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Slowly and Then All at Once

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The sound of metal falling to the floor woke Margot from her sleep. Her eyes shot open, every muscle in her body tense as she reached for her gun and sat up in the bed.

Danny turned to look at her in surprise when he heard the sheets rustling and grabbed the keys he had dropped. As her gaze landed on him, she placed the gun down and let go of the familiar handle.

“Aren’t detectives less clumsy, B team?” Margot asked teasingly, body relaxing again, pulling up the sheets to keep her warm and eyes tracing his exposed skin as he slowly stood up, pants thrown on in a haste and upper body still bare.

“Thought we already established that I'm not. Unless you're looking to start something,” Danny questioned, placing the keys in his pant pocket.

The city lights illuminating her skin gave her a silvery hue, eyes dark and heavy as she eyed him from the bed, a small smirk tugging at the corners of her lips.

“Maybe I am,” tone low and sultry, hair tousled when she shifted on the bed, letting the sheets fall slightly to expose more skin.

Danny threw a glance at the green numbers on the digital clock on the nightstand. 11.36 pm. He found Margot’s icy eyes again and she quirked an eyebrow suggestively. Screw it, Danny thought as his hands moved to undo the belt buckle and he approached the bed again.

 


 

Danny had left half an hour ago when a knock sounded on the door and Margot slowly made her way from the bed over the cool floor, dressed in her soft sweater and silky pants. She opened the door with the hint of a smile on her lips which was quickly suppressed as a frown formed between her brows.

“Alice.  Was I expecting you?” She asked the redhead; it was far too late for her to have come for a meeting. Why was she even up at one in the morning?

“No, and I brought someone with me,” Alice explained, hands clasped together in a rare display of discomfort.

Margot sighed, the frown deepening as she scrambled to figure out who this other person was.

“I thought we’d moved past the need for supervised visits.”

“May we come in?” Alice asked instead, ignoring her comment and hands clenching into fists.

“That depends. Is it Danny?” Margot replied, couldn’t help the almost undetectable smile that graced her features. She certainly hoped so.

“It’s not Danny,” came Ben’s mocking voice and the blonde froze, a cold shiver running down her spine.

He was supposed to be in jail, where he belonged and yet here he was, standing next to Alice who had the nerve to smile at her.

 


 

 

“Slept in today?” Valerie asked when Danny hurriedly stepped out of the elevator and rushed to his desk, smiling at her and Sophie in greeting.

The brunette eyed him curiously; the dark shirt was buttoned wrong, his left hand clutching the leather jacket tightly. Offering Val a sheepish smile Danny ran a hand through his hair.

“Um, car wasn’t working,” he explained and took his seat.

“Better have that looked up,” Val replied and he could feel both her and Sophie’s eyes on him while he turned on his laptop.

He had intended to be on time, But, god Margot could be very convincing when she wanted to so he had stayed longer than he had thought and by the time he got home, he didn’t even think to set the alarm, a certain blonde occupying his thoughts.

“What did Margot say?” Val asked suddenly and Danny’s head shot up instantly, swallowing hard.

“W-what? Um, she didn’t recognise the woman and I ran her through the database last night,” He explained, careful not to stumble over his words.

“Well we better get to work then, meet in the conference room in 30,” Val replied and went into her office.

Danny could feel Sophie’s eyes burning holes into his head but tried to ignore it, typed away on the laptop.

“You shirt is buttoned wrong,” Sophie said finally, watching him intently. He mumbled out a thanks and quickly fixed the mistake, cursing the blonde for being so damn convincing.

 


 

Thanks to Val’s interest in fashion, they had a lead. Returning to their desks after the meeting, Danny looked for items reported stolen during the last week and began to organise the information. Val checked in on them an hour later and Sophie told her they had enough information to possibly trace the woman. Valerie entered her office to call Margot and informed them that the Brit would be here in thirty.

Danny continued to work and almost didn’t hear the elevator ding half an hour later. The doors slid open and Margot stepped out in her form-fitted dress and high heels clicking as she confidently approached the team. Her icy  gaze instantly landed on Danny and a small almost undetectable smirk tugged at the corners of her mouth when his eyes moved down her body. Handbag in hand and her shadow close behind, Margot greeted them just as Valerie exited her office and showed her and the Hammer into the conference room.

The blonde took her seat opposite of Danny, a dangerous glimmer in her eyes as Val explained what they had managed to find out about the mystery woman. Danny was listening intently to what his boss was saying when suddenly he felt the blonde's foot trailing up his leg. He tensed under the touch and shifted in his seat, turning his head slowly to avoid suspicion and shot her a look. She merely raised her eyebrows in mock puzzlement.

“Danny?” Val questioned and he quickly looked up.

“Uh, sorry?”

“The other thefts.”

“There were other thefts?” Margot asked ever so innocently and Danny swallowed, knowing that she wouldn't make this easy for him.

“Yes there were,” he said and turned to look at her again, trying to communicate that she needed to stop, but judging by the smile curling on her lips, she was enjoying this far too much to even consider the idea.

“Three stores in two days. The dress was taken from Versace,” Danny explained, finding it increasingly difficult to focus as she trailed higher and higher, applying more pressure when she reached the inside of his upper thigh. “The necklace from Chanel.” He desperately tried to focus, biting back any trace of a groan from his words and shifting in his seat again when she reached her goal, gradually applying more pressure. “And the hat from Gu-ucci.”

He shot her another look, a tight-lipped smile gracing his features and Margot tilted her head to the side slightly, icy eyes still looking at him innocently. Watching him squirm and swallow hard under her touch made a wave of excitement run through her. She rubbed her foot against him one more time for good measure before pulling away.

“Why would a woman who paid me a million dollars go shoplifting?” The Hammer asked and Danny set his jaw as Sophie answered his question.

Looking at the blonde again, Danny decided that if she wanted to play games, then it was only fair to give her a fair match. Slipping his foot out of his shoe, he gently moved closer to her legs. When he made contact, sliding up from her ankle to her shin she tensed deliciously, avoiding his dark eyes.

Margot hadn't expected this at all and clutched her hands tightly as Danny moved tantalisingly slow, applying just the right amount to pressure for her control to start to slip between her fingers. Taking what she hoped was a small discrete breath, she avoided eye contact, knowing that it would be her undoing. Out of the corner of her eye, she could faintly make out his expression, the smug smile and the clear triumph at causing a reaction in her otherwise cool and collected exterior. He licked his lips as he reached her knee, and Margot shifted away from him.

“Well, much as I would love to join you,” the blonde said suddenly and stood from the seat, still not meeting his eyes and straightening out her skirt. “I am having a bit of a software issue back at the hotel. So perhaps you could lend me, Danny or someone.”

“I can go,” Sophie offered quickly with a smile.

“Danny’s fine. I’ll send him back as soon as I’m done with him. In the meantime, you could take the Hammer with you.”

“I'm happy to help.”

“Great. Well, that’s settled then. Come along Daniel,” Margot said and walked out of the office with quick steps.

Danny frowned at Val, mock unwillingness gracing his features at the idea of helping the blonde. His boss gestured for him to follow and Danny quickly rose, strategically using the tablet to cover any evidence of their little game.

Margot had already made it to the elevators, and Danny didn’t bother grabbing his jacket. Instead, he walked up to stand next to her. She was gripping her bag tightly and turned her head slightly to glance at him before the elevator doors slid open and she stepped inside. He followed quietly behind her and pressed the button to the garage.

She kept her eyes trained on the metal while Danny shifted uncomfortably and he could hear the small puff of a laugh at his expense.

“Risky game,” he commented.

“Please,” she scoffed at him, “I knew you could handle it.”

“Better than you,” Danny fired back because he had not missed how she had avoided any eye contact or the way she kept shifting next to him.

She shot him a look, eyebrows raised, “and yet you were the one stumbling over your words.”

“I never got that far with you,” he said and stepped closer to her, forcing her to turn towards him.

“You’re awfully confident in your abilities.”

“I give as good as I get,” Danny replied, that same smug smile playing on his lips as he backed her up against the metal wall. She glared up at him but he could see the lust swirling in her eyes. Moving closer, bodies pressed flushed together, he was sure she could feel the evidence of their little game when he leant down to her ear.

“But you know that already,” the low whisper sending a shiver down her spine.

The elevator dinged and the doors opened again. Margot's eyes shifted between him and the deserted parking lot.

“Car. Now,” She demanded and Danny had no problem complying with her request as he took a step back.

Margot quickly stepped out of the lift, Danny hot on her heels.

 


 

The blonde watched Danny from the bed, tangled in the sheets a lazy smile on her lips, eyes trailing over his skin, his back, the faint red marks she had left. He was a perfect distraction from everything, like Jamison had been, except Danny wasn't on payroll and wasn't afraid to argue with her. She couldn't determine if it was his best or worse quality.

Rising from the bed, Margot slipped into her silk robe, soft material cool against her heated skin. She grabbed the white fluffy towel and just as Danny turned the water off.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“I’m going to catch the woman who’s trying to kill you,” he said matter of factly and grabbed the towel from her, wrapping it around his waist.

“I have other people for that,” she said and he let out a breath vaguely close to a scoff, “You’re not going anywhere.” Her voice was husky and tempting and Danny tried really hard to remind himself about why he couldn't stay.

“If I don’t show up, they’re gonna get suspicious.”

Icy eyes stared into his intently, calculating her next move. He had a point, but that didn’t mean that she liked it.

“Fine,” the blonde said, stepped closer and reached down to grab him, satisfied with his sharp intake of breath “but this stays with me,” and she knew she had him when she stared up at him and saw  the dark look in his eyes.

The small smirk that blossomed on her face made him lean down to capture her lips hungrily and erase any trace of it. Moving her hands to his shoulders, he grabbed her by the waist and spun them around, hands moving to push down the silk robe. Her fingers laced into his hair, bringing him closer to her and nipping playfully at his lower lip when suddenly a knock sounded. Breaking the kiss, Margot tried to move away from him, but he was quick to find her lips again before she could even take a step. The knock sounded again and Margot pulled away with a smile.

“No,” Danny complained as she kept a hand on his shoulder keeping him from trapping her again. Biting his lower lip in frustration he hoped she wouldn’t take long.

“Where the hell are my diamonds?”

“Where the hell are your manners?” Margot’s questioned, angry and annoyed.

Realising who the intruder was, Danny quickly sunk to his knees and out of sight.

“They’re not even here, are they? You stashed them in the rectory?”

Turning to rest his back against the glass, he listened to the conversation as they argued about the diamonds and tried to piece the information together. When Ben threatened to come after Margot, Danny tried not to scoff. Obviously, now that he was working with the FBI he had something to use against her, but the blonde was too resourceful to actually get caught.

“We had a life together, Ben. We were going to have a future together and then you chose her. So yes I stole your diamonds but that is nothing compared to what you’ve stolen from me.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to disappear. I want every moment I wasted on you back

“No, you don’t.”

“Stay away from me, stay away from the rectory.”

Danny remained in the shower until he heard the door slam shut. Slowly he stood up again and walked out of the shower, securing the towel around his hips. He had never seen her this upset, this hurt and wasn’t quite sure what to do as she sat down on the couch, back to him.

“You okay?” Danny asked, placing his hands on his hips.

“You need to leave.” He had already heard more than he should have and she needed to be alone, couldn’t pretend that she wasn’t hurt and wouldn’t allow him to see her this weak.

“Margot.”

“Get out.”

He sighed, defeated but reached down to grab his shirt knowing that if she didn’t want him here, then there was nothing he could do for her. He got dressed as quickly as possible, throwing a glance at her when he opened the door, in case she changed her mind but she kept her blue eyes downcast and distant.

 


 

“How did it go?” Sophie asked when she spotted Danny and Valerie returning from the briefing with Margot.

“The top priority right now is to reconstruct the wall here in the office,” Valerie explained and left to go to her office.

Nodding her head in understanding, Sophie turned towards Danny by the coffee machine. He had been gone for most of the morning, lunch and during the encounter with the mystery woman; Sophie hadn’t seen him for hours but judging by the expression on his face when he and Val had walked in, he hadn’t had the best day.

“Did you fix the problem?” She asked, his back still against her as he filled up a cup of black coffee without adding milk or sugar.

