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

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16 - Shoot to Thrill

Hacker Rule #6: Be aware of blind spots. They could be your downfall.

“Hey, Ma...”

Tiana pulled her chair closer to her mother’s hospital bedside. “Hey,” her mother, Cheryl Morris, smiled. “There’s my little girl.”

“You really scared us with the way you fainted like that,” Tiana said, trying to muster a smile.

“Whoo, chile. You know your mother. I can’t stand no heat like this. Your father was the one from the tropics, not me. I shoulda had another bottle of water on me, that’s what that was. My hands started shakin’, and I just got so dizzy. And I was just like ‘Lawd Jesus keep me, Father, keep me!’”

Tiana smiled at her mother, though concern still showed on her face. “Yea, Ma... I guess it was the heat...”

“Chile, don’t be lookin’ at me like that. I’m fine, you hear me? Lookin’ all sad. What did I tell you?”

“I know, Ma. It’s just... this is the 3rd time you’ve...”

“Tiana, you betta cut that nonsense out right now,” Cheryl said. “You reading your Bible?”

Tiana groaned. “Ma... the doctor said-”

“What’s that Scripture I told you to pray on?” Cheryl cut her off. “I lift my eyes up to the hills... where does my help come from?”

Tiana deeply sighed. “My help comes from the Lord... the Maker of-”

“Heaven and earth, that’s right,” Cheryl said, patting her daughter’s hand. “I don’t care what no doctor has to say. I trust the Lord’s report, not the doctor’s report, you hear me?”

“Yea, Ma...”

Dante watched his sister and mother speaking from outside the hospital room through a small window. He anxiously stroked the bottom of his chin as his eyes remained laser-focused on the two most important people remaining in his life.

“Mr. Morris.”

Dante turned around to see one of the doctor’s approaching him. “You got the results back? Is my ma gonna be okay?” Dante asked, impatiently walking up to him.

“Mr. Morris,” the doctor started. “The results haven’t changed... Your mother’s condition, I’m afraid, isn’t necessarily getting better, but we-”

“YO, THAT’S SOME FUCKING BULLSHIT!” Dante shouted at him. “She’s been under your fucking care for five motherfucking months! What the fuck you mean she ain’t getting no better?!”

“Mr. Morris, please,” the doctor said, trying to calm him. “I understand you’re upset, but-”

“Understand?!” Dante blurted. “No, you don’t understand shit! Y’all said the same motherfucking shit about my father and now he’s in the fucking ground! And y’all ain’t do shit! Y’all ain’t doing a damn thing y’all promised you’d do!”

“Mr. Morris,” the doctor said as a few security officers approached him. “I assure you that we are doing everything we can. If you’d like, we can discuss this further in my office.”

“I don’t wanna hear shit from y’all motherfuckers except that you’ve made some damn progress on my mother!” Dante growled.

“Oh, sweet baby Jesus, what is goin’ on out there?” Cheryl said, touching her chest as she heard shouting coming from outside. “Tiana, is your brother acting out again?”

“I’m sure it’s nothing, Ma,” Tiana said nervously. She heard her brother’s voice rising. “I’ll go check on him.” Tiana quickly stood up and walked to the door. She opened it to see Dante with his arms in the air as several security guards surrounded him.

“Oh, that’s nice! That’s right! Get your motherfucking racist ass po-lice to gang up on the black man! Aight, that’s cool! THAT’S HOW Y’ALL WANNA DO THIS?!”

Tiana quickly rushed over to her brother and grabbed him by the arm. “Dante, what the hell are you doing?!” she snarled at him.

“THESE MOTHERFUCKERS AIN’T DO SHIT, T! THEY AIN’T DOIN’ SHIT!” Dante said, getting hysterical.

“Put your hands behind your head. We’re taking you outside,” one of the officers said.

“No, please, just wait,” Tiana said, protecting her brother and blocking one of the guards.

“TRY ME, YOU BITCH ASS MOTHERFUCKER! JUST TRY ME!” Dante shouted.

“Seriously, Dante, stop!” Tiana said, shoving him back.

“912, I’m gonna need backup,” one of the officers said into his radio as he pulled out a gun. “We have a hostile-”

“No, please, he’s not-” Tiana said, trying to stop them.

“BITCH, YOU FINNA SHOOT ME?!” Dante snarled, slapping his chest.

“Put your hands up now!” the guard ordered, training his weapon on Dante.

“SHOOT ME, NIGGA!” Dante threatened.

A loud slap could be heard echoing in the halls from how hard Tiana slapped Dante’s face. Dante held his hand to his stinging face. He looked at Tiana who was doubled over in pain as she held her hand. “Shit! That hurt!” she blurted.

“I’m gonna need you both to leave,” the guard threatened.

Dante went to speak when Tiana snapped her fingers in his face. She looked at the doctor and gave a strained smile. “Please, Dr. Cooper. I know my brother is being hysterical, but my family is going through a really...really hard time. He’s hurting. Just... give me a moment to talk to him, please. We can’t just leave our mother. Let me calm him down. We’re both so stressed.”

The doctor twisted his mouth as he looked from an angry Dante to the pleading look in Tiana’s eyes. He nodded and motioned to security. “Let them go.”

“Thank you,” she breathed out as she grabbed Dante’s hand and dragged him outside.

Dante sucked his teeth as he kicked aimlessly at a rock with his hands shoved into his pockets. A million thoughts were rushing through his mind when he glanced at his sister sitting on a step with her head in her hands. “Yo, how are you the one in pain when you just slapped the shit out of me,” he smirked.

“Keep it up, and I’mma slap the blackness off your ugly ass face,” she muttered as she stood to her feet.

Dante threw his head back laughing. “Damn, sis, you ain’t gotta come at me like that-”

“I’M NOT FUCKING LAUGHING, DANTE!” Dante shut his mouth when he noticed the tears streaming down her face. “What the fuck was that shit?!” she snarled at him as she got in his face. “Are you trying to get yourself killed?!”

“T, it’s not that-”

“We just buried our cousin who was shot by a cop for a fucking traffic stop! Pa is gone and mom passed out AGAIN! You’re all I have left, you fucking asshole!” she cried as she violently shoved him backward. “And you pull that shit?!”

