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

All Rights Reserved ©

3 - Love the Way You Lie

Hacker Rule #19: Learn to lie… well.

A few days ago...

“Holy fuck! ’Blackwashing’ is not a thing! Are these people stupid?!”

“Tell him, girl.” Tiana sat on the couch with a large bowl of ice cream, scrolling through Netflix as Shae clacked furiously on her laptop with intense rage. Tiana considered Shae a keyboard warrior who took pleasure in schooling and dragging online trolls. She knew better than to interfere, so she just sat back and let her roommate rage on.

“Hollywood has gotten away with years of whitewashing characters of color! Idris Elba gets prodded to play James Bond and all of sudden the whole fucking world is ending?! This guy is so stupid: ‘Bond can’t be black because he’s English.’ BITCH! There are black people in England!” Shae growled at her screen.

“Alert the presses,” Tiana said nonchalantly.

“OH, MY GOD! Now he’s saying there is only one race! THE HUMAN RACE?! I hate this colorblind, bullshit!”

“Preach, sis.”

“Race is a social construct, yes. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t very real racist systems put in place that marginalize black and brown people from receiving the same equitable opportunities as their white counterparts! I mean this is fucking 1st-grade knowledge!” Shae blurted.

“Deadass.”

“I have to jump through fucking hoops to reach the same place as these mediocre mayosaxons!”

“Mayosaxons?”

“And at what point is Hollywood going to realize that their films need to reflect their audience?! Representation matters!”

“Facts, b.”

Shae looked at Tiana. She was staring at the screen absentmindedly as she continued to scroll. “Are you making fun of me?” Shae asked.

Tiana looked at Shae and scoffed. “Pfft. No.”

“Why do you sound like you can’t be bothered?”

“Because there’s nothing left on Netflix to watch that I haven’t already watched twice.”

Shae frowned as she put her laptop down and scooted closer to Tiana on the couch. “Tiana... maybe we should go out. Ever since your brother passed away, you’ve become a recluse,” she said.

Tiana rolled her eyes. “Shae, I’m fine. Seriously. I don’t wanna go out.”

“But, Tiana-”

“Just drop it, please,” Tiana cut her off.

Shae frowned and went to speak when she heard a knock at the door. She got up from the couch to open the door, and Owen walked in with a large cardboard roll in his hand. “Hey, boo,” she said, giving him a kiss on the cheek. “You got it?”

“Wasn’t easy,” Owen said. He popped open the top of the roll and pulled out a movie poster of Spike Lee’s movie She’s Gotta Have It. “Straight from the premiere.”

“Have I ever told you how much I love you?” Shae said, wrapping her arms tightly around Owen’s neck.

“You can always tell me again,” he smirked.

“Are you still coming with us?” Shae asked. She put the poster on the couch and grabbed her purse from the living room table.

“Well yea, I was invited. It’d be rude if I didn’t,” he shrugged as he shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned against the wall.

“I swear you’re the only white boy to get a special invite to an HBCU fraternity party. Is there anyone you’re not cool with?” Shae smirked.

“How much time you got?” he joked. He glanced at Tiana sitting on the couch still scrolling through Netflix. “T?” he said.

Tiana glanced up at him. “Have fun.”

“What do you mean ‘have fun’?” Shae asked. “You said you would come, remember? I need to meet up with a few members to discuss our next protest.”

“Shae... you can do that without me, girl,” Tiana said, looking at the TV.

Owen frowned and took a tentative step towards her until Shae barged past him and plopped down on the couch next to Tiana. “Hun... You can’t stay cooped up inside all day eating rocky road ice cream and watching reruns of In Living Color.”

“You didn’t have to come for my life like that,” Tiana said. “I’ve moved on to Girlfriends.”

“Tiana, come on,” Shae said, pulling on her arm. “You need to get out. You’ll have fun. Have a few drinks. Do a little dancing.”