In the months that Sophie had worked at AVI, she had quickly noticed that Danny never drank his coffee black unless something was seriously bothering him.

“Yeah, it was just some small thing,” he grunted and walked towards his desk, cup in hand.

“Took you long,” Sophie commented as he took his seat. He shot her a look she couldn’t quite decipher and the brunette clarified “if it was a small thing, I mean.”

“Yeah, I got some lunch and was there for the briefing with Val too.”

“What did she say?” Sophie asked seeing as Valerie had avoided the question, although Sophie could already guess.

“The expected, she wasn’t pleased, probably thinks we’re incompetent,” Danny muttered and turned on his laptop.

It was clear that he didn’t want to talk, so Sophie simply nodded her head and returned to work, sneaking curious glances at him now and then as he worked. Something had really gotten to him and she wondered what or who the source was. Her best guess was Margot; she wasn’t easy to deal with and yet the Brit had requested Danny specifically even if Sophie herself was better with computers and technology. That was still something that didn’t quite make sense to her and if Danny had been with Val and the Hammer instead, then maybe they could have caught the mystery woman.

Scratching her neck, Sophie looked up at Danny again. He was looking at the photos they had taken of the scene, but the reconstruction of the ‘wall of crazy’ would most likely take the entire day and they still needed to help Alice and Tommy. The brunette sighed and went back to work; today would be a long day.

 


 

Letting out a deep breath, Margot poured herself a glass of champagne, downing it in one go before refilling it again and leaning back against the counter, fingers tapping the glass in her hand, a habit her mother had never liked.

Her would-be killer was still on the loose and thanks to Valerie, the mystery woman knew she had been compromised. Which meant that she had two options; either going dark and resurfacing when she knew the job could be completed without risking her identity, or attempt to kill her again before the team could catch her. Both alternatives put Margot at risk and it would be impossible to cover all fronts to keep her safe. Maybe Rhys would resurface and become the head of the Firm again, de jure, if the mystery woman succeeded. The ghost of a smirk played on her mouth, wondering how long it would take for him to get their mother out of prison and let Sybil rule behind the scenes. They had always had a better relationship than the one Margot herself had had with their mother; Rhys had been the clear favourite. Margot would bet her money on a week, if he was feeling generous, three at most if he wasn’t.

But that wasn’t Margot’s only problem. She had gotten a call from one of her lieutenants a couple of hours ago about an issue in Portugal. He had fiercely assured her that it was a minor problem, so small it couldn’t even be considered one. He had no doubt heard about Ivor’s rather unfortunate fate but that hadn’t stopped him from lying through his teeth. The mere fact that it had made it all the way to her meant that it definitely was not a small problem. And that meant that Margot needed to handle it herself because the idiots were incapable of doing anything right. Hadn’t her father always said that if he wanted something done, he’d do it himself? Unlike Sybil, he had never minded a few stains of red.

Rubbing her temple with her free hand, Margot moved towards the windows. At least she had the diamonds now and Rhys was alive for better or worse. Gazing out at the city and the darkening sky Margot pursed her lips in frustration, tried to not think about Ben’s words and took another sip of the cool and velvety drink. Her brother would have laughed, made some crude joke about her developing a drinking problem or something of the sort. Not that she could disagree. This week she had probably consumed more alcohol than she had at the now infamous party Reggie had dragged them to years ago when it had only been the three of them. An eternity ago, when things had been a lot easier and she didn't have to worry about some mystery woman trying to kill her and simultaneously keep the Firm running.

What she truly needed was to relax but her option for that had flown out the window the moment Danny had called her a ‘bitch’ because Margot doubted he’d stop by unannounced again. It was a shame really because he was good and as a bonus not on payroll. But she wasn’t going to apologise for anything. If he took offence then that was his problem, not hers to deal with. Besides she didn’t need him to please herself and she had other things on her plate after all, like the situation in Portugal.

Swirling the liquid in her glass Margot let out a breath, took a sip and moved towards the couch. She gracefully sat down, legs tucked under her body and reached for the laptop with her other hand, intending to solve at least one of her problems tonight.

 


 

The alarm rang at an unholy hour before any human should have to get up and Danny grunted his annoyance, throwing a pillow over his head and blindly fumbling for his phone. He was in no shape or form a morning person; he could afford to snooze it at least twice and still have time to shower, have breakfast and make it to work without having to rush.

Forty-five minutes later when the alarm rang, Danny rolled over, reached for the phone. Opening his eyes, he groaned when he saw the time, 7.30.

“Shit, shit, shit,” he exclaimed as he hurriedly disentangled himself from the sheets and raced to the bathroom intending to take a quick shower.

Unless he could miraculously avoid the morning traffic he would most likely be late. Again. And this time it wasn’t a certain blonde’s fault, although she had occupied his mind for most of the night.

The water was cold as it hit him, but it helped wake up his still sleepy body.

In the past when Margot had been enemy number one, she had been nothing more than that: the big bad villain in the story ruining Alice's happy ending. Any other alternative had been ignored because it was easier to see her as that and nothing more, especially when they started working for her and she had lived up to those expectations.

But after yesterday and the awful conversation he had overheard Danny couldn't ignore that she was human too. It had never been about Alice but about Ben. The man Margot had loved for years, or as close someone like Margot could ever come to love. The same man that had hurt her badly. Her working so hard to keep them apart was because she wanted to hurt him just as bad and Alice had been collateral damage. It didn’t change what she had done or his dislike for her, but he could see her reasons more clearly now.

It had probably been more instinctive than anything else to try and offer some comfort, Danny convinced himself. Clearly, that had been a misstep from his side and then she had opted to ignore it altogether, much to his annoyance. But then maybe he should have expected that from the murderer. She was still the same insufferable and spiteful person.

Stepping out of the shower, Danny pushed the thoughts out of his head as he quickly towelled off and rummaged through the drawers. He had other things to focus on; like catching Margot’s would be killer before she could find out that Margot Bishop was very much alive. Now if he could only find a shirt–

 


 

“It’s obsessive, to say the least,” Danny said as the team inspected the ‘wall of crazy’.

“And so thorough. I’m kind of impressed,” Sophie added and turned her head towards him. He smiled slightly at her then because of course, she would say that.

“She collected intel on nearly everyone affiliated with the Firm, including those three lieutenants who wound up dead.”

“What are these buildings?” Alice asked, eyes scanning the board.

“They’re all owned by the Firm,” Sophie explained.                    

“Including the church?” That was the one building that didn’t quite fit in with the rest.

“No, the building next to it,” Val said.

Suddenly Danny remembered the conversation he had overheard yesterday morning and tried to remember Ben’s exact words. “You stashed them in the rectory.” Margot’s reply had been woven with paid and– he quickly pushed that thought away.

Sophie, can you check to see if that has a rectory?” Danny asked as he stood, again trying to push out the images of her sitting on the couch, body tense and voice cold.

“Why?” Like always Alice’s voice sounded suspicious, eyes narrowing slightly at him as she took a seat next to Sophie.

“Yeah, the rectory was added in 1940.”

“That church is a Kensington safe house,” Danny replied and focused on the image of the building. The mystery woman probably knew that too.

“How do you know?” Sophie asked suddenly, and her voice had taken on the same suspicious tone Alice’s had.

Danny turned to face them, hands clasped together, “I... Heard Margot talking.” He would really start to come up with more convincing explanations if he wanted to keep their casual relationship, if it could even be called that, from Alice.

Luckily Val saved him from having to explain more by saying she would give Margot a call. Besides now they had something to go on at least. While Sophie had returned to typing on her laptop, Danny could still feel Alice’s heavy gaze following his movements as he tried to pretend he was actually inspecting the other buildings pictured.

“I’m gonna go and see what I can find about the, eh, rectory,” Danny said after a while and headed for the door with hurried steps.

“Wouldn’t it be better to hear it from the source?”

Hand on the handle, Alice’s words stopped him in his track and he cursed her for being so attentive all the damn time.

“Margot should be here in less than thirty,” Alice added.

Turning slightly to face the two pairs of curious eyes, Danny offered a small shrug.

“Can’t be too prepared.”

Alice was right of course, but Danny still looked into what he could find out about the rectory, comparing it what Margot had already told them about the security systems the Firm used.

The elevator ding and the sound of heels alerted him to her presence. She was wearing a red form-fitting dress, walking with confident steps and missing her usual shadow. He met her eyes before looking down her body appreciatively. A small smirk blossomed on her lips. He may see her as a ‘bitch’ but she still held the same power.

“Margot,” Alice greeted suddenly, having stepped out of her office without Danny noticing. The redhead smiled politely, but her eyes shifted from the blonde to Danny suspiciously.

“Alice, Daniel.”

Danny stood as Alice gestured for her to enter the conference room where Val and Sophie were waiting. Margot eyed the pictures on the wall curiously and she had to admit that it was very well done, almost up to her own standards. Placing her handbag on a nearby table, she was surprised when Danny came to sand next to her, arms resting at his side although she could see out of the corner of her eye that he was fumbling with his fingers.

“Danny told us about a rectory,” Alice said with a feline smile playing on her lips and Margot tried very hard to not let the surprise and annoyance show.

“The rectory if you must know,” she started, gave Danny a pointed look and his gaze was softer now, almost apologetic before he looked away. She decided that she didn’t like that look on him and maybe she stared one second too long but she doubted anyone would notice, “–houses the cash and munitions we’ve accrued in Los Angeles thus far.”

“Is it secured?” Alice asked and Margot wanted to scoff.

“Of course, armed guards around the clock.”

“And there’s a vault?”

Danny fumbled with his clasped hands as he watched the slight almost undetectable hint of a smug smile appear on her lips as she spoke again, confident in her words.

“In the catacombs. My men checked in twenty minutes ago it hasn’t been tampered with.”

“So we still have time,” Danny commented and she turned to look at him quite suddenly, a flicker of curiosity in her normally icy gaze.

“For what?”

“To set a trap,” Danny explained and he could already see the gears of her mind whirring and clicking. “If our mystery woman’s gonna act she is gonna do it soon. She’s done her homework on you and the Firm, so she’s gonna know how to get inside the church, how to make her way down and go straight to the vault. She’ll be prepared for security and ready to crack into any alarm system that stands in her way. But when she gets in there, she’s gonna find the one thing she’s not ready for. Us,” and in that moment Danny wasn’t sure which ‘us’ he was referring to.

Val pointedly cleared her throat and their eye contact broke instantly. Margot smoothed out the non-existing wrinkles of her dress and turned to face the rest of the team again.

“Good plan,” she commented and Danny’s eyes widened. A compliment was the last thing he had expected.

Her phone began to ring and she quickly reached for her handbag, fishing out the phone. She pursed her lips in annoyance, this was terrible timing.

“You can take the conference room in the end of the hall. Danny can show you,” Alice cut in having picked up on the delicate nature of the call.

He shot Alice a questioning look, but she had already shifted her focus to Val and Sophie so Danny looked up and found the blonde in question waiting for him by the door, phone and handbag in hand, glaring at him impatiently.

“I don’t have an infinite amount of time,” Margot commented and Danny gave her a tight lipped smile that wasn’t really a smile at all and escorted her down the hall.

As soon as they were alone, she answered the call and Danny could practically feel the frustration rolling off of Margot but he didn’t comment on it, it wasn’t his business. He reached for the door handle and held the door open for her. Her shoulders were tense and she kept her fist clenched while she listened. He was just about to leave when she turned and caught his eyes, a flicker of something he couldn't quite put his finger on swirling in the icy blue depths.

“Não, os 23,” Margot interrupted the person on the other end, breaking eye contact and Danny recognised the language as Portuguese. She spoke again, a tone of impatience laced into the foreign words before she hung up. Her eyes closed for a second as if to collect herself and briefly, he wondered how much she had on her plate now that she was the head of the Firm.

“Trouble in Portugal?” He asked in a light tone. Her eyes shoot open and there was a coldness in her gaze hadn’t seen before but it was gone in an instant.

“Not anymore,” Margot said with a faint smile, dropped the phone back in her handbag.

“Shall we go catch my would-be killer?” She raised one eyebrow at him in question, and he opened the door, gesturing for her to pass. Her smile morphed into a smirk as she approached and made sure to brush her side against him when she exited the room. He shot her a dark look when she turned to look at him over her shoulder.

