Necessary Arrangements: Part 9
Pairing: Andy Barber x Fem!Reader; Ari Levinson x Fem!Reader; Ransom Drysdale x Fem!Reader
Word Count: 12,419
Summary: Two stubborn idiots are becoming addicted to each other, married life is going swimmingly, a relationship is tested, and progress is made on the mob trio’s business endeavor.
Warnings: Explicit language. Explicit sexual content. Vaginal fingering. Dirty talk. Unprotected sex. Slight angsty feels. Oral sex (f receiving). Overstimulation. Squirting. Mob AU. 18+ only!
A/N: Welp, it only took me 800 years, but here we are, the next part of Necessary Arrangements! I feel like this part actually has some plot, but don’t worry, it’s still like 95% filth LOL. Hope you enjoy! ❤️
You double checked that the front door was locked before turning out the overhead lights of the cafe, yawning as you poked your head into the kitchen and shut off that light too.
Despite your exhaustion, you couldn’t help but smile at another day of good work, the type of work that lit up your soul.
Your cafe was thriving, and your dream was finally a reality, and you thought that it might just be well on it’s way to a success.
Part of you couldn’t believe it, how the seats were filled almost every day and the weekly bank deposits grew larger and larger in sum.
Colin’s ingenious idea for open mic nights really took your business up a notch, and you still had trouble stamping down your giddiness every time you glanced around your baby during one of those special nights and saw it fit to burst with customers who were having a good time in the space you had created all on your own.
You were still smiling to yourself as you made your way down the dimly lit back hall that led toward the staircase to your apartment. You only made it a few steps past your dark office when you were grabbed from behind.
Your heart leapt into your throat as a big hand covered your mouth to muffle your scream as you were shoved face first into the wall. A firm, heavy weight crushed you against it as you felt a few frightened tears spill over and down your cheeks.
And then you registered the familiar cologne, and your fear instantly evaporated, swiftly replaced by fury as you screeched and struggled in your captor’s grip.
“Christ, you’re a fucking wildcat,” Ransom murmured against your ear. You could hear the amusement in his voice as he pressed a lingering kiss to the sensitive hollow behind your ear before giving your ass a slap and turning you around.
You smacked and shoved at his chest as he pushed you against the wall, looming close and smirking at you as he captured your wrists in his hands and pinned them above your head.
“You fucking asshole!” you hissed, embarrassed by the stray tears still wetting your cheeks as Ransom’s smirk morphed into a shit-eating grin.
“Aw, did I scare you, kitten?” he hummed, shifting his grip on your wrists so he could hold both in one hand. The other lifted to your face, and Ransom scooped away a tear with his finger, looking so smug that you wanted to kick him.
So you did.
He grunted in pain, his grin quickly replaced by a scowl as he dodged your next kick and shoved his way between your legs, pressing flush against you until you could barely move.
Until you felt just how excited he was to be in your good company against your tummy.
You were both quiet now--both panting too--bodies pressed flush together, eyes fixed on each other in the dim hallway.
Ransom’s gaze dropped, lingering on your mouth, his tongue sneaking out to wet his bottom lip, and you were already turning your face away when he ducked closer.
“Come on, you fucking tease, one goddamn kiss won’t kill you,” he muttered against your cheek, resting his forehead against your temple.
“Fuck you, Ransom,” you breathed, gasping as he nipped at your jaw before his free hand was roaming down your body.
“If you insist,” he drawled, groping your breast hard enough to make you grunt and squirm against him.
His fingers deftly plucked open the button of your jeans, pulling the zipper down before he was shoving his hand inside and cupping your core through your panties.
“Always so warm and welcoming for me, kitten,” Ransom whispered against your cheek, the tip of his nose gliding against your skin as his mouth moved to your ear. “Despite all that hissing and spitting. You want it just as bad as I do.”
“No I--” your words melted into a moan as Ransom’s fingers dipped inside your panties, until he was touching your warm, wanting flesh. The tips of his fingers grew slicker by the second as you huffed a curse beneath your breath before arching against him, seeking more.
“This addictive cunt doesn’t lie,” Ransom tutted, teasing too light circles around your clit. “Look at her, she’s so fucking happy I’m here, she’s crying for me.”
“God, you’re such a fuc--”
Ransom shoved two thick fingers inside of you without warning, chuckling as you cried out and spasmed against him.
“Mmmm, squeezing me so tight,” he whispered against your cheek, kissing his way along the cut of your jaw as his fingers pressed harder--deeper--until you were mewling and begging him to make you cum on a pleading whisper.
Ransom railed you with his fingers, groaning at the obscene squelching noises filling the hallway as you gasped and moaned for him, rocking against him just as frantically as his fingers were moving inside of you.
When his lips touched your neck, pressing hot open-mouthed kisses down your skin, you whined his name so desperately you felt the burn of humiliation as he went still.
He pulled away and you closed your eyes as you felt his searing gaze on you.
“Look at me.”
You shook your head stubbornly.
Ransom’s fingers stopped moving, your cunt clenching around him desperately as you huffed the loss of your impending orgasm.
“Come on, kitten, let me see those pretty eyes when I make you cum.”
It was the promise of completion that had you gritting your teeth as you blinked your eyes open and turned your head, glaring at Ransom.
His smirk was back, but his eyes were the darkest you’d ever seen, his own desire shining back at you plain as day.
And then his fingers were moving again, slow at first, just enough to have you whining your frustration--your need to cum--before he finally gave you what you wanted.
You moaned, head tipping back and eyes fluttering as Ransom’s fingers curled, his touch glancing off of that spot that only he seemed able to find as you felt the blissful build up growing and growing in the hot, needy center of you.
“Look at me,” Ransom reminded softly as your eyes closed just as you toed the line of ecstasy.
You blinked at him, lips parted as you gasped and panted for breath, getting lost in that dark, fixated gaze of his. You were too far gone to recoil when he ducked close, pressing his forehead to yours, his eyes staring into yours, lips hovering just a hair’s breadth away from yours as he twisted his wrist and rubbed his thumb against your clit.
And that’s all it took.
You came with a quiet keen, back bowing and pressing you against Ransom even more. Somehow you managed to keep your eyes open as you rode out your high, mesmerized by that look on his face as he watched you with something akin to awe and the most feral, possessive kind of want you had ever seen in your life.
“Beautiful,” he breathed against your lips as you sank back against the wall with an exhausted whimper.
Only then did you close your eyes, needing a reprieve from Ransom’s intense gaze as something hot like embarrassment but not quite that bloomed in your chest as you panted for breath.
It was the quiet ding of your phone that had you snapping back to reality, remembering the plans you had made but had completely forgotten about due to Ransom’s unexpected visit.
“Shit! I forgot about Colin. I gotta go,” you said, eyes popping open as you tugged your hands from Ransom’s hold.
He was glaring at you so hard you couldn’t not grin.
“Are you fucking serious?” he hissed. “You’re gonna leave me like this?” He waved a hand at the front of his pants where you could see the obvious, tempting tent of his arousal.
“We didn’t have an appointment tonight,” you said, quickly buttoning up your jeans and pulling your phone from your back pocket to reply to Colin’s text that he was on his way over. “If I remember correctly, our next one is Friday.”
“Come on,” Ransom whined, hands gripping your hips and pressing you back against the wall as he leaned against you. He rutted his erection against your belly. “Just suck me off then. After how good I just worked you over, it’s the least you can do.”
“That’s not how this works,” you laughed, wagging your finger at him.
“I know you want me just as much as I want you,” Ransom sneered. “My fingers are never enough for you, neither is my mouth.” He grinded against you, hissing at the friction. “I know you need a nice big cock to fill you up, kitten, because I fucking know what this sweet body craves.”
You slapped his hand away from between your thighs, dodging around him as you danced out of reach with a laugh. “Then good thing Colin’s on his way over, huh? He can finish what you started!”
You turned on your heel and made your way toward the staircase at the end of the hall but paused at the bottom step, glancing back at Ransom. “Besides, if I remember correctly, there’s at least one blonde in your little black book who likes to suck your cock, no?”
You giggled at the pinched look on Ransom’s face before wiggling your fingers at him in goodbye and quickly making your way upstairs.
Hours later, after going a round with Colin and leaving him half-asleep in your bed, deeply sated after you had to fake your own orgasm, it was that intense look on Ransom’s face as he called you “beautiful” and the memory of the hot, hard press of him against your stomach that had you cumming hard around your own fingers as you slumped back against your bathroom counter and hissed an annoyed, “Goddamnit.”
You stared into space, seeing nothing despite the bright spills of sunlight peeking in through the curtains of Ari’s bedroom.
It was early still, but you couldn’t sleep. Your mind was going a mile a minute, playing through all the different ways the conversation with Ari could go.
And no matter how much you avoided real, deep conversations like the plague, you couldn’t avoid this one.
You hoped it would be easier than you were imagining, especially after the last month.
Since your meltdown and Ari’s declaration of love, he’d somehow been even more patient with you. So encouraging as he lured you out of your petrified of feelings shell little by little.
You could see it in his eyes--now that you really paid attention--how happy it made him when you tried your best to meet him halfway.
The other day you had curled up in his lap unprompted and admitted you were feeling sad and just wanted him to hold you, and you swore he was holding back tears as he wrapped his thick arms around you, pressed a soft kiss to your forehead, and held you until your stomach had growled so loudly you both had giggled like idiots before figuring out what to order for dinner.
And those moments were happening more frequently now.
It was strange to open up to someone and let them in, terrifying too, but you were really, truly trying.
And these days, every time Ari said those three words to you, they made your belly flutter instead of sink with dread.
At first you had wanted him to stop saying he loved you—those foreign words and the meaning behind them making you so deeply uncomfortable you thought you would crawl right out of your skin—but now?
You never wanted Ari to stop saying it.
That’s how you knew that you couldn’t delay this conversation with him any longer, because the topic on your mind was eating away at you a little more each day.
“S’too early to be thinking that hard, sweetheart.”
You startled at Ari’s gravelly voice, turning to find him aiming a sleepy smile your way.
You couldn’t help but grin at his wild hair, rolling toward him and spearing your fingers through his soft brown locks as you pushed them out of his eyes.
He purred as your fingers drew through his hair, big hands finding your hips and tugging you closer. He rolled onto his back, bringing you with him, fingers clasping against the swell of your ass as you laid atop his chest and gave his hair a few more tweaks before your hands were moving down to frame his face.
You just watched him for a moment, because as beautiful as Ari was, and as attracted to him as you were, you didn’t think you ever really stopped to appreciate him as much as he deserved.
Those perfect features that made up that devastatingly handsome face of his, those ridiculous eyelashes that you would envy until the end of time, the bright blue of his eyes speckled with hints of green, and that perfectly trimmed beard that you loved to ride.
