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

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15a. - Maybe, I Pt. 1

Hacker Rule #7: Keep tabs on those who are keeping tabs on you.

“...I kissed Tyler... I kissed... Tyler... HOLY SHIT I KISSED TYLER?!”

Tiana sat on the toilet seat lid running her fingers through her hair and anxiously tugging at her braids. She could hear the guys outside the bathroom of their motel talking, but she tried to block them out as her mind rapidly processed everything that had happened that night. She heard a knock at the door.

“T? Are you okay?” Owen called from outside.

“Yea, I’m fine!”

“You’ve been in there for a while. Do you... need anything?” Jason asked.

“No! I just... I’m having girl issues, okay?!” She could hear them mumbling before their footsteps walked away from the bathroom. She sighed as she tugged at her braids.

“Okay, let’s go through this again,” she said to herself. “You kissed Jason... This is fine. You like Jason. Jason likes you. You kissed... Owen... your best friend who is practically your brother. Your very hot brother... but still! He’s not even remotely attracted to you. It doesn’t count because it was just an act, like he said, right? Right. So... thus... therefore... furthermore... it’s fine... god, but it was such a great kiss and his lips are so-. Okay, no, Tiana, no. Owen wasn’t even affected by it, so get your shit together, trick.”

She deeply exhaled as she turned on the water in the sink so the sound of rushing water could ease her anxiety. “Then... you kissed... Tyler... the spawn of Satan. Evil reincarnate. The fucking prick who you hate. Like literally hate with every bone in your body. Fuck, but that kiss was hot. But you hate him. And the way he grabbed my ass- But you hate him! And damn, the way he touched me I just... NO, BITCH, NO, what the fuck?!”

She groaned and hit her head with her hands in frustration. “The hell is wrong with me?!” She looked at her phone and saw a few texts from Shae. She could really use her best friend’s advice right about now. But she couldn’t just tell her she was working with the infamous hacker group RaVage, top 10 of America’s most wanted, deemed enemy of the state.

She saw another text from David asking about her status on her half of their assignment and felt her chest tighten. “This guy is totally going to dump me as a project partner and I’m going to fail this class because I’m out here fucking with freaking Anonymous,” she muttered, covering her face. “I just... need to calm down. Think straight. That kiss with Tyler never happened. I hate him. He hates me. It meant nothing.”

She stood up and smoothed out her dress. She looked in the mirror before washing her face and hands and wiping herself dry. She walked to the door and hesitated for just a moment before slowly opening it.

Upon stepping outside of the bathroom, she saw Owen sitting on the edge of the couch while Jason perched himself on the coffee table. Tyler leaned back against the wall with his arms folded over his chest. The three of them had been talking, but immediately stopped to look at her, making her want to run back into the bathroom to hide out for the next few hours.

“Hey,” Owen said, getting up and approaching her. “You okay? I was so worried about you.” He pulled her into a tight hug. She inhaled his scent and immediately felt her body tingle as she thought about their kiss and the way he touched her. God, she missed his lips.

“I’m... I’m fine, Owen,” she said softly. “Really.”

He pulled back to look at her as he grabbed her face between his hands. “Don’t ever do that shit again, T. Fuck, you scared us half to death. I’m just glad Ty was there to get you guys out in time,” Owen said.

Tiana glanced over at Tyler whose dark chestnut eyes were locked on her the whole time before he quickly averted them elsewhere. “Sorry,” she said, looking down like a scolded schoolchild. “Didn’t mean to worry you.” Jason quirked up a confused brow noting the dissonance in her attitude. “What are you guys doing anyway?” she asked, trying to break the awkward silence.

“Just debriefing,” Owen said. “Tyler told us you perfected the device. Said it was the best work he’s ever seen.”

Tiana looked at Tyler surprised. “I said it was alright,” Tyler said quickly.

“Cut the bullshit,” Jason smirked. “You fucking fangirled.”

Tyler sucked his teeth and headed for the door. “We don’t have time for this shit.”

“Ty,” Owen said.

“We need to get the device to Darren,” Tyler said, grabbing his jacket.

“Tyler!” Owen snapped.

