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

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30 - Looking for Affection in All the Wrong Places

“Oh come on, Miles, what the hell?! You are totally cheating!” Tiana said, shoving him with her shoulder. She sat on the living room floor next to him playing video games.

“You can’t cheat in Call of Duty,” Miles laughed. “Maybe if you didn’t suck so fucking bad.”

“Rude ass!” Tiana said, trying to block him.

“We’re on the same team!” Miles blurted.

“Then why did you shoot me?!”

“That wasn’t me!”

“LIES!”

“Play nice, you two,” David said from the couch.

“They’re so fucking embarrassing,” Owen smirked as he shook his head. “But I’d rather see her like this than...”

David looked at Owen sitting next to him on the couch. “Her mom hasn’t gotten any better... has she...”

Owen shook his head with a sigh. “Only worse... She’s trying to hold herself together. But..”

David frowned as he looked at Tiana. He loved that she and Owen continued to visit him even after he was fully healed. But he couldn’t deny how difficult it was to see her depression grow as her mother’s health depleted.

“Shit!”

David looked at Owen. “What?”

“I’ve been trying to fix this program for my company for like a week now. But this damn firewall...”

“I CAN FIX IT!” Tiana said, jumping up. She plopped herself on the couch between Owen and David and grabbed Owen’s tablet. “Firewalls are my specialty,” she said.

“Tiana,” Owen started as she tapped at his tablet. “I didn’t say-”

“Done,” she said, handing it to him.

“Show off,” Owen smirked. “Come here.”

She grinned and leaned towards him as they briefly kissed. David awkwardly cleared his throat and Tiana quickly pulled away from Owen. “Sorry,” she said, flushing over. “Oh! David, I brought some ice cream.”

“And you’re just now telling us?!” Miles blurted with disappointment.

Tiana rolled her eyes as Owen and David chuckled. “I’ll be right back,” she said. She got up and headed to the kitchen.

Owen watched her ass as her hips switched all the way to the kitchen. He glanced at David to see him staring as well before he quickly looked away. “How’s the new promotion going?” David asked quickly.

“Pretty good,” Owen said. “I have a team reporting to me now. So that’s cool. More autonomy in the kind of stories I can write.”

“That’s awesome,” David said. “Yeah, I read your piece on the disease outbreak. Some heavy stuff.”

“I just don’t think the CDC is being honest about what’s really going on,” Owen said. “I mean you know how these pharmaceutical companies are. They pretend they’re working on a treatment, when really they’re just milking dying patients for every last damn penny. It’s fucking bullshit. They need to be exposed.”

David smiled. “You’re doing some intense good work. It’s really admirable.”

“Yea, well, you’re the only one who seems to think so,” Owen sighed. “The NYT building has been vandalized a few times and our paper received a few lawsuit threats because of my articles.”

“That just proves you’re doing the right thing,” David said. “You’ve got them scared. Good. Someone needs to hold them accountable. If that last piece you did on Big Pharma you wrote doesn’t turn something up, nothing will.”

Owen looked at David surprised as a pert smile came to his face. “I didn’t think you were into my work like that...”

A red flush came to David’s cheeks as he looked down. “I just... like when I see people who are just as passionate about saving this world. Most people are all talk, but you...” David bit his lip slightly as he looked at Owen. Owen swallowed a bit as he stared into David’s hazel-green eyes.

“Ice cream!” Tiana said, walking back into the living room carrying a tray. David and Owen quickly looked up at her and put some distance between them.

“Bout time,” Miles said, reaching up.

“Chocolate fudge or vanilla bean?” she asked.

“Both,” Miles said, grabbing two bowls.

Tiana rolled her eyes and approached David and Owen. “Sorry, that took so long. Needed to find your damn bowls. Chocolate fudge or vanilla bean?” she asked.

“Chocolate,” David and Owen said at the same time.

Tiana smirked as she set the tray down on the table and grabbed two bowls of chocolate fudge ice cream to hand to them. She sat down on Owen’s lap and picked up her laptop. “I was going through one of Dante’s files and found a few containing medical records of my mom,” she said, scrolling through the laptop.

