“You’ve been staying home a lot lately.” Noelle moved even closer. Close enough that he could feel her breath waft across the back of his neck.
“Didn’t know you were keeping tabs on my love life,” Ash said lightly.
“I keep tabs on everyone.”
The way she said “everyone” made his short hairs prickle. “Everyone?” he echoed, trying to act nonchalant.
She smiled smugly. “Aw, honey, you want me to tell you all the dirty little secrets I know? Well . . .” She started ticking off her fingers, one by one. “Isabel and Trevor are trying for a baby—God knows why they’d want to bring a kid into this wretched world. Your boy scout Ethan likes to bang Juliet in the pool but thinks nobody knows what a naughty boy he is. Sofia’s trying to convince Derek to give her a real wedding ceremony instead of the half-assed let’s-go-to-the-courthouse-and-sign-some-papers shit he tried with her. Dubois knocked up his wife. Reilly’s pulling a Sofia and harassing Bailey about marriage. Hmmm . . . who else . . . Kane and Abby kick the shit out of each other in the training room and then screw like bunnies on the mats afterward.”
“That doesn’t seem like everyone,” Ash noted. A bite of impatience he couldn’t completely tamp down colored his words. Noelle was playing with him, but he wasn’t sure why.
“Oh, who are we missing?” she drawled.
Screw you, Noelle. She was going to make him say it, huh? And he didn’t want to. For the past four years he’d tried to ignore his inappropriate lust for a girl he shouldn’t be thinking about. He’d buried that lust deep down behind a dozen layers of self-control. He’d tried to fuck her out of his memory bank, burning through the local women, and then, when that failed, jacking off so many times that he swore he’d developed a callus on his right hand.
That only whetted his appetite instead of killing it off. Since then he’d tried to forget that she was alive. But it hadn’t worked. Nothing had.
“No one, I guess. No one important,” he muttered, drawing away from Noelle.
He was growing hard now, but it had nothing to do with Noelle and everything to do with the one person they weren’t talking about. The one person significantly excluded from Noelle’s exhaustive rundown of the entirety of her team of female assassins and Morgan’s team of male mercenaries. The one person in the world who was off-limits to him.
Christ, if Ash thought Jim would castrate him for looking at Noelle funny, that punishment would be a birthday party compared to what Jim would do if he knew who starred in Ash’s nightly—and daytime—fantasies.
And, as if thinking of her conjured up Morgan, the boss himself appeared suddenly in the doorway. “The two of you need to stop flirting and get your asses to the war room,” he barked.
Ash jumped up as if the couch was on fire.
“Ash, honey, at some point, you need to decide that you want something more than Jim’s approval,” Noelle whispered as she slid off the sofa.
Ash followed behind with a bitter taste in his mouth. He knew that. The problem he’d always had was that he wanted both.
Jim’s approval . . . and Jim’s daughter.