Lessons in Purrsuasion: BBW Paranormal Werelion Surprise Pregnancy Mob Romance (Chicago Catastrophe) (6 page)

BOOK: Lessons in Purrsuasion: BBW Paranormal Werelion Surprise Pregnancy Mob Romance (Chicago Catastrophe)
12.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Ten
Stone


S
o that’s
what you do? You kill people for money?”

The look on her face made his stomach sink. It was everything he’d been trying to avoid and yet there it was, clear as day. Fear, surprise, maybe a hint of disgust…

Great, now all she’s going to think when she looks at me is ‘killer’.

“Not anymore,” Stone responded.

Selina stared at him.

“Not anymore? That’s all you’re going to say?” she demanded, exasperated.

“I’m here to keep you safe and that’s what I’m doing. Anything else is irrelevant,” he replied tersely.

He hadn’t intended to sound as he did, but the thought of being found less than adequate by Selena made him bristle and his insides twist. Not that he thought himself to be a good guy by any stretch of the imagination. He’d done things he wasn’t proud of.

That was why he had gotten out of The Firm and refused to work for anyone like them, too. Men like Spade and Foster and everyone else in the intelligence unit there were brutal beings and Stone had no stomach for it. He was a killer, sure, but in his opinion, big money could lead to big corruption and he didn’t want to be around for it when it happened.

So he’d started working for himself, only taking the jobs he believed in. It didn’t give him any reason to defend himself to Selina, though, and he wasn’t going to. Not really.

But having her think lowly of him… it still stung.

His response seemed to take Selina by surprise as she grew quiet.

“I guess you’re right,” she said after a while, eyes turning cold.

“Can I have some privacy?” she continued, glancing at the bathroom attached to the room.

“This place has plenty of space. The room is yours,” Stone said curtly before leaving.

Stone barely stopped himself from slamming the door as he left the room. Disappointment and anger muddled together into an indecipherable emotion within him that he would have preferred to not be feeling.

You promised that it’d end with Kate,
he reminded himself.
And yet here you are, like a fool again, caring what a job thinks of you. It doesn’t matter how she sees you.

Unfortunately, Stone seemed to be the only one unconvinced of that notion.

He roamed through the familiar living area, waiting for Kate to emerge from the study after she was done with her calls. It gave him something else to think about than Selina, at the very least.

“Mr. Calloway? Is that you?” a voice echoed from the direction of the kitchen.

Stone turned to see Linda rushing towards him, arms spread for a hug. She was a tiny woman, no more than 5'3", with curly chestnut hair and a pleasant, round face. The smile on her face was genuine and that was a rare enough occurrence in Stone’s life. He couldn’t help but meet it.

“It sure is, Linda.”

“I was surprised when Katie let you live, but also glad, you know?” she said, squeezing his midsection.

“I’m glad, too. How has she been doing?” Stone asked, chuckling.

Not that I ever gave her a choice,
he added with a private smile.

Linda didn’t need to know that her boss wasn’t as infallible as she was made up to be, though.

“Oh, buried in her work, mostly. I don’t know what kind of miracle worker she thinks I am, always wearing white,” Linda tsked.

“She is lucky to have you.”

“That’s what I keep telling her,” Linda answered with a grin.

“Hey, there’s a woman staying in the main guest bedroom, would you mind fixing her a little something to eat?” Stone asked, as his own stomach began to growl as he found himself already out of things to talk about with Linda.

He’d never been much for words.

“Of course. And you are staying as well?” she asked, giving Stone a knowing look.

“Yes, but it’s not like that. Only business for me and Katie this time.”

The last thing he wanted was to give Linda any ideas.

“Whatever you say,” she said, raising her hands before walking away, still looking like she knew more than Stone did.

Bygones,
he thought, with a shake of his head.

Stone heard the heavy doors of the study creak open. Kate’s heels started clicking in his direction. A frown had burrowed into the space between her brows. She walked past Stone like he didn’t exist, sinking gracefully into one of the cream-colored sofas. She wouldn’t look at him as she spoke.

He didn’t have to know Kate as well as he did to know that this wasn’t going to be good news.

“It’s not just the Claws you’re going to have to worry about. Parker has put out a bounty. Every money-grubbing lowlife in Chicago is about to be looking for your girl,” she said, rubbing her temples.

Stone sat down next to her.

“I wouldn’t have dragged you into this if I had any other option,” he said quietly.