Dante’s face fell as he watched his sister tremble hysterically from her sobs. As a member of one of the most infamous hacker groups in a world where survival was not guaranteed, Dante had become so desensitized to the injustice around him that he didn’t take notice of how it was affecting his sister. “Sis...” he said remorsefully as he pulled her into his arms. “I’m sorry.. come on, T. I didn’t...”

Dante didn’t know what to say that could ease her pain. Ever since their father passed away, their lives seemed to become a downward spiral. They were evicted from their homes and crammed into a small apartment before he made the decision to live with his team. He supported his sister and mother with the money he made from his assignments. They lost one of their cousins to police brutality. And their mother had become extremely ill, requiring her to be on a fairly expensive treatment that didn’t seem to be doing much to better her health.

What could he say? The only hope he had left was buried with their father. “Tiana...” he said, rubbing her shoulders. “I’m just... really pissed off...”

“Toxic masculinity,” she muttered into his shoulder. “There are better ways to express your anger than taunting trigger-happy cops to shoot you.” She pulled back and looked at him. “I’m just as upset about ma’s condition, D. But you don’t see me wilin’ out in a damn clinic.”

Dante smirked at her. “That’s cause you’ve always been better than me.”

“Yea, don’t you forget it,” she sucked her teeth. Dante smiled as he kissed her cheek. Tiana looked into her brother’s eyes, wishing to see a glimmer of hope. But all she saw was turmoil.

“Tiana...” he said. “I promised pops that I would take care of you and ma. But... ma ain’t gettin’ any better.”

“That’s not your fault, D.”

“Yes, it is. You guys... y’all are my responsibility... I gotta fix this.”

Tiana looked at him confused. “What does that mean, Dante?”

“It means I’mma take care of you. Both of you.”

“D, please don’t go and do something stupid,” Tiana groaned. “Don’t be one of them niggas. Come on now. Your ass too pretty for prison.”

Dante threw his head back laughing. “Chill, sis, damn.” He looked at her and smiled, though the look in his gaze was serious. “I’mma fix this. All of this. You just gotta trust me. You trust me, right?”

“Course, I do, D... You’re all I got...” Tiana watched as her brother removed their father’s army dog tags from around his neck.

“Hold onto these for me, aight?” he said.

“But, it’s not my turn yet until-”

“I’m giving you a head start,” he smirked. “I need you to take care of pops while I handle shit.” Tiana put the dog tags around her neck and looked up at him with a warm smile. “I love you, big head,” he smiled.

She grinned. “I love you too, loser.”

A tear slipped down Tiana’s cheek as she absentmindedly played with her father’s dog tags hanging around her neck. She sat on Jason’s bed, still wearing just his shirt as she got lost in her own thoughts. She jumped startled as the bed moved.

“Hey. It’s just me, babe...” Jason said calmly as he sat on the bed next to her. “I got you some water.”

She took the glass of water from him and drank half of it down in one sip. “Thanks,” she said, wiping her mouth. Her eyes trailed up from his sweats to his toned shirtless chest until she met the uncharacteristic look of concern in his somber blue eyes. “What?” she asked.

“...I... I don’t like seeing you... cry..”

Tiana chuckled as she set the water down. “Sorry, that’s embarrassing,” she said, wiping her face.

“There’s nothing embarrassing about grieving your brother, babe,” Jason said.

She looked at him and smirked. “Why you sound so serious for?” she teased.

“It may surprise you to know that I’ve got other modes than just horny bastard who likes to fuck,” he said seriously. She looked at him slightly surprised by his tone as he moved closer to her and grabbed both of her hands. “If this is too much for you to take on... you don’t have to do this. We can take care of this ourselves.”

Tiana smiled gratefully. “I need to do this, Jason...” Jason analyzed her face for a moment before he begrudgingly pulled back with a sigh. “You seem so disappointed,” she chuckled.

“Yea, I am.”

“Why? Cause you can’t keep me in bed with you?” she teased.

“Please, babe. I know exactly where to lick, suck, and fuck to keep you in my bed,” he said nonchalantly as he stood to his feet. Tiana looked at him startled as she instinctively clutched her thighs to squelch the sudden throbbing. He turned to look at her as his face took on a more serious expression. “I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

Tiana was surprised by Jason’s sudden change in mood. It was like no matter how hard she tried to hide it, he could still feel the emotions she tried to repress. “...I’ll be okay, Jason.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him back down on the bed.

Jason looked down at Tiana, caging her between his arms as she smiled up at him. Jason loved to see her smile, but her eyes still weren’t fooling him. Tiana could tell from the way he looked at her that he was still perturbed. She wrapped her arms around his neck and bit her lip. “Fuck me, Daddy.”

His steely blue eyes held her gaze for just a moment before a grin slowly crossed his face. He lowered his head and sensually ran his tongue over the curve of her lips. “Ask, nicely...”

She caught his bottom lip between her teeth and tightened her grasp around his neck. “Please, Daddy… Fuck your pussy.”

Jason raised his brows in surprise at her before a soft chuckle escaped his lips. “Fuck, you’re getting too good at this,” he grinned as he pressed his lips to hers.

~*~

“Stop the video.” Darren paused the security cam footage as Owen leaned in to get a closer look.

“We’ve already confirmed that that’s Dante with that Roger bitch,” Tyler said impatiently. He leaned back against the wall with his arms folded across his chest.

“I know, Ty, but we need more than this,” Owen said.

“Why?” Tyler asked. “The DNA is a match. The son of a bitch is on fucking camera.”

“We need more,” Owen said firmly. Tyler sucked his teeth in annoyance.

“He’s right, Tyler,” Darren said. “Roger’s DNA matches with the DNA found on Dante’s clothes the night he was killed. But there was other DNA we don’t recognize, making it harder to incriminate him. He may be the same guy from the security footage, but this footage doesn’t tell us enough like: what they were doing together and why. We send just this to the cops and they’d laugh us out of the precinct.”

“Who said anything about the cops? Let’s just murk the shithead,” Tyler muttered. Owen gave Tyler a stern look and Tyler rolled his eyes “I was just kidding, Owen,” Tyler said.

“Yea, no you weren’t,” Owen said, turning back to the screen. “Where the fuck is Jason? He was supposed to be down here hours ago.”

“He’s clearly got better things to do...” Tyler muttered sarcastically.

The three of them looked to the stairs at the sound of Jason’s voice. “Sorry I’m late,” Jason said. He strolled in wearing a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt as he stretched with a yawn.