“T, I thought we said you’d stop obsessing over that drive,” Owen said.

“I’m not obsessing,” she said quickly. “Not even her current doctors would give me this kind of information. If they can’t help her then maybe I can.”

Owen and David exchanged concerned looks. “Tiana... you’re not a doctor...” Owen said.

“I know that, Owen,” she said annoyed. “But it’s all science in the end, right David?” David looked at her and furrowed his brow. “You work in the medical field. You’re practically a doctor,” she said.

“Tiana, that’s-” David started.

“And we both aced our class. I passed all my chem classes with flying colors. It’s... it’s not that different if I can just like.. focus a little more and figure out a pattern. I mean it’s all about patterns, here, see?” she insisted.

David looked at where she was pointing and nodded. “Yes, there’s a pattern, but-”

“So if there’s a pattern, there’s a puzzle. And if it’s a puzzle, then I can figure it out,” she said. “...before it’s too late...”

Owen looked at David before he exhaled and kissed Tiana’s neck. Her desperation to try to figure out how to cure her mother’s illness deeply disturbed them both. “I’ll help you,” David spoke up. “We can work on it together, and... see what we come up with. Okay?”

Tiana gave David a relieved smile. “Thank you.”

~

It had gotten pretty dark when Owen realized they had overstayed their welcome at Miles’ and David’s place. Though they had become more tolerant, Jason and Tyler would not be happy about Owen keeping her away from them for so long.

“The fortune you seek is in another cookie,” Miles said flatly. Owen, David, and Tiana burst out laughing as they sat on the floor surrounded by a bunch of Chinese food containers. “What a bullshit fortune,” Miles muttered.

“Okay, wait! Read mine! Read mine!” Tiana laughed as she gave David her fortune cookie. David grinned as Tiana scooted back into Owen’s lap on the floor and wrapped Owen’s arms around her waist.

“A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking,” David said, reading her fortune.

“How perfect is that?!” Tiana blurted as she glanced back at Owen. “Proof! That I can’t give up on my mom!” Owen gave her a rather sad smile as he comfortingly squeezed her waist. “Read Owen’s,” she said, giving David Owen’s fortune cookie.

David opened the fortune. “Do not mistake temptation for opportunity.”

“That’s weird,” Tiana laughed.

David’s eyes flickered up at Owen who was looking back at him as well. Owen quickly cleared his throat and pulled Tiana back closer against his chest as he kissed her neck. “Yea, well, these things tend to make no sense,” David chuckled as he looked away from Owen.

“What does yours say?” Tiana asked.

“Hmm...” David said, opening his. “A cynic is only a frustrated optimist.”

“Can relate,” Tiana said, munching. “Though I wouldn’t call myself a cynic.”

“Depends on the context,” Owen grinned as he pinched her waist.

“Owen!” she giggled. He grabbed her chin and turned her head until his lips covered hers. They passionately kissed for a moment before Tiana pulled away from him. “You’re so affectionate right now,” she chuckled.

“Just horny, baby...” he whispered in her ear. “We should get out of here. Before we piss off the guys.”

Tiana turned to David and Miles who looked to be having a conversation with their eyes before she spoke up. “I think we need to head out,” she said.

“Oh sure,” David said. “You guys wanna take some leftovers home with you? Miles can’t eat all this by himself.”

“Sounds like a challenge,” Miles grinned.

“Maybe just some of the rice,” Tiana smiled.

“Sure, let me get a container,” David said, getting up.

“I gotta whiz,” Miles said. He stretched before he headed to the bathroom.

Tiana turned around in Owen’s lap and grabbed his shirt as she pushed her lips against his. He wrapped a hand around her waist and pushed his erection into her backside. “Thank you for always being so supportive of me, Owen,” she said against his lips. “I haven’t been this happy in a while.”

Owen pulled back and smiled warmly at her as he gently stroked her cheek. “I’ll always support you, baby.”

“Hey, Owen?”

Tiana and Owen looked up and saw David standing outside of the kitchen. “You mind helping me with these containers? I wanna make sure I’m giving you guys a fair portion.”

