I flipped another dry crusted page from the mysterious journal, my eyes riveted to the knowledge of the man who'd dropped it while running through my previous apartment...
...Three weeks ago, there had been a major drive-by just down the street, and those of us who'd lived there long enough knew to duck down and corner ourselves in the least obvious places. My door had been left wide open as I tucked and rolled, and not five seconds later I heard footsteps bang past me.
Immediately started praying it wasn't one of those thugs, but looked up to see a flash of white sneakers vaulting over my fully opened window. A small leather book fell out from his pocket as he teetered on the windowsill to avoid something or someone, then leapt out.
Just like that, he was gone, and for days I worried that someone would come busting down my door for information on the guy.
I'd stashed the small book in a small space behind the stove, which I assumed had been put there by a previous tenant.
It stayed there for about a week before I got the knock on my door.
"Ey, open up! We lookin' for a fool."
"Shhhhit..." came a quiet whisper from my window, and my roundhouse brushed the air over his quickly turned cheek.
How the fuck...?
His whiskey eyes were genuinely surprised, hands up in surrender and he was shaking his head No when the door was pounded more insistently.
"Bitch, I know you're in there, open up!"
That insult riled me up, and I stomped to the door.
Disrespectful sacks of shit.
I angrily yanked it open, and he took an unconscious step back into his buddy. Yeah, they may carry guns, but no one fucked with me unless they wanted pain.
"What, bitch?" I spat.
He made as if to move in my apartment, and my eyes narrowed. His eyes narrowed.
He knew I had my metal bat just behind the door, and he'd only brought one other with him.
"Look, I know he was here, we saw him go out your window."
I stayed silent.
He gave me a look that called me stupid.
"Did he say anything? Drop anything? Do I need to search myself, or beat it out of you? Maybe fuck it out of-"
"He jumped out my window," I grit out. "That's it. Now if you bitches don't mind, I need to get ready for work."
Anger sharpened his features. "You better watch the way you talk to the crew, cabrona. Or one of these days we might just have ourselves a long talk about how you use that fucking mouth with us."
I glared at him until he grinned with his thoughts, and they backed off.
"I'll be watching..."
His words managed to slip in before the door shut.
I locked it.
What I really wanted to do, was beat the smug out of him.
"Sleazy sack of shit," the man in danger muttered, echoing my thoughts exactly.
He set my metal bat in its place and I worried that he'd even picked it up behind me.
I glared at him, too.
"Not for you, I swear," he said softly, hands in the air again.
"I better not see you again," I growled in his direction as I went to get the thing.
His hands closed around mine, with a look in his eyes like he'd fucked something up.
My eyes widened. "No, I don't want no shit."
He looked around my floor like he was thinking, and when his eyes came back to mine, there was a decision.
"I mean, you're already involved," he said quietly. "They could go behind bars just as easily..."
But I tugged on my hand, and he took the book and let my hand go.
"Just get out," I grumbled, and went into my restroom.
I fully expected him to be gone when I finished putting on my body jewels and nipple tassels.
It was a weekday, so I didn't expect many people at the strip club, but those that did show would get a special treat. All I needed was lipstick, but I'd put that on at the club thinking I'd get a coffee, at least, or a snack before going in.
Instead of an empty apartment, I was greeted with a closed window and stunned silence.
I let him stare for a second, then watched him track my movements as I covered up with a simple zippered dress.
"I'm gonna have to beat the shit outta you, to get you to leave, aren't I?"
He nodded, eyes finally on mine when I flipped my hair back over my shoulder.
Reached behind himself blindly to hand me my own fucking bat, and I couldn't help but grin.
"Suit yourself," I shrugged, taking the other end.
"Might just take you up on that."
He didn't let go, drawing me closer. His other hand came out, but only asking, not touching.
His eyes knew he should have left earlier. Shit, I didn't know why he didn't leave when I went to get dressed, or why I was stepping into something I knew I had no room for.
