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

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2 - Best Friends... Forever?

Hacker Rule #20: Never involve family or friends.

Earlier That Day...

“YOU SEE THE LIGHT?! IT’S RED, DUMBASS! DON’T HONK YOUR LITTLE HORN AT ME. I HAD THE RIGHT OF WAY!”

“Damn, Tiana. Calm down, girl,” Shae said, pulling her friend out of the street before she attacked the angry Middle Eastern man in the mustard-colored taxi. The two had nearly gotten into a screaming match. He gave her the finger and Tiana looked like she was ready to leap through his window and strangle him.

Tiana huffed as she fixed her jacket. “Sorry. You know I can’t stand New York taxis, man. They’re so damn rude.”

“That’s NYC in a nutshell,” Shae laughed. “Finish telling me what you were saying before you tried to strangle that poor driver.”

“POOR DRIVER?! POOR ME!”

Shae laughed out loud as Tiana rolled her eyes with a smirk. They walked down the sidewalk heading back to campus. “So basically, I was just saying that Black Twitter dragged her ass so badly that there’s nothing left of her. Her mentions are shot. I almost feel bad... almost,” Tiana grinned.

“Welp! That’s what she gets for tryin’ to be slick. She should’ve just sat there and ate her food,” Shae sucked her teeth.

Tiana burst out laughing as she held the door open and followed her friend into the large NYU dining hall. “Honestly... My biggest fear is being dragged by Black Twitter. Deadass. I can’t think of a worse fate. They have no chill. Remember how they came for Roxanne Schlipps?” Tiana smirked as they sat down at an empty table.

“You mean Roxanne Shit?” Shae scoffed.

“Dang, Shae...”

“Cause her Storm was shit. Her Aaliyah was shit. Her Drumline was shit,” Shae went on.

“It was the sequel we never asked for,” Tiana said, shaking her head. “And Aaliyah is probably turning in her grave. Bless her soul.”

“And she’s so damn ignorant acting like she doesn’t have privileges due to her complexion. As if colorism isn’t a thing. Pick up a history book, birdhead. I swear she makes us light brights look bad,” Shae grumbled as she pulled out her African-French History book.

Shae was a walking Black Studies encyclopedia. An intellectual activist who was very vocal and passionate about social issues pertaining to Black culture & history. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Shae had received a full-ride scholarship for African Americans whose families were victims of The New Orleans Massacre generations ago. She moved to New York to further her studies at New York University where she met her roommate and best friend Tiana Morris. Tiana couldn’t help but chuckle at how worked up her friend would get over some of the most trivial things. Like a Roxanne Schlipps rant.

She glanced behind Shae to see a rather handsome young guy wearing jeans and a fitted cardigan sweater over a button-up shirt. His short brown hair was combed to the side and his glasses magnified his beautiful hazel-green eyes. “Shae... SHAE!” Tiana whispered to her grumbling friend.

“What?!”

“... who’s that?” Tiana asked.

Shae looked at the guy and shrugged. “Looks like a new kid. Probably some preppy rich white boy that got in on his daddy’s dime. Like 50% of the students on this campus.”

“Aight, boo, take it down a notch. Damn,” Tiana chuckled as she stared at him. “Aww, he looks lost... like an adorable lost little puppy. I wanna pet him.”

“Tiana...”

“Lookit him twirling around not knowing a damn thing. Lookin’ like a tourist,” Tiana chuckled. The guy glanced over at her when he heard her giggling. “Oh shit. He’s looking over here,” Tiana said, immediately looking away.

“That’s cause your stupid ass kept staring at him!” Shae snapped.

“Crap! He’s coming over here! Act natural,” Tiana said, grabbing Shae’s book.

“Bitch! That book is in French! Do you read French?!” Shae laughed.

Tiana went to retort when the strange guy walked up to them. “Hi,” he said with a charming smile on his face. His eyes landed directly on Tiana.