“Uh… sure,” Owen said. Tiana crawled off of him as he stood to his feet.

“You don’t mind if I steal him for a sec, do you, Tiana?” David asked.

“Not at all. Steal away,” she chuckled.

Owen followed David into the kitchen and eyed the open boxes of Chinese food sitting next to several empty containers. “Shit, we really do have a lot of leftovers,” Owen said.

David chuckled as he grabbed an empty container and started piling in some food. “Next time, we’re not letting Tiana or Miles order,” he noted.

“Seriously,” Owen laughed. “Their eyes are bigger than their stomachs.”

David snickered before a brief silence fell. He tried to focus on closing an overstuffed container. “It’s... nice to see her so happy again,” he said.

Owen sighed. “Yea, seriously. These last few weeks have been really rough. It hasn’t been that easy trying to keep her in good spirits with her mom literally dying in the hospital. So, to see her smiling and laughing like this, it-”

“It’s addictive,” David finished.

Owen glanced at David and smiled. “Yea…”

The two of them shared a look before Owen quickly averted his eyes. “She’s… happier when she’s surrounded by people she cares about and who care about her,” Owen said, watching David try to close the container.

“It’s not hard to care about her. She’s just… really special,” David said, still struggling.

Owen quickly grabbed the container from him. “Here.” He separated some of the food into a different container before closing the first one shut.

“Thanks,” David said sheepishly. “I did a poor job of eyeballing that.”

“You were just distracted,” Owen shrugged. He noticed the way David was looking at his lips.

David’s gaze switched from Owen’s lips to his light blue eyes. “Tiana tends to do that…”

“Be distracting?” Owen asked, watching David move in closer.

“Very…” David breathed out before he pressed his lips against Owen’s. For a moment, they stood frozen in time as their lips became one. Owen felt David’s tongue flick against his lips, begging for entrance before he quickly pushed him back.

“What are you doing?” Owen asked him, startled.

David blinked at him as if he himself didn’t comprehend what he did. “Sorry, I-... that was impulsive.”

Owen swallowed hard as he cleared his throat. “David, I’m-... I’m with Tiana.”

“I know, I know. Like I said, it was impulsive. It was nothing. Just forget it,” David said, quickly turning his back on Owen.

Owen stared at David’s back for a few seconds, wanting to prod him further until he heard Tiana call him. “Owen! Jason just sent me a text, and it’s a really unhappy one,” she yelled.

Owen groaned as he rubbed the back of his neck. David turned his head slightly and met Owen’s gaze. “We have to go,” Owen said.

“I know,” David said quickly.

“Let’s… we’ll just pretend this never happened. Okay?” Owen insisted.

David tried to smile but the line of his lips was more straight than curved. “Yea, of course.”

Owen’s gaze lingered on David for a mere few seconds, still trying to figure out what was going. He quickly grabbed the containers and walked out of the kitchen. Tiana looked up and saw Owen approach her with a few boxes of food. “There you are,” she beamed. “I thought you-” she started. But Owen placed the boxes of food on the floor and swept her into his arms before she could finish her sentence. His lips swallowed whatever words she had intended to get out. “Mmm… damn, Daddy, did you miss me?” she teased.

“I missed that pussy,” he grinned against her lips. “Daddy’s hungry. Let’s go.”

“Wait, Owen?” she breathed against his lips.

“Mmm?”

“I think...David and Miles should meet the guys.”

Owen quickly pulled back and looked at Tiana like she was crazy. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, baby,” he said. “They may be okay with you visiting every so often, but I think this is pushing it.”

“I don’t think so,” she said. “David and Miles are a part of my life now. Our lives. They should know each other. Plus, we’re graduating soon. Maybe if we did like... some sort of fun celebration, that might make their meeting more... fun?”

“Tiana,” Owen shook his head.

“Please, baby?” she said, rubbing her lips against his. “This would mean so much to me. I don’t want the people I care about to be so... distant.”

Owen deeply exhaled as he looked at her big brown puppy eyes. “...alright...”

“Yes!” she squealed as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

“What are we celebrating?” David asked, walking back into the living room.

