Authors: Elena M. Reyes,Marti Lynch
“You need help, Jan. All this…” he waved his hand around the room “…isn’t normal. You’re obsessed with the impossible.”
“If you are not out of my home within the next thirty seconds, I’m calling the cops. Save your sanctimonious ramblings for someone who gives a shit. Leave.” With sweaty hands and a rapidly beating heart, I paced the entryway. I needed to keep my cool, remain calm when all I wanted to do was to throw something at the idiot’s head.
There was no way in hell that I could let him see how fucked up I truly was.
Lance let out a humorless chuckle and patted the seat next to him. “No, you won’t.” His sure and cocky tone made me twitch; my palm itched to smack it out of him. “And, do you know why?”
Patting the chair once more, he stated, “Because you don’t want that secret you’ve kept guarded for so long to get out. You don’t want Talan to know what’s really going on. What happened with Sarah and your fam—”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about.” The sinister smile that over took his face then let me know how dangerous the situation I was in was. This could ruin everything. Talan wouldn’t accept me if he knew just how damaged I was. I needed him. He was my salvation.
Evasion was my sole choice; it was what I was good at. There were no other choices but to manipulate him into giving me what I wanted, and in return, I’d let him fuck me.
Slowly, I turned and closed the door, turned the lock, and faced my target.
Lance eyed me with curiosity from his perch on my couch but made no move to get up. Didn’t move a single muscle as I edged closer, nor did he bat a lash when I raised the skimpy dress I wore last night over my head and bared my body to him.
“I’m sure we can come to some sort of an understanding,” I cooed. “No need for threats.”
“Sweetheart, cover up. I didn’t come here for a quick fuck or to have you blow me.” His lip curled up in disgust, and his fists clenched at his sides. The man played the unfazed role well, but no matter how immune he wanted to appear, I knew better. It was bullshit.
“At one point, years ago, you wanted me. We could…” Swaying my hips from side to side, I sauntered toward him and stopped once our knees touched. There was no denying that the man was attractive.
He was older. Distinguished. A tatted asshole with a dirty mouth.
I’d fuck him. Take one for the team with a smile on my face if it got me one step closer to my ultimate goal. Talan was all I wanted, and I had no shame when it came down to just how far I’d go to attain him.
Getting to fuck Lance would be a bonus, if I were to be honest.
Placing one knee between his, I leaned forward using the edge of the couch for support. “What do you think, Lance?” I whispered into his ear. “Want to have some—”
Before I could finish my proposal, he’d flipped us over with me landing on my back. Lying back while he caged me in, his nostrils flared. Hard eyes bored into mine. This could be fun.
“Is that a yes?”
With a devilish smirk, Lance eyed my naked flesh before lifting up enough to separate our bodies. “No.”
“Why the fuck not?” I asked, biting my lip coyly. Lifting my hips up, I rubbed against him, and what I found was disappointing. He was soft. Not aroused in the slightest.
“You know,” he began with a chuckle and finished pushing himself away from me. Once up, he turned his back and took a few steps away and toward the only window in the room. “At first, I
attracted to you when we met. It was easy for me to see past the bullshit attitude you put up as a front and like what I saw behind it. For so long, I wanted to be the man you came to—the one you wanted, but you were as blind then as you are now.”
Is he kidding me with this shit? Just fuck me already!
“Lance, baby, let’s not talk about the past. We can focus on the—”
“Don’t use me, Jan. It won’t work. There will never be an
. No fake future or promises. I love my girl and would never cheat on her with you, or any other piece of ass that thinks she can have me.”
I love my girl.
I love my girl.
I love my girl.
“Get out!” Rejection stung, made me feel like less than a woman. “I don’t need this shit…just leave.” Lance heard the sad plea in my tone and turned to face me. For a second, I saw my old friend behind those angry eyes. But then, just as quickly as it came, the compassion disappeared and I was faced once again with this stranger. With what seemed to be Maya’s biggest supporter.
“I’ll leave,” he stated while turning to face me. “But before I do, I want you to listen closely. Are you paying attention, Janice?” I nodded. “Take my warning for what it motherfucking is…a threat. God help you, if you lay a single finger on her. Talan, I don’t worry about—he can very well take care of himself, but hurt her, and it won’t be his hands that find themselves bloodied.”
