The immediate response is disappointment, and something else. There’s a twisting feeling inside that feels like a loss, but I would have had to have possession of her in the first place to justify this feeling deep in the pit of my stomach.
“I have an offer for you and then I’ll let you go,” I tell her simply, acutely aware of the way each word sounds controlled.
“Is that a promise?” she asks as her gaze lifts to mine and she shakes her head in disbelief.
“Only because you’ll be coming back.”
In return she bites her bottom lip, effectively silencing herself, but the rage is clearly written on her face.
“You want to hate me.” I address her anger before anything else.
“Yes,” she answers quickly and honestly.
“That’s only going to hurt you.” The rawness in my words comes from a place I don’t recognize.
She answers me, but she chokes up as she says, “I’m fine with that.”
The twisting in my gut gets sharper. The seconds pass, and the air changes subtly between us, each of us staring at the other and waiting for the next move.
“What do you know about Marcus?” I ask her pointedly.
She shrugs like none of this matters, as if she isn’t breaking apart. “I heard my sister say his name. He had something for her.”
“What else?” I push her for more.
“Nothing.” She looks me in the eyes and says, “All I had was his name and yours when she left.”
“Nothing else?” I finally ask her when I judge her response to be sincere. “Nothing about the drugs?”
“You’re all drug dealers,” she bites back.
“Now Marcus is a drug dealer?”
“He must be. Just like you must be.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because my sister bothered to learn your name.”
“What name is that?”
“So when you said you know all about Marcus and the drugs…”
“I wanted to …” She can’t finish. Her lips press into a thin line before she finally says, “I wanted it to sound like I had you.”
Time moves quickly as I stare at her and she stares back.
“I wanted you to feel like you weren’t going to get away with it,” she whispers, breaking the silence and rubbing her arms.
“That’s all you know?”
“One of you had her killed.” She croaks the quick response and I can see the frustration on her face from not being able to keep it together.
“It wasn’t me or anyone who works for me,” I tell her calmly, keeping my voice low and steady and looking her in the eyes just like she did me.
When she doesn’t react, I add, “You have questions; I can give you answers.”
“What happened to my sister?” she asks me without allowing a second to pass.
“I don’t know exactly, but I can find out. And more importantly, it’s not going to happen like this. I have a way of doing things and a desire to handle things in a certain manner.”
She stares at me like I’m the devil and she’s searching for a way to escape. There’s no escaping from this though.
“You’ll get the answers you want and pay off the debt your sister owed.”
“What do you get?”
“It will be tit for tat. I seem to remember you mentioning Marcus and something else about drugs?” I press and she blanches. “But I like things done a certain way. When I have questions to ask and I need to make sure the person giving me an answer is telling the truth.”
“What way is that?” she asks in a single breath. The nerves are making her shoulders shake slightly.
There’s no way I can tell her; I have to show her instead.
“Every ten minutes is a hundred dollars.” I make up the amount on the spot and before I can calculate anything else, she questions, “Ten minutes of what?” She doesn’t bother to hide the trepidation in her voice.
I can see her nervousness, the anger barely hidden.
“I’m not going to lie, Bethany. One of the reasons I didn’t kill you where you stood in your foyer is because I find you…” I trail off as I debate on the next words I want to say, but take a risk.
“I think you’re beautiful and I love the way you fight me.”
Her lips part, her breathing coming in short gasps, and her chest flushes with a subtle blush that trails up her neck. The compliment leaves her more amenable. Her eyes widen, the depths of the darkness taking over as what I want sinks in.
“And what do you expect me to do?” she asks and her words are rushed as if she doesn’t already know.
“I’m not a whore.” Her barb is immediate and raw. “I don’t care what my sister owed you.” She lowers her voice to add, “I don’t owe you anything.”
A smirk tugs at my lips and I lean forward, letting my palm rest against the drywall just above her right shoulder. Bringing my lips to her ear, I tell her, “I don’t have to buy sex and if and when we do fuck, it will be because you’re begging me to be inside of you.”