“Hey,” Tiana said. “Can I help you?”

“Would you?” he asked helplessly. “I’m a little lost. I’m new here.”

“New school?” Tiana asked.

“New state,” he chuckled.

“Ooh, you are a tourist,” Tiana laughed.

“Ouch! I do live here now, ya know,” he chuckled.

“I’m just joking with you,” Tiana teased. “Where are you trying to go?”

“I have to meet with a Professor... Linderson? I thought his office was on this floor,” he said.

“Ohhh, Professor Linderson. He’s one of my favorite professors. His office is on this floor, but you have to go all the way down the hallway and make two lefts. It’s a little hidden, but he’s got a huge poster of Einstein on his door. Hard to miss,” Tiana advised.

“Perfect! Thanks!” he smiled. “Oh... my name is David by the way.” He held out his hand to her.

“Tiana,” she said, taking his hand.

He subtly rubbed his thumb across the top of her hand as he looked into her eyes. “Tiana... nice to meet you, Tiana...” he said, giving her a rather shy smile. Tiana looked at him curiously, noticing he was holding her hand a little longer than she expected.

“And I’m a very hungry girl who would like to have lunch with her best friend before her next class. You mind?” Shae said. Tiana gave Shae a dirty look.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” David said, quickly taking his hand back. “I’ll... see you around.” David smiled at Tiana before walking away.

“Why you so rude for?” Tiana sucked her teeth.

“Mr. Trust Fund looks like unseasoned chicken and mayo stuffed into a potato salad with raisins,” Shae scoffed.

“You’re a whole damn fool, Shae,” Tiana laughed. She eyed David walking away. “I think he’s kinda cute in a ... dorky white guy kinda way.”

“I think he’s kinda lame in a hipster gentrifier kind of way,” Shae shrugged.

“I think he’s kinda gay in a ‘he was just checking me out’ kind of way,” a voice said. Shae and Tiana looked up to see Owen approaching with a big grin on his face. He had on a pair of dark jeans and a leather blazer covering a blue V-neck sweater.

“Boy! Get the hell out! He is not gay!” Tiana said quickly. “Why do you call every man I’m remotely interested in gay?”

“Baby girl, it’s not my fault your gaydar is off,” Owen teased as he plopped down to sit next to Tiana. “That little trust fund baby was definitely checking out my ass,” Owen smirked.

“I just said that!” Shae laughed. “Same wavelength. This is why we’re friends.” Tiana rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Anyway, I’m glad you’re here. Now, I can show you both what I’ve been working on,” Shae said excitedly.

“Oh no. I’m scared...” Tiana groaned, covering her face. Shae unbuttoned her sweater and revealed a highly-festive black shirt with different cultural symbols on it. At the center was a middle finger with ’Fuck the Police’ underneath it. “Oh god, Shae, no,” Tiana groaned.

“Oh, hell yea! That’s fucking dope, Shae!” Owen said, hi-fiving her.

“Two different reactions. Tiana, you need to work on yours,” Shae smirked.

“Well, that’s cause Owen’s white ass won’t get shot. Your black behind, as light as it may be, will still get curb-stomped by the boys in blue for provoking them. I’m not tryin’ it. No, ma’am,” Tiana said, shaking her head. Shae rolled her eyes and went to make a retort before a Breaking News alert came on the large television in the campus dining hall:

’Chaos in South Merrick’s Town Hall today as political candidate George Atkinson was arrested for his involvement in a prostitution ring that ran the length of Long Island up into Flushing. The accusation comes just after Atkinson, husband of 20 years and father of 4, announced his bid for Mayor. He was soon after exposed through an information leak by the hacker group RaVage, who police say had threatened Atkinson to renounce his bid for mayor several weeks prior to his announcement of his candidacy. Although police have found the information leaked by the hacker group valid, they do not condone their illegal actions, and there is still a warrant out for their arrest.’