“You guys can kiss and make up later. We have to go,” Tyler said. He opened the door before he felt an empty soda can hit him in the head. “Jason?! The fuck?!” Tyler snapped.

“Bro, how are you going to get the device to Darren when Tiana’s the one who still has it,” Jason smirked. Tyler’s jaw tensed once he realized he never got the device from Tiana. “Forgot that little detail, didn’tcha?” Jason teased.

Tyler looked at Tiana who held her breath. He sucked his teeth again. “I’ll be outside.”

Jason rolled his eyes and walked up to Tiana. “Ignore him. Think he’s still pissed about you guys just barely escaping death,” he said.

“I think we all are,” Owen said, twisting his mouth in annoyance.

Tiana rolled her eyes. “I was just trying to finish the job.”

“We get that, T,” Owen said. “But it’s not worth your life.”

“It’s never a one-shot deal for us,” Jason added. “We always have a back-up plan. You risking your life is not a back-up plan.”

“Someone else’s life was on the line,” Tiana argued. “I couldn’t just let her down. She needs our help.”

“You can’t help anyone if you’re dead,” Owen said firmly. “We work together as a team to ensure we’re all safe.”

“Oh really?” she scoffed. “Changing plans at the last minute is working together as a team?”

“Why are you getting so upset?” Owen asked.

“I’m not!” she blurted before she caught herself. “I just... I need water.” She grabbed the device and gave it to Jason before walking away from them.

Owen looked at Tiana confused wondering why she was so cranky all of a sudden. He heard Jason sigh behind him. “She’s just driven, Owen. Passionate,” Jason said. “Remind you of anyone?”

Owen shook his head annoyed. “And look how that turned out for him...”

Jason lost a bit of color in his face. “I’m... gonna go check on Ty...”

Owen waited for Jason to leave before he turned back to Tiana. She was leaning back against the kitchen counter with a cup of water in her hands. Tiana kept her eyes closed as she let the water settle in her throat before she swallowed. She felt a hand grab her cup and nearly dropped it when she opened her eyes to see Owen setting her cup down. “Hey...” he said, softly taking her hand. “I wasn’t trying to be hard on you, T.”

Tiana swallowed as she looked into his eyes. “...I know, O...”

“I’m just trying to keep you safe,” he continued. “You mean so much to me. And if anything had happened to you, T, I don’t know what I’d-...” Owen stopped himself and took a deep breath.

“Damn, I’m really stressing you out, aren’t I,” Tiana smirked.

Owen looked at her and grinned. “You’re just like your brother. Reckless. A rebel.”

“You make me sound like I’ve gone rogue,” she laughed.

Owen smiled at her. “I like that... Rogue... Suits you since you like to do things your own way and fuck anyone who says otherwise,” he smirked.

“Rogue...” she repeated. “It has a nice ring to it... Better than Silos.”

Owen smirked as he wrapped a hand around her waist and grabbed her chin with his finger and thumb for her to meet his gaze. “You’re your own person, T. You deserve your own handle.”

Tiana tried to smile back, but her body was already reaching scorching temperatures from the way Owen held her. And it left her completely dumbstruck. Part of her wanted him to kiss her again, but this time, mean it. “...Owen..?”

“Yea?”

“...You’re not gonna kiss me again, are you?” she tried to joke.

The corner of his mouth turned upward as he looked over the details of her face. “Yes,” he said as he grabbed her face between his hands and leaned in. Tiana felt her heartbeat quicken and puckered her lips until she felt him gently lay a kiss on her forehead much to her disappointment.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said, taking her hand. She sighed in frustration as she followed him outside to see Jason and Tyler casually talking before they both looked their way.

“Hey beautiful,” Jason smirked. “You ready to go?”

“Yea,” she smiled at him. “Where’d you park?”

“Actually, you’re gonna ride with Ty. I have to head to an auto shop for some pieces,” Jason said.

Tiana felt her blood run cold as she quickly turned to Owen. “I actually really need to get back to working on my school project,” she said. “I’ve been slacking, and I really can’t afford to fail this class. Can you please take me back home for the night?”

“Sure,” Owen said. “We still have to go through some data first anyway, so I’ll just hit you up when we’re ready to start phase 2.”

