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Danger Coming Over

Chapter Text

Okay.

It’s okay.

It’s all fine.

It’s not like she spent the money. And she sure as hell wasn’t planning on doing so.

Fuck!

It was not all fine.

They robbed a grocery store! What kind of people do that? They would- They would trace the money somehow and they would go to prison and she’d have to become someone’s prison wife! Crap. She didn’t think she was pretty enough to get a prison wife. And she most definitely needed the protection.

Wandering frantically into the kitchen, worrying at the hem of her shorts, she made the executive decision to have a drink.

She stood at her small kitchen island, clutching the tabletop and nursing a very large glass of wine. She stared into the dark liquid and she cast her mind into its depths, trying to figure out when she became this person. This person who could see people cowering on the floor of a grocery store, shielding their children because she was pointing a fucking gun at them.

God, she was practically vibrating with anxiety. A ball of frenetic energy with no way to dissipate it.  She wiped her hands on her tank-top, feeling like the guilt was seeping out of her skin with the sweat.

You know what, she just needed to put on some music and just calm the fuck down. If they came for the cash, she’d just give it back and hopefully, she could get off easy. Maybe the girls hadn’t spent it. They could all just leave it in the grocery parking lot or loading dock or whatever. And this would be all behind them. They could make some money selling Herbalife weight loss shakes or some shit. It would all be fine.

She knew that she was the youngest of her group and they probably wouldn’t take her seriously but goddamit they couldn’t have done this. It had to be fine.

It had to be.

So she put on Beauty and Essex by Daniel Caesar and took a long drink of wine, swinging her hips to the sultry bassline.  

Early sunshine through my window

Your head’s on my pillow, I

Spend time feeling on that booty

Caress you so smoothly

“Fine,” she whispered to herself, eyes closed, dancing smoothly to Daniel Caesar’s melodic crooning.

“Yes, you are,” a deep voice husked into her ear.

She jumped trying to spin away from the intruder but she was held in place by two very strong hands and she felt a solid form pressed against her body, warm breath ghosting over the back of her neck, her entire body breaking out in goosebumps.

“Uh-uh, where do you think you’re going?” the intruder whispered. “Come on. Dance with me.”

Her breath was coming in shaky pants, her inability to see him causing her panic to skyrocket.

A hand left her hip and she felt something cold and hard press into her side, her breath stuttering at the pressure.

“I said,” he growled, the pressure in her side growing. “Dance with me.”

She held back a sob and tentatively swung her hips side to side, trying to stay calm and examine her options.

“You know,” he started conversationally. “I just had a nice, little chat with your real-housewife friends and I have to say that I am not very happy with you.”

Oh, God. This was worse. So much worse than getting arrested. So much worse.

He suddenly spun her in his arms and she was faced with an unexpectedly handsome man. Though covered in tattoos and sporting a buzzcut that screamed danger, she couldn’t deny that he was attractive, even sporting a cruel smirk.

He seemed to notice her checking him out and his smirk widened, and his eyes scrutinizing her.

“Yeah,” he continued. “I’m not happy. But you’re a good girl, right?”

He paused and held her gaze. She nodded mechanically, eyeing him warily.

“So you’re gonna give me what I want. Isn’t that right, baby girl?” he husked quietly.

She nodded frantically, a little dazed.

“Good.” He said with finality and he turned and started to walk to her front door.

“Wai- Wait!” she yelled shakily.

He turned his head to the side, still facing the door.

“I- I have your money. Here, I mean. I- I can go get it for you. I didn’t spend any of it, I swear,” she rambled.

He turned around and pinned her with his gaze. “I’ll come with you. I know you a good girl and whatnot but… we wouldn’t want you getting any ideas.” He said ominously.

She just nodded and started down the hall and grabbed the large duffel with her cut and she turned to find he was right behind her. She stumbled and straightened taking a couple of steps back and thrusting the bag forward.

He just regarded her for a moment, an eyebrow raised, before slowly taking the bag from her. Just as he did, two large, dark-haired men, covered in equally as many tattoos materialized and she wondered how long they’d been there. He wordlessly handed them the bag, eyes still fixed on her and they began to count the cash.

The room was silent, save for the shuffling of money between inked fingers, the weight of his gaze heavy and penetrating. She shifted on the balls of her feet and wrapped her arm around herself, running the other through her braids and keeping her eyes fixed on his black-sneakered feet.

The shuffling stopped and she looked up to see the men nod at each other silently. The men walk out as silently as they came and she’s suddenly alone with him.

“If only your friends were as cooperative as you,” he smirked. “Now we need to talk about interest.”

“Interest?” She parroted dumbly.

“Yeah, as in my interest in you,” he said still smirking.

“Wh- What?”

“Come on. I don’t need to spell it out for you, do I? Your friends have to pay me a little something-something extra but you? I think you and I can work something out.”

“Like what?” She asked cautiously.

He stepped into her space, towering over slightly. She averted her eyes keeping them on his shoes again.

“All you need to do is be my good girl. Do what I say, when I say and I’ll make you feel good,” he husked. “If you don’t, I punish you.”

She closed her eyes and shivered but her suddenly very adult-themed thoughts came to a screeching halt.

“Why- Why me?” she asked, suddenly confused, blinking up at him.

“Why not you?”

“I mean look at me and then look at you. I mean, I’m not really anybody's type and you could have anybody you want, so I’m just confused.” She rambled, still not looking at him.

“I think you exactly what I’m looking for. I think,” he said. “That you can be good for me.”

He brought a hand up to her face and her eyes closed at the touch, his hand unexpectedly cool, and his thumb rubbing circles on her cheek.

“I’m not gonna force you to do nothing. You can pay me a little extra like your friends and I’m out of your hair,” he continued. “But you wanna be good for daddy don’t you?”

She was a little ashamed to say she whimpered out a little ‘uh-huh’.

“I need to hear you say it, baby girl.”

“Yes- Yes,” she stammered suddenly dizzy.

The hand that was on her face slid leisurely to settle at her throat, not choking her but gripping her possessively.

“Yes, what,” he growled.

“Yes, daddy,” she whimpered, feeling herself grow wet.

“That’s right, princess,” he hummed approvingly and she wanted to live in that sound.

He suddenly let go and stepped away from her, seemingly enjoying the sight of her flustered.

“Okay,” he drawled. “I’ll be seeing you real soon then, baby girl.”

And then he was gone and she knew she was fucked.

 

Chapter Text

Her ears seemed to be ringing. The noise was high and insistent.

She stood in her bedroom for a while, staring at the spot that he had just vacated. The last half hour replaying in her mind on a loop.

I don’t even know his name.

What was she thinking? Agreeing to- Agreeing to that, without even knowing his name. It was definitely time to stop thinking with her ovaries and start using her head.

God. What would the girls think?

They couldn’t know. They would never look at her the same way. Besides, maybe she could protect them like this if things went sideways and they couldn’t pay. It’s not like he wasn’t hot…

The poorest judgement. She had the absolute poorest judgement. What kind of person-

Just then her phone gave an insistent shrill and she absently thought that maybe that’s why her ears were ringing.

Stumbling slightly into the kitchen, she picked up her phone and saw that it was Beth calling just before the call cut out. She had 11 missed calls, all from Beth. Crap.

Just as she was about to call Beth back, Beth beat her to it and called for what was apparently the 12th time. She took a deep breath and quickly pressed answer before she could second guess herself.

“Where are you? Are you okay? Did he come see you?” Beth rushed out.

“Whoa, whoa, chill I’m fine. I- I didn’t spend the money so I just gave it back. No biggie.”

Beth was quiet for a few moments. “No biggie, huh?”

“None whatsoever,” she swore.

Beth was quiet again and she thought that Beth had hung up.

“I’m coming over.”

“Wait! Beth, I’m-“

But all she heard was the call disconnecting. Fuck.

She paced a few times before plopping down on the couch, her knee bouncing with nervous energy.

She was pretty good at hiding things but Beth? Beth was a whole other level of sharp and she could always tell when she was being lied to or if someone was hiding something from her. It was fine, though. She just needed to deal in half-truths. Be honest enough to quell Beth’s suspicion but not so honest that Beth could read between the lines.

She needed to get her story straight. She gave the money back and she was squared off with him. That sounds too simple and Beth would be immediately suspicious.

Then it hit her.  She just needed to say that he cut the same deal with her than with the rest of them but he cut her some slack because she didn’t spend the money. He said he would come to collect every two weeks. Yeah. That sounded plausible.

Right?

She didn’t have time to parse through the details before there was an urgent knock at the door. She knew if she took too long to answer then Beth would just get more suspicious so she was wrenching the door open and schooling her expression before she opened the door to face three very worried women.

“Oh my god, are you okay?” Beth said, storming in and running her hands all over her friend’s body. “He didn’t touch you did he?”

“He didn’t hurt me, Beth, really,” she said reassuringly. Half-truth.

“Did he shake you down, like us?” Annie said derisively. She wondered how his “conversation” with them went down.

“I mean, yeah, pretty much,” she said shakily, hoping they’d put it down to residual shock. “I didn’t spend any of the money so it went down pretty easy.”

“God, I can’t believe you had to go through that, be with him alone!” Ruby interjected.

“Yeah, well. I’m okay, guys,” she said, praying that they would drop it.

“So, what?” Beth spoke up suddenly. “You gave back the money and that was it?”

“Uh, no, of course not!” she said. “I still have to pay off the interest but he’s, uh, he’s cutting me some slack because I didn’t spend the money. He’ll collect once, maybe twice a month.”

Beth just looked at you for a moment before nodding and looking down. She tried not to sag with relief.

“Can you manage that?” Ruby asked, her brows furrowed and her lower lip quivering slightly the way it always did when she didn’t like the sound of something.

“Yeah, totally. I wasn’t in as much of a bad spot. I just didn’t want you guys to do- to do it alone, you know?” she explained. “I can always pick up more commissions. Get more of those logo clients I hate.”

“Don’t try and be a hero, okay?” Annie pressed. “If you need us, we’ll make a plan.”

“Guys, it’s fine! Let’s not make this any worse than it is.” She said putting a hand on Annie’s and Ruby’s shoulders. “If anything, I should be the one offering to help you guys! Beth, your mortgage. Annie, your custody lawyer. Ruby, Sarah’s pills.”

“Do we need to talk about you mattering as much as the rest of us again or are you gonna shut up?” Annie asked teasingly, a small smile playing on her face.

“You shut up,” she mumbled playfully, shoving Annie good-naturedly.

“You sure you’re okay?” Annie asked seriously.

“I’m fine. It’s all fine.” She said firmly.

“You wanna go get lunch with us then? I think we all use some food and a few stiff drinks, am I right?” Annie offered.

“No, I’m pretty tired. It’s been… one heck of a day,” she said on a long exhale. That was a full-truth.

“Alright, we’ll leave you to it then,” Ruby acquiesced, already heading for the door.

“Don’t be a stranger,” Annie said following Ruby.

They left the room and she was alone with Beth. Beth was still looking down at her black high-heeled boots.

“He comes by again,” she said still looking at her shoes. “You’ll tell me.”

It wasn’t a question and she was torn between admiration and fear that Beth somehow knew about the deal she had cut with him.

“Of course,” she answered anyway.

“Take care, okay?” Beth said, tone warm, walking towards her and wrapping her in a hug.

“I will, Beth,” she said, hoping that she hadn’t made a huge mistake. “I will.”

Chapter Text

She flopped down on her bed and contemplated when her life became a Netflix drama.

She could always tell him when he came to… collect, that she didn’t want to do that. That she would just give him the cash. She could.

But she had no way of getting that money! It wasn’t like freelance graphic designers were exactly rolling in cash. She didn’t know how much “interest” was but she knew she couldn’t afford it.

She brought her hands up to her neck where she could still feel the ghost of his fingers.

It’s not that she didn’t want to.

God, she wanted to.

But what kind of person would she be to willingly and literally get into bed with the mob?

But he was so hot!

She ground the heels of her palms into her eyes and let out a soft, frustrated cry. What was wrong with her? How on earth could she be so attracted to a man so obviously dangerous? She knew that some of her… proclivities were rather unconventional but this takes the cake.

Whatever.

Whatever.

She would do what she needed to do, to protect herself, to protect her friends and she would survive.

Heck, maybe she could do Krav Maga or something. Find a way to defend herself from him. Because she knew. She knew that a man like him could do awful things to a woman like her.

Maybe you want him to do awful things to you.

Nope. She wasn’t thinking about that.

Resolved she pulled a fleece blanket over herself, put on another playlist and made the second executive decision of that day, she was going to take a well-deserved nap.

Warm and slightly less stressed out, sleep took her

 

*-*

 

She woke up about three hours later, according to her bedside clock, to the feeling of being watched.

Feeling too hot and disoriented, the dark of her room only added to her confusion.

“Now baby girl, this isn’t the welcome I was expecting.”

She shot up so fast that she was dizzy, turning towards the source of the voice, a shadow in the doorway of her bedroom.

The shadow slowly reached out a hand and flipped the light switch, bathing the room in light and causing her to bring a hand up to shield her eyes.

Once her eyes adjusted to the light and she faced him, she found herself frozen, a deer in the headlights. She certainly felt like prey under his gaze.

“Come on, baby,” he drawled. “Don’t look so surprised. You knew I’d come back.”

She opened her mouth to speak but no words came out, her tongue suddenly bone-dry.

“Don’t be shy, baby girl. We’ll be getting to know each other pretty well after all.” He chuckled.

“I- I wasn’t expecting you so soon,” she whispered, still finding her voice.

“Well, why not?” he asked as though genuinely curious. He took a few steps in the room and she scooted up her bed, feeling cornered.

“I thought you’d be busy or something,” she said still quiet, avoiding his eyes. “That you might have something better to do.”

“Oh, baby, there’s no-one else I’d rather be doing,” he said smoothly, smirking down at her.

She didn’t know what to say to that so she just sat there, legs crossed, fiddling with her blanket.

“Why you so nervous, baby girl?”

“I just- I just don’t do this. Very often.” She stammered.

“Cut deals like this with guys like me?” he asked chuckling slightly.

“Yes. I mean, no. I mean, I’ve never done this before,” she said, wanting the ground to completely swallow her.

“Oh,” he said, an eyebrow raising and his mouth retaining the shape of the word. “You a virgin?”

She brought the blanket to her chest as though it was a shield and she was certain this would be the deal-breaker.

“Basically. I’ve only done it once. That relationship,” she said sneering slightly. “Didn’t last. I haven’t really wanted to since.”

He was quiet for a few moments and she waited for him to tell her to get him his money. Had she been looking up she would have seen his smirk widen.

“I’m gon have so much fun breaking you in, baby,” he whispered and she looked up in alarm to find him rubbing his jaw with a finger as though imagining the possibilities.

“You- You still want me?” she couldn’t help asking, hopelessly confused.

“I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t,” he said quirking a dark eyebrow.

“Oh,” she said dumbly, the room grows quiet.

“I think I’m done talking,” he said taking a step towards the bed.

“Wait,” she said, stopping him in his tracks at the foot of the bed. “I don’t even know your name.”

“Is that important?” he asked huffing.

“Yeah. Yeah kinda.”

“Alright my names are Daddy, Papi or Sir,” he said, brooking no room for argument, only raising an eyebrow, daring her to fight him.

“Oh- Okay,” she stammered, looking down again. “Don’t you wanna know my name?”

He laughed like she said something funny. “I already know, yo.”

“Oh.” Of course, he would.

“Come here,” he said still chuckling slightly.

She started to scoot to the side of the bed but he stopped her.

“Uh uh,” he said, biting his bottom lip slightly. “Crawl to me.”

“Wha- What?”

“I said,” he said smirk vanishing. “Crawl.”

Shaking slightly, she started to crawl slowly to him.

“Yeah, that’s right,” he husked in approval. “Swing those hips for daddy.”

She obliged him and she found herself buzzing with the beginnings of arousal at exposing herself to him like him. She reached the foot of her queen-sized and knelt there, awaiting his next instructions.

He looked at her, eyebrow still raised, letting her squirm in the stillness of the room.

“Come stand in front of me,” he finally said and she rushed to comply. They stood across from each other and she subconsciously took a step back when she found herself mere inches away from him.

“Come closer. I don’t wanna punish you baby girl.”

She returned to her place, eyes still on the ground and she noticed that she was close enough to smell him. He smelled like coffee and bourbon and something altogether masculine.

They stood there for a moment, him crowding into her space, her breathing him in before he suddenly cradled her face in one hand and kissed her gently, much to her surprise.

He kissed her with growing insistence, asserting his dominance and she found herself sighing into the kiss and he looped a strong arm around her waist and pulled her flush against his body.

He nipped and bit her lips before kissing his way along her jaw and down her neck, sucking and biting hickies into the side of her neck and shoulder, high pitched pants and whines escaping her mouth, and she felt herself become unbearably wet.

He spun her in his arms and held one of her breasts firmly in his hand, her nipple pebbling between his fingers. Dizzy with desire, she was panting as his other hand snaked down into the front of her shorts and into her underwear. Kissing her neck again, his fingers rubbed along her wet folds and she was lost in the competing sensations from her breast and between her legs.

Now she was panting out high pitched whines and moans, her head falling back against his chest and she felt an insistent pressure against her ass and that racketed her arousal even higher, and she knew she had to be dripping onto his fingers.

“Come on, baby girl. You can be as loud as you want to.”

He slipped two fingers inside her and she jerked in his grasp, moaning at the intrusion yet feeling still to empty. He thrust leisurely into her with his fingers, making her burn hotter but not giving her enough to come.

“Please, please, please, please,” she mumbled sounding almost drunk.

“Please what?” he asked his voice even lower in his arousal. “Tell me what you want.”

“Please, daddy,” she begged breathlessly.

“I’m waiting, baby girl,” he said moving his fingers to circle her clit. “Ask and you will receive.”

Her eyes rolled back and she caved. “Fuck me, daddy, please,” she whined.

It was like she unleashed a beast inside him. He pushed her onto the bed and pushed her face into her pillows before pulling her hips and leaving her on her knees. He roughly wrenched her shorts and panties down and through the haze of arousal, she felt a little embarrassed at how she must look.

She felt a hand rub her ass gently and she sighed and pushed back into the touch. He hummed in approval again before smacking her ass, drawing a moan out of her.

“You like that?” he growled.

She nodded wordlessly, far from thinking straight at this point.

“I asked you a question,” he said bringing his hand down harder on her ass.

“Yes, Papi, I like it,” she moaned. “Please hit me more.”

He moaned low and far back in his throat, spanking her again and massaging the tender flesh. “My little whore likes it, huh?”

“Yes, daddy, yes, yes, yes,” she responded feeling like she was hearing herself from underwater.

“Does my little slut want this dick?” he said lining up with her opening.

“Oh, Papi, yes, I want it so, so bad. Please, please.”

And that was all he needed to hear before he thrust into her roughly, drawing out a moan that sounded more like a scream. He didn’t pause to allow her to adjust before grabbing her hips in a grip that would definitely leave bruises and pulling her back roughly onto his cock.

She scrambled to grip her beddings, trying ground herself and endure the punishing pace that he set, the sensation reverberating from her pussy to her toes.

She eventually found herself pushing back against him, her eyes watering and a steady stream of cries and incoherent words flowing from her now swollen lips.

“Shit, this pussy real wet huh?” he grunted. “Is that for me?”

“Uh-huh, it’s for you daddy,” she whimpered, the words almost punched out of her by his thrusts.

“Whose pussy is this?” he growled, burying a hand in her braids and gripping firmly, drawing another whimper.

“I asked you whose pussy is this?” he growled threateningly, pulling her head back by her braids, causing her back to arch.

He never stopped thrusting and the new angle was hitting a spot in her that she didn’t know existed and at this point, she would have answered any questions he had.

“It’s your pussy, daddy,” she sobbed. “It’s yours.”

“Damn straight,” he growled. “Ain’t nobody gon hit it like me.”

He thrust impossibly faster into her heat but he didn’t tire, the only noises he made being growls and grunts. She felt her orgasm come closer and closer, her walls fluttering around him and her gasps and moans somehow growing higher.

“Daddy, I’m gonna come, I’m gonna come, Papi, please can I come?” she begged.

Covering her back with his body, he released her hair and brought his hand to her clit, circling it roughly.

“Come on, baby. Come on this dick,” he whispered roughly into her ear.

And that’s all she needed. Her orgasm overtaking her, a strange litany of ‘daddy’s falling from her lips and her toes curling almost painfully. She couldn’t rest though as his thrusting had not slowed through her orgasm. She felt him twitching inside her and she knew he was close though.