“Oh, it’s not me I’m worried about. I can see the way you look at her. You’re going to let your feelings dictate your actions and it’s going to get you killed.”

The look she gave him was tinted with something that resembled pity. It was more emotion than he’d seen in the ice cold assassin before. The contrast between her and Selina hit him starkly.

While Selina was bubbly and bursting with fire, Kate was as subdued as the polar ice caps, immovable in her fury as well as her joy.

“There is nothing between us, it’s just a job,” Stone said, as his lion roared in protest. “Besides, she wants nothing to do with me, especially now that I’ve told her I used to be a hitman.”

“Are you lying to me or yourself?”

Kate paused and Stone wouldn’t meet her gaze.

“Give her time. She isn’t used to this kind of life,” she added more softly.

Stone took her hand in his.

“We seem to get on a lot better now that we’re no longer together,” he remarked with a wry smile, trying to quiet the twinkle of hope that sparked to life in him at Kate’s words regarding Selina.

“What in the world were we thinking?” Kate said with a small laugh. “If there are two more incompatible people in the world, I haven’t met them.”

Stone chuckled.

The scent in the room changed and his eyes flew to the closest doorway.

“Umm, sorry to interrupt,” Selina muttered, standing awkwardly on the threshold, eyes on his and Kate’s intertwined hands.

“I was going to take a shower but I don’t have any clean clothes…”

Her cheeks were burning up and she was obviously embarrassed.

Can’t anything go right today?

“Oh, I’ve already sent people to pick you up some things, they should be back shortly. In the meantime, you should find some robes in the closet,” Kate said, pulling her hand away from Stone’s and standing.

Something flitted over Selina’s face a second before she conjured up a smile.

“I’ll just wait, if that’s okay. Thank you for everything.”

She turned and rushed back to her room, Stone’s gaze following her the whole way.

“You sent people to get her stuff?” Stone asked, arching a brow.

“The girl has been through enough without having to wear your dull t-shirts,” Kate pointed out with more than a hint of defensiveness, arching one of her delicate brows as she crossed over to the bar.

“I don’t remember you being nice to people for no reason,” Stone needled.

“What, you’re the only one capable of change?” she said huffily, pouring herself a drink.

He was about to retort with something dryer than the wine she was pouring herself when a thought hit him.

“Shit, I forgot I was supposed to call Mike back.”

“Mike? You’re still in touch with that guy?” Kate asked, surprised.

“He gave me a heads up today, before the motel fiasco.”

He pulled out his phone and dialed the man’s number. A pleasant female voice informed him that the number he was trying to reach was out of service.

Seeing that Mike was almost surgically attached to his phone, it struck Stone as odd, especially during a time like this.

This can’t be good.

“I’m going to need to borrow a car. I gotta make sure Mike’s not in trouble.”

“You really should stay out of sight. There aren’t many people with your set of skills, Parker has probably already identified you,” Kate warned, sipping on her drink. “After the last time you went through Chicago on one of your little rampages, half the underground should be able to spot you from a mile away.”

“He looked out for me. I owe him.”

This particular point was not up for debate.

Linda suddenly flitted in, as if some little bird had told her that she was needed, a tray in one hand and a paper bag in the other. Stone suppressed a sigh. The woman knew both Stone and Kate far too well.

“I made you some sandwiches. Got a feeling they were going to be to go,” she said, tossing the bag at Stone and heading toward the guest bedroom.

“You’re a lifesaver,” Stone smiled, the smell of cheese and pepperoni filling his nose.

“Take whatever ride you want from the garage,” Kate said, sipping her drink pointedly before striding off. “I’ll make sure she’s safe here.”

Kate didn’t approve.

Tough luck.

* * *

S
tone pulled
up outside Mike’s apartment building in a grey Honda Civic as the sun was setting. He had been a bit tempted when he saw Kate’s new Maserati, shiny and black under the fluorescent lighting. But a car like that was bound to turn heads, especially in Mike’s neighborhood and he needed to fly under the radar.

Of course, there was nothing more hilarious than Stone trying to unpack his tall, muscular form out of the tiny little hatchback.

Arriving at the apartment complex, Stone could smell the blood almost immediately. He stalked up the steps cautiously, senses on high alert. Mike’s door was closed – he’d had a new one installed - but there was a hole where the lock used to be. No sounds emanated from inside so he pushed it open, grabbing the sidearm he’d brought with him and pulling back the safety first.