“Coming?” she asked and he didn’t miss the way her voice had dropped. He waited a beat before trailing behind her, watching her hips swing confidently in the red dress.

When the pair entered the room again, Margot sporting her usual cold look, Sophie caught Danny’s eyes, silently asking what that was about but he just shrugged.

“Right, do you have a plan?”

“We do,” Alice answered the blonde and began to explain the plan.

 


 

A child. Her child. Allegedly. Margot had been prepared for a lot of things, the Gullahorns, the Shives, some crazed lieutenant trying to take her down and take over the Firm, a mutiny. She had not even considered a child. Her child. Allegedly.

It had sent a cold flash through her body, paralysing, daunting. It was the eyes that Margot had noticed first, Ben’s eyes. A darker shade of hazel, dark brown in the right light, alert and attentive. But that didn’t have to mean anything, Margot had told herself, a lot of people had hazel eyes and the girl didn’t have the blonde hair, nor the reddish strands of her grandmother. No, her hair was dark. Like Ben’s, her brain supplied. Dark hair like Ben, dark eyes like Ben.

The car ride back to AVI was tense. Alice had gestured for the blonde to slide into the back seat all the while her eyes remained on Valerie and Danny as they got Tessa to sit in the back of the other car, Val next to her in case she tried anything. Before getting into the driver's seat, Danny had caught Margot’s eyes, an expression he couldn’t quite read gracing the blonde before Alice had given him the green light to start driving back.

Margot could occasionally feel Alice’s eyes on her in the rearview mirror when they would stop at red lights, Sophie’s quiet typing filling the silent car, trying to find what she could about the girl. Margot knew what the redhead was thinking, it was written on her face as clear as day. Is she Ben’s? She too must have recognised the girl’s features, because there was no trace of Margot there, only Ben. But Alice didn’t voice her questions and Margot remained silent.

It didn’t take long to set Tessa up in the office, and when Margot passed Danny, Alice a step ahead of her, his eyes had said quite a lot but she chose to ignore it.

“Tessa Riley. Is that your real name?” Alice asked, focus on the girl.

“Depends on who you ask. When your entire life has been based on a lie it’s hard to know what’s real.”

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Alice said evenly, “So, Tessa how old are you?”

Fifteen, she had to be fifteen Margot concluded.

“That’s also up for debate. Perhaps you should go directly to the source.” The girl had kept her attention on Alice so far, but now she turned to face Margot. “Tell us, Mum. Was I a winter baby?”

“Thirteen, fourteen?” Alice jumped in.

“Fifteen.”

“And where do your adoptive parents think you are right now?”

“Well, I have no idea. I haven’t seen them in over a year. But Steven and Suzanne never seemed particularly interested in my whereabouts even as a child,” her voice softer now. “Seems odd considering how much they paid for me,” mock surprise lacing her words.

A feeling of disgust formed in Margot's stomach as she tried to determine whether it was true or not. Sybil was capable of many things, especially when it came to protecting the Firm. Keeping her eyes on Tessa as she explained how she had been sold, the blonde tried to find a telltale sign that would prove that Tessa was lying, a change in her breathing or shuffling of her feet. Instead, Tessa remained perfectly calm and deep down Margot knew that this was something her mother would be capable of doing; especially if it meant protecting the Firm and make a profit.

She might be telling the truth about this, but there were still many questions that hadn’t been answered. She was pretty, with her long locks and coloured lips, but being pretty wasn’t enough.

“So you’ve been on your own and on the run for over a year?” Margot asked and Tessa turned her attention back to her again.

“It speaks,” a mocking smile parting her bright lips.

“I don’t buy it.”

“Why is that?” Tessa asked, head tilting to the side ever so slightly as Margot stood up.

“Because no fifteen year old is equipped to survive on her own. And you’re not attractive enough to have got by on your looks.”

“You can’t fight genetics.”

Rhys would’ve laughed, made some remark about how the case was solved since she had clearly inherited Margot’s snappy comments.

Alice agreed with her and continued to ask her questions as Margot watched Tessa intently. She had done a damn good job at fabricating the entire story, everything from her diction, to her behaviour to her appearance.

“You do some digging, you find out she’s a mobster, a murderer, a monster,” Tessa explained, cold eyes finding Margot’s again, reminding her of Ben’s. The same frostiness, the same disgust Margot had failed to decipher in his eyes present before her as the girl kept her gaze on her.

Slowly, Margot approached her, reached out to touch her cheek in a soft gesture, loving even.

“You poor thing,” voice gentle and blue eyes shiny. Tessa looked up at her, unable to fully hide her surprise, a light frown between her brows, but she did allow herself to relax the slightest little bit.

“I’m so sorry,” Margot said, hand moving up her cheek to her temple. “You’re absolutely right.” Yanking a couple of hair strands from her head, she said: “I am a monster.”

 


 

The call to Steven and Suzanne in Sheffield had been more than uncomfortable, to say the least. Steven hadn’t sounded concerned in the slightest and Danny had felt sick to his stomach when he had told them to keep Tessa like she was a possession and nothing more. He couldn’t blame her for running away, not with Steven and Suzanne as her parents. But one thing was clear, Tessa was starting to sound more and more like a younger version of Margot. Briefly, he wondered if the blonde had been like Tessa when she was fifteen; an expert at manipulation, knowing smirk plastered on her lips, voice silky and sweet when needed and the skills to take down a grown man.

Spotting Alice and Sophie, Danny approached them both and explained that the Rileys had confirmed the 15 years old story but that they would not be flying out to LA to get their adoptive daughter back.

Alice had a pitiful look in her clear eyes when Tessa’s phone pinged.

“Initiating Phase Two. I’m going dark. Rendezvous as planned,” Sophie read out loud, eyes narrowing and brows furrowed.

“Phase two?” Danny asked, an uncomfortable lump starting to form in his stomach.

“She was working with someone.”

“Which means Margot’s still a target,” Danny concluded, a hint of worry lining his words.

“Can we track down the source of that text?”

“We can try,” Sophie said, already moving back to her desk.

Turning to Danny, Alice said “Find Margot. Let her know wherever she is she’s in danger.”

He nodded, grabbed his jacket, gun and car keys before rushing to the elevators and down to the garage floor. Getting into the car, he reached for his phone and dialled her number as he drove out onto the busy streets. He reached her voicemail and cursed before calling again, phone pressed to his ear.

If the police were to stop him, the speeding ticket would be at least over $360, not that Danny cared particularly much in that moment, his only priority was finding Margot before Tessa’s partner did and put a bullet between her eyes. He tried calling several times as he made his way to her hotel. Maybe he was too late, maybe Tessa’s partner had already gotten to her and he would find her body in a pool of blood somewhere. The thought left him very uneasy.

Finally reaching the hotel and parking the car, and rushing towards the entrance. Entering the lobby he spotted the familiar flash of golden locks. She was walking towards the elevators, dressed in black, a heaviness to her usually confident posture and very much alive.

A sigh of relief left Danny  when he jogged to catch up to her, reaching her just as the elevator doors slid open. Grabbing her arm, a surprised yelp escaped her as he pushed her into the box. She spun around to face him, twisting out of his grip and every muscle of her body tense.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Daniel?” she asked and relaxed once she realised that he wasn't a threat.

Pressing the button to close the doors he said, “I tried calling.”

“I was busy,” she fired back in annoyance, hands on her hips and lips pursed. She didn’t have time to deal with him right now. She reached past him and pressed the button to her floor.

“What are you doing?”

“I need to go to my suite. What the hell is your problem?”

Danny relaxed when the doors finally closed, leant back against the side of the elevator and watched her intently. She remained on the opposite side of him, icy eyes focused on his and even if she was doing a very good job at hiding it, he could see that something wasn’t right.

“Tessa’s not working alone, you’re still a target,” Danny said.

“Wonderful,” she breathed out, closed her eyes and leant back against the metal, head tilted back. First Tessa, then the conversation with her mother and now this. “This day keeps getting better and better.”

He wanted to ask what she meant by that, but the elevator dinged before he could, the doors sliding open again. Margot moved to step out but Danny quickly reached out to stop her and gave her a pointed look. She rolled her eyes but allowed him to step out first. Once he had made sure that no one was waiting for her in the corridor, Danny waved at her to step out of the elevator.

“Key card,” Danny requested as they walked down the hallway to her suite.

“Aren’t you taking this a bit too seriously? I’m sure that if they wanted me dead they would’ve just shot me when I was walking from the car. Waiting in my suite isn’t the brightest plan.”

“Margot, give me the key card,” Danny said in a low tone.

She rolled her eyes at him again but fished it out of her purse.

“Wait here.”

“Of course, Darling,” she mocked, leant back against the wall as he unlocked the door and entered the suite, gun drawn and steps light.

He was being difficult, but also very dedicated to keeping her alive which was more than she had expected from one of Alice’s people. Arguably it was his job, but she decided to ignore that fact. Counting to ten she pushed away from the wall when she didn’t hear any gunshots and entered the suite. Closing the door behind her, heels clicking loudly against the floor, Margot placed her purse on the couch, breathed out deeply.

Danny spun around quickly, an accusing look on his face and gun still drawn.

“What? If someone was here I would’ve heard the shots already. No need to be so tense, Darling.”

“I’m trying to help you but if–”

“Good, unzip me,” she interrupted and turned her back towards him, twisting away her blonde locks, wanting to get out of the dress as soon as possible.

A sigh left him and he move to place the gun on the counter. Coming to stand behind her Margot jumped when he lightly placed his hand on her waist and the other brushed away a blonde strand she had missed, fingers tickling the skin of her neck. Slowly he pulled the zipper down to her lower back, gently brushing against her warm skin along the way, pleased to see the goosebumps appear under his touch. Danny gently placed his hands on her shoulders and pushed lightly at the material. Letting go of her hair, Margot allowed him to help her out of the black dress, fabric pooling at her feet before she turned around to face him.

He was biting his lower lip in a boyish manner, eyes dark. They didn't have the time for this and yet– Her thoughts were interrupted by his phone ringing and he sighed but pulled away and reached into his pocket.

“Alice,” Danny greeted.

“Did you find her? I think we have a lead on who the partner is,” Alice explained but Danny found it hard to listen as Margot started to toy with his shirt buttons.

“Yeah, um, great. I’ll let her know.”

“We need her here so come back ASAP.

Danny gulped and tried to keep his voice even as Margot trailed her hands down his chest, shot her a warning look. Margot only smirked, enjoying watching him slowly lose his composure just as he had the other day during the meeting.

“Will do,” Danny managed.

“You okay, Danny?”

“Yeah, got to go.”

Hanging up the phone he tossed it to the couch and grabbed her by the hips, shaking his head at her smile.

“You’re gonna get me in trouble.”

“Good,” she smiled and leant closer, stopping just a breath away from his lips, hands on his shoulders.

Danny moved to close the distance between them but she pulled away quickly, causing him to groan in frustration.

“I do believe Alice said ASAP,” Margot teased and walked towards the closet to get dressed again.

She could feel his eyes on her, swayed her hips a bit more than necessary and threw him a smug look over her shoulder, enjoying his clear display of frustration.

 


 

Danny hadn’t paid attention to what had transpired in the office Tessa was being held in, but when Margot had stormed out with fire in her eyes and told him she needed him, he hadn’t questioned her. After handing him the address to Felix, she had gotten into the passenger seat of his car and Danny had quickly gotten into the car and driven out of the underground parking lot.

Margot had rolled down the window on her side, eyes tracing the landscape in the distance as Danny shot her occasional worried looks.

“For God's sake, stop staring!” she exclaimed when they were waiting at a red light and turned to face him for the first time since getting into the car.

“Do you want–”

Her eyes narrowed dangerously at him so he let the sentence die on his lips, focused on the road instead.

Felix had been loyal to her family for years and now someone had gotten to him; Tessa had gotten to him. He had been useful and Margot knew she could count on him to get the job done whatever it might be but this was something she hadn’t expected. She didn’t know what he had promised the girl but the fact that he had slept with her alleged daughter had her blood boiling.

This day was quickly becoming a nightmare. Her would be killer had turned out to be her alleged daughter, Sybil had sold her granddaughter and shown no remorse about it whatsoever and Felix had defected. She was beginning to understand what Jamison had meant when he had said that there was always a fire to take care of. At least he had been honest, or as honest someone on payroll could be.