Owen leaned back against the chair with a smug grin as he looked at the TV screen. “What a nasty old man. Wants to be mayor but out here pimpin’ on the side. Where they do that at?” Tiana said, shaking her head.

“Gotta hand it to them. RaVage does it again,” Shae said. “They cannot be stopped.”

“Until they get caught. I’m sure the FBI, CIA, MMA, whatever the hell are all over that,” Tiana shrugged.

“This bitch said MMA. I’m undone,” Shae said, cracking up.

Owen sucked his teeth. “They’re not going to get caught. And they shouldn’t. It’s not like they’re doing anything wrong.”

“Uh... they’re criminals, Owen. Everything they do is legally wrong,” Tiana argued. “They’re playing with fire. Messing with politicians, law enforcement, celebrities-”

“Only the corrupt ones,” Shae defended. “Remember how they leaked the security cam footage of the cop that shot that homeless guy and claimed it was self-defense?”

“He still got two weeks paid leave!” Tiana blurted.

“It’s the principle,” Shae argued. “They helped expose the corruption. Hence... my shirt,” Shae said, poking her chest out proudly. Tiana could only roll her eyes.

“And it’s because of that bullshit why groups like RaVage are needed,” Owen said irritably. “If anyone needs to be ‘arrested’, it’s the sons of bitches who think they know how to run shit. Not RaVage. Imagine how much more would fly under our noses if not for them.”

Tiana looked at him surprised. “...Why are you so defensive of them?”

Owen looked at her a bit taken back. He didn’t realize he was getting so worked up. He slapped on a lazy grin and nonchalantly shrugged. “...I’m not defensive of them. I just... hate the system. That shit doesn’t work. So, I’m all for tearing it down.”

“Now, you just sound like an anarchist,” Tiana teased.

“Hey... ain’t nothing wrong with a little anarchy, baby,” Owen grinned.

“He clearly hasn’t seen The Purge,” Shae said. She got up and grabbed her bag. “It’s been fun chatting with you losers, but I have to get to class. I have an art show coming up in a few weeks. You guys are coming right?”

“Like we have the choice,” Tiana teased. Shae gave her the finger before she walked out.

“So, T-” Owen started as he grabbed her hand. But he was quickly pulled back as a bunch of women came rushing their table.

“OWEN?! OWEN EVANS?!” they screamed.

“Uh... yea?” he said, looking up at them apprehensively.

“Weren’t you at the Met Gala with Madonna and Anna Wintour?!”

Tiana slowly backed away as Owen drowned in a sea of women. Owen had a bit of an eccentric life outside of school. He studied communications and journalism and was lucky enough to get a coveted position with The New York Times. This not only allowed him to connect with several influential and famous people across the industry but also spiked his popularity among the student body. Especially the women. Tiana sighed as she walked out of the dining hall. She had gotten used to him always being snatched up away from her, especially as his articles received more recognition. But it still bugged her.

“Hey!” Owen said, grabbing her arm before she could leave the building. “Were you really just gonna leave me to those vultures?” he joked.

“Didn’t wanna get between you and your fans,” she shrugged. “Did you get any of their numbers?”

Owen gave her a sarcastic look. “How many times I gotta tell you that I’m not interested? You’re mad hardheaded, T.”

Tiana tried to hide her grin. Owen’s sexuality was a constant mystery. One minute he was into men, the next he was into women. But she had only ever seen him with other men, so she assumed he was at least bi with a preference for men. “I’m not about labels, T. Let me be me and fuck who I wanna fuck,” he would always tell her.

“We’re still on for the movies, right?” he asked, breaking her out of her thoughts.

Tiana shrugged. “I don’t know, Owen... haven’t been in the mood lately. Especially after Dante...” Tiana didn’t finish her sentence as she just stared at the floor. Owen knew she was upset. And not just by the women that kept attaching themselves to him.

“Come on. You love making fun of those indie films with me,” he smirked. “It’ll cheer you up.”

