Hackers with(out) Remorse - (Book 4 of the Marvelous 3 Saga)

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10b. - The Kids (Ain't All Right) Pt. 2

When Tiana got back to base, it was already early in the evening. She could hear Jason and Owen in one of the offices talking and tried to tiptoe her way past them without being seen.

“Tiana?” She cringed as she turned around to see Jason and Owen standing outside in the hallway. They both immediately looked her up and down, taking in her outfit. Jason bit his bottom lip with hunger, and Owen’s jaw tensed with apprehension. “Where were you?” Owen asked.

“Out,” she said, turning around.

“I thought you didn’t have classes today,” Owen persisted.

“I didn’t,” she said.

“...so then...?” Owen asked, leading.

Tiana grunted as she let her head fall back. She turned to them and sighed. “I was out with David.”

Jason immediately lost his grin as Owen’s brows furrowed in frustration. “Seriously, T?!” Owen blurted.

“Owen, could you stop with this freaking overprotective big brother bullshit? I’m not a child!” she said exasperated.

“Tiana, I need to know where you are so I can keep you safe. How the fuck am I supposed to do that when you’re off running around with other guys?” Owen said angrily.

“He’s my project partner!” she shouted, throwing her hands up exasperated.

“I don’t give a shit who the fuck he is! We can’t trust anybody! Don’t you get it?!” Owen shouted at her.

“Owen...” Jason said, trying to calm him.

“You’re being such a fucking asshole!” Tiana shouted at him. “You can’t keep controlling my life over some damn mystery group we know nothing about!”

“I’m trying to protect you! Why do you have to act like such a goddamn child!” Owen shouted back.

“Alright, both of you calm the fuck down!” Jason snapped, butting in. He turned to Owen. “Go walk it off!”

“Are you fucking kidding me?!” Owen growled.

“Motherfucker, I said GO!” Jason snapped. Owen’s jaw tensed as he glared at Tiana before he stalked off and left them alone. Tiana threw her bag on the ground in anger and tried to storm off before Jason grabbed her. “Hey, hey, hey... relax,” he said, holding her shoulders.

“I don’t know why the fuck he gets like this!” she said angrily. “I swear he just-”

“He’s just looking out for you,” Jason said.

“Well, this ain’t fucking it, chief!” she snarled.

Jason rubbed her arms, trying to calm her. “You know the best thing that would cheer you up?”

“You better not say your dick.”

Jason blinked at her. “... you know the second best thing that would cheer you up? My special iced tea/lemonade mix.”

Jason nudged her towards the kitchen. She reluctantly sat down on a stool as he opened the fridge and grabbed a large pitcher. She propped her elbow on the table, resting her head and took a deep breath as she tried to calm down. “Here,” Jason said, handing her a glass.

“Is this spiked?” she asked.

“Do you want it to be?” he grinned.

She shook her head with a smirk before taking a sip. “I love Owen to death, but he gets on my fucking nerves sometimes,” she sighed.

“He just wants to protect you-”

“I’m getting so freaking tired of hearing that. That’s no excuse for him to act like a jackass,” she said, taking another sip.

Jason eyed her as she stared into her glass. A strange feeling he had never felt before, like a bad itch irritating his rib cage, overwhelmed him and he couldn’t help but ask. “So... this... Daniel guy...” Tiana looked up from her glass and into Jason’s perturbed blue gaze. “Did he... did he kiss you?” Jason asked.

“Jason...”

“Did he touch you?”

“That’s none of your business!”

“Does he want to fuck you?” Jason asked, leaning closer. “Of course, he does. Look at you. That son of a bitch,” he muttered.

Tiana sighed. “Are you jealous?”

“Of course, I’m fucking jealous!” Jason snapped before he caught himself. “Shit... now that’s an emotion I’ve never felt before. Wow, this is weird. Welcome to the Twilight Zone, Jason Davis, where up is down, black is white and jealousy is an actual... feeling? Gross...”

“It’s a normal human emotion, Jason,” Tiana snickered.

“Wanting to chop someone up into tiny little pieces and then set him on fire for touching my girl is a normal feeling? Well, that’s a relief,” Jason said, dramatically wiping his forehead.

“Okay, no. That’s not normal. You’re not normal. And please don’t try to look for him,” she sighed.