“Thanks, Owen,” she said relieved as she followed him to his bike.

Tyler watched Tiana walk away with Owen and felt the faint sting of disappointment. His eyes instinctively glued to the sway of her hips. He already missed the feel of her soft backside and smoothness of her skin. He found himself licking his bottom lip remembering how wet he had gotten her, and for a split second, he wondered what she tasted like.

“Yo.” Tyler felt Jason slap him hard on the back. “Snap out of it, Evans. We gotta roll,” Jason said, hopping into his car.

~*~

“Okay... don’t hate me, but-”

“But what?” Tiana asked, scribbling on a whiteboard in David’s living room.

“That equation is... half correct.”

Tiana turned around and looked at him in disbelief. “LIES!”

David burst into laughter as he stood to his feet and walked over to the board. “May I?” he asked, holding his hand out.

Tiana rolled her eyes and handed him the dry-erase marker. She watched him erase a few markings before writing out some numbers. She squinted her eyes, analyzing his work before widening them. “Saboteur!” she blurted.

David once again laughed out loud. “How am I sabotaging?! We’re on the same team!”

Tiana smirked as she snatched the marker out of his hand. She analyzed the equation and groaned. “Shit, you’re right,” she sighed.

“Hey, you figured out the whole first portion in a matter of seconds,” David smiled. “That’s impressive.”

“Now, I feel like you’re just making fun of me,” she smirked at him.

“Maybe just a little,” he teased, and she threw the Styrofoam eraser at him. David chuckled and watched Tiana settle on the floor next to him as she stared up at the board. He analyzed her face for a second and hesitated to speak. “What made you want to come over?” he asked.

She looked at him with a raised curious brow. “You were the one threatening me with an F,” she smirked.

“Well, that’s true. You’d probably fail this course without me,” he teased. She gasped dramatically and shoved him in the shoulder as he laughed. “I just mean... we could have met at the library, at school, a coffee shop,” he said. He watched her eyes glaze over as she stared at nothing. “Your place...”

She quickly looked at him and gave a shy smile. “Your place is better.”

“So mysterious, you are,” he teased. “Are you hiding Big Foot or something?”

Tiana laughed. “No, I’m just not... usually... there?”

David scrunched his eyebrows in confusion before turning to her. “You seemed really distressed earlier, Tiana. Like something was bothering you.”

Tiana blinked at him and quickly shook her head. “No, I’m okay. Really.”

David furrowed his brow, not believing her. “You know you can talk to me, right?”

Tiana sighed. “David...”

“When my brother died... I took it really hard,” David said, looking at the ground. “I still am, but... I’ve been finding ways to cope.” Tiana looked at him and felt her chest tighten from the anguish she could sense from him. “Sometimes I visit his grave,” he continued. “Just to talk to him...” David glanced at Tiana. “It helps, you know?”

Tiana chewed on the inside of her cheek and frowned. “I haven’t visited my brother’s grave in a while, I-... I’m not ready. It’s just... it’s hard.”

David gently put his hand over hers and looked into her eyes. “The first time is always the hardest, but it gets easier. Feels... better. I can go with you if that helps.”

Tiana smiled at him warmly. “That means a lot David... thanks..”

“I know how hard it is to lose someone,” he said. “To feel alone. I may not be a psychologist or anything, but... I’m a good listener. Just know that I’m here if you need me.”

She stared into his hazel-green eyes that switched from her gaze to her lips. She sensed him leaning in and quickly cleared her throat. “I’m starving,” she said, getting up. “We should take a snack break.”

He looked at her pensively before getting up as well. “I can order takeout, or...” He watched her walk into his kitchen and open up his fridge.

“No need for takeout when you have enough food to feed a family of 12! What is wrong with you guys?!” she laughed.

“Blame Miles,” David smirked as he leaned against the wall. “He has like 5 stomachs.” Tiana grabbed a carton of ice cream from the freezer and waved it at him. “Double fudge brownie ice cream? Miles will have my head if we eat the whole thing,” he grinned as he walked up to her.

“I’ll buy him another,” she chuckled. She moved out of the way for him to reach the other cabinet for two bowls and a couple of spoons.