“Get stormed by the police, tased, and our asses thrown in jail,” Tiana added.

Shae sighed in resignation and looked up at Owen for help. Owen walked around the table to Tiana’s side and sat down next to her. “I know you’re dealing with some heartache right now, T. But you know Shae and I got you. We’ll help you get through this. Come out with us. Have a good time,” Owen insisted.

“Is this just a really fluffy way of telling me to pop this booty?” Tiana joked.

“Basically. Owen is telling you to shake that ass,” Shae teased.

“I’m telling you to throw that ass in a circle,” Owen grinned.

“I know this boy did not!” Tiana laughed as she pinched Owen in the stomach.

“Throw that ass in a circumference?” Owen laughed. “Is that better?”

“You’re a cornball, Owen,” Tiana said, slapping him with a couch pillow.

“Out here quotin’ Lil Ronny. Let’s go before I hurt you,” Shae said, getting up from the couch.

~

Tiana leaned back against the counter of the crowded kitchen that was way too dark and way too small for the number of black people packed in like sardines. She was already regretting coming out. She hated going to parties, in general, but black parties were on a whole other level of wild. She took deep breaths, reminding herself that she was here for Shae who was standing in the corner with a group of people talking. She didn’t know how in the world they could hear each other with the loud music blaring from the speakers. Knuck if You Buck came on, and the atmosphere in the crowded room became electrified with excitement.

“Oh, hell no,” Tiana said, dodging someone’s elbow. “I am not finna die today.” Tiana ducked and maneuvered around people throwing elbows and shoulders, praying to God she would make it out alive. “Shae!” Tiana said, grabbing her arm. Shae nearly fell over from how hard Tiana grabbed her.

“You okay?” Shae asked.

“Do I look okay?! I should have known a black ass party like this one would be playing this song. I should have brought some damn armor. I almost lost an eye,” Tiana said.

Shae rolled her eyes. “You’re hella dramatic.”

“And you’re ‘hella’ lame. I’m going home,” Tiana said.

“T, come on!” Shae said, grabbing her arm. “Have a drink or something. Relax. We won’t be here for long. Come on, girl. We never go out.” Shae extended a cup to Tiana. She looked at it reluctantly before grabbing it and downing it in one shot.

“Maybe if I drink enough, I’ll forget why my life is so fucking shitty,” Tiana muttered as she walked back to the kitchen for a refill.

“Ay, what’s good, Evans.”

Owen walked up to a group of guys and gave a quick dab. “What’s up, Dion?” Owen flashed his signature smile. “Everything work out for your boys?”

“Damn straight. Thanks to you,” Dion said. “Thanks for getting the word out.”

“Course,” Owen said.

“Hey, listen,” Dion said, grabbing Owen before he could walk away. “The guys and I were talking... We’re trying to get in contact with... RaVage...” Owen’s brows narrowed as his jaw tightened. “One of my boys was in contact with the one they call Silos? He agreed to work on a job with us, but then he just disappeared. No more contact,” Dion said.

Owen rubbed the back of his neck as he deeply exhaled. “That’s... unfortunate.”

“Come on, Evans. You have the most connections out of anyone I’ve ever seen, bro. You gotta have some type of in with the group,” Dion persisted.

“I don’t know them like that, Dion.”

“But you know Silos.”

Owen sighed. “We... went back and forth a couple of times. He dropped a few hints for some of my articles.”

“So, you can reconnect us with him again?” Dion asked. “Or someone in that group.”

“This ain’t some pro bono shit, Dion. They expect compensation for their work,” Owen said.

“We know. We got it. Just come on. If you have the connects, hook us up. We were working on something really important before he just fell off the face of the earth,” Dion said anxiously. Owen twisted his mouth as he tried to think. He heard shouting in beat to the music and looked over his shoulder to see Tiana with a red solo cup in her hand as she twerked on a guy who had his hands on her hips. Owen’s jaw tightened in anger. “So, Evans, we good or-” Dion started.