“I’m gon come in this pussy,” he grunted.

“Come inside me, daddy,” she whimpered, her arousal reigniting at the thought.

He gave a few rough thrusts and she felt him swell and twitch inside her before flooding her with his warm spend and she moaned at the feeling. He stayed hard inside her for a few moments, stilling inside her while he caught his breath before pulling out and they both collapsed on the bed.

She rolled over closer to him, leaving some space in case he turned away but he pulled her close and she cuddled up into his side, her head resting on his arm, her eyes closed and her body sore but sated. They were quiet for a while, the only sound in the room, their slightly laboured breathing and she fell asleep to the sound.

“That’s my good girl."

Chapter Text

She woke up feeling sore in all kinds of interesting places.

Blinking crusty eyes open slowly, she steadily became aware that her music was still playing and she was naked save for her tank top and her shorts which were bunched around her knees and she was, blessedly, alone in the room. Her speaker was sweetly singing Look What You Started by The Internet, an ironic soundtrack to the production of her life.

Now you should ask yourself (hey)

Was- was it worth it?

She didn’t really expect him to stay after all. What was he gonna do? Cuddle and then make her breakfast in bed? He didn’t really seem like the type. She couldn’t help feeling a little dirty knowing that he came and went without a backwards glance.

You know what you did

Look what you started

What’s going through your head?

Are you sorry?

There’s nothing left to say, say, say, say, say

Deciding to ignore the song that seemed to be mocking her, she gingerly got out of bed and headed for the shower, shucking her clothes along the way and trying to ignore the tell-tale drip of cum down the inside of her thigh.

Thank God for birth control.

Depositing herself under the spray she closed her eyes and tried to grapple for some sense of normalcy. Some sense that nothing had changed.

But everything had changed.

This was the first time but she was smart enough to know it wasn’t the last. And she was smart enough not to pretend like she wasn’t looking forward to the next time. The next time he’d come back. The next time he would make her his. The next time she wouldn’t be able to think about anything except him.

There was something freeing about it. Not having to think about anything. To have someone be in charge for once.

So sue her. She was looking forward to the next time he would come back.

Until then, she would try and go on as normal.

Climbing out of the shower and wrapping a towel around herself, she stood in front of the mirror and her introspection was cut short when she saw the bruises that littered her neck and shoulders.

Fuck me! Oh wait, he did.

How was she supposed to go out like this? There was no excuse for that. Oh, that? I had an unfortunate run-in with a vampire. No biggie.

A thought ran into her mind suddenly.

Tentatively opening her towel, she saw exactly what she had been expecting. Two bruises, on either hip.

 

Don't know what you're going through

You blame it on your problems but it's no excuse

(It's no excuse)

You can't keep playing innocent, I know the truth

I know that you're crazy, I know all your crazy (Yeah, yeah)

 

Good thing she wasn’t the swimsuit type.

Her neck was a different story, however. Thankfully, she worked from home. The problems would only arise if the girls decided to pay her a visit.

Her phone interrupted her inspection and she knew some deity had to be pulling some trick on her because it was Annie. For fuck’s sake. She had to answer before they got suspicious.

“Hey, Annie. Everything okay?”

“I need you to come to Beth’s house,” Annie rushed out, zero preambles.

“What? Why?”

“I’ll explain when you get here! Just- Just come over, okay?” And Annie had hung up on her.

She sighed to the empty bedroom.

She did have a black turtleneck that she’d been waiting to wear.

 

There's nothing left to say (say, say, say, say)

There's nothing left to say (say, say, say, say)

 

**

 

“What am I even looking at right now?!” Ruby shouts. Boomer giving a muffled scream as he squirmed on the floor

Honestly, she didn’t know what she was looking at either. Well, she knew it was Boomer, hog-tied in Beth’s tree-house. She just didn’t understand why.

“He knows about the store,” Annie said tiredly.

“He was going to the cops,” Beth added.

“Does he know about the gang too?” Ruby asked worriedly.

“Hell no that’s way above his pay grade. He’s like the definition of middle-management,” Annie snarked. “Oh, and he also tried to rape me!”

“What?” Ruby asked horrified.

“That is absolutely true,” Beth said.

She wordlessly strode into Beth’s kitchen, unsheathing a knife and attempting to stride back outside before Ruby moved bodily in front of her.

“No, let her,” Annie encouraged. “He’s a dick and rapist!”

“It was self-defence,” Beth said, trying to get the conversation back on track.

“Self-defense?” Ruby asked, seemingly calm. “How is hog-tying a man and climbing him 12 feet above the earth and hiding him in a treehouse self-defence?” Ruby asked incredulously

Beth merely gaped in silence.

“Okay, you know what? You weren’t there,” Annie said defensively

“You’re damn right I wasn’t there!” Ruby exclaimed

“We are feeding him,” Beth said reasonably.

“Okay, well, you know,” Ruby said sarcastically.

“What else were we supposed to do? If he goes to the cops we’re screwed!” Annie yells.

“No! We’re screwed because of the gang that is going to kill us if we don’t get them their money!” Ruby yelled back.

She felt guilty, watching them argue like this. She got off easy. She literally got off. Maybe she could convince him. Use her feminine wiles to buy them some more time at least. Or she could give them her savings. These were their lives she was talking about.

“She’s right, first things first,” Beth said reasonably.

“All right. Well, I make $9 an hour so just give me a couple of decades,” Annie said derisively.

“Okay. Who do we know?” Beth said reasonably.

“To rob?” Annie asked.

“To ask for money, Annie,” Ruby said exasperated.

“Somebody rich who would care if I was dead?” Annie scoffed. “I wish.”

They all exchanged a silent look.

“What?” Annie asked puzzled.

Ruby just leaned forward while Beth crossed her arms, both of them looking at Annie expectantly

“Who?” Annie asked, looking annoyed. It seemed to dawn on her suddenly.

“No,” she said definitively.

“What do you mean ‘no’?” Ruby asked angrily

“I mean, no,” Annie said firmly. “No. No. No!”

“Annie! Beth shouted, sounding stern. “This is life or death.”

“I choose death,” Annie said, looking around at them. “Give me death!”

**

After Annie left for her ex’s house and Ruby had left, she stayed back. Going back into the kitchen to put back the knife she still very much wanted to use.

She also wanted to run something by Beth because she knew that Annie and Ruby would refuse immediately, insisting that she was too young to get involved in their money troubles.

But their lives were on the line!

So she had to talk to Beth. Because she was smart, capable Beth. She was pragmatic Beth.

“Hey, Beth,” she said a little nervously.

“What’s up?” Beth asked, not turning away from the dishes she was washing.

She went over to help Beth dry and pack the dishes, knowing Beth would need help with the house, given that Dean had (rightfully) been kicked out of the house. God. A failing marriage and a gang breathing down her neck. Beth didn’t deserve this.

“How are you holding up?” she asked.

“We’ll figure something out,” Beth sighed. “We always do.”

“I don’t mean just that, Beth,” she said carefully.

Beth let her hands sit in the water for a moment, heaving a great sigh. “I’m just glad that I don’t have to see him every day.

“I can’t help but ask why, you know?” Beth said, her voice flat and lips pursed. “Was I not good enough?”

“The thing about a selfish act like cheating is that they never think about you. They only think about themselves and deal you to deal with the wreckage. This isn’t on you, Beth,” she said firmly.

“This whole mess is on me, though,” Beth said sardonically.

“We all agreed that we were gonna do this,” she insisted. “Besides no one told Da- no one told Dean not to tell you about the mortgage. No one told gang friend to be… you know. A dangerous gangster.” She finished lamely. Hoping Beth wouldn’t ask what she meant to say.

Beth was just quiet for a while still not meeting her eyes, before she cracked a small smile.

“Gang friend, huh?” Beth laughed.

“Annie’s rubbing off on me,” she laughed.

They stood there breathing in the levity of the moment before she decided to broach the topic with Beth.

“Hey, I think I have like five grand in savings. If I sold my Mac desktop-“

“Absolutely not,” Beth said firmly, sighing. “I said we’ll handle it.”

“But I-“

“I said no,” Beth all but growled.

They were quiet again, Beth sighing into the silence and tension.

“I’m just worried about you guys,” she whispered pleadingly to Beth.

Beth kept silent.

“Nothing is gonna happen to us,” Beth said, determined. “Not if I have anything to say about it.”

She returned to her washing with renewed vigour and she knew there was nothing she could say to convince Beth.

“Why are you wearing that god-awful turtleneck by the way?”

Chapter Text

After plying Beth with excuses about her “god-awful” turtleneck, being herded out of the house with a lasagna that Beth always seemed to have on hand for her, and a stern reminder to call Beth if he came by her house again, she found herself staring into her microwave.

It was dark then, the only light in the kitchen was the orange glow of the microwave and the only sound its droll hum and her periodic sighs.

She hadn’t heard from any of them since she left Beth’s house. She didn’t know if Annie had managed to get the money from Greg. She didn’t know if he’d been to see them. She didn’t know what they were doing to get the money or if they even could do anything if Annie failed.

Checking her phone again, she saw that every single one of her 6 messages to their group chat had gone unanswered. What could they possibly be doing?

It’s not like they could rob another grocery story, right?

Watching the cheese on the lasagna bubble, she knew they most definitely could.

Her worry gave way to frustration at the thought.

They were always treating her like a kid. She knew it was because they didn’t want to endanger her or make her worry and she knew it came with the territory of being the youngest. A small, petty, hurt part of her couldn’t help but feel like it was because they didn’t think she was capable of doing it. Capable of doing anything really.

Well, she was still an adult. Just like the rest of them! And she was tired of being kept out the loop “for her own good.” How could she have their backs if they never told her anything? They could be lying dead in a ditch for all she knew!

She choked out a sob just as her microwave dinged and plunged the room into darkness. The sudden silence all-encompassing. She braced herself against the counter with one hand, her skin taut on her knuckles, her other hand trying to stop another sob from spilling out of her mouth.

Suddenly, there were two strong hands on her waist, pulling her back against a firm chest and she gasped before realizing who it could be.

She was spun around in his arms and she kept her eyes down for a moment trying to hide any traces of her near-breakdown before she looked up at him expectantly.

He fixed her with a lascivious smirk but he studied her face before his expression became incredulous and his eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

“Ey, what’s wrong?” he asked. She was a little disconcerted by the question, not expecting him to care.

“Nothing,” she said breezily. “What do you wanna do?” she asked attempting to sound seductive.

He smiled at her indulgently, the way one might smile at a naïve child, “You can’t lie to me, princess.”

She thought about trying to lie again but she had always been a shitty liar.

“Can I ask you something?” she said tentatively.

“Aight,” he conceded, squeezing her hips.

“Did- Did my friends pay you back?”

“Nah,” he chuckled wryly and her blood ran cold.

He must have seen her tense before he looked away and scoffed. “I didn’t do anything to em.”

“How much time did you give them?” she asked, fearful of the answer.

He looked at her, expression unreadable, lips pursed slightly, “I collect tomorrow.”

“How much?”

“60 grand,” he said simply.

She felt like the breath had been knocked out of her.

“What- What can I do?” she asked, eyes on his shoes.

“Do for what?” he asked sounding a little amused and she hated him the tiniest bit for that.

“Do to make you give them more time,” she said through gritted teeth, trying not to cry.

“I don’t know,” he said gently tipping her chin up with a finger. “What can you do?”

“This could be a… standing arrangement,” she said with more bravery than she actually felt.

“What? You think I can’t get some other bitches just like you?” he asked amused.

“First of all, ain’t nobody like me,” she said firmly, not liking the implication. “Secondly, I know the feds have to have their eyes on you. I can be your alibi. Anytime you want.

“Also,” she continued, pressing herself against him. “You can have this in any way, any time you want. You wanna tie me up, bite me, spank me black and blue, whatever! Just give them a little more time.”

He looked at her for a while and she feared he would say no and leave her in her kitchen alone, humiliated. The kitchen was quiet and she was sure her lasagna was cold.

“I’ll do anything you want. I’ll be good for you,” she whispered insistently, leaning further up into his space as though she was going to kiss me.

“I think you gotta convince me,” he said staring at her lips. “Convince me you can be good for me.”

“You know I can.”

“Show. Me,” he said firmly, his hands sliding down to grip her ass firmly.

She just nodded frantically, her mouth suddenly dry.

“Uh-uh,” he chided, nosing at the side of her neck, making her legs feel like jelly. “Use your words, baby-girl.”

“I’ll show you, Papi,” she said, hating how breathless she sounded as he kissed her neck.

“Good girl,” he mumbled still kissing and nipping at her neck, drawing out a high pitched pant.

He suddenly stopped to hoist her up onto the kitchen island and she let out a moan at the display of strength. She wasn’t exactly wraith-like, so his manhandling made her blood boil even hotter.

Yanking down her tank top, he started to bite and nip at her breasts and she let out a whine. The wetness between her legs growing more insistent in her arousal. The hardness she felt against the inside of her thigh let her know she wasn’t alone.

In the haze of her arousal, she realized she had been reheating her food in her underwear, he tugged at the elastic almost absent-mindedly.

“You walking around like this for me?” He whispered into her ear, making her shiver. “Walking around like a slut for daddy?”

She whined at the degradation, a damp spot growing on the underwear. He brought to fingers to the cloth and she bucked her hips into the contact.

“So wet, already,” he husked, his fingers only ghosting over the area. “Is that for me? Hm? You all horny just for me?”

“Yes, daddy!” she panted desperately, trying to rut against his fingers but it wasn’t enough. “Please, Papi, please, please touch me.”

He brought his other hand up to open up her thighs even further and she felt open and exposed before him.

“Touch you where?” he asked quietly, squeezing her thigh. “Tell me where you want me to touch you.”

“Daddy, please,” she begged, feeling warm with arousal and embarrassment.

“You gotta tell me what you want, baby-girl,” he said still running his fingers lightly over her damp underwear.

She bit her lip and threw her head back in frustration.

“Please touch my pussy, daddy,” she said breathlessly.

He smirked and ran his fingers with growing insistence over her mound and she almost sobbed at the contact. He went back to biting at her neck and she keened at the mix of pain and pleasure.

He seemed to grow frustrated quickly with the barrier and grabbed her underwear and tore it clean off.

“Fuck,” she moaned, throwing her head back. This man couldn’t be real.

He brought his fingers straight to her clit circled it roughly, tearing a broken moan from her mouth and she brought her head to rest her head on his shoulder. He plunged his fingers into her wetness, leaving his thumb on her clit. He thrust in out of her with his fingers and she didn’t even want to think about the noises she was making.

He picked up his pace, crooking his fingers in a come-hither motion and keeping an insistent pressure on her clit. Her walls fluttering around his fingers with growing pressure. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she was so close…

But then he suddenly stopped and she whined at the loss.

“Papi, please, Papi, I’m so close,” she rambled, almost delirious.

“Come on, now,” he chided, slipping his fingers in her mouth. “Papi needs some love too, huh?”

She just nodded, eyes half-lidded, tasting herself on his fingers and growing wetter.

“So you’re gonna get on your knees for me,” he said. “Ain’t that right, princess?”

She opened her eyes slightly, feeling drunk and nodded again.

“Words, baby-girl,” he said removing his fingers from her mouth and stroking her bottom lip with his thumb.

“Yes, daddy,” she breathed out, slipping off the counter and kneeling in front of him.

She knelt before him, looking up at him and she felt like nothing existed at that moment except him. Nothing mattered except him and the next instruction.

Unzipping his jeans, he brought out his dick and her mouth watered at the sight.

He brought his other hand to rub at her lips again and she knew he must be thinking about how she looked kneeling in front of him. That he was thinking about how she would look with his cock in her mouth, her lips stretched around him.

“I’m gonna fuck this mouth,” he said huskily. “And you’re gonna like it.”

“Yes, Papi,” she whispered, her walls clenching at his dark tone.

“Open.”

She opened her mouth and she relished the feeling of the warm, weight of his length sliding into her mouth. He slid in slowly allowing her to decide when he needed to stop. When he was mostly sheathed in her mouth and she tapped his thigh, he stopped.

Then he locked eyes with her before grabbing a handful of her braids and moving her head roughly to thrust into her mouth.

He thrust mercilessly into her mouth, the head of his dick hitting the back of her throat roughly and making her eyes water uncontrollably.

But she loved it. Her mind was blessedly blank save for the feel of him in her mouth. The drag of skin against her lips and feeling drunk on the taste of him.

Oscar Wilde had been 100% right when he said love was a sacrament best-taken kneeling. Because she almost felt like it had been worth everything. Worth everything to end up here.

“Look at you,” he snarled. “A little cockslut. Mine.”

She moaned around him and he swore as he felt the vibrations.

He suddenly pulled out of her mouth and she felt woefully empty.

“Get up. Bend over the counter,” he ordered.

She did as he said almost mechanically and she found herself trembling in anticipation.

She felt him move behind her and just as she was wondering what he would do next, he brought a hand down hard on her ass, drawing a sharp gasp from her.

“You’re gonna count for me,” he said, rubbing gently over the sore area.

“Yes, Papi,” she whimpered. And brought his hand down again, squeezing the sore flesh.

“One, daddy,” she whispered.

And on he went, one spank after the other, the pain somehow making her arousal for him burn even hotter.

“Ten, daddy,” she gasped out, almost painfully aroused. “Please, please, please.”

“Please, what?” he asked, plunging his fingers into her, finding her almost dripping.

“Oh God,” she moaned wantonly.

“Please, what?” he snarled thrusting roughly into her.

“Oh God, please, please, please fuck me,” she moaned deliriously. “Please, I need it.”

He replaced his fingers with his cock and she moaned in relief, thrusting roughly into her from behind. A hand came around to grasp her throat and pull her backwards, her back arching and the change in angle drawing what sounded almost like a scream from her.

“You like that?” he grunted, voice strained. “You like this dick?”

“I love it, Papi,” she gasped.

“That’s right,” he snarled, using his other hand to tweak a nipple. “Take it.”

With every thrust, she felt the zipper of his jeans brush her ass and she realized he was mostly dressed while she was only in a tank top, pulled down to expose her breasts. The difference for whatever reason made her clench around him and she felt herself grow ever closer to her climax.

“Papi, I’m gonna come,” she whined.

“Shit, me too, princess,” he grunted. “I’m gonna come in this pussy.”

“Please, please, please,” she mumbled incoherently.

He swelled inside her and just as he flooded her with warm cum, he bit down roughly on the juncture of her neck and shoulder and she threw her head back and moaned brokenly as she came around him, causing him to twitch inside her.

As the aftershocks of her orgasm faded and gave way to unconsciousness, all she registered was kisses being peppered on her neck where he bit her and her prone form being carried to bed, a litany of praise carrying her to sleep.

 

**

She woke up disoriented and sore for the second time the next day.

Reaching for her phone, she found that it was 12 pm and that she had a couple of texts from an unknown number.

You proved yourself. Now your friends have to. 

I think I’ll keep you though, baby-girl.

Shit.

Chapter Text

 

Since she began her evening dalliances with the eponymous Gang Friend, she seemed to have developed a limp as well as a purveying sense of dread. Both of which hung about her heavily as she stumbled around her bedroom.

Shit, shit, shit, shit!

She scrambled out of bed wincing as her whole body protested at the sudden motion and her head swam. She pulled on a pair of sweats with one hand while the other frantically thumbed at her phone, trying to call the girls.

Dialing Ruby first, she swore out loud as her call went straight to voicemail. She tried again hoping for a different result but the dulcet tones of Ruby’s answering machine greeted her instead.

She then tried Annie and she was faced with the same result.

Where were they?!

What were they doing? Why weren’t they answering they’re phones? Had he already gotten to them? Oh God, she wouldn’t be able to go on without them. They were the only thing that she had close to a family. What was she supposed to do if they died?

If he killed them?

Beth.

Beth’s phone was always on. She didn’t think Beth even had known what a voicemail was. She always stayed on top of things. Because she was Beth. That’s what Beth did.

Calming down slightly, she dialled Beth. The phone rang once, then twice, a third time…

“Hello,” Beth answered, sounding tired.

“Oh my God,” she almost sobbed in relief.

“Hey, hey, what’s wrong?” Beth asked sounding more alert.

“Are you okay?” she asked ignoring Beth’s question. “You’re not hurt?”

“What? No!” Beth exclaimed sounding confused. “I mean, we had an… eventful night but we’re okay.”

She took a steadying breath. “Did you get all the money?”

Beth was silent on the other end of the line and she felt her heart drop into her stomach. The weight in the pit of her stomach enough to make her sick.

“It’s not as simple as that,” Beth started.