Tiana looked up at him with a smirk. “I’m holding you to it, Evans. Central Park. 7pm. DON’T BE LATE!”

“I won’t, I won’t!” he chuckled.

~*~

Tiana loved visiting Central Park in the fall. With Owen living in Washington Heights and her residing in Brooklyn, it was a modest meetup spot for both of them. “I’ll have the #8.”

“That’ll be 4.99.” She grabbed the smoothie from the man at the food cart and took a huge sip. Glancing around, she saw people jogging as the wind rippled the water just beneath the bridge. The smell of baked pretzels filled her nostrils and she immediately felt nostalgic.

A small frown came to her face as she thought about the runs she used to go on with her brother. How they would stop for soft pretzels during their breaks and Dante would make fun of her for eating food counterproductive to her workout. Especially when she would eat them with ketchup and mustard. Dante swore she was the only one who liked it like that.

She shook her head, chasing away the sad thoughts as she checked her watch. If it wasn’t for the beauty of Central Park, she’d be pissed at Owen’s incessant lateness. The A train was way more reliable than the F so she was severely confused about why she always arrived before him. She pulled out her cell phone to text him about his whereabouts:

Tiana: Dang, Owen! Where are you? It’s brick outchea. 😩😡

Owen: 😳 Shit... I’m so sorry, T. Something came up at the office. 😣 You know how my boss is. I don’t think I can make it. 🙁

Tiana: 😐😐😐 Bitch, is you serious?!

Owen: I’m so sorry, boo. 😩 I promise I’ll make it up to you. 🙏🏻

Tiana groaned as she rolled her eyes in frustration. She couldn’t believe this guy was standing her up... AGAIN. She knew his job was demanding, but if he wasn’t late he was a no-show altogether. She was getting so sick of his absence. Especially now…

She tucked her phone away and quickly turned around before she ran smack into someone’s chest. She spilled her smoothie all over herself and the other person. “Oh shit!” she panicked. “I’m so sorry!” She grabbed a bunch of napkins from her bag and started wiping down the person’s chest, feeling super embarrassed.

“It’s fine, it’s fine!” the guy chuckled. He grabbed her hand to stop her movements. She looked up, and her eyes met with possibly one of the finest men she had ever seen. He had short black hair and incredible deep blue eyes you could fall right into. And the way he filled out his smoothie-stained sweater already had her biting her lip. But the way he looked at her was concerning. His blue eyes were glued to her face and his facial expression was frozen as if he were in shock.

“Um...” she said awkwardly. “Sorry again...”

He quickly snapped out of it and tried to put on a smile. “No, it’s fine, really.” He grabbed more napkins to wipe down his chest and looked up at her again as if he were confused. She raised a concerned brow by his incessant gaze, and he realized he was staring a little too hard. “Sorry,” he said quickly. “I just... didn’t expect you to look like... this.”

Tiana looked at him offended. “Well damn, sir. I know I spilled my smoothie on you, but you didn’t have to come for my life like that!”

He immediately started laughing as he raised his hands. “Chill. I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Uh-huh...” she said. “Well, I’m sorry again. Here are more napkins. Have a nice day.” She quickly turned around and started to walk away.

“Wait!” he said, running in front of her. She stopped and looked up at him confused. He seemed to be having a conversation in his head. She was starting to wonder if he was one of those mentally unstable New Yorkers on the verge of a breakdown that ended up shanking bystanders in the middle of the sidewalk. “My name is Jason,” he said quickly.

“...okay...” she said skeptically. “Am I... supposed to know you?”

Jason turned his head, grumbling to himself as if he were trying to remember something. He quickly looked back at her. “Can I buy you another smoothie? I feel bad that I spilled this one.”

Tiana chuckled. “Technically, I spilled it. You really don’t have to.”

“I insist,” he said.

