His lips were moving. Drek! How long had he been talking? What had he been talking about? I couldn’t remember what topic we were on. I knew though by the way his voice dipped that we were reaching a point where I was supposed to make the appropriate noise but I didn’t know what noise to make. Was this a success story—one designed to make him look virile and appealing. What if I made the noncommittal noise and offended him for not expressing the appropriate amount of approval, or worse, what if he were in the process of telling me how is dog died or his mom left him? Wrong expression or noise here could truly sabotage all the groundwork I’d laid in getting him relaxed and open on my couch.
Frack! What was with my attention span lately? I couldn’t seem to stay in the here and now. Had I always been like this? Was this a byproduct of running? I didn’t have time to examine it now. The murmur of his voice dipped again, the key for what I knew was my turn to offer something and I’d wasted even more time. I tried to read his body language for a cue but it was all arrogant, cocksure male. He was regaling me and I was about to fail at being regaled.
Fuck it. Oldest tricks worked best.
I stared at his mouth. Uncomfortably long, letting my own lips part open and my tongue dip out to in a subtle wetting motion before pulling my lower lip in between my teeth. The conversation stuttered, came to silent close that was awkward.
I embraced the awkwardness. I considered the widowed woman who was long without a man and hungry for it. And I shot my eyes up to his and let embarrassed heat flood my cheeks as if I’d been caught. I froze, a rabbit. Small prey.
“Oh! I—I’m sorry I …” I let my eyes slide away as if I couldn’t bear to hold his gaze any longer. After being caught in some kind of personal reverie. A trembling breath let him think he could guess what I had been thinking about as I reached past him for the glass of cheap wine that he had brought. “You.. you were saying?”
Looking over the rim of the wine glass I caught his avarice. The interest that had been piqued was stoked by my uncertainty and air of submission.
“I was telling you about the time I busted a Novacoke Ring and got my promotion.”
Of course he was. It was obvious that he would be boasting. “So you were in the Drug Division, I thought you said you were in charge of the Gang Unit?”
He laughed at my ignorance and launched into a detailed explanation of how he had singlehandedly saved the lost city of Chicago or some such bullshit. I tried, I really did, to stay focused. But his incessant drone was driving me to drink this swill of piss wine faster than intended.
No chance in hell was I going to get a decent buzz off this cheap shit. It really wasn’t fair.
“Oh that’s right!” I said at the appropriate time and hummed a cheerful chirp of approval and awe at some insignificant detail. “Keep talking, I’m going to check on the dessert.”
I snagged up our glasses and carried them into the kitchen as he projected his voice after me.
There, on the counter, set his tablet. With the information I needed, but he’d made no move to actually enter into it and show me anything worthwhile.
I continued to make the right sounds as I pulled the soycake from the stove where it had set since I bought it, pre-baked. Two plates. Two forks. Weird, I just now realized I had never used two sets of dishware in this place. Granted, I rarely used one. In the kitchen set the remains of the meal I had picked up and pretended to have cooked. I’m sure I should seal it up and put it away or rinse the dishes they sat on or something, but I also knew sometime this week I’d wonder what the smell was from my apartment and find them still sitting there. I’d simply throw it all away, dishes included.
I looked at the tablet that beckoned. I’d need to see him log in…or…there was always Eagle. Hmm…
He’d told a joke. I laughed on cue. And paused to look at the tray of topped off wine glasses and cake. Reaching into a cabinet above me, I pulled out the bottle of scotch and took two hard long swigs. As the burn settled into my chest and down into my abdomen I smiled with a hint more authenticity for the first time this evening.
Stowing the scotch back away, I gathered up the tray and his tablet and returned to him. His eyes narrowed at the sight of it in my hands and I pretended obliviousness as I handed off his wine and began cutting the cake.
“So, maybe you could show me those gangers so I can keep an eye out for them.”
Ignoring my proffered wine glass he instead snagged his tablet and slid it across the coffee table. Only then did he take the rest from me, “Yeah that won’t do you any good.”
My hand clenched around the knife I was using to slice the cake, “Is that so?” I kept my eyes averted and hair slid forward to hide my face as I fought to gain an edge on my irritation.