“Gotta think about your toppings,” he said. He rummaged through the cabinets until he found graham crackers, sprinkles, marshmallows, and chocolate chips.

“How could you forget this?!” Tiana said, grabbing a can of whip cream.

“Aerosol sugar... You’ve got exquisite tastes, Tiana,” David teased.

~

“Mm! Now, this... this is some good shit,” Tiana said with her mouth full. The two of them sat in the middle of the living room floor with all of their papers lying around them.

David chuckled as he licked the ice cream from his spoon. “Your bowl makes mine look so plain.”

“Yea, that’s cause you only have sprinkles in there. BORING!” she teased. “At least put some whipped cream!” she said, shaking up the can.

“I’m trying not to go into cardiac arrest,” he said, moving his bowl away from her. “Your tastes are too eccentric for me.”

Tiana smirked and put the can down. “You better learn fast. With me things are always a bit eccentric,” she teased. David smiled as he watched her lick the ice cream off her spoon. She caught his gaze lingering on her face. “What?” she asked.

He leaned forward towards her, and she held her breath for a brief moment as his eyes lingered on her lips. He brought his thumb to the corner of her mouth and gently wiped something away. “Just a bit of chocolate,” he smiled.

“Sorry,” she said a bit embarrassed. “I’m a bit of a messy ea...ter...”

She watched as he licked the chocolate he just wiped away from the corner of her mouth off of his thumb. “...it’s good,” he said to her. “The ice cream, I mean..”

She swallowed hard and put her empty bowl down as she averted her eyes. “So um... are you and Miles really close?”

“As I said before... we went to boarding school together. I wouldn’t say we’re best friends or anything, but... he is the closest person to me in my life right now.”

“You guys seem so different,” she said.

“True. I’m into prosthetics and he’s obsessed with gaming,” he chuckled. “But you know... opposites sometimes attract.”

Tiana could tell there was a bit of a suggestive tone in David’s words. She felt her cheeks warm over as she looked around. “Isn’t it expensive getting material to make for the prosthetics?” she asked, noting a few of his models laying in the corner.

“Not necessarily,” he said. “I work with a lot of hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitative centers that are sponsored by a few corporations. I’ve partnered with several who provide me with the materials I need.”

He grabbed one of his prosthetics and held it up to her. “I’ve been working on this model for a young girl who had to get her leg amputated from the knee down after a nearly fatal car accident. Normally, she wouldn’t be able to afford the prosthetic she needs, but with my work, she gets it at a fraction of the price.”

“That’s freaking awesome,” Tiana said impressed.

David smiled at her. “This is just the outer shell casing. I’m still working out the kinks.”

“It looks smooth,” she said, eyeing it. “That’s some fancy work.”

“Wanna try it?”

She looked at him surprised. “Really? That’s not-”

David shrugged. “I usually use models when I’m doing fittings. Since this one is the outer shell, I just wrap it around to make sure it’s the right width. Could be useful... She’s about your size...”

“Uh... sure,” Tiana said, taking off her sneaker.

David gently grabbed her ankle and pushed the hem of her jeans up to her knee. He felt her shiver slightly as his fingers lightly touched her skin. Tiana bit her bottom lip watching David, wondering why the simple act of modeling a prosthetic felt so erotic. The most prominent thought in her mind was that she was thankful she actually shaved.

“There,” he said, eyeing the fitting. “I think that works.”

“It’s really impressive,” Tiana said. “I’m sure she’ll love it.”

“I hope so...” He locked eyes with her as his fingers gently grazed over her toes. There was a brief silence before the door flew open. They both jumped startled as Miles stormed into the apartment with a huge duffel bag of wires dangling out of it.

“GODDAMN NOOBS. I FUCKING SWEAR!” Miles growled as he slammed the door shut behind him. “I oughta kill those fucking sons of bitches with their-”

“Miles!” David shouted.

Miles pulled his headphones off of his ears and looked at David surprised. “Oh shit. Didn’t know you had company. And look, it’s your girlfriend.”

David groaned covering his face as Tiana chuckled. “Hi, Miles.”

“Hi, Tiana,” Miles said, putting his things down. “You know, you’re the only girl David’s ever spent this much time with? Well, there is that crazy ass bitch we-”

“Miles!” David snapped. “Could you not?”