“The fuck, Jason?” Owen said annoyed. “Where the hell were you?”

“I had to take care of a few things,” Jason smirked as he eyed Tiana walking down the stairs.

“T?” Owen asked, surprised. “I thought you were with Shae?”

Tiana shrugged. “Shae ditched me for Joey who has taken temporary residence in my old apartment, so...”

“So, that’s where he’s been...” Darren pondered.

“I went to check up on you. I didn’t see you in your room last night,” Owen said.

Tyler and Jason both looked at Tiana whose face tightened as she averted her eyes to her phone. “I um... got in late,” she said, pretending to check a text message. “Really late. Trains were delayed and all that jazz. You know how it is...” Jason lowered his head to hold in a snicker as Tyler rolled his eyes.

Owen quirked a curious brow at the way she avoided his gaze. “Well, I didn’t really want to tell you about this until we were sure,” Owen said. “I know how sensitive this is for Anna. I can only imagine how hard it is for you... We... we think we found-”

“Dante’s killer,” Tiana finished. “Yea, I know...” she sighed.

Owen looked at her confused. “How do you know? I didn’t tell you.”

“I told her,” Tyler said quickly. “Earlier, when I went to get Jason, we... bumped into each other.”

Owen looked at Tyler even more confused. “But that was way before I checked her room.”

Tiana’s eyes widened as she cleared her throat. “He meant the second time he went to check on Jason. I was just... getting out of the shower.”

Tyler groaned as Owen looked at her like he wasn’t buying it. Tiana glared at Tyler with a threatening look. “Right,” Tyler muttered. “Now, I remember...”

Darren scrunched up his nose in confusion when Jason abruptly started belting Eminem and Rihanna’s ‘Love the Way You Lie’ rather loudly. “Jason... what the fuck are you doing?” Owen asked.

“What does it look like I’m doing? Singing our new theme song… I love the way you lie...” Jason sang as he grabbed a screwdriver and held it like a mic. “Come on, babe. You sing Eminem’s part,” he grinned as he held the screwdriver to Tiana’s face.

“I will shove my foot... so far up your ass,” she threatened.

“Is this your way of telling me you want it up the ass...” he winked at her. “Cause, baby-”

“Jason!” she blurted. Tiana shoved him in the chest making him stumble backward as he laughed hysterically. Owen rolled his eyes as he turned back to the screen. A video call displayed on the large screen before Anna’s face popped up.

“Hey guys,” Anna said. “Sorry, I can’t be there. I had to visit my abuelita. Did you finish yet?”

“We’ve barely started,” Owen sighed.

“Typical,” Anna said, rolling her eyes. “Time is short, Owen. Come on!”

“How are you blaming me when I-” Owen started. “Know what... Nevermind. Let’s just start.”

Tiana sat at a long metal table next to Jason and across from Tyler as Owen and Darren went over their data with Anna on screen. “So, the file that The Reaper gave to Dante has so much unrelated shit that it makes no damn sense all on its own. We need to link the other pieces together,” Owen said. “It’s got stuff on there from hospital documents to marijuana shit to corporate shit. None of which makes sense.”

As she listened to Owen, Tiana felt a hand grab her thigh. She glanced at Jason to see him smirking his usual grin as he kept his eyes forward on the screen. His hand crept up her thigh stopping just at the corner where her thigh met her hip. She went to close her legs, but his fingers were quick as they nestled themselves at her core. Tiana bit her lip as she felt Jason’s fingers stroke her over her pants. She tried to move his hand but it was planted like cement.

Tyler eyed Tiana curiously as she leaned over on the table. She propped her elbows up as she ran her fingers through her braids. She looked a bit distressed, and he wondered if the assignment was getting to her until he saw the smug look on Jason’s face.

Tiana groaned feeling Jason stroke her underneath the table. She hated that he knew exactly where to touch her to make her fall apart. His fingers tried creeping into her pants before she quickly grabbed his hand with a death grip. “I will break your fingers!” she whispered to him.

Jason chuckled as he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it charmingly. “I’ll play with you later...” he winked at her.

Tiana rolled her eyes with a smirk. Jason annoyed the heck out of her, but she loved how easy it was for him to take the edge off of how she was feeling. She felt eyes on her and looked across the table to see an aggravated Tyler staring back at her. She felt her stomach tighten, hoping he didn’t catch on to the little game Jason was playing with her. She quickly looked away from his gaze and focused on Darren and Owen.

“So, then there’s the P.O. Box we got from Jim Tip,” Darren continued. “We’ve been checking that P.O. Box regularly, and the last thing we found in there were some pointless files and a few invoices. One of them coming from... Roger Peterson. That’s the strongest link we have to him so far. That invoice has an account number that matches one of the security accounts from the betting dash system we hacked into a while ago. The security accounts of the betting dash system were further encoded with their license plates.”

“You’re doing too much here, Darren. I’m a little lost,” Anna said from the screen.

“He’s saying that we need to get access to the license plates of all vehicles within the vicinity that Dante and Roger met,” Tiana said quickly.

Darren looked at Tiana surprised. “Uh... yea...”

“Why couldn’t you just say that?” Jason asked flippantly.

“Well, the way my mind works, sometimes I need to-” Darren started.

“I don’t mean to cut you off, Darren, but aren’t we still missing the DNA factor here?” Tyler asked.

Darren twisted his mouth as he leaned back against the table. “There were other DNA traces on Dante’s clothing, that’s true. But... I mean we have Roger’s, so isn’t that all we need?”

Tyler looked at Owen as they shared a quick glance before Owen nodded. “Ty’s right. We should consider the possibility that... it might not be Roger. Or at least not only him. It’s better we do our due diligence,” Owen said.

“Okay, so you guys are basically saying we need to get the license plate, bank accounts, and DNA of over 250 corporate employees in one of Wall Street’s busiest buildings in New York...” Darren said.

“Piece of cake,” Jason smirked.

“Really,” Owen said sarcastically.

“Let’s just sneak in there and record all the plates till we find a match,” Jason said.

“It’s not that easy,” Owen said. “Cars are going in and out of that lot every day. We’d have to infiltrate security and stake out for at least two days to make sure we got everyone.”

“Or, here’s an idea...” Anna said, butting in. “We get building and security management to let us host a fundraiser right in their lot.”