“Yea, yea. I’ll get back to you. You know my number,” Owen said, heading straight for Tiana. Tiana had her tongue hanging out of her mouth as she grind her ass on the guy behind her. Owen grabbed her by her arm, roughly pulling her to the side.

“Ayy, what’s good witchu, b?!” the guy said angrily. “Go get your own damn pussy.”

“Fuck off!” Owen snapped as he pushed Tiana away.

“Whoa, get off of me, O, damn!” Tiana said, shrugging Owen’s hand off of her.

“Tiana,” Owen said firmly. “Just how much did you fucking drink?!”

Tiana leaned over and looked him in the eye. “Knock knock.”

Owen scrunched his face up in irritation. “Tiana.”

“I said ‘knock knock’, mothafucka!”

Owen sighed. “Who’s there?”

“None ya.”

Owen looked at her sarcastically. “Tiana... I’m not-”

“You’re supposed to say ‘none ya who?’“ she interrupted.

Owen deeply exhaled. “...None... ya... wh-”

“NONE YA BUSINESS, HOE!” She immediately burst out laughing and nearly fell over before Owen grabbed her by her waist.

“Dammit, T...” Owen groaned as he pulled her back up. He looked around the crowded room before he saw Shae still talking. “Shae!” he shouted. Shae looked over to see Owen waving her over. She spotted Tiana and immediately ran over. “I thought you were watching her,” Owen snapped.

“I was, but I got caught up talking and... damn, girl,” Shae said, looking at Tiana.

“Ayyyy, what up bae,” Tiana said, twerking her ass on Shae. “Shake, shake, shake that ass girl. Ayy! Ayy! Now watch me work!”

Owen looked disdainfully at Shae who smiled at him sheepishly. “I mean technically we did tell her to shake that ass,” Shae said meekly. Her phone went off and the minute she answered a frantic voice could be heard on the other end. “Ah... yea no... Ms. Morris... Ms. Morris, no I... no Tiana’s fine I promise... I-... okay... yes ma’am... no ma’am..... yes ma’am... okay...” Shae covered the phone and looked at Owen. “She drunk dialed her mother, and apparently went on some rant about Dante’s ghost haunting her...”

“Jeezus...” Owen groaned. “Let’s go. We’re taking her home.” Owen pulled a twerking Tiana off of Shae.

“What’s good, Evans? You can get this work too, boy!” Tiana laughed.

“Tiana, calm your ass down,” Owen said, walking her outside.

~

Tiana stumbled into her apartment and nearly fell face-first before Owen caught her. “I’m telling you guys, I saw him! I saw Dante! He was like ‘baby sis, you done played Beyonce’s soundtrack like five times now! It’s done!’ and I was like ‘Nah, bruh. Queen Bee ain’t never done.’ See, that’s where Dante and I never saw eye to eye. He just couldn’t appreciate that good-good from the goddess herself. I really don’t understand how we were even related if I’m being honest. If I’m being real. If I’m being frank. If I’m-”

“Damn. I forgot this girl does not shut up when she’s drunk,” Shae laughed as she tried to pull off Tiana’s jacket.

“Don’t be tellin’ me to shut up,” Tiana said. “Y’all wanted me to go have fun, and instead I just drank until I couldn’t see Dante’s face anymore. Little did I know that face would start talking the more I drank. So, thanks for that. And y’all call yourselves friends. You know what, I’m think-”

“Tiana! We get it!” Owen said. “Stop talking before you-” But before Owen could finish, Tiana jerked as she threw up all over her shirt and on the floor. “-throw up...” Owen sighed.

“Well, this is... I’ll get the wipes,” Shae said, walking to the kitchen.

Owen escorted Tiana to their tiny bathroom. He sat her down on the toilet lid and crouched down in front of her. “I’m done talking,” Tiana said. “I’m mortified. This is disgusting. This is-”

“You’re still talking, T,” Owen grinned.