Tiana looked surprised from a laughing Miles to David who was turning red. “You have any crazy ex-girlfriends I need to be on the lookout for?” Tiana teased. “Because I’m really not trying to end up in a Madea movie,” she laughed.

David sighed in embarrassment. “Miles just likes causing trouble. Trust me. There’s no other girl. Just you.” Tiana looked at him startled as David fumbled a bit. “I meant that I’m talking to!”

Miles burst into laughter once again as Tiana smiled at an embarrassed and flushed David. “Tiana, why don’t I call you an uber,” David offered. He handed her his phone and quickly nudging her to the door. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

“Okay, you weirdo,” she snickered as she stepped outside.

David closed the door behind her and turned to Miles. “God, you want her so badly, don’t you?” Miles laughed. “She’s got you by the balls!”

“Why are you like this...” David groaned.

~*~

“Of course those blanquitos aren’t here yet.”

Darren looked up from his computer desk to see Anna strolling towards him. He felt his cheeks get hot as she perched herself on the edge of his desk. Her thighs were exposed by the shortness of her skirt. She aimlessly kicked her legs as she sipped her latte. “Hey, Darren,” she smiled at him.

“...Hey, Anna,” he said shyly. “The guys are on their way. Just running a little late.”

“Why am I not surprised?” she said, rolling her eyes. “Coffee?” she asked, holding out her cup to him.

He put his hand up respectfully and shook his head. “No thanks. Got my Red Bull.”

“What are you working on?”

“Just hooking up the device they recreated from the auction so we can get started on breaking down the security of the 35 stations of this Lionel Reed guy.”

“He’s a pretty big deal, I heard,” she said. “Kinda scary.”

“He’s dangerous, but so are the people we’re helping,” Darren muttered. “I have a feeling if we help them... a lot of people are going to die. They’re not called the Blue Kaiser and Blonde Lycan for nothing.”

Anna sat back and pondered. “The world is a really fucked up place, Darren. We can’t save everyone...”

“Yea, I know...” he sighed.

“What’s this?” she asked, picking up a rusty door handle with paint on it.

A small smile came to Darren’s face. “Souvenir from one of my favorite hack jobs.” Darren grabbed the door handle from her. “A few years ago, there were some Neo-Nazis terrorizing the neighborhood my parents lived in. They claimed Koreans were taking over and called us some awful racist shit. They vandalized my parents’ store not even realizing that that little store was our only livelihood. I mean shit we were already struggling, and they just tried to make life worse for us by making us live in fear.”

Anna frowned as she watched Darren wipe his forehead in frustration. She could tell just recalling it made him feel distressed. “The cops didn’t give a shit, as usual. In fact, some of them were in on it. My parents were terrified. But then...” a smile came to Darren’s face. “Tyler and Owen helped me dox the shit out of those skinheads. Exposed them on national television. Most of them were fired from their jobs and run out of town.”

Anna smirked. “You boys are troublemakers.”

“As Owen likes to say, ‘what better way to live than to fuck shit up’,” Darren grinned.

Anna rolled her eyes. “His motto. But that doesn’t explain the door handle.”

“Oh,” Darren chuckled. “Apparently, doxing wasn’t enough. Tyler and Jason infiltrated one of their little meetings and beat the crap out of them. The door handle was a souvenir. I didn’t ask them to do that, but well... you know Jason...”

“Muy loco,” she snickered.

“Precisely,” Darren smiled. “They’re good guys...”

“I didn’t know you did other work with them like that,” she said.

Darren looked up at her. “Well, you were always with, Dante. You guys had things to take care of...” Anna cocked her head to the side as Darren shifted nervously. “I just mean...” he started before Jason came bursting through the door.

“LET’S FUCK THIS SHIT UP!” Jason yelled as he playfully tossed a glass ball in the air.

“Why you so loud for?” Owen grumbled as he took off his jacket.

“Hey, hey, hey! Pass that shit over here before you start breaking my stuff,” Tyler snapped at Jason.

“UM! UN MOMENTO, POR FAVOR!” Anna snapped at them.

“You talkin’ dirty again, Anita Bonita?” Jason teased as he threw the ball at Tyler.