“I’m coming over,” she said firmly, putting on bed slippers and a hoodie, not caring about anything except being with her friends.

“You don’t need to do that,” Beth said reasonably.

She froze at Beth’s tone, keys already in hand.

“What you need to do,” Beth continued. “Is take care of yourself. No skipping meals like I know you do. I gave you that lasagna for a reason.

“You’re gonna make sure Sarah’s hair is braided properly. God knows that’s above Stan’s pay-grade. You’re gonna be there for Sadie, make sure they know they’re loved no matter what. You’re gonna make sure Dean doesn’t kill my kids and help them with their homework. You’re gonna be the amazing woman that I know you are. I love you.”

By the end of Beth’s speech, she was sobbing.

“Don’t say that,” she all but begged. “You’re gonna be around to do all that. All of that. You have to be!”

Beth sniffed. “We might not. But you’ll be okay. You’re strong and you’re kind and we’re trusting you to be there where we can’t.

“So do not, under any circumstances, come over,” Beth said firmly.

“O- Okay,” she sobbed out.

“We love you,” Beth whispered.

“I love you too,” she sobbed but Beth had hung up.

She dropped to her knees in her bedroom. Her mind a mess of emotions, grief tearing through her with painful swipes that threatened to bubble out of her in a scream.

What was she supposed to do? Sit there and wait for them to die? Accept their final wishes and just… move on? Move on knowing she sat around doing nothing while her friends were murdered by a man she foolishly pledged herself to.

She couldn’t call the cops. They were in far too deep, their hands far too messy in the thick of it.

God.

What was she supposed to do?

Before she even registered anything, she was on her feet and out the door, going where she felt she was needed.

She had to try.

**

She stood there frozen outside Beth’s door, hearing him snarl and break something. His tone was hushed but angry though she couldn’t make out what he was saying exactly.

Soon she heard things being knocked over and plates being shattered. Why would they do that? No matter how angry they were a tantrum didn’t seem in character.

Oh.

They were making it look like a robbery.

Her heart picked up its pace, thumping wildly in her chest, her breath coming out in short pants. She couldn’t just stand there.

But what could she do, really? Go in there and beg? Compassion didn’t strike her as being one of his strong suits.

The cluttering was quickly followed by what could only be described as whimpering. Annie and Ruby fearfully begging him not to do anything to them.

She sent a text to the number that she assumed was his. Please don’t do this.

She surprisingly got a text back almost immediately. It’s only business, baby-girl. You wouldn’t understand.

She tapped angrily at her phone. I understand that you’re going to murder my friends. I know I don’t mean shit to you but if you have even one ounce of human decency, you won’t do this. They have kids.

She sent another message. Besides we had a deal. They’re only short a few grand. Just let it go.

She got a short text back. I call the shots here.

Desperate, she just responded with a Please, Papi.

She received no response.

She opened the door, not allowing herself to second-guess herself and she stood shell-shocked as Beth suddenly spoke.

“You’re an idiot,” she sneered at him, where he placidly sat facing her. She became aware of the large tattooed henchman holding a gun to Beth’s head and she held her breath.

What? Are you gonna blow our brains out all over the room?” Beth asked contemptuously.

“Beth!” Annie pleaded.

“Cause that’s how it works right? Someone shorts you and they get tossed out like trash? And no one cares and no one even notices?

“Your problem this time is, that’s not us,” Beth sobbed. “We’re normal people. We pay our taxes. And we take our kids to P. F. Chang’s. And we take orange slices to soccer games.

“And when bad things happen to good people, everyone else goes crazy. It’s all over the news. And there are all these hashtags and movements. Because if it could happen to us, it could happen to anyone.

“So if you wanna invite all that attention,” the challenge clear in her voice despite her tears. “Over a few grand. Then you’re not the smart businessman you think you are.

“So roll the dice. Tell him to pull the trigger. See what happens,” Beth dared, voice shaking.

“Please,” Annie whispered brokenly.

A look was exchanged between him and his henchman and he gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head and the man lowered his gun before grabbing the money.

He got up from his seat on the couch and started to walk out of the house and he found himself face to face with her. Her expression was cold and stony.

He clenched his jaw, looking off to the side.

She scoffed and rolled her eyes, feeling disgusted with him. Disgusted with herself for giving herself to him. Disgusted by how easy it was for him to play god with people’s lives.

“I guess interest can’t buy common fucking decency,” she muttered pushing past him to get to Beth, Annie and Ruby who were sobbing and shaking with relief.

He stood there still facing away before burying his hands in his jacket pockets and stalking out of the house.

“Sweet Jesus,” Beth cried as she was wrapped in her friend’s arms.

Yeah. That sounded about right.

Chapter Text

They shuffled about the house, trying to pick up the pieces of broken crockery strewn about the floor. Their movements slow, and, sluggish and exhausted.

“This was my favourite sangria bowl,” Beth said flatly.

“Well, it could’ve been your face,” Annie retorted wryly.

Ruby trudges in with 4 shot glasses, passing her one filled with Smirnoff Spin because she knew her youngest friend didn’t like to drink unless it was sweet. She really did feel like a baby when Ruby did that. She might as well have come in with apple juice in a sippy cup. Her heart was warmed through. Warm because Ruby was alive to do it.

“L’chaim,” Ruby said tiredly to Annie, passing her a shot. “To life.”

“Dude,” Annie groaned as they all drank their shots.

“Hey,” Annie said cheerfully, holding up a small porcelain figure of a child. “Looks like we’ve got a survivor.”

“What the hell, Annie?” she chuckled incredulously.

“Oh?” Annie said with a sly smile. “Didn’t you hear? This was supposed to appease the violent gangster who was gonna kill us. These little fuckers cost a fortune, Can you believe that?”

Torn between horror at the fact that their survival hinged on a figurine and amusement at the thought of Gang Friend’s murderous rage being quelled by a porcelain figurine, sent her into a fit of hysterics. Panicked laughter bubbled up out of her throat until she was doubled over with tears streaming down her cheeks.

Annie and Ruby looked on at what was apparently a psychotic break with worried but amused expressions.

“You guys,” she panted between giggles. “Could’ve died and your only chance was a little figurine. Imagine him accepting that!”

She dissolved back into hysterical laughter and Annie and Ruby nervously chuckled and wondered if she had somehow gotten drunk off of one shot of Smirnoff Spin.

Her face then morphed between laughter and tears before crumpling fully into great, gasping, heaving sobs.

“You guys,” she cried, sinking down onto one of Beth’s dining chairs. “Could’ve died.”

Ruby and Annie instantly were around her, rubbing her back comfortingly, Beth rushing back into the room to see what the commotion was.

“You could’ve died,” she sobbed. “And there would’ve been nothing I could’ve done to protect you.”

You can’t focus on ‘what if’s,” Beth said gently. “Even if we had died, it would not have been, in any way, your fault. We just need to appreciate that we’re all here and we’re okay and we have each other. In any case, if something had happened to us, the best thing you could’ve done is to be there for our families the way you’ve always been.”

Her crying slowed but did not cease, her mind still reeling with the shock.

“Hey,” Ruby said, gripping her shoulder. “We’re okay.”

She nodded, sniffing and feeling more than a little embarrassed at her outburst.

“Besides,” Annie adds. “I’m a bad bitch you, you can’t kill me.”

“Oh my god, please don’t try and be ‘hip’ and quote vines,” she said laughing wetly. “Who even taught you that? Sadie?”

“How did you even get here in time?” Beth suddenly asked, her eyes firmly on her wet ones. “I mean, you showed up just after he got here? How did you know we were in trouble?”

She opened her mouth to fumble for an answer and she thanked whatever deity was listening for the bump that interrupted their conversation.

They all looked outside to the treehouse, fearful of what they may find there.

Wrenching open the doors of the treehouse, their fears were confirmed as they saw the treehouse was unfortunately Boomer-free.

 

**

 

“Would you go faster?” Annie demanded as they sat in the car, traversing the neighbourhood for any sight of Boomer.

“I’m going the speed limit,” Beth retorted calmly.

“Uh, are you joking!?” Annie asked incredulously.

“I am not gonna get a ticket.”

“Why? You don’t wanna mar your perfect record of armed robbery and kidnapping?”

“Annie,” Ruby admonished.

“Guys, could we not fight? We need to find this asshole,” she said tiredly from the backseat.

“He couldn’t have gotten that far his hands are tied,” Beth exclaimed.

“I don’t know,” Annie said dubiously. “I mean, remember that Gulf War vet on our block growing up? He ran marathons with both his arms blown off.”

“How is that helpful?” Beth asked, irritated.

“You brought it up,” Annie said, defensive. “Damn, that was amazing though.”

“I mean, can we just find the guy? Okay?” Beth said with exasperation.

“Yes, I’m trying okay,” Annie said.

“Then what?” Ruby asked. “We shove him back up in the treehouse, like Rapunzel?”

They were quiet for a moment, each of them scanning the street they were driving down.

“Yo! There he is,” Annie exclaimed suddenly.

Right in front of them, was Boomer, running frantically down the street with his hands still fastened behind his back.

“Run him over,” she said coldly to Beth.

“Damn girl,” Annie said, sounding almost impressed.

Annie turned her attention to back to Boomer who suddenly ran off to the side of the road where road construction appeared to have been taking place.

“Where does he think he’s going?” Annie asked confused. “Boy, this is hard to watch.”

“Oh, okay,” Ruby cringed as Boomer fell into a pit.

“Oof,” Annie said, grimacing.  “Alright, I got this.” She said getting out of the car.

“Wait!” Beth shouted. “What are you gonna do?”

“I got this,” Annie assured, walking with determination towards Boomer.

“She’s gone cut his penis off,” Ruby remarked.

 

**

One night and hostage peen in the form of a picture allegedly sent to Annie’s 11-year-old daughter later, found her once again at Beth’s house where she was putting Minions on for the kids.

“Feeling good, feeling strong, and taking requests,” Beth drawled.

“Minions!”

“TV, on. Streaming box. On. Input, one, two. Arrow up. Arrow left. Select. Select. Select.”

After successfully winning the longstanding battle with the TV, Beth cheered triumphantly with the kids as a Minion appeared on the screen.

“Where’s your brother?” Beth asked the kids.

“Outside,”

“Wanna come to help me wrangle Kenny inside or would you rather stay and partake in little, yellow men in jumpsuits,” Beth asked her teasingly.

“I’m going to have to reluctantly decline the minions, unfortunately,” she retorted chuckling.

“Come on,” Beth chuckled, walking out into the backyard.

They stepped out to hear Kenny speaking aloud.

“…jujubes and gave one half to Kyle. Kyle kept eight of the jujubes and gave the last ten to Kim. How many jujubes did Jen take from Sam?”

“Thirty-six” a deep voice answered immediately, stopping the both of them in their tracks. “You know how many she’d have taken if Sam had a gun though?”

“How many?” Kenny asked curiously.

“Zero.”

“Whoa.”

“Kenny, go inside,” Beth said firmly, the slight shake betraying her.

“I don’t wanna,” Kenny whined.

“Now,” Beth said sternly.

“But you’re friend’s helping me,” Kenny whined insistently.

“Stop with the homework and go inside and watch TV. Now,” Beth shouted, pointing at the house

“Listen to mama, Kenny,” he said, his eyes fixed on Beth before flicking to her, an unreadable expression flashing across his face.

He jumped off the bench before sauntering towards them.

“You know you should really get him a tutor, right?” he said matter-of-factly.

She scoffed behind Beth and they both turned to look at her. His jaw clenching and Beth looking at her like she’d lost her mind. She looked away.

“You want the rest of the money? We’ll get it.” Beth said, turning back to him.

“Nah, let’s forget all that,” He said breezily.

“Then why are you here?” Beth asked warily.

“Keep thinking about what you said,” he started. “About being a basic bitch and whatnot.”

He almost murdered her and that’s what he has to say. She huffed again and this time when he looked at her looking almost pained if she didn’t know better, she held his gaze with a steely one of her own.

“That’s not exactly what I said,” Beth said wryly, regaining his attention.

“Maybe there’s something you could help me out with,” he said cryptically.

“What’s that?” Beth asked, still wary.

“You ladies got passports?” he asked smirking.

“Why?” Beth asked, squinting at him.

“I want you ladies to pick up some packages for me,” he said.

“From where?” Beth asked, pushing for answers.

“Canada.”

“What is it?”

“It’s better if you don’t know,” he said, putting his hands in his pockets.

Beth was quiet for a moment, digesting the information. Beth looked at her before asking:

“And if we refuse?” Beth asked defiantly.

“Well,” he drawled. “I’d hate to drop in with my boys again. What if the kids are home?”

Fear, anger, and disgust roiled within her poisonously, threatening to spill out in a torrent of swears and futile violence. He’d probably shoot her before she got too close. But for him to threaten children…

Thinking rationally, he was probably just trying to manipulate Beth into doing what he wanted. They couldn’t afford to call his bluff though.

“Fine,” Beth agreed, swallowing thickly, as though swallowing vitriol she wanted to hurl at him.

“Alright,” he said airily. “I’ll be seeing you real soon.”

He said this looking past Beth at her, holding her gaze meaningfully before walking off and disappearing.

She felt like a war was being waged within her, her heart bloodied and bruised in a seemingly endless internal conflict.

Because she wanted to see him. She felt a stab of hunger from him and even here, here having him threaten and coerce, she felt nourishment at the sight of him.

“What the fuck was that?” Beth demanded, facing her.

What, indeed.

Chapter Text

Beth stared at her expectantly, her face flushed in anger.

“Well?” Beth demanded. “What the hell was that?”

Play dumb she thought.

“What was what?” she asked innocently. Beth’s expression turned thunderous. Whoops, too dumb.

“Why were you mouthing off at the violent gangster?!” Beth shouted. “Are you trying to get yourself killed?”

“I didn’t even say anything!” she cried defensively. “Besides. I’m not afraid of him.”

“Well, maybe you should be!” Beth said, her voice edging on desperation.

She just looked away, her jaw clenching. Because she knew Beth was right but she was just… so angry.

“Also,” Beth piped up. “What does ‘I’ll be seeing you real soon’ even mean? Was that a threat?”

She scoffed. “He’s not gonna hurt me.”

“How can you be so sure?” Beth asked, exasperated.

Because then she would be right about him and he always had to have the last word. She didn’t say that to Beth though, refusing to open that particular can of worms.

“I just know.” She said shrugging. “There isn’t any money in that.”

“I know you’re upset that he almost hurt us,” Beth started, ignoring her answering scoff. Upset doesn’t cover it. “But you can’t be so reckless!”

He couldn’t hurt her any more than he already had.

“I’m sorry, Beth,” she mumbled.

Beth regarded her silently, searching her face for the truth before she sighed and walked back inside to check on the kids.

 **

After spending the day with Beth and the kids, she trudged back into her home, feeling like she’d been hit by a truck both physically and emotionally.

It was dark when she stepped into her house, the only thing on her mind the soft give of her bed. She was suddenly alert as she stepped into her living rooms and found that her living room light was on and she knew that she hadn’t left it on. She tensed, wondering if she should just leave and call the cops.

But then she knew exactly who it was.

She sighed and walked into her living room and she found him there, becoming well acquainted with her Netflix account, his arms stretched out across the back of her couch. She stood there, a hip cocked out, her expression impassive.

He turned to face her, a small smile playing across his lips.

“You know,” he started. “I didn’t pin you for the Asian soap-opera type.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes, turning to walk away from him. “I’m going to bed. Feel free to mooch off my Netflix.”

“You still mad?” he asked, sounding exasperated.

She froze, tense and held taut as a pulled bowstring.

“Mad?” she asked in a measured tone. “Why the hell would I be mad?’

“Listen, I-“

“No, you are gonna listen!” she snarled, turning to face him. “You don’t get to tell me how long I can be upset that my friends, my family, were almost fucking murdered.”

She sighed, the fight suddenly leaving her. He got up and walked over to stand in front of her.

“Whatever. You’re practically a stranger. What do you care?” she said turning to leave again.

“Rio.”

“What?”

“My name. It’s Rio.”

“Okay, what’s your point?” she asked, shaking her head incredulously.

“I’m not a stranger now, am I?” he said smirking.

They stood there, watching each other for a bit.

“You still threatened to kill my friends and their kids if they didn’t bring your stuff in from Canada,” she reminded him. “Am I supposed to forgive that?”

“I’m not gonna do anything to them,” he said softly. “I just gotta square things off or else these motherfuckers think I’m easy.”

“So you lied to get Beth to do what you wanted?”

“That’s what they call a necessary evil, sweetheart,” he said sounding almost contrite.

“Explain your boy holding a gun to Beth’s head then,” she asked, irritated.

“I said your friends had to prove themselves,” he said, shrugging. “They did.”

“You traumatized my friends on a bluff,” she said flatly.

“I don't know what you want me to say, baby,” he said, looking down at her.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe ‘sorry’?” she said sarcastically. “Why don’t you tell me that you’re sorry?”

He stared down at her, his arms crossed, his expression a mix of amusement and confusion.

“You’ve never had to apologize for a thing in your whole goddamn gang-life, have you?” she whispered in wonder.

He scoffed and turned away, his jaw working as he tried to maintain his smirk. That told her all she needed to know.

“I’m going to bed,” she said. “Come back when you’re ready to apologize. Or don’t. If it’s the latter, I hope you’re on good terms with your hand.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked.

“You know exactly what that means.” She said smirking at him as she moved closer to him. “A smart guy like you. Solving math problems about jujubes like a pro.”

“Come on, baby-girl,” he goaded trying to put his arms around her.

“Ah, ah, ah,” she chided mockingly. “You have my terms. Goodnight.”

He huffed as she turned away from him, knowing that this was a losing battle and to quit while the embers of her anger grew cold.

She walked away from him, feeling more powerful than she could have ever felt.

Hell hath no fury.

Chapter Text

Don’t get her wrong, she was still mad as hell. She just didn’t feel as inclined to rip his eyes out as she was. She figured he was bluffing but fear translates very well into rage.

She was still stewing in her simmering anger when he showed up the next day, in the morning as she sat down at her Mac with a cup of tea to work, him in one of her armchairs, watching passively.

She set to work, her mind on nothing but pen tools, layer effects and colour harmony. Throughout it though, she could feel his eyes on her and she had to admit it was distracting. She tried to focus, lose herself in clicking and swiping at her tablet but she was making mistakes with every swipe and having to undo every move. This wasn’t working.

“Don’t you have anything better to do?” she asked flatly.

“Not really,” Rio said, smirking.

“Well, I have work to do so you’re gonna have to entertain yourself by doing something other than staring a hole into my skull,” she snarked, taking a sip of her tea.

“What do you do?” he asked, ignoring her.

She heaved a dramatic put-upon sigh. “If you must know, I’m a freelance graphic designer.”

“So what? You draw and shit?” he asked, looking a little confused.

She snorted, amused despite herself. “Yeah, I draw. Among other things.”

“Like what?”

“Do you think pestering me is going to stop me from being pissed at you?” she said levelling him with a calm stare.

“Come on, baby,” he drawled smirking. “Humour me.”

“First of all, stop calling me that. I’m not your ‘baby’ until further notice,” He huffed and looked away. “Second of all, fine. I do logo design, video editing, posters, brand guidance, you name it. Anything ‘artsy’ a business needs, I do. And a little marketing”

“Alright Picasso,” he chuckled.

“Will you leave me alone now or can I do my job?” she asked stifling a smile. She was still mad.

“How come you don’t work in some fancy-ass office?” he asked ignoring her question.

“I did for a while. It was… It left a lot to be desired. I don’t like being told what to do,” she shrugged. “Also I hate early mornings.”

You don’t like being told what to do, baby-girl?” he asked laughing incredulously.

“I let you tell me what to do,” she drawled. “I only like being told what to do in highly… specific situations.”

“Alright, alright,” he laughed, sounding like he didn’t quite believe her.

“Can I please work now?” she asked exasperated. “You don’t pay these bills.”

“I could, if you wanted, baby,” he said with a smile, his gaze heavy-lidded. “I can take care of you.”

“Money won’t make me forgive you,” she spat, irritation colouring her voice. “Besides, I can take care of myself, thank you very much.”

He sighed and tipped his head back. “What do I need to do? Hm? Tell me.”

“I need you to respect me enough to apologize,” she sighed. “Otherwise, we can’t do this. I can’t do this.”

He clenched his jaw but remained silent.

“I need to work. You’re welcome to stay but I have nothing else to say to you.”

He left wordlessly and she wished that it didn’t hurt as much as it did.

**

Surprisingly Rio returned the next day, on her self-appointed day off.

