The room wasn't destroyed, but it was completely trashed. Papers littered on the ground. The table and chairs have been turned over, and the curtains have been ripped from their place.
Vicious had his palms rested against the wall as he stared out through the window he had almost filled up. His back was turned to her, and his rage was alive and breathing. Nova approached with caution, but she didn't make it too far to him when she paused in the middle of the room.
His head tilted down as if he was trying to catch his breath. He didn't turn around yet, just opting to stay where he was like he didn't want her to see him in this state. Nova was used to every mood of his. She had seen his anger, his annoyance, his jealousy, and his amusement. There was nothing left to see. Nothing left for him to hide.
She took one step closer and halted again. "I heard what happened; are you okay?" It was obvious he wasn't, but she needed to start with something before she jumped to the part where she defended herself. Before someone pointed the finger at her.
"So, who do you think is it?" His quiet question rushed to her ears.
"The mole? I don't know, but it's not—"
"You must have some idea." He finally rotated around to face her, his dark green eyes peering into hers. At that moment, he looked like a shadow draped in death. He leaned back, crossing his arm and legs. "You were there. So, who do you think is it? Mario? Screw?" One perfectly arched eyebrow cocked. "Danny, or Riley?"
Her heart thundered in her chest. He thought it was one of them? Not her. Or was this a test to see if she would admit to being the mole? At least, that was the tactic she had seen a lot in movies. "What?" she stupidly asked.
"Who do you think is the mole, Nova?"
Her chest felt heavy as she sucked in a breath. It wasn't a test or a game. He really believed one of them was the mole, and he wanted her to tell him who it was? He didn't think it was her. Was she supposed to feel happy? Was she supposed to be moved that it wasn't her he was blaming?
"You can't put that decision on me. I don't...I don't know, Vicious."
"Assuming you came here to help, this is going to help me, Nova. One of them has been talking, and I would like your opinion on the matter."
"Why would you think it's one of them?" She urged, trying to keep her voice steady. "I know Mario and Screw will not do that to you. Mario hates me because of you, and Screw loves being part of this. For fuck's sake, these are your men. You know them better than I know them."
His answering stare was dark and lingering, sending chills up her spine. "You're right. I do know them." When he retrieved a gun from behind, her heart sank in her chest like a stone. "I know who I trust and who I don't," he said with a devious light in his eyes, and she could tell he was relishing all of this despite being angry.
She blankly stared at him. She couldn't think about anything to answer to that. "What are you doing with a gun?"
The tip of his tongue edged itself between his lips as he chuckled lowly, "I lost three men and half a million. Someone is about to get all that heat."
And his words rooted in her brain as much as the calmness was buried in him. She didn't know how to respond to that, so she finally managed to answer, even though she doubted he would listen to her, but she had to try somehow. "You don't know who it is. You can't make a decision out of anger without thinking this through."
He slanted his dark eyes, dragging the vowels in that smooth drawl of his, "No one besides us knows the plan. My mind has never been perfectly clear."
She tried to think faster, to figure out something, but her mind was empty. The two seconds that passed were just a blur, and it took her seconds before she realized he was reaching for the door. She followed after him, her feet pounding against the floor. He was already out of the door, his arms lazily falling at his sides, the gun in his right hand swinging slowly.
"Vicious, you can't—" She almost went straight into Mario, who had just come out of another room and grabbed his arm without a second thought. "Mario, stop him! He's going to do something stupid!"
"Fuck." The other man charged after Vicious, leaving her to stand in the hallway, bending forward to catch her breath. When she straightened, her hair flew back with her. Vicious didn't think it was Mario, or else he wouldn't have allowed him to leave, but what if he thought it was Screw? The thought almost choked her. She couldn't let Vicious hurt or kill him, so she followed after them.
When she found him, pretty much everyone in the room was present. Screw and Danny were in front of him, and her heart beats so much when she saw him exchanging words with Screw. She literally couldn't breathe or move despite wanting to jump in and interrupt, but she knew her boundaries. She knew she couldn't insert herself in his business in front of his men. She could only hold her breath and watch.
Vicious' pulse ticked in his neck, and his jaw was clenched. His eyes were fire as he peered down at them. And the next thing she knew, he was lifting his gun and shooting at Danny's forehead. Nova gasped and jumped back, and when Vicious turned, he was staring at her with a fierce look.
She tried to look away, and she ended up being caught in Mario's blank gaze. She turned and hurried away, going back to the meeting room. Her chest felt like it was in a tight hold, and her palms started to sweat.
That was when the door slammed open, and Mario walked in, completely silent, his movements stilled and predator-like.
"You!" He grounded his teeth, reaching her with two large strides before grasping the back of her neck so tightly that she lost her breath for a second, and his other hand went for her throat. He didn't squeeze, but having his hands there felt like he was actually choking her. "You got him killed. You got Danny killed."
Her mouth widened in shock as he glowered at her, rage in his eyes. "Do you know how long I have known him? More than a year, and do you know how many times he's saved me? More than I can count," he spat out venomously. He jerked her to his chest, their faces inches apart until she could feel his hot breath on her face and could practically taste the fire on her tongue. "And you had to open your mouth and got him killed. You got my friend killed."
Her heart thundered like an accelerant had been poured directly into her veins, but she kept her voice cool. "I didn't—"
"Shut the fuck up." Hate burned bright in his eyes, making her stiffen. "You gave the idea to Vicious that it was one of us, didn't you? Everything has been going wrong ever since you got here. How many things will you fuck up for us before Vicious realizes that you're a ticking time bomb? For some fucking reason, he wants to trust you, and there's not a single inch of you that's trustworthy."
Nova pierced him with a fierce look. "I haven't done anything wrong, Mario, so let me go."