Your thumbs rubbed against the apples of Ari’s cheeks as you stared at him, your eyes glazing a bit as your mind started back up with that internal loop of worry and fear at what you needed to tell him.
“You okay, sweetheart?”
His soft voice tinged with concern had you blinking back to reality, and you mustered a small curl of your lips, nodding before dropping your face to his and kissing him slowly.
Ari followed your lead, humming as you pressed against him eagerly as you deepened the kiss, unable to stop yourself from shifting until his thigh was between your legs and you were lightly rocking against him.
Only when you were desperate for air did you pull away, biting your bottom lip as you whispered, “Make me feel good.”
Ari’s hands slid to grip your ass, shifting you to straddle his hips, but you shook your head, leaning away.
“No, I want you on top.”
Eyes darkening, Ari sat up, hand cupping your cheek and pulling you in for another kiss before he was pressing you back against the mattress and settling over you.
Already naked himself, he helped you tug off your cami before working your panties down your legs. There was such a soft reverence in his eyes as he drank you in that you felt your own welling with tears, those frightened thoughts echoing within the deep recesses of your mind as Ari started kissing his way down your belly.
You knew his destination, and usually you loved when he ruined you with his mouth, but that wasn’t what you needed right now.
You needed to feel him, to be close to him, to be one with him completely.
“No,” you whined, gently tugging on his hair as he kissed your clit.
Ari stilled, head popping up and eyes finding yours. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” you swallowed back more tears for a reason you couldn’t name. “Just want you inside me. Please.”
“Okay, honey, you don’t need to tell me twice,” Ari grinned, rising over you and settling back between your thighs.
He must have seen it, a different kind of desperation in your eyes than usual, because Ari’s face softened. His gaze stayed fixed on you as he made sure you were ready for him with his fingers before lining himself up and slowly sinking into you.
You couldn’t tear your eyes from his, lost in that stormy dark blue sea of love and desire for you as Ari rocked against you until he was bottoming out and you were clenching around him with a gasp.
Distantly, you wondered if this was the last time you’d ever see him look at you like that, with so much love and devotion.
Because you knew what lay on the other side of difficult conversations and disappointing others. And that look? That look wasn’t it.
Once again Ari jostled you from the noise in your brain, drawing his knuckles down your cheek, his gaze steady and tender as his hips slowly retreated before driving into you again.
You could barely string together a sentence, let alone beg Ari for what you wanted—what you needed—too busy trying to push down the worry addling your brain and squeezing around your heart like a vice as you blinked back more tears.
But somehow he seemed to know what you needed anyway, keeping his pace slow and hard, pushing into you deep and watching as your eyes fluttered and you sank back against the bed.
Your arms wrapped around Ari’s back, your fingers pressing into his warm skin as you yanked him closer, desperate to feel him against you, every inch of his skin fitted against every inch of yours.
Like you were one and the same, made for each other, incomplete without the other slotted against you so perfectly.
Ari dropped more of his weight against you, hand sliding along the curve of your thigh to your knee before hitching your leg up higher so that on his next thrust he was hitting a spot that had you crying out in rapture as you threw your head back in delight.
You were mindless, your body alight with pleasure and the kind of need that had you balancing on the cliff’s edge of bliss, just waiting to finally, blessedly tip over.
You were vaguely aware of the desperate mewls and sharp gasps spilling from your lips, your mind growing hazy and overwhelmed as that tension in your belly wound tighter and tighter.
And then Ari’s hand was finding yours, big warm palm pressing against your own, pinning your hand to the mattress above your head as he laced your fingers together and gave you a gentle squeeze.
Your eyes snapped to his, watching him watch you as he rutted into you deep and lingered, his free hand working between your bodies until his fingers were teasing your clit.
On the next drive of his hips, you moaned, still caught in Ari’s gaze as your hand slid up his back, to his shoulder, holding on tight as you teetered on the edge.
Another retreat and hard, plunging stroke of his cock, and Ari’s lips were on yours, swallowing your ruined cry as he worked into you with a few more languid, lingering thrusts.
He pulled back just enough to meet your gaze, his hips retreating before he was splitting you open on his cock one more time, driving hard and deep and staying there as he murmured, “I love you.”
And you fell.
You toppled over the edge of bliss as your muscles locked and you let go, giving into the pleasure—giving into Ari—feeling consumed and overwhelmed in a way you never had before as you gasped Ari’s name and clung to him.
You held onto him for dear life, your body still rippling with your release and you were vaguely aware of Ari moving over you—inside of you—of his throaty groan and that hot, scintillating flood of his cum filling the deepest part of you, making you complete in a different way.
You buried your face against his chest and choked on a sob as another orgasm rocked you, swept you away entirely. You came back to yourself slowly, trembling against Ari as he smoothed a hand over your head and pressed his lips to your crown as you hugged him.
At the sound of your quiet sniffle, Ari went still, easing away from you, brows furrowed in concern as you sagged back against your pillow, too tired to feel the full weight of embarrassment as he realized you were crying.
“Honey, what’s wrong? Did I hurt you?” Ari looked horrified at the thought.
You shook your head, closing your eyes in case he could read the truth in them. “No, I’m fine. It’s just…lady hormones.” You sniffed, hurrying to wipe away your tears, but froze as Ari caught your wrists.
He lowered himself closer to you, still looking uncertain as he gently thumbed the wetness from your warm cheeks. “You sure?”
His genuine worry had another sob crawling it’s way up your chest, making it hard to breathe—let alone hold it together—but you managed to stifle it down and swallow back the salty taste of your emotions as you curled your arms around Ari and pulled him closer.
“Yeah, just,” your breath hitched as you hid your face against the crook of his neck, your next few words meaning so much more than he could possibly know in this moment. “Please don’t leave me.”
“I’m right here, sweetheart,” Ari hummed, smoothing a hand over your head. “And I’m not going anywhere.”
Instead of reassuring you, Ari’s words only made you more anxious—more terrified at the thought of losing him—because you couldn’t help but wonder if he’d really say the same thing, and mean it, once you came clean.
When Andy broke the surface of the water, it was to find you on the other side of the large, inground pool, perched on the edge near the shallow end as you watched him with a soft smile.
Grinning, he swam toward you. His eyes quickly drank in the haphazardly buttoned shirt of his that covered your frame and how you still looked sweetly mussed from sleep as you skimmed the surface of the water with your bare toes.
The thought that you immediately came to find him once you woke up had something warm and light fluttering in Andy’s chest as he closed the remaining distance between you and stood in the shallow water.
“You gonna join me?” he asked.
Your eyes were slow to trail over him and the way the water dripped down his muscular body in rivulets. Biting your bottom lip, your gaze lingered on the sharp cut of Andy’s adonis belt and the trail of dark hair leading into his swim trunks.
“Tempting,” you said at last, eyes realigning with his. “But it’s too cold for me.”
Andy’s grin was wicked as he moved closer, until his wet hands were settling on your thighs and pushing your legs apart to make room for him. “I’ll keep you warm.”
Your laugh was like music to his ears as you framed his face between your hands and bent down to kiss him. Straightening, your thumb smoothed over the soft skin beneath Andy’s eye as you said, “I’m sure you would, but I’d much prefer a nice hot shower than a morning dose of hypothermia.”
Andy rested his cheek against your thigh, grinning up at you, his eyes sparkling with mischief as his fingers moved to your hips. “So you just came out to enjoy the show then?”
“So what if I did?”
He chuckled, turning his head until his lips were touching your skin. “Is that all you came out here to enjoy?”
It was instant, the way your eyes blew dark with lust, and Andy was hard a second later, humming as he shifted and tugged you closer to the edge of the pool as he trailed kisses up your inner thigh.
“I know we both have busy days ahead of us and I wanted to spend time with you first,” you murmured, leaning back on your hands and watching as Andy undid the buttons of your shirt.
He pushed it open and bared your body and simple cotton panties to his hungry gaze. You didn’t resist as his fingers curled around the sides of your underwear, lifting your hips so he could tug them down and toss them on the ground next to you.
“I’m always happy to spend time with you, honey,” Andy murmured, guiding your legs over his broad shoulders and licking his lips as he gazed at the pretty, tempting petals of your sex.
“That would be sweet if you weren’t staring at my cunt when you said it,” you teased.
Andy’s eyes snapped to yours, his pupils fat and black with lust as he smirked. “You have a filthy mouth, Mrs. Barber.”
“Not as filthy as yours is about to be, Mr. Barber,” you murmured, spreading your legs wider and tilting your hips in invitation.
Andy hummed, lips parting as his gaze fell back between your legs. He teased the lips of your pussy with his thumb, smirking at the sound of your choked whine as you tried to shimmy closer to him.
“Bet patient, honey, we’re not in any rush.”
“Speak for yourself,” you huffed, unable to stifle a smile as Andy winked at you.
He maintained eye contact as his face lowered and leaned close, eyes fluttering as his tongue slowly dragged up the cut of you.
The moan was quick to fall from your lips as your body writhed in response to Andy’s mouth on you. You reached for him, fingers carding through his wet hair and pushing his face closer to your center.
Chuckling at your impatience, Andy wrapped his arms around your thighs, securing you for him before he leaned back in and went to work.
“Oh, my god,” you gasped, head falling back and eyes screwing shut as Andy ate you out with enthusiasm.
Every thorough swirl of his tongue had you whimpering, his teasing kitten licks against your clit feeling so fucking good and not nearly enough.
When his thumb tugged the hood of your clit back, exposing the pearl of your pleasure for his feasting mouth, you shuddered, because you knew you couldn’t hold on much longer.
And when that sinful mouth of Andy’s closed around your clit and he sucked and lavved and lashed the crown of your center with his wicked tongue--over and over again--you came hard.
Whimpering Andy’s name, your body seized and then shook with your pleasure, the ripples seeming endless as you gasped and rode out the wave of bliss washing over you.
You almost sank back against the ground, but the way Andy was gently cleaning your messy core with his mouth, then kissing and nuzzling along your inner thighs, had you curling over him instead. He eased your legs off his shoulders and back against the deck of the pool so he could meet your eager kiss halfway.
Humming as you deepened the kiss, Andy gave your swollen bottom lip a final playful tug of his teeth as you pulled away for air.
“How hard would it be to talk you into playing hooky from adulting with me so we can spend all day in bed but not sleeping?” you whispered, leaning into Andy’s touch as his hand lifted to cup your cheek.
“Not hard at all,” Andy replied. “I just need to take my call with Ari and prep for my meeting with Ransom tomorrow to finalize a few details on the club. Otherwise, I’m all yours.”
“Yay,” you grinned, giving him another kiss. “I just have one errand I need to run today, but I’ll only be gone for an hour or so.”
“I could come with you?” Andy offered.
