“Nothing unusual,” he murmured to the guy before stepping back out into the hall.
He smiled to himself once he was alone. In just a week he would be out of the country, millions of dollars richer, and away from his bullshit, boring life. He was going to leave everything behind him—his debts, his stupid ex-wife, everything. His new fiancée got him like no one else did. She was beautiful, smart and supported him. She wanted to leave the country too. Was so taken with him that she’d go anywhere with him.
Starting fresh was what he needed. Hell, what he deserved. He’d given everything to this company, and yeah, he made decent money. But he could be making more. He should be making more.
At the thought of all the money he’d have soon, some of the earlier fear faded away.
Only a week to go. He still had a couple more things to finish to complete his mission, and then he was home free.
And he’d be incredibly rich. If anyone got in his way, they would simply have to die. Because failure wasn’t an option for this. He’d already committed and would see this through until the end.
“I’m going to need clearance to get into Red Stone tonight,” Carlito said into his phone. His former partner and best friend worked there—was one of the co-owners.
“That’s your greeting?” Grant Caldwell’s voice was dry.
Carlito scrubbed a hand over his face as he headed down the sidewalk in the now quiet business district of downtown Miami. During the daytime it was bustling, but after five or six o’clock it was a ghost town. Tonight it was ice cold, especially for Florida, but it was close to Christmas and while it wouldn’t be a white one, they were getting some serious chill. “Sorry, man. How’s Belle?” Grant’s wife was nine months pregnant and close to popping. They’d already had a few false alarms and rushed to the hospital but as far as Carlito knew, they were back home now.
“We’re doing good, she’s just tired and cranky. And I can’t blame her.” Grant sounded exhausted.
Carlito couldn’t actually see Belle being cranky—the woman was like a ray of sunshine. She’d been through hell after being kidnapped by a psychotic serial killer, and she’d married his grumpy former partner, so she was a saint as far as he was concerned. “Any more false alarms?”
“No. And I hope after the next trip we take to the hospital, we come home with a healthy baby.”
“Her family’s going to descend on you guys like locusts.” Belle’s Greek family was huge and…wonderful. They’d pretty much adopted Carlito because of his close relationship with Grant, and he loved them. And Belle’s mom was always hinting that she’d love to set him up with one of her nieces. But Carlito only had eyes for one woman, hence the call to Grant tonight.
Grant let out a short, tired laugh. “They already have. They’ve been dropping off tons of casseroles. We’ve frozen most of them. The food has been amazing so I can’t complain too much. So what’s up? Why do you need to get into the building?”
“You know exactly why,” he gritted out.
“I know, I just want to hear you say it.”
“Emerson is working late, and I want to bring her dinner.” Emerson Lincoln, the woman he planned to marry one day. If only he could ever get her to see him as something other than a friend.
Grant laughed again. “You are so gone over her.”
Yeah, no shit. “You really gonna give me grief tonight?” His shoulders tensed as he reached the high-rise building. He loved Grant like a brother, but right now he didn’t need to be reminded that the only woman he’d ever truly wanted was still out of reach. Still not his. And she had no clue how he felt about her.
“Nah. I’ll call the security team, tell them to buzz you up. You’ve just gotta ask her out.”
“I have.” Countless times. They went out all the time. As friends.
When he’d first met Emerson she’d been coming off a bad breakup and definitely hadn’t been interested in him. He’d known she was the one, so he hadn’t pushed. The truth was, he’d never had a problem with women. They seemed to flock to him. Ever since he was fifteen. When he was a teenager, he’d reveled in it. Then he’d grown the hell up and gotten more discerning. Especially after spending years in war zones. He wasn’t a teenager and he didn’t want an easy lay.
He wanted Emerson. Forever. So he was playing things right. Unfortunately, around her he turned into a moron. He was suddenly that awkward teenager he’d never been during his actual teen years. It was like karma was punishing his ass for having it so easy with women for so many years.
“You’re not trying hard enough… Hold on.” There was a faint rustling in the background, then Grant talking to someone, then he was back on the line. “I just called it in. You’re good to go.”
“Thanks, man.” Once they disconnected, he slipped his Bluetooth out of his ear and slid it into his jacket pocket.
Since he’d just gotten off shift at the police station, he was still in his suit. But his detective’s badge was out of sight. His shoes made slight thudding sounds against the lobby floor as he strode across it. Once he reached the main security desk, he nodded at the security man he’d interacted with on many occasions—always when he was coming to see Emerson.
He set the bag of food on the counter. “I’ve got my service weapon on me.” Even though the guy knew him he still wanted to inform him about his weapon.
The man nodded. “Figured you did. Grant said it’s okay for you to take it up. How long you plan on being here?”
“Couple hours, maybe.” Monday nights Emerson seemed to work late and this had become a standing ritual between them. He hadn’t called her today though, had been so caught up with closing a case. But once he’d finished all the paperwork, he’d headed over here.
The need to see her, to be around her, was a live thing inside him. She was it for him and he’d known it pretty much from the moment they’d met. Man, she’d blindsided him too. He’d met her at one of Grant’s get-togethers six months ago, and when his former partner had introduced her as “the new girl,” he’d been a goner.
Her looks played into it a little, but after getting to know her that night, he hadn’t been able to get her out of his head. She was smart, and a blend of sweet and sarcastic. He just liked being around her, plain and simple. Unfortunately, she hadn’t seemed as interested. They’d gotten along great, but he knew when women were coming on to him and she never had.