“Think you’re a little old to be selling lemonade, Anna,” Tyler smirked.

Anna rolled her eyes. “I was thinking more along the lines of a car wash. Sports teams do it all the time. Tiana and Owen still attend university. Partner with one of your school’s sports teams and masquerade as a fundraiser. We use a card reader for payment since cash is gross and unconventional, and we get the option of capturing both DNA and license plates.”

“Did she just say cash is gross?” Tiana asked.

“That is such a clever idea...” Darren said with his mouth slightly parted.

“That’s a dumb idea,” Tyler said. “A car wash? Seriously? No one would go for that.”

“People jump at the chance to support educational institutions, especially in New York. And you underestimate how stupid men get when there’s a pair of wet tits in their face,” Anna smirked.

“Can’t argue with that,” Jason grinned.

“I guess I can talk to the men and women’s soccer team,” Owen said, thinking. “We’ll still need to be in the weeds to operate this thing, engage with the targets and get the data we need. But you can’t really do this alone, Anna.”

“Hello! There’s another tit-bearing human being right in the room with you,” Anna said.

Tiana widened her eyes. “Me?!”

“NO!” Owen, Jason and Tyler said at the same time. Tiana looked at them startled.

“Oh, I’m sorry. You’re right,” Anna said. “There are straight female and gay male workers too. You guys should participate in the car wash as well. I know Jason is just dying to show off his body to some sexually-frustrated cougar in a dress suit.”

“Well, I mean, why deny the public such a perfect body?” Jason mused as he flexed a muscle. Tiana rolled her eyes as she slapped him in the chest.

“Anna,” Owen said annoyed. “Tiana already did this with Eoin. She’s not doing this shit again.”

“Seriously, Owen, I don’t see you coming up with any better ideas,” Anna said, sucking her teeth.

“She’s right, Owen,” Darren spoke up. “It’s a good idea. It could work out.”

Owen sighed in frustration as he ran his fingers through his hair. “Shit. Fine. But, T, are you sure you want to be involved in this? I mean... it’s your brother...”

“It’s because it’s my brother that I should,” Tiana said. “Don’t leave me out of it, O. I wanna help in any way that I can.”

“Spoken like a true RaVager,” Anna smiled. “Speaking of which, now that Rogue is officially a member of RaVage, she should be inducted into our group the proper way. I can plan a-”

“Anna, we really don’t have time for that,” Owen said.

“This is an important moment, Owen,” Anna said with frustration as her face took up the whole screen. “Stop treating her like a damn child. You keep saying she’s part of the team. She doesn’t even have our brand.”

“Brand?” Tiana asked.

“The RaVage tattoo,” Darren said. He lifted his pants leg to show the rVg tattoo on his ankle. “We all got it when we formed as a group,” he explained.

“That’s actually really cool,” Tiana said. “I like it.”

“See?” Anna smiled.

“She doesn’t need a fucking tattoo,” Tyler snapped.

“Somebody slap Tyler for me,” Anna said.

“OW!” Tyler growled after Jason slapped him in the back of the head.

“Owen.” Owen looked at Tiana as she grabbed his hand. “You told me I’m part of the team, right?” she said. “So, let me be part of the team...”

Owen sighed reluctantly as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Alright... We’ll stop by Raven’s on the way.”

“On the way to what?” Tiana asked.

“Anna, I’ll leave you to get our fake little fundraiser approved by these bitches in suits while I make some calls to the school,” Owen said, walking to the door. “Jason, Tyler, let’s go.”

“Owen? On the way to what?” Tiana asked, following him.

“Darren, make sure we have the right card reader and biometric to capture the encryption,” Owen added as Jason and Tyler followed him to the door.

“HELLO! OWEN!” Tiana said, snapping in his face. Owen looked at her startled. “I’m trying to talk to you. On the way to what?” she asked exasperated.

“If you’re gonna be involved with this, we have to prepare you with contingency plans,” Owen said.

“I thought you already did,” Tiana said confused.

Owen let out a small chuckle. “...no...”

~*~

“Hello?”

Tiana followed Tyler and Owen into the small, dark tattoo parlor. She carefully looked around at all the pictures of naked tattooed women and men on the walls. The light was so dim she could barely make out Jason grabbing a sculpture from off the shelf. “Why does this look like a vampire’s lair?” Tiana asked.

“Raven’s not a fan of bright lights,” Owen said. “Light sensitivity or something.”

“Is she even here?” Tyler asked.

“I swear this girl has the strangest hobbies,” Jason said, eyeing the odd antique. “I can’t tell if these are breasts or testicles.”

“Davis, I swear if you break my shit, I’m breaking your face.” The four of them looked to an open door down a small corridor and saw a pale woman covered in tattoos. She had a black-haired pixie cut, and bright red lipstick that contrasted with her practically translucent white skin. Her striking light blue eyes made Tiana swallow. She was one of the most beautiful women Tiana had ever seen. She was also completely naked.

“Jeez! Shit, Raven!” Owen blurted as he quickly covered his eyes.

“Don’t you ever wear fucking clothes?” Tyler said snidely as he turned away from her.

Raven rolled her eyes. “Don’t you bitches ever call?” She walked across the room to a pile of clothes on a couch.

“Jason!” Tyler snapped at Jason who was eyeing Raven. “Turn your ass around!”

“Is that a new tattoo?” Jason asked, pointing to a phoenix on her arm.

“Yea, you like it?” Raven smirked as she held her arm up. “I did that one last week. Might color it in later.”

“Fuck yeah. That’s badass,” Jason grinned.

Tiana quirked a curious brow at Jason. “Another one of your conquests, Jason?”

Jason smirked at Tiana. “Is that a hint of jealousy, babe?”

Tiana rolled her eyes. “Boo, don’t play yourself.”

“Ooh!” Raven grinned as she grabbed a shirt. “I like her. Also, Jason wishes he could conquer this pussy. But he ain’t my type.”

“She means big dicks,” Jason winked at Tiana.

“Dumbass. I mean dicks in general,” Raven said, throwing a book at Jason’s head.

“Raven, do you have your fucking clothes on yet?” Tyler asked annoyed, still not looking at her.

“Oh, get over yourself, Evans. Like you guys haven’t seen me naked before.” Raven rolled her eyes as she pulled her shirt over her head. Tyler and Owen turned around as Tiana looked at them all confused, wondering just what kind of relationship the four of them had.