What little furniture Mike had was in pieces. The screens of his computer monitors were smashed in, while every other piece of electronics was gone. Most worrying was the large red pool near one of the windows. Stone knew no one could survive losing that much blood.

He could taste the blood on his tongue, the scent was so strong.

Helping me got him killed
, Stone thought, caught between rage and blaming himself.

Rage won out.

Someone’s going to pay for this.

And he had a damn good idea of who that someone was going to be.

Eleven
Selina

A
soft knock
on the door made Selina stop pacing. Against all logic, she found herself hoping it was Stone.

He’s a murderer who’s way too cozy with his ex. Stop thinking about how good it felt to have his arms around you!

As much as that sounded perfectly reasonable, rationally speaking, Selina got the feeling that her irrational side was going to be harder to convince

Selina opened the door to find a small woman with a kind smile holding a tray of food.

“Hello, I’m Linda. Mr. Calloway told me you could use something to eat.”

Selina’s stomach growled, as if on cue.

“Thank you, Linda,” she said, edging out of the doorway to let the woman in.

And thank you, Stone,
she added in her thoughts.

Linda placed the tray on a coffee table and left, pausing momentarily at the door. She looked as if she were about to say something, but decided against it, leaving Selina with a commiserating smile. Selina was alone with her thoughts again and she wasn’t entirely sure if that was a good thing. She picked at the assortment of foods, contemplating how her life had taken such a turn, both famished and completely without appetite at the same time.

We should have just given them the money
, she thought for a second and felt ashamed immediately after.

No, they had done the right thing in standing up to those thugs. Someone had to. Selina and her family would find a way out of this mess, she had to believe that. She couldn’t live in a world where people like Parker and his cronies got to choose who was allowed to be happy. As long as she could, she’d fight against it.

Selina had just finished eating when Kate came tumbling in, holding a pile of clothes.

“Sorry I didn’t knock, I had my hands full.”

She dumped the clothes on the bed, looking satisfied with herself. It was eerie in a way, because with what Selina knew about the woman now, she could easily imagine her standing over a mark with the same look on her face.

“I’m great at sizing people with just a look. Come on, prove me right.”

Selina looked at the mountain of garments with some suspicion. She and Kate didn’t really seem to have the same sense of style, or the same size. She picked some pieces up, only to be pleasantly surprised.

“These do seem to be in my size… and everything looks very comfortable,” she said with a raised brow.

“I figured comfort was key seeing you’re on the run and all,” Kate replied with a wave of her hand, obviously pleased with herself.

Mingled among the plain cotton undergarments was a fancy lace number, a matching set in pale blue. Selina held it up, quirking her nose.

“Umm, this doesn’t seem very on-the-run compatible.”

“Oh, just a little indulgence,” Kate replied, a gleam in her eye.

What does that even mean?

Selina shook her head, exasperated. Kate was unlike anyone she had ever met before and she wasn’t sure if that was a good thing.

It’s been a time of firsts,
she thought glumly, thinking about Parker, Stone and now Kate.

She’d suddenly and unceremoniously been introduced to a world she wasn’t sure she wanted any part of. And the only way out was through the same people that both intrigued her and scared the hell out of her at the same time.

Might as well know as much as I can, right?

“So,” Selina started carefully, unsure if it was a topic she should be broaching. “You’re a hitwoman?”

If the question took Kate by surprise, she certainly didn’t let it show.

“I didn’t think Stone would tell you. Isn’t it all a bit unsavory for a nice girl like you?”

Selina couldn’t tell if Kate was making fun of her or not.

“I’m not a girl and I can handle myself. I’ve dealt with
unsavory
characters before,” she replied, her tone a bit sharper than she had intended.

It was only a small lie. Selina’s take on ‘unsavory’ so far had ended with guys who came on a bit too strong at the pub or grouchy customers who didn’t want to pay up. She hadn’t exactly rolled with trained killers before, at least not to her knowledge.

But Kate was putting her neck on the line by helping Selina and didn’t deserve her snark. Selina’s regret probably showed on her face as Kate laughed.

“You can speak freely, I can take it.”

A blush crept up Selina’s cheeks.

“Did you and Stone work together?” she asked, not ready to let up.

“You could say that. There was this one guy, especially good at making enemies. We were both hired to take him out by separate people. We managed to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement and kept in touch after that. In this business, it pays to have friends,” Kate explained, looking almost blissful as she recalled the story.

