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Take Me Apart: Chapter 32


“Wow, I know for certain it takes months to get reservations here,” Tex said. His gaze bounced all over the room. The floor was cleared of the usual tables, and only one sat in the middle. The lights were dimmed, and the only people there were the band, a waiter, and the chefs.

“This way, Mr. Vitale,” our waiter said.

“You rented out the entire place?” Tex asked.

I gestured for him to sit, and we took our seats. His head turned every which way, still admiring the place. A huge chandelier hung from the ceiling above our table. White pillars were wrapped in black silk and adorned with silver tulle. The beautiful sounds of the cello and violin wrapped around the room.

“When you said you would make arrangements, I didn’t know you meant this.”

“Do you like it?” I asked.

Tex finally met my gaze as he nodded. “Yeah, no one has ever done something like this for me.”

My shoulders eased, and tension seeped out of my muscles. I’d been nervous for the past few days about the date. My mind had been a mess. Would the things I enjoyed really work for Tex?

 He shrugged. “I would have been fine going to Chili’s.”

I shuddered at the thought. “Why must you ruin a good moment?”

Soft laughter bubbled out of Tex. “Excuse me, not everyone can afford five-course meals. Half-price appetizers and happy hour can be romantic.”

“How so? It’s noisy, crowded, and not to mention the multitude of smells.” There was no way it could be romantic, let alone enjoyable.

Tex’s head tilted as he stared at me. “Well, yeah, but it’s a great discount. I’m going to take you one day. It’s good to expand your horizons.”

“I’d rather eat at home where we can relax.”

“Well, you’re cooking is freaking good, so I guess that makes sense.”

The waiter sat bread at our table and made himself scarce.

“So I guess every date you go on, you’ve done something like this, huh? Kind of makes it hard for people to get over you if this is how you date them.”

“I’ve never been on a date,” I said.

Tex stilled a piece of bread halfway to his mouth. “I’m sorry, can you repeat that? You’re thirty-three!” He rubbed his ears as if they were clogged.

“Dating seemed to be a waste of time. I had far more important things to do.”

Tex’s mouth dropped open. He stared at me as if I’d grown another head. “But it was your idea to go on a date.”

I nodded. “You’re the most important thing to me.”

He shut his mouth, and his cheeks went red. Tex stood up just as the waiter held the bottle of wine over his glass. They collided. Almost in slow motion, the bottle of wine slipped from the waiter’s hands and hit the table, breaking and pouring all over Tex in the process.

“I am so sorry,” the waiter said. His nervous gaze moved over to me, but I stared at Tex.

“It’s okay. It was my fault.” He groaned and stared at his clothes. His shoulders slumped forward.

Getting him cleaned up and changed was my first thought. I snapped my fingers, and a few more people came to the table. “Towels.”

I got out of my seat and pulled Tex out of his seat. He didn’t meet my gaze. I gripped his chin and forced him to. “We can go home now—”

“No, I… I’d like to stay. It’s our first date.”

I nodded.

“Here you are, sir,” a woman said, holding more towels.

Tex took them. “I’m going to clean up what I can.”

I nodded and kissed him. I smiled at him. “Everything will be ready once you return.”


The table was fixed, and all the glass was cleaned up.

“Again, sir, we deeply apologize.”

“It is fine.”

When had I become so patient? Yes, they had dumped wine all over my man, but I wasn’t ready to rip anyone’s head off. Was this Tex’s doing? Was he changing me?

“Your meal will be on us,” the chief said.

“It’s fine,” I repeated. “Just make sure there are no more issues.” I waved them away just as Tex came out.

“It wasn’t their fault. I wasn’t paying attention.” Tex sat back down, and I reached for his hand over the table.

“Why did you get up so fast?”

“Um, you said I was important.”

My head tilted. “You are.”

Tex looked up and finally met my eyes. “You know, you’re oddly romantic.”

Am I? I was simply telling him the truth.

“Sorry I made a mess on your first official date,” Tex said.

“There is nothing to be sorry for. As long as you’re not harmed, everything else can be replaced.”

“Yeah, but I know how you feel about messes.”

He pays too close attention to me.

“When I’m outside of my home, they don’t bother me nearly as much.”

Tex’s shoulders finally eased as he relaxed. I hadn’t known he was so nervous; it was interesting. Tex always seemed so confident when we left our home. I realized I liked this side of him too.