“Goddammit, Jason!” Tyler said, quickly catching it. “I swear if you had broken this.”

“Excuse me!” Anna snapped at them till she got all three of their attention. “Why the hell are you guys splattered in blood?!”

Tyler, Jason, and Owen looked at each other before making awkward faces. “I don’t remember that guy bleeding...” Owen said confused. “Didn’t we knock him out with a metal pan?”

“Yea, but then Jason got a hold of the bat after he wouldn’t pay up the 3rd time we caught him, remember?” Tyler said, snapping his fingers.

“I barely touched him,” Jason shrugged. “Maybe if he wasn’t moving so damn much.”

“You literally left a knot on his head the size of a cantaloupe,” Owen smirked.

“Do you guys hear yourselves right now?” Anna said, cutting them off. “Go change your clothes before you get blood on the couch.”

“Pushy, pushy,” Jason smirked. He shoved his hands into his pockets and strolled to his bedroom.

Darren chuckled as Anna pushed Tyler and Owen out of the living room. “Ay Dios mío,” she sucked her teeth. “Thank God Tiana’s here, cause I can’t stand being the only woman on this damn team.”

“Speak of the devil,” Darren smiled as he saw Tiana walk in. “Hey, Tiana.”

“Sup, guys,” Tiana said, plopping down on the couch. “Heard we’re ready to work on phase 2.”

“Yup,” Darren said, turning to his computer. “Come check this out.” Tiana walked up behind Darren and stared at his computer. “There are 35 stations all over the world. This guy’s security is known for being impenetrable which is why he’s seen as godlike.”

“Not anymore,” Tiana smirked. “What do we need to do?”

“Break into the security system of all 35, get the access codes and blueprints on file. But we have a short period of time, so we’ll need to tackle this together,” Darren said.

“Hear that, babe? That means no going Rogue on us this time.”

Tiana looked up to see Jason wearing a sleeveless shirt walk up to her with a smirk on his face. “Owen told you my new handle?” she asked.

“Sure did,” Jason grinned. He wrapped a hand around her waist and pulled her body against his. “It suits you,” he smirked. “Because like Rogue, you’re powerful, badass and fucking hot as hell-”

“Can we save this shit for later?” Tyler said, walking back into the living room and interrupting them. “We’ve got a deadline.” Tiana looked at Tyler annoyed and sucked her teeth. Jason smirked and let her go.

Owen walked into the living room last and smiled when his eyes landed on Tiana. “Hey, T,” he said charmingly. Tiana felt her stomach tighten. Ever since he kissed her, she couldn’t help the strong sense of desire that rose up in her every time she made eye contact with him.

“Hey, O...”

Anna looked at all of them and smirked. “Alright, nerds, get to work.”

~

“Finished another one,” Tiana said, sliding over a piece of paper with tons of numbers on it to Darren.

“Damn, Tiana,” Darren said with wide eyes as he checked off another station.

“What’d I say? Baby girl is a damn genius,” Owen smirked.

“Stahp! Stahp! Don’t gas me up,” Tiana said feeling herself.

Tyler looked up from his laptop to see Tiana leaning over the desk, giggling next to Darren as they traded pieces of paper. His eyes instinctively roamed her ass that looked even more plump and enticing in her jeans. “She’s fast, funny, and fucking fine.”

Tyler glanced at Jason next to him whose eyes were glued to Tiana. A goofy grin was plastered on his face. “Tell me she’s not the sexiest fucking little thing you’ve ever seen,” Jason teased. “That ass gives me heart palpitations, I swear to god.”

“I don’t know how you ever get any work done when you’re obsessing over her all the time,” Tyler said, turning back to his laptop.

Jason grinned as he leaned on his knees and got closer to Tyler. “You’d obsess too if you knew what her moans sounded like...”

“Jason, come here for a sec,” Owen said, waving him over from the other side of the room. Jason stood to his feet leaving Tyler alone as he went to assist Owen.

Tyler felt a lump form in his throat. He knew exactly what Tiana’s moans sounded like. And he desperately wanted to make her moan again. He could feel himself throbbing and closed his laptop before standing to his feet to rush to the kitchen. He rummaged through the fridge and grabbed a beer bottle. After cracking it open, he nearly gulped down half of it as he closed his eyes trying to calm himself. But even when he closed his eyes he still saw her face.