He clenched his jaw. "Yeah? I should let you go so you can get on with your life, huh? While you cut short Danny's life. He has a goddamn eighty-eight-year-old grandma he takes care of. Who will take care of her now?"
"If this building collapses, you're going to blame it on me. If you wake up sick tomorrow, you're going to find a way to blame that on me too." She looked him square in the eyes because she knew she was right.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Screw shouted, pulling Mario off her to glare at him.
Mario shoved him back, pointing his finger behind him, at her. "She will ruin everything, and you assholes refuse to see it." He stormed out of the room.
"Don't listen to him. It was Vicious' call, and he made it. He was never going to let it go, anyway," Screw admitted. "I don't know if it was the right decision, or if Danny was the mole, but I know his death isn't on you, Nova."
She felt a dark presence behind her. She tensed up like a bowstring but didn't turn. She wasn't ready to face him just yet. "I can't believe you killed him."
"What's wrong? Too much blood for you?" She hadn't missed his sarcastic response, so she clenched her jaw and turned around. He licked his lips, and the sexy half-smirk that had been missing showed on his face. His eyes were burning holes on her face, neck, and exposed shoulders.
His hand came under the hem of her top, resting on her hipbone, his fingers hooked into her skin. Nova jumped back from his touch.
"Don't...don't touch me, please."
With a smug grin, Vicious pulled her into him. "With my killer hands?" His green eyes sparkled like dew in the morning sun. "Thing is, I'm not going to. You already knew I was a killer, doll. Nothing's changed." His other calloused hand cradled her jaw, almost gripping at her soft skin. The hand that had pulled the trigger.
"I'll let you in on something," His faint smell assaulted her nostrils, and her body arched into his heat. "I'll drag someone's guts out, and with my hand-coated with blood, I'll let each one of my fingers inside you, and you will cum in my fingers, and then," His thumb ran the surface of her lower lip. Nova took a shaky breath as he pressed his finger into her mouth. "I'll make you lick my fingers off until there's nothing left on them." The rough pad touched her tongue; the taste was sweet. "Just like that." Her nipples tightened painfully as he let out a pained sound.
His hand was on her throat, and his nose was inches from hers. His smell was intoxicating, and Nova hated herself for being drawn to him even when he was a lunatic.
"I know." He regarded her with a devilish grin. He abandoned his grip on her throat to touch her in other places. His palms skimmed along her ribs, then slide around to her ass. He lifted her and caged her against the wall. "Do you remember last night?"
He didn't let her respond before he attacked her mouth with his, his thumb stroking the side of her neck, making her pulse go wild beneath his touch.
"How ready and responsive you were," He nipped at her bottom lip, and Nova moaned as she slides her fingers into his hair. Her grip tightened around his locks to deepen their raw kiss. "I'm going to fuck you in the bathroom now, Nova." His teeth were nipping her lip, then chin. She cried out when he bit her throat and moved his mouth near her ear and nibble the skin there as well. "I'm going to fuck you until everyone in this building hears your little scream."
She whimpered, his words sending her over the edge. Then he laughed and set her back down to her feet. "But that's for another day." His green eyes watched her tongue, then he leaned down. She let out a moan when his mouth covered her nipple through her top. "And you best believe it will come," he growled. His teeth tugged on her nipple, making her cry out.
Nova turned to Jess in the sofa, eyebrows lifted. She had been quiet ever since she got to the house, and most of the time, her response was only a smile or a brief answer. "Jess, what's wrong?" she asked with concern. Nova had been focused on all her problems that she didn't realize that something was going on with her friend. "Tell me what's wrong."
For a second, Jess seemed hesitant to give a response, but then she tucked her legs and sighed. "It's Eric." With a slight intake of breath as though she had been withholding everything she was feeling. Now that Nova paid attention, she could see a dark line underlining her eyes.
Eric? She frowned. "Who is Eric?"
"My boyfriend! The man you met. Honestly, how can you forget him? He's hard to forget."
Her brows arched up as realization dawned on her. She hadn't forgotten that Mario was still fake dating Jess, but she had forgotten the fake name he was using. "No, I remember. What about him?"
"We've made plans twice, and he's canceled them twice."
"Oh, you two broke up!" She didn't mean for it to come out the way it did, with hopefulness and excitement. Could you blame her? There was no relationship, and Jess would be better if he cut ties with her before she caught any real feelings for him. Not that Nova didn't doubt that she cared for him. It disgusted her.
"No! We didn't—I don't know..." she trailed off in deep thought, biting the corner of her mouth. Jess looked at her. "He's so weird. I feel like there's another man underneath all of that cute and nice guy. It's just...sometimes he's so scary, and the way he scares people off without even saying anything, and then, there are times he's just so sweet and loving. I don't know what's going on with him now. He barely talks to me."
Because he doesn't care about you or the relationship you think you have.
"If it's not meant to be, then I guess you should let it go."
"But I like him. I really, really like him, Nova."
For fuck's sake. Jess did catch feelings for Mario. What was there to like about him anyway? The man oozed nothing but contempt. His heart was black. How could he even begin to love someone? Nova couldn't imagine him saying anything sweet to anyone.
"There are a lot of fishes in the sea," she told her, wrapping her arm around her neck and pulling her into her embrace. "You really like him?"
She already hated herself when she said, "Then you should talk to him. Tell him how you feel, and who knows, he might come clean about himself." And I just really want you to know the truth, so you don't have to feel like shit for canceling on you.
Nova shrugged. "You know," Liar. Cheater. Gangster. Murderer. "Whatever's going on with him. I'm sure he will tell you everything." She hoped he would, now that he hated her more than he did before. She was hoping he would end things. Hurt her friend so he could hurt her.
"You're right, and like you said, if it's not meant to be. I should just let it go."
She hugged her tightly.