The food came out shortly after. I ate, but mostly, I watched Tex. The way he enjoyed food could drive any man crazy. Before I knew it, we were leaving the restaurant, and the valet handed the keys over.

“Dinner was nice, except for the part where I spilled an entire bottle of wine.” Tex groaned as he stared down at his stained suit.

“The date isn’t over.”

“It’s not?”

I shook my head and took his hand in mine. I placed a chase kiss on the back of it. A tempting blush crept up Tex’s neck and colored his cheeks.

“One more place. The premiere of The Last Candidate is tonight.” Some spy movie Tex had brought up a few times. We still had two hours before the movie started.

“You know, we can watch it at home,” Tex said.

Warmth flooded my chest. I didn’t like movie theaters because they could be too loud and crowded. Still, I’d made arrangements for that as well. I did everything to ensure Tex and I had a perfect date.

“It’s the premiere. This time you will see it before others spoil it for you.”

Tex groaned. “It’s annoying as hell, people who see the movie freaking post about it right after ruining it for the rest of us.”

It was a familiar complaint I had heard from him. As always, I let him rant away about how people were inconsiderate. Watching him get worked up was like listening to my own personal ASMR. I relaxed and pulled him close, ignoring the wine soaked into his clothing.

“I need to get changed then.” He pulled at the ruined suit. Tex pulled away from me and hopped into the car. “Come on.”

“There is a shopping district—”

“No, thanks,” Tex said, cutting me off.

I started the car and pulled out into traffic. “I can buy you something new.”

Tex rolled his eyes. “Why when my apartment is just around the corner? I can change there.”

My molars ground together as my fingers tightened around the steering wheel. Tex’s hand rested on my thigh, calming the rage inside me. We said nothing, but I’d made it clear I wanted him to stay with me. Not that I was giving him any choice. I wouldn’t allow Tex to go back to his place away from me, and he knew that.

I relaxed and pulled into the parking spot right outside his old apartment. “Pack up everything you feel is important.”

Tex paused halfway out of the car and glanced over his shoulder at me. “We don’t have time for that. We’re still on a date.”

I didn’t want him to have any other place but mine to go to. His gaze met mine, searching for who knew what. He sighed.

“Enzo, we can come back and get the rest another time. I’m just here to change clothes.”


He squinted at me. “I’m serious, Enzo. Don’t hire someone to move me. I will get my shit and say goodbye to this place when I’m ready.”

The creaking of the steering wheel penetrated the fog clouding my mind. I released it and nodded. He had no more than a month to get all of his shit out of there, or I’d take matters into my own hands. I turned the car off and hopped out behind him.

“What are you doing?” Tex asked.

I cocked a brow at him. It was obvious, was it not? Tex shook his head and placed his big hands on my chest. Even through the suit, his warmth touched my soul.

“No, you don’t. You come in, and instead of getting clothes on, I’ll be bent over.”

I stepped closer to him, gripping his chin to look at me. “And what is wrong with that?”

Tex’s tongue swiped over his bottom lip as his pupils dilated. “We’re on a date. Not to mention, I really want to see the movie.”

I forced myself to let him go. “You have twenty minutes to get cleaned up. If you aren’t out here by then, I’m coming in.”

Tex smirked. “Yeah, and what will you do, clean up?”

I grinned at him. “I will destroy you.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed as he took a few more steps back. “You know, when you say it with a straight face like that, it sounds more like murder.”

“Your time is ticking away.”

“Bastard.” Tex turned on his heels. “Give me thirty. I want to shower.”

I tapped the watch on my wrist. Tex groaned as he ran up to his apartment.

I headed back toward the car and reached for a pack of cigarettes. Tex’s phone buzzed and rattled in the cupholder, stopping me in my tracks. A single glance at the screen showed his father’s name.

Anger blossomed in the middle of my chest and seeped to my fingertips. If there was a man I wanted to hurt more than anything in this world, it was Henry Caster. He’d played a hand in nearly bringing my family to ruins two years ago. Benito had forced Gin and me not to return the favor. He could easily be forgotten as an old man forced to retire and live out his days in agonizing pain and always wondering if we would come back for him after the bullet in his leg. It was punishment enough, but that wasn’t his only crime. The one that was above all was the harm he’d done to Tex.