“T,” Owen clarified quickly, noting the look on her face. “Raven is a friend of RaVage. She knows about us. She’s one of the only people that know about us.”

“Oh, I see...” Tiana said, still trying to figure it out.

“She’s also a rocker,” Jason added, playing with another sculpture from her shelf. “That’s how we met. She’s in some band called... Oculus?”

“Nocuous, you simpleton. Don’t touch that,” Raven said, snatching the sculpture out of his hand.

Raven’s sharp eyes sensually roamed Tiana’s form from head to toe. She bit her lip in such a ravenous way it made Tiana tingle from her head down to the bundle of nerves between her legs. “She’s cute,” Raven said, eyeing her. “Nice tits, tight ass. What’s she doing with you losers?”

Tiana looked at Raven startled and flustered as Jason burst out laughing. Tyler rolled his eyes as Owen smirked. “We brought her here to get inked,” Owen said. “She’s part of the crew now.”

“Ah,” Raven nodded. She folded her arms across her chest and leaned back against the desk. “Sweetheart, I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into. Cause these three? Fucking lunatics,” she smirked.

“Thanks, Raven,” Owen said sarcastically.

“Where’s the other one?” Raven asked. “Dante?” The atmosphere in the room drastically shifted as the guys averted their eyes. “Oh...” Raven said once it clicked. “Shit... Sorry to hear that. I really liked him.” Raven looked at Tiana who was fiddling with her fingers. “You must be his sister then,” she said. Tiana looked at her surprised. “You guys have the same scent-” Raven started before she caught herself. “I mean... you look... you look like him.”

Tiana tried to muster a smile but there was still some sadness in her eyes. Tyler shifted uncomfortably as Owen walked up to Tiana and grabbed her by the waist. “We didn’t think you’d be in New York since you’re usually in New England with your band. You got time for us?” Owen asked.

Raven shrugged. “I’m only staying for a few days. You’re lucky you caught me when you did. So sure,” she said, smirking at Tiana. “Not cause it’s you, but because, well... she’s fucking hot.” The sound of footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs when a blonde woman walked out with her bag over her shoulder. “Oh! Shit... Heather!” Raven said awkwardly. “I... ah... didn’t know you were still here.”

“We were showering together when you left, remember?” Heather said annoyed as she pressed a bloody tissue to her neck.

“Oh,” Raven cringed. “Sorry... Still bleeding, is it?”

Heather sighed in frustration. “Goodbye, Raven.”

“Call me?” Raven said as Heather stormed out.

“Dude, what kind of rough sex are you having that she leaves bleeding?” Tiana asked, shocked.

“What can I say? I’m into that kinky shit,” Raven smirked. “Why? You curious?” she winked.

“Tiana doesn’t roll that way, Raven,” Jason grinned. “Trust me.” Tyler gave Jason a dirty look as Tiana groaned, covering her face.

“How do you know?” Raven asked. She walked up to Tiana as she kept her blue eyes focused on her face. “You ever been fucked by a girl before, sweetheart?” Tiana looked at Raven startled as Raven gently stroked her cheek. “Men are simple. Boring,” she said flippantly. “The only person who knows how to truly please a woman... is another woman.” Tiana swallowed anxiously as Raven smirked at her.

Owen rolled his eyes. “Chill, Raven. That’s not what we brought her here for.”

“Men also can’t handle the truth that when it comes to pleasing women, they don’t have a fucking clue,” Raven smirked mockingly. “You’d need all 3 of them just to reach the kind of euphoria I could bring you to.”

“Alright, knock it off! It’s not that hard to make her come!” Tyler snapped. The room immediately went quiet as everyone looked at Tyler. Tiana’s mouth nearly dropped to the floor, and she swore she was going to die from embarrassment. “I’m... I’m assuming,” Tyler said quickly. “Women, in general, I mean...” Tyler glanced at Owen who looked back at him like he had lost his mind.

“I think... what my brother is trying to say is to stop hitting on Tiana. We’re on a tight deadline,” Owen said.

Raven smirked as she pulled back from Tiana. “Uh-huh... Where do you want it, sweetheart?”

Tiana tried to shake herself out of the mortification she felt. “I um... haven’t thought about it... Where did you guys get yours?”

Jason lifted his shirt and showed the black rVg tattoo on his lower abdomen where the V-curve of his stomach trailed down his pelvis. “I’m surprised you’ve never noticed,” Jason grinned. “Next time, I’ll make sure you get up, close, and personal...” Tiana tried not to laugh.

Owen turned slightly and lifted his shirt to show the tattoo on his rib cage. “Didn’t it hurt to get it there?” Tiana asked.

“This was the least painful tattoo I’ve gotten,” Owen said, rolling his shirt back down. “It’s not that bad.”

Tiana nodded and looked at Tyler who had his arms folded across his chest. “It’s on my chest,” he grunted.

Raven snickered amused at what was so blatant before her. She walked up to Tiana and turned her around. “You come off as a bit of a good girl,” she said, lifting the back of Tiana’s shirt. “Get it right here,” she said, touching her lower back.

“That’s a tramp stamp,” Tiana sighed.

“And that’s internal misogyny,” Raven responded. “You’re too cute to say something so ignorant. Sit down.”

“Well, damn. Snatch my edges why don’t you,” Tiana muttered, feeling attacked. She sat down in the chair and leaned over, stretching her back out.

“You guys don’t have to stay, you know,” Raven said. She slipped on a pair of gloves as she prepared her equipment. “Doubt she needs a bodyguard, let alone three.”

“Alright, bye,” Tyler said, turning around. “Come on, Jason.”

“But this position she’s in right now... is giving me so many ideas...” Jason groaned. Tyler grabbed his bicep and yanked him out the door.

Tiana looked up at Owen who kept his eyes on her as Raven sterilized Tiana’s back. “You don’t have to leave, O,” Tiana said.

“I mean... It is your first tattoo. I just thought... you’d want some company,” Owen said, taking a seat in front of her. Raven turned on the ink gun and watched Owen grab Tiana’s hand.

“Will it hurt?” Tiana asked, looking at him.

“At first...” Owen said softly. Tiana looked up into his eyes and winced when she felt the needle make contact with her skin. Owen gently rubbed his thumb on the back of her hand as she tightly squeezed his hand.

