Creed, p.10
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       Creed, p.10

           Kristen Ashley

  Adam was in there with him and Creed was standing huge and tall in the room, smiling down at Adam who was babbling up at him excitedly.

  Donuts were a hit.

  Creed was a hit too because he brought them, at least he was for the kids. He was also a hit because he was huge and badass. It was my experience the only people who didn’t tread cautiously with badasses were kids. They adored badasses and had no qualms approaching or engaging them in conversation. Badasses were kid magnets and if the badass was a true badass, he had no qualms about this either.

  Creed had proved that morning he was a true badass.

  He was good with kids.

  Not a surprise, he had them, he had experience, he would be. It didn’t mean I liked watching it.

  I didn’t let on and behaved as usual.

  The kids ate donuts, drank milk and they did this while Creed and I looked after them and Charlene got ready for work. Then Creed helped Adam while I dealt with Leslie and Theo. Creed and Adam were done first, Charlene was out of the bathroom so they went down there to look at the faucet. Charlene got done getting ready and found me.

  This brought us to now.

  “Can I help you fix it?” Adam cried loudly and excitedly, jumping up and down twice.

  “Need a part, pal,” Creed’s deep, smooth voice with the rough edge sounded down the hall. “But I’ll get it, come back tonight and you can help me then.”


  “I can help!” Adam shouted, jumped again and Creed’s smile got bigger, brighter, sexier and, fuck me, sweeter.

  I pulled away from the door and turned to Charlene who was examining me.

  “You give him that bite mark?” she asked quietly.

  “Um… yes,” I answered.

  “The bruise on his cheekbone?” she went on.

  “Things got outta hand,” I whispered.

  “How out of hand?” she whispered back.

  “He pissed me off. I attacked him. Got a bite and punch in. He defended himself. Things got heated in a different way. He gave me an orgasm after introducing me to bewilderingly good head and rough, hard sex, during which he carried me partway across a room still inside me and shortly after, I returned the favor. With the orgasm, I mean, I didn’t carry him across a room.”

  Her eyes went huge and she muttered, “Holy crap.”

  I would use different words but I still agreed with an, “Unh-hunh.”

  Her face changed, her eyes going warm and worried before she said quietly, “I know it’s him, Sylvie.”

  Unlike Knight, I’d told Charlene his name.

  She kept talking. “Knew it was him yesterday when he came over and introduced himself. I played it cool though I have no clue how since I was,” she leaned in and hissed, “freaking out. Are you okay?”

  I nodded and moved further into the kitchen, murmuring, “I’m cool.”

  “Sylvie –”

  I turned to her. “He has to matter for it to matter and, babe, he quit mattering a long time ago.”

  This was the conclusion I’d come to the night before. I was off my game because I was letting him get to me, like he meant something when he didn’t, not anymore.

  So I had to let that go and when I did that, I would get a partner who knew what he was doing. I would work with him to make Knight’s troubles go away. In the meantime, I could jump a hot guy whenever I felt like it.

  This was not a bad deal.

  The rest was done and had been a long time.

  I just had to get over the shock of it and I’d done that over bourbon and pool with a bunch of gay guys and drag queens which was the best way to go about that. Or one of them.

  “Sylvie, when you told me –” Charlene started.

  I stepped close to her. “When I told you it was my birthday. That was our day. That was the day. And I was drunk. Being over it doesn’t mean being over it. Shit like that,” I shrugged, “you never get over. But you can deal. I’m gonna deal. He lives in Arizona, has kids and a life down there and he’s a fucking great lay. You know me. I don’t get involved but I do have fun. So I won’t get involved but I will have fun.”

  “The guys you pick up, honey, they aren’t Tucker Creed.”

  I shrugged again. “They aren’t anyone. Neither is he. A memory come back to life, who’ll eventually become another memory. Might as well make it a good one this time.”

  She bit her lip looking doubtful before she let it go to whisper, “Be careful.”

  I grinned. “Careful’s my middle name.”

  She rolled her eyes at my blatant lie then shook her head and, doing so, caught sight of the microwave.