Tiana turned to David with a huge smile on her face. “David, I think you and Miles should meet the rest of my family.”

David looked from Owen to Tiana with confusion plastered on his face. “But I thought-”

“Well, not that family. My chosen family,” she clarified. “What do you say?”

~*~

“Hell fucking no!”

Tiana cringed as Tyler slammed the basement door, locking her inside with him, Jason and Owen. She looked at Owen who gave a deep sigh as he sat at the edge of the table. “Have you two seriously lost your damn minds?!” Tyler snapped at them.

“It wasn’t Owen’s idea. Don’t yell at him,” Tiana said quickly.

“Okay. Have you lost your damn mind?!” Tyler said, getting in her face.

“Bitch, don’t yell at me!” she squeaked as she wrapped her arms around Tyler’s torso and hugged her face to his chest.

Tyler groaned in frustration as he looked at Owen who could barely contain the smirk on his face. “You can’t use your damn puppy eyes every time you wanna get your way, Tiana,” he said annoyed.

“Baby, hold me,” she moaned, tightening her embrace around him as her face nuzzled his chest.

“Dammit, Tiana,” Tyler muttered. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed the top of her head.

Jason immediately burst out laughing as he clapped his hands. “And just like that, she’s neutered the vicious rottweiler,” Jason laughed. “Damn, she’s good.”

“I never said I agreed,” Tyler said firmly.

“But Tyler,” she said, looking up at him.

“No,” Tyler said, letting her go. “It was hard enough watching you leave to see this guy all the damn time.”

“Who fucked you, by the way,” Jason said. “Our girl.”

“Exactly! Who fucked you! And now you want us to meet with him like we’re some big happy family?!” Tyler said bewildered.

“But, Tyler-” she groaned.

“And we won’t be expanding this family anytime soon unless it’s from your pussy,” Jason said.

“Jason!” Tiana blurted as Jason burst out laughing as if he had told some great joke. “You guys are being so ridiculous,” she said. “David and Miles are actually really sweet. Well... Miles is a little weird, but he’s still a nice guy. And I think you guys would really like them. Owen does.”

Jason and Tyler looked at Owen who looked back at them rather startled as they waited for his answer. “I mean yea,” Owen said, standing straight. “They’re good guys.”

“Bullshit,” Jason said. “Maybe you should just cut back on how often you’re seeing him.”

“Jason, that’s like the exact opposite of what I want,” Tiana said. “Come on, guys. We’re graduating from university soon and that’s a really big deal for me.” They looked at her as she looked down at the floor. “Dante promised he’d be there in the front row... now, I’m not even sure my mom...” Tiana swallowed hard. She found it difficult to finish her thought.

Owen gave Tyler and Jason an obvious look, and they both groaned. “Is this really necessary, baby girl?” Jason asked, reluctantly.

Tiana looked at Jason and walked up to him as she placed her palms on his chest. She stood on her toes and pressed her lips against his. His hands instinctively palmed her ass, and Owen couldn’t help but smirk at how good she had gotten at playing on their weaknesses. “It would mean so much to me, Daddy...” she said softly.

“Fuck,” Jason groaned annoyed. “Fine...”

Tiana let out a squeal and slipped her tongue into Jason’s mouth, fiercely kissing him. She left him wanting more as she ran to Tyler and gave him an equally passionate kiss. Tyler moaned into her mouth and just barely squeezed her backside before she was flying out of his arms. “Thank you guys! You’re the best! I promise you won’t regret this! It will be so much fun!” she said, running up the stairs.

“What the hell just happened?” Jason blinked.

“She played you both is what happened,” Owen grinned. “And you marshmallows said I was soft.”

~*~

“I haven’t been to an amusement park since I was like… 12...” Anna said, looking around the overly crowded park.

“Well then, you’re way past due,” Shae grinned. She grabbed Anna’s hand and led her and Joey to the ticket booth.

Jason, Darren, and Tyler stood near a mobile candy bar talking as they waited for Owen and Tiana to arrive with their unwanted guests. Tiana thought the best way for everyone to get to know each other was while screaming on a roller coaster several stories from the ground. “I think I’m gonna punch him,” Jason said with his hands sitting in his pockets.

