The Auction Block (Agents of Interpol 1)

Page 17

I'm only good for one thing— auctions. Jax knows that. He's the only one who sees me for what I really am— empty.
I needed some distance after my conversation with Blake, so I came down to the training room, again. Forty-five minutes on the treadmill and three rounds with Rhett and Jameson has me feeling normal. Training with them is a bit easier than doing so with Dresden or Vlad. If I’m being honest, and I’ll never admit it out loud, my teammates are my family. They’re the closest thing I’ve got. Even though I keep them at arm’s length for obvious reasons, we’d die for each other.
That being said, Rhett and Jameson are closer to my age and a little more carefree than Dresden and Vlad. Plus, they never get butthurt if I best them, and sometimes, taking out Dresden ends with a man-tantrum. While I could use the laugh, it’s probably unwise to piss off that man while we’re still getting settled.
I tap my foot impatiently, waiting for the elevator doors to open. Rhett and Jameson left an hour ago, so I stayed in the training area and busted my ass on the treadmill until my legs felt like jello. Blake's apartment is on the twenty-third floor, so taking the stairs really isn't an option, especially not after training. I step out as it halts, wiping the sweat from my forehead. Unlocking the front door, I'm surrounded by voices from the kitchen. Blake and my team are standing around, drinking beer and talking.
Why the fuck are they being so chummy?
I make for my bedroom.
"Hey, Viper, come join us," Dresden says.
"Viper?" Blake says, confused.
I stop and turn toward them, staying in the foyer. "It's my codename."
"Suits you," he says, smirking.
"Thanks. So glad you approve." Sarcasm is a language I'm fluent in.
"Hey, don't go hide in your room. Come have a beer," Dresden says.
"No thanks, Dres. I'm tired."
"Where you been anyway? Rhett and Jameson been back forever and looked like they got beat with an ugly stick when they came up." He pushes off the counter and walks toward me, stopping inches from my body.
I put my hands behind my back, keeping my head down, trying to hide the way my muscles tense at his close proximity. He notices though, and takes a step back.
"Hit the treadmill after they couldn’t take anymore." My voice is low, keeping the conversation strictly between us.
Dresden runs his hand through his hair and sighs. "Lily, seriously. Come hang out with us. We don't get many chances to . . . you know, chill."
"I can't, Dres."
Sadness pools in his green eyes and my lips press into a thin line. I walk away, my chest tightening. This isn't the first time he's tried to include me in down time with the team. Someone always slips up and touches me, ruining the entire night. I gave up on hanging out after the first two times. Dresden hates how much time I spend alone. I glance over my shoulder, stopping on the stairs as my gaze locks on Blake's.
'Are you okay?' he mouths.
I nod, moving up the stairs. Once in my room, I push the door closed, more forcefully than intended. Something red catches my attention while making my way to the bathroom. Sitting on the table near the balcony is a vase filled with red roses and a white card.
My hands shake as I pick up the card. My name's on the front and hesitantly I open it.
I thought you needed something pretty to brighten up your room, though these pale in comparison to your beauty. I hope you like them.
stare at the card, reading it several times.
What the hell?
No one’s ever bought me flowers and I can't accept them. They're beautiful, but I pick up the vase, keeping the card in my hand. I breathe deeply, trying to settle my nerves as I walk back to the kitchen. Stopping next to Blake, I set everything in front of him.