why I'm breathing is that they don't know what I look like."
Her eyebrows arched. "What are you going to do, then?"
"If he leaves, I'm going to follow him."
"And jump him?"
He smirked, the softest pull of the corner of his mouth. "Yea, somethin' like that," he said, following her eyes to where his hand was still enclosed over hers. He awkwardly pulled away, leaving a cold sensation behind.
"And if he leaves with a friend?"
"He came alone."
Nova’s eyebrows rose in what looked like 'you're joking'. "Has it occurred to you that he might be waiting for someone?" she asked.
"Well, shit, yeah.”
She snorted and looked away, fascinated by the dozens bottle of liquor on the shelf. "So, what did you steal from them?" She wasn't trying to be nosy, more like curiosity. It had to be something worth being killed for.
Ghost ran his hand over the lower half of his face, fingers scratching at the scruff there. "Ten million, but technically, it's stolen money too," he defended as if that would make it alright.
"You stole ten million and you have a problem if they want to kill you or shut you down?" She finished in mild shock, and a laugh tumbled out of his chest, and despite how lighthearted it sounded, a sense of seriousness swirled around his words.
"Hey, never said this was an honest business. Besides, we putting the money into good use, but we gotta make sure the weather's a bit down before we spend it." At the blank look he received from her, he chuckled. "It's a gang phrase."
"What will you do if you get the info?"
"Smoke it up." The statement confused her, but she waited for him to expand. "I mean, I would love to do that, but it wouldn't be a smart move, so the smartest move is gathering more intel about them before..." He snapped his fingers. "..they get buried. We still don't know shit about them. They practically came out of nowhere."
She chewed the corner of her mouth thoughtfully. "And you desperately want that info?"
"I'm here, aren't I?"
"Fine, I will get it for you." She didn’t let the statement sit on him before she was already on her feet and out of his grasp.
Call her crazy, call her dumb, but Nova wanted to show him what she was capable of. As stupid and pointless as that was, she wanted to prove that she was capable of more than being his lapdog.
Ghost kept saying she had balls. The whole part of it was getting to see how much balls she had, or maybe, in the deepest part of her, she wanted to do something for him. Albeit what he had done for her didn't qualify to get a payback.
Satisfyingly, Nova returned back to her seat as she glanced at Ghost’s face, fires of fury smouldered underneath his stony expression. His rage would seem pointless in the next ten seconds.
“What the fuck did you do?” he spits out, a hard edge to his voice. “Do you have any idea what you have done?” His face continued to contort with the venomous outburst. “You probably have caused us the only chance—”
She interrupted with an eye roll. “Easy, tiger. I got what you wanted.”
“Am I supposed to believe you could pull that off?”
“Insulting, but weren’t you the one who said I had balls? Were you lying all along?”
Ghost’s face was as dark as a storm when he retorted with, “Yes, I said you had balls, but I never claimed that you can outsmart people like me. You let that run through your fucking head.” He tapped his long finger into his temple to emphasize.
“But I did get it, so yes, I outsmarted someone like you,” she replied curtly, her face flushed with her own fury. The least he could do was be happy she got him what he wanted without him having to do anything?
He ran his hand through his hair and fixed her with a stare that could have frozen the Pacific Ocean. “You got no idea who I am, Nova, and trying to know me will end you up with questions than answers.”
Her heart sank. Nova’s eyes shifted to the side as she bit her lip tightly in an attempt to hide any sound that wanted to escape from her mouth, words slowly making their way out of her mouth. “I’m sorry that I tried to help you. I won’t make the same mistake again.”
“No,” he snapped, jerking her chin to look at him. “You don’t gotta do shit and make me feel guilty about it. I’m pissed because you acted recklessly. Do you know what could have happened if you had made the wrong move, or said the wrong thing? Or even raised red flags? You could end up dead.”
“I know that—”
“No, you clearly don’t know that! You think just because I’ve shown you mercy and introduced you to my boys gave you the idea that everyone’s like us? You think everyone kid around? This isn’t some fucking game, Nova. You act reckless, you end up dead. Period.”
Her face was tight. Her muscles were tensed. Being scolded like a child felt like shit. He was right, however, and the knowledge that he gave a shit about her outweighed all the negative emotions.
“Don’t be an idiot,” Ghost added in a soft voice, all traces of anger gone in a flash. “That’s your brother, not you. That’s the reason why you’re here with me.”
Nova snapped her head up to look at him. Their heated gaze lasted a full second, enough for each to take in the face of the other. Then he brushed her hair back from her shoulder and moved in so close she could feel his breath again.
“Now, tell me what he told you exactly, and how you were able to get it out of him.”
She worked him through what had happened between her and the guy. With each word, Ghost’s mouth kept spreading. He looked impressed. However, he still wasn’t sure if the guy was being honest.
He said he was going to check it out first before any actions were taken.
That’s when peace ended.
“What do you mean I’m not coming with you?”
Ghost turned slightly as he pulled his car keys from the pocket of his jeans. “I thought I couldn’t be more clear. You are not coming with me because it might be dangerous.”
Nova stride up quick to meet him before he slipped away. She reached for him, grabbed his arm, spun him around. “If you’re going to be there, I doubt it would be dangerous for me if you’re going to be quick on your feet to save me. My hero.”
He snorted, eyebrows raised as his voice lowered, “Nice try. That shit won’t work on me, sweetheart.”
She was exasperated. He couldn’t tell her what to do. “Okay, fine! I would do the reasonable thing and follow you behind. I hope you will enjoy sitting at the front row to my funeral because you refused to let me come with you!”
And then he was on her, grabbing her shoulders and spinning her around; her back hits his car. His hands on her cheeks, his face dangerously close to hers; sharp lines of his cheekbones and the broad edge of his jaw and black with fury. “Don’t ever use that against me, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that is my weakness, because you ain’t,” he said it slower this time.
Nova reeled back, surprised. But she saw it – the tick of his jaw and the dilated pupil said it all. She was surprised because she didn’t think he cared, and she felt somewhat satisfied as something curled within her.
“I guess we will find out, won’t we?” She slipped out of his hold, but he held his hand out to grab her arm without turning around. Ghost took a couple of seconds before he faced her, flushed, his gaze unmoving. Slowly, he closed the distance, raising a hand towards her before he quickly lowered it.
A tinge of disappointment appeared on her face.
“Get in the car.”