“You’re not gonna punch him. Relax,” Tyler said calmly, searching the crowd.

“Ty... he fucked our girl. It’s like a reflex to punch he who violates thine pussy,” Jason said.

Tyler shook his head with a smirk. His brows instinctively narrowed when he saw Tiana and Owen with two guys walking behind them. Tyler’s jaw tensed when he saw the way Tiana stuffed a piece of cotton candy into David’s mouth as the two of them giggled.

“Yea, I’m gonna punch him,” Tyler said.

“Where’s my bat,” Jason said, looking around.

“You guys said, ‘no violence’,” Darren warned.

“When did we say that?” Jason asked. “Those lying words would never come out of my mouth.”

“In the car when Tiana Facetimed you and made you promise to behave,” Darren said.

“Okay, nobody asked you, Darren,” Tyler said annoyed. “Whose side are you on?!”

“But, you just-” Darren started.

“Hi guys!” Tiana said, finally walking up to them. Tyler and Jason looked at David and Miles stiffly. “Um, Miles… David... This is Darren, Jason, and Tyler. Guys, this is David and Miles,” Tiana said, trying to cut the tension.

Darren looked at the group and shrugged as he gave David his hand. “Nice to meet you,” Darren said.

“Nice to meet you too,” David responded. “I saw your design in the last New York Times piece. Impressive.”

“Thanks!” Darren said, surprised.

David looked up at Jason and Tyler who were both sporting unfriendly faces. “Well, don’t you guys look sweet,” Miles said sarcastically.

“Miles,” David said with warning before facing them again. “Tiana’s told me quite a bit about you guys.”

“Oh yea?” Tyler scoffed. “Like what?”

“I kinda gave him a crash course in like a day,” Tiana said nervously as Owen shook his head.

“Yea, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around three guys sharing one girl,” David chuckled.

“We make it work,” Tyler said coldly. He grabbed Tiana by the waist and roughly pulled her against him.

“Tyler-” Tiana started before he pushed his lips against hers and forced his tongue into her mouth. Owen shook his head with a sigh as he watched his brother nearly devour Tiana. His large palm roughly squeezed her backside so hard he nearly lifted her from the ground. Owen knew the whole show was just a performance to make clear who Tiana belonged to.

“Tyler,” Tiana said, pushing him away. She looked at him annoyed and wiped her lips, frustrated by his alpha-male attitude. She glanced at David to see an unreadable expression on his face. “Um... we should probably get tickets,” she said, walking away from them.

“I’ll go with you,” Darren said anxiously as he followed after Tiana.

Tiana walked up to the ticket booth with Darren. He looked at her when he heard her sigh. “Maybe this was a bad idea,” she said. “I thought this would be a great way for them to get along, but...”

“Just give them time,” Darren encouraged. “Get a few hot dogs in Jason and let Tyler blow off some steam during laser tag, and they’ll be okay.”

Tiana grabbed the tickets and smiled at Darren. “Thanks, Darren. You the real MVP.” She walked up to the group again to see Anna and Shae talking to David while Joey conversed with Miles. Owen looked as if he were giving Tyler and Jason a pep talk. “I got our tickets,” Tiana said. They all turned to look at her, and she suddenly felt the urge to say more.

“Look, I know we’re kind of an unconventional group, but... having all of you guys here together even for something as a pre-graduation celebration... really means a lot to me,” she said. “My blood family has only gotten smaller, but you guys... make me feel loved. So... I appreciate it.”

David smiled warmly at her and Tyler felt the sharp pang of guilt as he exchanged looks with Jason. “You’re such a cutie!” Anna said. “Let’s go have some fun!” Though the day started out rather awkward, the time they spent at the amusement park proved to be the kind of therapeutic fun they needed.

The group went on several rides of which Darren hurled from one. Anna was quick to tend to him much to Jason’s excitement. The guys compared dick sizes as they competed in gun shooting games to see who could hit their targets the most. Miles and Jason tied. Tiana was happy to see everyone loosen up, even Tyler, who she had never seen smile so much in all her time knowing him.