You were quick to shake your head. “No need.” He looked like he was about to object or question you further, so you beat him to it. “How’s it been with Ari and Ransom?”
Andy’s smile was soft as he leaned into you, wrapping his arms around your hips in a loose hug.
He loved it when you showed interest in his work, his world that was now becoming your world, too. He felt like it lessened the distance and differences between you a little more each time.
“It’s gone surprisingly well. Ari and I’ve worked together to lay most of the ground work and iron out the business details. We really only loop in Ransom when we need to or he specifically wants a say in something.” He rolled his eyes. “He seems more interested in picking out the decor for the club than actual business stuff.”
You laughed. “Well good thing Ari has you then. And besides, if anything Ransom has made the financial burden less on you, right?”
“Right.” Sighing, Andy skimmed the tips of his fingers along your cheek, touch moving to the shell of your ear and rubbing. He laughed as you shivered and chirped in response to the new erogenous zone he’d recently discovered.
“How about I join you for that hot morning shower, sweetheart?” he murmured, pushing away from you to climb out of the pool.
“This day just keeps getting better and better,” you smiled up at him as he held out a hand, helping you to your feet before scooping up your panties with a smirk.
Rolling your eyes as Andy spun them around his finger, you snatched them back and quickly tugged them on so you weren’t walking through the house half-naked.
You never knew where the security guys were lurking.
Waiting for Andy to towel off, you took the hand he held out for you, letting him pull you against his side as he led you away from the pool and back into your home.
You were just wrapping up your phone call with your aunt when you heard the light knock on your front door before Ransom poked his head inside.
You waved him in, part of you feeling guilty for how your body instantly thrummed to life at the sight of him--at the promise of pleasure to come--and the rest of you feeling too fucking exhausted to really think about it too much.
You deserved to feel good, damnit.
Shaking back to the present, you focused on the soft voice on your aunt over the phone, turning away from Ransom and the way he was eye fucking you as he sauntered into the living room and shrugged off his jacket, so that you could finish your conversation.
“I’m excited too,” you said. “Yeah, I’ll pick you up at the airport myself. It’s not an inconvenience at all, are you kidding me? I can’t wait to see you.”
You went still as you felt Ransom at your back, his big hands sliding around the curve of your hips as he tugged you against his chest. Your eyes fluttered as he kissed and nuzzled down the length of your throat.
As much as you loved resisting his kisses--playing the one power card you had in this dynamic over and over again--you couldn’t deny that Ransom was very good with his mouth.
“You still with me, sweetie?” your Aunt Vi’s voice knocked you back to reality.
“Yes!” you straightened, gently digging your elbow in Ransom’s stomach to get him to cut it out.
He huffed but only held you tighter so you couldn’t escape him, making you roll your eyes as he nipped at your shoulder and you felt the amused curl of his lips against your skin.
“Okay, I’ll see you in a few days.” You smiled as your aunt told you she loved you, returning the sentiment before ending the call and tossing your phone on the sofa with a sigh.
“Who was that?” Ransom murmured, hand inching down your belly, fingers teasing along the band of your boy shorts because you hadn’t bothered with pants once you’d gotten out of the shower.
“My aunt. She’s flying in on Sunday and visiting for a few days.”
“Guess that means I better get my fill before then, huh? Unless you want me crashing your visit?” Ransom teased.
You scoffed at the very idea. “Fuck no. In fact, stay far far away until she’s gone. I’ll have enough on my plate with the cafe, hosting my aunt, and setting up a lunch so she can meet Colin.”
You felt Ransom stiffen against you, his fingers that had been lightly teasing your cunt through your panties moving away. “She’s meeting that shit stain?”
The tinge of jealousy in Ransom’s voice had you turning in his embrace and grinning at him. “I am dating him, Ransom. And he actually shows an interest in me and my life beyond fucking me, so yes, he’ll be meeting her.” You weren't sure what made you add your next words, but you just couldn’t resist as you said, “Colin’s the kind of guy I can see myself settling down with, you know?”
Part of you wondered if you were saying it out loud to try and convince yourself of the idea, because the truth was: as much as you liked Colin, you didn’t like like Colin.
You knew he was a safe, reliable option, but you didn’t have the same chemistry and excitement with him that you so effortlessly--and annoyingly--had with Ransom.
And it drove you fucking crazy.
Colin was sweet and funny and handsome, but sex with him didn’t satisfy and absolutely ruin you so thoroughly the way it did with Ransom.
Colin didn’t challenge you or play off of your sass and sense of humor the way Ransom did.
As much as you frequently wanted to strangle Ransom, you also realized you kind of delighted in the banter and constant one upmanship and power play the two of you had going on.
Colin was kind and dependable, but you didn’t get a rush every time you saw him, or hell, even just thought about him.
You liked Colin, but you were becoming addicted to Ransom.
Your tired brain sounded the alarm in your mind that was becoming familiar now as you toed dangerous territory and you began to shrug off the thoughts resounding in your head.
Besides, it didn't really matter anyway, because Ransom didn’t know any of this, and he never would. At the end of the day, he was just using you to get his rocks off until he got bored with you and it was time for him to move on.
So you just smirked at him and his annoyance as his eyes narrowed further.
“Does he even know that you’re fucking me, too?” Ransom asked.
You snorted. “Of course not.”
“So you’re cheating--”
“This is a business arrangement,” you said firmly. “And technically Colin and I aren’t exclusive anyway. Dunno why you’re so invested in my love life, Ransom. I think you’re just jealous, or maybe you’re realizing you don’t like being someone’s dirty little secret?”
You watched a tic pop in Ransom’s cheek as he clenched his jaw and briefly looked away.
After a long, tense, silent beat, his eyes returned to you, dark and deep and flashing with something your tired brain was too slow to comprehend as he suddenly pounced on you.
You squeaked in surprise as Ransom shoved you into the wall hard, his hand loosely circling your throat and tilting your head back so your wide eyes couldn’t look away from his.
“I’m gonna fucking ruin you,” Ransom promised on a quiet murmur. “So even when you’re with him, you’re thinking about me.”
The zip of electricity--of anticipation--that streaked up your spine had you shuddering as you pressed your thighs together, your heartbeat doing double time as you whispered, “Maybe I want you to ruin me.”
Ransom hummed, his gaze still fixed on you as his free hand slid up your stomach and beneath your shirt. Wicked delight glittered in his eyes as he found you bare beneath your top as his hand cupped your breast.
“Seems like you’re desperate for it, kitten,” Ransom said as his thumb touched the already rock hard peak of your nipple. “Guess your boy toy isn’t satisfying you, huh?”
You mewled at the rough tweak of Ransom’s fingers, arching against him as your head dropped back against the wall with a quiet thud.
You didn’t even think to defend Colin, you didn’t think much at all as Ransom’s head dipped and his lips kissed the hinge of your jaw.
This was exactly what you needed. To feel good. To be well on your way to mindless and wrecked and deeply, deeply satisfied.
You didn’t want to think and worry and stress anymore.
It was time to press pause on adulting and just give in to Ransom, so that’s exactly what you did.
Your breath caught as you zeroed in on the way Ransom’s mouth was trailing down your throat, teasing and tantalizing your skin. You didn’t resist as the hand around your throat shifted and suddenly Ransom’s thumb was pressing against your lips.
He groaned against the top of your chest when you opened your mouth and suckled at his thumb, your tongue teasing him, your teeth giving a gentle nip as his head whipped up so he could watch you mouth against his skin.
You gave him one final suck before pulling away to whisper, “Ruin me.”
It sounded more like a plea than a challenge, but you didn’t even care, not when it had the effect that it did - Ransom pulling you across your apartment and into your bedroom. He was impatient as he yanked your shirt over your head and flung it away before shoving you onto the bed.
He watched you yelp and bounce on the mattress with a smirk, quickly shucking his own clothes before he was looming over you. “Admit it, he can’t satisfy you like I can.”
Ransom didn’t give you a chance to respond before he was grabbing your ankles and yanking you toward the edge of your bed. He made quick work of your panties, carelessly tossing them aside as he sank to his knees and grinned at the way your breath hitched.
Pushing your legs open, Ransom settled between your thighs, humming at the sight of your glistening cunt just a few inches from his face.
“Admit it,” he said again, thumbing up the length of your slit and laughing as your body jerked and arched in response.
“Fuck you,” you muttered, as resistant to his ego as ever as you tossed an arm over your eyes to try and curb the impulse--the fucking need--to watch Ransom eat you out.
He always put on a good show, and you usually got off on watching him feast on you almost as much as the actual act itself.
“Eventually,” Ransom told you. “But not until I make this cunt gush for me and you admit that I’m better than him.”
“God, you’re so--” your words spun off into a thready keen as Ransom’s tongue speared through your folds. “Oh, fuck!” you panted as he tugged at the hood of your mound so he could ruthlessly lap at your clit until you were writhing and begging him for more.
Snickering as you tried to snap your legs closed around his head, Ransom shoved your thighs back open, pulling away to admire just how soaked you were. The folds of your pussy were puffy and perfect and gleaming with your arousal, and he couldn’t resist the urge to tug them apart with his thumbs, mesmerized by the sight of your weeping hole clenching for him.
The word was out of his mouth before he could think to suppress it--
“Mine.” He gave a quiet growl as he teased your entrance with his fingers and told you, “This cunt is mine, do you hear me?”
You could only whine in response, mindless and writhing and so fucking desperate for more, for him, to cum as you started chanting quiet, breathless “pleases” until Ransom was diving back in and feasting on the wanting place between your legs.
He waited until you were right on the precipice of release, until your thighs were trembling and twitching and your toes were curling into his shoulders as you moaned his name and twined your fingers through his hair, yanking his face impossibly close--
And then Ransom stopped, pulling away and gasping for breath, his face gleaming with your slick as you jerked your head up and glared at him so fucking hard you were surprised he didn’t burst into flames from the wrath of your fury.
“Admit it,” he husked, thumbing at your swollen, oversensitive clit.
You jerked at the touch, a pitiful whine falling from your lips. “Stop being such an asshole!”
Arching a brow at you, Ransom pulled back the hood of your clit, the strum of his thumb against the center of your pleasure fast and relentless and the kind of too much you had never felt before.
“Oh my god,” you squealed as a new sensation burst to life in the deepest part of you, rising up fast as you writhed and moaned, white noise filling your head as you tried to shove Ransom away because you felt like you were going to--
Your body seized hard and then let go, and you choked on a sob as you felt the gush flowing from your cunt, your spine arching as you squirted for the first time ever, the wicked flood that rushed from your body feeling so fucking good that you whimpered and sagged back against the bed, completely dazed as you panted for breath.
“Mmmm, I knew you had it in you, kitten,” Ransom said softly, kissing along your still trembling thighs. “You can give me more.”