“This is none of your business.” By this point, I’d dropped the false niceties and wrapped an old afghan around my naked body. “This is between me and that boyfriend-stealing cunt.”
Lance, in a sudden bout of rage, stormed over to me. “Don’t. Just don’t.” His hands reached out and grabbed my upper arms tightly, not enough to hurt, but to immobilize me. “Look in the mirror, sweetheart. This,
madness created inside your head is of your own doing. You are to blame. Not her. Talan will never love you.”
“Let me go, asshole!” The fingers on my arm flexed once and then pushed me away. I stumbled but managed to keep myself upright. Still, he glared at me. Where was the concern for
Just like with Sarah, it was still all about Maya.
“Leave, Janice. Leave, and don’t come back. Forget about Talan…start over fresh. Get help.” It was my turn to glare. Enough with the ‘
talks. “Find someone when you are ready and healed that loves you for you. Do everything you’ve ever dreamed of and be happy, but do it out of Miami. Out of Florida.”
“Fuck you.” Before he could stop me, I slapped him across the face. How fucking dare he? Lance’s head snapped back from the force of my palm connecting with his face. The sound from the contact echoed inside my small apartment.
Rubbing his palm against his reddened cheek, he laughed. “We already discussed this, Jan. The answer is still no.”
“I’m not going anywhere. This is my home.”
“Then you leave me no choice.” Lance stated with a small touch of remorse in his tone. He shook his head and walked over to the door, but then paused with his hand on the wooden structure. “I’ll tell him everything.”
“Everything?” I whispered in pure panic.
“Sarah, your parents…even the times you’ve been arrested for violent outbursts that he doesn’t know about. The times you’ve been held for involuntary seventy-two-hour holds inside psychiatric hospitals for evaluation. Why you left for a couple of months after his father died and suddenly appeared back in his life asking for a job. Everything.” With that, he opened the door and exited the apartment. Fuck. Fuck.
This couldn’t be happening to me, not when I was so close.
Talan couldn’t find out. No. Never.
“Fuck,” I screeched out at the top of my lungs. The sound echoing around the room hurt; it was loud and full of pain. It was feral. Harsh. So much anger and pain resonated through me at that moment that I almost crumbled to the floor.
My knees felt weak, and my body shook. I was out of control.
Everywhere my eyes landed was a reminder of him. A memory of how I’d gotten to be where I was now.
A TV I’d purchased with my first official paycheck from Cox Tattoos. How proud I felt and how it symbolized how satisfied old man Cox and Talan were with my work. How every bead of sweat and bruise from carrying heavy boxes while I fixed their chaotic mess was worth it.
It was me that organized that backroom.
I was the one that filed and made sense of the businesses financials.
They had no system. Just a bunch of receipts and bills piled atop the old man’s desk. It had been my ideas that changed the flow of the store. That brought in more business, since they no longer had to deal with the paperwork and could now focus on their clientele.
Not fucking Maya.
The TV was the first thing my hands destroyed. Rage consumed me and made me crazed with the undeniable need to demolish everything before me. And so, even though a part of me hurt at the action, it felt like sweet relief to see the flat screen meet its end. Picking it up, I threw the 32-inch against the wall and took pleasure in hearing it crack.
Clumps of plaster fell to the floor.
Smoke billowed out from the back, and the electricity still pulsing through it crackled. Hastily, I pulled the cord out of the wall and kicked the piece-of-shit appliance out of my way. My all-white wall now had a dent, and I wanted it to be bigger. To resemble my damaged heart.
Disappointed by the lack of destruction before me, I eyed every square inch of my apartment. Made inventory of what could help me expel the demons I was fighting within. There was a war raging inside me, one that I could barely contain. It demanded blood and vengeance, but it wasn’t time yet. Things needed to be set in motion.
Next, I walked over to my wooden coffee table and flipped it. Ashtrays filled to capacity, glassware, and my bottles of meds flew through the air. Then fell everywhere. It was a beautiful mess. Nothing was safe within the confines of my home, myself included.
Wanted the bitch dead.
There wasn’t a single piece of furniture left standing when I was done. Everything was broken…shattered and torn. Nothing could be salvaged, except for the picture inside a delicate frame next to the broken side table. It was the same picture that had captured Lance’s eyes earlier today while he surveyed the room. All I had left of our time together.
I couldn’t bring myself to destroy it.
