Home > Beyond Temptation (Beyond #3.5)

Beyond Temptation (Beyond #3.5)
Kit Rocha

Chapter One

Revenge was addictive.

Crouched on the roof of an abandoned warehouse, Noah snapped his lighter open and shut, the one nervous habit he allowed himself. He'd given up cigarettes years ago, but sometimes he felt the urge, especially on nights like this. Nights when justice was playing out before him, set into motion by a few righteous keystrokes.

Shadows moved across the street, figures slipping through the darkness, silent as ghosts. He knew they were coming, and he still almost missed them. One dark blur knelt in front of the shop door and slipped something from his pocket while two more melted into the alleys on either side, their shoes soundless on the cracked, gravel-strewn asphalt.

Eden trained their hitmen well. Not that they usually wasted an entire Special Tasks squad rounding up criminals from outside the walls--everyone in the sectors was a criminal, at least in the minds of the fancy folks in Eden--but sometimes they made an exception.

Sometimes you could make them make an exception.

Boots thumped lightly on the roof behind him, a split second before a low whisper broke the silence. "Did I miss the show?"

Noah recognized the voice. Brendan Donnelly, one of the most dangerous men in Sector Four, and not only because its leader depended on him. Bren wore the ink of the O'Kane gang now, but he'd come from Eden, from a Special Tasks squad.

Not a man to underestimate. "I'm impressed you knew there was going to be a show."

"Got a tip from an old friend." Bren crouched beside him and peered down at the alley. "Don't worry. It took me a while to link it back to you."

Across the street, the men were already carrying boxes out of the house. Fast. Silent. They piled them into the back of the electric vehicle in front of the shop, box after box of useless evidence. They undoubtedly hoped to figure out how some greedy sector seamstress had managed to manufacture the credits they used inside the shining walls of their utopian city.

It would take them years to realize she hadn't. It had taken Bren less than twenty-four hours. "What gave me away?"

"What else?" Bren flashed him a knowing look, then nodded down to the shop. "Emma apprenticed with her before coming to the Broken Circle, didn't she?"

Jaw clenched, Noah watched them drag the woman out into the street and shove her into the back of the truck. He'd paid her more than enough to keep Emma in goddamn luxury, and she'd pocketed it and put the girl to work. "She wasn't supposed to be an apprentice. She was supposed to be safe until the heat from Sector Five died down."

"I thought that might be how it was," Bren said flatly. "How much did she take you for?"

More money than someone like her could have expected to see in a lifetime, but that wasn't why he'd set her up for such a terrifying fall. Emma had split, and Clara Danforth, facing the loss of those monthly payments, had gone for a payday. "Remember when you told me Emma was an O'Kane, and I didn't believe you?"

"I do."

"Fifty thousand." In the street below, the car pulled away. The rest of the squad melted into the shadows, undoubtedly to find their own way back to Eden's gates. No one stayed in the grimy hell of the sectors longer than they had to. "That was how much I paid for Emma and the farmer she'd supposedly fallen in love with to get into one of the mountain communities. She was supposed to be gone. She was supposed to be safe."

Bren swore, quiet and vicious. "That sucks."

More than Bren would ever know. The money was nothing. Unlike the seamstress, Noah really could make credits appear from thin air. Not that he'd used those for Emma's fresh start--that had been cash, almost everything he had left, and he'd sent it along with a clean conscience and a numb heart. It wasn't the end to the story he'd wanted, but it was the one he'd promised her brother. Emma was safe, happy, and nothing else could matter.

Except he'd f**ked that up, too.

Straightening, Noah shoved his lighter into his pocket. "I guess your boss probably wants to see me."

"Figured you'd want to meet with him." Another penetrating look. "More importantly, I thought you'd want to see Emma."

He did, and wanting felt awkward after so many years of numbness. He didn't have room for feelings or desires. Emma had the potential to be a fatal distraction--and if the wrong people realized just how much she distracted him, he wouldn't be the one to suffer the consequences.

But he had to know she was okay. Not a want. A need. "Yeah. I'd like to see her."

"Then come on." Bren rose, casting one last look down at the silent, still street. "Show's over, anyways."

It hadn't been much of one, and that was how Noah preferred it. Quiet. Efficient. No way to trace it back to him--unless you had contacts inside Eden and knew his weakness.

He couldn't afford to have one, not if he planned to take down the man who had murdered Emma's brother and destroyed Noah's life. Which meant getting Emma out of the sectors or out of his system. Either worked, because one way or another, that chink in his armor had to be patched, or they'd both end up dead.

Bren was already moving toward the fire escape, so Noah followed, doing his best to ignore the wobbly iron and the rust. The whole thing felt fragile enough to crumble under their boots, so jumping the last five feet to the chipped pavement was almost a relief.

At least the buildings in this corner of the sectors were solid, not the leaning, rickety death traps he was used to in Three. Dallas O'Kane kept Sector Four relatively well-maintained--and under his absolute control.

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