“Oh god, Tyler!” He bit his bottom lip and let out a guttered groan as her moans echoed in his mind. His grip on the beer bottle tightened as he recollected back to what it felt like to hold her. Touch her skin. Feel her lips.

He heard a box fall to the floor and opened his eyes to see Tiana picking up a box of candy off of the floor. She stood up and looked at him before quickly averting her eyes. “Ugh.. you... I didn’t know you were in here. I just came for some snacks.”

“Alert the media,” Tyler said lazily. He took another sip of his beer and looked past her.

“We’re around too many forks and knives for you to start shit with me,” she said. “I will stab you.”

“That’s cute,” Tyler said mockingly. “That you think I give a shit.”

Tiana cocked an unamused brow as she folded her arms across her chest. “Really? Is that why you’ve been eye-fucking me all night?”

Tyler scoffed. “One stupid kiss and you think I want you.”

“You said you wanted me!” she snapped at him. “As you were sticking your tongue down my throat and dry-humping me with your huge ass dick.”

“Huge?” he said, quirking his brow curiously.

Tiana immediately shut her mouth as she looked at him startled. “I just mean... it felt... you-...” She looked up at him and saw a small uncharacteristic smirk on his face. “I thought we said we wouldn’t talk about this,” she said annoyed.

“You’re the one talking about my ‘huge dick’,” he smirked as he sipped his beer.

“Yes. You ARE a huge dick. Who I hate. Please move,” she said, shoving him to the side to get to the fridge. She grabbed a beer and searched the drawer for a bottle opener.

She heard Tyler scoff and looked at him to see him shaking his head. “Just give it here,” he said, motioning with his hand. She rolled her eyes and handed the bottle to him which he easily cracked open. He handed it back to her, and their fingers brushed against each other.

“Tyler...” she said, locking eyes with him. The softness in her voice and the way her eyes probed him set Tyler’s whole body ablaze. He nearly dropped the bottle on the table while wrapping his hand around her waist and roughly pulling her towards him.

Tiana smashed against his chest and impatiently pressed her lips against his as they hungrily kissed. She breathed desperately against him as she caressed his face with both hands. She gasped as his hands cupped just underneath her ass cheeks, squeezing possessively. He sucked her bottom lip into his mouth, moaning his arousal as his tongue flicked against hers. Tyler barely had a second to revel in the feel of her body against his before they heard her name being called.

“Tiana!” She quickly pushed Tyler away and stepped back from him just as Darren walked into the kitchen. “We just finished all 35! I still can’t believe you knocked out so many!” Darren said excitedly.

“That’s- that’s great, Darren,” Tiana said, wiping her mouth and trying to catch her breath.

Darren’s smile slowly transitioned to a look of confusion. He looked at Tyler whose cheeks were flushed a slight pink. “Bro, you okay?” he asked.

“What?” Tyler said startled. “Uh, yea,” he said, moving from the counter. He glanced at Tiana and felt himself throb again. “Fuck, I... I um... I gotta talk to my brother about... something.” Tiana watched Tyler rush past her without saying a word.

~

Owen leaned back against the wall of the warehouse as he watched his brother pace the sidewalk in front of him. “Sooo... you gonna tell me why you dragged me out here or are you practicing for an improv show?” Owen asked.

Tyler stopped pacing and looked at Owen. “I can’t work with her anymore.”

Owen scrunched his brows in confusion. “What?”

“That... woman!”

“...you mean Tiana...” Owen said.

“I can’t work with her.”

Owen sighed and rolled his eyes. “Seriously, Ty. I thought we were making progress here. She’s part of the team now. You have to accept her event-”

“No, Owen!” Tyler said firmly. “I can’t, alright?! She’s fucking... unbearable to be around. And I just... I can’t. I can’t be around her.”