He found her curled up on the sofa, a soup mug of hot chocolate in hand, and a Korean drama on the TV that she would deny liking until the day she died.

“Welcome back,” she said wryly, not taking her eyes off the TV screen.

He huffed but he was smiling and he took a seat next to her at a respectable distance.

“Do you really have nothing you should be doing?” she asked, legitimately confused as to why he was there.

“Don’t you have stuff you should be doing, Miss I-Don’t-Like-Being-Told-What-To-Do?” he retorted.

“I’m taking a personal day. I’ve had a rough few days,” she sniped.

He sighed. “I’m not tryna fight with you.”

“What are you doing here then?” she asked genuinely.

“Maybe I just wanted to see you,” he said turning to face her, an eyebrow raised.

She levelled him with a sceptical look.

“What?” He chuckled.

“I thought you had loads of other bitches just like me,” she deadpanned.

He laughed somewhat awkwardly.

“Yeah,” he drawled. “I take that back. None of them are like you. Like. At all.

“Why do I feel slightly insulted by that?” she asked squinting at him.

“Nah, nah,” he started. “You’re…different. In a good way.”

“You calling me weird, Rio?” she teased.

“Yeah, a little bit,” he conceded.

“The audacity,” she said smiling slightly. “For real though. What do you want?”

“I told you,” he smirked. “I wanted to see you.”

“Because I’m weird.”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

She mulled it over in her mind and she drew up blanks. She was well and truly stumped and she didn’t know how to respond to that.

“Look,” he started. “I just like how I don’t gotta act a certain way or think about all my shit around you. You don’t want anything from me. You’re kinda crazy but I dig it. It’s… refreshing.”

“Well, that was swee-“

“Also the pussy is too good.”

“And the moment is ruined,” she sighed. “I’m still mad at you.”

“I know,” he said. “And I’m sorry.”

“Wha- What?”

“I’m sorry,” Rio said firmly, holding her gaze. “It’s real easy to act some type of way when you do this shit but what I did was wrong and I’m sorry I scared you and your friends.”

“Are you just saying that so you can hit?” she asked insecurely.

“Nah, I’m being for real,” he insisted. “I thought about it and what I did was fucked up. You have every right to be pissed off.”

“Thank you,” she said sincerely. “I mean, it’s gonna take me some time to not want to kill you a little but I appreciate the apology.”

He just looked away and nodded and she noticed that he was a very solemn person when he thought nobody was looking. He seemed genuine but he also seemed tired. Like he had suddenly become aware of a great weight. It reminded her of a Florence and the Machine song.

And oh, poor Atlas

The world's a beast of a burden

You've been holding on a long time.

“Hey,” she said breaking the heavy moment. “Wanna order pizza? You know. To celebrate me no longer plotting your untimely demise.”

She’d never been happier to see that trademark smirk.

Chapter Text

If she was being totally honest with herself, it was kinda fucked up that she forgave a man for holding her friends at gunpoint, but she supposed that such was life.

He continued to visit her up until the day that the girls were scheduled to leave for Canada. For reasons that she pretended not to know, he decided that he didn’t want her to accompany them and he told Beth as much. While Beth was uncomfortable with leaving her alone in the city with Rio, she figured, rather intelligently, that she didn’t have much choice in the matter.

So she sat at her work-desk, still reeling with the talk she had with the girls, largely consisting of drugs taking up residence in various unmentionable orifices. That was Annie for you. An imagination as quick as her mouth, both lacking reigns that were perhaps sorely needed. She wouldn’t have her any other way.

Her train of thought was interrupted by Rio sauntering into the room as though he lived there. In a way, he did, considering he spent, what she assumed, was half his time there, eating her food and binge-watching stupid shows on her Netflix account.

“How do you keep getting in here? You never knock, you just fucking materialize like some kind of spirit,” she remarked.

“I have a key,” he chuckled, flopping down onto the couch.

She was silent for a while.

“You have a key,” she repeated.

“Yeah,” he said absently, already flicking through her Netflix to continue his show.

“So am I just supposed to be cool with the fact that you have a key to my house when I did not give you the key in question?” she asked turning in her office chair to face him.

“Uh, yeah, pretty much,” he smirked.

She was silent for another moment.

“You’re a lunatic, you know that?” she deadpanned.

“Oh, is that so?” he asked slyly. “How so?”

“Well, most people only move into people’s houses after some dates and maybe, you know, talking to each other about it!”

“So what? You want me to take you on a date?” he chuckled.

“I didn’t say that. I was being snide,” she pouted.

“If you want me to take you on a date, all you have to do is ask,” he said raising an eyebrow and smiling.

“First of all, you are supposed to ask me on the date,” she said in exasperation. “And I don’t want to go on a date with you. You haven’t wooed me enough for a date.”

He gave a full-bodied laugh at that and she tried to maintain her serious façade even though the entire conversation was ridiculous.

“I did woo you,” he said still laughing.

“Fucking and wooing aren’t the same things, Rio,” she said slowly.

His expression darkened for a moment but she made the executive decision to ignore that. She hadn’t forgiven him that much.

“Alright, I’ll bite,” he said sitting up straighter. “Will you go on a date with me?”

She tapped her chin thoughtfully and he smiled at her indulgently.

“No,” she said finally.

“Why not?” he asked somewhat indignantly.

“You haven’t wooed me!” she laughed, finally breaking. “Weren’t you listening?”

“You’re fucking crazy, you know that?” he huffed.

“Yeah,” she said cheerfully.

 

**

 

He showed up again the next day when the girls left for the Canadian border and she hoped and prayed that they hadn’t and wouldn’t do anything stupid.

Who was she kidding?

They’ve probably done at least two stupid things this morning.

He found her at her kitchen island, staring contemplatively into a mug of black tea. So focused on whatever secrets her tea held, that she didn’t notice him come in until he was next to her, leaning against the counter.

“Hello,” he drawled. “Anybody home.”

“Yes, me,” she said blinking and rolling her eyes. “And you. Again. For some reason.”

“Oh come on,” he said teasingly. “I like it here. And you like me being here.”

“I can neither confirm nor deny these allegations.”

He just chuckled and playfully shoved her shoulder with his before levelling her with an expectant look.

“What?” she asked.

“Why do you look like someone just shot your dog?” he asked.

“John Wick’s reaction was justified,” she said lamely.

“Stop changing the subject,” he said, his tone soft but firm.

She sighed deeply and she looked back into her mug before pushing the lukewarm liquid away and turning to face him fully.

“I’m just worried about them,” she admitted reluctantly.

“It’s just pick-up and drop-off,” he said reasonably.

“Yeah. Through the Canadian border,” she said her voice rising. “Last I checked, they weren’t just waving people with drugs through.”

He fell silent and she saw a contemplative look pass over his face. His jaw clenching as though he was physically chewing on the problem.

“It ain’t drugs,” he said finally, looking up at her.

She looked at him for a while, her brain going offline.

He huffed. “Drugs aren’t as lucrative of a business as you think.”

“Well,” she started, shifting in her seat. “What is it then?”

He sighed heavily, as though it was physically taxing to say the words out loud.

“It’s wrapping paper,” he said smirking wryly at her confused expression. “With money printed on the other side.”

She stared at him for a second. “Counterfeit money.”

“Yup.”

They were both silent for a while she digested this new information.

“It makes sense,” she said finally.

This time he looked at her like she had said something confusing. “It makes sense?”

“I mean, we assumed you were moving dope because, duh, gang but the whole supermarket thing puts everything in perspective. What else would a gang need a grocery store for, if not money laundering?”

He looked at her like he was seeing her for the first time like his vision was blurry and now it had cleared for him to see as she truly was.

“You’re pretty smart,” he remarked in slight awe.

“Yeah, I know,” she huffed smiling slightly. “Besides it wasn’t that big of a jump.”

“Whatever,” he huffed.

“In any case, they should be alright as long as they don’t fucking unroll the wrapping paper. Or your Canadian ‘colleagues’ don’t try to pull anything,” she said mostly to reassure herself.

“They won’t if they know what’s good for them,” he said darkly.

“Sometimes I forget that you’re all dangerous and stuff,” she mused. “It’s kinda hot.”

“Yeah?” he asked smirking and crowding her.

“Uh-uh,” she chuckled putting a hand on his chest firmly. “You’re still on the metaphorical couch.”

“Come on. You miss me, right? There,” he trailed off meaningfully, wrapping his arms around her. “I can make you feel so good, baby.”

And right then and there she almost caved. She thought about how easy it would be. How easy it had always been.

She was petty enough to resist. Resist just to fuck with him. Purely because she could.

“Hm,” she hummed, wrapping her arms loosely around his neck. “Rain check?”

He brought his head down to rest on her shoulder and gave tired half-chuckle. “You drive me crazy, you know that?”

“Yeah,” she said cheerfully.

Chapter Text

In a way, she regretted teasing him like that because it seemed like whatever want that he had been hiding, whatever desire had been simmering and stewing, had an outlet.

Perhaps he thought, with everything that with everyone and her palpable fury, he assumed that she didn’t want him anymore. Like that. That she simply put up with his home visits either out of apathy or even fear. Which obviously wasn’t the case. She enjoyed having him around, the purveying sense of mystery notwithstanding. She’d never tell Rio that though. She would never hear the end of it.

So regretted teasing him with that offhand comment because it would just be so easy to cave. If he didn’t stop then she would cave and cave quickly.

Because despite everything, she never stopped wanting him.

But she needed more than that. She needed to not feel like a hole that he kept around for convenience. She needed to feel closer to him in a way that she wasn’t sure that he was capable of allowing.

She did want to go on a date with him but that was the sentimental and naïve part of her talking. Because he was dangerous and getting close to him was to get close to danger.

But by god, she wanted.

As the day progressed, it was interspersed with seemingly innocuous touches. A hand on the small of her back, brushing her braids out of her face, running his hand down her arm and leaving goosebumps in his wake. Or he would brush up behind her in the kitchen on his way to the fridge, sit far too close to her on the couch, his side pressed firmly against hers.

He was driving her crazy.

The day seemed to drag on but as afternoon morphed into twilight and she allowed herself the small pleasure of slumping into his side and basking in his warmth and musk, he spoke up suddenly, extracting himself from the couch and felt cold at his absence.

“I gotta go,” he said sleepily, checking his phone as he usually did.

“I thought that you didn’t have anything better to do than be here,” she remarked.

“Usually, I don’t,” he laughed. “Since I can delegate and shit. But your girls should be back pretty soon and I need to oversee some shit before they get to the drop-off point.”

“Let me come with you,” she said making to get up. “I wanna see them.”

He looked at her like she had grown a second head before responding. “You can see them after the drop-off and all this shit is over.”

They stared each other for a moment, his expression firm before he raised an eyebrow in a challenge and she averted her eyes, deciding to let it go.

But then she thought about the last thing he said, about it all being over and she wondered if this is the last time she would see him. The very thought brought an overwhelming ache to her chest and she wondered incredulously when she became attached to this pseudo-stranger.

“Alright,” she finally said.

He pocketed his phone and his keys and he turned to leave before he paused mid-stride and turned back around to face her.

“I’ll be seeing you real soon, baby girl.”

**

The next day found her in a restaurant with her three best friends, annoying the daylights out of some poor, put-upon waitress who took their order without even a hint of a smile.

“Can I get you anything else?” asked the waitress flatly.

“Oh, yeah!” Annie chirped cheerfully. “We’re gonna take another round of these pineapple margaritas, please. Extra strong this time.

“We also want one of those fried onion things that have, like, the arms that stick out? You know those?”

“Nachos!” Ruby interjected loudly.

“Yes. Nachos and…the poppers. The jalapeno poppers,” Beth slurred.

“Two orders of those, please. She’s a lightweight,” Annie said happily.

“Are we celebrating today, ladies?” the waitress droned.

“Oh, I would certainly say so! Yeah,” Annie guffawed.

“Uh, yeah,” Ruby agreed.

“What’s the special occasion?” the waitress asked sounding less than amused.

“Oh, we just smuggled a bunch of counterfeit money over the Canadian border and escaped a violent street gang,” Annie said simply.

She tensed and fixed Annie with an incredulous glare but she seemed to be the only one as Beth and Ruby simply widened their eyes and giggled and the waitress remained unimpressed.

“And no drugs in our butts!” Beth announced, throwing her hands up gleefully.

“No drugs in our butts!” Cheered Annie.

“Yay! No drugs in our butts!” Beth chorused, high-fiving Annie.

She honestly couldn’t believe what she was seeing but being sober while everyone else was tipsy had that effect.

“So pretty special, huh?” the waitress asked, looking like she was considering killing them. “I’ll put that right in.”

“Thank you,” Annie squeaked obnoxiously as the waitress walked away. “Whoo, she hates us.”

“No, I think she loves us,” Beth said cheekily.

“Oh, my God how much money do you think that was?” Ruby asked in awe.

“It was one bajillion dollars, actually,” Annie slurred.

“I’ve never seen that much cash in my life!”  Ruby said.

“I mean, fake money but yeah,” Beth reminded them.

“Well, I mean, it’s real to somebody,” Annie pointed out.

“Yeah, but it’s no longer our problem,” Ruby said, relieved. “So here’s to going back to normal life.”

“Yass. L’chaim to that,” Annie agreed, clinking her glass against everyone's.

“Yeah. To normal life,” Beth said noncommittally.

And therein lay the rub. She didn’t want to go back to normal life. She didn’t know what was going on with Beth but she didn’t want to stop seeing Rio.

“Mm,” she agreed as noncommittally.

“You guys okay?” Ruby asked.

“Oh, yeah, just tired. Pulling all-nighters deep-etching,” she reassured.

“Yeah, I’m okay,” Beth added.

Ruby nodded, seemingly satisfied with their answers.

“I think I’m just gonna go call the kids, though,” Beth said already leaving the table.

“That reminds me,” Annie said, suddenly sounding worried. “We should probably get the check with the food. Just because, like, you know. To be safe.”

“Oh we have time, you’ll get home,” Ruby said comfortingly.

“I know, it’s just,” Annie started. “I really need this to go well. You know, like, it has to.”

“It’s gonna go great. You’re a good mom. Just chill,” Ruby said.

“No one cares about Sadie as much as you do, Annie. It’ll be fine,” she added.

“Yeah, you’re right,” Annie said smiling. “Thanks.”

Ruby suddenly gasped. “I shot a man.”

“You what?!” she exclaimed.

But they were interrupted by Beth frantically coming back to the table.

“The cops know about the car!” Beth whispered harshly.

“Check!” Annie said nervously.

Once they were outside she turned to them and tried to demand answers through the flurry of activity.

“What the fuck is going on? What did you do?” she asked shrilly.

“Don’t worry about it,” Beth said already getting into the car which she realized was unfamiliar. “We’ll handle it.”

“Well, tell me what happened and maybe I can help,” she said.

“Uh, no, we’re not involving you,” Annie said firmly fiddling with the car’s computer.

“Yeah, no, you don’t need to get tangled up in all this,” Ruby said tiredly observing Annie. “You synced your phone?” she asked Annie incredulously.

She couldn’t hear through their bickering but Beth turned to her and fixed her with a steady gaze.

“Go home. This is our problem.”

And they were gone. Lord knows where to do Lord knows what. And she was left outside, left in the dark, just like always.

She huffed and got into her car, going home to sit and wonder what would become of her friends this time.

Chapter Text

She got home and looked around despondently before sighing.

She didn’t even have the energy to be frustrated.

Well, in that case, a well-deserved nap was in order.

She flopped onto her bed and she stared at the ceiling, trying to quieten her mind but she could feel her insecurities threatening to overwhelm her, pull her into the torrent and suffocate them. She couldn’t help but wonder if she was being excluded because they didn’t actually like her. Remaining friends with her solely out of pity and not having the heart to tell her to fuck off.

She knew she was being unreasonable but it hurt. It hurt that she was always on the sidelined. Constantly on the outside looking in. Within and without.

She closed her eyes, willing herself with all her might to let sleep take her. Willing herself to shut off her mind and pretend like her friends weren’t currently doing something extremely stupid. Probably even dangerous. Life-threatening even. She looked up to them. Really. But right then she didn’t want to think about them anymore. She didn’t even want to see them. She was just so goddamn tired of them always treating her like a child. Brushing her off like an errant child and all the condescension of a mother who would wave away the baby, breezily declaring that the adults were talking.

She knew they cared but facts don’t speak as loudly as hurt. And this hurt.

She refused to think about that though and she tried to pull herself into what would hopefully be a relaxing nap but her mind decided that if she wouldn’t think about her friends she would think about the only other person who took up most of her time now. The person who really got them to this point.

It was crazy though. Even after all this time, after everything that happened, thinking about him made her smile. And really he made her happy in a way that she didn’t even think she was capable of being happy. He probably didn’t spend nearly as much time thinking about her as she did him but she couldn’t bring herself to stop.

When she wasn’t with the girls, she was with him. She really only had the girls before, they were her family. But then he came along, with his guns and violence and lies. But he was so much more than that too.

Behind her closed eyelids, was the feverish flickering of her memories of their time together. His badgering when she was trying to work. Him emptying her fridge. His lips against hers. Her thoughts began to turn.

God, how did this even happen? How did he manage to get her there even when he wasn’t around?

Ghostly sensations flooded her senses, his dick in her mouth, the feel of him stroking in out of her wet heat, his fingers around her throat, and the firm slap of his hand.

She felt like her blood was boiling, heat and wetness gathering between her legs. She felt drunk on the memory of him and like she was in the throes of withdrawal. Her body practically trembling with the arousal brought on by each memory.

Despite her earlier pettiness, she felt desperate at that moment. If he had shown up then at that moment, then she would happily present herself to him. Happily.

She quickly stripped, getting comfortable and spreading her legs. She imagined him touching her and she followed the imaginary paths along her body with her own hands, her skin heating in anticipation.

She grasped one of her breasts, moaning softly and rolled her nipple between her fingers, flicking the stiff bud and teasing herself. Her other hand went down to gently circle her clit, her breath now coming in short pant, her arousal burning even hotter. She stayed that way for a while, teasing her nipples and her clit, growing wetter, nipples hard, and her soft moans the only sound in the room. Before long, she felt too empty, longing for the delicious stretch of his cock. Never having been one for toys, she mentally kicked herself and decided she would have to make do with her fingers.

Slipping one finger into her wet heat, she whimpered, still feeling far too empty. She thrust in another one and she moaned but the sound was tainted by frustration because it didn’t feel like it was enough. Soon, she had three fingers inside herself and she thrust them in and out quickly, desperately chasing her own orgasm. She fucked herself on her fingers roughly, making a come hither motion with every motion, rutting like a woman possessed but she was just so horny.  She played with her nipples, and pinching them roughly, trying to drag herself over the edge.

She was moaning and yelping as she tried to coax herself to orgasm, pounding her fingers into her sopping, wet pussy, her back arching as she felt her walls start to flutter around her fingers. She was so close….

“Need a hand, baby girl?” a voice suddenly drawled and it was like she was set on fire and doused in ice-cold water, all at the same time.

She collapsed back against her bed, her earlier irritation compounding even though he didn’t actually do anything. She didn’t care though, deciding that she was going to be petty again.

“You could knock, you know?” she deadpanned.

“I could. I could also fuck you so good that you see stars, baby,” he crooned.

She felt herself clench at his tone and she briefly entertained the thought. But she didn’t want to give in. Because she was stubborn and petty and she needed someone to feel as frustrated as she did. She needed him to need her.

“I’ll consider it,” she said, getting out of bed and heading for the bathroom. “I’m taking a shower.”

“Can I join you?”

His answer was a slammed bathroom door, resonating with the sound of his chuckling

 

**

 

She eventually came out, to find him sprawled out on her couch, texting, and looking very much at home.

“What brings you to my house?’ she asked flopping down on the other side of the couch.

“I told you that I’d be seeing you real soon,” he said, smirking but not looking up from his phone.

She huffed and rolled her eyes, fidgeting and trying to get comfortable on the couch. They both sat there for a while not actually saying anything. It wasn’t anything new, sometimes he would just hang around quietly and use her Wi-Fi because why not, she guessed. So, on he went, texting, with her scrolling through Instagram and fidgeting in her seat.

She felt like there were hundreds of ants running under her skin, the insistent throbbing between her legs a constant reminder of her interrupted activities. God, just being this close to him made her want to grab him and sit on his dick. But she wasn’t gonna do that.

Nope.

She would not.

So she kept fidgeting.

“Would you stop fucking moving?” he sighed, raising an eyebrow at her.

“Sorry,” she sneered insincerely, crossing her arms, and looking away.

“What was that?” he asked an edge to his voice.