Margot didn’t notice that the car had stopped moving until Danny gently tapped her arm. Sliding out of her seat, she looked up at the building and made her way inside, Danny insisting on going in first just in case. If she wasn’t in such a terrible mood, she might have thanked him for being so dedicated to his job.

“This is the only local address I have for Felix,” Margot explained as they walked down the corridor.

“Which means he won’t be here.”

“No, but he may have been careless enough to leave us something that will help us find him,” she said as they stopped in front of the door.

Danny dropped the bag and turned towards her.

“You know when we got into this thing, you didn’t tell me you were a mom,” A small smile gracing his features even if he did his best to suppress it.

“Do you think this is funny?” she accused, glaring at him.

“There’s no way that kid is your daughter.”

“That may be the first intelligent thing you've said all day,” Margot scoffed. “Open the door.”

“Hey be nice to me,” Danny said, a soft look on his face when she turned to face him again. “You could use somebody on your side right now,” his words were gentle and everything they shouldn’t be.

“Fine I’ll do it myself,” she said and reached for the handle.

“Do not touch the door,” Danny interjected and stopped her hand before she had even grasped the metal. “You are a target, he is a bomb maker,” he said in a serious tone.

She huffed in annoyance but allowed him to do it his way, dropping to his knees and unpacking the equipment as she eyed him curiously. She hadn’t missed the small changes to his behaviour, the occasional gentleness he would display and Margot knew it was dangerous, perhaps more so than Felix and Tessa.

Danny watched the screen and moved the camera before saying, “I was right, Felix isn’t here.” He put the equipment back into the bag and rose from the floor.

“How do you know?”

“Because he’s wired up enough C4 on this door to level the whole building,” He explained and fished out the phone from his pocket.

“Who are you calling?”

“Bomb squad. Tessa wanted you to come here. That bomb is for you.”

 


 

“We just got word about Lisbon. We will be back on track by the end of the week,” Alfie said and handed Margot the finalised report.

She had almost forgotten all about the problem in Lisbon after her confrontation with Tessa. Frankly, she hadn’t thought much about it after ordering the hit but like she had predicted the problem had been solved. This meeting was just to make sure that there were no loose threads left that could come back and cause problems in the future.

“Good, and what are you doing about Filipe?” Margot asked him, leaning back on the couch, legs crossed.

“About Filipe...?” Alife asked uncertainly. He hadn’t thought much about it now that the problem was solved but it was clear that the blonde had.

“Yes, Filipe. He was the one that let this become a problem in the first place so what are you doing about him?” clear frustration lining her words.

Alfie shifted in his seat opposite of hers, swallowing hard and trying to figure out what she wanted. He didn’t want to meet the same fate as Ivor.

“Do you want him dead?” he asked uncertainly and the Brit threw her hands up in defeat

“No, God’s sake. He’s useful.”

Was that what they all thought of her, that death was her answer to everything? She wasn't Rhys. He had always managed to leave a trail of bodies in his wake. Most of the times it had been the right choice, but on certain occasions, Margot thought that fear could be just as useful if balanced with the promise of benefits in the future.

“A warning will do,” Margot said with a sigh.

“I’ll see to that, ms Bishop,” Alfie said, eager to leave and stood when she gave him a curt nod.

“Good,” Margot said and gestured towards the door. His brown eyes met hers as he nodded his goodbye and made a hasty exit.

Slumping back down on the couch, Margot sighed. One less problem to deal with and yet it seemed like every time she thought she was making progress, two new complications arose. Alfie had alerted her to a minor issue with the Shives in LA who were starting to rebuild after the arrest of Emeric. Again she had been told not to worry because they had had an agreement with the Shives for years, knowing that a full-scale turf war would mean mutually assured destruction. This could all be a big misunderstanding but if Margot's instincts were right, that was not the case.

Tilting her head back and closing her eyes Margot breathed out deeply, her thoughts drifting back to Tessa. Sybil would have clicked her tongue in disapproval for allowing the girl to get into her head, after all, they didn't know for sure that Tessa was hers. But she hadn't been able to pull the trigger and Tessa’s words kept ringing in her head. You can't do it, can you? Because deep down you know I'm your little girl.

Margot needed to get her out of her head, needed a distraction.

 


 

At the end of the day, Danny exited the elevator, reading The Economist on his phone and absentmindedly twirling the car keys with his free hand. They had made some progress after Margot had stormed out after threatening to shoot Tessa. He hadn't missed the girl’s relieved breath when the blonde had lowered the gun. Although a part of him didn't think her capable of killing a child, there had been a flicker of a second when Danny had tried to determine if he'd be able to stop her if he tackled her quick enough. The office had felt stuffy and tense after she had left and they still didn’t have a location for Felix. That meant that Margot was still at risk.

Walking to his car, head somewhere else entirely, Danny stopped when someone suddenly cleared their throat. Looking up from the screen, Danny found the Brit in question leaning against the trunk of his car. She wore a dark dress, her signature high heels and a delicate necklace adorning her. He was surprised to see her, hadn’t expected her to return unless they got some lead on Felix or Alice called her in for some questions. Yet, here she was, arms crossed and icy eyes serious.

“Margot,” he greeted.

She didn’t move, allowed her gaze to fall to the ground and Danny frowned.

“We haven't made any progress with Felix, the bomb squad is still–”

“I’m not here for Felix,” Margot interrupted, looking up and meeting his eyes again.

Danny raised his eyebrows slightly, an indication for her to continue. She sighed, uncrossed her arms. The look in her eyes was different from the one she had had earlier when she had lowered the gun, different from the hurt expression she’d worn after the confrontation with Ben, different from anything he had ever seen before. This time her gaze was sincere and open.

She hadn’t intended to come here. In fact, after the meeting with Alfie she had intended to see what she could do about the Shives, she hadn't been able to get Tessa out of her head and everything was spinning out of her control; she hadn’t been able to concentrate and she needed a distraction. So she had ended up here. But she knew that despite Danny's words earlier, he would want her to at least acknowledge that he had been right.

“I– If I– What I’m trying to say is that it dawned on me that I wouldn't be here if you hadn't stopped me earlier. So thank you, Daniel,” she breathed out finally and Danny looked at her for the longest of times.

She shifted uncomfortably, unable to read his expression; clearly, this had been a mistake but then he gave her a kind smile and she relaxed. Danny moved closer and threw a quick glance around the parking lot, unlocking the car. Nodding her head slightly, Margot took a few steps away from the car when his words stopped her.

“Get in the backseat,” voice huskier than he hand intended it to be.

Danny had been the last one to leave the office, knew that no one was around to interrupt them, no cars around them.

Margot's eyes glittered with something that looked a lot like lust as he moved to open the door for her, a smirk tugging at the corners of her lips when she moved towards him.

She slid into the car gracefully, scooting over as he followed close behind. He reached for her as soon as the door closed, one hand tangling in her hair, the other sliding down her back over the soft material of her dress, pulling her closer. She crashed their lips together hungrily, hands skating up his arms to his shoulders, fingers lacing into his hair. He shifted, hands moving down to the hem of her dress, bunching the fabric at her waist as Margot fumbled with his shirt buttons.

Breaking the kiss, Danny licked his lips, pupils blown wide as she finished unbuttoning his shirt, pushing the fabric apart, hands tracing his skin hotly until she reached his pants. Worrying his lower lip, Danny grabbed her hands when he noticed her fumbling with the belt buckle. Looking up into her icy gaze, he tried to read her, but she simply quirked an eyebrow at him, the silent question clear as day. In response Danny pushed the thoughts out of his head, undid the belt, pulling down the zipper of his pants. This was only sex.

She cupped the front of his boxer briefs, palming him slowly, watching him groan and squirm under her touch, leans closer. Her tongue licked against his pulse and bit down lightly, feeling his heartbeat race through his skin as his head became foggy with want

“Ma-ar” he grunted, unable to get the rest of her name out and she smirked down at him. Danny lifted his hips in response, helped her get the fabric out of the way.

Hands braced on his shoulders, she moved to straddle his hips as he moved the lace of her underwear aside and he bit his lower lip hard. Danny’s hands moved to her waist, steadying her as she slowly took him in. Lips crashing together in a mess of tongues and lips and teeth, hot breaths escaping them, Margot set a fast pace.

The blonde moaned into his mouth, throaty and hungry, as his grip on her hips tightened. Danny groaned when she nipped at his lower lip in response while trying to keep the rhythm as he was kissing the breath out of her, her fingers running through his hair.

Breaking the kiss, Danny moved one of his hands lower, past where her panties were pulled aside and applied pressure in just the right spot, a moan tumbling past her parted lips. He kissed down her jaw as her head fell back, down the column of her throat, sucking lightly at her pulse point.

"Danny," she moaned as he met her thrusts, nipping at his neck lightly,

Holding her tight as she rolled his hips, Danny applied more pressure to the bundle of nerves, feeling her muscles tense as she gasped in deep breaths. He groaned from his gut, raw and lustful when her grip on his hair tightened, keeping him in place.

Margot bit down on her lower lips to stifle the cries of pleasure that were threatening to escape past her lips with each quickened thrust. She could hear Danny panting hard against her neck, his breath causing goosebumps to form across the sensitive skin. He moved his fingers faster when he felt her suck in a deep silent gasp, the sign he had learned to recognise.

She made sweet, hungry noises when she came undone before him and his name falling from her lips was enough to send him over the edge with her, head falling back against the seat.

Body collapsed on top of his, he slowly moved his hands to her hips and Margot’s grip on his hair loosened, arms encircling his neck, head resting on her arms next to his, shallow breaths fill the car. Brushing his lips gently over the curve of her neck, breathing in her scent and perfume, Danny traced soft circles on her bare hips with his thumbs in instinct more than anything else, heart still pounding hard in his chest.

He could pinpoint the exact moment the air changed; it was the sudden way she jerked away from him and he pulled out as she un-straddled his hips and shifted to pull down her dress again. He made no attempt at reaching out to her again as cleaned up, ran her hands through her messy hair. Eyes closing and head falling back onto the headrest, he heard her opened the door.

“Night, Danny,” and with that, she left him alone in the backseat of his car, the clicking of her heels echoing through the deserted parking lot.

 


 

The next morning Margot walked into AVI with confident steps, spotted Alice by the coffee machine and the Amazonian agent Val had introduced her to outside of the office Tessa was presumably in. As the blonde had predicted, Tessa was still refusing to cooperate but at least Alice had made herself useful and printed out a list of all the businesses in the financial district.

“Are you gonna tell Ben?” Alice asked suddenly as Margot skimmed through the names on the paper.

“There’s nothing to tell. And it’s none of your business.”

She knew that they had something in that area, but couldn’t quite remember what.

“As your investigator, yes,” Alice explained calmly, “But as Ben’s fiancé, it is my business and if you don’t tell him I will.”

She didn’t have nor the energy or the time to talk about Ben in that moment so Margot raised a finger and hushed her, much to the annoyance of the other woman, disbelief tainting her words.

“Did you just shush me?”

“Johns and Lobe Law Office. That’s my mother’s legal firm.”

“You think he’s targeting Sybil?” Alice asked as she placed the coffee cup down and rose from her seat, back to her role as the investigator.

“If he hasn’t killed her already.”

“How if she’s on 24-hour lockdown in a federal prison?”

“No, not today. She’s being extradited.”

Felix knew that and he had had days to play his move; throwing a glance at her watch, Margot concluded that they would have an hour and a half, two tops if they ignored the speed regulations.

“When does Danny get in?”

Alice looked at her with surprise.

“Usually around eight, why?”

“Call him,” Margot demanded already working to form a plan in hear head.

Alice was just about to question why when it all clicked into place; they still didn’t know how deep this went and sending Margot with men she couldn’t trust was not an option which only left Danny. Calling his number, Alice tapped her foot against the floor impatiently as she waited for him to pick up.

Alice?”

“Danny. We need–“

Margot reached for the phone and grabbed it from her before Alice had a chance to finish her sentence.

“Where are you?”

Margot?”

“No, the bloody queen,” Margot replied, rolling her eyes in annoyance. “Please tell me you’re not still in bed.”