“Why don’t you distract her,” Raven said from the back. “Tell her about when Dante came in to get his tattoo.”

Owen looked at Tiana and smiled. “Dante was bad at getting tattoos. You’re doing a lot better than he did.”

“Really?” Tiana laughed.

“Yea, he was such chicken shit. Whining like a little baby,” Owen grinned.

“But he had so many,” Tiana chuckled.

“Yea, and he cried during each one,” Owen snickered.

“Oh my gosh, he cried?!” Tiana laughed out loud. “He acts like such a tough guy.”

“I’m sure he did that for you, T,” Owen said. “He always wanted to be strong for you.”

Tiana smiled at Owen before it quickly faded into a frown, and her eyes dropped. “I just wish he didn’t feel the need to lie to me...”

Owen frowned. “He was only-”

“Trying to protect me. Yea, I know,” Tiana sighed. “But, I can’t help but think if he was honest with me... maybe I could have protected him...”

Owen felt his stomach drop as he saw what he hated: another tear slip from her eye. He brought a hand to her cheek and softly caressed her skin with the pad of his thumb. “I can only tell you that he really loved you,” Owen said. “He loved you so much. And there is nothing... nothing he wouldn’t have done for you.”

Tiana felt caught off-guard by the glimmer in Owen’s gaze as he touched her far more tenderly than she was used to. “Why do you always sound like you’re talking about yourself, Owen?”

Owen swallowed hard and pulled his hand from her face. “I do love you, T. You’re family,” he smiled.

Tiana stared at him for a moment before she looked away. “Yup. Family,” she said, staring at the wall.

~*~

“Lemme see, lemme see!” Anna said, clapping her hands. Tiana lifted her shirt and revealed the RaVage tattoo on her lower back. “HELL YEA, CHICA! FUCKING OFFICIAL, BABY!” Anna said, giving Tiana a hi-five.

“Why do all the guys on your school’s soccer team look like tools,” Tyler said. He leaned back against a wall as she watched the school’s undergrad soccer team set up for the car wash.

“Behave, Ty,” Owen smirked. He tapped away at his phone to text Darren, when a group of girls ran up to them.

“HI, OWEN!” one of them screeched in his ear excitedly.

“Uh... hi...” Owen said with a confused smile.

“We were SO shocked that you offered to do this with us. Especially you. Owen Evans. Who works for The New York Times. And you’re so fucking sexy. And this stuff just seems so beneath you. But you’re here, and it’s-” the girl ranted.

“Pepper, calm down, before you scare him away,” one of the girls said, grabbing her friend. She looked at Owen apologetically. “Forgive her. She’s a huge fan, especially after that piece you did on bi-sexuality in sports and that interview you did with Taylor Swift-”

“YOU’RE SO COOL!” the first girl blurted. Tyler groaned in annoyance as he rubbed his ear.

“Thanks,” Owen chuckled.

“Can we get your autograph, and number, and maybe a date?!” she said, hopping on her toes. She handed him a New York Times newspaper with his name on the cover.

“Pepper, you’re so embarrassing right now,” the other girl groaned.

“I can definitely give you my autograph,” Owen grinned as he signed the newspaper. “As far as a date, I’m afraid I’m not batting for that team at the moment.” The girls seemed to frown in disappointment. “My brother, on the other hand,” Owen grinned, looking at Tyler. Tyler glared at Owen in annoyance as two other girls approached Tyler.

“Wow! You’re his brother?! Are all the Evans’ hot?!” one of the girls blurted. “I’ve never seen you before.”

“Because I don’t even go to your school,” Tyler snapped.

“Oh? Columbia maybe?”

“Listen, I’m not interested. Go drool over one of those other meatheads,” Tyler said flippantly. The girls looked at him annoyed as they turned to Owen.

“Uh... he... his cat died, so he’s a little grumpy. Why don’t you girls go take care of those cars over there,” Owen said, nudging them along. They swooned at Owen’s signature, charming grin before they ran off. Owen turned to Tyler annoyed. “Isn’t it painful?”

“Is what painful?” Tyler asked.

“Having that stick wedged so far up your ass,” Owen said.

“Owen-”

“Try to remember that these students are doing us a favor. Would it kill you not to be an asshole for a change?”

Tyler sighed as he ran his fingers through his hair. “It just... reminds me of worse times...”

Owen frowned when he realized what Tyler was referring to. School hadn’t been kind to either of them. When they were both scouted by NYU, Tyler couldn’t reject them fast enough. “We’ll be done with this quickly,” Owen said. “Just hold tight. Play the part. Make a few girls happy. The others get it.”

Tyler looked across the lot to see Jason in a tank top with a bunch of half-naked girls surrounding him as he doused a car with water. The girls seemed to be more focused on Jason than the cars they were supposed to be washing. He heard giggling and glanced at Tiana leaning against a red hot Mercedes. She wore a small pair of jean shorts and a white shirt tied in a knot at the back. She and Anna were talking to two men in business suits who had no shame in eyeing them up.

“Remember, this is for Dante,” Owen said, snapping Tyler out of it. “Right?”

Tyler looked at his brother and nodded. “...Right... for Dante...”

“That will be $25,” Anna said with a squeak in her voice. One of the businessmen handed her his black card. “Ooh! A black card,” Anna said, grinning at Tiana. “Now, sir. You could have just as easily used a visa for such a small transaction.”

“I’d like to use it for a larger transaction if you’d let me take you both to dinner,” the man grinned.

Both of us?” Anna said, feigning shock as Tiana giggled.

“He sounds like he’s trying to get a threesome,” Tiana smirked. Anna inconspicuously slipped her the biometric tape of the man’s fingerprints.

“Well... now that you brought it up,” he smiled.

“I’m sorry, sir. This fundraiser is strictly for our school’s soccer team. I’m afraid solicitation of sex is against school policy,” Anna smiled sweetly.

The man bit his lip as he eyed both of them up. “With a man like me, you’d never need to work a day in your life...” he said heatedly. They both looked at him surprised before his phone went off. “Ugh... Sorry, I have to take this,” he said, quickly getting into his car.

Tiana and Anna looked at each other before they both burst into hysterical laughter. “We almost had a sugar daddy,” Tiana said. “Maybe he can pay my bills. I’m type broke.”