Tiana immediately shut up as Owen lifted her arms in the air, pulling her soiled shirt up over her head. Sitting in her jeans and bra, Tiana leaned her head against the wall and watched as Owen grabbed a towel to run under the faucet. He ran the damp towel down her neck and over her chest, wiping the vomit from between her cleavage.

Owen had seen Tiana in her underwear many times. While she thought nothing of her best friend seeing her in her bra, Owen battled the sensation that tightened his jeans. His eyes roamed over her dark mocha skin, his hand lingering on the swell of her breast.

“I thought I could forget him,” Tiana said, breaking Owen out of his trance. She stared at a spot on the floor, looking downcast. “For just a moment. I wanted to numb the pain. But it only made it worse...” Owen felt his chest tighten as he wiped the corners of her mouth. His touch lingered on her bottom lip. Tiana’s eyes darted from the floor to his bright blue irises probing her. His gaze seemed serious. Apologetic. Almost... wanting. She hesitated for just a moment before cracking a grin. “If your pretty ass wasn’t gay, I’d interpret that look a little differently, Evans,” she teased.

Owen cracked a grin. “Your weak ass is the one that got fucking drunk, Morris. Twerkin’ on dudes who planned on taking you home to make you practice that move with your clothes off.”

Tiana’s eyes widened before she burst out laughing. “ARE YOU TELLING ME I GOT WHITE-GIRL WASTED?!”

“Worse,” Shae said, walking into the bathroom. “You got shit-faced, boo. Drunk dialed ya mama and everything. I had to calm her ass down and convince her you didn’t kill yourself.”

“Oh shit!” Tiana said. “I think I’m gonna throw up again.” Owen quickly grabbed the garbage bucket as Tiana threw up into it. “I hate myself...” Tiana groaned. “I hate throwing up.”

“Better to throw up from being drunk than being pregnant,” Shae teased.

“Bitch! But who am I fucking?” Tiana said, wiping her mouth. “Noboooody,” she sang as Shae burst into laughter.

“Shae, go get her some water. I’ll bring her to her room,” Owen instructed. Shae walked back out of the bathroom as Owen helped Tiana to her feet.

“You a real one, O. I love you, bro,” Tiana said as Owen finished wiping her down.

“You’re just saying that cause you’re drunk,” he smirked.

“True. Cause Lord knows I can’t stand your ass,” she grinned.

Owen escorted her to her bedroom and lay her down as Shae walked in and handed her a large cup of water. “I’m gonna go finish cleaning up. Let me know if you need anything,” Shae said, kissing Tiana’s forehead before walking out. Owen waited for Shae to walk out when he noticed Tiana struggling to pull off her jeans.

“Owennnn. Heeeellllp,” Tiana whined.

“Seriously, T?” he said sarcastically.

“Don’t judge me, hoe!” she snapped before she fell back against the bed in frustration. “Damn. I’m so useless when I’m drunk... and tired... I just wanna sleep.” She closed her eyes and groaned in frustration. “Maybe I should just sleep like this.”

Owen chuckled as he walked to the edge of the bed. He hesitated for a moment before he crouched down in front of her. He placed his hands on the clasp of her jeans, unbuttoning them. Moving his hands to her hips, he hooked his fingers into her jeans and slowly pulled them down off of her. Little by little more of her thick dark brown thighs exposed as he tugged her jeans from under her ass and down her legs.

Her jeans stopped above her knees before he found himself entranced by the polka-dotted panties teasing him. He swallowed hard as a battle raged in his mind. Before he could think twice he found himself looming over her sex. He pushed his nose against the fabric, feeling her nub through her panties as he inhaled her scent. She let out a soft moan that stirred him as she nestled further into the bed. He pushed his nose harder against her as his hands crept to the waistband of her panties, gently trying to pull them down. His desire intensified as his mind tried to beat out control over his body.