I could let go of the bat at any point in time, could maybe yank it out of his hands if I was fast enough to take advantage of his unguarded state.
But I found myself walking into his space for the look in his eyes. Rich amber pools like whiskey, begging to be sipped over a thoughtful exchange of ideas.
His sculpted lips pressed against each other, like what we were about to do was a bad idea. There were scars on his hard face that I almost wanted to ask about, but his lean muscles moved like he was three steps ahead.
My hand started to go behind me from our nearness and I slid it towards his instead of taking my weapon.
Poof, here I am, big boy!
His hand went to the end I had been holding and he pressed the metal across the back of my thighs, my hands smoothing up his arms.
"Who's the sleazebag, now?" I teased.
Those eyes saddened, even as he slowly lowered his head with my fingers on his neckline.
"No, beautiful, don't call me that. Not when we fit like this."
He did fit quite well against me, boner and all. I was definitely caged in, but his arms felt roomy, spacious.
Almost like he'd let me pull away, even though he was making me press into him with the cold bar under my ass.
My fingers swirled through the short hair behind his head. Thick, rough strands just barely long enough to pull.
His breath pushed against my lips, and I tilted my chin up to taste him. Tugged his head towards mine when he proved to be as addictive as I assumed he would.
His mouth knew how to ask, his thick lips held our conversation like it would slip away at any moment.
Then the bat lifted my ass so my mouth pressed harder against his, and with a moan out of both of us, he bounced my behind a couple times.
My breath gasped in soft huffs, and his mouth pulled away for a second.
"Can I put this down, now?"
I sighed with disappointment. If it had been my day off, I could have let it happen.
"I'm off to work," my sultry voice jerked his arousal against me as my fingers fell back down his neck. Feathered over his chest.
But one of his hands released the bat and he held his arms away, smirking when I hesitated to step back.
"I'll leave when it's dark out," he said quietly, reclining the metal in its place.
I moved to get my bag, checking that my small handgun was in it. But now that I'd opened it, I needed an obvious reason for it, so I pulled out the lip pencil and went to stand in front of the mirror I'd put up next to my door.
"As long as you're gone by the time I get back," I threw back casually.
Then I finished my makeup with a lip crayon and left the place to have a very good shift.
I returned in the morning to an empty apartment, and it took the shine off my fat tips, but not by much. I ordered beer and weed and a large box of the combination fried rice I'd been craving.
Only when I turned in for my night, did I find the book under my pillow.
Yanking my pillow off the bed, I glared accusingly at the leather-bound stack of papers. But there was a note sticking out of it this time, and I pulled the thing to see a short and vague explanation of why it was safer if he didn't have the book.
Also that it may be wise to think about moving, and I cursed him under my breath.
Well, if I was going to be forced to care about something that had nothing to do with me in the first place, I was damn well going to know ALL of it.
I opened the first page and my mouth dropped at the people, places, and things that had happened in my city.
And you know what they say about Pandora and the box...
...So here we are, three weeks in the present moment where I'm carefully unsticking the last of the old pages from each other.
Sitting on my bed in a big t-shirt and nothing else, trying to forget what had happened mere hours before.
I should have been looking for a new job, but I just didn't feel safe anymore.
And I was almost done reading.
It was a horrible eye-opening train wreck of a ledger that I couldn't put down, and it made me just paranoid enough to get out of where I'd been.
I'd told my landlady some bullshit story and said goodbye to my deposit, and then I came up with another bullshit story for work that allowed me to quit after my shift.
My co-workers finally said I was letting loose, and I went along with it, knowing that I'd stumbled into secrets that would never touch them. A few groping hands or suggestive phrases were nothing compared to the facts I knew about their bosses.
The sob story got my own boss to graciously allow me to walk away with a hefty tip from him, once he'd made sure I fully understood he didn't buy a word of it, in his office.
He hadn't cared what story I gave as long as he got to use my filthy, lying mouth as he pleased. His fingers had bruised my jaw, choked my throat, purposefully withholding his own orgasm to make it last.