The phone vibrated in my hand. I was oblivious to the fact I’d picked it up in the first place. I hit the green button. Air clogged my throat, making it impossible to talk as I brought it to my ear.

“Boy, you have lost your damn mind.” What sounded like a woman in the background pleaded for him not to get angry. Something about his blood pressure getting too high.

“Kate, let me handle this,” Henry growled.

I picked out the sounds of an engine and knew they were in the car.

“Are you high again?”

My stomach twisted

“Gregor called, said you quit. There you go fucking up a good thing. Everything has been handed to you, and you continue to mess it all up. The fact that the Chief of Police offered you detective was your one moment of luck, and you pissed on it.” He cleared his throat. “Anything to say for yourself?”

I looked up in time to see an old burgundy Cadillac had pulled into the parking lot. As clear as day was Henry Caster with the phone to his ear and a woman beside him, crying.

“You’re doing that shit again, aren’t you?” he growled over the line. “You made your mother cry. We aren’t going through this shit again.”

I said nothing. He hadn’t noticed me yet. I slipped the rest of the way out of the car and gently closed the door. I kept the phone close to my ear, listening to him.

“Nothing to say for yourself? Well, I’m here. If I have to beat it into you, I’ll straighten you out like I should have done when you were a kid.”

“Henry, he’s tired. It was a hard case,” Tex’s mother pleaded.

“You don’t know what it’s like! The boy needs to toughen up. I saw ten times the amount of shit he did.” The door of his car swung open, and he angrily got out. He wobbled with his cane, not finding good purchase on the gravel.

I hung Tex’s phone up. Before Henry could so much as take a single step toward the building, I stepped behind him and caught his gaze in his side mirror.

He had the same blue eyes as Tex, but his were far duller. They widened, and his face went ashen. The passenger side door opened.

“Kate, stay in the car!”

She glanced over at us, wiping at her face. I smiled at her.

“I’m an old acquaintance, and seeing Henry again, I couldn’t help but come over.”

She looked at her husband again. “Oh, um—”

“Kate, get in the car,” Henry said through clenched teeth.

Her face reddened, but she followed his instructions.

“Are you here for my family?” Henry asked.

I closed the car door and walked around him. I made my way toward the back of the small building in case Tex came out earlier. Henry Caster followed behind me, limping as he made his way to the back. He attempted the tough guy act but old age and time off the force made him soft in certain areas. Fear peeked through the cracks, but it wasn’t enough for me.

“You’ll let my wife go,” Henry said.

With a single step forward, I snatched the cane up. He staggered but caught himself and leaned against the wall. Good enough. I inspected it. Of course, he’d cleaned Tex’s blood off of it. Good thing, I don’t think I could have held back if I’d seen it.

His mouth opened to spew something I had no time to hear. Before so much as a syllable could be uttered, I whipped the cane around, and it smacked against his cheek.

I tisked. It wasn’t the exact same. Henry crumbled down to the ground, groaning in pain.

“Stand up.”

The old man wheezed as blood dripped down his cheek. His eyes were unfocused as he continued to lie on the ground.

“I said get up.”

Henry attempted to get up twice, his leg giving out on him each time. I watched, unmoving. There was so much I wanted to do to him. I could easily spend weeks torturing him, bringing him nothing but suffering and it would still be only a drop of the anguish he’d caused Tex.

“If you’re going to kill me, get it over with,” Henry spat.

“If I was going to kill you, we’d be somewhere I could have fun.” I stepped closer to him. He was more than likely taller than me in his prime. However, with his hunched-over posture as he fought to stand up, I dwarfed him. “This is personal.”

His eyes flicked around me, and I brought the cane back down. It cut through the air, making a soft whistling sound. The hardwood against flesh echoed around us. Henry crashed to the ground, scrapping the other side of his face.

“Uh, fuck.”

I grabbed a fistful of his hair and held his head up, inspecting it. It mirrored the cut I’d found on Tex’s face perfectly. Killing him would anger Tex. Although I knew Henry Caster deserved it, I couldn’t.

Henry groaned as I helped him up, too dazed to pull away. I handed his cane back. His fingers shook as he took it away from me and leaned heavily on it.

He blinked rapidly as he stared at me. “What makes this personal?”