Just passed the concert hall”

“Good, you need to get here as soon as possible. Felix has targeted my mother and we only have an hour and a half.”

“Right, I’ll be there in fifteen,” He said and hung up.

Handing the phone back to its owner, Margot found that Alice was looking at her with raised eyebrows but whatever she had intended to say, she bit back and told her they could start planning in the conference room while they waited.

When Danny arrived fifteen minutes later, he found the blonde and his boss standing over the latter's laptop, pointing at the different routes Felix could take. Margot looked up when he entered, icy eyes finding his. Despite Margot’s best efforts, she hadn’t been able to completely shake yesterday; the sex had been quick and hungry and everything that they were supposed to be but the softness of his touch after it had set off alarms bells.

Danny broke the eye contact as Alice filled him in on the details and Margot pushed the thoughts out of her head.

Spotting Sophie through the glass walls, Alice excused herself and walked out of the room.

“Morning, Sophie,” she greeted and moved to get the brunette a cup of coffee.

“What’s that all about?”

“We got a lead on Felix. He’s targeting Sybil.”

“But I thought–“

“Yes, so did I,” Alice said and handed her the cup of coffee. “We just finished the plan so they’re heading out now.”

The two turned their attention back to the pair in question. Danny was packing up his things when Margot handed him the bulletproof vest, icy eyes focused on her phone screen. He slipped into it and the blonde reached for the side strap before Danny could, adjusting it quickly, eyes still focused on the screen. Sophie threw Alice an incredulous look, eyes wide with surprise and disbelief, but her boss kept her expression blank and took a sip of her own coffee.

“Good luck and keep us posted,” Alice said as Danny and Margot exited the room and passed them on the way to the elevators.

 


 

Dealing with Felix should have been an easy job once Danny had him handcuffed, but because a certain blonde had decided to drive off without him, it had taken at least twice as long. Tired and pissed when he returned to the office, Danny nodded a greeting in Robin, their receptionist’s direction and headed to the storage room to leave his gear. He had already updated Alice about the Felix situation and thought about taking an early lunch or look for new cases. AVI still didn’t have the same influx of clients as before the FBI’s involvement, but Margot’s money kept them running and they were slowly rebuilding credibility.

Danny had just returned to his desk when his phone vibrated in his pocket. Fishing it out, he saw a new message from Margot.

12:15 1730

He knew instantly what she wanted, huffed and considered whether to take the offer or not. Still pissed about Felix, Danny typed his response and sent it.

Can’t, have work to do

They had been sleeping together for about a week and yet, one second she said one thing and the next she did another; not that he could expect more from a murderer.

Her reply was instantaneous and he could almost hear the smirk in her words, picture the self-satisfied smile.

You have a lunch break

A beat.

I’ll make it up to you

A tempting offer, one he felt inclined to take and she most definitely knew that. Glancing around the office before replying Danny felt a grin spreading on his face

12:30

12:20

12:25

He could see that she was typing, but she was taking her time and he sighed as he watched the dots intently.

Fine.

Satisfied with her reply, Danny grinned in triumph and glanced at the time. Grabbing his phone and jacket, he headed down the corridor to the elevators.

“Early lunch today?” Robin asked when he passed her desk.

“Um, yeah I no?”

She raised her eyebrows questioningly at him and Danny cleared his throat awkwardly.

“I have a couple of things I need to take care of.”

“That doesn't sound mysterious at all,” she said, eyes sparkling with curiosity.

Danny let out a laugh and gave her a nod before rushing to the elevator as calmly as possible, pressing the button more time than needed. One day all the lying was going to catch up to him but then again the thought of Margot crying out his name made it worth it.

 


 

Quite uncharacteristically, something had pulled at Margot’s heartstrings when her mother had gotten ready to leave and maybe, just maybe Margot had made the right decision by asking her to stay. After all, she knew that Tessa would be a handful and if Sybil stayed then at least she would have someone on her side that could help with Tessa because she had no idea how to raise a child. Between the two of them, maybe they could figure something out, since she was too old for nannies like Margot and Rhys had had growing up.

Glancing at her watch, Margot paced the living room area; she had asked Danny to come over because she wanted to forget for a little while and not to think about the future now that Sybil had gone to settle in in her suite. Biting her lip, she glanced at her watch again, impatient.

There was a knock on her door and Margot quickly turned on her heel, swinging the door open and meeting the familiar brown eyes. Like many times before, she grabbed him by the jacket and urged him inside, crashing her lips against his, the door clicking shut behind him.

He was warm and with her heart pounding hard against her ribcage Margot helped him remove the jacket, letting it fall to the floor. Strong arms wrapped around her frame, her body pressed flushed against his as Danny guided her towards the bed.

“Danny” she murmured when he trailed his lips lower, intoxicated by having him so close, head spinning with want as he unzipped her, hands hot on her skin.

 


 

“I should head back,” Danny said, head turned towards her before he sat up on the bed and swung his legs over the edge, back against her.

“Should doesn’t mean that you have to,” Margot said and rolled over to her side, head resting against her hand as she watched the red marks she had left across his back.

He turned to look at her inviting eyes, soft lips, tousled golden locks.

“I know but I do,” Danny clarified and rose from the bed to get dressed again, turning away from her as she bit her lower lip lightly, eyes trailing down his body.

Her gaze was heavy on him, tracing every move and he knew that if he turned to look at her again, he wouldn’t be able to leave. She could be very convincing when she wanted to and he assumed that it was why she had been so successful, both as a con artist and now as the head of the Firm. He put on his briefs and pants again, adjusting the belt and looked for his shirt.

“I asked my mother to stay,” Margot said suddenly out of the blue and she wasn’t sure why she had even brought up the topic.

Danny’s brows furrowed and he turned towards her again. Limbs sprawled across the bed, head resting on her hand, the other at the curve of her waist, she portrayed a cool exterior but Danny could see the hesitation swirling just beneath the surface of her serious eyes.

“I thought you’d send her somewhere with no extradition treaty.”

She fought the smile that tugged at the corners of her lips at his comment. She hadn’t mentioned her original plans to him and yet he had figured it out. Margot didn’t know if that was an appealing quality of his or something very dangerous.

“I did. But I thought it better for her to stay. At least until I figure out how to deal with Tessa.” Her voice was cautious, reserved as she laid back down on the bed, turning away from him and staring at the ceiling. She didn’t particularly care about his opinion but she found herself uneasy as she waited for his reaction.

“You got the DNA re–”

“No, but I know she’s mine,” Margot interrupted and this time Danny took a step closer, hesitant and unsure before spotting his shirt by the bedside table on her side.

Moving closer, he reached down for it, couldn’t resist to run a light hand over her bare legs and watch her shiver under his touch, felt her muscles tense.

“Well, she does have your sense of humour,” Danny smiled and watched her relax again, the ghost of a smile on her lips as her blue eyes remained focused on the ceiling.

Slipping on his shirt, he could see it in her eyes that in that moment she was somewhere else, perhaps lost in a memory or in a wish; he couldn’t tell.

“Is that what you call it?” She questioned, soft gaze finding his again as he finished buttoning his shirt.

“What can I say? Both of you have a way with words,” Danny explained and a light laugh bubbled out of her being.

He had never seen her like this; eyes closed and laughter tumbling past her lips, body shaking as she tried to regain her composure, so far from the calculative killer, the display more charming than he should have found it, found himself laughing too.

They fell silent after a while, shallow breaths filling the room as Danny located his shoes and quickly put them on and reached for his jacket discarded by the door.

“What are you doing tomorrow?” Margot asked, still a bit breathless.

He turned towards the bed, found her sitting up with the sheets wrapped around her body and a soft glimmer in her eyes, the traces of laughter still there.

“I don’t have anything planned.”

“Good. I’ll text,” she said with something close to a smile and Danny shook his head, put on his jacket and left her suite.

 


 

She had almost dreaded talking to Tessa, finding herself unsure of how to approach her. Margot didn’t have anything to go on; her relationship with Sybil had been frosty and damaged long before she had picked Rhys over her and it didn’t provide any guidelines for how to deal with the situation. But now, watching the girl, my daughter, the blonde reminded herself, entering the suite Margot felt a small upward curve of her lips.

Tessa took in the room with mild curiosity, fingers trailing over the glass table as she moved around the room, approached the windows and looked out at the city. But underneath that, Margot could see the caution to her steps, the way her eyes scanned any vantage points in the room, fingers tracing over the heaviest decorative sculptures in case she would need to swing them later. She was clever and again, a sense of pride washed over Margot just as it had when Tessa had said I already know. I underestimated my target.

Ben’s impatience was growing, filling the room as he leant against the doorframe behind her, following Tessa’s every move. As much as Margot had been apprehensive about how to approach Tessa, the conversation she would soon have with Ben seemed far worse.

“Right, we’ll leave you to it. You know where my room is if you need anything,” Margot said finally, unable to postpone the conversation with Ben any longer.

Tessa didn’t reply, turned towards them and nodded curtly as they exited the suite. Margot scanned the hallway after Julian and found him leaning against the door to her suite. He nodded in greeting and stepped aside to let them enter before moving to his new post outside of Tessa’s door; they might have had a small moment of something earlier but that didn’t mean that she could be trusted. Not yet at least.

“Do you think it’s safe leaving Tessa alone in her room?” Ben asked as soon as they had entered Margot’s suite, door firmly closed behind him and she wanted to roll her eyes at him. Instead, she poured them hefty amounts to drink.

“Safe for her or safe for us?” She snapped. “Put a guard outside the door.”

Ben absentmindedly accepted the glass, but she could see it then that he was not going to be drinking with her; he had always been predictable that way when it came to alcohol, much to her and Reggie’s amusement.

They hadn’t been alone since the day he’d barged into the suite and demanded to get the diamonds back and Margot had done her very best to not think about it, not think about how much she had accidentally revealed to Danny as a consequence.

She found his hazel eyes, unmoving, serious but no longer surprised.

“So I assume you have a laundry list of questions. Obviously, I lied to you 15 years ago, there was no Barcelona assignment.”

And hadn’t she planned that one perfectly? Taken every precaution, had a course of action for every possible scenario she could think about and yet she still hadn’t been able to keep this from him.

“I figured out the when and how, but just not the why. I mean if you knew she was mine–”

“Of course she was yours!” Margot scoffed; she hadn’t been the one spending her nights sharing partners with Rhys all those years ago.

“Then why not tell me?” Ben questioned.

“Because I knew you’d want to do the right thing. Settle down and be a family.”

Margot took a gulp of the drink. Despite everything, he had never managed to shake that goodness. It was always there, lingering, waiting, interfering. How many times had Reggie not joked about how he had ended up in the wrong profession? Ben had never been like them and they had all known it. The blonde had grown up in crime and her and Rhys’ paths had already been planned for them. The goodness had been the first thing to go, Sybil and Trevor had made sure of that. But Margot couldn’t deny that she had thought about it on occasion, in between cons and sleeping in her marks arms, wondered what it would be like to leave everything behind. Toying with the idea had always lead to the same conclusion: she couldn’t leave even if she wanted to because this was who she was; deep down she knew that she was not and could never be like Ben.

“And would that have been so bad?”

“Yes. I liked our life. Yours and mine.”

Before Greece, before LA, before Alice, before it all fell apart. She should’ve seen the cracks sooner, she was better than that and yet–

“I did too but–”

“A baby would’ve changed everything.”

“We could’ve made that decision together.”

She took a sip of the drink, stared at him incredulously.

“A decision about my body?”

“I’m just saying if we had maybe things would’ve turned out differently.”

“Right, cause having a baby always saves relationships,” she fired back taking another sip. “Look you want to make decisions about her, fine take her. She’s yours.”

“What?” His eyes went almost comically wide at that and Margot suppressed a scoff.

“She hates me, something the two of you have in common. Take her.”

“Margot, I’m working undercover for the FBI.”

“What do you suggest?” But she could already see where this was going.

“I don’t know. I would just like to be involved in her life.”

“Mhm, you’re just gonna leave here aren’t you?”

Predictable.

“For now. But I’ll be right back first thing in the morning we can all talk, figure out what Tessa wants.”

“Tessa wants to join the firm,” Margot said flatly, voice steady.

“No, she’s not gonna turn out like we did.”