“Tiana, baby,” Jason said with wide arms. “What kind of man do you take me for?”

“A psycho, Jason. I take you for a psycho,” she said, quirking her brow. “You’ll probably try to find his social security number, blood type, and address and hunt him down.”

Jason shook his head with a snicker. “Beautiful, I’m a hacker. I just need his legal name.”

“Jason, I’m serious,” she said, glaring at him. “He doesn’t need to be dragged into this crazy world. He’s too sweet.”

“I can be sweet,” Jason smiled.

“And he’s adorable,” she added.

“I’m adorable,” Jason said, poking his dimple.

“And he’s innocent,” she continued.

“I’m... adorable,” Jason smiled.

Tiana couldn’t help but laugh. “Look, I’m not comparing you two. I’m not his girl, but I’m not yours either.”

“Yet.”

“Jason,” Tiana sighed. “We’re supposed to be taking this slow, remember?”

“This is about... 100x slower than I was hoping,” Jason pretended to whine.

She smirked at him as she finished the last sip of his drink. “Thanks for the beverage,” she said, walking towards the sink to wash the cup. She turned around to meet Jason’s lips as he impatiently grabbed the back of her neck. “You’re so relentless,” she breathed out, backing into the counter.

“And you’re my addiction,” he said, slipping his hand between her thighs. He cradled the back of her neck as her head fell back. She gasped as his lips latched onto her collarbone while his fingers found the front of her panties. “Goddamn, baby, you’re so wet for me,” he groaned. He softly stroked her lips over her steadily dampening panties. “Fuck, I wanna taste you so badly.”

They heard someone loudly clear their throat and Jason immediately removed himself from her. Tiana looked past Jason to see Tyler leaning against the wall with his arms folded over his broad chest. “You just gonna fuck her on the sink then?” Tyler said coldly.

“I had thought about it...” Jason mused before Tiana pinched him in the arm.

“Don’t!” she said with warning in her voice. She smoothed out her skirt and looked up to see Tyler eyeing her with a tense look which she served right back with the roll of her eyes. She turned to Jason. “Remember what we discussed,” she said, leaving.

“To be honest, babe, I don’t remember anything prior to touching you,” Jason admitted.

~*~

Tiana shimmied out of her skirt and pulled her shirt over her head when she heard a knock at the door. She quickly covered her body with her shirt. “Who is it?” she asked.

“It’s Owen.”

She huffed as she dropped the shirt. “Come in...” she muttered. Owen stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. He felt all the oxygen leave his lungs when he saw a very irritated Tiana standing in front of him in only her panties and bra with her arms crossed over her plump chest. “What do you want?” she said with aggravation.

Owen slowly exhaled as he stepped closer to her. “Listen, T, I... I wanted to apologize...” She looked at him surprised as her shoulders relaxed. “I shouldn’t have come at you like that,” Owen sighed. “T, I’m just... I care about you so much. You mean the world to me, and I can’t let anything happen to you. Not just because of the promise I made to your brother but because I truly do love you. And I just... I let my anger get the best of me.”

Tiana softened her stance and dropped her arms as she walked up to him. Owen stiffened slightly as she wrapped her arms around him and pushed her face into his chest. “I love you too, Owen,” she sighed. “I know you’re just looking out for me. But deadass, you be doing the most...”

Owen chuckled as he wrapped his arms around her. The feel of her naked silky skin aroused too many feelings in him. “I know I can be a control freak sometimes,” he said.

“Sometimes?!” she blurted. Owen threw his head back laughing. “You don’t have to be a big brother all the time, Owen,” she said, pulling back to look at him. “Just because Dante is gone doesn’t mean you have to take his place. You can trust that I can also take care of myself.”

“Yea, I know,” Owen sighed. “Shit, do I really sound like Dante?”

Tiana chuckled. “Only when you get all anal like that.”

“You could have used a better word, T,” Owen smirked.

“Sorry,” she laughed, pulling away from him. He watched her as she walked to the side of the bed and bent down to pick up her pants. “Do you even like anal?”

“I like a lot of things, T...” Owen said, chewing his bottom lip as he eyed her backside. “You’re not ready for that conversation...”

