They called her Captain now. Captain of the Resistance, with a flag tattoo on one wrist and a black leather bracer on the other. It was Charlie Matheson who rode into the militia camp as dusk fell, though, bitterness thick as copper on her tongue.
Militia boys dragged her in to see Monroe himself, kicking her feet from under her so she'd kneel. He stared down at her with water-blue eyes, shocking against the tan of his skin, and back-handed her across the face.
'Captain Matheson,' he said, crouching down and grabbing her face to make her look at him. 'To what do we owe the pleasure?'
Fresh blood filled her mouth. She coughed and spat, a clot of scarlet on the white canvas. Doubt cramped behind her ribs, but it was hours too late for second thoughts.
'The Plains Nation took Miles,' she said, voice cracking. 'We were on a mission and they arrested him.'
'So? Isn't that the Resistance's problem?'
'They don't care.' Her mouth twisted on the memory of the Resistance's apathy. 'Apparently a militia tainted Matheson isn't worth their alliance with Georgia. Do you think I'd be here if I had any other choice?'
Something shifted in Monroe's eyes, rippling like water, but she couldn't decipher it. His fingers tightened, digging into her cheeks, and he leant in to whisper against her cheek.
'You know that my help will not come cheap?' The brush of his lips was almost a kiss.
She swallowed. 'I know.'
He got Miles back for her – missing a little finger, but with enough new scars to make up for it – and she gave him the Resistance. She was at his side at every battle, every negotiation, every execution. It wasn't long until rumour had it she'd always been his – his daughter, his lover, his creature. Sometimes Charlie wondered if it wasn't true, hadn't she shaped herself against Monroe, after all?
And even if it hadn't been true then, it was now.
On the fifth day of the Siege of Annapolis, after routing the last stand of the Resistance there, she kissed General Sebastian Monroe, stealing the taste of whisky off his tongue. He didn't kiss her back. Embarrassed, she stepped back and felt herself blush. Blood on her boots and the deaths of hundreds on her conscience, and she still pinked up like a teenage girl. It seemed wrong.
'I'm sorry,' she said. 'I overstepped.'
'You did,' he said, grabbing a handful of her hair and tugging her roughly back to him. 'About time.'
His mouth covered hers in a hungry, desperate kiss, all teeth and roughness. The day's worth of stubble on his chin scraped her skin and his hands searched for her curves under her heavy shirt.
It wasn't romantic, or particularly athletic. Her shoulder was sore and creaking – recently jammed back into the joint – and a burn on his jaw ran up into his ear and singed his curls short. Neither had slept for days and with a city still to subdue there was no time for niceties.
He lifted her onto the desk, trousers sliding down around her thighs, and freed his thickening erection, jerking his hand along the length of it. Charlie slid her hand down, fingers sliding through short, blonde curls to stroke the wet folds of her sex. The familiar touch curled pleasure down her thighs, making her toes curl expectantly in her boots.
Monroe pushed her hand out of the way and she spread her legs for him, wrapping them around lean hips. He thrust into her with rough, jerky strokes, hands leaving blooming bruises on her hips, and she dug her booted heels into his legs to get him deeper. Her hand twisted in his shirt, rough against skinned knuckles, as she murmured throaty encouragement to fuck her harder.
He obliged, the edge of the desk bruising her thighs as she was driven against it. Pleasure jarred through her, twisting her nerve endings like a dark spring. His lips on her mouth and throat were possessive, biting bruises into her skin, but he didn't speak until the end, when his come drying on her thighs and her skin twitching with after-shocks from her own orgasm.
'Miles meant more to me than you ever will,' he told her, fastening his trousers. 'I let him leave, don't expect the same courtesy.'
It wasn't love. Not like her Dad had loved Rachel, or Maggie, but she thought it was maybe the closest Monroe could get.