  “Crap!” she snapped. “Right!” she called loudly to the house at large. “Car! School! We gotta go!”

  She moved into the dining room where Theo was chewing on something, diapered ass to the floor. I moved there, straight to Leslie who was sitting on a booster seat at the dining room table, coloring. Creed and Adam appeared in the kitchen as we were heading out.

  We got the kids in the car and I was still being a goof with Leslie when I heard Creed ask Charlene, “Sylvie got a set of keys to your house?”

  I gave Leslie one last smile and touched her nose with my finger before pulling out of her car door as Charlene answered, “Yeah.”

  “I’ll change the windows out today. Tonight, I’ll deal with the faucet and look at your car,” he told her. “Good for you?”

  “Definitely, Tucker, thank you,” she replied and her gratitude was genuine. Dan was gone but even when he was around Dan was a lazy-ass motherfucker. Creed, for Charlene, was a godsend.

  I slammed the car door, moved to Adam’s window and pressed my hand to it before I bent and pressed my mouth to it and blew my lips wide making him and Leslie giggle.

  After doing this, I moved around the hood of her car to the other side where Creed was standing as Charlene went on. “And thanks for the donuts.”

  I watched Creed jerk up his chin.

  “Later, babe,” I called as I walked by him.

  “Later, honey,” Charlene called back. I lifted a hand and kept going as I heard her say, “Bye, Tucker. Thanks again.”

  “No problem,” he muttered and I knew he was following me.

  I stopped at my front door, Creed at my side, and I waved as they drove away.

  Badasses, apparently, didn’t wave because Creed didn’t but when I turned to look up at him I saw that they watched cars drive away while smiling.

  “Your agenda for the day?” I asked and he looked down at me.

  “First up, drugstore,” his smooth, rough voice answered, giving me a quiver.

  “Excellent,” I muttered. “Next?”

  “Got a lead yesterday. Following it. You?”

  “A lead?” I prompted and he shook his head.

  “Let me see if it pans out, Sylvie.”

  Oh shit. Oh no. Oh shit.

  That could mean bad things if he had a lead on one of the guys.

  I buried that and nodded. “Okay, me. Nair.”

  “He doesn’t get out of bed before noon,” Creed shared.

  “Right. Okay. Me, drive-by of Nair’s to get the lay of the land. Then office. Then check in on Serena. Back to Nair.”

  “Check in with me, too,” he ordered, I nodded and he went on. “The part of your business I help you do is not this but, head’s up, saw your girl had job applications on her counter. Part-time. How the fuck she thinks she’s gonna manage part-time on top of full-time and three kids, got no clue. What I do know is, you do all your own admin and you got the money not to have to. It also doesn’t take full-time help. It’s none of my business, shit like this can go sour amongst friends but, you set her up, she can do it at home. Extra money for her, bullshit work you don’t wanna do gone for you.”

  Fuck, that was genius and it sucked because it was his idea and I wish I’d thought of it myself.

  I jerked up my chin. “I’ll talk to her.”

  “You’re at the office, grab
any files you got on the jobs I may need to get involved in with you. Bring ‘em home. I’ll look ‘em over.”

  I nodded.

  “Now you’ll give me her key so I can see to her windows before I head out.”

  I jerked up my chin again, walked in and opened the drawer to the table by the side of it, grabbed the keys and tossed them to him.

  He caught them then his other hand snaked out, nabbed me around the neck and yanked me to him. He bent low and his mouth crashed down on mine whereupon he laid a deep, wet, long one on me that ended with me arched into his body with my hands fisted in his hair.

  He pulled his mouth from mine, looked directly in my eyes and muttered, “Later.”

  Then he let me go and took off.

  I took in a deep breath.

  Then I headed to the shower to get ready to start my day.

  Gun was sitting on the top of my couch, tail sweeping the back.

  “Meow,” she said.

  “Not you too,” I replied.

  “Meow,” she repeated.