She turned around and looked at him as she pulled up her jeans. “You always say that,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I’m not a child, Owen. We’re supposed to be best friends and tell each other everything. But you never talk about your sex life with me. Aside from the few times I’ve walked in on you and you traumatized me.”

Owen smirked. “Next time knock.”

“You’re a loser,” she said, throwing a pillow at him. “Seriously, we know everything about each other except that. I don’t know why you’re so secretive about it. Shoo, I’m trying to learn from you. Tell me something. I may have some cobwebs on this thang, but I’m not a virgin.”

“You’re too innocent,” Owen smirked. He leaned against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. “Heteros are mad boring. You’ve probably only ever done missionary.”

“Bruh. You really did not have to come at my neck like that,” she laughed. “Acting like you a sex god. What are you into BDSM or some shit?”

“Yes.”

Tiana looked at him startled. “Wait, really?”

He shrugged. “You asked.”

She sat up on the bed and looked at him curiously. “Are you a dom or a sub?”

Owen smirked as his blue eyes darkened slightly. “What do you think, T?”

“Holy shit! I’m learning a whole new side of you! You little sex devil!” she blurted. “Next thing you’re gonna tell me you have a whole ass sex dungeon!” Owen just looked at her which caused her to gawk as her mouth dropped open. “OWEN! YOU DIRTY LITTLE-!”

Owen burst out laughing. “Honestly, I just wanted to see your face.”

She sucked her teeth as she grabbed her shirt. “Rude ass.”

“I told you, you weren’t ready,” he teased. “Why do you want to know anyway?”

Tiana shrugged. “I was just curious... like.. do you usually prefer men or women?”

“What am I? Your little LGBT sex experiment?” he joked.

“No! I-” she said embarrassed.

“I’m just kidding, T,” Owen laughed. “It depends.”

“On what?”

Owen sighed. “If I’m in the mood for pussy or dick.”

“Why you gotta make it sound like a McDonald’s menu?”

“McDonald’s?!” Owen said, offended. “When have you ever caught my queer ass at a McDonald’s?”

“Deadass, Owen!” Tiana laughed. “You mad bougie sometimes.”

“Dante used to say the same thing,” Owen smirked. “He was never a fan of my... revolving tastes.”

“Why?”

“I had a lot of orgies,” Owen shrugged. “They were fun.”

“Ohh, so you was a hoe hoe,” Tiana laughed.

“Was?”

“Get out,” Tiana said, pointing to the door.

“Bro, YOU ASKED!” Owen burst out laughing.

“Yea, but I wasn’t ready,” Tiana sighed.

~*~

“I still can’t figure this stupid thing out,” Tiana said frustrated as she typed another code into the file on Dante’s laptop.

“It’d be a miracle if you did,” Darren said, leaning back against his chair.

“Don’t stress it, chica,” Anna said, tapping on her phone. “If Darren couldn’t figure it out, no one can.” Tiana sat on the counter in the main area, next to Anna and Darren. Her legs dangled off the edge as she scrolled through Dante’s laptop. There was loud talking before Owen walked into the room with Tyler.

“We’re getting ready to head out,” Tyler said to Darren. “You good to go?”

“Yea,” Darren said. He hopped off of the counter and adjusted his glasses. “I just need to debrief you guys first. Where’s Jason and Joey?”

“JASON! JOEY! GET YOUR ASSES DOWN HERE!” Owen shouted.

“Let’s just start. We’ll bring them up to speed,” Tyler said, motioning to Darren.

Darren turned on the projector to the image of a middle-aged man in a suit, walking out of a courthouse. “Stan Riley,” Darren started. “45-year-old white, heterosexual male. Married. 3 kids. Millionaire who received his inheritance from his deceased father who patented mobile translators. Stan plans on announcing his candidacy for senator by the end of the week. Here’s the problem:”

Darren switched slides to legal documents. “His platform promises to crack down on immigration. Spreading propaganda about the increase of crime in NY due to lax legislation. His policies are violent, inhumane, and discriminatory as they solely focus on targeting immigrants from developing countries. His most recent update has requirements so outrageous my own parents would have been imprisoned trying to migrate from Korea.”

“Typical racist coward basing his campaign off of pure xenophobia,” Tyler said irritably.