I tapped his cheek, pressing against the wounds there. He winced. I wiped his blood from my fingers onto his checkered button-up.

“Know any time you hurt him, I will return the favor to you.”

“Who?” Henry asked. His head snapped up before I could speak. “Tex? What does this have to do with my son?”

“He’s mine.”

I could practically see the wheels turning in his head as my words settled in his mind. A look of distraught morphed into one of anger. His face reddened as he bared his teeth at me.

“Being with you, he’s going to end up just like Brycen Grennan.” Henry shook his head. “That boy—”

I took a step closer, and his mouth snapped shut. “Respect him, or I’ll make it so he will never have to hear disrespect come out of your mouth again.” Cutting out his tongue wouldn’t kill him.

“You will stay away—”

I cut off his pathetic attempt at a demand. I needed to wrap things up. I had a date to continue. “This stays between us. I’d hate for you to meet your end in some tragic accident. Freeing your wife and son of the plague that is you.”

The idea sounded more pleasing the longer I thought about it.

“You’re not a cop anymore. Stop with the heroism. We both know you’re no warrior of justice.”

Henry glared at me. “I still have connections.”

“The last time you came after us didn’t work out so well, did it?” I pointed to his leg. “Do I make myself clear?”

Henry ground his teeth. “Crystal.”

There was still a visible fight in his eyes that I planned on snuffing out. I gestured for us to go back toward the cars. He leaned heavily on his cane as he headed toward the parking lot.

“Tex is nothing like Brycen.” I didn’t look at him as I spoke. I owed this man nothing, and neither did Tex. But I found my lips moving on their own. “He is loyal, headstrong, ambitious, and a far better man than you.”

Henry scuffed. “He is a drug addict who made nothing but messes for me to clean up.”

“It’s a shame that is all you see out of him when I see someone who, regardless of their hardships and shortcomings, has made something of themselves. Could you say you’d be able to do the same in his shoes?”

Henry was silent next to me as we approached the cars.

“He still ended up with a murderer.”

I caught his gaze. “Don’t worry. You’re safe from me for now. We’re going to be family.”

“Everyone knows I wouldn’t have anything to do with you or that vile family of yours,” Henry spat.

“It would be a simple task to change that opinion. The headlines would read: Hero cop, crooked and corrupt. All his achievements connected back to the mafia.”

Henry went stock still.

“Just as you have connections in the NYPD, so do I.”

I opened the car door and stared at Henry as he moved toward it. He glanced at the building as if hoping Tex would come down. A man like Henry Caster was all about his reputation. On paper, he was the perfect man; a hero, a family man, and an all-around good samaritan. To have that tarnished would ruin everything he held dear.

“I look forward to meeting you on more official terms as Tex’s partner.”

Henry visibly bristled as he slipped into the car. He attempted to yank it closed, but I held it firmly.

“Henry, oh my goodness, your face. What happened?” Kate reached out to her husband.

he batted her hand away, never taking his gaze away from me. “I’m fine. Slipped.”

Henry cleared his throat and tugged at the door handle. I let it go, sufficiently happy that the last bit of spark in his eyes was gone. He knew I’d follow through. I’d do anything to protect Tex. Henry pulled out of the parking spot and was gone in a matter of seconds.

I think I handled that well. Tex’s father was still alive, and I managed to return the favor.

I deleted the call history from Tex’s phone and placed his phone back in the cup holder. The cigarettes were crumbled, and there wasn’t one I could salvage. The door opened, and Tex stepped out, drawing my attention.

He smiled the moment our eyes met, and he raced down to meet me. “I didn’t like the suit, so I went with a plain button-up and slacks. Fancy enough?”

He looked good enough to eat. I snatched up his wrist and yanked him close. I smoothed my thumb over the scar left on Tex’s cheek.


“I’d kill for you.”

Tex stared at me. Silence blanketed us for a few heartbeats. “I know, but I don’t want you to.”

I brought our lips together, and our tongues tangled in what I could only describe as perfection. Tex tasted divine. I wanted to take him back home and taste every inch of him. To own every inch of him.

“From now on, I’m the only one allowed to hurt you or make you cry. Every inch of you belongs to me.” I bit his lip. “Even your life.”

Tex groaned. “Yeah. Where do I sign, Satan?”


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