“Too easy,” Anna smirked, tapping on her phone. “Show him a little ass, and he’d probably pay your whole tuition.”

“You know what? Where he at? I’m tryna see somethin’,” Tiana laughed.

“Tiana?”

Tiana turned around at the sound of her name and was surprised to see David walking towards her. “David?!” she said shocked. “What are you doing here?”

“I was pitching a project proposal to a possible angel investor for my prosthetics at a local hospital,” David said, holding up his bag. “Don’t think it went so well...”

“Why not?” she asked.

David shrugged. “I kinda... froze up... Got nervous... I don’t really do too well in front of crowds. Might have stumbled over my words a little...”

Tiana frowned as she rubbed his shoulder comfortingly. “Well, their loss. They don’t know what they’re missing out on.”

David looked at her and smiled gratefully. His eyes trailed down her outfit, and he bit his lip a bit turned on at how much skin she was showing. “I... didn’t know you were on the soccer team,” he said.

“Oh!” she said quickly. “No, no I... I’m just helping them with fundraising.”

“Oh,” he chuckled. “I’d love to help out, but I don’t have a car to wash.”

“Could just wash you,” she chuckled before she caught herself. “Sorry, that was a really bad joke.”

“It was adorably bad,” David grinned.

“You can still donate,” she said, trying to shake off the embarrassment. “We only take cards though.”

“Hmm,” he said, digging around his pocket for his wallet. “Since it’s for a good cause.” He handed her his card.

~

Jason clenched his jaw as he watched Tiana talk to the strange, tall, brown-haired guy in front of her. Seeing her talk to the other businessmen in suits didn’t seem to bother him as much. She was playing the game just like the rest of RaVage. She worked just as smoothly as her brother.

But with this guy, her smile seemed... genuine. Her gaze seemed wanting. His touch on her arm lingered and the way he looked at her felt all too familiar. “Who the fuck is this clown?” Tyler said, sidling next to Jason.

“From the way she’s looking at him... gonna guess it’s that David motherfucker...” Jason muttered annoyed.

“Hey, Jason. I’m all covered in soap,” a girl said, walking up to them as she pushed her chest up. “Mind hosing me down?” she asked flirtatiously.

“Yea, sure, here.” Jason handed her the hose without looking at her as he kept his eyes on Tiana. The girl curled her lip up in annoyance before walking away.

~

Owen looked past the girls trying to get his attention to see Tiana talking a bit too long to a guy that looked all too familiar. “Excuse me, ladies,” he said, maneuvering around them. He bee-lined for Tiana when Anna stopped him.

“What are you doing?” Anna asked.

“I’m... working,” Owen said.

“No, you’re not. You’re about to go cockblock. Granted this is an assignment, but still.”

Owen looked at her startled. “What the fuck, Anna?”

“Listen, puta,” Anna said, getting in his face. “You may be fooling everyone else, but you’re not fooling me. You like her. And COÑO, MOTHERFUCKER, SHE LIKES YOU TOO! But for some reason, your stupid white ass keeps curving her, and you refuse to tell her how you feel. ESTUPIDO!”

“Anna-”

“Shut up, gringo, I’m not done!” she snapped, startling Owen. “She likes you, Owen. But she also likes... whoever that weirdo over there is. Don’t go over there and ruin her chances to be with a NICE GUY who isn’t caught up in our bullshit over your fucking jealousy. Don’t ruin her chance to be happy unless you plan on making a damn move.”

Owen swallowed hard as he looked from Anna to Tiana. “Also, your side piece is here,” Anna pointed. Owen turned around to see Jay far on the sidewalk.

“Shit...” Owen muttered. Jay smiled brightly when he saw the man of his dreams head for Jason and Tyler. He watched the three of them talk to each other for a brief moment. He furrowed his brow in confusion when Owen seemed to be ordering the other two as he pointed. He followed where Owen was pointing and immediately snarled to see Tiana. Jay balled his hand into a fist and immediately looked away, trying to repress the rage he felt. “Hey,” Owen said, grabbing his shoulder. Jay relaxed a little as he smiled at Owen. “What are you doing here?” Owen asked.

“You’re all over Instagram,” Jay said, looking at all the girls taking selfies behind him. “Wasn’t that hard to figure out where you were.”

Owen sighed. “Yea, I uh... volunteered to help for a school event.”

“That’s not like you,” Jay said.

“I’m trying to be charitable,” Owen smiled.

“Then why is she here?” Jay said with aggravation.

“Jay, don’t,” Owen said. “She attends the same school I do. That’s it.”

“That sounds like such bullshit,” Jay snapped.

“Jay...” Owen said seriously. “I’m not with her. And regardless of all that... we’re not in a relationship, remember?” Jay’s jaw clenched as he looked past Owen and glared at Tiana.

~

“Listen, Tiana,” David said as he waited for her to finish charging his card. “About that kiss... I’m sorry that I-”

“David, don’t apologize unless you regret kissing me,” she said, looking up at him. “Do you... regret kissing me?”

David twisted his mouth anxiously. “No... In fact, my thoughts have been consumed with kissing you again...” Tiana felt her cheeks flush. She removed his card from the reader and handed it to him. “Tiana...” he said, stepping closer to her. “I’m-”

“Hey, babe. Do you need help over here?” Jason interrupted.

Tiana looked up at Jason standing awfully close to her, but his eyes weren’t even on her. They were on David. “No, Jason. I’m fine,” she said annoyed.

“I just figured you needed my help in case anyone was getting... handsy,” he said, locking eyes with David.

“I’m sorry,” David smiled awkwardly. “Don’t think we’ve met.” David held out his hand. “I’m David. And you are?”

“Her man,” Jason said quickly.

“Jason!” Tiana blurted as she shoved him to the side. She turned back to David. “I’m sorry, David. Let’s... let’s catch up later?”

“Uh, sure,” David said, eyeing Jason. He looked at Tiana and gave a small smile before walking off.

Tiana spun around on Jason. “What the hell, Jason?!”

“Relax, babe, I was just teasing,” Jason chuckled.

“No. You were staking a claim,” she snapped at him. She turned to leave when he grabbed her arm.