“Nothing,” she huffed, still refusing to look at him.

“That sounded like sass, baby girl,” he said. “Don’t sass me. If you wanna feel good, all you gotta do is ask daddy real nice, princess.”

She remained silent, still not looking at him, her body feeling like a livewire at his commanding tone.

“Look at me,” he ordered.

Still feeling defiant, she didn’t comply. She tried to pretend like she didn’t care for the daddy act right then but she felt herself growing wet at his tone. Yet still, she tried to hold onto the illusion of control

“I said, look at me,” he growled.

And she caved, looking without any hesitation. Because he said so. And she had to listen to daddy.

“Why did you sass me, princess?” he asked, his tone unamused.

“I’m sorry, Papi,” she whispered, regretting her actions.

“That’s not an answer.”

“I was horny and frustrated, daddy,” she said, sounding pathetic to her own ears.

“Do you think that’s a good excuse, baby girl?”

“No, daddy,” she whispered, shaking her head and looking down.

“Come here,” he said gravely.

She shuffled closer and he startled her by grabbing her and prostrating her across his lap, making her yelp.

Now,” he stated calmly. “I’m gonna punish you. If you’re good for me and take your punishment then I’ll make you feel good, baby. If not? You’re not cumming for a week. Got it?”

“Yes, Papi,” she whimpered.

“Good. You’re gonna count for me.”

He pulled her shorts off and rubbed and kneaded her ass. She sighed at the touch as she felt herself growing wetter despite the fact that this was the precursor to her punishment.

“No panties, baby girl?”

Suddenly a hand came down hard on her as and she yelped at the sting.

“One, daddy,” she whimpered.

“Good girl,” he hummed, massaging the sensitive flesh before bringing his hand down again.

“Two, daddy.”

He brought his hand down again and again and again. The pressure was constant, his hand coming down all over her ass and the backs of her thighs. She counted each strike, her mind growing blessedly fuzzy and at that moment nothing else mattered except him, the feel of his calloused palm and the throb between her legs.

“Twenty, daddy,” she sighed.

“Okay, that’s enough,” he said finally, gently rubbing her back. “You did so well, baby. I’m proud of you. So good for me.”

She felt like she was flying outside her body, barely tethered to herself, his praise washing over her like a cool balm. She didn’t know it could be this good.

“What did we learn, baby girl,” he asked.

“I shouldn’t sass daddy,” she said dutifully.

“Good girl.” He hummed. “Sit in my lap, baby. Face the TV and lean back against me.”

She did as he asked, hissing at the burn of his jeans against her ass as she sat down to straddle him. He grabbed her thighs and pried them open, exposing her to the chilly air of the room and she fought the urge to close her legs in embarrassment. He then tore off her thin spaghetti top and she whimpered as she sat there completely naked against him.

He held both her breasts in his hands and he fondled the soft flesh, rolling them in his hands, and earning debauched moans out of her as she writhed in his lap. The pain from her punishment only fueling her arousal.

“You like that, huh?” he asked. “My little slut is so ready for me and I barely touched you.”

“Just for you, daddy. Just for you. Only you. You make me so hot, daddy, so wet,” she mumbled incoherently.

“Is that what you were thinking about, baby?” he asked, flicking her nipples. “Were you thinking about me when you were touching yourself?”

“Uh-huh,” she whimpered, eyes screwed shut.

“If you were thinking about me, then you should have remembered that this pussy is mine,” he growled, pulling at her nipples and drawing out a moan. “We don’t touch daddy’s things, princess.”

“I’m sorry, daddy. I just felt so empty. Please, please, please.”

“Baby’s little pussy needed something inside it, didn’t it?” he asked bringing a hand to rub her clit.

“Yes, Papi, please, please,” she slurred as he slipped a finger inside her.

“Is that what you wanted, baby?”

“Daddy, daddy, daddy, more, please, daddy,” she murmured.

He then had two fingers inside her, using his other hand to gently circle her clit as she bucked in his grasp.

“Or maybe my needy little girl needs three, right?” he said thrusting three fingers into her. His fingers were so thick and the stretch was enough to make her drool.

“Yes, yes, yes,” she panted writhing wantonly in his lap.

“You like that?” he asked slowly thrusting his fingers.

“Yes, daddy, I love everything you do to me,” she whined.

“Tell me,” he ordered, roughly thrusting into her pussy, rubbing her clit roughly with his other hand.

“I love your fingers in my pussy, daddy,” she gasped.

He started to thrust roughly into her, his fingers gaining speed and she grabbed one of her couch cushions to ground herself.

“Daddyyyy,” she whined.

He took out his fingers before rubbing roughly at her clit and bringing his hand down against it.

“Fuck, daddy,” she sobbed.

He plunged his fingers back inside her, crooking them in that all too familiar gesture and thrusting roughly against her walls. Rubbing relentlessly at that spot inside her until she was gasping and sobbing and her head fell back against his shoulder.

“Fuck,” she gasped. “I’m gonna cum, I’m gonna cum. Papi, you’re gonna make me cum.”

His fingers sped up, the pressure more insistent as he relentlessly coaxed her to her climax and she was sure she was gushing all over his fingers.

“Cum for me, baby.”

And that’s all she needed. She arched against him, her body going stiff and trembling as her walls clenched and fluttered around his fingers and she felt herself gush with each flutter, her eyes rolling back in her head as she gave little high-pitched keens. His fingers still riding her through her orgasm.

As she came down, she became aware of kisses being pressed into her shoulder and the insistent pressure on her backside. Even though she had just cum, the fire between her legs burned just as bright.

“Fuck me, daddy,” she whispered.

“You sure, baby?” he asked nipping at her neck. “I won’t hold back.”

“I don’t want you to,” she said turning her head to look him in the eyes.

“Turn around,” he ordered, his gaze burning into her.

“You’re gonna ride me,” he said darkly as she resituated herself. He pulled her closer and nipped at her breasts roughly and holding her hips in a bruising grip.

He unzipped his jeans and pulled his dick out, the tip almost painfully red and leaking pre-cum. She raised herself up and lowered herself onto his cock, the stretch burning deliciously and so different from his fingers. She missed it.

Once he was fully sheathed, she paused to adjust and savour the feeling of him throbbing inside her. She rolled her hips slowly and moaned, eyes flickering shut in bliss, wanting to be that full always.

“You like that? Do you like this dick, baby girl? He growled.

“I needed your dick so bad, Papi,” she sighed, still rolling her hips.

“Come on,” he said smacking her ass lightly. “Put in work, baby.”

She slowly lifted herself before dropping her hips down on him, drawing out a groan from him. His cock hitting deep in the position and making her dizzy with sensation. She bounced on his cock like a woman possessed trying to cum and make him cum, trying to be good for him.

But eventually her thighs began to burn and the pleasant fog clouding her mind began to dissipate. She was in control right then. She was setting the pace, she could decide however this was gonna go. And she didn’t like it. He started to whine in frustration still rolling her hips on his cock but feeling like something was off.

“You don’t like that, huh?’ he grunted as she kept rolling her hips. “You don’t like it when daddy doesn’t hold you down and fuck you.”

She shook her head and whined, tearing up with frustration. She didn’t like it at all. What was wrong with her? “I don’t like it, daddy.”

“So next time, you won’t sass me, huh? You’re gonna listen to me and take what I fucking give you. Isn’t that right?”

“Yes, Papi, yes, yes, yes, I’ll be good, I promise,” she pleaded still rolling her hips.

He suddenly grabbed her hips and stood up, carrying her to the bedroom and she clenched around him. He lowered onto the bed and shrugged off his clothes quickly before getting on the bed. He hooked her legs over his shoulders and bent over her practically folding her in half. He thrust back into her roughly, driving into her pussy mercilessly. He pounded into her, a hand coming up to wrap around her throat possessively.

“Daddy,” she croaked.

“Such a good little slut,” he grunted. “See? You need this. You need me. You need me to fuck you and choke you and make you be a good little girl. Cause you like it. Look at you. You can’t even cum without me.”

She moaned at his words and she felt herself burn with arousal and humiliation. Because it was all true. Every single word.

“This is my pussy. I fuck this pussy and I cum in this pussy because it’s mine,” he growled as he thrust especially roughly into her.

“Uh-huh,” she whimpered as he sped up. “It’s yours, daddy. I’m yours.”

“Mine,” he grunted, bending over to claim her mouth in an almost bruising kiss, nipping at her lips.

She felt herself growing closer and the relentless pressure between her legs ushered in her climax.

“Papi, I’m gonna cum,” she whined.

“Shit, baby, me too,” he swore as his thrusts began to lose their rhythm.

The hand around her throat tightened minutely while another rubbed her clit roughly and she fell over the edge, moaning highly and gasping, holding onto his arms, grounding herself. The only thing she was aware of the gush of warmth that flooded her, making her walls flutter.

They stayed like that for a while until he softened and he pulled back to watch his cum drip back out of her.

“Gotta get you a plug,” he mumbled, lying down next to her and wrapping her in his arms. “Keep my cum inside you.”

She shivered at the thought, snuggling up against him, liking it more than she thought she would.

“You’d like that, huh?” he mused. “Cause you’re mine. “

“Yours,” she sighed.

Chapter Text

 Honestly, it was crazy how they just got to pick and choose what she was privy to and what she “didn’t need to worry about.”

It turned out she didn’t need to worry about them because they got rid of the car that they stole with as little fuss as they could manage. That was good.

It then came to be that not only she but Ruby and Annie as well, didn’t need to worry about the fact that Beth offered to do another job for Rio. And he agreed.

It turned out that what did qualify as being “her problem” was helping Beth deal with the man who was bleeding out in Beth’s daughter’s bed. That appeared to be what Beth considered “their” problem.

“Oh my God,” Annie whispered.

“Who is that?” Ruby hissed.

“I don’t know,” Beth shrugged, looking more than a little panicked.

“What do you mean, you don’t know?” Ruby asked incredulously, voice still low in an effort not to wake the wounded man.

“I mean, I came back from the grocery store and he was just there,” Beth explained pointing at the man. “And I mean, I’m assuming he’s like an associate of the gangbanger.”

“Come on!” Ruby sighed, rolling her eyes. “I thought we were done with that.”

“Yeah, what the hell?” Annie demanded quietly.

“Okay, okay, we were,” Beth said pleadingly. “And then… Oh, God. It sounds so crazy even saying it.”

“Spit it out,” Annie said impatiently, snapping her fingers.

“I… I…,” Beth stuttered. “I offered to do another job.”

Annie laughed incredulously, her eyes shining with shock and mirth.

“You asked for this?’ Ruby asked incredulously.

“It’s not like we don’t need the money. We all still need the money!” Beth whispered insistently.

Annie continued to snicker, Ruby fixing her with a furious glare while she stared at the man in the bed and she thought about how Rio wasn’t getting laid any time soon.

“So you asked for this?!” Ruby repeated.

“No! Well, not this!” Beth said defensively.

Annie’s laughter got louder until Beth shushed her urgently.

“I’m sorry,” Annie wheezed. ”I just can’t believe it’s you and not me. Come on, it’s crazy.”

“Look, I just said that we would possibly, if the circumstances were right, pick up another load of fake cash,” Beth said slowly.

If she really thought about it, she wasn’t angry with Rio at all. She was angry with Beth. But she just couldn’t bring herself to believe that Beth of all people would do something so stupid. She was supposed to be smart, capable, Beth. She didn’t know who this Beth was in that moment.

“You volunteered us?” Ruby asked, horrified.

“It’s not drugs. It’s paper. I mean, it’s literally paper,” Beth reasoned.

“You can’t sign people up for criminal activity like it’ a bake sale!” Ruby said exasperatedly.

“Noted. But can you just help me get this person out of my house right now?” Beth said desperately.

“Oh, so now you want help?” she asked Beth, legitimately confused. “Why do I get the feeling that you only want me around when shit really hits the fan and you have no one else to call?”

Beth visibly flinched at that, looking stricken and she felt bad for a moment but she was a little past making excuses for Beth.

Ruby, however, seemed to be on her side. “I’m sorry but I get where she’s coming from. Why don’t you call your BFF, the other gangbanger?”

“He’s not my BFF. I don’t even know that guy’s name,” Beth said defensively.

“His name is Rio,” she said, surprising even herself.

They all looked at her like she’d grown a second head that only spoke in riddles.

“How the hell do you know that?” Beth demanded.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said bitterly. “It’s my turn to keep secrets.”

“Now is not the time for jokes!” Beth hissed. “How do we you know that’s his name. How are any of us supposed to know?”

“I bet that guy knows,” she said nodding at the strange man’s prone form.

“Maybe I can…,” Annie sighed. “Okay, I guess I’ll do it.”

“Mmm-hmm. I’m not,” Ruby said firmly.

“Just watch my back, okay?” Annie said. “Please.”

“Of course,” she said.

“Just be careful,” Beth whispered.

Annie gingerly turned the man, muttering feverish and panicked apologies before she turned around holding a gun in her fingers.

“That is not a phone,” she said, her breath short, inviting panic to possess the rest of them.

She quickly turned back to the man and removed his phone with no preamble and rushed back to their side as though the man was set to detonate.

“Okay. I have it. I have it,” Annie said.

After rifling through his phone call history that largely consisted of a rather heart-warming series of calls to his mother, at the bottom of the list was a single name.

Rio.

 

**

 

Rio sat on Beth’s porch, looking unruffled as always and expectant as always. He clasped his hands and looked up at Beth, managing to look both amused and intimidating at the same time. A hard glint in his eyes spoke to his underlying frustration. She drank in the sight of him.

“That is not what I meant when I said we’d do another job,” Beth said shrilly, breaking her out of her appraisal of Rio. “Who is that guy?”

“He works for me,” Rio said matter-of-factly.

“Does he wash the money?” Annie asked.

Rio fixed her with a blank look, eyes narrowed and jaw clenching.

“Regardless,” Beth said, tone still shrill. “There’s been a miscommunication.”

“Oh, so you think you can pick and choose what you wanna do and when you wanna do it?” Rio smirked.

“She thought it would be like driving for Uber,” Ruby deadpanned.

Rio nibbled at his lip and if she didn’t know any better she would think he was trying not to laugh.

“Who’s at fault is not important. We are not qualified to take care of a gunshot victim! I mean your friend needs professional medical attention!” Beth said insistently.

Rio simply shook his head, still biting his lips and she absently thought about whether or not he would come over later so that they could make out.

“You’re shaking your head. Why are you shaking your head?” Beth asked incredulously.

“Cause that kid ain’t going to no hospital,” he said firmly.

“Why not?” Annie asked, confused.

“Cause there’s people looking for him.”

“What if those people show up here?” Beth asked panicked and eyes wide.

“Trust me, ain’t nobody gonna shoot up Beaver Cleaver’s house,” Rio said wryly, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a stack of money and slapping it on the step.

“No, I’m sorry that is not gonna work,” Beth said firmly.

“No?” Rio asked, taking out another stack.

“I,” Beth sighed, looking swayed. “I have children!”

Rio wordlessly took out another stack.

Beth exchanged a weighty glance with each of them but she refused to be dragged into the situation and averted her eyes.

“He’s up there in my daughter’s bed! I’m never gonna get that blood out!” Beth said gesturing wildly.

“I mean, she could sleep on the floor. Kids love that stuff,” Annie piped up and she couldn’t resist snickering quietly in her seat.

“I’m pretty sure it’ll cover a new mattress,” Ruby mumbled.

Rio simply smiled at them placidly from where he sat.

“So,” Annie started. “Would we get that money now, or…”

“When I pick him up,” he said firmly and she shivered at his tone.

“When’s that?” Ruby asked.

“When I pick him up,” he said, a sharp edge to his voice. If she was being honest, she loved it when he got like that.

“Sounds fair,” Annie said.

“So,” he said. “We got a deal, ladies, or what?”

Beth sighed heavily, closing her eyes.

“Fine,” she conceded, turning away from him.

Rio stood up nimbly and turned to walk away but before he did, he fixed her with a blank look, raising a single eyebrow.

Really? He was really gonna do that there?

She sighed and stood up to join him and walk to his car but a firm hand wrapped around her arm.

“What are you doing?” Beth hissed.

“Nothing that concerns you, I’m sure,” she said flatly.

“Um, it does concern me that you’ve gotten pretty chummy with a gangbanger!” Beth whispered, glancing at Rio who scoffed.

“You know what, Beth? You don’t get to question me right now. I’m going home before I say something I’m gonna regret,” she said wrenching her arm out of Beth’s grasp.

She walked over to Rio, looking up at him expectantly but he just stared at her smirking slightly but ultimately looking puzzled.

“Come on,” she said averting her eyes and shifting uncomfortably.

They got into his sleek black car and drove away and she closed her eyes, trying to erase the shocked expressions of her friends.

It was a dangerous game, drawing lines in the sand.

Chapter Text

She felt so at war with herself, so burned up with conflict that she felt clammy and feverish in the cool interior of Rio’s car.

Her insides roiled and bubbled like the mysterious contents of a cauldron and she wondered if she shouldn’t have left like that. If she shouldn’t have spoken to them like that. She wondered what good would come of choosing sides in this whole shitshow.

She wasn’t choosing Rio per se, she just couldn’t be there, around them, trying to pretend like she was content with being a contingency friend when Beth was in need of a third. She loved doing things for them, she would lay down on the wire for them. But being treated like a commodity? She couldn’t do that. Not again.

Putting her head against the cool glass of the car window she let the smooth tones of the song Rio was playing wash over her. She belatedly realized that it was Baby by Coral Casino. She played this song on the days when he was on her couch like he paid rent and it settled the storm inside her to know that he was listening to her music even when he wasn’t with her. It made her smile to think that she was on his mind in some way even when she wasn’t in front of him.

But maybe she was reading into it too much.

 

Algo salió mal pero no me arrepiento, oh, oh, yeh, yeh-yeh

Sólo quiero el mar y hace tiempo no lo veo

No lo veo, uh, yeh, yeh

 

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eyes and she could see that he was lost in thought himself. Though he was leaned back in his seat, his knuckles were white on the steering wheel, his jaw working the way it did when he was stressed or angry, his eyes firmly fixed on the road with a calculating but troubled stare.

She couldn’t fathom him getting worked over them, the ‘desperate housewives’ as he teasingly referred to them, so she kept staring at him, puzzling him out in the same way he was fixating on whatever was troubling him. She watched him drive in silence and she found that even in such a mundane task, he was graceful in a way. He had a certain finesse that she couldn’t take her eyes off but if she was being a little honest she just liked looking at him. If she was being completely honest, she was worried about him.

“Do I have something on my face or what?” he drawled, raising an eyebrow and glancing at her, shifting in his seat.

“Maybe I just like looking at you,” she shrugged.

He scoffed, not his usual teasing scoff but a cold irritated sound.

“I do, you know,” she said. “Like looking at you, I mean.”

“Let’s cut to the chase, baby,” he said tiredly.

“Okay.”

“I didn’t do nothing. I didn’t your friend do shit. She asked me for a job, I gave her one,” he bit out defensively.

 

Ella dijo "Fuego, fuego", yo al mar le ruego, ruego

Nunca hubo límites, nunca entre nosotros dos

Yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh

 

“Okay,” she shrugged.

He opened his mouth looking ready to argue until he fully processed what she said. He seemed at a loss for words, seemingly expecting a fight as soon as they got to the car. His fingers flexed on the steering wheel and he glanced at her, brow furrowed in confusion.

“Okay?” he repeated incredulously.

“Okay,” she said nodding.

“What do you mean okay?” he demanded.

“This isn’t some novel. I mean okay. She did get herself into this mess,” she sighed.

He still seemed puzzled by her reaction until his face suddenly went blank. “What do you want?”

It was her turn to scoff. “When have I ever asked you for anything? Not everything is a negotiation.”

“In my world it is,” he said pursing his lips.

“Well, when you’re with me, it’s my world. I don’t blame you for Beth acting crazy. I mean, I don’t agree with you leaving some strange man in her daughter’s room but ultimately? I don’t blame you.”

They were silent again for a few moments as her words percolated in her mind, Coral Casino the only voice in the car.

 

Los dioses nos dieron hambre

La enviaron a matarme

Uh, yeh, yeh

 

“You should have left him in Beth’s room. You can’t drag the kids into this bullshit. You wouldn’t want your kid to see that, would you?” she added absent-mindedly.

“No,” he said almost wistfully. “I wouldn’t.”

“You-“

“You’re mad at Beth?” he asked suddenly, looking confused.

She was quiet again.

“Yeah, I guess I am,” she said finally.

“Why?”