“Unfortunately, many people side with him,” Darren said sadly as he switched to another slide. “Multiple stores were vandalized with racial slurs in Chinatown and Spanish Harlem.”

“People are acting out of fear,” Tiana sighed. “Now, why does that sound familiar...”

Owen quickly scanned the articles. “Darren, this stuff has happened over the course of weeks. Why didn’t you tell us sooner?”

Darren sighed. “...We’ve been busy... looking for Dante’s killer, and-”

“Bullshit. Come on, Darren,” Owen said annoyed. “What have we done to counteract his shitty propaganda?”

“I’ve already set up a live feed,” Joey said, walking down the stairs. Jason slid down the handrail at top speed before landing on his feet. “The Voice will go live-” Joey started.

“After we kick his racist motherfucking ass!” Jason said, hopping on the counter next to Tiana. “Hello, beautiful,” he winked at her. She shook her head with a smirk.

“The Voice will do a live feed right after y’all fuck him up,” Joey said. “Because this asshole is also a fucking pedophile.”

“What?!” Owen blurted.

Joey looked at Darren. “Show him.” Darren sighed as he switched to random footage of Stan Riley touching a young girl in a hotel room.

“That’s so gross...” Tiana said, covering her mouth.

“That’s not even the worst part,” Joey said. “This footage was taken in the Philippines.”

“Are you shitting me?!” Tyler growled.

“One of the countries on his immigration ‘reform’ list...” Darren said somberly.

“Fuck that hypocritical motherfucker,” Owen snapped. He headed to the storage room to grab a few tools.

“Bout damn time!” Jason said relieved as he picked up a bat from off the ground.

“Wait, what does that mean?” Tiana asked apprehensively as she grabbed Owen’s shoulder. “What are you guys doing?”

Owen looked at her with a calming, innocent smile. “Don’t worry, T. We’re just going to pay him a visit and... get him to see things our way.”

“Which means??” she asked nervously.

“It means we’re going to take his head and bash it through a fucking window,” Tyler said, grabbing his helmet. Tiana looked wide-eyed from Tyler to Owen who had an annoyed expression on his face from Tyler’s lack of filter.

“Maybe not a window,” Owen tried to reassure her.

“More like a bat,” Jason said, flipping his bat in the air. “Ever heard the sound of a skull cracking on contact? Like cracking an egg.”

“You guys are going to kill him?!” Tiana blurted.

“We don’t kill people, T,” Owen said, trying to calm her. “We’re just going to bring his campaign to a halt so that he doesn’t end up disenfranchising and harming a lot of people. No one is going to get hurt.”

“Except Stan Riley the pedophiley,” Jason said, heading out the door with Tyler. “Be back for ya later, babe.”

Owen tried to give her another reassuring smile before he gave up altogether. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll be back soon.”

“Don’t stress, chica. They do this shit all the time,” Anna said, nudging Tiana. She watched apprehensively as Owen walked out the door.

~

“Right now he’s at a private house in Staten Island,” Darren said through the mic. “About 6 security personnel.”

“Only 6? Well, that’s no fun?” Jason said into his mic as he sped on his motorcycle down the freeway. “Not enough targets for Droid to fuck up. He needs to get all that anger out somehow since he’s opted out of getting laid.” Owen immediately burst out laughing.

“Shut the fuck up, Berserker,” Tyler snapped as he revved his engine. He sped his motorcycle past Jason, giving him the finger.

“He’s expected to leave for a meeting in 45 minutes. You guys need to get there in 20 to get the footage we need to expose him,” Joey’s voice came through the mic.

“Beat Cyclops and Droid in a race, you say?” Jason smirked. “My pleasure.”

“Bitch, you can’t beat shit,” Owen scoffed.

“He says as I pass him,” Jason teased as his bike tilted back and he sped past Owen. Tyler weaved down the highway alongside Owen and Jason until they got to a private house by the pier. They parked their bikes down the block as they pulled on their masks and switched on their robotic voice changers. “Looks like daddy’s home,” Jason said in a robotic voice, swinging his bat over his shoulder.

“You really calling this motherfucker ‘daddy’,” Owen’s robotic voice said snidely.

Jason grinned mischievously. “I’m actually just practicing my greeting to Silos before I pound that puss-”

~

Tiana could hear a muffling sound on the earpiece as Anna and Darren looked at her. “I see that puta has already claimed you,” Anna smirked. Tiana covered her face in embarrassment.