“What are you doing to do if you see them?” He practically sneered before puffing up a bit, “You’ll need to have someone you can call to help. Your church isn’t going to be able to protect you. Speaking of which, you need to stop going there for a little while. They’re going to be fragged for awhile. Retaliation is surely coming. ”
I frowned, as I set his plate down before him. I couldn’t tell what part irritated me the most, his assertion that I would need help, his demand that I stop attending, or his assurance that there would be further bloodshed. I lifted widened and deliberately beseeching eyes, “I can’t stop going to the church, they’re my community. Surely there’s something Lonestar could do?”
He scoffed. And his hand came out to grip my wrist, pulling me away from the cake and directing my whole attention to him, “Of course Lonestar could do something but we are busy with serious offenders.”
I didn’t keep my irritation from my eyes, “Kids getting shot up at a church function not serious enough for you?”
The fucker laughed. Like what I said was amusing. Drawing me into him and hugging me with the apparent attempts to soothe me. He even murmured a “there, there” as he rubbed his hands up and down my back, shoulders and arms and drew me ever tighter to him. I didn’t resist. In fact, I settled into him a little as if seeking his strength and assurance.
“I tell you what. I can keep an eye on the church for you. Put together a squad to visibly roll by and demonstrate to anyone watching that we’re there for protection.” His hands turned more possessive as he pulled me more firmly against him, almost into his lap, “I…could…do that.”
I lifted my face from where I’d buried it into him and found his eyes, now focused on my mouth. “I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.” He said as he lowered his head to kiss me.
I let him kiss me as I considered the options. Lonestar presence at the church would guarantee that the gangers would give them a bit of a berth, at least long enough for us to maybe take out a few more of them or come up with some other plan to keep them occupied. A hand found my breast, hesitantly at first and then when I didn’t resist with more force.
I parted my lips and let the kiss deepen as I weighed the other option, I could drug him, search his tablet, send him on his way with an excuse about a bad bottle of wine, but if I let this play out: I’d get the Church protection, access to that tablet, and a connection inside Lonestar that could certainly prove more useful.
His tongue thrust with more forceful hunger inside my mouth as his arms tightened and pulled me into a straddle of his lap. The squeezing hand on my breast now found the peak and I was surprised to feel my body respond with a spark of pleasure.
I tightened my thighs about his waist and arched back a bit to give him more access, breaking the kiss on a gasp. Capturing his eyes, I made sure I had his attention as I whispered, “You’d do that…for me? You’d…protect the church?”
The blazing look of hunger in his eyes and the sharp flare of his nostrils revealed that he really enjoyed my role of supplicant. Thrusting up with his hips he turned me toward the couch and lowered atop me as he pawed with more fervor at my shirt, lifting and twisting the material upward to get at what lay beneath.
“Yes.” He growled with the pride of a man who felt vindicated in his strength.
As my hips cradled his and the cool air of the apartment tightened my exposed nipples my head fell to the side and I looked at the two sets of dinnerware on the coffee table.
Huh, another first in this place.
After that I left the distractions aside and committed myself to the role I was engaged in. There was pleasure to be found here and I sought it with a hungered ferocity that surprised him. The sweet pious church widow was not nearly as pliant as he would have thought but he certainly didn’t have any complaints.
Much later, the moonlight shone through my apartment window to illuminate the sweat slicked on his body as he clumsily sought his balance after I leaned too hard on him when our bodies slid apart and he tried to stand. He laughed at his stumble that nearly had him landing in the cake and I giggled girlishly as I sought to “save” his tablet from the spilled wine glass.
With a gasp, I fell back on the couch and shook my head, “I can’t. I can’t yet. I need a minute.”
“Oh, are you trying to say I was too much for you.” He chuckled and leaned down over me, bracing his forearm on the arm of the couch and caging me back against it.
Funny how moments ago we were intimately intertwined and I was able to find my pleasure but now I found his presence intrusive. I didn’t let on but was thankful that the shadows hid my face as I laughed, “Yes!” And playfully slapped at him, “Go, go get in the shower. I’ll join you as soon as my legs work again.”