  “Whatever,” I muttered, not needing a lecture from my cat and pulling off my clothes as I moved. I was naked by the time I hit the bathroom, which meant no delay in the shower so I turned on the water, waited for it to get warm and stepped right in.

  It wasn’t until I was in my uniform, tank, jeans, belt, cowboy boots, long hair drying wild, a swipe of mascara and line of eyeliner and I was standing in my driveway staring at the lone Expedition when it hit me I didn’t have a car.

  So I turned on my boot and headed to Charlene’s to ask Creed to take me to my car.

  * * * * *

  I was sitting in my ‘Vette parked on the street, nursing a chocolate malt and staring at the house out my side window when I sensed movement. My eyes went to my rearview mirror and I saw a huge, shiny, black Ford Expedition pull in behind me.

  I rolled my eyes, grabbed my phone, flipped it open, went to the top of my recent calls list and hit go before putting it to my ear.

  “Sylvie,” Creed answered after one ring.

  “Partner, I checked in before I rolled out to get here. No reason to physically check up on me. Reminder, I’ve been doing this awhile.”

  His response was, “Come back and get in my truck.”

  “No. You got something to say you can’t say over the phone, come and get in my car.”

  “Truck, Sylvie.”

  “’Vette, Creed.”


  I dug in. Creed did too.

  Patience was one of the many virtues I did not have.

  “Fine,” I bit out. “Truck.”

  I flipped the phone shut, threw open my door and me, my phone and my malt angled out. We jogged to his truck, I threw open the door and climbed in.

  I turned to him to see him grinning a crowing because he won (again) grin.

  I checked the eye roll and asked, “I’m here. What?”

  “You know a woman named Amy?”

  I forgot to be in a snit at Creed and his superiority. I felt my eyes get round as my mouth breathed, “Fuck me.”

  His gaze moved over my face before it locked with mine and he muttered, “You know her.”

  “No shit?” I asked.

  “Pillow talk, baby,” he answered softly.

  Blood roared in my ears as I sat back in the seat, faced forward and sucked up malt so fast, I had to close my eyes against the ice cream headache. Then I pulled the straw from my mouth and clipped, “That stupid bitch.”

  “She’s in with Nair,” he told me and I turned my head to look at him. “I’m here because I got her phone wired. She just called him and she’s heading over.”

  “That stupid bitch,” I repeated.

  “Far as I could tell, Lively is a loyal soldier. But Nair was getting info from somewhere. It’s her.”

  “Money?” I asked.

  “Don’t know. When I wasn’t concentrating on you, Banks, Nick and Nair, I honed in on Lively. Had my eye on him, which means I’ve had occasion to have my eye on him when he’s with her. The little I saw of Knight’s men with their women, they don’t chose nagging, greedy bitches. Gut told me he had a weak spot, seein’ as he’d have that in his bed. I paid more attention, wasn’t wrong. His weak spot is her and his inability to get shot of her even though she’s a serious pain in his ass. Heard them have a fight in a restaurant a coupla nights ago. She doesn’t like his hours. She likes that he’s well paid but she’s not real fond of him workin’ for his money. Could be, she’s gettin’ money from Nair for info. Could be, she’s workin’ with him to close Sebring down so Lively will have more time to devote to her. Could be both.”

  “She’s greedy, she’s a bitch and she’s a nag, Creed, but she’s not stupid. Yeah, it’s known she pitches a fit when Live has to work when she doesn’t want him to but she’s not so dumb to think they’ll live large if he doesn’t have a fucking job. She’s in it for the money.”

  He nodded, his eyes went over my shoulder and he jerked up his chin.

  I turned my head to see a red Mazda roll into Drake Nair’s driveway, a brunette I knew at the wheel.

  Amy, the stupid bitch.

  I heard the noises a camera made when pictures were being taken and looked back at Creed. He had an expensive digital to his eye. I turned back to Nair’s house to see Amy get out of the Mazda and approach the front door. The camera noises kept going as she did and continued up until she disappeared inside. Then they stopped.

  “You good to be my eyes while I get close?” he asked.

  “Fuck yeah,” I answered.