She looked up at him and smiled. She was already pissed off that Owen canceled on her. If this sexy strange specimen wanted to chat her up and buy her a drink to make her feel better, she was not going to deny him. “Well... in that case...” she said. Jason grinned and turned to the cart to order two smoothies. She couldn’t help her eyes wandering over his physique again. When he turned around, he caught her eyeing him up and smirked as he handed her the smoothie. “Thanks,” she said, quickly averting her eyes.

“So... you never told me your name,” he smiled.

“Tiana.”

“Tiana... that’s a beautiful name... matches the appearance...” he smirked. Tiana couldn’t look at him for long. His smile, his eyes, and his words were already making her melt. “Are you here alone?” he asked.

“No offense, but you kinda sound like a stalker,” she teased.

Jason chuckled. “That’s fair,” he shrugged. “You’ll have to forgive me. I don’t normally do this sort of thing... walking up to random women. But... a beauty like you with a smile like yours... couldn’t resist coming to say ‘hi’.” Tiana felt her cheeks get warm as she glanced to the side and sucked hard on the straw. This guy was too much. Jason smirked, noticing her uneasiness. “You never answered my question. Are you here alone?” he asked again.

“Actually, I was supposed to be meeting a friend, but... he bailed on me,” she shrugged.

“Oh,” Jason said, getting quiet. “Mind if I keep you company for a bit? Central Park is beautiful this time of year. And the soft pretzels are so damn good. Especially with mustard and ketchup.”

She stopped and looked at him startled. “You like pretzels with mustard and ketchup too?”

“Of course. Who doesn’t?” he smiled. Tiana raised her brows in surprise.

They walked along the length of Central Park making small conversations about movies, music, and sports. She was surprised that they had so much in common. She learned that he had a rather exciting and busy life. He was a huge sports fan and the drummer of a band. And when he wasn’t playing music, he was racing cars. “Isn’t that illegal?” she asked.

He shrugged. “The legality of anything is pretty subjective.”

“The law is not subjective, sir!” she laughed.

“The way it’s enforced would have you think otherwise,” he grinned.

“You sound like my friend Owen,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Oh god... Owen... That asshole. I can’t believe he stood me up!”

“Well, your ‘friend’ sounds like a prick. Why don’t you and I go back to my place? Would love to make you dinner and get to... know you better,” he said, eyeing her up.

Tiana raised a brow. “Know me? Or bed me?”

Jason smirked. “Why not both?”

“Ah, now I see,” she said, turning around. “You just wanna fuck me. No thanks. I need to get home.”

“Oh, come on, beauty,” he said, grabbing her hand. “We don’t have to go back to my place if it makes you uncomfortable. There’s a really good pizza shop up by 86th street on-”

“No, really. I need to go,” she said, pulling her hand away. “This was nice. Meeting you was nice, Jason. But... I need to go.”

Jason frowned when he felt his phone buzz in his pocket and pulled it out. His frown deepened when he saw what was on the screen. “Tiana, wait,” he said, grabbing her arm again. He pulled her against his chest and peered down at her. “I thought we were having a good time...” She looked up at him severely confused, wondering why he was all of a sudden getting handsy with her. He wrapped a hand around her waist as his eyes searched hers. “...Was it something I said...?” he asked.

“You mean other than you implying you just want to get between my legs?” she asked.

“I don’t just want to get between your fine legs, beauty,” he smiled. “Would you prefer I lied and say you repulse me?” he asked. “That you don’t have the most perfect plump lips I would definitely enjoy sucking on...”

Tiana felt her body temperature skyrocket as Jason’s blue eyes landed on her lips. He leaned down as if to kiss her. “Bro, this is not a lifetime movie. I don’t know you like that,” she said, putting her hand in front of his face.

Jason was completely surprised that she wasn’t giving in to him. He had never been turned down by a woman in his entire life. If they weren’t already falling for his looks, his flirtatious words always did them in. She pulled back from him as Jason quirked a curious brow. “So, you wanna be difficult with me, is that it...” he smirked at her.