“I feel like she’s using me. I feel like she only notices me when she needs something when the problem is too big for just her. And she knows I’d do anything for them. But I’m just convenient. But shit. What’s new, right? That’s me. Reliable and convenient,” she said flatly. “What do you care anyway? What’s in it for you?”

“Not everything is a negotiation,” he said smirking slightly.

“Haha.”

He opened his mouth to say something before closing it again. They drove on in silence save for the music. They didn’t speak for a bit and she assumed that was the end of the conversation but he spoke again just as he pulled into her driveway.

“You ain’t just a convenient option for me,” he said, putting the car in park and turning to face her. “You know that, right?”

She fixed with a long look, searching for any sign of deception and staring into his dark eyes, she could see that he was being honest.

She wanted him to be telling the truth. Much more than she should.

“Neither are you,” she whispered, taking one of his hands in hers. “Not to me.”

He cracked a small smile and she was struck by the intimacy of the moment despite their clothes (see: her clothes) being completely intact.

“Is that why you were so tense? You thought I was gonna chew you out about this whole thing with Beth?” she asked threading her fingers with his.

His jaw went tense again and he averted his eyes, refusing to look at her. Okay, so it wasn’t that. What else could it be then? She wasn’t exactly well-versed in the intricacies of gang-life to guess what would be-

Oh.

“Is that man? That kid, in Beth’s house?” she asked quietly.

He remained silent but she knew she was right anyway and she held his hand tighter.

“Do you wanna talk about it?” she asked. He shook his head.

“Do you wanna come in?” she asked, the question loaded. What do you need from me?

“You want me to?” he whispered, eyes closed looking pained.

“Why did you drive me home?” she asked instead of answering.

“I wanted to. I wanted to be with you and you looked like you didn’t want to be with them.”

“What else do you want?”

He remained silent and she couldn’t watch him fight with himself anymore.

“I know that guy in Beth’s house is just a kid. I know you’re stressed for a shitload of reasons. I know you wouldn’t bring him here unless you cared about him. I know that all this has you feeling some type of way. I know you need something. I also know you feel like you can’t ask for that thing but this thing, whatever it is between us goes both ways and it goes much deeper than even you realize.”

“You don’t know shit,” he said tiredly.

“Oh, don’t I?” she asked innocently. “Either way, you have a key. You know where to find me.”

She went into her house, hoping that she hadn’t overestimated how deep their ‘relationship’ went. That he would draw closer instead of coming close and immediately pulling away.

When he joined her in the shower moments later and then simply held her as they drifted to sleep in what was effectively their bed, she knew that if she didn’t watch herself, watch him, and tread carefully, then she would fall in love with him.

If she was being a little honest, she was halfway there.

If she was being completely honest, she had been there for a while.

 

Ella dijo "Fuego, fuego", yo no piso el freno, freno

Nunca hubo límites, nunca entre nosotros dos

Yeh, yeh

Chapter Text

She found herself at Kenny’s birthday party at Beth’s insistence and invitation. The back yard full of gleeful screams and upbeat music. She figured Beth wanted to talk to her at some point but Beth probably didn’t count on the exuberance of the party.

She had actually thought that with everything going on, Beth and Dean couldn’t afford a party but it seemed that Dean was in short supply of backbone as well as money. She understood that it’s difficult to deny your kids but despite her falling-out with Beth, she felt cold fury every time she saw Dean lumbering about playing with the kids.

She didn’t do too well with crowds so she stayed on the porch sipping at a Coke, trying not to get overwhelmed by the noise and excitement. From her perch, she spotted Boomer arriving with a cake and a… gift basket of toiletries? He set the cake down by Annie and she thought about retrieving a knife from the kitchen but she didn’t want to traumatize Kenny on his birthday.

What was that supposed to be? An ‘I’m sorry I tried to rape you’ cake? The utter audacity. She almost went there to give him a piece of her mind but it seemed that Annie had successfully shooed him away and Boomer slunk off with his tail between his legs. She sneered at his retreating back, the expression intensifying when Dean came out of the house. He hurried away from her knowing better than to try and even breathe in her direction.

Soon it was time to cut the cake and she stayed where she was smiling softly as they all sang, her heart breaking when Kenny wished for his Dad to come live at home again. The earnest glimmer in his eyes telling her that there was truly nothing else that he wanted and she wanted to kill Dean when an awkward silence descended. He just couldn’t keep in his goddamn pants.

She was broken out of her morose thoughts when she spotted a figure dressed in black sit down next to her on the step.

“You look nice,” Rio smirked, glancing at her before fixing Beth with a heavy gaze. “That dress would look real nice on your bedroom floor.”

“Thanks,” she said dumbly. “What are you doing here?”

“C’ mon,” he drawled. “Ain’t you happy to see me, baby girl?”

She rolled her eyes and huffed. “Stop playing.”

Suddenly Beth was walking towards them and Rio stood to walk back into the house. She shared a look with Beth and they both went into the house and she wondered what the hell Beth had done this time.

“You can’t just walk in here!” Beth exclaimed once they were alone.

“Your door was open,” Rio drawled, not even looking at Beth but still smiling.

“It’s because I’m having a party with children and their parents!” she said, voice thick with exasperation. “Oh my God. You brought a gun? Of course, you brought a gun.”

“This your husband?” Rio suddenly asked.

“Yes,” Beth responded sounding a little confused.

“What’s he do?”

“He sells cars,” Beth said, obviously wanting him to get to the point.

“Is he good at it?” Rio asked instead.

“Yeah, I,” Beth stammered. “What does it matter?!”

“Yeah, he don’t look too trustworthy to me,” Rio observed still holding the picture.

“What do you want?!” Beth asked in a loud whisper.

Rio scanned Beth up and down licking his lips and she felt jealousy claw up her throat, hot and thick. It started in her chest, a tough, constricting feeling and ended in her throat where it threatened to build into a growl. What was he playing at?

He’s mine!

But actually, he wasn’t. He probably had hoes all over the fucking state. Did she think she was special for some reason? That was stupid.

But that didn’t stop her jealousy and she thinks it showed on her face because when he looked at her he raised an eyebrow in question. She just looked away, not wanting to give anything away. There was nothing worse than having a guy let you down easy.

“What do you want?” Beth repeated impatiently.

“I came to pick up my boy,” Rio said easily, turning his attention back to Beth.

“That’s hilarious,” Beth deadpanned. “He’s not here. And by the way, when he left he held me at gunpoint and then stole my car! So I’m gonna need payment for that too.”

“He what?” she asked alarmed.

Rio simply raised an eyebrow before nodding and looking away as Beth spoke, seemingly deep in thought.

“Oh, I’m sorry what payment?” Rio asked feigning confusion.

Oh, boy.

“Excuse me?” Beth asked, affronted.

“Yeah, you get paid when you do a job. Did you do a job?” Rio asked.

“He left,” Beth said defensively.

“Then that’s on you,” Rio retorted condescendingly.

“What am I supposed to do? Chain him to a bed?” Beth asked incredulously.

“Oh, baby, what you think this is? Little League?” Rio chuckled and she flinched when he called Beth that, earning a sidelong glance. “And you get a trophy just for playing?”

“I tried,” Beth said firmly, standing her ground.

“I don’t give a damn if you tried. You gotta win, bitch,” he bit out.

“Easy,” she said glaring at him and he backed off but clenched his jaw.

“Beth?” a voice tentatively asked. It was Dean. “You- You okay?”

“Fine, yeah,” Beth chirped, as Rio looked over his shoulder at Dean, looking unimpressed. “Fine.”

Rio simply sauntered out of the room muttering “Cars, huh?” as he bumped Deans arm. Beth hurried back outside to the part and she hurried after Rio not really knowing why but feeling like they needed to talk.

She saw Rio slip out the front door saying something to Boomer and she fixed Boomer with a death glare. He paused when he saw her and she hurried over but she turned back to Boomer.

“You shouldn’t be here,” she snarled.

“I just brought a cake,” he said defensively.

“I meant alive,” she said darkly. “You touch one of my friends again, I’ll make sure they find you with your dick and balls in your mouth. We clear?”

Boomer simply gulped and nodded frantically.

She was about to walk out the door after Rio when Boomer called out to her.

“Hey! Who is that guy?”

God, Boomer was already snooping around, they didn’t need him to start making implicating connections at a time like this.

“My boyfriend. Why?” feigning curiosity.

“Where’d you meet him?”

“A bar,” she said looking at Boomer like he was crazy. “Like literally everyone else. Unlike you, I don’t need to rape my co-workers.”

“Now, wait just-“

“I don’t have time for the likes of you,” she said as she flounced out.

She found Rio leaning against his car looking at her expectantly.

“You can’t talk to me like that,” he said seriously.

“Yeah, well, maybe don’t call my friends ‘bitches’,” she countered.

“Or what?” he chuckled. “You gonna threaten me too?”

“He had that coming,” she said defensively.

He simply raised an eyebrow, signalling for her to elaborate.

“He tried to rape Annie. He said he would go to the police about the robbery if she didn’t sleep with him and then he went back to her apartment, drunk, and he tried to rape her. Then Beth knocked him out and kidnapped him and god it’s just such a mess,” she rambled.

“Huh,” he said dumbly.

“Yeah,” she scoffed.

“You want me to kill that guy for you?” he asked casually.

She gave him a sidelong glance and she felt ashamed when she actually considered it. “You might have to.  He’s poking his nose into our business and he seems real interested in you.”

“You think he’ll talk? To the feds?”

“Definitely. If it was just us the feds wouldn’t take him seriously but something tells me they might have their eyes on you already,” she said.

He chuckled. “You’re too smart for your own good, baby girl.”

“Thanks?” she smiled.

“I’ll take care of that guy. Oh shit, he’s taking pictures now. Hope he got my good side,” he said nonchalantly.

Trying not to whip around, she asked calmly. “I feel like you should be worried!”

“The feds ain’t got shit on me,” he laughed. “What’d you tell him about me anyway?”

How did he-

“I said you were my boyfriend,” she shrugged. “You picked me up at a bar.”

“Smart, smart,” he said approvingly, smiling as tipped her chin up with a finger.

“Thanks,” she smiled, silently hoping he would kiss her.

Seeing her glance at his lips, he leaned forward brushing his lips against hers and she closed her eyes in anticipation.

“I’m still gonna punish you,” he whispered.

“What?!” she squawked. “What for?”

“You were mouthing off in front of your dumbass friend,” he shrugged.

“You were hitting on her! I think we’re even!” she pouted.

“Oh, baby girl,” he drawled. “Jealous?”

She simply glared at him and his smirk grew wider. She wanted to smack his dumb, cute face.

“Be honest,” he urged. “Or else that punishment might just get worse.”

“Why don’t you punish Beth instead since you’re so interested in her,” she spat without thinking.

“Oho,” he chuckled. “There it is.”

“Whatever. I hope you’re on good terms with your hand,” she scoffed, turning away.

“Aw, come on, baby,” he crooned grabbing her arm and pulling her into his arms. “Don’t be like that.”

“Don’t blatantly hit on other women in front of me,” she retorted, lamely hitting his chest.

“I won’t,” he said solemnly. “In front of you.”

“Bye,” she deadpanned trying to pull away from him.

“I’m playing, I’m playing,” he laughed.

She scowled up at him and he bent down to pull her into an intense kiss that made her forget that she was even upset. He kissed her softly but insistently and she lost all perception of time. He sucked and nipped at her lips and she moaned softly into his mouth. His hands rubbed comforting circles into her back and she knew without a doubt that she was in love. Or something close to it at least.

A hand slipped down her back to grip her ass and she pulled away to see him smirking at her with half-lidded eyes, looking very smug.

“You just had to,” she admonished.

“You like it when I get handsy,” he muttered, leaning in for another kiss.

“Take me home and you can get as handsy as you like,” she whispered.

She ignored how her heart fluttered when his smile widened.

Chapter Text

The kitchen counter was blurred and indefinable in her tear-streaked vision and she thought through the haze in her mind that she was drooling on the counter. Really, she couldn’t think of much past the rough drag of Rio’s cock in and out of her sensitive and bruised pussy.

Following the party, the drive back to her house was a blur, the only memory she had of his fingers deep inside her, teasing her but never allowing her to cum. By the time they got to her house, she was desperate and begging and one thing led to another with her face pressed against the counter, him pounding into her from behind.

All in all, it was a good day.

His grip on her hips was bruising and he gave several more thrusts before cumming deep inside her, still leaving her desperate and wanting.

Was she being punished?

“Papi,” she slurred.

“You took me so well, baby. So good,” he crooned, rubbing her ass gently and making me sigh. “You gon’ keep my load inside you like a good girl?”

“Uh-huh,” she mumbled, a little out of it.

“Words, princess,” he urged.

“Yes, daddy.”

“Good girl,” he said and she felt him push something inside her, the head bulbous and then tapering down to what felt like a flared base. The slide, though pleasurable, ended in a constant pressure that left her filled but still wanting. She whined in frustration wishing that she could fuck herself on it and finally just cum.

“Now, you’re gonna sit on Daddy’s lap like a good little girl and maybe I’ll let you come later,” he said firmly.

“Yes, daddy,” she said trying not to whine.

They moved to the couch and he straddled him, the plug jostling as she got comfortable and she moaned softly. She snuggled up to him and rested her head on his shoulder and his arm wrapped around her and for a moment she was content like that. She felt like she was his.

He turned the TV on, watching some show that she couldn’t hope to pay attention to. Though seeming distracted, his hands never stopped roaming, stroking her thighs, grabbing her ass, massaging her breasts. Each second felt like an eternity, her arousal ratcheting higher with no apparent hope of relief. She was gasping and needy, wanting more than just teasing touches.

“Daddy,” she whined, rolling her hips and jostling the plug in a way that made her shiver.

“What, baby?” he asked as if he didn’t know.

“Please, please make me cum, Papi,” she pleaded.

“You have to be patient, baby. Take your punishment like a good girl.”

“Papi, I’m sorry,” she whined, rubbing at his still clothed chest. “Please. I won’t do it again, Papi.”

“Don’t you like being filled up, baby?” he asked almost teasing.

She whined because it wasn’t the same and he knew damn well it wasn’t the same.

“Can I sit on your dick instead,” she whined tugging at his shirt. The idea grew more alluring with each moment.

His eyes widened in surprise, clearly underestimating her desperation. “You wanna keep daddy’s dick warm, princess? You want it that bad?”

She nodded frantically, so horny she could cry. “I always want it, Papi. Always, always, always,” she muttered, near-incoherent.

He smirked and licked his lip. “Sit up, baby.”

She raised her hips and she heard a zip before the plug was slowly removed and the warm, half-hard tip of his cock spread her open.

“Daddy,” she sighed in relief.

She sank down on his cock, the drag smooth from the cum she still had inside her. Once fully seated, she rolled her hips, relishing the same insistent pressure and the way he felt. The way only he could feel.

Suddenly a hand smacked her ass hard, drawing a moan of both pleasure and pain and halting the movement of her writhing hips.

“Stay still or you don’t cum,” he said with an edge to his voice. “You take what I fucking give you, slut.”

“Yes, Papi,” she whimpered. “I’m sorry.”

She sat still, resting her head on his shoulder again and she felt him grow steadily harder inside her, throbbing steadily. Every so often, she would clench around him, the pressure too much to bear. But she felt herself melt-away, her mind in that familiar space it always went to when they were together like this. All the while, he kept watching TV and rubbing distracted circled into her back like he wasn’t balls deep in her stretched hole, still dripping cum.

“See? You like this. Jus’ being a fucktoy and letting me push you around. S’why you need me. Cause nobody is gonna fuck you like me. You’re mine,” he whispered into her ear darkly.

“Yes, Daddy,” she mumbled, shivering at his tone.

“So next time, you don’t talk back to Daddy when he’s talking business, right?”

“Uh-huh,” she nodded demurely.

“I wanna hear you say it,” he ordered.

“I won’t talk back to Daddy when he’s talking business,” she repeated obediently.

“Good girl,” he purred and he used his thumb to rub at her clit, making her buck in his lap.

“Daddy,” she whined pleadingly.

“What, baby?” he asked, feigning innocence.

“Fuck me, Papi, please,” she near-sobbed.

Suddenly she was flipped on her back onto the couch and he thrust roughly into her, making her eyes roll back. He fucked her like an animal, rutting into her possessively and she knew she would be sore tomorrow. His cock nudged insistently at that spot inside her and she was almost embarrassed by the sounds she was making, every thrust seeming to punch the sounds out of her.

“Maybe I should see how many loads this pussy can take, huh?” he asked, grinning rakishly at her and she clenched at the thought. “You like that, huh?”

“Cum inside me, Papi,” she whimpered.

“Such a little cumslut,” he growled, still not breaking his pace.

He kept going and going, seeming not to tire but releasing grunts and moans that spurred on her arousal. She was so close. She just needed…

“Choke me, daddy,” she moaned.

He swore but wasted no time, a large hand coming to wrap around her throat pressing at the sides and sending a tingle through her body.

“You like that? Take it, you little slut,” he growled, pistoning into her.

“I’m gonna cum, daddy,” she whimpered.

“That’s it. Cum on this dick,” he snarled, rubbing hard at her clit and that’s all it took. She clenched hard around him, her walls fluttering rhythmically and she gave high, keening moans with each wave that shook her body. He kept fucking her through her orgasm until he swore and thrust hard inside her, flooding her with more warm cum.

He stayed inside her growing soft as they both caught their breath before he pulled out and stuffed the plug back inside her.

They lay together on the couch and he ran a hand through her braids and she leaned into the touch, her head resting against his knee, feeling warm and rewarded.

“So good for me,” he hummed approvingly. “Isn’t it better this way?”

She nodded, not really hearing what he was saying but letting his voice wash over her.

“You see how good it is when you don’t question me?” he continued.

The part of her brain that was still on had to agree with him. She never felt freer than when he took complete control. She didn’t have to think about anything and it was great. She just had to take it and trust that he would take care of her. And he did. Every time.

“I’d keep you like this all the time if I could,” he said mostly to himself. “But I lo- I like that smart mouth too much.”

She dozed off feeling more hopeful than she had any right to be.

 

Moral ambiguity was very alluring to her for reasons that she would rather not talk or think about and this was especially clear every time she woke up next to Rio.

To be fair, she didn’t wake up to next to him very often but when she did she had to appreciate the grey areas that came with messing around in the sheets with a violent gangster.

She also could really appreciate how he looked when he was sleeping and he didn’t look as dangerous as she was well aware he was. But even here in his arms, feeling safe of all things, she couldn’t stop thinking about last night. She couldn’t think about all the things he said and all the things he said without really saying anything at all.

Here she was in the arms of a man she occasionally hung out and occasionally got absolutely rawed by and she knew his name and, she supposed, his occupation. But that’s where it ended. She didn’t know a thing about him.

He obviously had some kind of sentimental connection to the guy in Beth’s house. Was that the kid that he seemed to have? No, that’s stupid, he’s no that old.

How old was he anyway?

Jesus, he offered to kill someone for her like he was offering to do some gardening.

God, she was crazy as he always said she was.

She could always ask him for answers to her myriad of questions. She may not get those answers but she could always ask.

“If you keep staring at me like that, I might catch fire,” he mumbled, eyes only half-open.

“I like looking at you,” she smiled, snuggling closer to him.

“Yeah, right,” he huffed, smiling slightly. “Why are you being creepy?”

“I am not being creepy!” she protested, trying to wriggle away from him but instead being pulled closer to him.

“So, staring at someone while they sleep ain’t creepy?” he asked, voice husky from sleep but still mirthful.

“I was thinking and I just happened to be looking at you,” she pouted.

“Aw, c’ mon, don’t pout,” he chuckled. “I’m just playin’ with you. What’s on your mind baby girl?”

She looked away from him for a second, biting back a sigh.

“Go on. Spit it out,” he urged.

“I was just thinking about how I don’t know anything about you,” she admitted, shrugging to appear nonchalant.

He went unnervingly still and she wondered if he would just leave. She wasn’t worried though. He never hurt her and she had the feeling that he wouldn’t hurt her. Well. Not unless she asked him to.

He surprised her when he next spoke. “What do you wanna know?”

“Is Rio your real name?” she blurted, prompting him to smirk.

“Uh, not quite,” he said and she cocked her head at him. “It’s Christopher.”

“What?” she said smiling. “So is ‘Rio’ your gang name or something?”

“You could say that?” he laughed.

“How old are you?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s rude to ask somebody their age,” he teased closing his eyes and resting his forehead on her shoulder.

“Come on,” she whined.

“Alright, alright,” he chuckled. “I’m 35.”

“Well. You’re very well preserved for such an elderly gentleman.”