Ever the optimist, idealist. She could almost hear Reggie laughing in the distance. How had he ever made it as a con artist?

“She already has.”

“Don’t you think we at least owe her a chance to lead a normal life.”

Margot sighed, watched the genuine concern and sincerity in his hazel eyes. It was too late, whatever he wanted to give Tessa would not be possible. Taking another sip of the drink, feeling the burn down her throat, Margot closed her eyes. He knew it too, and even if he didn’t want to acknowledge it, it must have been written as clear as day on her face for him to see. What he was asking was impossible.

“I’ll be back in the morning,” Ben said cautiously after a few seconds of silence, placed down the glass and left her alone.

Margot's eyes remained closed until she heard the door click shut behind him, only then did she open them and downed the last of her drink before reaching for Ben's glass. Tessa would have to meet Sybil tomorrow morning for breakfast, then they'd have a talk with Ben and see where they went from there. Having Tessa be a part of the Firm was the best option; she would be the successor and Margot could keep her eyes on the girl in case she tried anything again. But she had no idea how to be a mother; she'd have to figure out that as she went.

Downing the drink in her hand, Margot moved towards her drawers, slipping out of the black dress and reaching for the silky nightgown. The material was cool against her skin as she moved around the suite turning off the lights.

As she got ready for bed her thoughts shifted from Tessa to Danny; she was equally unsure about what – no she reminded herself. Danny was just sex and that wasn't unfamiliar territory, it wouldn't be a problem.

 


 

The sun had barely begun its climb up the clear sky when Sybil barged into Margot's room, startling her awake.

“Mum? What on earth's name are you doing here?” The blonde asked confused from the bed, eyes narrowing and hand resting on the gun on the bedside table.

“Isn't it obvious, darling? I'm preparing for Tessa,” voice sickly sweet and deceiving as she moved about the room.

Margot fell back down on the bed, closing her eyes in irritation. “What for? She's not the bloody queen.”

“Margot, have you forgotten about the importance of first impressions? Now dear, where did you place the menu?”

Sighing deeply, Margot pointed towards the counter, counting to ten in her head before rising from the bed.

She had just changed into black pants and a shirt, applied her makeup when the door to the suite swung open and Margot tensed, eyes finding the gun on the other side of the bed.

“Grandmama,” came Tessa’s sweet voice and Margot threw her hands up in the air.

By this rate, she would have a heart attack every time they barged into her suite unannounced. She spotted Julian in the doorway and he had the decency to offer her an apologetic look before closing the door and returning to work. So much for guarding Tessa.

“Oh, you look just like him,” Sybil said as she approached her granddaughter.

“Yes, we've already established that,” Margot replied dryly.

Sybil shot her a look before saying: “I'm talking about your father, Margot. Don't you see? She has his nose and cheeks. The rest is Ben's of course.”

Walking closer to the pair, Margot eyed her daughter carefully. Yes, she supposed that Sybil was right, there was a trace of Trevor there and she was surprised that she hadn't seen it before. The curve of her nose, the shape of her cheeks. But then again, her father had almost been a mythical figure to her when he was still alive and memory was a fickle thing.

Breakfast arrived shortly after that, Sybil appeared to have ordered the entire menu, the table full of food as they sat down. Sipping her coffee Margot remained silent as Sybil and Tessa discussed the boring couple in Sheffield that had raised her but underneath the carefully applied mask Tessa was wearing, Margot could see the contempt shining in her eyes. This was after all the woman that had sold her to the people that had made her life hell. They would have to be careful with her.

“I'm joining the Firm,” Tessa announced when Sybil asked about the future.

“You are, are you?” Her eyebrows shot up slightly, almost undetectable and she took a bite of her croissant, green eyes on her granddaughter.

“Yes, she'll be the only natural successor and won't be passed over for a man,” Margot said calmly, putting butter on her toast.

“Darling Margot, I hardly think it’s –”

“Appropriate?” Margot cut off, icy eyes focused on her mother. “Whatever do you mean, mother? Tessa is family she should know her history, shouldn’t she?” Venom lacing her words.

“Uncle Rhys, I presume?” Tessa asked, a small smirk blooming on her coloured lips as she watched the exchange between her mother and grandmother.

“Yes. My father wanted it to be me, but your grandmother picked Rhys. Not that it made a difference, she was still the de facto head of the Firm,” Margot explained, eyes still on her mother as she took another sip of the coffee.

“And when do I get to meet Rhys?”

“Never,” Margot cut in. “He has never had a good influence.”

“Let’s not worry too much about the future,” Sybil said easily, although she had been thinking the same thing.

Rhys was many things and good at what he did, but he had always ever since his early childhood had a knack for corrupting others. It came in handy of course but it would be best to keep Tessa at a distance first. At least until they had determined what her true intentions were.

They continued to eat, this time in silence before Sybil excused herself and left the two of them alone. Tessa was putting jam on her waffles when she suddenly asked: “How did you do it?” her voice calm and collected, not betraying her emotions, gaze focused on the food.

Margot looked up to find her taking a bite of the waffle, brushing away a strand of hair from her face.

“Do what?”

Tessa took her time chewing, swallowing, took a sip of the orange juice before meeting her icy eyes.

“See we planned it really well, knew the schedule to the dot. Felix knew what he was doing even without me and yet, he didn’t manage to kill her. Why’s that?”

Margot smirked at her question, could see the curiosity slipping through the cracks of her carefully constructed mask because she might have figured out everything else, but this was something that she had not managed to piece together quite yet.

“Alice Vaughn and her people,” Margot said carefully, not wanting to reveal too much in case Tessa was planning to use this against her in the future.

Tessa quirked an eyebrow at her, clearly not happy with the answer. “But you were there too, weren’t you?” a sly smile playing on her coloured lips like she had just discovered some long lost secret.

“What makes you think that?”

“It’s rather obvious. Your tone changed when you said ‘her people’, a telltale sign if I ever saw one.”

Margot took a sip from the coffee again, an attempt to mask the smile gracing her face. She was attentive.

“So how did you do it?” Tessa asked again, waffles entirely forgotten and sole focus on Margot, trying to find a way to see beneath the veil hiding the truth.

Margot placed the cup down, pursed her lips, considered her options before sighing.

“I’ve known Felix a long time, people become predictable. We simply got to her first.”

“We?” Tessa asked, not bothering to hide the curiosity this time.

“Me and Danny,” Margot answered cautiously, taking a bite from the toast but maintaining eye contact with her daughter.

A smirk blossomed on her coloured lips again, eyes distant and an expression Margot couldn’t quite read grazing her features.

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing.” Her eyes on her again. “It’s just the way you said his name.”

“What about it?” Margot asked, the slightest increase of her heartbeat as she waited for the answer.

“Nevermind,” the girl said, turning back to her waffles.

Tessa,” the warning clear in her tone; she didn’t have time for games.

She looked up with clear eyes, eyebrows arched delicately and that same smirk on her lips but softer this time. And Margot could see that Tessa was surprised that she didn’t know what she had picked up on.

“You said it like he’s someone important,” Tessa explained, watching her mother’s expression attentively but this time Margot didn’t allow her to see beneath the veil.

“He is part of my security firm, good at his job.” And he’s reliable, remained unsaid.

 


 

The Nick Turner case would be a problem. Danny could already tell. Digging into the past was never a good idea, and the look on Alice's face had betrayed her confident words; she didn’t want to do this but she would anyway. She wasn’t the type to run from her past. Then there was the Tommy situation, not to mention Tessa. Alice hadn’t elaborated on what had happened with her brother, but Danny had known her long enough to know that despite her best efforts, she had been hurt this time too. It sent his blood boiling; Alice and the team were like family and he hated that he hadn’t been able to stop him sooner.

Sighing Danny slumped down on the couch, water glass on the coffee table. He had planned to do much more today; Saturday mornings were usually spent in the gym or on a running path, but after the intense week at work, and the long night going over the Ethan case, Danny had opted for a lazy day. He had slept in, went grocery shopping out of necessity and picked up take out on the way back home. Flipping through the channels until he found some basketball game, Danny reached for the water. Usually, he would pay more attention, but this time his mind was wandering.

The Nick case was worrying, especially since he wasn’t sure if it was the best thing for Alice to throw herself into more work. But at least they would be able to focus all their attention on the case and helping Alice in any way since they were done with Margot. For now at least.

He had quite frankly tried his best to not think too much about the blonde. She was complicated at best. It had been easier to see her as a villain, the mobster and criminal that she was, but then she would slip sometimes when they were together and he could see the human underneath the armour.

Gulping down the water and placing the glass back on the table, Danny closed his eyes, head falling back against the couch and let out a breath.

Complicated. She was the definition of it. Stunning too. The way her eyes had lit up yesterday when the laugh had tumbled past her lips. He had no idea what this was. Sex, it’s sex, Danny reminded himself.

His phone vibrated on the coffee table and Danny reached for it, Margot’s name appearing on the screen.

6.40?

He frowned at that. It was unlike her to use question marks. Margot demanded and negotiated. She never asked. He should say no, it was the logical thing to do, the best thing to do even. They were done with Margot Bishop, but then he remembered her laugh from yesterday and despite his better judgement he typed his reply.

Okay

 


 

The knock on the door made Margot jump slightly and she ran her hands down the silky fabric of her nightgown, almost nervously.

Sybil had decided to take Tessa out for the night since she needed some ‘fresh air’ after Ben had called and cancelled due to FBI business so Margot had the night to herself. It hadn't taken her long before she decided to text Danny and maybe if she had stopped for a second to think then she would have seen the problem with that decision.

She walked over to the door, steps light on the cold floor and slowly swung it open. Icy blue met dark brown.

“Hi,” Danny smiled charmingly at her when she stepped aside to let him in.

She closed the door behind them and turned to face him. His gaze moved up and down her body appreciatively as he stepped closer to her.

She reached up to capture his inviting lips. He responded in an instant, pushing her against the door. She parted her lips, deepening the kiss and huffed in annoyance when he pulled away. A smug smile on his mouth before leant down again, lips tracing her jaw, down the column of her throat and then the hollows of her collarbones. Sucking gently at her soft skin at the base of her throat she let out a needy breath and her hips bucked into his in response. He bit back the moan, moved to capture her lips again.

Her hand quickly worked its way between their bodies, to his shirt buttons as his own found her hips, moved upwards along her sides, over the silky material. Margot tried to undo the buttons and had to pull away from him slightly to focus.

“Margot–” She bucked her hips against his again and his words were lost.

“I don’t wanna talk,” she said evenly.

He licked his lips, pupils blown wide as she pushed against him, backing them away from the door as he stepped out of his shoes. Finally undoing his shirt she hurriedly pushed it off his shoulders, nails scraping along his skin teasingly and he shuddered. She licked and sucked her way across his bare skin. Pushing the straps of her nightgown much in the same teasing way she had done, Danny felt a rush of excitement as the fabric pooled at her feet, leaving her in her knickers. Licking his lips appreciatively when the soft city lights hit her skin and painted her in a silvery hue, Danny nibbled his way down her neck again to find that sweet spot, hands hot on her exposed flesh.

Margot undid his belt and he stepped out of his too-tight pants. She felt his breath catch in his throat when she moved down to touch him through the thin fabric of his boxer briefs, his movements stilled for a split second. He let out a low whisper of what she could barely make out to be her name against the hollow of her collarbone. One hand finding its way to her waist, while the other continued to tease her breast, Danny took a step back, pulling her with him until they reached the marble counter.

Nibbling at her exposed throat down to the valley of her breasts, bringing her closer to him, he pressed closer to her, the marble digging into her back. She ran her hands down his back to his boxer briefs, pushing the fabric down. Stepping out of his boxer briefs, Danny yanked down her lace panties, helped her up on the counter and pushed into her with ease, filling her completely. Her mouth fell open, the coolness of the marble against her hot skin sending a thrill through her body. The rhythm was fast, and their pants and moans filled the room before he found her lips again, swallowing her moans as Margot wrapped her legs around him. Kissing and licking the swell of her breasts while his hand teased its way down her stomach, she breathed in a silent gasp, back arching. Before she could cross the edge, Danny pulled out of her and unwrapped her legs from his waist as he quickly let her down, a stunned expression on her face.