We looked so happy in it. The way it should’ve been had it not been for Maya. Fuck, do I love that man. So much so, that I’d forgive and forget this indiscretion and work every day of my life to make him happy.
Once I managed to regulate my breathing, I plucked my phone off its charger and scrolled through my contacts. Finding the number I needed, I pressed dial and waited. Three rings, and I heard the only voice outside of Talan’s that could make me smile at the moment.
“Meet me at the coffee shop close to the tattoo parlor in two hours. It’s time.” A miniscule part of me felt remorse over what I was about to do, but Talan had left me no choice. Her lifeless eyes staring back at me were the only thing that could make this right. There was no other way.
I’d lost too much in life and deserved some vindication.
The small coffee shop near Talan’s tattoo parlor was nearly deserted when I entered. An older couple was its sole inhabitant. Off to the side they sat engrossed in conversation. Laughing, eating…oblivious to the horrors of the world that surrounded them.
Never once did they look at me as I made my way into the small shop and over to the counter where the owner stood with lust-filled eyes. Asshole. We’d had an agreement for a while now, ever since Talan kicked me out. I sucked his mediocre dick, and he left me alone. No questions were asked while I sat for hours on end just watching, giving me the chance to fulfill that uncontrollable need to be closer to him.
It was a good thing the old fuck was still attractive. Made things easier. No protruding belly, and all of his hair still sat atop his head. Somewhat hot and virile, the man was insatiable for me.
“The usual?” he asked once I was in front of him. Always the same; I was a creature of habit if nothing else. With a small nod, I turned and sat down at my table and waited. Yes, this table was reserved for me…his beautiful little cocksucker. A shudder ran through me at that thought.
This was the degradation I’d subjected myself to for the sake of love. But it was worth it, had to be.
Donald always made sure that the table had something on it to discourage others from sitting there. The power a good blow job held couldn't be ignored. Men were ruled by their dicks. Dictated how they live their lives: how they work, eat, and sleep. A man with too much pent-up testosterone was a dangerous creature.
Simply put, unpleasant to be around.
Men lived for the feel of a woman’s lips wrapped around their girth, to hear her moan and choke as they stroke in deeper.
“Here’s your food, sweetheart,” Donald said while he placed my beverage and scone on the table. He fidgeted, his hands clasped in front of his body. “I’m worried about you, Janice.”
“Not you too,” I whined before taking a sip from my cup. The frothy caramel latte warmed me from the inside with a single sip. There was no stopping the quiet moan of pleasure that passed through my lips as the liquid slid down my throat. “Talan loves me, Donald. I know he does.”
“Just hate seeing you in so much pain…hurt.” With a sad smile, he turned around and walked back toward the front where two ladies were waiting.
Why does everyone around me insist on the fact that I need help? I’m more than fine—capable of taking care of myself, had always provided for myself without a single goddamned handout from anyone.
What I needed was to release Talan from Maya’s voodoo-filled clutches. This was for his own good, and he’d thank me one day.
“What’s got you so lost in thought?” Brian suddenly said, appearing out of nowhere and snapping me back to the present.
When did he get here?
Narrowing my eyes, I examined him from head to toe. Worthless momma’s boy. “None of your business.”
“Really?” he mocked with a haughty tone. “Then why involve me in your madness? Why seek me out? I’m not as stupid as you seem to think I am.”
No, you’re not. You’re dumber.
“Aren’t you touchy?” His eyes turned to slits, and his nostrils flared. “Calm down, lover boy. No need to get huffy with me.”
“Why. Am. I. Here.” Each word held a small edge of malice to it. I’d touched a nerve. He was angry. Good. The more worked up he became; the more pliable he would be to help with the destruction of their blasphemous relationship. “If you harm one hair—”
What happened to the angry and determined man from our last encounter?
“Hungry?” I ignored his questions for the time being and pushed half of my uneaten scone toward him. “This place makes the best pastries.”
“Enough, Janice. Talk, or I walk.” In my hand, I still held the knife I’d used to cut the scone. My fingers tightened around its handle. How easy would it be to jam the serrated edge into his neck and twist it? Blood would spurt from the wound, his face the mirrored image of pure terror.
People would scream, and I would smile. A thing of beauty.
“You’re here because we have something in common, Brian. An interest. We both want the people that are hurting us. Belong to us, yet deny what we know to be the truth.”