“Shut up,” he said flopping onto his back. “How old are you?”

“25. I still think you’re hot. Wrinkles and all,” she teased.

“I’m pretty sure the whole “daddy’ thing on your part says a lot about how you feel about my age,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Swiftly changing the subject,” she said loudly.

“We still on this 20 questions bullshit?” he chuckled.

“Indulge me.”

“I can indulge you in other ways.”

“Don’t try and distract me!” she chided.

He just laughed and threw an arm over his eyes, clearly still not ready to wake up.

“Do you have any kids?” she asked quickly, trying to piggyback on the levity of the moment.

He sighed heavily, knowing not answering would just make her more curious. “Yeah. I got a son. Name’s Marcus. He’s 5.”

“An actual daddy,” she whispered, mostly to herself.

“You’re real weird, you know that?” he asked casually, toying with one of her braids.

“Wait. If you’re here, then who’s Marcus with? You didn’t leave him at home alone did you?” she asked suddenly frantic.

“Yo, chill,” he chuckled. “He’s with my ex.”

“So,” she started nervously. “Can I meet him?”

He looked like he was weighing the idea in his mind and he didn’t look upset by the idea. “One day, yeah.”

“Cool,” she said smiling.

“You done interrogating me?” he asked.

“No.”

He sighed a dramatic long-suffering sigh but the smile on his face was unmistakable. “What?”

“Are you ever gonna take me on a date or what?” she asked half-seriously.

“Why do you ask?” he drawled, raising an eyebrow and brushing her hair out of her face.

“Because,” she started. “This arrangement… it makes me feel cheap. A lady likes to be romanced. ”

“Mm so it’s not about free food?” he smirked.

“That too,” she admitted readily. “Since you’re always eating mine.”

“I’m a guest. You gotta treat me right.” He chuckled.

“I’m literally bending over backwards for you and you can’t even get me a nice meal?! Where have all the good men gone?” she huffed turning away from him.

“You like bending over for me though,” he whispered, pressing himself against her back and kissing at her neck, a hand squeezing her hip suggestively.

“Jesus, do you have an off switch?” she said breathily.

“You can only turn me on, baby,” he teased.

“Get out of my house,” she laughed, elbowing him off her, ignoring his answering chuckle. “You really are a dad.”

“What can I say? It’s a talent.”

She hummed non-committedly and snuggled up to him, enjoying the lazy morning and the novelty of normalcy at that moment. She could almost pretend that any of this was real. That she was in bed with her boyfriend and that there wasn’t a gun in its now usual spot on her nightstand.

Chapter Text

So.

Beth wanted to wash money at frickin’ Costco, huh?

It went without saying that she wanted no part in it given that she was already playing with the fire that was dating (?) a violent gangster. But she could understand. She could understand why Beth was dragging out her involvement in all…this. Heck, Beth’s reasons were definitely more noble and altruistic than hers.

She just couldn’t stay away from Rio.

And Beth’s husband had cancer.

One way or another, Rio was going to be hanging around them.

She felt awful but she couldn’t help the resentment that had taken root inside her. She couldn’t help but wonder why he kept making Beth’s life difficult. And God help her, she felt like he was lying, the thought niggling impatiently at the back of her mind but no one lies about having fucking cancer.

Right?

And then that Agent Turner, showing up at Beth’s house. How did everything go to shit so quickly?

So what if they were laundering money? Money is a pointless and empty human construct. Rio should be able to print his own empty human constructs. She felt like that argument, however, wouldn’t hold up in court.

Beth was spooked definitely, having much to lose, but Beth came to understand the way she understood, that Rio wasn’t bothered by the looming presence of the FBI. She figured he was used to it and was sly enough to dodge them and keep dodging them. So until further notice, whether Beth liked it or not, that money had to get washed because Rio was going to collect.

She hated when he got like that. All ‘mob boss with no concern for anybody else’.

But she couldn’t stay away from him. Even when he wasn’t with her, they were constantly texting and she thought that they would have zero things in common but they got along pretty well. Though they had the odd squabble and snipe fest, things were…good.

They even started going on dates. Nothing too fancy, but times that were just for them. Times when he was just Christopher and not Rio. And things were good.

Beth was starting to get suspicious though. Every time Rio would have meetings with them, she would slip up, smiling at him or mouthing off just to get a reaction from him. She even wore one of his hoodies once, and Beth zeroed in on it interrogating her about it. She simply shrugged and said it was new but she knew Beth wasn’t buying it. Circumstances kept putting off a full-on interrogation but she knew that she would have to answer some questions.

That’s why she was with Beth when Agent Turner came round again.

That’s why she was in the back of Beth’s minivan while Beth pleaded Rio to take this whole situation seriously.

“So what do I say?” Beth asked frantically, voice low.

“To who?” Rio asked calmly, counting money.

“The FBI,” Beth said slowly. “What do I say to them?”

“They ain’t got nothing,” Rio said levelly.

“They’ve clearly got something,” she muttered wryly.

“They’ve got a picture of you!” Beth exclaimed, glancing between the two of them incredulously.

“That ain’t special. I’m on Facebook too,” Rio said dryly, counting out the rest of the money and handing it to Beth. “Your cut.”

She let out a surprised laugh, earning a smirk from Rio who was very smug about his comedic abilities and a furious look from Beth. She cleared her throat and kept silent and Rio took that as his cue to get out of the minivan.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Beth implored.

“Listen,” Rio said tiredly, running a hand down his face. “In my line of work, if you don’t have the FBI on your back, you ain’t making noise.”

“I don’t want to make noise,” Beth said glaring at him. “They’re gonna wanna know what someone like me is doing with someone like you.”

“What are you doing with someone like me?” he drawled, smirking at Beth.

Her eyes prickled and she glanced sharply at him but his attention was on Beth.

“Well, obviously I can’t tell them that,” Beth said after faltering for a second, disarmed by the sudden flirtation.

“Right, right,” Rio said agreeably. “Alright, so tell them I was hitting it.”

Well.

“What?” Beth asked confused.

“Oh, I’m sorry, sweetheart,” he said insincerely. “Tell them…we were making love.”

She felt cold. Completely frozen.

 She thought things were good.

“How- how do I even say that?” Beth asked.

“You’ll think of something,” he said laughing slightly. “Make me sound good though, ey.”

He got out of the car and she could feel his gaze on her but she stared silently at her shoes, feeling like she was breaking a little.

“Okay, no, what the hell is going on with you and Rio?” Beth demanded.

Before she could fumble for an answer, Beth’s phone trilled and they were going to Ruby at the hospital. She wished she could say that she was saved by the bell.

But at what cost?

**

She stayed with Ruby until Ruby sighed and told her to go home, citing that she was gonna scare Sarah when she woke up with her brooding.

When she woke up. Not if.

She couldn’t help but brood. Thinking about the feds, thinking about Beth.

Thinking about Rio.

But above all, she knew how Sarah probably felt. To be in and out of hospitals, t have your body betray you and see the fallout in your family, see the financial struggle. She still struggled with the knowledge of her treacherous body and she had thankfully managed to keep that from Rio. She supposed that didn’t matter anymore.

Sarah was so young though. She supposed though that these things seldom spared the young.

Sarah was sleeping, face ashen, adorned with a cannula but she wanted to grab her and envelope her in a hug and promise that it gets better. That it may not be better by a large margin but that it does get better and that she needs to just take her medicine and let them worry about the bleeding rest of it. She didn’t need anything else to deal with it.

But she let Ruby herd her out of the hospital room and in a daze she took herself home, still feeling that unshakeable cold.

Still, in a daze, she unlocked her door and craving the warmth of her bed and feeling weighed down by exhaustion she made a beeline for her bedroom but she was stopped suddenly by a voice.

“So what? You ignoring me now?” he asked.

“What?” she asked dumbly as he walked towards her, expression equal parts thunderous and hurt.

“I’ve been texting you, calling you. And nothing,” he said levelly, contradicting his facial expression.

She fumbled for her phone and she found that she had 6 texts and 5 missed calls, all from Christopher.

“I didn’t check my phone. Ruby’s daughter is in the hospital,” she said quietly, keeping her eyes on his chest. “Besides, maybe you’d rather be talking to Beth.”

She couldn’t help the bitterness that coloured her voice and she was a little embarrassed because she evidently liked him a lot more than he liked her.

“We really doing this again?” he asked irritated.

“Be real with me,” she started conversationally. “How many hoes you got?”

He fixed her with a hard glare but she didn’t back down. She needed answers. They needed to hash this out because she couldn’t take it if she had to share him while she gave him everything she had in her. She couldn’t love a man who didn’t want to love her in return.

“Hm? How many?” she challenged. “You trying to add Beth to your roster or something? Is that it?”

He was silent, looking away from her with his jaw clenched and brow furrowed. She hated putting that look on his face but it had to be said.

“I can’t do this with you if that’s the case,” she whispered, eyes tearing up. “I can’t. It’s not fair-“

“I’m trying to keep you safe!” He bit out, startling her.

“What?”

“If the feds think I’m fucking Beth, they won’t be looking too closely at you and you won’t get fucked over by your bitchass friends. If that creep from the party told them what you told him, we can just say I’m a real cheating asshole and leave it at that,” he said tiredly, running a palm down his face.

She was a little floored and a little embarrassed by her outburst. So much so that she couldn’t even reprimand him for talking about her friends like that. She opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. What could she say to that? Sorry? Thank you?

He scoffed and stepped closer, wrapping an arm around her waist and tipping her chin up with a finger. “How many times do I gotta tell you that you’re mine, baby girl? When are you gonna believe that?”

She took a shaky breath, putting her hands on his chest and closed her eyes, stealing herself for rejection.

“When you tell me that you’re mine too,” she said quietly.

He was quiet for a moment and he looked down shaking his head. “You don’t want that.”

“And how would you know what I want?” she retorted.

He just shook his head and she decided that she wasn’t going to back down. No more assumptions.

“Tell me,” she urged. “Unless you don’t want to- then it’s fine just- I mean-“

“I’m yours,” he interrupted, tone firm, contrasting the gentle way he cradled her face. “But you shouldn’t want that.”

“You shouldn’t launder money either yet here we are,” she said wryly, smile watery.

He gave a soft chuckle, pulling her closer. “You right, you right.”

“I’m always-“she started but he silenced her with a kiss.

And she knew that despite everything, they would be fine.

They had to be.

Chapter Text

After that, he was softer, more vulnerable.

His touches, once firm and commanding, were now furtive, almost as though he expected that she would break at the slightest nudge.

On the other hand, it seemed like this new hesitance came about because he was expecting rejection at any given moment. Like she would change her mind.

But then again their dynamic had definitively changed. It was more, it was deeper, and it was them getting under each other’s skin and refusing to leave. Maybe now that they were dating (?) he thought that they couldn’t proceed as they used to.

He had also taken to buying her gifts, ranging from small things like plain, silver rings to designer lingerie sets that he never even asked to see.

She did not care for that shit.

He should know better. She wanted him before the gifts and she would want him after them. So why he felt the need to ply her with things was quite frankly beyond her.

Even when he took her to bed, it was…different.

He would lay her down gently, pressing soft kisses all over her, running his hands reverently all over her, working her up to the point of sensitivity. Then, slowly and firmly he would thrust into her, languidly moving against her until she was crying with overstimulation.

It was an amazing side of him and it was a side that she had grown to appreciate whenever they were…intimate but at the same time her heart broke at the implication that he felt like he couldn’t be himself anymore.

Also sometimes a girl wants to feel it the next day, you know?

She was sat at her desk, sketchbook blank, logos the last thing on her mind, and mindlessly tossing gummy worms into her mouth.

What to do, what to do?

Seeing as they were effectively living together at this point, she figured that she had about a couple of hours before he was home to figure this out. Doing any actual work appeared to be a lost cause so she might as well do something about her…boyfriend? Question mark?

That was a problem for later as well.

Then, suddenly, it hit her and she pushed her office chair back, spinning while she smiled to herself ecstatically.

That’s it! The goddamn lingerie!

She had a pile of Fenty that made her itch when she even tried to think about the price but he just…wouldn’t stop giving it to her. He never asked to see her in it for whatever reason but oho! Tonight was the night.

She was honestly so smart sometimes.

She decided that a shower was in order first and if she had calculated correctly she would still have time to rifle through her closet before he got back.

Imagine having to entice your own…boyfriend-like person. Boyfriend sounded so juvenile but whatever she was overthinking.

Once showered, she was at her closet, going through the various garments and marvelling at how much of it she had tossed into her closet and forgotten about. There was so much to choose from! Eventually, she settled on a white lace flyaway camisole and panties with white lace trim stockings, liking the contrast of the white material against her dark skin.

She put on the cami and she absently wondered how he knew exactly what would fit her rather voluptuous figure.

She had just pulled on her stockings when she heard the front door unlock and someone steps in.

Oof, okay let’s do this.

“Baby?” he called out and she could hear him walking towards the bedroom.

“Bedroom,” she replied shakily, suddenly nervous. She knelt on the bed, fluffing her braids, and waited for him to come in.

“You good? You sound weird. Well, weirder than…” he trailed off when he stepped into the room, his smirk flagging.

“Hi, daddy,” she said smiling cheekily at his reaction.

“What’s this all about?” his asked, eyes raking up and down her body.

“I wanted to surprise you,” she said, honestly. “I want you to play with me.”

He looked like he wanted to eat her alive but his expression clouded, his brow furrowing before he glanced at his phone.

“Uh, listen,” he said, scratching his temple. “I actually can’t stay, I gotta, uh-“

“What’s wrong, Christopher?” she sighed.

“Nothin’,” he shrugged, still not looking at her.

“Nothing,” she parroted sceptically. “Then why do you look like you want to run out of this room? Why won’t you touch me?”

“I do touch you,” he said defensively, throwing his hands up.

“Not like you used to,” she retorted. “You know I don’t mind when you get rough with me.”

He fell silent at that and she knew she’d struck a nerve.

“You do know that, don’t you?” she asked, trying to catch his eye. “Right?”

“Sooner or later, you’re gonna realize that I’m no good for you,” he said bitterly.

“Rio,” she sighed sadly. “I want you. No matter what. Fuck, you had a gun to my best friends’ heads and I’m still here. Because you apologized because you’re trying to be better and you’re doing it for me.”

He shook his head at her words and she stepped off the bed to stand right in front of him, hands fisted in his shirt.

“Don’t shake your head at me. I asked you to be mine. I asked,” she said insistently. “Same way I asked you to choke me, spank me, and fuck me.”

“I’m real selfish, you know,” he started. “So, I don’t want to push you too far. So far that you’ll get tired of my bullshit and leave. I don’t want you to leave.”

“Then don’t shut me out,” she implored. “I will tell you when I don’t like something. I’ve been doing that!”

He chuckled a little at that. “Mouthy little shit.”

“Thank you,” she said smiling.

He wrapped his arms around her, bumping his nose against hers before kissing her insistently and she looped her arms around his neck to pull him closer before she pulled away suddenly.

“So are we gonna…” she trailed off meaningfully, cocking her head towards the bed. “Or do you still have somewhere you gotta be?”

“Shut up,” he laughed, hugging her tightly.

They held each other for a bit and she thought about how she never would have thought that a gun-toting gang leader would make her this happy.

“Seriously though,” she said into his chest. “I didn’t get dressed up for nothing.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

He looked down at her and he smirked, his eyes lingering on her thighs and breasts. His hand travelled down to her hip, his thumb rubbing at the lace of her panties.

“Hm,” he hummed. “Is this all for me, baby girl?”

“Yes, daddy,” she said, biting her lip.

He swept her into another searing kiss, the hand at her hip moving to grip her ass and she whimpered into his mouth. God, she was already getting wet.

His mouth moved to kiss along her jaw and down her neck before he stopped to bite and lick at the juncture of her neck and shoulder. With each nip she moaned softly, her heart hammering with anticipation of what was to come.

He took his hand off her ass and slipped it into the back of her panties, two fingers spreading her lips and rubbing along her opening and she gasped at the sensation.

“Damn, already so wet for me, baby girl,” he husked appreciatively into her ear.

He slipped a finger into her and slid it leisurely in and out of her and she mewled at the sensation, the stretch delicious but nowhere near enough to cum.

“Papi,” she whined, eyes screwed shut.

“What is it, baby?” he asked innocently, never breaking his pace.

“More, please,” she whispered.

“I couldn’t hear you so good, baby. What was that?”

“I need more, daddy,” she whimpered, burning with embarrassment.

“Say it,” he said firmly.

“My, my,” she stammered. “My pussy feels too empty, daddy.”

“Oh, baby,” he drawled, feigning sympathy. “All you need to do is ask.”

He slipped another thick finger inside her, his pace quickening, the slide easy because of how wet she was. She sagged against him, her legs quivering with the sensation, her moans soft and high.

He surprised her with a third finger and she yelped, her walls clenching slightly around his fingers and she could feel herself leaking uncontrollably around.

“Daddy, daddy, daddy,” she mumbled incoherently.

“You like that?” He whispered. “You like having this pussy stuffed?”

“Uh-huh,” she whimpered, eyes half-lidded. “Daddy, I’m so close, I’m gonna cum.”

And with that he pulled his fingers out, making her whine her finger fisted in his shirt.

“Papi,” she whined, tugging at his shirt.

“Shh shh, he chided. “Don’t you wanna be good for me?”

She nodded eagerly at him. “Always, daddy, always.”

He took his fingers, still wet with her juices and rubbed them at her bottom lip and she instinctively licked at them, tasting herself on his fingers.

“Open,” he ordered and she obediently opened her mouth for him to slide his fingers in.

He slid his fingers into her mouth, the pads of fingers rubbing at her tongue, making her taste herself as she stared wide-eyed at him.

“Such a good little slut,” he growled and she found herself growing wetter at the word.

He thrust his fingers deeper, almost making her gag on them and she suckled on them eagerly, imagining it was his dick.

“On your knees,” he ordered.

She sank to her knees and looked up at him, her mouth and pussy growing impossibly wetter because she knew what was coming.

He unzipped his pants and pulled his cock out, already hard and leaking pre-cum and she opened her mouth instinctively.

“So eager,” he smirked.

He laid his cock against her face and she closed her eyes, feeling a thrill go through her at the degrading action. He then took the tip and rubbed it along her bottom lip and she stuck her tongue to lick at it, prompting him to swear.

Wasting no time, he grabbed a handful of her braids and slid his length into her mouth, groaning as he pushed into her mouth. He pulsed in her mouth and she drooled as she savoured the weight against her tongue and the taste of him in her mouth.

Fisting both hands in her hair, he thrust slowly in and out of her mouth, gaining speed with each thrust, making her head bob sloppily all over his dick. She pressed her tongue on the underside of his dick making his hips stutter but otherwise spurning him on, making him thrust deeper, the head of his dick hitting the back of her throat.

“This what you wanted?” he growled. “You like this, you little slut?”

She moaned around his dick, her eyes screwed shut and watering at the assault on her throat and she thought that yes, this was exactly what she wanted.

“Look at me while I fuck this whore mouth.” He snarled and she clenched at his tone.

She looked up at him, loving the way his face flushed and his lips parted as he panted, his hips still not faltering and she hoped that he would cum in her mouth.

All the while he was fucking her mouth, she could feel herself soaking her panties, her nipples straining at the material of her camisole. She tweaked her nipples through the material and slipped a hand into her panties, marvelling at how wet she was. She rubbed at her clit, making herself moan around his cock and suddenly he pulled out.

“Get on the bed. Ass up,” he ordered darkly.

Confused, she complied, hurrying over to the bed and presenting herself to him.

“I’m gonna spank you,” he husked. “You know why?”

She racked her brain trying to think of why she was being punished when it suddenly hit her.

“I touched myself, Papi,” she whispered, ashamed.

She couldn’t see him but she could hear something hitting the ground and she assumed he was taking his clothes off.

“What did I say about that?” he asked gravely.

“I shouldn’t touch daddy’s things,” she recited obediently.

“Whose pussy is this?” he demanded.

“Yours, Papi. I’m sorry,” she whimpered.

“You’re gonna count, baby girl.”

Suddenly a hand struck her ass hard and she lurched forward, the pain somehow making her wetter.

“One, daddy,” she whimpered.

He struck her again, this time against the back of her thigh and she gasped at the contact.

“Two, daddy.”

The third time, he struck her against her pussy and she let out something across between a moan and yelp, the pain and pleasure of the action making her clench and making her eyes roll back,

“Three, Papi,” she panted.

On and on he went, each strike unpredictable but just as hard as the last, each making her mind go blissfully blank. She felt like she was floating and all she could do was moan, pant, and gasp.