“What the f–”

He spun her around, pushed her forward against the counter and plunged into her again from behind. A soundless moan escaped her at the new angle, hitting the sweet spot with each thrust. She moaned his name like a prayer, breathed out “harder,” and he immediately complied, bringing her closer and closer to the edge again.

Margot came undone after a few more seconds, his name tumbling past her lips in a moan. It went on, and she threw her head back as he rode her through it. She finally came down and could barely see through the haze of lust Danny was stirring within her again. Her mouth fell open when he reached down and started rubbing her while his other hand grabbed her hip hard and he began planting sloppy kisses up her back to her neck. Bringing her over the edge again with him, she let out a deep moan and felt her knees going weak

“Ma-argot,” he groaned out, hearts beating frantically as they slowly came down from their high.

Danny pulled out and ran a light hand across her back, before reaching down towards his boxer briefs. He handed her the nightgown as she cleaned up grinned at her when his eyes moved down her flushed skin. Margot's blue eyes met his eyes when she slipped on the soft fabric again, the shadow of a smile gracing her lips at his smug look. And maybe it was because he was grinning that way or the warm darkness in his gaze but she couldn’t keep herself from stepping closer and reaching up towards his lips again, eyes fluttering close, kissing him slowly and softly. He grabbed her by the waist, keeping her close to him and it wasn’t what they usually did. Like he’s someone important, Tessa’s words suddenly echoed in her head and Margot pulled away, a soft breath leaving her.

“You should go,” her voice leaving no room for argument and icy eyes serious.

A flash of disappointment flashed in his eyes and Margot added “Tessa will be back soon,”

His gaze had a shadow looming over it, any trace of the grin gone.

“Got it.”

He stepped away from her and she tried to ignore the disappointment at the sudden loss of warmth as he quickly got dressed and walked past her with quick steps, door clicking shut behind him.

 


 

Danny wasn’t the type that took night runs, but once he reached the apartment, took a quick shower to wash her off of him, he couldn’t sleep. Tossing and turning, he couldn’t keep the blonde out of his mind. Whatever game she was playing was really starting to get to him. One second she could be soft and warm, but then the next she was exactly what he expected out of a criminal. So he decided to take a run to clear his mind.

Problem was, it wasn’t helping.

He knew that staying away was the only logical thing to do. She was a criminal and he was a private detective. She was the one that had caused them so many problems, the killer. But he couldn't ignore the human beneath it all, her soft smiles, the twinkle in her eyes when she thought he wasn't looking, the sweetness of her voice when she whispered his name, the vulnerability underneath it all and the strength in her keeping it all together behind an armour.

Sprinting up a hill, Danny could feel his heart beating frantically in his chest and he didn’t know if it was because of exertion or because of the blonde.

 


 

Margot’s eyes shot open as the door to her suite opened slowly, already reaching for the gun on the nightstand.

“It’s only me,” came Tessa’s soft voice as she closed the door and padded over to the bed.

“For God's sake,” Margot breathed out, placing the gun back in its place and closing her eyes. That girl was going to be the death of her one day, or maybe the other way around if she didn’t learn how to knock and came wandering in the middle of the night again.

The bed dipped on her left as Tessa laid down next to her mother, hands clasped together on her stomach.

“What are you doing?” the blonde asked, eyebrows furrowed as she rose to her elbows and stared at her daughter in surprise.

“I’d say it’s quite obvious, mummy.”

“It’s the middle of the night,” Margot said. She had intended to wait up for her and Sybil to come back, but around midnight she had given up and gone to bed.

“Oh, I know. Julian was sleeping; you really should consider hiring more men for the night shift.”

“I don’t pay him to sleep,” she sighed.

“Well, working conditions aren’t the best.”

Margot shot her a glare.

“Remind me again how long Ivor lived? I’m a bit hazy on the details,” Tessa said in mock confusion.

“If you must know, this will be his last night outside your door,” Margot replied, completely ignoring the comment.

Tessa turned to face her suddenly, a smile spreading on her lips and although she didn’t show it, Tessa could tell that her mother was smiling too. Rolling onto her back again, Tessa remained silent.

Sighing when she realised that she was here to stay, Margot slumped back down in bed. Neither of them said anything and Margot didn’t offer her to lay down under the sheets, knowing that if Tessa wanted to she would. Besides they weren’t quite there yet either way. They laid in silence for a long time, the city lights outside illuminating the room and Margot thought that maybe her daughter had fallen asleep when she suddenly turned her head slightly to look at her.

“Do you miss it?” Tessa asked softly, unclasping her hands, one finding its way to her head for support.

“Miss what?”

“The cons, the deception, the games. Do you miss that old life before you took over the Firm?” a hint of wonder in her voice.

Margot remained silent for a while, unsure of what to say. Lately, perhaps she had. When it was only her, Ben and Reggie things had been good, the three musketeers against the world; her family. She only had to worry about the three of them, planning the cons, making sure that they stuck to the schedule. It was easy and even before LA, Athens, Paris, she had enjoyed the time with them; it was fun but maybe a part of her had known then too, that it wasn’t enough. Maybe she just wanted something more than fun because even if she told herself that now, it hadn’t always been easy. Not when he father was murdered, not when her mother picked Rhys, not when she and Ben left everything, not when she could see the distance in his eyes, the months they spent apart, when he stopped loving her, when Reggie tried to make her see that but she couldn’t, when it all fell apart.

“I don’t know, sometimes I do,” Margot said finally, deciding that being honest was the only right thing to do but she could sense that Tessa wasn’t pleased with her answer so she continued “I suppose that living all those lies was glamourous at first but then things change, they always do.”

“Is that why you don’t trust people,” Tessa asked, eyes focused intently on her mother. She kept staring at the ceiling, a wistful look in her eyes, more vulnerable than Tessa had ever seen her before.

“If I did, I’d be dead, Tessa,” the blonde scoffed. “This life of ours, if we get through it like this and get away with it, it’s wonderful. But it’s very unpredictable and there are so many ways to screw it up. It doesn’t leave room for trust; mutual interests, alliances, yes. But not trust. It makes you vulnerable and your enemies won’t hesitate a second to exploit any weakness they can find. It can only be reserved for a special few and even then you should be careful,” and she couldn’t help but think about those warm eyes she had come to know so well over the last two weeks.

Turning towards her daughter, she saw Ben’s soft gaze looking at her in the dark. She was the spitting image of her father, but she had Margot’s character.

“You can stay, if you’d like,” Margot said uncertainly.

“I wasn’t planning on leaving,” Tessa replied, something close to a soft smile gracing her for a second before she rolled over to her back again and close her eyes. Margot watched her breaths become deeper and slower, wondered if she would turn out to be like her father and leave or not before she too fell asleep.

 


 

Ben had called to cancel that lunch he had promised her and Tessa after the lieutenants had left and Margot had sighed, ran a hand through her hair in frustration. After the revelation of the pirate problem, she didn’t have time to deal with Ben not showing up yet again. FBI land as he had called it appeared to be hectic and that left her to deal with Tessa alone. She didn’t mind it as much now, as she had before, but having Ben there would have made the process easier. But she had learned a long time ago that she couldn’t count on him.

Deciding to take a shower to clear her mind, Margot undressed and turned the knob when suddenly the door swung open, Sybil’s sickly sweet voice calling out for her.

“God, does no one in this family know how to knock?” One day she would shot them all if they didn’t learn, either by mistake or on purpose. Slipping on her robe she tied a quick knot to keep it in place and walked towards her mother with brisk steps.

“It’s about Fernando,” She explained and she must have seen the annoyance on her face because she quickly added, “I am trying to help.”

“I don’t need your help running the Firm, mother. If you want to help me, help me with Tessa.”

Admittedly, they were getting along better after the night Tessa had come into her room unannounced, but Margot still felt like she had no idea what she was doing.

“Tessa is not the problem at hand,” Sybil explained with a shake of her head.

“Maybe not for you. I keep hoping she’ll run away, go and take over a country or something, give Putin a run for his money.” It was probably the best option either way since counting on Ben to actually take her was out of the question, he was too busy in FBI land.

The door swung open yet again, and Tessa barged in, phone in hand asking: “Did she tell you about Fernando?”

She would have to learn how to knock soon though if she was going to keep staying with Margot. She wasn’t used to this; people entering and exiting, existing in her life permanently like Sybil and Tessa now did.

“This is what I’m talking about,” the blonde said and resisted the urge to run a hand through her hair in frustration.

“Um, come along Tessa your mother needs her privacy,” Sybil tried, turning towards her granddaughter.

“You need to go to Mexico,” Tessa said, ignoring her grandmother completely.

“Why, what happened?” Margot asked, a frown appearing between her brows.

“Have you not checked your phone?”

“I was trying to tell you, Fernando.”

“Oh my God.”

This day kept getting better and better. Tessa tried to persuade her to let her come to the Gulf with her, but Margot almost scoffed at the idea. She couldn’t risk it. It was far too dangerous.

“You’re making a mistake. I can be of use,” Tessa argued, voice low and words slow. Margot eyed her intently.

“Not this time.”

“Can you give us a moment, Darling?” Sybil said, gently tapping her arm and nodding her head towards the door.

“Be careful,” Tessa said as she turned, tone frosty and low. She gave Margot one last look, something close to concern swirling there but it was soon forgotten as the blonde turned back to her mother.

 


 

“Don’t get on that plane,” Tessa said, eyes wide and serious as she barged into the suite, closing the door firmly behind herself.

Margot turned to look at her in surprise. She was dressed in red, lips painted in a matching shade like usual, hair loose and framing her face but it was the look in her eyes that caught Margot’s attention. Genuine concern, maybe even a hint of desperation lingering there.

“You told me two nights ago that this life was unpredictable and that trust could only be extended to few people.”

Margot nodded slowly as Tessa approached her with rapid steps.

“Sybil, she’s planning something.”

At this, Margot raised her eyebrows, the gears already in full motion. Sybil had told her earlier that she wasn’t interested in the Firm and she hadn’t detected any signs of lies. But here Tessa was, telling her that maybe her mother was, in fact, planning something. Maybe this was another trick, a way to create a rift between them and take to opportunity to take out both of them.

“I know you don’t trust me. I’m not asking you to, just that you at least consider what I’m saying for a second,” Tessa said and looked at her with sincere eyes, a look that couldn’t be faked.

She couldn’t gain anything from this. Even if she did succeed in creating a rift between Margot and Sybil, they would undoubtedly catch on soon enough and then what?

“Okay,” Margot said finally, putting her bag down. “What’s your plan?”

 


 

The sun had set hours ago and Margot was finishing reviewing reports Alfie had brought to the meeting. She felt exhausted and her mother’s plan of sending her off to the Gulf to reclaim her position at the Firm had stung. More than it should because Margot should have expected it; a small part of her had dared to hope that maybe things would be different this time around. Maybe they could have made up for those years Margot had spent with Ben and Reggie. She had known of course that they could not and would never have a normal relationship but maybe they could have come to some understanding. Instead, she had only blindsided herself and ignored what she knew to be true. Sending away Sybil had solved one problem but now she had to deal with Tessa because Margot knew that even if she had been warmer towards her, the girl still had to have some underlying motives.

Making herself a cup of tea while skimming through the last report, Margot tensed when she heard a knock on the door to her suite. She put down the papers, reached for her gun and headed for the door with light steps. The person knocked again and Margot pressed the safety switch, gun aimed when she opened the door.

Her icy eyes landed on Danny and she lowered the gun, flicking the safety switch.

“Oh, it’s you,” she said quite dismissively, body still tense and trying to keep her curiosity from showing. She wasn’t expecting him. She had guessed on an intruder or one of her men, maybe even Tessa if the girl had miraculously learned to knock. Danny was a surprise.

“Expecting someone else?” he asked, eying the gun in her hand, a hint of uncertainty laced into his words.

“What are you doing here?” Margot replied evenly, eyes cold and focused, ignoring his question.

He must have come straight from work, dressed in his usual leather jacket and dark pants. He met her eyes again, and she could almost sense the tension radiating off of him; clearly, she wasn’t the only one that had had a hectic day.

“I wanted to see you.” A tempting smile played on his lips and it sent a shiver down her body.