“Are you guys okay?” Darren asked, into the mic.

“Yup. Cyclops is just beating the shit out of Berserker. The usual,” Tyler said into his mic. “We’re approaching the house now. We’ll take out his security first. Tell The Voice to be ready.”

Darren watched with a flushed face as Anna’s hips swayed with the way she sashayed over to Joey. She assisted him in setting up his mic and camera. His face drained of color at the way she giggled as she helped Joey put on his mask. “You okay?” Tiana asked, getting his attention.

“Uh, yea,” Darren said, shaking his head to refocus. “Guys, what’s your status?”

~

Tyler finished bashing the last security personnel’s head into the wall before his body slumped to the ground. He and Jason climbed the side of the house until they each came to a window ledge. Tyler held himself up, peeking inside the window to see Stan Riley in bed with two underage girls.

“Cyber,” Tyler said into his mic. “We’re making our move. Tell The Voice to start his feed.”

“Copy,” Darren replied.

Stan Riley heard a sound come from his window and sat up in his bed to see no one there. He looked down at the two half-naked girls sleeping next to him and went to call his security when the door burst down. He jumped startled as several flashes started going off in his face.

“Say cheese, motherfucker!” Owen said, snapping random pictures in his face. “Think I found a new cover for The New York Times.”

Tyler pulled both girls off the bed as Owen yanked Stan up and threw him violently against the wall. “Go home,” Tyler said, handing them both a 20. “This freak won’t come near you again.”

“Oh my gosh, you ruined everything!” one of the young girls whined, stomping her feet.

“We came here because we wanted to!” the other snapped at him. “He was going to buy us a car!”

Tyler looked at them both startled. “Get your damn Kidz Bop asses home and invest in a fucking metro card!” he snapped at them. The girls both jumped before they grabbed their clothes and ran out of the room.

~

Tiana nibbled on her bottom lip, growing more worried. The radio transmissions were her only insight as to whether they were okay. “There’s no need to worry about them, Tiana,” Darren assured her. “This is actually one of our favorite past times.”

Tiana blinked at him. “Have I told you guys just how fucking weird you all are?”

Darren chuckled. “Our first raid was orchestrated by Dante. He exposed the captain of the NYPD for running a drug ring by hacking into his webcam and masquerading as a dealer.”

“That was him?!” Tiana said shocked.

Darren nodded with a grin. “Your brother was a legend.”

~

“Fucking hell, Berserker. How much rope did you bring?” Tyler said, watching Jason tie a bruised and battered Stan Riley to a chair.

Jason snickered. “Can never have too much rope. Besides, I’m just practicing for when I start tying my baby girl to-” Jason immediately ducked as a glass cup thrown by Owen went flying over his head and smashed into Stan’s face. “Aw fuck... I wanted to draw first blood,” Jason pouted. Stan started bleeding from a broken nose and glass wounds.

“Berserker, I will seriously fuck you up!” Owen threatened him.

“You sound so jealous, Cyclops. I’m starting to think it’s Silos you want to fuck,” Jason teased.

~

Tiana’s eyes widened again before the radio cut out. “Hello?” Darren said into the mic. “Hello?! Berserker? Cyclops? Droid? Hello!”

“What happened?” Tiana asked, frantically.

“They’re fighting... and they clearly don’t want us... or rather you... to hear,” Darren sighed.

~

Jason laughed hysterically as he dodged another glass cup headed in his direction before it smashed into the wall. “Cut it the fuck out,” Tyler snapped, blocking Owen before he could throw another item. “You want something to fuck up?” Tyler pointed to Stan Riley who was pleading for his life. His mouth was stuffed with a dirty sock and there was an open-gash wound on his head.

Owen cussed under his breath as he stalked towards Stan and grabbed him by the little bit of hair on top of his head. “Fucking pathetic,” Owen sneered, yanking his head back. “Crying like a little bitch when your racist predator ass is ruining whole lives.”

“Does your wife know you’re messing with little girls?” Tyler accused, holding the bat up to Stan’s face. “No? Maybe we should dial her ass up. Let her know what you’ve been up to.”