Owen looked at Tyler a bit confused as he had never seen his brother this perturbed about something so trivial. “Alright...” Owen said finally. “I’ll... try not to put her on the same assignments as you. But... Ty, I really think you need to find a way to make things work with her. We need her. And whether you like it or not, she’s one of us now. You... you need to get used to her. Maybe you should try taking her out to lunch sometime so you guys can talk and have a genuine conversation. You never know, you might hit it off.”

Tyler looked at his brother and scoffed in disbelief. “That is seriously the dumbest shit you’ve ever said to me.”

“Your rude ass,” Owen smirked. “You could have just said ‘no’.”

Tyler went to retort when the door opened and Tiana stepped outside. She looked at Tyler and tensed a bit before she quickly looked at Owen. “I’m going over to Shae’s,” she said. “We finished what we needed to do, and I’m tired of being around all this... testosterone.”

“Oh, god. Is it Jason again?” Owen sighed.

“No, Jason is perfect,” she said. Tyler rolled his eyes. “I may stay with her tonight,” Tiana continued. “Is that going to be a problem?”

Owen looked at her confused. “Why do you seem so upset, T?”

“I’m just... I need a change of scenery, okay?” she said annoyed.

“Okay... Do you want me to drop you off?” Owen asked.

“Public transportation works just fine,” she said, flashing her metro card. She walked off without glancing at either one of them.

~*~

Tiana banged on the door of her old apartment. “Shae! Seriously?!”

She heard footsteps until the door finally opened and Shae poked her head through. “Hi...” Shae said shyly.

“Girl! You changed the locks?!”

“Well, yea... I didn’t think you were coming back,” Shae said.

“Bitch, I still pay rent,” Tiana said, pushing the door open to step inside.

“I know. But T, there was-” Shae stammered.

“Like, damn girl. I hope you didn’t throw my stuff out too,” Tiana joked as she walked to her bedroom. “Honestly, I miss being home. My life is mad stressful right now, and I could really use some girl time. Let me just change into some pajamas cause I AM NOT going anywhere else tonight!”

“Wait, T-” Shae tried to stop her. But it was too late. Tiana stood frozen in front of Shae’s bedroom. Her eyes were wide with shock to see Joey lying in Shae’s bed and puffing on a joint while talking on the phone. He glanced at Tiana and coughed hysterically.

“Uh, yo, let me call you back,” Joey said before quickly hanging up. “T-Tiana!” He stumbled out of bed with the sheets entangled around his legs.

Tiana looked at him shocked before looking down. “OH! MY GOSH!” she said, quickly turning around.

“Babe!” Shae said, pointing down. Joey looked down to see he had no boxers on and quickly grabbed the bedsheet to wrap around his waist.

“Sorry!” he said quickly. “Shit, uh... shit... Didn’t know you’d be back so soon, Tiana.”

“SO SOON?!” Tiana blurted. “Nigga, it’s been a week!”

“Oh...” Joey chuckled nervously as he quickly put out his joint.

Tiana looked at Shae in pure utter shock. “Didn’t you call his ass Aladdin?!” Tiana asked.

“Actually, she called me Jafar,” Joey said, putting on his pants.

“Babe... not the time...” Shae shushed him before she looked at Tiana. “So yeah, I’m fucking Jafar.”

“Jafar probably fucks better than Aladdin anyway,” Joey teased.

“BABE!” Shae shouted.

“I’m in the twilight zone,” Tiana said bewildered as she walked back into the living room. She plopped down on the couch still trying to comprehend everything.

“In all honesty, I didn’t think it’d get this far,” Shae said.

“In a week,” Tiana said.

“In a week,” Shae nodded.

“And what a hell of a week it was,” Joey grinned. He walked out of the room while putting on his shirt and kissed Shae on the lips. “I’m gonna go get some dinner. Chinese tonight?”

“Mm, I’m actually craving some roti,” Shae said to him.

“Gotchu!” Joey said, clapping his hands together. He looked at Tiana and gave a shy smile. “So... I’ll let you girls talk, and I’ll be back in a bit.”

“Thanks, babe,” Shae smiled as she waved at him. Joey winked at her and stepped out of the apartment. Shae craned her head to check out his ass before the door closed. “That ass I swear...” she grinned. She looked back at Tiana who still had a dumbfounded look on her face. “So, what’s up with you?” she asked.

“BITCH!”

~*~

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