“Twenty, Papi,” she cried out eventually.

He slid her panties to the side and stuck two fingers into her dripping pussy and he scissored them making her moan, the endorphins making her feel light-headed.

“My little slut enjoyed her punishment, huh?” he mused, still scissoring his fingers. “What did we learn?”

“I shouldn’t touch daddy’s things,” she whimpered.

“I should cuff you next time,” he said. “That way you can’t be naughty, huh?”

She whimpered at the thought, like the thought.

“You’d like that huh, baby girl? Could tie you up. Use this pussy and all you could do is take it.”

She clenched at his words and he crooked his fingers inside her, rubbing insistently at her walls, making her legs tremble.

“Such a little whore,” he mused. “Dressing up like this. Just to get some dick.”

“Just for you, daddy,” she gasped as he pulled his fingers out.

Just then the bed sagged and she felt a pressure at her entrance and she pushed back against it but he struck her ass again making her mewl pathetically.

“You’ll take what I give you, bitch,” he snarled. “Unless you ask nicely.”

He rubbed the tip of his dick enticingly along her lips and she whined desperately. “Please, daddy. Papi, fuck me.”

“I don’t know, baby girl,” he mused. “I don’t know if you want it that bad.”

“Papi,” she whined. “Please, fuck my pussy. I feel so empty, I wanna cum on your cock. Pleeease.”

“What else?” he asked, voice thick with desire, slipping the tip in.

“Stuff me full of cum, Papi. I’m your cock slut. I need it. Please, please, please. Fuck me, daddy. Fuck me,” she rambled.

With that, he slammed in, and she moaned loudly at the intrusion but he gave her no time to adjust, immediately sliding out and slamming back in. His grip on her hips bruising he slammed her back and forth onto his cock, punching moans out of her.

“Daddy,” she moaned.

“Look at you,” he murmured. “So pretty like this, Panties to the side, in your cute little stockings, stuffed full of dick.”

“I love your cock, I love it,” she mumbled incoherently.

“Wish you could see yourself, creaming on my dick,” he growled.

He pressed his chest to her back, pistoning into her roughly, the change in angle making her cry out, her face now streamed with tears. His hand came to wrap around her throat just the way she liked and she clenched around him, feeling completely owned. His hips never slowing down, slamming into her roughly, her walls weeping around his length.

“Take it, bitch. Take this dick,” he snarled. “My horny little girl.”

“Papi,” she rasped. “I’m gonna cum. Please, can I cum?”

“Cum, baby. Cum all up on this dick,” he ordered, rolling his hips inside her before resuming his punishing pace.

He snuck a hand between her legs, roughly rubbing at her clit before smacking it and she arched against him, her orgasm washing over her.

“Papi,” she gasped voice high. “I’m cumming.”

With each wave that moved through her, she gave high keening gasps, her walls spasming uncontrollably, gushing around his length. He fucked her through her orgasm, his pace becoming disjointed and erratic and she felt him twitch inside her.

“Shit, baby,” he swore, pressing his forehead into her shoulder.

“Cum inside me, daddy,” she begged.

And he thrust into her roughly, his dick twitching as he spurt cum into her, coating her walls with warmth. She moaned softly at the feeling against her sensitive walls, his dick still hard as he lazily thrust in and out of her.

He gently pulled out of her, drawing a hiss from her and he collapsed next to her, chest still rising and falling quickly with exertion. Her knees gave out and she collapsed also panting next to him, sated and exhausted.

He pulled her close to him, letting her tuck herself into his side, her head on his shoulder, looking up at him. Wordlessly, he pulled her in for a gentle kiss and she sighed into it.

“You did good, baby. So good for me, baby girl,” he whispered, rubbing her cheek.

“I was good?” she mumbled.

“Always so good for me, baby girl,” he assured.

“Thank you, daddy,” she mumbled, half asleep.

“You need some water, baby?” he asked sounding worried.

She just shook her head, eyes closed, sleeping pulling her.

“Get some sleep, baby,” he said quietly.

“M’kay. Love you,” she mumbled and she fell asleep.

Fast asleep as she was, she didn’t notice how he tensed under her and it was truer than ever at that moment, that ignorance, was true bliss.

Chapter Text

She woke up slowly, gaining awareness but keeping her eyes closed.

She felt the bed beside her and found it empty. Though unusual, she figured that he went to “work” and shrugged mentally, rolling onto her back. She stretched languidly and she relished in the pleasant soreness that she felt.

Worth it.

She went about her day as she usually did, doing some preliminary sketches, sending off finished projects, invoicing and other mind-numbing activities. She only stopped to eat and tidy up so all in all it was a busy day for someone who works from home and sets their own hours.

Sending off another email, she rubbed at her itchy eyes and realized that the sun was down and she’d been staring at her screen in the dark.

Getting up from her desk chair, she stretched and headed to the kitchen to make herself some well-deserved hot chocolate, checking her phone on the way. Skillfully ignoring some texts from Beth imploring her to talk to her, she noticed that she had none from Christopher. Odd.

Even odder, was the fact that he wasn’t back yet. He kept sporadic hours but he would at least text to say that he was gonna be late. Heck, sometimes he didn’t come back sometimes.

So why was she so worried?

It was probably nothing.

Right?

 

Days passed with her seeing hide nor hair of him. Radio silence on her phone and she tried to act like she wasn’t bothered by it.

But she was.

So it was only natural that she was very bothered when the next time she saw him was with his hand on the back of Beth’s head and a gun pressed to her jaw.

Turns out, one of the poor, guileless women Beth dragged into this utter catastrophe was stealing. Just straight up giving the counterfeit money and all the while, getting real cash. Honestly, she could understand his anger. She understood because good god, the audacity.

What she didn’t understand was why even after he told Beth to give him a name, he left without a backwards glance, practically looking through her.

It was fine though. She could take a hint.

She didn’t understand what she did wrong though. For him to just do a 180 and ghost her. No matter, she supposed it was a matter of time. After all, look at him and then look at her.

So she went on with life, trying to pretend like he hadn’t punched a hole through her chest, like her house didn’t seem emptier than usual, like she didn’t want to sob and scream and leave angry messages for him. She did still have her pride after deciding that the string of read messages was the extent to which she was willing to grovel.

She felt so numb and rubbed raw at the same time that she barely reacted when she was with the girls and they discovered the thief. Mary Pat Warner.

The bitch.

She respectfully declined to meet the woman because for some reason she wanted to claw the woman’s eyes out. So she wasn’t there when the girls ended being fucking blackmailed.

Part of her wanted to send Chris- Rio the name and nothing more and have him handle it but it was her understanding that the woman had children. Were it not for them then she would have somewhat guiltily handed her over. Her protective instinct for her friends overwriting her morals.

He didn’t have to kill her per se. They could just threaten her. A little.

But Rio had apparently gone quiet, since he was feeling some heat and so they were left to deal with Mary Pat.

Beth eventually did pay her but the cunt had the nerve to ask for more every month.

She was just so angry. At Beth, at Mary Pat, at Rio. The whole situation made her want to scream, and rage, and break everything she could.

She was a little grateful when Beth started keeping her out of the loop because she couldn’t think about it. She couldn’t think about him anymore.

So she stayed at home and worked and worked and worked till her eyes hurt and her hands were cramping. Anything to take her mind off of the shitshow that was their life.

Imagine her shock when she turned on her TV to see him being led away in cuffs on the news.

That night she cried herself to sleep.

And then she was back at the hospital as Beth cried/laughed hysterically because Rio had shot Beth’s husband.

He shot Dean because Beth, Ruby, and Annie robbed Fine and Frugal again just so they could hand Rio over to the FBI.

It worked. But the fucker made bail.

Dean was fine of course but just knowing that in a fit of vengeful rage, Rio took himself all the way to Beth’s house just to terrorize Beth as coerce her into shooting either him or Dean. SO it was safe to assume that he was either very disturbed or he had a deadly temper. Either way, she should be happy. She should be letting go of him happily.

But she ached for him. God, she ached.

She tried to be there with them, be there for them but it was obvious that something was wrong. She brushed it off as tiredness or chronic pain but she knew that Beth knew she was lying.

They were still long overdue for a long talk.

The only time she saw him, face to face was at the park with Beth, Annie and Ruby. It was when he told them to ‘take care’ of Boomer and it was the first time she saw Marcus.

For some reason, a pit formed in her stomach and she couldn’t be around them, around him so she got up and hurried away feeling bile and tears well up inside her. She felt his gaze heavily on her back but she didn’t turn back because even like this she refused to let him see her cry. She refused to let him see how he broke her. So she mumbled something about not feeling well and having another flare-up, knowing that they would know what she meant. And she ran.

She knew logically that she wasn’t taking this well and her refusal to even acknowledge her feelings was throwing her into a deep, deep, depression but she was an expert in faking it till you make it.

She should’ve know that it wasn’t that easy when he kept showing up, not at her house but when she was with Beth. He’d pressure her a little more about the Boomer issue and he’d carve out a piece of her while she sat silently by. Then he’d leave and she’d smile at Beth an act like everything was fine. But it wasn’t fine. Not yet.

It was only natural in the shitstorm of her life that Agent Turner would pay her a visit.

She felt like death warmed over, the way she always did these days and she answered the door in her PJs. Thank God she showered at least.

“Hello,” she said dumbly and Agent Turner smiled wryly.

“Hi. Agent Turner with the FBI. Mind if I come in?” he asked already stepping forward.

“Come in, come in,” she replied, feeling like her brain was running on half speed.

“You don’t look so hot. Everything okay?” he asked, looking around the room.

She shrugged, feeling like Agent Turner wasn’t too interested in her emotional struggles.

“I’m fine-ish,” she said. “What can I do for you, Agent Turner?”

“Have we met before?” he asked giving her a strange look.

“I’m friends with Beth,” she said honestly. “You probably saw me with her.”

“Right, right,” he said, slapping his forehead.

“Is this about Beth? Did something happen?” she asked worriedly.

“Why would something have happened?” Agent Turner asked shrewdly.

“There’s a street near her house that doesn’t have a stop sign. I know her husband got into an accident recently so I’ve been pretty worried about her,” she said rubbing a hand across her eyes.

He hummed, seemingly satisfied with her answer. “I’m actually here to ask you about your boyfriend.”

“Christopher?” she asked, feigning confusion. “What did he do? Also, he’s my ex-boyfriend.”

She didn’t have to force out the tears that welled in her eyes, feeling her throat constrict. She looked away feeling ashamed about breaking down in front of a stranger.

“Ex?” he asked sounding confused.

She scoffed bitterly. “He didn’t even break up with me y’know. He just stopped coming over, stopped answering my texts, stopped caring. God. As if he even cared in the first place.”

“Are you aware that, uh, Christopher, was involved in some gang activity?”

“What?” she asked incredulously. “Just because he’s a little rough looking, with the tattoos and stuff doesn’t mean- I mean, I have tattoos, there’s no way-“

“My sources are reliable,” Agent Turner said wryly. Boomer. “He’s a dangerous individual wanted by the FBI in connection with some money laundering charges.”

She decided that then was a good time to burst into tears.

God,” she sobbed. “It all makes sense now. No wonder he just ghosted. Gang members aren’t exactly the type you take home to meet your mother.”

“I’m sorry you had to find out like this,” Agent Turner said solemnly.

Swiping away at her tears angrily, she waved her hand dismissively. “It’s on me. I didn’t even know where he lived and I thought that we actually… had something. I’m so stupid.”

“So you don’t know anything? He didn’t mention anything to you?” Agent Turner pressed.

“I thought it was really nice how he got to know me but he was really just trying to stop me from asking questions about him,” she smiled shakily. “No. He only really told me his name and the shows he liked on Netflix. Other than that… we didn’t do too much talking.”

Agent Turner nodded, looking a little uncomfortable, not knowing what to do with a sobbing stranger. “Well, if he comes back or you hear anything, give me a call.”

He handed her a pristine business card and she took it sniffing slightly. “I will. I- I hope he doesn’t come back now, though.”

He smiled tightly. “Understandable. Have a nice day, miss.”

“You too, Agent.” And he was gone.

She took herself to bed, wrapping herself up in her blankets and she cried herself to sleep.

**

She was a little surprised when he showed up at her house, silently taking her to some non-descript parking lot.

“For you,” he said, gesturing at a car and not quite meeting her eyes.

“For me,” she deadpanned.

“Yeah,” he sighed.

“So,” she started. “What is this? A breakup car? An ‘I’m sorry I ghosted you’ car?”

“It’s just a gift,” he said throwing his hands up. “Just so there’s no hard feelings.”

She levelled him with an incredulous stare. “I don’t want it. Goodbye, Christopher.”

She turned to walk away but was stopped in her tracks. “Hey.”

“What?” she asked with a sigh.

“One last hug?” he asked almost shyly.

She fought with herself internally and she wondered if she would be remiss in indulging herself one last time.

So she hugged him and she tried not to cry for the umpteenth time.

“Do you- Do you wanna come over?” she whispered.

He took her gently that time, moving so smoothly and insistently against her that she wept with how close he felt.

She pretended like it didn’t hurt when he left again.

**

Then Beth’s daughter went missing, Ruby was a double agent apparently, Beth got robbed and Dean left took the kids.

Ruby was the one who found Jane. Which is why it was strange that Ruby would do something like that. Ruby couldn’t though and she knew Ruby couldn’t but that meant that Stan got arrested and Agent Turner was breathing hard down Beth’s neck.

She had been trying to spend more time with Beth because she knew that it was really weird for Beth to be alone in the house without the kids but she was starting to feel like she wasn’t really helping. Her depression was an ever-present fog and she felt like she was coming down with some kind of bug with how nauseous she felt all the time. Or she had stress-related acid reflux. Whatever the case, she was too sad and too quiet but Beth seemed to appreciate having someone to coddle. It also stopped Beth from eating her Lean Cuisines alone and eat actual food.

She tried to ignore the glances Beth would shoot her. Sometimes angry, sometimes sad, sometimes confused.

But they powered through anyway.

She spent most of her time sleeping. She was impossibly tired and nauseous, throwing up every morning yet she couldn’t find it in herself to see a doctor.

So she slept and hoped it would go away.

It was on such an occasion when she was dozing off on the couch, munching away on mangoes with salt that she heard a knock at her door. She sighed and dragged herself away from her snack to find that it was Beth at the door.

“Beth. Hi.” She said smiling slightly. “Come on in. Everything alright?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Beth said, shaking her head. “I just- I need to tell you something. Oh. I also brought you some gluten-full cupcakes that those PTA bitches rejected.”

“You worked so hard on those!” she said indignantly. “But thanks anyway. So what’s up?”

Beth blinked, blue eyes wide and nervous, her mouth opening and closing silently.

“Are you in trouble? Do you need some-“

“I slept with Rio,” Beth blurted.

“Okay,” she said dumbly, ears burning and stomach roiling. “I don’t understand why-“

“I’m telling you,” Beth started. “Because every time I fucked him, he would say your name.”

“What?” she whispered, her mouth dry.

“He’d say your name. He’d keep his eyes closed and say your name,” Beth said passively.

“I- I don’t,” she floundered, eyes watering.

“What was going on between you two?” Beth asked gently.

“I was sleeping with him,” she croaked. “And I loved him.”

“But?” Beth prompted.

“But he stopped coming around. He just ghosted me and I don’t know why. We… saw each other a few weeks ago but I haven’t spoken to him since.” She shrugged.

“I saw you two. In the car park. He was trying to give you a car and you hugged,” Beth said.

She laughed bitterly. “It was supposed to be a break-up car. I settled for breakup sex.”

Beth just nodded like it all made sense suddenly but was otherwise silent.

“I’m sorry, Beth,” she whispered pleadingly, tears flowing freely. “It was just one time but then I got to know him and he was so good to me but I don’t know what I did and-”

“It’s over now,” Beth said holding her as she cried. “It’s okay.”

She buried her face in Beth’s chest and cried, allowing herself to feel everything she’d buried so deep. She relished the solidness and softness that Beth provided and she felt better than she’d had in days.

“You were protecting us, weren’t you? Every time he didn’t hurt us,” Beth asked, rubbing circles into her back.

“Yeah, I-“she hiccupped but she was cut off by the sudden rise of bile in her throat. “Oh, God.”

She rushed off to the bathroom hunching over the toilet as she retched and heaved. More tears staining her face as Beth dutifully held her braids back and rubbed her back.

“You okay?” Beth asked worriedly.

“Yeah, I think I have a bug or something,” she assured.

“Come on,” Beth said helping her up. “We’re going to the doctor.”

“I don’t-“

“I know you don’t like doctors but you look pretty rough,” Beth said firmly.

“Fine, fine,” she conceded.

**

So a few days later found them at Beth’s doctor, Beth rubbing comforting circles into her back as they waited for the doctor to come back with the test results.

A few days later, found her pregnant.

She took it in stride, making the decision to carry the baby to term and she had Beth’s support so she wasn’t too worried. At least not yet. It would probably hit her hard later.

She didn’t tell Christopher, assuming that he didn’t want anything to do with her and if she was being completely honest, she was scared to. So she kept it to herself.

She found herself a couple of days later, staring wistfully at the diapers in Fine and Frugal, wondering what on earth the difference was when a voice interrupted her musings.

“You should get cotton instead. Better for the baby and the environment.”

She looked up and saw arguably one of the most beautiful men she’d ever seen, full lips stretched in a friendly smile, blue-green eyes twinkling with mirth against ochre skin.

“Um, thanks,” she muttered. “It’s a little early to worry about diapers anyway.”

“Better early than never,” he shrugged. “Especially when it comes to, um, diapers.”

She laughed slightly, feeling better now that she knew she wasn’t the only one feeling awkward.

“I’m Ismael by the way,” he said extending a hand and she gave him hers as well.

“Nice to meet you,” she smiled.

“I was wondering if I could get your number,” he asked shyly, rubbing his neck.

“Nah, I don’t think so,” a voice piped up.

She whipped around in recognition. “Christopher, I-“

“We need to talk,” he said stiffly.

“Hey man, I think you need to chill,” Ismael said calmly.

Christopher’s eyes flashed and she placed a hand on his chest looking up at him imploringly despite her irritation.

“I’m sorry, I have to go,” she said apologetically to Ismael.

“No worries. Take my card,” Ismael said, handing her a card, brow furrowed in worry. “Just give me a call if you need anything.”

“I’ll be fine. My ex just needs a word with me,” she said pointedly.

Christopher sneered and scoffed, turning and walking away and she followed him, grimacing apologetically at Ismael one last time.

Once they were in the car park, Christopher rounded on her, expression thunderous, a vision in black as usual.

“What do you want, Christopher?” she asked tiredly.

“Who the fuck was that?” he spat angrily.

“Clearly a stranger,” she said slowly. “A stranger that only gave me his number because he probably thought you were going to hurt me. Calm. Down.”

He looked away from her, jaw still working, eyes still shining with fury and butter jealousy.

“What do you care?” she asked bitterly. “You left. And while you were gone, I heard you got pretty close to Beth.”

The fight seemed to leave him and he heaved a deep sigh, shaking his head. “That didn’t mean anything.”

“Really? Maybe that’s why you left. Because it was really Beth you wanted all along,” she said flatly.

“We both know that ain’t true,” he said giving her a sidelong glance.

“Why did you leave?” she whispered.

“You,” he started. “You said you loved me. And I panicked. ‘Cause you deserve so much more than me. So I left and I hoped you’d forget me.”

“Then what was all that?” she asked, gesturing at the store.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about you,” he said not looking at her. She remembered what Beth said about him saying her name. “Then I saw that dude coming onto you and I just lost my shit, I don’t know.”

He turned to look at her, his expression worried, and vulnerable. He stepped closer to her cradling her face in his hand and she closed her eyes at his touch.

“I love you, too,” he whispered.

“Is that what you came here to say?” she croaked.

“Nah that just slipped out” he said awkwardly. “I came ‘cause Beth let slip that you’re pregnant and if I don’t help her with the feds, you gon’ be raising the little squirt alone.”

Oh, Beth.

“I just,” he started. “I’m asking you for one more chance. Too be good to you. The both of you, I guess.”

She sighed and rested a hand on his chest, fighting with herself. So much of her wanted to say yes, to allow him back in and go back to how things were. The rest of her was scared. Fearful of how much he could hurt her without laying a hand on her.

She fixed him with a hard stare, letting him squirm in the silence. “Fine. But you’re on thin ice. You’re back on the metaphorical couch.”

Her heart stuttered at the smile that stretched across his face and she hoped to god that she hadn’t just handed him the tools to destroy her.