You were too wrung out to process his words, but a moment later Ransom’s fingers were shoving into your cunt and making you keen as he twisted his wrist, curled his fingers and rubbed. He kept his other hand firmly planted on your belly, his thumb strumming your clit as he ruthlessly worked your g-spot until he had you choking on a scream and going rigid.
Pulling his fingers from your pussy, Ransom watched--half smug, half amazed, and completely turned on--as your cunt gushed for him again, soaking the bedding beneath you, the wetness trickling along your thighs as you jerked and mewled his name, completely lost in your pleasure.
He gave you just a moment’s reprieve as he pulled away and dug a condom from his jeans, rolling it on and then shoving you further up your bed before kneeling between your sprawled legs as you tried to catch your breath.
“He ever wreck you like this?” Ransom taunted, big hands pressing your legs open as far as they could go and smoothing up your wet inner thighs. He grinned as you whined and tried to close your legs.
“I didn’t think so.”
“That’s not what I meant!” You tried to shoved Ransom away. “I need a minute, jesus.”
“You know what they say, kitten,” Ransom smirked. “No rest for the ruined.” He shifted closer, grabbing your thighs and yanking you against him before he was driving into you hard.
“Ransom, fuck!” you cried, moaning as your walls stretched and fluttered around the heavy girth of him.
God, he felt amazing, like he was made just for you - to fill you up and turn your spine to jelly as pleasure burst through every cell of your being.
Humming at the feel of your soaked cunt clenching around him, Ransom didn’t hesitate before retreating and then shoving into you all over again.
“Bet you still have some more in you,” he breathed, grabbing your hips and lifting you slightly, until he was hitting a spot inside of you that had you shrieking as you twisted beneath him.
He fucked you hard and fast--right on the edge of too much--but you were too far gone to care, a distant part of you amazed when Ransom’s thumb returned to your clit as he rutted into you a few more times before pulling out just as your cunt gushed all over him.
“Oh my god,” you gasped, trembling and overwrought in the best kind of way as your body twitched beneath Ransom and you sagged against your bed with a broken whimper.
“Fuck, look at that,” he groaned, tapping your oversensitive clit with his cock and watching as another trickle leaked from you.
You were pliant beneath him, eyes fluttering as you gasped for breath, your fingers curling into your bedding as you continued to shiver at all the sensations overloading your system.
“You made such a fucking mess and you haven’t even cum yet,” Ransom said, slowly stretching out over you. Resting his weight on his forearm, he grinned as he cupped your sweaty cheek, turning your glassy eyes to his as he used his other hand to line himself up with your entrance before spearing into you slowly.
The noise you made was inhuman as your features twisted in pleasure and you mewled as Ransom bottomed out inside of you. Your hands had a mind of their own as they reached for him, smoothing around his sides and along the firm, warm skin of his back.
“You don’t get to cum unless it’s around my cock, do you hear me?” Ransom whispered, hips retreating before sinking back into you hard.
“Yes!” you breathed. “God, yes!”
Wrung out, exhausted, and yet still impossibly desperate to reach your peak, you weakly clung to Ransom, feeling his muscles shift beneath your touch as he fucked you.
You didn’t even recoil as his sweaty forehead met yours, his nose knocking against your own as his rhythm picked up, his hips driving harder, making you chirp and mewl and whine with every thrust of his cock deep inside you.
“Tell the truth, kitten,” Ransom panted against your lips. “He ever fuck you this good?”
Your answer--the cold, hard truth--was spilling from your lips before you could even think to stifle it.
The sound of Ransom’s pleased purr had your belly somersaulting, had some distant part of you wanting him closer as you held him tighter, relishing in the feel of his warm breath puffing against your lips as he fucked you.
Ransom’s hand touched your tummy, his knuckles gliding down your skin, then lower. “Cum for me, sweetheart,” he whispered.
Something about the foreign term of endearment sounding so right on Ransom’s lips combined with the way his fingers lightly swirled around your swollen clit had that twisted too tight wire deep in your belly snapping.
You came with a sharp gasp, your body going taut as you squeezed your eyes shut and let your orgasm wash over you. The wave of pleasure was as exquisite as it was powerful, the bliss rattling through you until it was like you were floating away, lost to your ecstasy as all the noise in your brain went quiet at last.
You were distantly aware of the hot tears streaming down your cheeks as you clung to Ransom and shuddered beneath him, feeling him grunt against the crook of your neck as your cunt pulsed and gripped him tight.
“Mmmm, that’s it,” he panted as he rode you through your orgasm.
He was chasing his own pleasure now as he plowed into you without reprieve, grunting and moaning until he was burying his face against your neck and driving into you hard.
Ransom stilled for a beat, and it was like you could feel him everywhere, and the realization--the visceral awareness of him and the way he was filling you and working you over, owning you in that moment and making you his--had you cumming again.
“Christ,” he gritted against your dewy shoulder, shuddering as your body responded to his.
Ransom rutted into you hard one more time, reaching his own climax with a gasp before he was moaning at the rush of his own release, pumping his hips a final few times before sagging against you and going still.
You didn’t squirm beneath him impatiently or try to shove him away like you usually did, so Ransom just allowed himself to bask in the afterglow for a few moments, enjoying the stray flutters of your cunt around him before finally pushing away from you.
When he realized you were sleeping beneath him, your pretty face both sweaty from exertion and lax with sleep, Ransom stilled, just staring at you for a long moment.
It was like his body wasn’t his own as he reached out and traced the curve of your cheek with the tips of his fingers, then thumbed away your tears. His thumb brushed against your bottom lip and Ransom stared at your mouth, feeling that same desperate, unfulfilled want he always felt when he was with you.
He could kiss you right now and you couldn’t stop him, and he licked his lips at the mere thought.
Because he wanted you completely aware the first time he finally, finally got his mouth on yours, when he showed you just what you had been missing all this time, and how there wasn’t one single part of you that he hadn’t tasted and made his.
So instead Ransom gently pulled out of you, lips twitching at the quiet whine that bubbled up in the back of your throat as he jostled you.
Easing away from the bed, Ransom stood over you for a beat, just watching you sleep, and then his gaze was falling from your face and landing on the messy, well fucked place between your tempting thighs.
He felt his cock twitch and glanced away, eyes landing on the connected ensuite. He glanced at you again before silently making his way into the bathroom. He took a few minutes to dispose of the condom and clean up before returning to you with a wet washcloth.
Ransom had no idea why he was even doing this, gently cleaning the mess from between your legs, something foreign and fluttery invading his chest at the sweet, quiet noise of discontent you made as his touch disturbed your sleep, at the way your nose scrunched as your forbidden lips twisted into a frown.
Ransom wanted to kiss you so badly, he realized quite suddenly. He wanted to crawl into bed beside you, curl around your sleeping form, and kiss those pretty fucking lips of yours until you were waking up to the taste of him and kissing him back just as desperately.
The force of that desire in his gut--and the way he could so easily, vividly picture it in his mind, holding you in his arms and kissing you stupid, until you were begging him to ruin you all over again--had Ransom going rigid and shoving away from you, nearly tripping over the mess of discarded clothes on your floor.
Staring at you with wide eyes, his heart beating a mile a minute in his chest, Ransom quickly moved to your bathroom and tossed the dirty washcloth in your bathroom sink before he rushed to get dressed.
Ransom spared you one final lingering look before leaving your bedroom, then your apartment--leaving you--and putting as much distance between the two of you as he could in that moment.
And he tried like hell with every step that he took, taking him further and further away from you, to ignore the heavy pit of disappointment in his stomach and the powerful sense of yearning he felt to stay and spend the night beside you, wrapped around you, holding you against him…
Ransom tried like hell to ignore it all.
And he failed.
It took thirty minutes of pacing back and forth in Ari’s bedroom for you to finally work up the courage to go and find him.
To talk to him.
“You can do this,” you muttered to yourself over and over again as you slowly made your way across his penthouse.
You peeked around the corner and into the living room, spying Ari lounging on the sofa and watching a sports show.
Your stomach was churning, your hands sweating as you rubbed them on the sides of your leggings. Your heart was beating so hard in your chest that you could actually hear it echoing in your ears.
Fuck, why is this so hard? you wondered, blinking back the burn of tears as your anxiety spiked.
It was hard because this was a big deal. This conversation would make or break your relationship with Ari. It would show you if he really, truly loved you, or if he was just really good at making you believe he did because it was how he got what he wanted.
And that was the crux of it all right there, the foundation of all of your underlying anxiety and fear.
If Ari denied you what you were about to ask him, you’d know the truth about him and your relationship.
No matter what happened once you opened this can of worms, everything was about to change.
But for better or worse, you weren’t sure.
And it fucking terrified you.
You stepped back into the hallway, leaning against the wall as you took a long, slow, shaky breath.
You could feel your hands trembling as you swatted away a few rogue tears that had escaped, taking a minute to blink the rest away.
It was a testament to how much Ari meant to you--even if you couldn’t admit it or speak it aloud yet--that you were reacting this way at the mere thought of having this difficult conversation with him.
And not just a difficult conversation, one that could well and truly turn your life upside down.
But it wasn’t something you could put off any longer.
So you took another slow breath, steeling yourself, pushing away from the wall and shaking out your hands before you slowly walked into the living room and rounded the sectional where Ari sat.
His eyes lit up at the sight of you, and he held out his hand for you. “There you are, sweetheart, I was starting to wonder if you were hiding from me.”
“I need to talk to you,” you blurted without preamble, ripping the bandaid and already wringing your hands in front of you as you shifted your weight.
Ari’s smile faltered and he sat up straight, sliding to the edge of the sofa as he turned off the TV and set the remote aside. “Everything okay?”
“I don’t know,” you replied honestly. You swallowed, your mouth and throat painfully dry and making it hard to speak as you watched Ari watch you.
You could feel a cold sweat breaking out across your body as you dropped your gaze to the floor, shifting uncomfortably under Ari’s watchful gaze.
“Sweetheart, you’re scaring me, come here.”
It was instinct that had you accepting Ari’s hand, allowing him to guide you down to sit beside him as you felt your eyes burn with tears once more. You stubbornly blinked them back, sniffling as your leg began to shake, your nerves getting the best of you as Ari turned toward you and gently took your trembling hands in his.
He murmured your name, his thumbs caressing your knuckles as he dipped his head and tried to catch your gaze with his.
“Fuck, okay,” you sniffed, hesitantly raising your eyes to meet his.
Ari looked so worried that a quiet voice in the back of your mind whispered how he couldn’t possibly be faking his love for you just to keep you in his bed.
You leaned into that certainty, needing it in the moment as you took a deep breath, met Ari’s gaze and told him, “I want to be released from my contract with the agency. I don’t want to be with you because I’m contractually obligated to do so. You keep saying you want me to meet you halfway and be all in, but I can’t do that if my half of the relationship is based on a work contract.”
