Noelle would be embarrassed by his past, so even if they made something work, she would leave him later. He just couldn’t find a way around that fact. And if he was this much of a mess now, how much more of a mess would he be if they actually made love? If he’d actually tried to share his life with her?
If he harmed her irrevocably?
Can’t believe you’re even considering going for more. You’re a menace.
Hell, at this rate, he really would destroy her. He’d redone his tattoos before Ava’s wedding, but after what had happened last night, he’d already burned through some of the ink. And yeah, okay, he’d redone the tattoos this morning, would redo them every morning if necessary, but he was still treacherous. That wouldn’t change no matter what precautions he took.
Damn it, he had to break things off with her. Completely. He couldn’t risk being with her again.
When Noelle had dragged him on top of her, he’d felt the first sizzle and pop. Only thoughts of marring her flawless skin had given him enough strength to keep his arms pinned at his sides. Hadn’t stopped last night’s dreams, though. Dreams of going all the way. Of having her, in a thousand different ways.
Yeah, he should have called her this morning. She was a good agent, and besides, that’s what partners did. Worked together. That’s what she had probably hoped for. Fifty-fifty, equals in everything. Sharing details, and talking things through. He hadn’t. He still couldn’t. If he saw her, spoke to her, his good intentions would vanish like vapor.
Have to see her sometime. Not yet. Not now.
The car slowed, stopped, and Hector opened his eyes to find himself parked in the underground garage of Dallas’s apartment building. He gathered the coffees and his reader before striding to the elevator. A short ride later, he was walking down the long, narrow hallway that led to Dallas’s den of iniquity.
This was a nice building, one of the more expensive units in New Chicago, with clean walls, clean floors, and shield armor on the windows. Hector had been here a few thousand times, but this time he looked at it as Noelle might, comparing it to his own. His place lacked personality, Dallas’s did not. Soft scarlet carpet at his feet. Vibrant stone walls at his sides. Colorful portraits of flowers hanging in every direction.
Dallas and Noelle. They were a better match. Scowling, Hector knocked on the door harder than he’d intended. A few seconds later, that door slid out of the way. No one stood in the entrance, but Hector knew the agent had a camera hidden out here, monitoring everyone who approached. He walked inside, the entrance automatically sealing shut behind him.
We? Hector followed the sound of his voice. He found Dallas and Devyn in the living room, on the couch, watching as a naked human female dusted the coffee table. She was short, curved, and stacked in all the right places, and any man with a fully functioning penis would have reacted to her.
Hector didn’t react to her. Only Noelle tempted him past his endurance. No one else compared.
He’d wanted to talk to Dallas in private. He should have guessed Dev’s presence, though. The boys were inseparable, and you couldn’t be friends with one and not the other. Kinda like with Noelle and Ava.
Now his body reacted, his shaft twitching, his arms heating, itching. Shit. “Your wife doesn’t mind you watching other women … work?” Hector asked Devyn as he set the coffees on the table, careful not to initiate any contact with the maid.
The king of the Targons never removed his amber gaze from the girl. “Silly boy. Bride called the service and picked her out for me.”
“You mean me,” Dallas corrected. “Bride picked her out for me.”
Hector studied him. Tension still radiated from him. Bruises were under his eyes, as if he hadn’t slept, and there were sores chewed in his bottom lip. “Well, get rid of her. I’m here on official business.”
“The room isn’t clean. Besides, I’m here to cheer up my bestie. Bestie—isn’t that what people call their best friend forever? I’ve heard Noelle Tremain use the term with little Ava.”
“We’ve had this conversation before. That’s what teenage girls call them,” Dallas muttered.
Devyn smiled his most charming smile. “As our bromance will last the ages, that sounds pretty perfect to me.”
Hector glanced around. Usually, the place was a disaster area, with clothes strewn about, empty beer bottles everywhere, and food wrappers stuffed between the couch cushions. Now there were three stacks of folded laundry in a basket. There wasn’t a bottle in sight, and a soft swathe of material was draped over the arm of the couch.
“Ma’am,” Hector said. “There’s something you can do for me.”
Her blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail, giving him a clear view of her pretty face—and the fear that filled her brown eyes when she looked him over. A common occurrence in his presence. Noelle was one of the only females to regard him unflinchingly from day one.
Amid Devyn’s protests, she tugged a black and white dress over her head. As the material fell into place, it conformed to her curves. She slid her feet into too-high heels, and they clicked and clacked as she hurried out of the apartment.
“Now, then.” Hector pressed a few buttons on his reader, sending the contents to both Dallas and Devyn’s systems, and fell into the chair across from them. He told them what he’d learned about Bobby Marks’s wife, the explosive dinner with the mother, and they decided to hunt Brenda Marks down after checking in at the AIR office in an hour.
Every reply from Dallas was harder and harsher than necessary.
“So … you want to tell me what’s wrong with you?” he asked.
“Hey!” Dallas frowned at him. “When I tell you something’s a secret, and you tell me that secret is locked in the vault, you aren’t supposed to blab about it.”
Devyn blew him a kiss. “How was I supposed to know Hector would have the key to my vault?”
“Your happiness. God knows, nothing I’ve done has helped your pissy mood. So maybe, just maybe, talking about it with the other man involved will.”
Motions jerky, Dallas grabbed one of the coffees and drank deeply. “Fine, whatever, but you tell him. I can’t discuss it without vomiting blood.”
Dread poured through Hector’s veins. What the hell was going on?
“Dallas had an unchangeable vision,” Devyn said, meeting Hector’s gaze with steady determination. “He saw himself in bed with Noelle.”