He immediately shook his head as he reluctantly removed his nose, slowly dragging his lips against her. “Come on, Owen, what the fuck, asshole? She’s drunk,” he whispered angrily to himself as he looked at her nearly half asleep. He cursed himself as he quickly stood to his feet. He pulled the sheet over her half-naked body before kissing her temple. He went to walk away when she quickly grabbed his hand.

“Stay with me?” she asked sleepily. “I don’t wanna be alone right now.” Owen hesitated for a moment before he kicked off his sneakers and crawled into bed next to her. He carefully wrapped his arms around her until she fell asleep on his chest.

~*~

Present day...

Owen couldn’t believe it took a mere few hours for Tiana to go from wanting and depending on him for comfort to hating his guts. He didn’t think the situation could get any worse. “You seriously need to get the fuck over it, Owen. This is where we are right now. Suck it up and deal with it,” Tyler said flippantly.

“We wouldn’t be in this situation right now if you idiots had listened to me. This wasn’t supposed to happen! I told you morons to fucking wait,” Owen growled.

“We tried to reach you...” Tyler shrugged.

“I was with a client! I told you this!” Owen snapped.

Tiana sat on the hardwood floor with her hands tied behind her back and her ankles roped together. She was in a different room than where they last held her. It was smaller. Fewer doors, fewer windows. Her throat was raw and sore from screaming at Owen and telling him what a ‘callous backstabbing little bitch’ he was.

Glancing to the side, she could see from the corner of her eye Owen and the boy he called Tyler standing in one of the corridors a few feet away from her. They looked to be having a heated discussion. She had never seen Owen so frantic before. She looked up at Jason leaning back in a tilted chair with a pair of drumsticks in his hands that he twirled absentmindedly. He had a smug smirk, and his eyes were glued to her face. He had become beyond irritating. She was still pissed the hell off that he dragged her ass to the room and tied her up like a damn turkey. “Is there a reason why you’re looking at me like that?” she snapped angrily.

Jason smirked. “Yea... I like what I see...” he grinned.

Tiana rolled her eyes in disgust. “Creep...” she muttered.

Jason laughed as he tossed the drumstick in the air before catching it again. “You weren’t saying that when you were eye-fucking me at Central Park,” he teased.

Tiana immediately felt her cheeks warm over, feeling caught out. “That’s because I didn’t know you were a freaking psychopath!” she snapped at him.

“Psychopathy is an abused term whose true definition has been undermined by its haphazard use. Aren’t you supposed to be some sort of genius? You can think of better insults than that, beautiful,” he smirked at her.

She looked at him blankly, feeling caught off guard by his response. “Oh, fuck you!” she blurted.

“Please do,” he grinned.

“Jason!”

Jason tipped back in his chair and glanced to the side to see Tyler waving him over. “I thought you told me to watch her,” Jason said.

“Just get the fuck over here,” Tyler said annoyed. Jason rolled his eyes as he got up from the chair and walked over to Tyler and Owen. Tiana tried to hear them, but they were too far away for her to catch anything. “Owen wants to set her loose,” Tyler said aggravated.

“‘Set her loose?!’ She’s not a fucking animal, Ty!” Owen snapped.

Tyler rolled his eyes, ignoring Owen as he looked at Jason. “I told him it’s a bad idea considering she already tried to run away.”

“It’s fine with me. I like the cat and mouse game,” Jason smirked as he glanced back at Tiana.

“Shut the hell up,” Owen said. “You motherfuckers weren’t supposed to kidnap her. That was supposed to be our last resort.”

“And I already told you that Jason fucked that shit up. Hence, why we’re here now,” Tyler said exasperated.

Owen glared at Jason who raised his hands in defense and laughed. “Don’t look at me like that. You should have told us she was hot. I wasn’t prepared for... that,” Jason said, looking at Tiana.

“You had one fucking job!” Owen said. “How the hell did you manage to screw it up so badly?”

“Do you really want me to go into detail?” Jason joked.