She looked at him, surprised by his cocky demeanor. Gone was the romantic that bumped into her a few moments ago. “Because I won’t kiss you, I’m difficult? You think just cause you bought me a $5 smoothie you’re entitled to these lips? Boy bye,” she said, rolling her eyes. She walked away from him feeling aggravated both with him for wasting her time and with Owen for standing her up.

Jason pulled out his phone and dialed as he watched her walk off. “Hey... I misjudged... she’s gonna be a challenge...”

~*~

Tiana sat on her couch wearing pajama shorts and a tank top as she flipped through Netflix. She heard a knock at her door and stomped to the door annoyed. “It betta not be who I think it is,” she said loudly. She opened the door to meet Owen’s face which was a mix of surprise and confusion. “You dirty ass hoe,” she said, turning around and walking back to the couch.

“You’re... home!” he said both surprised and relieved.

“Course, I’m home, foo,” she said, plopping down on the couch. “You stood me up remember?”

Owen sighed with regret as he walked into the apartment and closed the door behind him. “I’m so sorry, T. Work’s got me by the balls. You know I wanted to spend time with you.”

“If you were so busy, we could have just met at your place,” she frowned.

“No, trust me. My roommate was working on some big project and fucked all of our shit up. You would have gotten lost and hurt yourself in all that clutter,” he chuckled nervously. Tiana often wondered why Owen always had an excuse not to go to his apartment. In all her time knowing him, she’d never seen his place or this so-called roommate. They only ever hung out at her apartment. But she knew better than to question it since after the first couple of times he got defensive when she mentioned it. “I brought ice cream. Rocky road with extra marshmallows. Your favorite,” he said with a cheesy smile on his face. His eyes pleading for her to forgive him.

She looked at him and rolled her eyes. “Give it here and go sit on the far end of the couch. I’m watching Jurassic Park.”

“Again?” he asked, plopping down right next to her.

She sucked her teeth. “Whatchu mean again? It’s a damn classic. I will watch it till the day I die. Oh, wait... popcorn.” She got up to go to the kitchen and came back with a huge bowl of popcorn. Owen subtly scanned the bright yellow pajama outfit she was wearing that complimented her rich dark skin, and his Adam’s apple bobbed with anxiety. He quickly covered his lap with a pillow as he scooted over. “Did you just take my spot?” she said, throwing popcorn at him.

“You warmed the seat up for me,” he teased. She shook her head and lay down on the couch, placing her head on the pillow on his lap. She turned on the movie as his fingers played in her hair.

“I’m still pissed at you, O. But... I’m glad you’re here,” she said softly, looking at the TV screen. “You didn’t have to come, but... you did… it means a lot...”

“You’re my girl, T... I know you’re going through a tough time. I’ll always be here for you,” he said.

A tear escaped her eyes as she took a deep breath. “My mom and Shae have been helping me get through this, but... I’m especially grateful for you.” Owen bit his lip as conflict danced in his eyes. He analyzed the details of her face, his gaze lingering on her lips a little too long. He nearly panicked when her dark brown eyes turned from the screen to look up at him. “I love you, Owen. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“... I love you too, T...” he smiled at her. She gave him a warm, grateful smile before she looked back at the screen. His smile quickly fell as he swallowed the guilt hardening in his throat.

~*~

Tiana had fallen asleep during the movie and woke up to find Owen was gone. She checked her phone to see an endearing text from him apologizing once again and a text from Shae saying she was working overnight. The apartment was hers for the night. But Tiana couldn’t stand being alone with her thoughts for too long. Not since Dante. She slowly got dressed and hopped on the next F train back to campus to do what she always did whenever she needed to clear her mind.

Coming out of the subway, she slapped her ID badge on the scanner before walking into the empty campus computer lab. She turned on one of the computers and logged into her student profile. She put on her headphones to listen to Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer” as she started to code.