Stan muffled frantically until Owen pulled the sock out of his mouth. “What was that, you piece of shit?” Owen said.

“Please don’t! You’ll destroy everything! I’ll do anything! I’ll give you money!” Stan panicked.

“We don’t want your fucking money!” Tyler scoffed.

“For a multi-million dollar house, this place is boring as shit,” Jason said, flipping a glass jar in his hand.

“Please! That’s an antique from Switzerland! It cost me $13,000!” Stan blurted.

“Your dumbass paid $13 Gs for something that looks like it’s from the dollar store?!” Jason said bewildered. “I swear rich folks are fucking stupid. Droid, batter up!” Jason tossed the jar at Tyler who instantly hit it with the bat, smashing it into pieces. “JETER!” Jason shouted with his hands up as Stan started to cry hysterically.

“What the fuck with these lame-ass shirts, bro?” Owen said, taking a canister of lighter fluid and dousing the contents of his closet. “Who raised you?!”

“Hey, batter batter, hey batter batter, SWING!” Jason said, tossing another expensive antique at Tyler who smashed it with the bat.

Stan sobbed uncontrollably as Tyler pushed Stan’s head back with the bat, eyeing him. “See, that’s what’s wrong with you rich folks. No appreciation for life. That could have been your head,” Tyler threatened.

“Say ‘thank you’, Riley the Pedophiley,” Owen smirked. He took out a permanent marker and started drawing on Stan’s face.

“Look at you using my nickname!” Jason laughed.

“It’s growing on me,” Owen shrugged as he wrote ‘Child Predator’ on Stan’s forehead.

“What an improvement. He looks better now,” Tyler grinned. Stan watched helplessly as the three masked intruders destroyed his home with such maniacal laughter and rage, he was certain they would kill him once they had gotten their fill. “I’m connecting back with Cyber,” Tyler said, hooking the radio back up. He put a small camera on the window sill as Owen pulled a chair up and sat backward in front of Stan.

~

“They’re back,” Darren said quickly as camera footage showed up on his screen.

Tiana’s eyes widened in disbelief to see the place as wrecked as Stan’s face. “Holy crap...” she muttered.

~

“Please... please don’t kill me,” Stan sobbed.

“We’re not going to kill you, so you can relax,” Owen said snidely. “But here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to denounce your candidacy effective immediately.”

Stan looked at him startled. “What- but, I-”

Stan’s head immediately bobbed backward from how hard Tyler had hit him. “That wasn’t a fucking request,” Tyler snapped at him.

“You think... you think beating the shit out of me is going to ruin my campaign?” Stan chuckled condescendingly. “You’ve just gained me sympathy.”

Owen smirked as he looked up at Tyler who couldn’t help but chuckle. “Run it, Cyber,” Tyler said into his mic.

~

Tiana suddenly got an alert on her phone. She opened it up to a montage of videos and clips. Sound bites of Stan campaigning his immigration policy were voiced over blurred explicit footage of his sexual encounters of him pursuing young girls. “This is now being broadcast to every mobile device, tablet, computer in America,” Darren said.

“How the hell are you guys doing this?” Tiana asked, shocked.

“I’ll show you one day,” Darren grinned. Suddenly, the Stan Riley campaign logo came on the screen followed by a foreboding masked-figure with highlighted neon lights for eyes and a mouth. Tiana heard the echo of Joey’s deep, distorted voice:

“Stan Riley is your new candidate for NY senator! And just why should you vote for him? Simple. In addition to his racially discriminatory immigration policies that have destroyed families and ruined the lives of children in the past, Stan Riley has followed the path of many congressmen by actively pursuing underage girls for the past 6 years. Way to keep up the trend, Riley. Riley promises to continue his under-the-table deals with corporations like Rixin Industries and Lira Products known for funding mass incarceration and abusing basic human rights in developing countries around the world. For the people? Fuck the people. Vote Stan Riley!”

“Holy shit...” Tiana muttered. “You guys are insane.”

Darren grinned as he adjusted his glasses. “Welcome to RaVage.”

~*~

“I swear he pissed himself at least twice,” Owen laughed, walking through the door of their home base late at night.

“I don’t know, I think I counted three,” Tyler grinned. “When Joey came on-screen with his ghoulish voice shit, he looked like he was about to pass the fuck out.”