He straightened up and strutted away with a cocksure step. “Don’t keep me waiting.” He ordered.
And watched him. When the door closed I watched. When the water started, I tilted my head and listened. When I heard the spray of the water alter as if it were hitting a body, I dialed up my comms:
Eagle answered, “Do you know what time it is?”
I was curt, “Yes. I need you to do something for me.”
He didn’t give me anymore shit, perhaps it was because of my tone, or the lateness of the hour, or simply because Eagle could be like that.
“I’ve got a signal in my apartment. Zero in on it and upload everything off of it.”
“Sure thing. Power it up.”
I did and then listened to him for a minute while I loaded the wine glasses, and plates onto the tray with the uneaten cake. I watched the screen flicker and then suddenly log in, the cursor flaring around before a symbol lit up and began displaying a file transfer. It had just begun when I heard the water shut off.
I put the tablet on the tray and carried them to the kitchen. The light of the screen was going to give me away. Double Drek.
“I am, I am, don’t get so uptight—wait. Rennie? This has Lonestar files on it!?”
I didn’t confirm or deny, I just hissed, “Finish it!” And powered down my comm.
Moving around the counter as I heard the bathroom door open, I left the tablet open and running. I stopped in the middle of the hallway where the light from outside most shone and paused as if I were caught unexpectedly. Naked, the moonlight splayed across my breasts and down my stomach, over my hips and legs. “I was coming,” and then shyly I tried to fold an arm over my breasts and then extend one across my lower abdomen.
He liked this womanly display of unease. My uncertainty was enough to draw his attention fully to me and not the glimmering light from the kitchen. He moved toward me and drew my hands away from my body, forcing me to stand open and exposed before him deliberately stretching out my discomfort, “I was beginning to think you’d passed out, out here.”
“Oh no, I was just cleaning up.”
His smile was one of approval. And he drew me down the hall toward the bathroom, “Well let’s get you cleaned up too yeah?”
I nodded shyly and stepped inside the bathroom. A glance back over my shoulder revealed the dimming of the tablet on the counter as Eagle completed his data transfer.
The smile that wreathed my lips this time was genuine. It was with a wilder tinged enthusiasm that I engaged in my bathing. In fact, my celebratory spirits were yet another surprise for him and one that left him exhausted, limp and winded. I didn’t pretend to be sore or worn afterward, slapping him on the ass with a, “let’s get some sleep.”
And yet another first was broken in the apartment as he slept over with the contented slumber of a man well satiated and completely convinced that he was in control.
Irritation spiked but I was careful to keep my tone pliant and my eyes downcast. I slipped a little lower in my seat. No way would I slouch. Oh no, leave that for the disgruntled teenagers. I just simply wilted, as if the exhaustion of the entire encounter was simply too much for me.
The investigator saw my posture for what it was: a sign of weakness. And he attacked me with what he was certain to think was a question from out of nowhere. One to catch me off guard. I was simply annoyed that it had taken him an hour and a half to play his card.
What a Trump.
“So then, if you’re saying you’re just innocently a bystander in all of this: is this your gun??” He tossed down my Fichetta with an arrogant flick of his hand. Nodding toward it, encouraging me to pick it up.
I gasped. After all, my role here called for it. For added panache I looked away from the pistol as if the sight of it bothered me, when in reality I was just bothered by his handling of it. Jackwagon could fuck with the slide or the hammer with such shoddy treatment.
Let that that bitch mishandle on me in a firefight and I might have to come back and power his dumbass down.
“Y-yess.” And then as if I were unsure I jerked my gaze back to the familiar metal and then up at him through the thicket of my eyelashes, “At least I think so. They all kind of look alike to me. But I do have one. A gun that is. And I was definitely wearing it. The pastor thought I should. You know, to be safe. And the gun was a gift from…from my dead husband.” I fluttered my lashes and on a breathy whisper gave him an image to hold onto, “I sleep with it….. You know. So that I’m not all alone at night.”
I almost wished we were playing Poker. I’d take him for everything. He had so many tells it was as if I were reading cue cards. Attraction. Mistrust.
