Better When He's Bold(2)

By: Jay Crownover



I gulped because Race was making his way through the crowd of dancing and grinding college students toward where we were standing. People just instinctively moved out of his way. It was like there was a force field of badass that surrounded him that only those who liked to live dangerously dared to test. I wasn’t one of those people. At least that’s what I told myself every time I was around him.

Sure, I was dangerously attracted, had been ever since the first time I saw him when he dropped Dovie off at work, but he would never know. Race wasn’t a good guy and my life was hard enough without adding in the kind of complication he was bound to be.

To keep Race and those traitorous feelings at bay, I was awful to him . . . I mean really, really awful. I was cold. I was disinterested. I was rude, and sometimes I was flat-out mean. I acted like he was annoying, treated him like he was a vile, nasty human being, and when that didn’t work, I ignored him and acted like he wasn’t worth my time. It was getting harder and harder to do, and the more disdain I tossed in his direction, the more charm and liquid sex appeal he leveled at me. We were involved in a tantalizing back-and-forth game that I was terrified I would eventually lose. Race wanted me, and he didn’t make it a secret. I didn’t know how much longer my wayward lust was going to be held at bay under the assault of those evergreen-colored eyes and that gorgeous head of spun-gold hair.

He flashed a million-watt smile in my direction and stopped so he was looming over me. Even with me wearing five-inch heels, he towered over me.

“Well, hello, Brysen.”

I rolled my eyes and raised the cup to hide my involuntary gulp as his gruff voice slid over my skin.

“Race.”

Adria nudged me in the side with the sharp edge of her elbow. I cleared my throat and inclined my head in her direction.

“This is my friend Adria.”

He stuck out a big hand and clasped her much smaller one. I practically saw her panties melt and her vagina throw out a welcome mat.

“What are you doing here?”

I should be asking him that. This was a college party, filled with drunk coeds and undergrads. I actually attended the university around the corner, but Race had long since given up the academic life for one that involved crime and lots and lots of illegal activity. He was the one who shouldn’t be here.

“Just out having some fun.” I tried to keep my tone flat and uninterested, but if he could hear the way my heart pounded, the jig would be up for certain.

He lifted a blond eyebrow at me and flashed a half grin. Gah . . . he even had a killer dimple in his left cheek. I wanted to lick it so bad. I dug the tips of my fingernails into my palms and took a deep breath.

“I’m surprised you know how to do that, Bry . . . have fun.”

He was right, so all I could do was narrow my eyes at him and put on the ice-queen mask I perpetually wore in his presence.

“What are you doing here, Race? Shaking down poor college kids for their student loan checks?”

His other eyebrow shot up to join the first one, and when he unleashed a full smile on us, it practically knocked both Adria and me over. Something darker flashed in his green eyes and I wanted to take a step back. Race was dangerous in more ways than one, and I needed to remember that.

“Most college kids have zero sense and like a challenge. That’s a breeding ground for a guy like me. Plus football season starts next weekend and I just needed to check in on a few early clients.” His eyes slid over the top of my sleek bob to the toes of my pointed black heels. “I stayed longer for the scenery.”

Adria cleared her throat and looked back and forth between the two of us.

“Clients? At a house party? What exactly do you do?” If she only knew the kinds of illicit things Race did.

He cocked his head to the side and the blinding smile he wielded like a weapon fell off of his face. There were a lot of facets to Race Hartman, and this darker, harder side of him had only made an appearance when he decided he was going to take over the reins of a major crime syndicate after he had played a big role in bringing down the kingpin, Novak. Race wasn’t just a bad guy, a criminal, he was the bad guy. He was running numbers, loan-sharking, operating illegal gambling houses, helping his best friend chop and move stolen cars, and making sure every man, woman, and child in the Point knew he was the guy calling the shots on the streets now. He was too pretty to be that awful, but because of Dovie I knew exactly how filthy Race’s hands had become since taking over Novak’s empire. Not to mention his new business partner was a pimp, a money launderer, and absolutely ruthless and cold. Nassir had to be shady and enigmatic considering he ran every underground operation that existed in the inner city and it seemed a lot of those qualities had rubbed off on Race.

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