Ari watched you for a long beat, silent. He didn’t look shocked by your topic of conversation, but otherwise his handsome face was a mask you couldn’t read, and you felt panic quickly rise within you at the thought that he was already shutting you out.
Before you could say anything else, Ari’s thumbs were brushing against your knuckles again and he took a deep breath before hesitantly saying, “Forget about the contract for a minute. Do you want to be with me?”
And suddenly his mask was gone, and he looked as afraid as you felt sitting here having this conversation with him.
It was the hesitancy in his voice and the fear in his eyes that had the panic within you slowly receding.
“Yes,” you said quietly, truthfully. Ari opened his mouth, but you shook your head at him. “Wait, just let me get this out, please. You know how hard it is for me to do this kind of stuff.”
“Okay, honey, go ahead.”
“I’ve never really asked you for anything, Ari, despite all the gifts and pampering. And I love all of that, you know I do. I’m so grateful for how well you treat me. How patient you are. I-I’ve never had anyone care about me the way you do…”
Your voice faltered and your leg began to shake harder as you squeezed Ari’s hands, eyes falling away from his intense gaze for a beat before lifting to realign with his unwavering stare.
“But now I’m asking you for this. I can’t…” you struggled to find the words to properly express yourself, your feelings, those once foreign things that now seemed a permanent fixture in who you were, in your relationship with Ari. “It’s really hard to reconcile the fact that you’re telling me you love me but binding me to you with a contract. Do you understand? And I just think--”
You gasped for breath between your rushed words, and Ari lifted his hand to your face, gently cupping your cheek as he told you, “Sweetheart, breathe.”
You took a shuddering breath, feeling overwhelmed as a few tears finally made their escape and streaked down your cheeks.
“I do love you, with everything I have,” Ari murmured earnestly, his hands now framing your face as his thumbs swept away your tears. “If this means that much to you and it’s what you need to trust me and my words and how I feel for you, then consider the contract null and void.”
Your breath hitched, a sob getting caught in your chest as you met Ari’s tender gaze. Your voice wobbled as you whispered, “Really?”
Ari nodded, his plump lips curling into a soft smile. “I’ll make it official first thing Monday morning when I’m at the office.”
All the feelings you had been struggling to stamp down for days finally broke through your emotional wall and hit you at once--the strongest one leading the charge being an overwhelming sense of pure, unadulterated relief--and you couldn’t stop yourself from promptly bursting into tears.
“Oh, honey, c’mere,” Ari said, wrapping his strong arms around you and pulling you against his chest.
You sank against him, crying into his shirt as his big hands slowly smoothed up and down your back in soothing strokes. Once your tears had stopped and you felt like you could actually speak and look at him without crying all over again, you straightened with a sniffle, wiping at your eyes.
“I’m sorry, I’m so lame.” You shook your head, cupping your own warm cheeks as you shyly met Ari’s gaze. “I just, this was really scary and it’s been weighing on me and I was so afraid to talk to you about it.”
Ari’s fingers were gentle as they tickled beneath your chin, tipping your watery gaze to his as he smiled. “You can talk to me about anything. Always.” He waved a finger between the two of you. “That’s what this is.”
You smiled, a watery laugh falling from your lips as you pressed your hand to your chest and felt your body finally, blessedly relax - unwind from it’s coiled state of perpetual angst and fear that had kept you on edge for weeks.
Ari’s gaze on you--on your reaction--was so soft you felt like you could cry all over again, but this time it wouldn’t be from fear and stress, but happiness.
He chucked you beneath your chin before asking, “So what do you want to do for work? You don’t have to, you know. I’m more than happy to take care of you. You’d never need to lift a finger again if that’s what you want.”
“I appreciate that, but I think I want to put my business degree to actual use,” you smiled at the thought, feeling shy as you confessed, “Back when I was in college, before I needed the agency to make ends meet, I always dreamed of running a business. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, but it’s fun to kick around ideas.”
Ari grinned at your enthusiasm, letting you ramble as you gushed at him about something that genuinely excited you.
“Like the other night, I couldn’t sleep, so I was thinking about the agency and the gentlemen's club you’re building, and like, why are you making it exclusive to men? That’s such an archaic thing, and it’s not just men who have money and want to spend it on companionship and entertainment, ya know?”
Ari blinked, head cocking to the side as he absorbed your words. “You think we should branch out and service everyone at the agency and club?”
You shrugged. “I mean, I would. You could be doubling your demographic and revenue.”
You watched as Ari’s eyes went distant, like he was thinking, and you knew he was going into business mode. Giggling, you leaned forward and cupped his face, meeting his refocused gaze briefly before pressing a slow, grateful kiss to his lips.
“Thank you,” you whispered as you pulled away.
Ari smiled, but it looked a little sad as he smoothed a hand over the back of your head. “You shouldn’t be thanking me, sweetheart. I knew what I was doing was wrong from the get go, but I just wanted you so much. I would have done anything to have you, and now I would do anything for you, to make you happy.”
Your breath hitched at his words, his unexpected apology hitting you harder than you would have thought.
Sometimes it was like you forgot the underhanded way in which Ari had ensnared you in the first place, because he treated you so good and loved you so much.
But the fact that he was acknowledging that what he did to you was wrong, and expressing how much he cherished you and your happiness had something light and excited fluttering throughout your chest.
“Are you happy?” Ari whispered as he gazed into your eyes.
You realized you were, maybe more than you had ever been before in your whole life, and the sudden realization had you smiling like an idiot. “I am.”
“Good,” Ari said, his voice sounding slightly relieved as he touched your cheek. “Thank you for coming to me with this, for trusting me. I know it must have been difficult.”
“It was,” you nodded, nuzzling his nose with yours before pecking his lips again. “But it was worth it.” You pulled away, giving Ari a bright, beaming smile. “And now I’m going to go shopping to celebrate and buy some obscenely expensive and transparent lingerie to thank you properly later tonight.”
Ari laughed at your saucy wink, watching as you happily bounded away. He waited until you were out of sight and he heard the bedroom door distantly close before allowing his smile to fall.
Swallowing, he blinked, inhaling a shaky breath as he dropped his head into his hands and tried not to let his worry that this was it--the beginning of the end of you and him--eat him alive.
When Ransom swept into the cafe the next morning and barely spared you a glance, you felt your gaze narrow in offense.
How dare he basically ignore you when you’d been unable to stop thinking about him all day.
When your knees were still wobbly from the way he had fucking ruined you last night. The way he had made your body do things you didn’t even know it could do.
So you glared at him as you distractedly wiped the counter, watching with interest as he joined an already occupied booth in the back corner of the cafe.
You couldn’t help but admire the man Ransom was seated with, he was just as breathtakingly handsome, his wide shoulders and thick biceps stretching the black henley he wore. His dark hair was floofy and looked so tempting to touch, you couldn’t help but wonder how those strands would feel beneath your fingers. And that dark, neatly trimmed beard only emphasized his handsome face, the beautiful features seemingly carved from marble with the utmost of care.
“You may wanna use that rag to wipe the drool from your face.”
Janie’s amused voice had you stiffening, your face warming as you quickly pulled your wandering gaze from Ransom and his associate before glowering at her.
“They are super pretty though, aren’t they?” Janie sighed dreamily as she leaned against the counter beside you, dropping her chin to her hand as she stared across the cafe to where your gaze had just been fixed. “Who’s your boy toy’s friend?”
“He’s not my boy toy,” you grumped, tossing the rag into the bin beneath the counter before pulling your notepad and pen from your apron pocket. “And I don’t know.”
“But you’re gonna go find out, huh?” Janie smirked, eyeing your notepad as you glared at her.
“It’s my job, sweet J, speaking of which, why don’t you go do yours and check on your customers, hmm?”
“Geez, you’d think the fact that you’re a magnet for all these ridiculously hot guys would put you in a better mood,” Janie muttered under her breath, laughing at your quiet growl.
You couldn’t help but smile at her silliness, sighing as you shook off your annoyance as you slowly made your way around the counter and across the cafe.
If Ransom wanted to ignore you, then fine, you would do him one better, because you knew exactly how to get under his skin.
You tamed your smirk into more of a smile as you pulled up beside their table. You barely spared Ransom and his haughty smirk a glance before your full attention was on his companion.
“Hi there, welcome to Cafe Nirvana, how are you doing today?”
The stranger smiled at you and you tried not to swoon. “I’m doing well, how about yourself?”
“I can’t complain. What can I get you?”
“Aren’t you gonna ask how I’m doing?” Ransom cut in.
When your gaze flickered to him, he grinned, that shit eating smile of his that just reeked of arrogance.
And it was officially on.
You blinked at him, feigning aloofness. “Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot you were there.”
Ransom’s smile instantly vanished and you suppressed a triumphant cackle.
“That’s funny, I would have thought you’d find me pretty unforgettable, kitten, especially after last night,” he leered at you, leaning closer as he blatantly eye fucked you in front of his friend.
You rolled your eyes, turning your attention back to the stranger. “I’m not sure what you did to deserve suffering through his presence, but my condolences to you.”
His friend laughed, his eyes crinkling in amusement as he glanced between you and Ransom, looking beyond entertained. “Unfortunately we’re business associates, but it couldn't be helped, so here we are.”
“Ha, ha,” Ransom snapped.
A new twinkle entered his friend’s eye as he glanced at Ransom’s glower before his gaze returned to you. “What’s your name, sweetheart? I’m Andy, Andy Barber.”
You accepted his proffered hand, marveling at how big it was compared to yours as you introduced yourself.
“This your place?” Andy asked, glancing around the cafe as he finally pulled his hand from yours.
You nodded, grinning proudly. “It is.”
“Technically it’s my place,” Ransom huffed, sitting back against the booth and crossing his arms over his chest.
You rolled your eyes, glancing at Andy. “You’re not the only one who needs to suffer through a business relationship with this idiot.”
Andy’s surprised laugh made you giggle. Shaking yourself, you tried to channel a shred of your professionalism as you asked, “What can I get you?”
Andy gave you his drink order and you turned to Ransom, eyebrow raised as you stared at him. “Your usual?”
His smirk was slow to uncurl across his lips. “Well we don't really have the time or privacy for my usual, kitten, so I guess I’ll just take a coffee.”
You scoffed at him, turning on your heel and making your way back to the drink prep station.
Andy watched your retreat before his amused gaze found Ransom. “Is she why you wanted to meet here?”
“What?” Ransom snapped. “No. It seemed like a good midway point. Coffee’s good,” he shrugged, glancing away and out the window. “I like it here.”
“I’m sure you do,” Andy drawled.
Gaze narrowing, Ransom glared across the table. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You like her.”
Ransom scoffed, loudly. “I think you’re suffering from early onset dementia, grandpa.”
