Sophie wandered through the door of Nate’s apartment and stopped, a little surprised to see it mostly dark and Hardison sitting at the table with his computer open.
“Where did Nate go?” she asked as she moved to open the shades and let in some light.
Hardison looked up, a little startled, and stammered, “Um, he, well, he had somewhere to go.”
She raised an eyebrow and was about to push him further when the door opened and Eliot and Parker spilled through. Parker bounced across the room and sat on the table, crossing her legs and pushing Hardison’s laptop closed.
“Someone else can watch her,” Eliot grumbled as he strode into the kitchen.
Hardison gave Parker a wary look. “Hey, mama. What’s going on?”
She pouted a little. “The chocolate festival is over.”
“Thank goodness,” Sophie muttered as she sat down. She turned her attention back to Hardison. “Now, you know where Nate is. Tell me.”
“Nate went somewhere?” Eliot asked as he walked over to the table, a beer in hand.
Hardison rolled his eyes. “No, he’s standing right behind you. And, I don’t know if I should tell you guys anything.”
“Does it have to do with the person who bugged the apartment?” Sophie said, reaching around Parker to make a grab for Hardison’s laptop.
He swatted her hand away. “Maybe. And don’t go prying in other people’s stuff.”
Sophie sat back with a huff as Eliot said, “Hey, who’s hungry?”
Hardison immediately turned to face him, and Parker made her bid for the laptop, snatching it up and scrambling off the table as Hardison tried to grab her. Hardison started to follow her across the room, but Eliot made him sit back down with a firm hand on his shoulder while Parker opened the computer and frowned.
She turned it toward them and said, “It’s this guy named Latimer.”
Sophie squinted at the screen and got up, moving closer to examine it; she looked back at Hardison. “Jack Latimer? He’s the person Nate went to go see?”
“Nate went, alone, to go meet with the guy who bugged his apartment?” Eliot shook his head. “When I see him…”
“Let’s worry about the bigger issue at hand since there’s nothing we can do about Nate at the moment,” Sophie said sharply, cutting off any threats Eliot might have had in mind.
Parker wrinkled her nose. “He doesn’t look very dangerous. And why should he care about bugging us? We haven’t bothered him.”
“He’s been making a fortune betting against the companies we take down,” Hardison piped up. He crossed the room and pulled the information up on the television screens. “That’s why he wants inside information. We’ve made him billions of dollars in the past few years.”
“Well, that puts things in a whole new light,” Sophie mused. “And makes what we do a little more useless.”
“Why is that?” Parker plopped down into her chair.
“What we’ve been doing is just propping up another guy who does the exact same thing as the ones we take down,” Eliot replied as he moved into his own chair.
Parker nodded her head; Sophie strode over to the window, her hand clenched into a fist with her thumb resting on her bottom lip. There wasn’t any unusual activity on the street below, no men in dark suits staring back up at her, but there was still a sense of foreboding that had settled across her shoulders.
Eliot and Hardison had broken out into an argument, and she distinctly heard Eliot growling at Parker about poking at his side. It was like listening to them through water, and then the door opened and Nate strode through.
He stopped. “What are all of you doing here?”
“Waiting on you to get back so you can tell us how we’re taking out this Latimer guy,” Parker replied, getting in one last poke at Eliot before scurrying around to her chair and sitting in it.
Nate waved his hand. “Um, not tonight. I need some time to think. So, go home.”
“This doesn’t just affect you,” Eliot said, angling his body between Nate and Hardison in a semi-aggressive stance. “We have a right to know what’s going on.”
Sophie walked over to them, restraining herself from throwing her arms around Nate because now was not the time to broadcast how worried she had been. “Don’t worry, he will tell you, all of us, what’s going on. Just, give him some time to think. Okay?”
Eliot gave her a strange look, caught off-guard by her support of Nate since it happened so rarely and never when it came to withholding information. She just nodded her head to the door and placed a gentle hand on Nate’s arm; she tried, unsuccessfully, to keep the smile off her face when he automatically responded by brushing his fingers against her waist.
The others left much more quickly and quietly than normal, and she was aware they were all a little pissed about being left out of the loop. She shrugged her shoulders; they would get over it.
She watched Nate slip off his jacket and drape it over one of the empty chairs, finally asking, “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not right now,” he murmured, turning to her and sliding his hands around her waist, pulling her into him as he pressed his mouth to her neck.
Her breath caught in the back of her throat at the rush of contact, and she twined her arms behind his neck, tilting her head to look up at him.
“So, what do you want to do?” She smirked and rolled her hips into his a little, just enough to see his eyes darken and feel his fingers dig a little through her shirt.
He pulled her into a kiss and slipped his tongue into her mouth, holding her still, exploring her mouth until she was breathless and clinging to him.
“I have a few ideas,” he said in a low voice as he moved in closer.