He dragged the boy behind him, his gun down at his side until they reached his car. Safely inside, neither man said a word until Tomcat pulled in to the garage that attached to the building where his loft was.
His loft--the entire building, actually--was CIA-owned and had been a part of his long-assed cover. His loft was steel-reinforced, soundproofed, had bulletproof glass with blackout tint, and no one was allowed up here, not even the agent who played his old lady--for her safety. Still, it was furnished so anyone who visited wouldn't notice any of the high-tech gadgetry or the insulation.
He still checked for bugs daily and changed the alarm code every morning as well. Now, Jace came in behind him, and Tomcat closed and locked the door, alarmed it and swept the room silently.
"Can't be too careful," he said, more to himself than to Jace when he was finished. Jace would think the paranoia normal for someone in the MC, especially a hired gun.
If he thought differently, it didn't show. He just nodded, at least until Tomcat slammed him against the wall, his gun pulled.
"You set me up?" he demanded.
"No." The kid barely blinked, even with Tomcat's elbow at his throat, gun to his head. "In case you didn't notice, I saved your ass."
The he leaned in and whispered, "UC. I'd say Fed, but I think you'd be offended."
Tomcat pressed the gun harder to Jace's temple, but still he continued, "Spook," with a warm puff of air against Tomcat's cheek. "I'm young, but I'm not dumb."
No, indeed; to be a special forces soldier, he wouldn't be. He could be as dangerous as Tomcat himself was, if not more so.
Well, fuck me.
"I know you need to deny it, but dude, come on," Jace said.
"Dude, you need to shut it." But Tomcat wanted more from him. The man was so close--they were both hard--and no, he definitely hadn't been wrong about Jace's wants.
"We clean in here?" Jace asked. "I saw you sweep, but I still need to know."
Tomcat ignored his question, said instead, "You fucked up my job." When Jace didn't answer, he admitted, "We're clean here."
"I was stopping you," Jace told him.
"Why? Trying to save my soul? Don't bother."
"From shooting Jerry's brother. It was a setup." Jace stared at him with those goddamned deep blue eyes. What the hell--had Tomcat gotten sloppy, or was the club being deliberately sly because they'd stopped trusting him?
"How do you know this?" he demanded.
"I'm a little smarter than the average MC member."
What he meant was better trained, would notice far more than the others. And Tomcat had no reason not to trust him. "You're going to have to tell me everything you know."
Jace nodded, and he did, told him about the rival gang's--and its president, Jerry's--issues. "It's not about you--Cools trusts you. But he also knows that if you killed Jerry's brother, Carl would be blamed, and it could start the internal war they want. Cools wants a leg up on Jerry and Carl's territory."
Damn. Tomcat slid a hand through his hair and turned away. He knew that the Killers fought with lesser gangs like Carl's all the time, but he hadn't seen this shit coming.
"You're not telling them I ratted, are you?"
"I'd trust you more if you were an MC member."
Tomcat wanted to be offended but couldn't. There was too much truth in that statement. Finally, he put his gun away, pocketed it but kept his arm on Jace's throat. Mainly because he was enjoying the proximity, never mind that his entire job could be blown to shit.
But this kid wouldn't turn him in. The consequences to his career would be too great.
"We've got to lie low for the weekend, especially since we're already well into Saturday." Tomcat stared at him hard. "You're sure no one saw you?"
"They know there's nothing I can do without putting my military career on the line. No one fucks with me--no one follows me."
Tomcat didn't know how completely true that was, but if what Jace had told him about the setup proved true, there were way too many people watching Tomcat's six. Hell, even one was too many. "You're going to have to drop out and figure out a story as to why we met up."
Jace shrugged. "Can't we just be hanging out? I mean, your background's military. They know that. Keeping the lie as simple as possible and as close to the truth usually works best."
Tomcat finally pushed away from him because he needed space. Needed to think. He poured himself a soda and chewed on some crushed ice as he mulled Jace's suggestion over. Could work, he supposed, but something nagged at him.
He didn't want anything about this mission to come back and haunt him. And Jace...hell, they'd killed men for less. "Why the hell did you think hanging out with this group would be such a good idea?"
Jace's jaw tightened--if he had an answer, he wasn't about to spill it. Not tonight, but Tomcat was confident he could get it out of him, so for the moment, he changed tactics. "You hungry?"
Yeah, SEALs ate like teenage boys. He was pretty sure Jace was no exception. "Fridge is stocked. Make yourself comfortable. Oh, and give me your phone."
"Fuck that." He brushed past Tomcat. "Make me."
Oh, this boy was going down. Would lie writhing and begging under him by the time all was said and done.
It was like Jace knew it, too, and was taking advantage as much as possible before that happened. And after the boy downed a sandwich or two and a soda, Tomcat asked, "So the only reason you found me was to warn me?"
"Yes." Jace flicked his gaze coolly over him.
"I don't think so." Tomcat was done forcing himself to believe it was nothing more than a natural suspicion--he knew better. "No one knows I live here. No one knows you're here. Do you understand how much trouble you could be in?"
Jace moved from the table over to where Tomcat was pacing. He slid his body in between Tomcat's and the wall and breathed, "Yeah. Go ahead and punish me."
There were inches separating them, and Tomcat liked to pretend he was made of steel--and most of the time it worked--but the proximity was too much. Jace might've been teasing, but Tomcat would up the ante, take it to the next level and see what the boy would do then.
The boy. An intimate term he'd never thought he'd use on anyone again. This night was turning out to be full of surprises.