Andy chuckled. “Whatever you say, Drysdale.”
Before Ransom could respond you were returning with their drinks and a homemade cinnamon bun for Andy.
“I didn’t order this,” he smiled as you set the plate in front of him.
“I know, but I figured you deserve a reward for putting up with this asshole,” you grinned, thumbing at Ransom.
At the sound of Ransom’s sputter of offense, you giggled, shooting a wink at Andy before sauntering away.
Both men stared after you, until you disappeared down the hallway that led to your office.
Breaking off a piece of his free pastry, Andy popped it into his mouth, humming in appreciation at the taste. He snickered as Ransom gazed forlornly at his treat, watching as he crossed his arms over his chest petulantly before getting to business.
“Word’s starting to get out that we’re in business together,” Andy said quietly, taking a sip of his coffee. “Have you heard anything? Experienced any kickback?”
Ransom shrugged. “Not really. My grandad seems pleased with our arrangement. He likes that I’m ‘taking initiative,’” he used air quotes. “Besides, I don’t seem to have as many enemies as you. Just a spurned lover or two.”
“I don’t have that many enemies,” Andy rolled his eyes. “I’m keeping my ear to the ground on DiMarco’s family, but his son is a spineless punk, so I won’t hold my breath on any retaliation there. And even if he makes a move, it won’t matter. I can handle him.”
“What about Levinson?” Ransom asked, reaching for his own drink and taking a pull. “I’m not as familiar with the New York factions.”
“He mentioned an old family friend and former mentor. One of those old school types, doesn’t like change or working with those outside of the small circle they keep. Ari didn’t seem too concerned though.”
“Well good, I’m not really here for the drama, I have enough of that within my crazy fucking family.” Ransom straightened in his seat, smirking. “I’m here to make money, so what’s the latest on the club?”
“It’s coming along well,” Andy said. “Ari’s gonna come out next month so we can do a walkthrough of the renovations together. We’re on track to open in about four months, if everything keeps going according to plan. There is a change we wanted to loop you into though, how do you feel about shifting from a gentlemen’s club to adult entertainment in general? Same concept but not exclusively targeted for men.”
Ransom hummed, leaning back in his seat and tapping his fingers against the table as he thought. “That works because I’m not a gentleman anyway.” He laughed as Andy rolled his eyes. “I honestly don’t care who we target. In my experience, sex sells across the board. So if we can make more money, I’m a hell yes for that shift.”
“Good,” Andy smiled, looking pleased. “We also have a club name we like and we want you to weigh in on.”
There was a long pause and Ransom blinked. “Do you need a drum roll or…”
A slow smile worked its way across Ransom’s face. “A play on paradise, huh?”
Andy shrugged. “Seems fitting, and it has a ring to it, don’t ya think?”
“It does,” Ransom nodded, leaning across the table. After a beat, he grinned at Andy. “I fucking love it.”
Chuckling, Andy leaned back in his seat. “Good. You know, you’re proving easier to work with than I assumed, Drysdale.”
“Better watch it, grandpa,” Ransom drawled, reaching for his coffee. “That almost sounded like a compliment.”
“And then you open your mouth and I want to punch you,” Andy muttered, tearing off another piece of his cinnamon bun.
“I’m told I have that effect on people,” Ransom snickered, glancing away.
His gaze caught on you, leaning against the counter and chatting with Janie. He watched the way you threw your head back and laughed at something she said, so carefree in your countenance. He couldn’t look away as you spoke animatedly, your hands making wild gestures to emphasize your words, and Ransom swore you were glowing as you stood there, captivating him by doing absolutely nothing.
“I'm more interested in the effect she has on you.”
At the sound of Andy’s teasing voice, Ransom snapped back to awareness, pulling his eyes from you so that he could scowl across the table.
“Uh, yes she does,” Andy laughed, his eyes flickering to you before returning to Ransom. “I get it though, she’s pretty, seems sweet. Funny, too--”
“Aren’t you fucking married, asshole?” Ransom snarled.
Andy blinked at him, and then he laughed. “Oh, you have it bad, Drysdale,” he chuckled, shaking his head as he picked up his coffee mug. “But you’re right, I am married, happily so. Just making an observation.”
“Well why don’t you stop sticking your nose in my business and walk me through the completed renovations,” Ransom huffed, gaze narrowing further as Andy grinned at him.
“Sure thing.” Andy reached for his phone and pulled up his notes app. “I’ll start at the beginning.”
Ransom tried to pay attention, he really did, but he only absorbed Andy’s first few updates before his wandering gaze was returning to you.
His eyes were drawn to you like you were a fucking magnet, and his heart leapt in his chest when you glanced up and met his gaze. And then you were giving him a dirty look, and a smirk curled Ransom’s lips as you glared at him before pointedly turning away.
At long last!! I know we had lots going on and revealed in this chapter. Please take a moment to drop me a comment or reblog and let me know your thoughts! Feed your favorite hoe, pretty please? With the NA babe of your choice on top?! 😘
I no longer do tag lists, but if you'd like to be notified when I post new writing, follow my side blog @sirisshamelesshoelibrary and turn on notifications to get pinged when I drop some new hoe fuel 😘
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Consciousness Of Guilt
Summary: Blanc visits, and reveals exactly what it is he has found. You and Andy have a slight disagreement on exactly how to use the information.
Warnings: Language, adult themes, angst. Implications of situations involving a minor (nothing explicitly is described, that’s just wrong…but you’ll see what I mean when you get there…)
Disclaimer: This is a pure work of fiction and classified as 18+. Please respect this and do not read if you are underage. I do not own any characters in this series bar the reader and any other OCs. By reading beyond this point you understand and accept the terms of this disclaimer.
Consciousness Of Guilt Masterlist // Main Masterlist
Andy’s eyes tracked your movements as you moved around the kitchen. You’d been up at the crack of dawn and so far you’d done two loads of laundry, cleaned the fridge and wiped down all the surfaces twice. He knew it was nervous energy causing you to do this, the prospect of seeing Blanc again was weighing heavily on your mind.
"Are you hungry? I can make you some breakfast. I'm not hungry, but if you want to eat," you spoke quickly, anxiously.
“Angel,” Andy shook his head and strode over the room towards you, “just take a moment, come on.”
His hands took yours and pulled you between his legs as he sat at one of the breakfast bar stools. "You gotta calm down, honey."
“I can’t help it, Andy, I haven’t seen him since… well, when I was in that hell house and…”
"Hey... Hey, hey, hey," Andy's heart broke for you. "Come here."
You took a long deep breath as you buried your nose in his neck. Andy's hands roamed your back, up and down, soothingly. He dropped a gentle kiss to the crown of your head.
“This is good news. He’s found what we needed.”
“And you don’t have to tell him anything, nothing at all if you don’t want to.”
You nodded quickly as the tip of your nose flared out, your eyes red and welling.
"Everything is going to be alright," Andy assured you, his voice soft and gentle.
“You don’t know that.”
"Don't do that," Andy's eyes grew firm. "Don't discount that I'm going to take care of this, of you."
“I’m not discounting anything. I’m just saying you can’t possibly promise this is going to be okay because we don’t know.”
"I can and I will."
“Dammed it, Andy!”
“Stop trying to sugar coat everything!” You pulled back from him and shook your head, “I’m not a kid who you can placate with sweeping, positive statements! This is bad! And you don’t know how the fuck any of this is going to turn out!”
You had no intention of sticking around for him to continue to assure you he hand things handled. He realized this as you stepped out of his grasp and decided, without another word that you were going upstairs to shower and prepare, alone, for Blanc's arrival.
You turned the shower on as hot as you could stand and stepped under the stream of water. It stung like hell, but in that moment you wanted your body to be as numb as your mind was. Surely, your racing heart and shaking hands would soon steady and follow. You knew Andy meant well, but all he’d done since Blanc had called yesterday was try and placate you, which might have worked had you not received the text message.
How they got your number, you weren't sure. You'd done all you could to keep your records private and unlisted, but it wasn't long after dinner last night that you'd received Linda and Richard's "demands".
Immediately, you tensed up, felt like spewing your lasagne dinner all over your rug and Andy's lap, as you read it. With nausea in your gut and tears in your eyes, Andy read what they wanted.
“We want everything you took from us when you killed our son, or we go to the police.”
Andy’s nostrils flared and he shook his head, “it’s an empty threat, Angel. Now their star witness is dead, they’ve got nothing. No proof.”
"How do you know that? You couldn't possibly know. Unless there's something you haven't told me."
“No, I’ve told you everything, you know this. All I’m saying is, without him to back up their claims they’re going to be laughed at. They’re trying to scare you, honey. But this is why I asked Blanc to do his digging. Once I get a hold of that evidence they bribed the doctor, I can throw that back at them and tell them to stop this bullshit or I’ll take this to-“
"Jesus, Andy, you don't know these people like I do. I spent months researching these psychos for that fucking article and now, this... Jesus Christ, I'm so fucking stupid. This has been my fault from the beginning. I brought this all on myself and you're dragged into the middle of it and you know what, I can't take it anymore!" You were on your feet in front of him. Your hands wrung through your hair and you forcefully pushed the sleeves of his hoodie up. You felt hot and crazed, angry and scared.
“Angel,” he shook his head as he stood and walked towards you, his hands gently prying yours from your hair, “you didn’t bring this on yourself, you did what you had to do to survive. Please, just trust me on this. I’m gonna make it okay, I swear.”
You closed your eyes and swallowed, "I'm going to bed, Andy. Goodnight."
Andy remained downstairs for a little while but joined you in bed, his arms gently wrapping round you as he sighed, kissing your neck softly, telling you he loved you.
And you simply lay there, pretending to be asleep.
You hadn't slept a wink, instead you got out of bed and did what you needed to keep busy. And, here you were, another spat with Andy later, and you were still disgusted and anxious, nothing being spared as the war inside you raged.
You stood under the stream of water for as long as you could justify, before turning it off and stepping out, grabbing a towel which you wrapped around yourself like a cocoon. You dressed in soft leggings and a lightweight sweater that went to your thighs, you slipped your feet into your soft slippers and decided this would do. You were not about to put on an encore performance for Blanc. That was the image that had kept you awake all night. That day replaying in your thoughts with images floating over your vision each time you tried to close your eyes.
Shivering, you pulled the sleeves of your sweater down a little further and made your way back downstairs.
You glanced at the big clock on the wall in the living room, a recent addition from the antique market you and Andy had randomly stopped at one weekend in Denver, and sighed. It was just gone noon and your guest would be arriving anytime soon.
“Feel better?” Andy asked as he looked up from his laptop at the dining table and you rolled your eyes.
“I’m not ill, Andy. Just fucking sick of all this.”
A knock at your front door sounded and your heart stopped. There was no doubt who would be on the other side.