Danny let his eyes travel down the black dress, once, twice before meeting her eyes again. Margot merely smirked at him, still tense as she took a step back and turned to the counter where she had left the tea and report. She glanced at him over her shoulder when the lock to the door clicked in place and he removed his leather jacket. Gently placing the gun down next to the papers, she heard him move closer until he was standing behind her, breath hot on her skin. Danny placed both hands on the cool marble on either side of her, trapping her in place and her eyes fluttering close for a second when he kissed his way down her neck.

“You’re tense today,” Danny murmured against her and she scoffed at him.

“I see it doesn’t take much to become a detective.”

Margot,” he said in a low warning, sending a thrill of excitement through her body.

She spun around to face him, eyes narrowing in a half-hearted attempt to mask a small smile. His eyes were soft when she met them. Dark and soft and everything they shouldn’t be. Slowly, he raised his hand, thumb tracing the outline of her jaw before brushing away a blonde strand of hair. Margot swallowed hard when he gently cupped her face. She could count the freckles adorning his face, feel every breath that left him on her skin. He leant closer, lips brushing against hers in a soft kiss before pulling away again.

Her heart was beating frantically in her chest when Margot looked up at him, found the soft gaze and this was not what they did, this softness wasn’t what they were so she crashed their lips together in a bruising kiss. He responded instantly and it was familiar. He pressed closer to her, the marble digging into the small of her back before Danny grabbed her by the hips and lifted her up onto the counter. He parted her legs to allow him to step closer, the black dress riding up in the process as he struggled to find the zipper. Her lips moved down to his jaw, neck, kissing, sucking, nibbling as her hand laced into his hair, holding him in place as she rasped her teeth over his skin.

Margot–” he began and the way her name rolled off his lips sent a wave of excitement down her body.

Finally, he found the zipper, yanked it down, pushed the dress down her shoulders to her waist. This was what they were, rough, messy, harsh. The fabric of the dress crumpled together at her waist as he pushed the hem up her thighs, both of them too impatient to bother getting rid of it. His hands were hot on her skin, his touch almost electric as Margot hurriedly unbuttoned his shirt.

Without warning, his hands moved down to her hips and pulled her impossibly close before picking her up. Her legs wrapped around him instantly, fingers lacing into his hair as he carried her to the bed, found her lips again. He laid her down on her back, discarding his shirt before helping her out of the dress.

She pulled him towards her, finding his lips again as he trailed his hands in harsh caresses over her skin. Breaking the kiss, Margot shifted underneath him, one hand laced into his raven hair, urging him closer, the other leaving angry imprints on his back. Pulling away, Danny grabbed her wrists, pinned them above her head with one hand. She could see the dangerous glint in his dark eyes and bit her lower lip hard to keep the moan of anticipation from escaping her.

“I don’t have all day,” she said throatily when he didn’t move, eyes full of want.

He leant down to meet her lips briefly before kissing away from her mouth to her ear, down the column of her neck. She let out a breathy gasp, rolled her hips, wanting more than he was giving.

“Tell me what you want,” he murmured against her neck and Margot shuddered.

She bit back her initial response, heart pounding hard and instead, she said: “Make me scream.”

He smiled at her request, releasing her wrist and hurriedly removed her lace underwear. His hands caressed their way down her body before reaching their destination between her legs. She gasped a little as he slid two fingers up her sex, thumb moving over the bundle of nerves softly. The combination of his thrusting fingers and the soft touch of his thumb left her panting hard within a matter of minutes as his other hand moved to play with her breasts. He continued in the slow pace, her fingers lacing into his hair as her moans became louder. His fingers twisted inside her, skimming just the right spot. She breathed in a silent gasped in response, arching her back.

“Yes,” she breathed as he brought her closer to the edge.

But as soon as the words left her mouth he pulled away. Margot moaned in annoyance at the sudden loss of his touch, hazy gaze finding his and glared at him although judging by his smug smile it didn't have the desired effect. Any snappy comments she might have had died on her lips when he slowly trailed his hands up her legs until he reached her waist. Playfully, his lips edged closer to her stomach, hot breath on her skin causing goosebumps to form. He drew faint circles with his tongue just above her navel, felt her shiver in anticipation. One hand pressed her down onto the bed, drawing soft circles with his thumb as he moved closer. A gasp left her when he made contact and all her mind was capable of focusing on was the sensation of his mouth on her as he set a rapid pace. She could feel herself getting closer as he continued his ministrations, devouring her. Her hands curled into fists as he continued, eyes closing when he swirled his tongue.

A deep, frustrated breath left her when he pulled away yet again just as she was reaching the edge.

Danny,” she whined, back arching and swallowing hard. This was almost torture, what he was doing, pulling away just at the right second, stirring the lust and want but never allowing her more than that. Keeping her on a thin line but never allowing her the pleasure of release; she cursed him for having learned to read her so well, didn't know if she wanted to kill him or not.

“Margot?” his voice low and raspy.

Her only response was a breathy moan, eyes remaining closed.

“Look at me.”

Biting her lip, her blue eyes fluttered open, swirling with arousal and a hint of annoyance as they found his dark gaze. Planting light kisses up her stomach, hands moving soft over her breasts, Danny smiled at her reaction when the blonde squirmed and arched, searching for more. Her breath quickened and she grew more impatient, tried to roll them over in an attempt to set the pace but he stopped her with a kiss before she had the chance.

“More,” she whimpered against his lips, tasting herself and tried to form a coherent sentence as he pulled away. She needed release, barely able to hold herself together under his touch, nails digging into his shoulders hard, positive she would leave marks.

He swallowed hard, tried to regain his composure as she squirmed underneath him. She wasn’t making this easy on him with the way she was looking at him with dazed eyes, his name on her kiss-swollen lips, golden dishevelled hair splayed around her. Beautiful.

“You okay?” Danny asked.

“Don’t you dare stop,” she panted, fingers lacing into his hair and pulling him down to meet her lips.

She could feel him smiling into the kiss before pulling away and she tried to not whimper in disappointment. He traced her entrance with his thumb before easing his length into her. Grabbing her wrists again, he pinned them above her head with one hand, set a steady pace, keeping his eyes on her. She twisted her wrists ever so slightly, wanting to touch him, but Danny tightened his grip and she felt a wave of pleasure running through her as he took control, the right amount to cause whimpers to escape her. Kissing his way down the column of her neck, to her collarbone, Danny groaned at the sounds escaping her.

“Harder” Margot demanded, legs tightening around him.

He obliged and continued to plant kisses down her collarbone to the valley of her breasts. She had never given up her control this easily, and it made him shiver with delight seeing and feeling how much she enjoyed this.

“Fuck” she cursed, eyes closing again.

She was so close, wondered if he would stop again as his name tumbled past her lips through heavy breaths.

“Let go,” Danny whispered against the shell of her ear,

Her release was powerful, her cries filling the room and enough to send him over the edge with her as he continued to thrust, drank every moan that escaped her with a messy kiss.

“Fuck,” Danny sighed against her lips before rolling off of her, their shallow breaths filling the silent room.

Margot shifted beside him, body stretching out and watched him stand from the bed. Her gaze remained on him as he got dressed again, her limbs stretched out across the bed, tangled in the sheets and satisfied. He was in the process of buttoning his shirt when she noticed the holes in the sleeve.

“What happened?” Margot questioned, a small frown appearing between her brows and his eyes landed on her in an instant, fingers halting on the first button.

“Rottweiler. Why, did you worry?” He teased and Margot scoffed in response.

“You should know better.”

He smiled at that, the puff of a laugh escaping him and she rose from the bed, sheets wrapped around her to keep the cold way, although, with the way he was looking at her, she doubted that would realistically be a problem.

”More relaxed now?” he questioned and stepped closer, head tilted down towards her.

She looked beautiful, blue eyes sparkling softly, blonde hair tousled and a lazy satisfied hint of a smile gracing her lips, sheets wrapped around her body and he could stay in this moment forever. He leant closer, hands coming to rest on her hips. His touch was electric.

“No talking,” Margot breathed out softly and she could feel his smile when he captured her lips. She let go of the sheets, his touch enough to keep her warm and dragged her hands across his skin, felt every ridge of his abs. His mouth moved to her jawline, down her throat. Her hands slid up to his shoulders, pushing the fabric of his shirt down when he suddenly grabbed her wrists and pulled back slightly.

“Margot,” and the way he said her name sent a shiver down her body. “I have to go.”

She tried to mask her disappointment when he let go of her, offered a cool look at his boyish smirk. Clearly, he had gotten better at reading her. She could almost sense the snippy remark before it slipped past his lips, so she reached forward, crashing their lips together hungrily, encircling his neck and hands laced into his raven hair. When she pulled away again, a breath left him and she smirked.

“Take the key card.” She gestured towards the coffee table.

He backed away from her, a look of surprise gracing his face when he turned and reached for the plastic. Maybe she was making a mistake but as she reached for her robe and slipped on the silky material, she reasoned that it was more convenient for Danny to have a key card. When he turned again, card in hand, hair ruffled, and dark eyes meeting hers, she tried to suppress the sudden flush travelling up her cheeks and secured the robe with a knot.

His eyes remained on her when he reached for the jacket, a close-lipped smile fired in her direction before he was out the door. Margot sighed, closed her eyes momentarily when she took a few breaths and laid down on the bed again.

 


 

 

The sound of the door opening made Margot’s eyes flutter open and sent a feeling of excitement through her body.

 “Back already?” Margot called out, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth as she concluded that she must’ve dozed off for a while.

“Is this a bad time?” Tessa replied as she strutted into the room, eyes focused and alert.

“Tessa,” Margot said, a small frown appearing between her brows, body tense again as her daughter came into view.

“My, my, you’re happy,” the girl commented, a dangerous twinkle in her eyes as she moved closer to her mother, ponytail bouncing with every step.

“What do you need?” Margot snapped back and moved past her daughter to the reports laying on the counter.

“I’m bored,” Tessa sing sang and took one look at the bed with astute eyes before turning towards her mother again.

“I’m busy,” Margot replied and her icy eyes bored into Tessa’s.

Really?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll leave you to it then, Mummy,” she said in a sweet and innocent voice, eyes big and doe-like as she glanced at the papers and back at those icy eyes again. Turning to leave she smirked; she was going to have so much fun with this.

Exiting the suite, Tessa spotted Julian walking towards her door with long strides and she suppressed an eye roll. After Sybil’s attempt to overthrow Margot, her mother had decided to increase security. Again. Which meant that Julian was back to his post outside her door. He nodded in greeting, Tessa did too, if only to be kind as she entered the suite. He wouldn’t be there for long though; this time it wasn’t to keep Tessa inside, but to keep her safe and after a couple of days things would be back to normal.

Lying on her bed, Tessa let out a sigh and stared up at the ceiling. At least when he grandmother was here, she had had some company and someone to keep her entertained. Margo was although a bit warmer now, still very much busy and occupied with being the head of the Firm. But Tessa thought that maybe in the future, once her mother had decided to fully trust her, she would be allowed more freedom.

Suddenly, Tessa sat up in bed, an idea forming in her head and the more she thought about it, the more appealing it became. Grabbing her laptop from the bedside table, she could already tell that this was going to be fun and depending on her mother’s approach, it might even keep her entertained for a couple of days until she found something else to do. She typed in the words in the search box and clicked through the information that appeared on the screen.

She had known of course from the very start that there was something there. Now that she thought about it, perhaps Alice knew too; those clear eyes didn’t seem to miss much, excluding of course that Ben had managed to con her.

Tying her hair up into a ponytail, Tessa changed positions, sitting with her back against the headboard, legs stretched out in front of her and laptop resting on her thighs; she read everything she could find on the man that appeared to have managed to break through Margot Bishop’s walls.

 


 

“Tell me I’m not the only one that thinks he’s different,” Val commented as she caught Alice’s gaze wandering towards Danny.

“You’re not.”

The last two weeks, something changed and Alice knew for a fact that it had nothing to do with a certain brunette. Neither of them could quite put their finger on what it was exactly; Danny still had that smugness about him and that boyish smile on occasion, but there was something more there now. He hadn’t mentioned anything or anyone which had lead Alice to the conclusion that whatever was going on was still a secret and that he wanted to keep it that way.

“But he’ll say something eventually,” Alice said and turned her attention back to the papers Val had brought into her office. “You were saying something about the file?”