From across the hall, I couldn’t help but notice as two big burly Lonestar manhandled a slender good looking man who looked even more out of my place than I did. I heard him repeat again, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t do anything!”
Yeah, I feel ya. Granted, I had done something, Plenty actually.
“Lowe.” We were interrupted by the sharp command of one of fellow Lonestar officers. I would have guessed that this one wasn’t one who outranked him by the badges but the way Lowe jumped and his mannerisms I could be wrong. “Cut her loose man, we got to get a move on these Bikers. Church girl like her ain’t gonna be much help.” The man who had given the order moved off to deliver the same message, although much more submissively to the other men. I overheard the three of them crack a joke about Lowe before they unshackled the man between them, making gruff threats and promises of punishment.
Hmm, interesting. Looked like Lowe didn’t get much respect around here.
Lowe seemed to catch that I had noticed. The suspicion was back, full force. But frustration was blooming uglier and uglier as he cracked his tablet down in front of me. Dumbass really was too hard on his equipment. I bet he went through these sensitive little computers quickly. I idly wondered if they had to pay for their replacements or if he just got them covered as hazard duty.
“Look, Ren-a-ta.” He pronounced each syllable of my name deliberately. I’d asked that he call me Mrs. Teschke. His power play only made him that much weaker. “You seem to find yourself in a lot of trouble lately. And you never seem to be alone. Your past is a bit hazy and the details of your whereabouts up until the Church digs is nearly nonexistent.”
Ugh, this again.
I let a tear spill as I leaned in close and looked up at him like a supplicant, “I know, I know. I was raised deep in the faith by a deeply spiritual family. Nearly completely off-grid. My husband, he was sent by God to take me into the folds of the church. Where I now remain. Without him. Bereft. Alone. A god-fearing wife with no husband to wife for.” I wet my lips with a sweep of my tongue.
Ahh, there it was, lust. His strings were so easy to play.
It took him a minute to regain control of the interrogation, a cough or two and he dropped his gaze away. I followed the look and found myself frowning at the screen of his tablet. “Wait. What’s that?”
My dulcet tones had altered, I didn’t notice in the moment. There before me were avatars galore associated with the Beaver gang.
“That?” His voice dropped low and he scowled at me as he swept his tablet up and dismissed the screen, “That is all the scary men who are going to now be targeting your church and you. For whatever reason, that you seem to be in the middle of, this group of go-gangers are after you and the—“
“But you have their information?” I interrupted, even as the small conductor part of my personality cautioned against such an act. Men like Lowe wanted a submissive woman, a pliant one, not one that challenged.
“Oh yes. I’ve got tons of files on the Beaver gang. Locations, personnel, crimes, known weaponry, favorite hangouts, allies and alibis. You name it. This is my beat.” He crowed a bit, proud of his work.
I frowned. I hadn’t thought of more retaliation. I kind of thought this gang was smaller and that after today’s deaths they would realize that coming after the church wasn’t worth it.
I was going to need those files.
He was uncuffing me when I stumbled dizzily, letting my body fold softly into his, my hands clenching at his shoulders. “Oh I’m so sorry.” I blushed sweetly, but held myself against him, let him feel all the feminine curves of my body for one long heated moment. I shivered and held him tighter, “I’m afraid…”
And I looked up into his eyes as I said the words I needed to say, “I don’t want to be alone tonight. I … I mean I don’t even know what these guys want or why they’re after me.” I swallowed, deliberately, letting my throat move beneath his gaze. “Maybe, you could come by and bring that file… show me who I should be afraid of, who I should be looking out for.”
I pushed away from him and then I iced the cake I was presenting to him, with all the sweet girlish charm I could muster I said, “Oh I could cook dinner for you! It’s been ever too long since I got to do anything for a real man. Won’t you consider it?”
I left the precinct and looked for a cab. I had some damn errands to run before tonight’s show and I’d need to get my apartment presentable for this charade. As I fell into the cab, I powered up my PAN and searched for nearby home-cooked eateries. Because I sure the frack didn’t know how to cook.