Andy rose from his chair at the dining table, to answer the door.
The fingers on your right hand began to worry at the ones on your left as you stood, rooted to the spot as you heard Andy open the door, and that Southern drawl hit your ears as you heard Blanc greet him hello.
"Andy, good to see you again," he stated as he stepped inside.
“Benny, please. I think you can dispense with the formalities seeing as you insisted I do.”
"Fair enough," Andy nodded.
"Miss Y/L/N. It is my pleasure to see you again," Blsnc softly smiled and extended his hsnd to you.
Behind Blanc, Andy caught your eye, his face utterly perplexed at the fact Blanc had literally just told him not to be so formal yet done the same himself. Despite how you were feeling, you couldn’t help the smile on your face at Andy’s expression and you shook the PI’s hand.
"If I may, you look like an entirely different person than when I last saw you."
"Why..." your voice gave out and you cleared your throat. "Why don't you make yourself comfortable and I'll get you some coffee."
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cause any offence or upset.”
"No, it's... Thank you for your kindness."
“Milk, one sugar.” Blanc nodded at you, and it took you a moment to realise he had just told you how he took his coffee. With a nod, you headed back into the kitchen as Andy directed your guest to take a seat in the lounge.
You were quick to come back with a cup for Blanc and Andy, making their mugs the way Blanc had requested and the way you knew Andy would take his. You had nothing for yourself, you couldn't stomach it.
Blanc had sat in your chair while Andy sat on the cushion of the couch in the middle, next to his usual spot, the chaise, leaving you with a space closer to Blanc.
You sat down and immediately Andy's hand reached for yours in your lap, his thumb rubbing along the back of your hand.
“So, erm, you said you’d found something?” Andy looked at Blank who took a sip of his drink.
“That is good coffee,” he nodded appreciatively before his eyes gestured to the manilla envelope in the table, “I did indeed find something. Take a look.”
You looked at Andy, not able to pick it up for yourself out of fear and worry. He kissed the back of your hand before he let go to reach for the envelope.
Andy removed the pieces of paper, his eyes scanning down the details as his brows shot up.
“Seriously? They were this dumb?”
“Arrogant.” Blanc nodded, “but that’s that family all over.”
“What, what is it?” You asked as Andy handed you the statement.
“It’s a list of bank transactions.” He stated, “see the one highlighted?”
Your eyes scanned over the offending document until they landed on the highlighted line.
“Two million dollars?” You whispered.
“Yeah, two million to keep a lying murderer out of jail.” Blanc sniffed a little. You stiffened at his words and Andy gently squeezed your knee as Blanc continued. “Now, I haven’t traced the account but it wouldn’t be too hard to do. It’ll no doubt go back through some offshore holding on the Cayman Islands but it’ll track back if you go far enough. And I’m informed it will track back to an account in which Linda Drysdale’s assets were hidden when her company went bust.”
“Wait, you didn’t track it?” Andy frowned.
“I did not.” Blanc confirmed.
“So how do you know this is the transaction?”
“And he just told you?” You looked at Blanc and he chuckled.
“He didn’t have much choice when I showed him my leverage.”
“Leverage?” Andy looked at you for a moment, then back to Blanc.
“Yes, leverage. Check the envelope again.”
Your skin crawled the second the photographs came into view.
“Oh Jesus.” Andy tossed them on the table in disgust, and your eyes followed them. The doctor in question was in a rather compromising position in his car with what looked like a teenage girl.
“She’s sixteen,” Blanc took a deep breath, confirming your thoughts, “she’s been working for him part time in the office.”
“She’s a minor.” Andy shook his head. “Jesus.”
“Once I showed him these, he was most talkative.”
“You blackmailed him?” You blinked, “using these photos?”
"Sometimes my work isn't the most admirable, but I won’t lose any sleep over using slightly less nice methods on the likes of men like the good doctor."
“I know, just let me think for a moment.” He ran his hand over his beard.
"What is there to think about? This girl is...." you felt ill, physically sick and it wasn't dissipating.
“Y/N, may I speak freely?” Blanc leaned forward, elbows resting in his thighs as he looked at you.
You nodded and Blanc gestured to the photos on the table. “Normally I wouldn’t hesitate to report this to the police, you’re right to be disgusted, I am myself but something tells me that’s not what you want to do. Or to be more specific, that’s not what you want to do if you’re trying to stay off the authority’s radar yourself.”
You felt your blood run cold and beside you Andy stiffened, “what makes you think that’s what we’re trying to do?” His voice was calm but you could tell from his body language that Blanc had just sideswiped him with the implication he knew you had something to hide.
Blanc smiled a little. "Well, when you called me and told me that the Drysdale’s had been threatening Y/N here in her own home and demanding money, I didn’t think much of it. I mean, Linda’s business had just gone bust, it’s a perfectly believable claim.” Blanc looked at you both and beside you, Andy let out a breath as the man continued, “but I must admit, it got me wonderin’, why? Why not simply report it yourself?”
“Y/N went through enough when Ransom was killed, not to mention all the fall out afterwards.”
“Of course, yes, that’s what I told myself... at first,” Blanc agreed. “And then I remembered you questioned me about why my mind jumped to the conclusion that Ransom had something to do with Y/N’s disappearance. When I told you I suspected a level of coercion, you were most disgruntled when I informed you that I had merely left Y/N where she was.”
“That, no, I mean….” You stuttered and Blanc held his hand up, a gentle and kind expression, one that was almost sympathetic, crossed his face.
“And then I had the delight, if you will, of reading Mr Hugh Ransom Drysdale’s book, Murder He Wrote. My interest was piqued, seeing as it was the same tittle of your article, Y/N.”
Your skin went clammy and you assumed your color paled as a cold sweat washed over you.
“I was most amused to see that my visit was used as inspiration,” Blanc nodded, “nothing unusual there though, I mean that’s what most good novel authors do isn’t it. It was certainly Harlan’s style, drawing from their real life experiences to create a realistic and believable, fictional narrative.”
Next to you, you felt Andy let out an angry noise through his nose as you sat still, frozen in place as Blanc continued, his voice soft.
“Only it wasn’t a totally fictional narrative, was it?”
"No," you whispered.
“Shit, my dear girl…” Blanc shook his head, “if I’d have known the extent of what was happening…”
“It’s not your fault.” You shook your head, tears swimming in your eyes. “It’s no one’s fault but his.”
Andy’s hand moved from your knee to your back as he gently rubbed his hand up and down your spine over your sweater.
Blanc licked his lips, “I know you came under some suspicion when Drysdale was murdered, but discounted pretty quickly when the investigation progressed. But please, be honest with me, did you have anything to do with it?”
“Of course she fucking didn’t,” Andy blazed, standing tall and beginning to pace the floor in front of you. You took a deep breath and looked at him.
“Andy, what is it you always say about being in court?" You took a deep breath, "Don’t ask a question to which you don’t already know the answer?” You sniffed and wiped your face, “he already knows, don’t you?” You turned to Blanc and he popped a shoulder.
“It was the conclusion I drew as to why you didn’t want the police involved. They found out didn’t they? And they’re blackmailing you.”
Andy let out a soft groan as you sniffed and wiped your face. “I had no choice, he err, he gave me the first draft of his book on Valentine’s Day, thought I’d be pleased I was his muse. And all his notes…it was there in black and white, how he originally planned on killing me and…”
That was all you could manage before you broke down completely.
Andy sat and pulled you into his chest, his arms wrapped around you. Blanc sat there stunned but not surprised.
“So now what?” Andy looked at Blanc as he held you close and Blanc blew out his cheeks as he exhaled and sat back.
“Well, we absolutely can’t go to the police with this, that much is correct.”
"No shit," Andy scoffed.
At that you sat up, wiping your eyes, “you’re not gonna report me?”
“Well, strictly speaking I have no evidence just some, ‘heavy duty conjecture’ to quote the sociopath in question.” Blanc shrugged. “I don’t see anyone here recording your confession do you? And besides, if I was, it’s without your knowledge and without counsel present. I mean, that’s the angle Drysdale’s brief took anyway.”
“It was self-defence, a pre-emptive strike to preserve her own life.” Andy shot back and Blanc nodded.
“Agreed. So, the question is, what we do now? Do you know how the Drysdale’s found out?”
You were scared. That was the only emotion and feeling you could muster and you looked at Andy who spoke for you.
“They found out from the man, the person who actually stabbed him. I don’t know the exact details but it seems he went to them for money. He was arrested on an unrelated charge,” Andy licked his lips, “but he was killed whilst on remand.”
"Pity for him," Blanc quirked his head with a pop of his shoulder.
“But we don’t know what the Drysdale’s have, whether he gave them any evidence or…” Andy sighed, “this is why I wanted proof they bunged the doctor. So I could use that to make them keep their mouths shut.”
"Other than the junkie's account, what else could they have on you, Y/N?"
"Nothing. Not that I am aware of. I..."
Andy squeezed your hand and stopped you, mid-sentence. You had a feeling he didn't want you to divulge too much.
“Okay.” Blanc nodded, “I supposed it doesn’t matter either way, the outcome is the same. You’ve got evidence that would send them to prison, they have evidence that would send you to prison,”
“Or the chair.”
“Massachusetts doesn’t have a death penalty.” Blanc shook his head.
"You have an absolutely solid self-defence argument and I'd make sure it was defended to the max." Andy cut in and Blanc nodded.
“Yes, but, I think there’s a way we can work this so it doesn’t come to that.” Blanc looked at Andy, then you. “As I said before, we have a stalemate, which I believe was your intention, Mr Barber.”
"It was my assumed plan of action," Andy nodded.
“And now, you also have those photos of the doctor.” Blanc gestured to the items on the table, “if you can present all this to the Drysdales, show them you have a way to keep the doctor co-operatin’… then, well, I’d say that’s enough to make them think twice about continuing their quest for money, don’t you?”
“I don’t want the money, they can fucking have it.”
“Y/N, we discussed this.” Andy groaned, “we pay them and then what? They come back for more? No, we need a way to stop them once and for all and I think we have it.”
"By using this poor girl? That was low for both of you."
“I didn’t know it was gonna throw this up!” Andy looked at you, “but if we go to the police with this, they’re gonna start asking questions, honey!”
"I... I don't even know what to say, just do what you must, I don't want to know anymore." You stood tearfully, clearly frustrated. "Mr. Blanc, thank you for what you've done, for coming all this way. I'm sorry, I just... I need to go." You looked to Andy, words unclear on the tip of your tongue. You took a long blink and started for the stairs.
“Y/N.” He followed you to the hall, “honey, just hang on a second!”
You didn't want to or couldn't hear anymore, it was weighing heavily on you and that's what frightened you. Evidence was staggering on both sides, it worried you what more the Drysdales could have on you, and you found yourself wondering if you slipped up even more to further incriminate yourself. If you were honest with yourself, maybe a full-fledged confession to the district attorney himself was starting to sound better than all this secrecy.