Selina turned things over in her mind. The casual way Kate discussed taking lives was unsettling.

“Don’t kill me for this, but how can you live with what you do?”

That earned another laugh from Kate.

“Having standards helps. Don’t get me wrong, when I started out, I didn’t ask many questions. But where I am now, I get to pick and choose. Stone had it easy.”

“What do you mean?”

“An ex-Navy SEAL who’s also a shifter? He was immediately in high demand, which meant he could turn down any job he wanted and still have clients banging down his door. I always felt he thought he was better than the rest of us, only taking out ‘bad guys’. One of the many reasons we didn’t work out,” Kate shrugged.

“Oh. He didn’t tell me that part.”

Murder is still murder, doesn’t matter if the victim is innocent or not,
Selina reminded herself.

Suddenly, the rationalization didn’t sound as concrete as she would have liked it to, though.

“Did you ask?”

“Well, no…” Selina answered, fidgeting.

“I think maybe you should talk to him about these things, not me,” Kate said, standing up to leave.

“It doesn’t really change anything,” Selina said, averting her gaze to look at the pile of clothes with mock interest

Kate stopped in her tracks. Her laugh was harsh this time, eyes taking on a hard glint as Selina looked up at her again.

“Aren’t you just the cutest little hypocrite?” she asked, tilting her head.

Selina opened her mouth for an indignant response, brows furrowing, but Kate cut her off.

“Don’t think I haven’t heard about your rescue. Those ‘bad men’ keeping you prisoner, you think they went down without a fight? Or do you think some of them died trying to keep you their boss’ little pet? Are you rushing to go cry at their funerals? Or are you just glad you got out in one piece and haven’t spared them a single thought?”

That shut Selina up.

She
hadn’t
cared about those men, just as she hadn’t cared about the men at the motel. Stone was holding two guns and facing five enemies when she left. And her only concern had been if Stone came out alive. She hadn’t cared how many of Parker’s lackeys he had to kill.

“That’s different,” she finally spoke up, voice weak.

“Because there wasn’t money involved? Grow up,” Kate practically snarled, an edge to every syllable.

Selina’s head was spinning. She knew right from wrong, didn’t she?

Kate stood over her, expression softening a little.

“I know you’ve been thrown into all this and you’re used to seeing the world in terms of black and white. But there are so many shades of grey. Don’t feel bad about opening your eyes to them. This isn’t the time for moral superiority. At the end of the day, it all comes down to survival. You against them.”

Selina had never seen the world as Kate did, but then again their lives were very different. There were too many questions in her head and she sat down, feeling the blood go out of her cheeks.

Maybe it was time to look at things from a different light? Could Stone’s past be justified? How many lives might his actions have indirectly saved?

Considering such things, Selina didn’t even feel like the same person she had been just a couple of days ago. Stone was a good man, but he also killed people. Weren’t those things mutually exclusive?

Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m even considering this,
she thought, dropping her head in her hands.
Is it even any of my business? Why do I care?

It was the last question that she was both most anxious and most interested to know the answer to.

Kate was right, she needed to confront Stone directly and without such swift judgment this time. He had saved her life more than once, and the second she heard something she didn’t like about him, she flipped.

“I think I’ll leave you alone for now,” Kate said, her voice gentler.

Her high heels clicked across the floor and Selina only spoke up when Kate’s hand was already on the doorknob.

“Where is Stone? I’d like to speak to him,” Selina said, her voice sounding weaker than she would have liked it.

“He went out a while ago. Something about an old friend in trouble,” Kate replied, unconcerned.

Selina’s eyes widened. That sounded like a terrible idea.

“Now? With Parker’s men looking for him? He could be in danger!”

“Knowing him, he probably is. But he’s a grown man and I can’t stop him from being stupid,” Kate sighed.

A pool of anxiety warmed in Selina’s stomach.

If Stone gets himself killed before we get a chance to talk…

Selina didn’t want to finish that thought.

BOOK: Lessons in Purrsuasion: BBW Paranormal Werelion Surprise Pregnancy Mob Romance (Chicago Catastrophe)
12.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall
Red Serpent: The Falsifier by Delson Armstrong
Lush in Translation by Aimee Horton
Gone Bitch by Steve Lookner
Secret Identity by Sanders, Jill
Under A Prairie Moon by Madeline Baker
Westlake, Donald E - Novel 32 by Cops (and) Robbers (missing pg 22-23) (v1.1)
How to Fall by Jane Casey