Wednesday evening, right before Noel’s big date, Hammer returned. Of course. Worst possible timing, but what the hell? Noel had been having one of those days. The baby had just puked over his carefully chosen outfit, much to Deacon’s amusement.
The bastard still hadn’t stopped laughing.
Wilkes had disappeared before the clean-up crew had arrived, and no one knew how he’d gotten away, which was still preying on his mind. Addy had stayed late after school due to some plumbing issues in her classroom and was working with her principal and the maintenance crew to fix it, so their date had been pushed back another hour. And earlier in the afternoon, Solene had taken her lunch break at his house, despite not receiving an invite, and bitched him out thoroughly.
“I swear by all that’s holy. You hurt Addy in any way, break her heart or her pinkie toe, even by accident, and I’ll make your life a living hell,” she said, the words cold and concise. A threat by any measure, and one he knew to take to heart.
If Solene hadn’t meant the world to Addy, he could have ignored the woman. But she was Addy’s best friend, and she only had Addy’s interests at heart. How could he not respect her for that?
“I treasure her. I’d never do anything to hurt her.” He looked her in the eye. “And I’d never allow anyone else to hurt her, either.”
She swallowed but didn’t step back. A sure sign of courage, since she knew he could take her out between one breath and the next.
“Good.” She nodded. “One more thing. Just because she and I are best friends doesn’t mean we share everything. I am not on the menu.”
That had surprised him, that she’d needed to tell him what he already knew. “I take it others have made the assumption?”
She grimaced. “Yeah. It was so skeevy, but I couldn’t tell Addy because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. She hadn’t been into the guy anyway, so it hadn’t mattered. But she can be a little self-conscious about her looks sometimes.”
“Addy?” He snorted. “You have to be kidding me. She’s gorgeous.”
Solene smiled. “Yes, she is. Okay, enough said. Now what do you have I can eat? Oh, and I’m a huge fan of carbs.”
Noel had dealt with obstacles like that all day long, when he should have been focused on Addy. And here, another big one to overcome.
“What a trip.” Hammer yawned. “I want nothing but a bed for the next twelve hours. I found out a few things, but I now have more questions than I did before I left.”
“Yeah? Like what?” Deacon propped himself against Noel’s dresser, the little guy in his arms and starting to fuss.
They stood in his bedroom watching him hunt for a new outfit, one not covered in baby vomit. “Can it keep?” Noel growled, needing to concentrate on his evening with Addy, not more bad news. He couldn’t screw up with her again. He’d only get so many chances to convince the woman he wasn’t a bad bet.
Deacon patted the baby on the back. “Come on, Hammer. Noel’s getting ready to put it to his lady. We don’t want to be here when that happens.”
Hammer perked up. “Addy, right? His lady now? I go away for a few days and miss so much.”
“I’ll fill you in. And I’ll get a pizza and beer if you keep that blonde barracuda off me while we babysit Noel Jr. We’re staying overnight, right, Noel?”
Hammer grinned. “Cool. I’ve been thinking.” The pair walked away with the baby while Noel continued his search. “How about we call him Monty? He’s a cute kid, and I’m a great guy. We should name him after someone grand.”
“You claiming him as yours?” Deacon asked, his voice growing fainter.
The door opened. “Not exactly, but—”
Noel didn’t hear any more because they’d closed the door behind them. Much as he wanted to know what the hell Hammer had learned, it could wait. He had to calm his nerves, both excited and nervous about being with Addy again.
He had to get tonight perfectly right. He wanted her to feel so much pleasure, so much care, that she’d never want to leave him. Ever. Although he’d told her he wanted her after they cleaned up this mess, he didn’t know if she’d change her mind. He was a killer. He had no one to recommend him, nothing but a great house and the promise of millions behind him. But Addy didn’t know about his money, and she wasn’t the type to like a man for his wealth. She needed a guy with heart—and his had been encased in ice for more than a decade.
He ran a hand over his denim button-down shirt and jeans. He hadn’t worn shoes, because he didn’t like them in the home messing his floors. Deacon and Hammer would have to break that habit, and soon, before he broke them.
After slapping on a bit of cologne and making sure everything remained neat and tidy, he double-checked his stash of lube and condoms in the drawer and smiled.
He’d show her a night she’d never forget.