  “Let’s move,” he muttered and threw open his door.

  I stored my shit, threw open mine and jumped out.

  “I approach from the north,” he said to me as we crossed the street. “His study is that side. I’ll start there and move on if he doesn’t meet her there. Catch up.”

  “I’ll go south, perimeter check, see if anyone’s around. Been here about fifteen minutes before you and didn’t see any activity. I’ll meet you north.”

  “Right,” he muttered and started jogging toward Nair’s neighbor to the north’s yard.

  I did the same to the south, did a wide sweep, jumped a fence, crossed Nair’s backyard and rounded the side, seeing Creed crouched low under a window but his head was at the edge, camera to his face.

  I whistled low when I got close, his head turned to me then he shook it.

  I crouched low beside him, my back to the house, eyes on a continual scan.

  “In the study?” I asked.

  “Yep,” he answered.

  “And you were shaking your head because?” I prompted.

  I heard camera sounds and the hint of disgust in his voice. “You don’t wanna know.”

  I always wanted to know.

  I twisted, shot up and looked into the window.

  He was right. I didn’t want to know.

  I twisted back, shot down and muttered, “Gross.”

  I just heard a hint of humor when he mumbled, “I told you you didn’t wanna know.”

  “FYI, that put me off the blowjob I had planned for you tonight,” I informed him seeing as what I just saw was Amy on her knees going at Nair who was not attractive but he was hairy and he had skinny legs.

  “Fuck, I hope he doesn’t eat her,” Creed murmured.

  That got me a tingle. Yes, even after what I saw. Mostly because it said Creed didn’t want to be put off his plans for tonight and I liked his plans.

  I scanned. Creed kept silent but his camera didn’t.

  After a while, he broke his silence with, “That’ll mean dry cleaning.”

  “Creed!” I hissed. “Don’t gross me out.”

  “Just sayin’, there’s times when a woman should learn to swallow.”

  I turned and punched him in the arm. He chuckled.

  Then he muttered, “Time for business. Thank fuck, he’s not reciprocating the gesture.”

  “Our day just brightened.”

in’ home with donuts for you and people you give a shit about, seein’ you in those little shorts and tight cami, no matter that you were hungover, nothin’ could darken my day. Not even that shit.”

  Sneak attack and I held my breath until my chest burned.

  Creed’s camera sounded.

  “Cash,” he muttered. “Wads of it. More than a blowjob is worth.”

  “Even if that includes reimbursement for dry cleaning?”

  I felt his eyes and looked up to see he’d lowered down from the window and was looking at me.

  “Yeah, and then some. She’s the leak.”

  I nodded. Poor Live. For whatever reason, he dug her. This would strike deep.

  “Truck,” Creed grunted, I jerked up my chin and we both moved.

  I’d learned that if you were somewhere you weren’t supposed to be, if you acted like you were supposed to be there, people assumed you were. So I always did that and noted, as Creed and I walked to his truck, free and easy, he followed the same school of thought.

  We both angled in and I turned immediately to him. “You calling this into Knight?”

  “Yeah. You wanna stay on Nair or come with me while I have a chat with him?”

  “Get more done, we separate.”

  He nodded. “Nick’s still a wildcard.”

  “Yup,” I agreed.

  “But Nair’s pullin’ the strings.”

  “Yup,” I agreed again.

  “Your plan?”

  “Stay on Nair.”

  “Right,” he muttered. “I finish with Knight, I’m on Nick.”

  “After what I saw, I’m beginning to miss Nick. He’s boring but he’s not gross.”

  Creed grinned at me.

  My eyes dropped to his mouth then my body angled across the cab, I grabbed him at both sides of his head, pulled him to me and kissed him hard, wet, hot and long.

  I let him go, grabbed the shit I stowed and threw open the door, muttering, “Later.”

  “Later, baby,” I heard him mutter back.

  I sashayed to my car and I did it deliberately. I felt his eyes on me as I went and they felt fucking great. I got in, settled in and he pulled out. My car was too low to see him as he drove by which was a shame.

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