“I hope you’re having fun.”

David turned around to see Tiana standing behind him. “I’m having a blast,” he smiled. “Honestly, I haven’t been to an amusement park since I was a kid. This was a nice throwback.”

“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself,” she said. “It means a lot that you came out here, David.”

“Yeah well... you mean a lot to me, Tiana...” he said, staring into her eyes. Tiana swallowed hard as she felt her heartbeat quicken.

“Hey, babe! Look what we won for you!”

Tiana turned around and saw Jason holding up a large teddy bear. She looked back at David who shrugged. “Go,” he insisted. “I’m okay.”

She gave him a shy smile before she ran up to Jason and Tyler. “Lookit y’all doing boyfriend thangs!” she snickered as she hugged the bear.

David couldn’t help but watch the three as Jason and Tyler sandwiched Tiana between them. It was the most intriguing thing for him to see them unapologetically running their hands along the curves of her body. One sucked her neck while the other conquered her lips.

“Doesn’t it bother you that she didn’t want that with you?” Miles asked, sidling up next to David.

David looked at Miles. “I’m not starting this again with you.”

Miles chuckled as he put his hands up in surrender. “You look pathetic, my friend. Just saying.” David’s jaw twitched as he watched Miles jog off.

“He’s like an annoying brother isn’t he?” Owen chuckled.

David looked at Owen and smirked. “I’m sure you can relate.”

“All too well,” Owen teased. He looked at the forlorn look on David’s face and followed his gaze to Tiana. “You’re not actually over her... are you...” Owen said.

David looked at him startled. “What? Yea, of course I am.”

“That look says otherwise,” Owen said.

David shrugged. “She’s a pretty girl. Sometimes I can’t help but stare.”

Owen snickered. “Congratulations. You are a red-blooded heterosexual male,” he said sarcastically. David let out a slightly awkward chuckle before he looked away. “Oh, I’m sorry… I guess I should say bisexual…?”

David quickly looked up at him. “Owen.. that kiss-”

“Never happened… remember?” Owen raised his hands in surrender. “Your sexuality is your own, David. You don’t need to justify anything to me.” David didn’t know what to make of Owen’s response. Was he encouraging his attraction or completely shutting him down? Owen caught the awkward way David avoided his comment and cleared his throat. “Well I think the guys are starting to take a liking to you.”

David laughed. “I don’t know about that.”

“Just give them time. They’re not trusting folks, and with good reason,” Owen said.

David nodded. “I understand. Especially with Tiana and... considering our... history.”

“It’s in the past,” Owen said quickly.

David looked at Owen and gave an awkward smile. “Yea... in the past.”

“I just thought of the best idea ever!” Tiana said, running up to Owen and David. “Laser tag! Teams!”

“You’ll looooooooose!” Jason shouted.

“So Jason and Miles have already pitted themselves against me cause they suck,” Tiana said.

“Cause you can’t shoot, babe! That’s why!” Jason shouted.

“Tell her!” Miles agreed. “Can’t shoot for shit!”

Tiana turned around and gave Jason the finger. To which Jason gave her his own finger and turned into a V before wiggling his tongue between them. Tiana rolled her eyes and turned around to a chuckling David and Owen. “What do you guys say? The three of us against the three of them?” she said excitedly.

“Do we have a choice?” Owen asked with a raised brow.

“Nope,” she grinned. She grabbed both of their hands and led them away.

~

Tiana leaned against the back of a black wall and locked eyes with Owen in front of her. She made signals to him with her hand, and he looked at her confused. “It’s code, Owen! Code!” she blurted.

“Your code sucks, T,” Owen laughed.

Tiana rolled her eyes. She ducked and aimed her laser gun at Miles and tried to shoot him, but he rolled out of the way. “Almost had him,” David said next to her.

“He’s too fast,” she groaned.

“Watch my back,” David said as he crawled around the corner.

Tiana heard the alarm go off before Miles yelled. “DAMMIT, DAVID!”

Owen and Tiana laughed as David crawled back, snickering like the joker.