“Baby girl,” he said, pulling her back against his chest. He lowered his mouth to her ear and spoke lowly. “Last night, I had your sexy ass in my bed. I fucked the living shit out of you and made you come over and over and over again... Do you remember?” Tiana swallowed as she felt his breath against her ear. “Tiana,” he persisted.

“Yes, I remember,” she said quickly.

“And what did you say, babe…? What did you moan out every time you felt my tongue in your-?”

“Jason-!”

“What did you say?” he repeated.

Tiana bit her lip as she felt her stomach warm over. “This pussy’s yours...”

“Exactly... mine... If you need me to remind you, my car’s right there...”

Jason let her go as she pulled out of his grasp. She looked back at him to see a knowing smirk on his face as his hands settled in his pockets. “I didn’t know you were such a dom,” she said.

“I didn’t know you thought I’d let you go that easily,” he chuckled.

“You’ve been surrounded by attractive girls all day, Jason...”

Jason grinned as he walked up to her, causing her to back up against a support beam. “And not a single one of them is you.” He kissed her cheek and headed back to his post.

~*~

Tiana leaned over a ledge, running numbers that she was sending to Darren when Anna walked up to her. “We’re getting ready to wrap up. We managed to get every employee with a car. So, we can pack up all this shit and head back for debrief. Owen is going to handle the soccer team, and Jason is dealing with security management. I think Tyler went to pack up Jason’s car. Do you mind putting some of these soap jars away?” Anna asked.

“Sure,” Tiana said. She picked up two soap containers and walked towards a secluded closet in the lot. It smelled like an old garage and was filled with cleaning products. She went to put one of the jugs on a shelf when a bucket of water toppled from the edge and fell on top of her. “SHIT!” she shrieked. “Dammit...”

She put the soap jugs away and tried to ring out her shirt. She headed towards the door when Tyler walked in holding two large buckets. “Seriously?” he said sarcastically, eyeing her now see-through shirt. “I expect this from those airheads, not from you.”

“Oh, shut up,” Tiana scoffed. “A bucket of water fell on me, alright? So, get your judgmental ass out of my face.”

“Oh sure, a bucket of water fell on you,” Tyler said, rolling his eyes. He walked to a corner and put the buckets down. “Was that before or after you were flirting with all those assholes.”

Tiana looked at him with disbelief. “Um... EARTH TO TYLER. That’s what I was supposed to do! Or did you forget the job?”

“The job was to get their fingerprints, license plates, and accounts,” Tyler said with his back to her. “Nothing in there about you flirting with guys thrice your age.” Tyler pushed the bucket into the corner when he felt Tiana grab his shirt and turn him around.

“I’m just about sick of you,” she snarled at him. “First you talk to me like I’m shit. Then you kiss me. Then you’re an asshole. Then you kiss me again. And then back to being an asshole.” She shoved him back in frustration. “So, what’s your fucking deal?! Are you just jealous? Is that it?”

Tyler scoffed. “I’m not jealous of shit,” he said, moving to the side.

“Bullshit,” she said, blocking him. “If you’re not giving me the death stare, you’re eye-fucking me.”

“Get your head out of your ass, princess. I don’t like you like that,” Tyler said, moving to the other side.

“Another lie,” she said, blocking him again. “You kissed me twice, Tyler. Twice.”

“Tiana, move the fuck out of my way,” he snapped at her.

“I’m not moving until you answer me. Either you hate me or you want me. Which is it, so I know how hard I need to punch your stupid face in.”

“I don’t fucking want you!” he snarled at her. “Got it?!”

She looked at him for a moment before she rolled her eyes and turned around. “Whatever, Tyler.” She barely took a step before she felt her shirt get yanked backward as her back hit his chest. She felt his hand wrap around her throat as his other hand immediately cupped her between her legs. Tiana gasped as Tyler’s fingers rotated rough circles against her while his lips eagerly sucked at the soft flesh where her neck met her shoulder.

“Is this what you want?” he growled in her ear. “You want me to tell you how you drive me up a fucking wall?!” Tiana grabbed at Tyler’s hand on her neck as she felt his fingers creep into her shorts. “You want me to tell you that I can’t get you out of my damn mind?!”

An aroused moan escaped Tiana’s mouth as she felt Tyler’s fingers slip between her lips. It took everything for Tyler not to fall apart as he touched a part of her he had only imagined he would. He wanted to stop himself, but all he could think about was taking her. “Shit. And of course, you’re soaking wet,” he groaned as he played with her nub. “Fuck, Tiana.”

Tiana panted as Tyler slipped a finger inside of her. She felt his lips suck eagerly at her neck as if he were trying to mark her. “I don’t know what the hell you’re doing to me,” he groaned as he slipped another finger in her. “Shit. You’re in my damn head. My body responds to every single fucking thing you do, and to be honest, I’m starting to resent you for it.”

Tiana felt her stomach tighten as Tyler started to pull her orgasm from her. “T-Tyler… oh, god…” she whimpered.

“... god...” he chuckled lowly. “And the sounds you make... the way you moan... Why the fuck do I love making you come... What the hell kind of control do you have over me?”

Tiana whimpered and gasped, feeling like she was losing her mind as her head started to spin. She pushed herself out of Tyler’s grasp before she could fully enjoy her orgasm. She looked at him heatedly as he looked at his wet fingers that were just inside of her. He looked from his fingers to her. “And just what the fuck makes you think I want you?” she said, trying to sound more convincing than she felt.

He raised his wet fingers and slowly rubbed them together to feel her consistency. “You really need to ask?” he said.

Tiana widened her eyes when he started to move them towards his lips. She quickly grabbed his hand and pulled it away from his face. “You’re an asshole, remember?” she snapped at him. “You don’t get to taste me.”

“Try me,” he said, putting his fingers to his lips again. Tiana grabbed his hand again and nearly toppled him over as she jumped on him. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she pressed her lips against his.

Tyler immediately grabbed her ass, squeezing aggressively as he walked her backward and nearly fell over from the ferociousness of their kiss. Their tongues fought against each other as desperate moans escaped their mouths. Her hands played in his hair as her body further melted against his. Tyler scoured down her face until he was burying his face into her neck. He deeply inhaled her scent and couldn’t help his wandering hands as they snuck beneath her shorts to grab two handfuls of her naked backside.

“Well, fuck... me! Holy shit!”

Tiana and Tyler jumped startled. They saw Jason standing at the doorway of the closet with wide eyes.

~*~

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