“001101001! Come on, sis! That’s that easy shit! You know this!” Dante’s voice had become a permanent echo in her mind. Pushing her to go past her limitations and do the impossible. Her eyes scanned the screen as her fingers typed furiously at the keyboard. Tiana had one of the most brilliant minds at NYU. Computer programming was like a second language to her. Whenever her fingers touched the keyboard, it was to make a masterpiece.

“110010010,” she repeated rhythmically as she bobbed her head to the music. Suddenly, she caught movement at the corner of her eye and quickly looked up. It was nearly midnight. Unless it was finals, she was usually the only one in the computer lab at that time of night. She never felt she had anything to worry about because of security and the fact that she lived in the city that never sleeps.

When she didn’t see anything she went back to her computer screen. Then she heard the sound of a chair moving and quickly looked up. Still nothing. She pulled her earbuds out. “Hello?” When she didn’t receive a response, she got up from her chair and walked around the table. “Hello?” she called again. But again no response. She walked towards the exit to see the security guard was no longer there.

“This mothatrucka. Ain’t my tuition dollars paying his salary so he can protect my black ass?” she said, shaking her head. She turned back around and instantly froze. Her eyes opened wide to see a figure in a black hoodie and a ski mask. The figure just stood there watching her before he slowly cocked his head to the side. She immediately turned around to run when she saw another hooded figure with the same ski mask standing in front of her. She screamed at the top of her lungs.

When he went to reach for her, she kneed him in the gut before he could grab her and ran in the other direction. With him blocking her exit, she ran back into the lab towards one of the windows, but the first hooded figure got there first. A table separated them and she panicked, not knowing what to do as he jerked trying to get to her. Thinking quickly, she picked up one of the computer screens and tossed it at him, smacking him in the head.

“SHIT!” he blurted. When he fell backward groaning in pain, she sprinted for the windows again, rushing to open them and make her escape. She felt the cold chill air of the NY wind hit her as soon as she lifted the window. But before she could crawl out, she felt two strong hands firmly grip her waist and pull her back in.

She kicked and thrashed wildly, screaming for help before a piece of cloth was stuffed into her mouth. She looked up to see one of the masked men perched on top of her as he pinned her to the ground. “Stop fucking moving!” he growled at her. His voice was muffled behind the ski mask. She breathed heavily as she looked up into his chestnut brown eyes, the only thing visible behind the mask. His eyes quickly scanned her face and softened slightly when she started to calm down. But she started to wiggle on the ground again, trying to free herself.

“Tie her hands,” he ordered. The other guy walked over and crouched down behind her as he started to tie her wrists together. She looked up at the second guy to see bright blue eyes. He winked at her, and she could have sworn she had seen those eyes before. Once he was done, the brown-eyed guy moved to her feet and started tying up her ankles. Tiana panicked and tried to spit the cloth out of her mouth to scream for help again, but they had placed a tape on her mouth to keep her from doing so.

As the brown-eyed guy picked her up and tossed her over his shoulder, he pointed to the ceiling. “Get the cameras!” he ordered. The blue-eyed guy climbed like a monkey up one of the shelves and used a small device to short-circuit the camera. He did the same to another camera in another corner before they headed outside.

Tiana regretted being the dumbass who went on campus so late at night because no one else was around. NYC was full of such crazy shit that no one was phased to see her being carried away and placed into a van. This was the same city where people ran around in a Pikachu onesie, twerking to Nicki Minaj. Nothing phased New Yorkers.

She scooted back on the floor of the van as the brown-eyed guy pulled off his mask. She noticed he looked slightly like Owen. “As long as you behave, there won’t be any problems. Got it?” he said firmly. She just glared at him and mumbled behind the tape. He quickly climbed into the front of the van and started the engine. “Make sure you keep an eye on her, Jason,” the guy said.

Tiana looked on confused as the second guy pulled off his ski mask. Her eyes widened in shock. “Hello, beauty, “ Jason smirked. “So... about that dinner.”

~*~

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