The game lasted for over half an hour. Tiana felt like the guys were starting to take it far too seriously. Jason and Miles had orchestrated an entire strategic attack on how to take out their team that ended with Jason on top of her. “Get off of me, Jason!” she whined as Jason pinned her to the ground.

“Surrender, baby girl, or I’m gonna have to establish some corporal punishment,” Jason grinned. He wrapped his hands around her hips and possessively grabbed her ass. Jason covered her mouth with his and slipped his hands into her jeans as she gasped into his mouth.

“Excuse you! There are children here!” Owen said, popping up to shoot Jason with his laser gun.

Tyler thought the game was pure nonsense until Owen kept killing him at every turn. “Dammit, Owen!” Tyler blurted.

“Work on your aim, bro,” Owen teased.

The game went on for another 20 minutes before Jason, Tyler, and Miles declared victory. “What’s my prize?” Jason grinned, wrapping his arm around Tiana’s shoulder.

“No one said we were playing for prizes,” Tiana said, removing his arm. She tried to walk away, but Tyler grabbed her waist and pulled her back against his chest.

“Wrong answer, baby girl,” Jason smirked as he grabbed her chin.

“The prize is you,” Tyler said, pushing his erection into her backside.

“Do they not have an off button?” Anna said, walking up to Owen and Darren. “I swear they’re horny like... all the time. Give the girl a damn break.”

“Would you be complaining if it were you?” Owen asked with a raised brow.

Anna scoffed in disgust. “ You already know, puta. I’m a one-man kinda girl, Owen.”

Now you are,” Owen grinned teasingly.

“Oh, come on! That was ONE TIME. And I was drunk!” Anna blurted.

“Uh huh,” Owen smirked.

Anna rolled her eyes. “I’m getting cheese fries.”

Darren swallowed hard as he watched Anna walk off. “She was with... more than one guy?” he asked.

“Like once a few years ago before she started dating Dante,” Owen said. “Anna used to be a little wild. She’s much tamer now.”

“Why? Do you like her?”

Darren jumped startled when he saw David leaning on the railing next to him. “Um... well...” Darren stammered.

“Yes. The answer is yes,” Owen said. “My boy Darren has a major Jones for our favorite Dominican princess.”

“She’s half Cuban half Dominican...” Darren corrected him.

Owen looked at Darren and laughed. “See what I mean?!” Darren immediately blushed with embarrassment.

“So, why don’t you tell her?” David asked.

“I... I can’t...” Darren said meekly.

“Why not?” David asked. “She seems like a really nice girl. And you’re a really sweet and intelligent guy-”

“Wow... Thanks, David,” Darren blushed. “But, I already tried. I think she sees me more as a friend.”

“Unless she blatantly says she’s not interested, you have to change your approach,” David insisted. “From the way she’s been looking at you, I have a feeling she may feel the same way about you.”

“I agree,” Owen nodded. “That’s officially 6 people pushing you to make a move with Anna, Darren.”

“At least... start small,” David said. “Show a kind gesture. Buy her a drink or something.”

Darren took a deep breath and stepped away from the railing before heading towards Anna. He walked up to her and tapped her on the shoulder. She turned round with a mouth full of fries. “Oh! Sorry!” she said, covering her mouth.

“It’s okay,” Darren chuckled. “Can I get you a drink to wash those fries down?” Anna smiled at Darren and nodded. He turned around and gave Owen and David a subtle thumbs up. They both gave him a thumbs up back before Darren walked off with Anna.

“They grow up so fast,” Owen fake sobbed as he wiped an imaginary tear. David snickered when he heard Jason call his name.

“Yo, David! One more round of laser tag? Giving you and Owen a chance to redeem yourselves,” Jason taunted.

“Fuck you, Davis,” Owen said, flipping Jason off. David laughed and looked at Owen. “You down?” Owen asked.

“...I am if you are...” David smiled. Owen gave David a suggestive smirk.

Tiana watched David and Owen jog across the platform to meet with Jason, Miles, and Tyler. “Are they playing without me?” she asked. “Those bitches!”

“Seems so, chica,” Anna grinned as she munched on her cheese fries. She glanced at the refreshments stand where she saw Darren buying them both drinks.