“This bullshit is about that cocksucker, isn’t it? Talan isn’t worth shit. Fuck him,” Brian snarled while pointing a finger at me, “and fuck you too. I don’t need this.” After his rant, which bored me to tears, he made a move to stand and leave. Pushing his chair back, it scraped loudly against the old linoleum floor. The couple in the corner looked our way, disdain for our display clear as day on their faces.
Their annoyance didn’t last long, once I set my own angry eyes on them.
“Sit the fuck down, Brian,” I hissed low enough so only he heard. “You don’t want to push me…it’s not in your best interest.” Done. I was so fucking done with the games. “I’m trying to help you get your precious Maya to notice you. Don’t make me regret it.”
Brian raised a defiant brow at me but sat down. “What’s that supposed to mean?” Now I had the idiot’s attention.
“Means I don’t give a flying fuck about the home-wrecking cunt, but I need her out of my way. If she lives or dies makes no difference to me.”
Both his palms slammed down against the tabletop. “Not another fucking word. You don’t touch her. Untouchable,” he spat through clenched teeth while shoving his finger in my face. “Maya gets hurt, and I’ll turn on you so quick.”
“Is that a threat?” How I held my laughter in, I had no clue. Who was he to make demands? Brian was a nobody, a by-product of his social upbringing. Those that believed they were above others. “That’ll be hard if our plan is to work.”
“Speak…” he started and suddenly trailed off. The look of worry fell from his face; instead, what graced me was the angry asshole I’d met at Jaime’s club. Waves of resentment and pure hatred hit me then. This would be too easy.
My eyes left his face, and I turned to look out of the tall windows that looked out and into the street. A tiny, pained whimper escaped at the sight that greeted me.
He was with her. Holding her.
Talan and Maya were walking toward his shop while holding hands. We watched as he raised the hand he held up to his lips and laid a tender kiss upon her knuckles. Watched as the look of pure adoration crossed her features and then witnessed the soft smile she gave him.
The bile rose up my throat at the display. This made me sick to my stomach.
“What do you need me to do?” Brian’s voice held so much malice; it caused a shiver to run down my spine. This was no longer the man who’d come in with an impenetrable chip on his shoulder. No, the man that spoke just now was determined yet detached.
The tone of his voice was cold. Devoid of any sympathy and willing to do anything I’d ask in order to stop what we witnessed from going any further. And as much as seeing them together had hurt, it was the perfect nail to his almost-closed coffin.
His lust for her will be her downfall.
“I’ll do anything,” he vowed. Brian sat stiff in his chair; his eyes never once left them. I watched his reaction instead of the scene across from us. The entire ordeal took a few minutes. Seconds that will forever be ingrained in our minds. “Anything.”
“Be her hero.” At that, he turned to look at me, confusion written all over his face. “What I need is for you is to be her hero. Defend her from the enemy when the time comes.”
He rubbed a hand down his face in agitation. “Could you be any clearer?”
“You need me to spell it out for you?” It was my turn to become agitated. Annoyed. “It means that when the time comes, I will fuck up her perfect world. Destroy her very soul and you, my dear Brian, will defend her. Be the one to save her when Talan isn’t around. Make her see that you are who she needs and not him.”
It was a simple plan if you asked me.
“Physically or mentally?” Brian asked coolly. Now he was indifferent, or at the very least, he pretended to be. I knew better, though. My answer would be the difference between him willingly participating, or having to force his hand.
“A tiny bit of both,” I added and watched his reaction. He didn’t disappoint—the man was too easy to read. In the last twenty minutes, he’d gone from bored to angry to now cautious. “Will I kill her? No, but the point is to make her fear for her life. To yell out in terror for someone to save her, anyone, and that person will be you.”
That was a lie, but he didn’t need to know that. For my plan to work, I had to placate his worries and make him see that my way was our only choice. His need for her had to override his fear.
“I’m in, but with two conditions.” Fucker thought he had a choice in the matter.
Raising a brow, I waved him on. “Name them.”
“Whatever you do, do it fast and swiftly.” Nodding, I agreed that time was of the essence, and they needed to be separated as fast as possible.
“What’s the second?” I asked with a small smile.
“She doesn’t die.”
“Agreed.” Because when it came down to it, he would die as well. You couldn’t keep a promise to someone who had a target on his or her back. The dead didn’t count. “She will go on with you as her savior. Her prince. And Talan, he will be mine…just as it should’ve always been.”