“He screwed up by getting cocky,” Tyler said, shaking his head. “Not every chick wants to fuck you, Jason.”

“Bullshit,” Jason quipped.

“Were you subtle like I advised or did you turn into a horn dog prick like I told you not to do?” Owen asked.

“Subtle?” Tyler scoffed. “This is the same guy who blew up a client’s Mercedes for not paying on time.”

“You said to leave a message that sticks... Pretty sure that’s gonna stick with him for a long ass time,” Jason snickered.

“The point is!” Owen said, cutting them off. “You did the exact opposite of what I told you to do, making my job significantly more difficult. She’s going to be completely resistant.”

Jason smirked as he folded his hands behind his head and leaned back against the wall. “Then what the hell do you wanna do, Owen?” Jason asked.

Owen anxiously rubbed the back of his neck as he glanced in Tiana’s direction. “We can’t keep her tied up.”

“Well, we’re not letting her go either. There’s too much at risk,” Tyler said.

“Ty, she’s my best friend,” Owen said. “I’m not gonna leave her tied up like a damn animal.”

“And if she tries to run again?” Tyler asked, folding his arms across his chest.

“Just... just let me talk to her,” Owen said. “I can make her understand.”

“You sure she’s even going to listen to anything you have to say?” Tyler asked with a quirked brow. “She’s fucking pissed at you.”

“I know her. I know how to get her to talk to me,” Owen said, walking towards Tiana. Tiana looked up at Owen as he approached and her face tightened with anger. He looked back at her remorsefully as he hesitated to speak. “T...” he started.

“Eat shit, Owen!” she snapped at him. Jason tried to stifle his laugh as Tyler only shook his head.

Owen sighed as he knelt on the floor in front of her. He went to reach for her, but she quickly scrambled back away from him. “Tiana...” he frowned. “You know I would never hurt you. I don’t want you tied up like this... but I can’t let you go either.”

“Why?!” she shouted at him. “Why the hell would you set me up like this?! You’re supposed to be my best friend, Owen! I trusted you! This is the whitest shit you’ve ever done!”

“Damn,” Jason cackled.

“I want to explain to you... but I need you to trust me first, T,” Owen tried to reason.

Tiana laughed mockingly. “Are you fucking kidding me?! TRUST YOU?! Bruh!”

“Tiana, I’m serious,” Owen said firmly. “I need you to work with me here.”

Tiana closed her mouth and just stared daggers at him. She couldn’t believe he would have the audacity to ask such a thing of her after what he did to her. Owen looked into her eyes, trying to see some sort of acknowledgment of him as a friend. He cautiously moved behind her and gently untied the ropes around her wrists. He waited for her to try to run and was both surprised and relieved when she didn’t. He then moved back in front of her and started untying her ankles. He noticed one of them was slightly swollen. “I should get some ice for this ankle-” he started speaking. But as soon as he loosened the ropes she immediately jumped on top of him with her hands around his neck.

Tiana didn’t know if she was trying to kill Owen or not. She just knew she was angry as hell and he was the reason for it. She hated that his neck was so damn thick as she could barely get her hands fully around it. “Ti.a.na!” Owen choked out as he tried to pull her hands off of him. She straddled him between her thighs, trying to choke him out. The pain in her ankle didn’t even register. There was an angry grimace on her face showing all teeth as she squeezed tight.

Tyler quickly ran up to them and grabbed her by the waist, hauling her off of Owen. “GET OFF OF ME! GET OFF ME!” she screamed, kicking her legs furiously.

“Goddamn it!” Tyler said angrily. He grabbed both of her wrists with one hand and held them behind her as he flushed her body against his. “Calm the fuck down!” Tyler shouted at her. “We’re not going to hurt you!”