“Well, at least they seem to be getting along,” Tiana smiled. “Even if they did just kick me out of the game. Assholes.”

Anna laughed. “Men are men. I like that David guy. He’s got a good head on his shoulders.”

“Yea, I like him too,” Tiana said, watching David.

Anna grinned. “Are you adding a fourth lover to your football team of hunks?”

Tiana looked at Anna in shock. “Girl, please! I’m barely surviving with the three I have now!” Anna laughed as Tiana smirked. “Besides... David and I... are just friends...”

“You sure about that?” Anna asked, pointing to David. Tiana turned and saw David was looking at her before Owen grabbed his shoulder to lead him back into the game room.

~*~

“Do you know what I loved best about tonight?” Owen asked as they headed to a diner. “Kicking your asses three games in a row.”

“When will you shut up about that, Owen,” Tyler said annoyed.

“How about never, motherfuckah,” Owen laughed. “That’s what you losers get for getting too big for your damn britches.”

“Man, whatever,” Jason smirked as he rolled his eyes. “I say next time we kick it up a notch and do paintball.”

“Pass!” Shae said. “Those shits hurt!”

“You can cheer from the side, baby,” Joey said, hugging her.

“Bitch, do I look like a cheerleader?” Shae teased.

Joey grinned. “My girl is hangry. Let’s go eat,” he said, grabbing her hand and leading her into the diner.

“I’m serious about the paintball game,” Jason said.

“Yea, we know you are, Jason,” Tyler smirked. “You and Miles are a little too good with a gun.”

“With the number of hours Miles spends playing video games, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t,” David teased.

Miles winked at David and turned to Jason. “Just hit me up whenever you wanna do this again.”

“You aren’t joining us?” Darren asked.

“Nah, I got shit to do,” Miles said. “But this was fun.”

“Nice meeting you!” Anna waved. She grabbed Darren’s arm and tugged him to the door. “Let’s go check out the menu.” Darren looked at her startled before he looked back at Jason, Owen and Tyler who were grinning ear-to-ear. He quickly followed Anna inside.

“I’m starving. Let’s go,” Tiana said, gesturing to the door.

“Losers buy the winners a beer,” Owen said quickly.

“Oh fuck you, Owen!” Jason snapped.

Tiana laughed as she went to follow Owen, Jason, and Tyler inside. But David quickly grabbed her hand before she could leave. She turned around to face him and looked at him confused when she noticed the worried look on his face. “Hey...” she said. “Are you not coming with us?”

“No, I...” David anxiously rubbed the back of his neck as he waited for the guys to disappear. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Tiana furrowed her brow. “Why not?”

“Tiana...” he sighed as he grabbed both of her hands. “I thought I could do this...”

“Do what?”

“This,” he said, looking around. “Being here and pretending I just want to be your friend. When the truth is... I’m still in love with you...”

Tiana bit her lip as she looked up at him with anxious eyes. “David...”

“I can’t help it,” he said. “I thought I could. I really did. I thought I could suppress my feelings and make this work. But I can’t... I just can’t. Don’t get me wrong, I loved meeting your friends, and they seem great, but... Tiana, I can’t help how I feel about you. And this... this hurts...”

Tiana tried to swallow down her anxiety. David looked past her before looking back down at her. He wrapped a hand around her waist and pulled her closer. Placing his finger beneath her chin, he lifted her head so that her gaze met his. “I love that you’re happy. I love seeing you smile. And you mean so... so much to me,” he said, looking into her eyes.

Her breathing stopped as he leaned down and pressed his lips against hers. She breathed out when she felt his tongue trying to slip in when she quickly pushed him back. “David,” she said, keeping her hand on his chest and another on her mouth. “I can’t...” she said, shaking her head. “I can’t, I’m... I’m with...”

David’s jaw tensed as he reluctantly let her go. She saw his Adam’s apple bob as his eyes started to tear up. “Right,” he said, turning away from her. “Of course. I’m... I’m sorry.”

“David. David, please wait,” she said, trying to stop him. But he was already walking towards Miles who was waiting for him in the parking lot.

~*~

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