“What!” Hector exploded, on his feet, a pyre-gun palmed and aimed before he realized he’d moved. He knew all about Dallas’s visions. Knew they were never wrong. Knew that predicting the future was one of his many half-alien abilities. Damn that ability!
A narrowed-eyed Devyn said, “Sit down. Now,” in a cold and deadly voice.
Deadly, but at the moment Hector was a predator without any type of moral compass. No one was more lethal.
As if he’d asked the first time. The Targon would kill to protect his “bestie.” And as he could control energy molecules with his mind, manipulating human bodies as if they were nothing more than puppets, he attempted to lower Hector’s arm.
Hector felt mental fingers clamping around his wrist, pushing, and resisted until both men realized the depths of his strength. He even let his skin atomize just enough to glow above the edge of his gloves and heat. “That’s right. You can’t force me to do anything I don’t want to do.”
Devyn hissed, as if he’d felt the heat of Hector’s skin even through the mental connection.
When Hector sat and sheathed his weapon, he did it under his own steam. He only had trouble forcing his arms to cool. Dallas. Noelle. In bed. Together.
He’d known it was a possibility, had even considered them a perfect match a few minutes ago, but this … fuck no!
Red glittered over his line of vision, and he once again curled his finger around his gun.
“Fuck!” he snarled, throwing out the curse like a weapon. “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.”
“Told you he’d react that way,” Dallas said, falling back against the couch and staring up at the ceiling.
“Well, he should have kept listening to me and we could have avoided the tantrum,” Devyn said after tsking under his tongue. “Dallas also had a vision of you sleeping with her, Hector. And I gotta tell you, that shocked the piss right out of me. I thought you were gay.”
“Oh, now I have your attention.”
Hector. Noelle. In bed. Together. Again? “Did I have sex with her?” he asked Dallas in a rush. “Did I harm her?”
Dallas gulped. “You woke up next to her, and both of you were naked. No, she wasn’t harmed.”
Shock blasted him, realization quick on its heels. In the vision, Hector had slept with her, next to her and naked, and he hadn’t hurt her. A miracle. His heart drummed against his chest with stinging precision.
He could have her, all of her. Would have her. Dallas was never wrong. Praise that ability!
“The problem is,” Devyn went on. “Only one of the visions will come true.”
“That’s not a problem. I want her. She’s mine.” Words he’d never thought to utter, but now that he had, he meant them. She. Was. His. If he could have her without hurting her, he would have her. Period. No one would be able to stop him. Not even Noelle.
Shit. He had some serious backtracking to do with her. Probably some groveling, too. She’d demand an apology for his lack of contact. He’d give it—and anything else she wanted.
“Lost you again.” Devyn sighed. “Let me finish before you start unzipping your mental pants, all right? If one vision comes true, Dallas will be saved. If the other vision comes true, Dallas will be ruined. I don’t want my Dallas ruined,” the Targon ended with toxic force.
Hector’s excited burst of possessiveness drained, leaving an empty shell in its wake. “I don’t understand. Save him from what? Ruin him how? Which vision will cause which?”
Despondent, Dallas toyed with the lid on the coffee. “I don’t know. I had the visions a while ago, but I didn’t know what the double thing meant until Kyrin explained it to me yesterday. I wish we could both avoid her, or both have her, but apparently, no matter what, one or the other is going to happen.”
Hector jumped back to his feet, the pyre-gun extended, his finger resting on the trigger. “You will not go near her.”
The Targon’s lips stretched into a languid smile. “How adorable. You actually sound like you believe you can stop me.”
“Oh, I can stop you. I can destroy everything you hold dear.” Hector had killed in cold blood before. Not since he was a child, fighting his way out of the slums. But for Noelle, to keep her safe, he would kill again. And again.
One side of Devyn’s upper lip lifted over his teeth in a scowl that would have scared a ravenous grizzly. “I dare you to try.”
“No one’s going to kill her.” Dallas waved his hand through the air, the kill-or-be-killed vibe dissipating. “Okay? All right?”
“All I was saying was that accidents happen.” Devyn spread his arms innocently. “And for that, everyone nearly snaps my head off.”
Tendrils of smoke rose from the seams of Hector’s gloves, making him cough. He gritted his teeth and sheathed the gun before he could melt it.
Dallas reached behind his back and withdrew something black and floppy and tossed it Hector’s way. “New pair of mitts. Knew you’d need them.”
Hector caught them and exchanged the old for the new. “Thanks.”
“So that’s why you asked me to bring them,” Devyn said with a nod. “I thought you were getting kinky on me.”
“No, Bride wishes. She actually asked me why you didn’t kiss me at my wedding like Noelle kissed Ava at hers.”
Now was not the time to recall that tantalizing meeting of female mouths and tongues and—
Hector gripped his thighs, and even though he felt the burn all the way to the bone, he knew his legs wouldn’t bear so much as a streak of pink. If only the same were true for Noelle. “So what are we going to do about Noelle?”
He didn’t want his friend hurt. Ever. For any reason. And he especially didn’t want to be the reason.
His fantasy of being with Noelle, totally and completely, began to wither and die as quickly as it had formed.
“I don’t know,” Dallas said, despondent again. “I know you want her. I want her, too, but I can share, and I can walk away. No problem. You can’t. However, I keep thinking, what if sleeping with her is what will save me?”
Eyesight … going red again. “And what if sleeping with her ruins you?”
A lengthy pause, a heavy sigh. “Yeah, that’s always my second thought.”
“For the time being, why don’t both of you stay away from her?” Devyn suggested. “In the meantime, Dallas might have another vision and that vision might provide the answers you need.”