Xavier Cold

Page 17


He leans in to kiss me, but the sound of a motor closing in behind me rips his attention away. He narrows his eyes, and I turn around in time to spot a black Escalade whipping into the driveway.
Xavier tugs me behind him. “If something happens, run inside, lock the door, and call the cops.”
The passenger door pops open, cutting me off, as a short black guy wearing all black clothes and a bandanna wrapped around his head hops out of the Escalade.
The guy looks close to Xavier’s age, but the top of his head is bald, like he shaves it down to the skin. The menacing snarl on his face reminds me of the one Xavier does when he makes men shake in fear of him. That expression must be one that’s learned easily around this area. Even though he’s barely taller than me, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to meet this guy in a dark alley.
Two other men flank the short man’s sides—both of them taller than the man who is clearly the leader of the group and as intimidating as Xavier.
Xavier rolls his shoulders. “What are you doing here, Kai?”
Kai lifts his chin, and if he’s scared of Xavier, he’s not showing it. “You think you can just roll back into the Block, and I wouldn’t hear about it? Shit don’t work like that here, X. There ain’t nothing secret round here. You know that.”
Xavier lifts his chin. “Yeah, so? What are you going to do about it?”
My mouth gapes open, and my heart bangs against my rib cage, as I fear for Xavier’s and my safety. Since we’ve set foot in this neighborhood, I’ve been warned about how dangerous it is down here. Now, I’m thinking maybe I should’ve heeded Quinn’s warning and left this place with her.
Xavier stares down at Kai, and just as I’m preparing myself for the battle of the century, a huge smile breaks over Kai’s face, and he steps toward Xavier with his hand up in a greeting.
“Damn. Same ole, X. Haven’t lost your edge.”
Xavier reaches up and locks hands with Kai as he leans in for one of those chest-bump hugs. “How you been, man?”
Kai pulls back and lifts one shoulder in a noncommittal shrug. “Ah, you know, same ole. Hustlin’, making shit happen.”
Xavier nods. “I heard. Bishop’s running things now? What happened to Tiny?”
A devious grin crosses Kai’s face, and one of the guys beside him chuckles darkly.
“Tiny went on a . . . permanent vacation,” Kai says.
Xavier doesn’t even flinch at this man’s admission, but all my blood drains down into my toes.
Holy shit.
These are legitimate thugs—the kind authors write stories about, the kind who are ruthless and will kill on a dime and then laugh about it. And Xavier seems at ease with them.
It makes me really wonder about his past. He told me once, he should be in jail for some of the things he’s done, and now, after meeting Kai, it’s scary to know he was serious.
Now, I see why Nettie was freaking out about Xavier meeting back up with this Bishop person.
“Fuck, enough about all that. What about you, man? We’ve all seen you on TV, getting famous and shit. We know you have to be fucking rollin’ now.”
The muscles in Xavier’s back tense beneath my touch, and I can tell he doesn’t like where this is heading.
“Nah, man. I don’t make as much as you all think,” Xavier says.
Kai tilts his head. “Now, see, that’s not what Bishop found out. According to last year’s tax return he had pulled on you, you’ve got some money.”
I peek up at Xavier’s face, and see his jaw muscle flex. “That’s all gone. You think I’d be staying here if I had money?”
Kai suspiciously eyes Xavier and then flicks his gaze to the house before looking back to Xavier. “You could be telling the truth . . . but maybe you’re just trying to fuck with me. Either way, Bishop wants to see you. He wants to talk business.”
Xavier shakes his head. “Not interested.”
Kai jerks his head back, and his eyes widen. “Not interested? You do realize that you’re refusing Bishop.”
“I don’t give a fuck who it is. I’m not fucking getting mixed up in the shit that goes down around here.”
“Don’t be fucking stupid, X. I’m telling you, as a friend, get in this fucking car right now. Don’t make me put you in there.”
“We both know that will never happen. Don’t try me, Kai.”
Instead of backing down, Kai takes a step, closing the space between himself and Xavier. “You’ve been out of the hood for too long. Maybe you need to be reminded about how things work.”
Xavier’s fingers flex at his sides, like he’s readying himself for a fight. “Fucking try it.”
Kai stares up at him and smiles, causing my breath to catch.
“Go in the house, Anna,” Xavier orders.
Kai’s eyes snap to me and then flit between me and Xavier. It’s like he’s just noticing me for the first time. “That your girl, X? She’s fine. Maybe Bishop needs to meet her, too. What do you say?”
“Lay one fucking finger on her—”
“And you’ll, what? Kill me?” Kai smirks. “We both know you don’t have the stomach for that. Words are only a threat when someone will actually carry things out.”
A primal growl rips up from Xavier’s throat as he draws back his fist to crush every bone in Kai’s face, but before he can make contact, all three of the men rush toward him at the same time. Xavier struggles against them and lands a solid right hook into a guy’s face, causing him to stumble back in a daze.
The other two struggle against Xavier, and they are having a hard time restraining him.
“Get the girl,” Kai orders the man who is still shaking his head, attempting to get his bearings.
“No!” Xavier roars. Then, he blasts the next goon in the face.
Kai, realizing Xavier is free, takes a step back.
Blood trickles down Xavier’s face from a cut above his left eye, but he doesn’t seem to bother him. “Anna! Get in the house.”
“I won’t leave you!” I cry.
“Get in the fucking house.”
I stand there, frozen. There’s no way I’m leaving him out here, alone with these guys. I might not be strong, but I will help him anyway I can.