“No, that time he definitely shit himself,” Jason cackled.

“Fucking gross,” Owen said, curling his lip up. He turned just in time for Tiana to tackle him to the ground.

“Seriously...” Tyler sighed.

“Tiana,” Owen said, trying to calm her. “Why are you still up?”

“Why are you covered in blood?!” she blurted as she clung to him.

“It’s not my blood, T,” Owen said.

“Oh, wow! That’s way more comforting!” Tiana said sarcastically.

“Relax, babe... Told you we’d come back to you,” Jason smirked at her. Tiana glanced up at Jason as a warm smile came to her face.

“Okay, what the actual fuck is going on?” Owen said frustrated.

“What?” Tiana said startled. “Nothing.”

“Is there something going on between you two?” Owen demanded.

“Shit, I hope so,” Jason smirked before Tyler shoved him in the chest.

“Knock it off,” Tyler snapped.

“Tiana, what the fuck?” Owen said annoyed.

“You said you would stop this overprotective nonsense,” Tiana said exasperated. “Goddammit, Owen!” She immediately got up and walked off.

“T, wait! I didn’t-! Shit...” Owen groaned, covering his face.

Tyler looked at Jason with a scowl on his face. “Are you fucking her?”

“If I were fucking her, you’d know it. You’d hear it. Shit, you’d see it all over her face,” Jason said. “The better question is, why the fuck you two are so up in arms about it?”

“Because she’s Dante’s sister!” Owen snapped.

“And?” Jason said. “You can bullshit Anna, Joey, Darren, hell even my baby girl, but I’ve known you motherfuckers too long for you to pull that shit on me. So, what’s the real reason? Are you into her?”

“No!” they both blurted at the same time.

“She’s practically my sister,” Owen said with disgust.

“She’s not even my type...” Tyler muttered.

Jason smirked knowingly. “I love you guys. Truly I do. But you Evans brothers are stupid as shit,” he said, walking out.

~*~

“And I just... keep... having that same dream,” Tyler sighed into the phone as he rubbed his forehead with his palm. “Ever since he died. It makes it hard to sleep. Sometimes, I don’t sleep at all.”

“Hey, I get it,” Leo said on the other line. “Death does that to you. You think you’d get used to it, but really, you don’t. I used to have constant nightmares about seeing my mother die over and over again in front of me.”

“Fuck,” Tyler groaned. “I can’t even imagine that... I still think about how she was abused, but... how did you...”

“Get over it?” Leo asked before he chuckled. “To be honest, I don’t think I ever really did. I miss my ma every day. But, you know what... I can’t really stay stuck in the past. I got other people to live for. Like I got my brother, you got yours. You’d do anything for him, right?”

“Course...” Tyler sighed. “But sometimes... my anger...”

“You gotta get over that shit, man,” Leo said. “Sometimes the anger can consume you. But you gotta deal with it or find something else to cling to.”

“Did you?” Tyler asked.

“Just the love of my life.”

Tyler could practically hear the grin in Leo’s voice. “So, a woman,” Tyler said flatly.

“Not just a woman. The woman,” Leo grinned. “She’s a goddamn dream, man. The one I’ve been waiting for since I was a kid. Lost her for a few years, but she came back to me and back in my life and I’m not letting her ass go.”

“Yea, I don’t think that applies to me,” Tyler said, running his fingers through his hair. “Not everyone gets a happy ending. Dante is a perfect example of that... But I’m glad you’ve found happiness.”

“The only person getting in the way of your happiness and your peace... is you, Tyler,” Leo said. “Not your piece of shit father. You. Remember that.”

Tyler groaned. “I got it...”

“Hit me up anytime you wanna talk. Or bring your crew and stop by New England again sometime,” Leo said.

“Coo. Thanks, Leo.” Tyler hung up the phone and groaned as he rubbed his hands over his face. The empty living room was quiet and dark. He often found himself wandering there when his nightmares kept him up.

He stood to his feet and grabbed his shirt as he headed to the kitchen. Pulling his tank over his head, he froze when he saw Tiana walk into the kitchen from the other side, yawning and rubbing her eyes. She wore her hair wrapped in a scarf, small boy shorts that stopped just underneath the curve of her backside, and a t-shirt that made it evident she had no bra on underneath. He swallowed hard and immediately averted his eyes.