“BULLSHIT!” she screamed as she thrashed wildly, trying to wiggle out of his grasp. She threw her head back hitting him in the face until he let go. She ran as fast as she could towards the door but it was locked. “OH MY GOD!” she screamed angrily. She frantically ran in the other direction but didn’t have a moment to process what to do next before Jason tackled her to the ground again. He sat on top of her pinning her to the floor as he held her hands above her head. “Ugh!” she groaned, struggling underneath him.

“Mmm... now, this is a fun position,” Jason smirked.

“Hold her!” Tyler ordered. He grabbed the rope and tied her ankles together again. She watched Owen with eyes full of hate as he reluctantly walked behind her. Jason pulled her up to face him as she glared at him with a snarl on her face.

“She’s practically snarling at me, and she’s still hot as hell,” Jason teased.

“Choke on a dick,” she spat. Jason threw his head back laughing.

Owen gently grabbed her arms, pulling them behind her back and sighed with frustration as he tied the rope around her wrists again. “Dammit, T...” he groaned annoyed.

“She tried to kill you, bro,” Jason laughed as he stood up. “She almost sent your ass to the grave.”

“Shut the hell up, Jason,” Owen said, standing up. “Both of you get the fuck out. I need to talk to her.”

“What?” Jason said surprised.

“Did you forget the part where she almost beat your ass?” Tyler said.

“She’s not going anywhere! Just get the fuck out, dammit!” Owen yelled at them. Jason shrugged in surrender. He winked at Tiana before walking out. Tyler stalked up to Owen and grabbed him by the shoulder.

“What the hell are you doing, Owen?” Tyler asked annoyed. “You know you get emotional about this shit. You’re too attached to her. You’re gonna fuck everything up.”

“I know what I’m doing, Ty. Just... I need to explain to her...” Owen sighed.

Tyler glanced at Tiana and twisted his mouth in frustration. “Fine,” he sighed. He walked out and closed the door behind him. Owen rubbed the back of his neck as he paced in front of Tiana. She just stared at the floor, trembling with anger.

“... He... he looks like... you...” she muttered.

Owen stopped pacing and looked at her. “... He’s... my brother.”

Tiana looked up at him with wide eyes. “What?! You have a fucking brother?! You never told me that shit! You said you were an only child! What are you gonna tell me next, that you’re straight and you have a raggedy-ass baby mama and two kids named Kenny and Lana in bumfuck Alabama?!”

“Why was that so specific, T?” Owen asked, looking at her confused.

Tiana muttered as she looked down. “Shut up, Owen.”

Owen sighed as he walked to a small refrigerator in the corner of the room and grabbed an ice pack. He headed back in her direction and crouched down in front of her. Tiana watched him cautiously as he gently pressed the ice to her swollen ankle. “Tiana...” he started.

“I can’t believe you would do this shit to me. That you would lie to me like this. We’ve been friends for years and you out here pullin’ a Peter Pettigrew.”

Owen deeply exhaled as he sat down in front of her with his legs folded beneath him. He held the ice pack to her ankle. “Get it out of your system,” he said.

“You’re a bitch!” she snapped.

“And?”

“And a damn liar!”

“Go on...”

“I fucking hate you,” she seethed.

“No, you don’t,” he said.

“Yes, the fuck I do! Don’t you tell me how I do and do not feel!”

“Are you done?”

She went to curse him out some more but saw the relaxed look in his eyes that only made her angrier. She was way too tired to continue. “I hate when you do that shit,” she muttered as she averted her gaze.

Owen swallowed hard as he stared at her. “I never meant to betray you, T... I promise you that’s not what this is. I care about you more than you know.” She kept her head turned as she refused to look at him. “T, look at me,” he pleaded. She turned her head slightly and it completely broke his heart to see tears in her eyes. “Fuck,” he groaned, rubbing his palm over his face. “Tiana... please don’t...”

“Why did you do this, Owen?” she asked sincerely. “Why would you do this to me?”

He dropped his hand and looked into her eyes. “Before I tell you that... I need to tell you the truth about your brother’s death...”

~*~

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