Beneath These Lies (Beneath #5)(10)

by Meghan March

“Not many men would dare talk back to me like that, and sure as shit no woman would. You’re something else. Now, come on. Let’s go see if we can’t find your girl.”

I hesitated for another beat before I took his hand and he pulled me up. But he didn’t let go when I was standing. Rix’s fingers stayed wrapped around mine as he opened the bathroom door and led me out into the hallway.

I was stuck on how much bigger his hand was than mine. And how strong and capable his grip was. Heat shot through me as an image of his hands gripping my hips filtered through my brain. At the thought, I missed a step, stumbling into Rix’s side.

He paused and looked to me. “Whoa. You sure you’re okay?”

Forcing the image away, I nodded in response.

“All right then, let’s do this.”

Rix shoved open doors as we passed them—something that had seemed foolish and stupid to do by myself—and yet the house seemed so much less forbidding with him beside me.

That’s when it hit me. I was with the most dangerous man in this house, maybe in this neighborhood, or even this city, my hand in his, and I felt . . . safe. My mind was trying to wrap itself around this foundation-rocking realization while I glanced in each room that we passed.

Each one was . . . occupied.

None of the girls were Trinity.

And he never let go of my hand.

He led us back down the hall and into the living room. He spotted someone and jerked his head. A younger guy came toward us.

“Where’s D-Rock’s woman?” Rix asked him.

He shrugged. “Don’t know. Saw them both leave after we ran off those FiveNDown punks who showed their faces.”

Rix stiffened, but his grip never changed. “You’re telling me we had FNDs on this block and no one told me?”

The guy shuffled his feet and looked at the floor.

“What the fuck ain’t you saying, Evo? Don’t you dare think about covering for D-Rock if he had a damn thing to do with it.”

The kid, Evo, dragged his gaze from the floor to Rix’s face. “They were here selling some white. D-Rock wanted some, and they got pissed when he did three lines tryin’ the product and then told them it was shit and to get out.”

Rix’s voice dropped even lower. “Those fucks were here sellin’ blow on my block? They’re done. D-Rock answers to me. Where’d he go?”

“Went to take his girl home.”

I bit my lip. Even though I wasn’t fluent in drug speak, I’d seen the movie Blow because . . . well, Johnny Depp. So I was 99.9% sure Evo was saying that Derrick did cocaine and then drove Trinity home, and that had to be totally unsafe.

My mama-bear-style rage burned off the remainder of the fear I was harboring. I really, really didn’t like this D-Rock kid, and Trinity and I were going to have a come-to-Jesus talk tomorrow when she got to work. This was not the life that a girl who had a full ride to art school needed to be involved in.

“I need to make sure she got home okay,” I said to Rix. “I have to go. Now.”

Glancing at me, he nodded. “We’ll make sure.”

Looking back at Evo, he said, “You ever see the FNDs anywhere in this neighborhood, and I don’t care who invited them or for what fucking reason, you call me ASAP. You don’t wait two minutes, you don’t pass go. You don’t do a goddamned thing but call me so I can handle it. You get that?”

Evo nodded. “Got it, Rix. I got it.”

“Good. Now, spread the word and make sure everyone hears it. Anyone has a problem, they take it up with me.”

“Okay.” Evo turned away and paused. “What about D-Rock?”

“Don’t worry about it. He gets to deal with me too.”

I didn’t know what Rix was going to do to Trinity’s boyfriend, but I also couldn’t pretend I cared. I was on the ship D-Rock to Timbuktu committee from this day forward.

Evo headed back to the living room, and Rix tugged at my hand. “Let’s go, duchess.”

Wait, what?

“I’m good. I’m going.” I pulled at his hand, but he didn’t release his grip.

He shook his head. “We are going. Not you.”

“Not necessary.”

“I don’t care what you think is necessary.”

“Fine. Whatever. Let’s go.”

He studied me for a long moment before letting me pull him toward the door. I didn’t know why he was still holding my hand, but it was like he didn’t want to let me go.

Why doesn’t he want to let me go?

The girls I’d seen when I was arriving at the house were leaning up against a dented gray Ford Focus, smoking and looking too young and too cool. When they caught sight of me and Rix, their demeanor changed instantly. Slouched shoulders instantly went back, hair was straightened, skirts were tugged up slightly, and boobs went out.

“Hey, Rix,” one girl called. “We thought you might wanna party tonight.”

I was clearly not labeled competition, because they didn’t even acknowledge me.

Rix didn’t even hesitate. “Go home.”

The bolder one of the two, the one who’d stopped us, stepped forward. “We’d rather go home with you.” She finally spared me a look. “Bet we’d be a lot more fun than her.”

Rix’s grip tightened on my hand. “I’m gonna say this once, so listen up. You stand around at parties, lookin’ at every guy like you do, every one of ’em is gonna think you’re a ho.” He jerked his head toward me. “This right here, this is pure class. That ain’t somethin’ you can plaster on like all your fuckin’ makeup and perfume. You can’t put that on like your skanky-ass clothes or buy it like your fake tits. You got it or you don’t. And you two, you don’t. So go home. Close your legs. Find some goddamned self-respect.”

I pressed my lips together to keep my jaw from dropping open. Had I heard him right? First, that was the most words I’d ever heard him speak. Second, he’d straight-out called them on their skankiness, and third, he’d complimented me in a big way.

His advice had actually been good advice. Actually, almost exactly what I would have wanted to tell those girls, in less blunt terms. Who would have thought that would come from Rix? Before now, I would have put my money on him taking them up on their offer. What guy wouldn’t?