Tiana yawned when she opened her eyes and jumped startled to see Tyler. “Sorry,” she said quickly. “I... I didn’t know anyone was awake.” She didn’t wait for him to respond as she walked to the fridge and grabbed Jason’s pitcher of lemonade and iced tea.

“You sure like Jason’s juice…” Tyler muttered as he watched her.

“It’s good and sweet,” she said, pouring a cup before she looked up at him. “And not bitter and sour. Like you.”

Tyler rolled his eyes as she turned around and put the pitcher back. “What are you guys, like a thing now?” Tyler asked as he watched her sip from the cup.

“Why is that any of your business?” she asked. Suddenly, the light bulb at the bottom of the hanging cupboard above Tiana started to flicker.

“Because relationships in this business, and especially in this group, cause issues. And you’re already a distraction,” he said irritably as he walked to the fridge to close it.

“You keep saying I’m a distraction, but last I checked, I’ve been helping your ass,” she quipped as she grabbed a box of light bulbs on the counter.

“You know you’re so goddamn cocky, and it’s that kind of attitude that could get you killed,” Tyler said, turning to her. “Not even 5 minutes into this shit and you think you know everything.”

“Oh, and you do?” she said, standing on her toes, trying to reach the light bulb.

“As a matter of fact, yea, I fucking do,” he said, glaring down at her.

She quickly turned around ready to cuss him out when she noticed how incredibly close he was as he towered over her. The look in his eye made her stop short. He leaned over her and reached up and for a moment she thought he would grab her. But he reached for the light bulb above her and easily unscrewed it. “I was going to do that myself,” she said annoyed.

“...I’m sure you were,” he said, grabbing the box of light bulbs from her hand.

“I said I got it!” she said, snatching it back. She tore the box open and grabbed one of the light bulbs as she looked back up at the empty socket. She bit her lip when she realized she was a bit shorter than she expected.

She turned her back on Tyler and stood on her toes, trying to screw in the light bulb. She stepped on the edge of the bottom of the counter. She lost her balance, but before she fell, an arm quickly wrapped around her waist. She felt Tyler’s large chest press against her back to catch her. She heard him scoff in blatant irritation as he snatched the light bulb from her hand and screwed it in himself.

Tiana caught herself inhaling his scent and it made her feel both angry and aroused. They were so close she could feel the nipple from his pectoral muscle against the bare skin on her back. His muscular arm around her waist felt almost possessive, and it sparked too many unwanted emotions in her.

Tyler internally cursed himself for grabbing her the way he did because now he felt her for the first time. And it lit up a raging and unfamiliar fire in him. She was soft. Too soft. And she smelled so damn good that it only made him angrier. He didn’t know why it was so instinctual for him to catch her. He also didn’t know why he was still holding her. “I could have done that myself,” she said, turning around in his arms.

“What did I say.... cocky...” he said, glaring at her.

Tiana locked eyes with Tyler and her breathing quickened involuntarily. She habitually licked her bottom lip, causing his eyes to instinctively glance down. Tyler noticed her nipples starting to poke through her very thin, very sheer shirt as her dark areolas became more visible through the blouse. And his mouth did the strangest thing. It watered.

He looked up at her intrigued to see her eyes widen before she immediately shoved him back. “Let’s see if you’re saying that next time I’m saving your ass,” she snapped at him and turned to walk away.

“How?! When I’m too busy protecting your stubborn ass!” he shouted at her.

“I never asked for that, idiot!” she growled at him.

“You’re so goddamn annoying!”

“Fuck you, Tyler!” she said, giving him the finger as she stormed out. Tiana didn’t give Tyler a minute to retort again before she was rushing out of the kitchen entirely.

Tyler rubbed the back of his neck, feeling more irritated than he did when he woke up in the middle of the night. He felt a strange feeling overwhelm him as he strolled back to his room. The woman frustrated him beyond comprehension. Her mere presence irked him to his core. He couldn’t stand her.

He took off his shirt and tossed it on his chair when he caught his reflection in the mirror. His eyes nearly bulged out of his head as he quickly looked down to see a huge erection protruding from his pants.

“...what the fuck?!”

~*~
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