- Author: Nana Malone
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Copyright 2021 by Nana Malone
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
COPYRIGHT © 2021 by Nana Malone
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Cover Art by Najla Qamber
Photography by Wander Aguiar
Model: Lucas Loyola
Edited by Angie Ramey
Proof Editing by Michele Ficht
Published in the United States of America
An ice-cold sensation washed over me, leaching all heat, warmth, and affection from my body. Leaving behind a shell.
What the hell had she done?
Spasms gripped my gut and held my breath hostage as I tried to think through any rational explanation.
But there wasn't any rational explanation.
Nyla had betrayed me. The first time I had let anyone truly get close to me in years and this was what happened. I had actually let myself care about someone, and she was still investigating us. Had she ever stopped?
In the beginning, I’d thought I was playing her. Keeping her occupied and away from what the London Lords were doing. But she was the one playing me.
I placed a frantic call to Ben as I exited the flat.
He answered in the middle of the second ring. "What's up, mate?"
"We have a fucking problem."
He could hear the tension in my voice, and his tone changed entirely. "Is someone dead?"
"Nyla didn't stop investigating us."
"What do you mean, she didn't stop?"
"You heard me. She didn't fucking stop. I'm looking at the fucking murder board of everything we've done. She knows it all. And if she doesn't know it yet, she's trying to make the connections. Someone's feeding her information. Right now, she has a list of at least ten of our Elite members, and she obviously plans to keep going."
His long drawn out, "Fuuuuck," on the other end was a reassurance that he understood the seriousness of the situation. “Come back to my house.”
"Yup. I'm on my way in. Just need to make a quick detour.”
"I'll call Bridge and Drew." He sighed. “Fuck, mate, I thought you'd handled her."
"Yeah. Motherfucker, I thought I had too."
For years, I employed limits. I had boundaries. I had lines I would not cross.
Not anymore. Those lines were specifically set for people I cared about.
That list no longer included Nyla.
Are you sure about that?
I shoved aside the worry and the voice of reason that attempted to surface. That voice wasn’t real. She wasn't real. I’d thought I was falling for her. I’d thought I was becoming less closed off than I’d always been. But I’d only been fooling myself. Any relationship with her was a pure fabrication on my part.
Yes, it was real.
The fuck it was. And since it wasn’t real, I was going to do what I should have done with her from the very beginning.
I strode out of the building, turning toward where I’d parked my car.
Charlie Cox, general manager of the Soho London Lords, wasn’t used to getting calls on a Sunday from me, but he still answered cheerily.
"Hey, Charlie. Sorry to interrupt your weekend, but I need a lockdown protocol on an Agent Nyla Kincade. I don't want her anywhere near the premises or any hotel we own anywhere. You got me?"
He didn't even hesitate. "Yes, sir. I'll make it happen straightaway."
I knew if she still had her badge it would have negated me barring her from London Lords hotels. But she didn't have a badge anymore, so she was going to be shit out of luck.
I thanked Charlie and then made a call to my assistant, Belinda. She didn't answer, but I left her a terse message. "Belinda, I have a no-access protocol on Agent Nyla Kincade. If she attempts to contact our offices in any way, shape, or form, call me immediately."
When I was done with that, I had to stop and lean against a post box. My blood was roaring, making me weak. That sinking feeling in my gut left me dizzy.
My inability to breathe felt like a goddamn elephant had parked itself on my chest.
I leaned over slightly and forced a deep breath into my lungs. Long, deep, sharp pulls. Why the fuck did I feel this way?
This was Nyla. She was always clear and direct. I knew that about her. So how had I not realized she was lying? Speaking the truth was at her very core, so what had I missed? She wouldn’t have told an outright lie, but fuck, there could have been a million little evasions. Half-truths I didn’t see.
You were the idiot who was thinking with your cock.
I forced myself to stand up straight. I wasn't going to be a pussy about this. I was going to make her pay. I was due a pound of flesh.
I forced myself to slide into the leather seat of my BMW. I cranked up Stormzy, needing some good old grime to get me through what I had to do.
Up until that point, I had treated her with kid gloves. But those kid gloves had only put everyone in danger, and I didn’t plan to make that mistake again.
On my phone, I pulled up my security folder, tapped in my code, and opened the app I’d programmed myself then engaged Bird's Eye Protocol.
Bird's Eye Protocol was my full surveillance package. Anything and everything I needed to see, I could. It wasn’t something I did lightly as it was a gross breach of privacy. I didn't