“Y/N! Angel, please.”
The click of your bedroom door was the only response you gave. With a heavy sigh, Andy turned back and saw Blanc was now standing, shrugging his jacket back on.
“I’m sorry, she’s…”
“Please, don’t apologise. There’s no need.” Blanc shook his head, “I should be going anyway.”
Andy walked him to the door and Blanc stopped and turned back to him.
“Mr Barber, if I may be so bold as to offer you one final piece of advice," Andy nodded and Blanc continued. "If you haven’t already, I’d get your friend in the DAs office to send you the file on Drysdale’s murder. That way you can be sure not only on the facts as the police know them, but also if there is any possible further evidence his parents could have.”
"It's my first call," Andy sighed.
“Okay. Let me know what you find and if you’d like me to be there when you confront the Drysdale, then believe me when I say nothin’ would give me greater pleasure. I owe Y/N, I should have done more but that aside, this ones kinda personal for me too.”
"I'll call you, you can be assured of that. Nothing, I don't doubt, would make them shit their pants more than you showing up on their door."
Blanc chuckled, “don’t underestimate exactly how hard faced Linda Thrombey or Drysdale, whatever, is. Her husband, yeah he’ll crumble faster than a cookie you sit on but she, she’s the one to crack. Have a good evening, Andy.”
"We'll talk soon, Benny," Andy nodded and Blanc took the final steps out the door and down the walkway to his rental.
Once he was out of sight, Andy’s eyes drifted up the road to the familiar dark sedan. His lip curled a little, and he shut the door behind him making sure to lock it. Then with a heavy, heavy sigh, he made his way up to the second floor. He found you emerging from the bathroom, your eyes red from tears. He paused, and you looked at him, before you shook your head.
“I don’t… Andy, please.” You stuttered, “I don’t wanna talk about it. It anymore.”
"Honey, we have to talk about this."
“No, no we dont. You've made this entire plan on your own and you chose to clue me in on what you thought was important. Think about it, Andy."
“That’s bullshit,” Andy shook his head, “I had no idea that Blanc was gonna find out Doctor Ross is a dirty pervert! All I wanted was proof of those transactions, and you knew that!”
"Did you have any idea, any inkling at all he was into little girls, Andrew?
“What? Of course I fucking didn’t! What do you take me for?”
“What do you take me for, huh?” You were yelling now, your anger and frustration all simmering beneath your skin, and you, like a pressure cooker, were ready to blow. "I'm fucking scared, Andy! I'm this fucking close to going to your friend in the DAs office myself with my entire written confession."
“Angel, will you stahp!” His voice was loud and earnest, “you don’t need to do that, we got what we need!”
"Stop telling me what I can and could, should and shouldn't do. You're no better than Ransom controlling my life. Do you want me to stop calling and seeing my parents? My friends too? Might as well."
At your words you saw Andy blink, before his brow furrowed and his face contorted in a mixture of anger and disgust. "You know what, you're scared and I'm scared, I'm fucking terrified." Andy yelled at you for the first time ever. "But I am nothing like that fucking pathetic, abusive piece of shit."
"You want to control the narrative yourself now, you want to control what happens to me, but face the facts here, Andy," you yelled and cried, "you can't. And you have no clue what the fuck they have on me outside some dead junkie who we both know your father had killed to try and save my ass.”
Andy ran his hand over his beard, looking away from you, his eyes flickering to the window as you continued.
"This is deeper than you can control, Andy. This is deeper than.... This is... I am not Jacob."
Andy’s head snapped back to face you, a look of stunned anger across his features.
“What did you just say?”
"You heard me."
“Fuck you.” His voice was cold, blue eyes blazing with anger as he stood, his shoulders tense. With one final look at you he turned and left, slamming the door to your bedroom behind him.
Andy stormed down the stairs and made his way straight to the scotch. Grabbing the bottle, he yanked open the cabinet and grabbed a glass, pouring himself a healthy measure which he necked in one. It burned all the way down. But what stung more were his eyes and his heart.
He knew you had just been lashing out, but that didn’t make what you had said any easier to stomach, or any less hurtful. There was absolutely no way Jacob's situation compared to your own. That was a fact he was well aware of. And he also knew he was nothing like that abusive piece of shit, Drysdale.
He poured himself another glass and necked it for a second time. God damn it, what now?
He was lost, utterly lost. The relief and anticipation he’d felt yesterday when Blanc had called to say he had found what they needed was well and truly gone. Where the two of you stood in that moment remained to be seen. Your words cut but his no doubt gutted you. He'd never spoken to you like that, ever. But so help him, you were not confessing.
He’d already lost so much, losing you was not an option.
Glass in one hand and bottle neck in the other, he flopped down on the couch and hung his head as his forearms rested on his thighs. The glass hung in the tips of his fingers while the bottle dangled between his legs. He couldn't stop the burning in his eyes as the tears and flash backs flowed. This all felt horribly familiar.
Things were quick to feel like they were all closing in on him. The room, the air, his chest, it was all getting small and tight. His beard caught the salty tears as he silently sobbed. Where did he go wrong? Where did he fail you? Where did he fail his son, his wife? Why was it all happening all over again? Was he that shitty of a man that this was his punishment for the rest of his life?
Sitting up slightly, he poured himself another scotch before he placed the bottle on the table and slumped back on the couch, sniffing loudly as he wiped at his nose. At first his eyes stared forward, zoning out on the blank television on the wall above the fireplace. Then they flicked to the envelope on the coffee table in front of him before they longingly floated to look towards the stairs and up at the second floor.
How long he was staring for he had no idea, but when he finally zoned back in he realised it was starting to go dark outside. He took another sip of scotch, impatiently waiting for the moment when it would start to kick in and numb him.
It wasn't until the bottle was near drained that it did.
As his mind hazed slightly, he swung his legs up onto the cushion beside him and lay down. His heavy eyes turned and glanced up at the array of photos that adorned the far wall of the living room, the “wall of shame” as you dubbed it. There was a dozen or so snaps, all various sizes but in matching black wooden frames. The one in the middle of the display was the professional one taken of you both at the Christmas party, but his personal favourite was one you’d taken a few weeks after he kissed you for the first time.
It was a selfie that you’d snapped on one of your hikes. Both your faces were fresh and exuberant from the brisk, morning air as Andy’s chin rested on your shoulder, his cheek pressed to yours. Two pairs of happy eyes stared back at him along with two broad smiles as the breaking dawn lit up the sky behind you in hues of pinks and oranges.
His chest shook as he inhaled deeply. Tears clouded his vision again and with a groan to himself he lay back against the cushion. He would call Logiudice tomorrow, that was the only certainty he had.
It was later when you woke, fully clothed in your bed, your room silent and dark. The darkness worried you as you came to. The house was too quiet and you were terrified Andy left when you cried yourself to sleep.
You were just as guilty, what you said was horrible and completely out of character and pure anger. Accusing him of being like Ransom had been bad enough, but to then drag Jacob into the argument, well, that had been cruel. You were disgusted at yourself. But how were you to fix it? The day was chalk full of what nows and zero solutions.
First thing was first, check if he was in the house. Your initial fear had settled a bit, because you knew that no matter how bad things were, to simply up and go wasn’t Andy’s style. Exiting your room and standing on the landing you listened a moment. You couldn’t hear a thing. You peeked into the spare room to find the bed empty, neatly made up as usual.
You climbed to the third floor and checked the office, nothing. Which meant he was either downstairs, in the garden or at a bar in town, getting blitzed. You knew you couldn't call, you didn't trust your voice, so you would check the first floor and garden before attempting to phone him.
You made your way down the stairs and when you entered the lounge you let out a sigh of relief as you saw Andy, flat out asleep under one of the fleece throws.
Your heart pounced in your chest. You were heartbroken. Forgetting your troubles, what mattered was Andy. You would worry about the news Blanc came with tomorrow. You crossed towards him and knelt up on the floor by his head. Reaching down, you gently picked up the empty short tumbler where it had fallen onto the rug, and set it on the table by the now almost empty bottle of Laphraig.
You noticed even by the dim light of the stairs his puffy and red, swollen eyelids. Your lips pressed to his temple as you swallowed back a sob.
"I'm so sorry, Andy." You whispered into his hair as your arm curled around his head and your nails scratched at his beard softly.
His face twitched a little at your touch and he moved slightly, turning his face into your palm, seeking you out even in his sleep.
A kiss to his temple again sent a tear down your cheek and onto his, the droplet rolling into his beard. You then pressed a soft kiss to his lips, and at that point he made a little noise and scrunched up his nose as his eye lids flickered. Slowly, they blinked open and he took a moment, clearly finding his focus.
Sad cerulean, cloudy with booze fog and red from his own tears, Andy's gaze found yours.
“Angel?” His voice was raspy from sleep as he looked at you, “you okay?”
And fuck, that broke your heart even more. After every nasty and shitty thing you had said, his first though was how you were.
"I'm sorry." You broke, sobs again wracking your body, "I'm so sorry."
“Oh, honey,” his voice cracked as you shook your head.
"I... I... I," you were hyperventilating now.
“Hey, hey…” Andy shifted a little so you could wrap your arms round his neck, his own gently on your back, “it’s okay, it’s okay. I’m sorry too.”
"What I said, I...."
“Don’t worry about it, please. We were both mad.” He soothed.
"Unforgivable...." you sobbed of yourself.
“Yeah, well that’s my decision to make,” he pulled back a little, his large hand brushing your hair off your face. “I didn’t mean to push you so far, I just… I’m trying to keep you safe. I couldn’t bear if if I lost you too. You’re my world, Y/N.”
Your face nestled perfectly in the size of his hands. His thumbs caught each tear that leaked from your eyes. "Please..." your body shook as you tried to breathe, "forgive", you tried again, "me."
“Fahk, honey come here…” Andy shuffled back further against the couch and held up the throw so you could slide next to him, snuggled into his chest as he lay on his side facing you.
You could smell the scotch on his breath but it didn't matter. What mattered was the forgiveness he was giving you. The side of your face sat against his chest as he wrapped his body calmingly around you like a weighted blanket. His denim clad legs tangled with yours, one hand gently cupped the back of your head as he kissed your temple.
“I love you.” He whispered, “so fahkin much, baby.”
"I love you too, Andy, "you said softly, your eyes welling still.
The pair of you lay in silence now, both your apologies had been spoken and accepted. It wasn’t long before you felt your eyes growing heavy, exhausted from the emotions of the afternoon.
“Andy?” You whispered, receiving a tired hum in response, “we should go to bed.”
“Hmmm,” he mumbled again, simply wrapping the throw around you both tighter.
So instead, you stayed right where you were.
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