I'd brushed my teeth twice since getting back, his words still echoing in my head with the phantom pounding down my throat.
Lately, it seemed everyone had a specific problem, which they claimed would solve itself after fucking my mouth.
There was a soft knock at my new window, and I looked out to the light rain to see the mole sheepishly pointing to the lock on my windowsill. It wasn't exactly a secret that I'd moved.
My lips pressed together, and his scarred face said he knew what I was reading and he was sorry.
But he'd been right, I had already involved myself from the moment I had decided to lie to the thug who helped run these streets.
I rolled my eyes and moved out of bed to open the window.
"Thank you," he muttered, and just sat himself in a place away from view as I locked it.
I didn't answer him, my voice was probably shot to shit.
He wiped the rain and sweat off his forehead before it dripped into his whiskey colored eyes, trying and failing to keep his eyes off my legs.
I sat on the floor beside him, wondering why he came back today. It could have been yesterday, or a few days from now.
"So?" he asked softly, and his last dicey offer popped in my head.
"Why get an innocent bystander involved?" The sound was quiet enough that it didn't break.
He smiled like he thought I was playing. "Innocent, my ass. You made Chulo step back. That's something I'll take to my grave."
I didn't laugh. It made him notice my swollen lips, the bruises along my jaw and throat.
His own laughter died with a nod.
"Yeah, okay. But by the looks of it, you could handle yourself, so it made sense to try to recruit."
My hand itched to smack the back of his head. I had to remind myself to keep my voice down.
"Yeah, I handle the occasional pass at me, it doesn't mean I can throw hands with all of them, all at once!"
His expression told me I was exaggerating.
My voice was dead serious, naturally quiet now with the way I was judging his ability to process life.
"You think I'm kidding? Didn't you hear what he threatened me with? And when have you ever seen them fight fair? Or do you think they run the streets the way they do, for shits and giggles?"
He was still not convinced. "All valid points, if I do say so myself. Still, you might want to have a little more faith in you."
It was my turn for a stunned silence.
I was no goddamn superhero, and we were too old for that fairy tale shit.
I stood carefully to walk to the fridge, came back with the last two beers of the six pack.
I realized that two separate openings should not be heard, at the same time he did, and we just kind of agreed to open them without saying anything.
He tapped my can with his. "Thanks, again. You really saved my ass back there."
We finished before he spoke again, hesitantly. "Your face... it looks..."
"Yeah, now imagine that happening a dozen more times, I guess. Or more, if they're in the mood."
I said it with sarcasm, and bitterness, and then shook my head and got up.
Not waiting to see his face or hear his words.
"I need-a pee. Let me know if you still want my help."
I placed my empty can on the counter and then went to sit on the seat for long minutes, just mulling over the state of my life.
Then decided that nothing was going to change the past, but I could definitely try to shift the future. Everyone died anyway, right? Why waste my life in fear, when I had knowledge?
There was a soft tap at the door as I was washing my hands.
"Are you okay?"
His mutter was harder to hear thanks to the door and the sink, but I'd asked those words often enough to know what they were, even without clear enunciation.
I rolled my eyes again, went to open the door.
"I'm still alive," I snarked back, but my voice had softened at seeing him without a shirt.
His artwork followed the lines of his body, even though I knew he'd gotten some of it by scratching the surface of the things I'd been reading about. His thickness shaped by ink as much as actual muscle.
He held his hands out to me, and I sighed as I moved into a piece of my puzzle. Why not.
But he only wrapped his arms around me, chin tucking my head under his. Holding me.
A sad smirk touched my fat lips. "Me, too."
I felt his sigh all the way to my heart and hugged him back. Sliding my hands over more scars and satin-covered muscle.
He had me twisted, if he thought I'd wallow in the pain.
"But we all gotta die some day, right?"
"Right...?" His voice told me he wasn't sure where this was going.
Though it was more a feeling of pressure instead of the sensitive exploration I wanted, I rubbed my mouth over his skin. I could still sense the tattoo scars, thin raised lines interrupting the smoothness of his flesh.
