He smirks, catching the reference. “It’s not quite that formal.”
I take another sip of my beer. I’m starting to feel a little warmer and a little better, even though I’m still captive.
“I’m not going to work for him,” I say, conversationally.
“No?” His golden brow rises again, and that ready smile makes another appearance.
“You don’t like money?”
“I don’t like him.”
It’s not entirely true. It’s not that I don’t like Vicious, it’s that he scares the shit out of me. The sooner I get out of this place, the better.
“Well, I don’t blame you. After what happened to the last courier…”
“What happened to the last courier?
“Don’t worry about that,” he says. “You’re not going to work for Vicious anyway. You’re going to be the first person to ever successfully turn him down.”
I let out a nervous little laugh. “Yeah, I am.” I take another sip of beer and side eye him. “You should help me get out of here.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I don’t want to be here. Because I was kidnapped, and beaten. I’m innocent, and I need your help.” I give him a wide eyed look with a little girl pout. I am hoping that my disguise will do what it needs to do: make me look like a damsel in distress and activate whatever kind of inherent masculine capacity for pity he might have
His eyes gleam. “Uh huh. Now I see why he had the whip out. You’re just full of reasons for him to use it, aren’t you, little girl.”
Slick’s voice takes on a deeper, more resonant tone and his entire demeanor shifts without him moving at all. It’s his energy that has changed. I’m no longer looking at his casual, easy going facade. I’m seeing the side of him I first detected when I looked at him the first time. He’s cold underneath it all. Ruthless. Just like Vicious.
I sink back into the couch, pull the blanket over my lap and drink my beer. I really need to get out of here. If I spend too much time with them, I might get… I don’t know, addicted or something.
Another uncomfortable truth is starting to make itself apparent. I like these people. I don’t want to, but I do. There’s something very raw and immediate and alive about a criminal, someone who has decided that they don’t care about the comfortable rules which make the rest of the world feel safe. The consequences of what they do range from imprisonment to terrible death. They don’t care, because it’s the freedom that matters. Vicious wasn’t afraid to kidnap me, and this man, Slick, isn’t afraid to keep me. Their refusal to follow the rules of society frees me as well.
Maybe this is what Blaze has been seeing all along.
My job takes me to the fringes of this world, but I was never really part of it. Until now. Now I am sitting in one of Vicious’ homes, held captive by his friend, waiting for his return, wearing the marks of his displeasure on my body.
“I think you liked the pain,” Slick says, interrupting my silence with a sly smile.
“When he whipped you, I think you liked it.”
“I think it’s none of your fucking business,” I snap back, my face beginning to heat with embarrassment. I don’t want to talk about what happened between Vicious and me, or what it means. I don’t know how this man seems to know either. Has Vicious been gossiping about me? Is this some kind of underworld locker room?
“Easy, tiger,” he chuckles. “No shame in liking being disciplined. You look like you need it.”
Okay, this conversation is getting worse by the moment.
“You’re a criminal. What do you care about discipline?” I try to discourage him, but it doesn’t work.
“It’s even more important when you’re outside the law. Have to establish order somehow, keep the little devils in line…” he leans forward. “And you’re quite the little devil, aren’t you…”
My heart starts to pound. My hips begin to squirm. My body is reacting to him, and I can’t help it. Oh god. Not again.
“Cut it out, Slick. She’s not yours to toy with.”
I didn’t ever think I’d be glad to hear those overly refined tones, but right now Vicious’ return saves me from death by blushing. Slick has gotten under my skin.
Vicious strides in. I look up, almost feeling guilty for being so affected. His sleeves are down again, buttoned. Those powerful arms are hidden beneath the white fabric. He looks at me, those green eyes searching my face. God, both these men make me feel like I am under a microscope..
“Possessive already?” Slick laughs. “Wow.”
Vicious shoots a look at him, then back at me. “It’s getting late,” he says. “You should go to bed.”
“It’s like six o’clock in the evening. And I should go home, not to bed.”