My breath bounced back to me with the heady fragrance that was all him, and I hummed.
His skin goosebumped and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why it turned me on so much, but it did.
A dusting of hair tickled my skin where I could feel it, and he started to come to life inside his pants. He gave me a small chuckle.
"Here I am, trying not to be a sleazebag, and you rub your tender parts all over me..."
I smiled at that, and looking up at him was worth the pinching and pulling on my lower face. He was wrestling with the thing I wanted.
"Not all my parts are tender..."
I watched his mouth come to mine, shaking his head No.
His lips were a soft push of skin, before one of his hands eased into the hair at the back of my head. I winced slightly, and he stopped.
Then started rubbing my scalp softly as his lips kissed the bruises.
A shudder tore through me at the huge contrast, and his other arm tightened around my waist.
His lips moved lower, to my neck, and he cradled my head as he carefully placed his lips on every mark he could find.
When he came back to my mouth, we were both surprised to find tears falling from my eyes.
His were murderous, but not at me.
It tickled me for some reason, and I smiled faintly. Started shuffling towards the bed, and he followed without resistance.
"Tell me you're just as bad..."
He shook his head with that focused stare again, but this time he carefully placed a kiss on my cheek. Just a feathery touch of lips as my calves bumped into mattress.
Our bodies fell on the bed, his weight squeezing the breath out of me when I didn't let him go. My bruises pulsed with the pressure, and it drew a gasp out of me.
My hands hooked into his pants, and he leaned up on an elbow. Under my shirt with his other hand while I deftly undid his front.
I picked up a knee slowly, and his pleased hum vibrated across my lips as he wiggled out of his clothes. Kicked them off the bed to help us get fully on.
His fingertips trailed up the inside of the leg I'd lifted, and he watched my face as he slid them along my slit.
My sigh ended higher as a finger slid into me.
Tight, wet fist gripping his calloused, thick-knuckled digit. Eyes heavy-lidded as I slid my fingers along his thick length. I swirled the circles he stroked inside me.
His eyes closed on a stifled groan and my hands wrapped around his hard flesh.
The next time he thrust his finger, it was actually two, and I could feel myself soaking his hand. He did the same with three fingers, and made me whimper, spreading wider for his touch.
My hands squeezed as I started to stroke him to the beat of his hand.
"If you want nice and slow, say something now."
His tightly reined words at my ear and the wet slamming of his hand made me give up a sound that answered his question.
"Had to make sure," he whispered, before moving over me and letting me guide him into his first thrust.
My throat made a soft sound of agreement.
When he stayed in, one of my hands smacked his ass, and with a grunt, he fucked me deep and hard.
Not giving me room to think, or breathe on my own as he carefully wrapped a hand around my throat between thrusts.
He saw the pleasure on my face, felt my clench, and pressed his fingers into my veins.
"Good girl," he rumbled, and our fuck was instantly wet slop.
He laughed quietly, and the knowledge of this moment had me relaxing in anticipation of orgasm.
He liked that I was into it.
I liked that he was still careful around my bruises, despite his words.
"You're gonna cum for me when I let you go."
Our wet smacks of flesh were sprinkled with my climbing huffs and his growled praises until I started crying again.
Then he reared back and let go of my neck, and I was left gasping at the pleasure. His hips fell harder through my tight clench.
"Tha's a- good- girl," he praised through his harsh use of my wet fist, and my hips thrust back. "Mmm..."
The tears wouldn't stop, and neither did he, until he made me cum again, finally humming his release.
He lowered his chest over me again, and I closed my eyes and slipped my arms around him.
My leg snaked over his as he rolled us over to our sides, one arm under my head. We just fit together so well, and even though it was only one night, it almost made me want more.
"I'm sorry," he whispered again.
I looked up at his light brown eyes and he looked like he was drinking old regrets. His mouth smirked sadly, before the expression was taken over by dirty thoughts.
"But I'd do it again to get here."