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Rio always told Beth he knew her. Knew that she was more interesting, more complex than she let on or showed on the outside. The fact that she shot him wasn’t about not knowing her but rather a learning curve. He learned Beth could in fact get her hands dirty. She just made the wrong choice to shoot him instead of Turner. He also learned that, sometime in the weeks they’d been apart, Beth had developed an interest in sex toys. 

He learned it innocently enough. Or as innocently as you could inside an adult store, surrounded by every size, shape, color and material of replica penises, vibrators, rings, jellies, lubes and oils. Beth’s job was to meet the store owner and pick up an envelope. The owner was one of the many intermediaries Rio worked with through his bosses. Rather than money, these envelopes usually had names on them. Names of people Rio would find strolling the halls of the country club, who had an interest in making money a different sort of way. Beth owed him, big time, so he shoveled this grunt work at her. This time, though, he decided to tag along for the priceless experience of seeing Beth squirm surrounded by hundreds of sex toys. 

As Beth and Rio stood in an aisle off to the side, waiting as an employee tracked down the owner in the back office, Beth blushed, but raised the learning curve on him again. Instead of skittish she seemed comfortable, interested by everything on the shelves. But Rio wanted to embarrass her. The more obnoxious and mean the better. Life had sharp edges and not only was he done protecting her from them, he found pleasure in pushing her into them. He picked up a vibrator, and stepped close to Beth so only she could hear him. 

“You ever get yourself off with one of these or does your husband make sure your satisfied?” He lingered on the last word, mocking her with the obvious answer. 

Beth inhaled sharply at his nearness, at the maliciousness in his question. Before Beth could respond, a woman approached them.  

“I see you found the couple’s vibrator.” A raspy voice came from around the corner. Without missing a beat, the petite woman pointed to the C-shaped device Rio was holding. “This part goes inside the woman, this part touches the clit.” 

“What makes it a couple’s vibrator?” Beth couldn’t help her curiosity about what went where or on who on the double-ended device. As daunting as everything on the shelves seemed, she was intrigued. For so long, sex had been an obligation, joyless. Annie had given her a small bullet vibrator for her birthday once. So you can take the edge off, she’d said, with a pat on her shoulder. And she’d been fine, content. Then Rio happened. First, stirring forbidden feelings inside her. Then actually being with him made her realize the power of sex. Of being with someone who paid attention to what she liked, what she reacted to. Of reciprocating that attention.

“He’s inside you at the same time it’s inside you. It pleasures him as much as you. Missionary is usually best.”

“Oh.” 

The woman leaned in close to Beth. 

“Great g-spot orgasms,” she said with wink, before handing an envelope to Rio and walking away. 

“Gonna try it?” Rio asked, holding the vibrator out to her in mock enthusiasm.

Silently, defiantly, Beth grabbed a box off a shelf labeled “The Dolphin” without taking her eyes off Rio. She didn’t actually care what she bought. The shock on Rio’s face as she confidently walked to the cash register was all that mattered. 

 


 

Beth was closing the curtains on the french doors of her bedroom later that night when she noticed Rio sitting on her picnic table bench, his legs stretched casually in front of him. Danger and fear still pulsed out of his core, the invisible waves crashing into her every time he was near, but he wouldn’t kill her. She was making him money, and lots of it, and money was the universal antidote. She opened the door and took a few steps onto her deck. Rio swept his eyes up and down her body as he walked over. 

“What do you want?” she asked, not hiding the irritation in her voice, ignoring the rush of tingles that spread down her spine.

Good question, Rio thought. He was doing exactly what he told himself he wouldn’t do. He wouldn’t cross this line with Beth again. He’d keep it all business. But everything about her enticed him. For months, holed up in the hospital then a hotel room, Beth was nothing but a mental image, one he pulled up easily and constantly to fuel his revenge. But now that she was three-dimensional again, living and breathing around him, an unexpected collision of attraction and memories and something more he couldn’t quite define rushed to the surface. She tried to kill him, almost did, and still he couldn’t stop thinking about what might have been with her.  

“So where do you keep the vibrator?” he asked with a smug grin, using crudeness to cover the hint of any of his warring thoughts.

“What?”

“It’s in there, huh?” Rio pointed to her bedroom. “You have more than one in there?”

“None of your business.” Beth didn’t know what he was trying to do, what reaction he was trying to get out of her, but she refused to give it. 

Rio took a step closer so they were standing barely an inch apart. He felt himself hovering over that imaginary line he’d drawn. The one he was never crossing ever again. He inched dangerously closer anyway.

“Have you tried it yet? Feel good? Make you feel like you’re being fucked by someone who wants you and knows how to make you come?”

He studied her, watched her fight to remain stoic through a small gasp, a quiver in her lower lip, a long blink. His gaze traveled over her body one last time. Then he dropped the routine. 

“Tomorrow. Don’t be late,” He held out a a piece of paper between two fingers. Beth took it, saw the scribbled address and time. When she looked up, Rio was already walking away. 



Rio tried to stay away from Beth. He really did. But he was an addict, jacked up on his hit. On Beth. Her taste, her smell, her mind, her defiance, her mystery. Her eyes lured him in.They always had. When she begged for her life that first time, filled with tears even while she called him an idiot. Sparkling with mischief when they stood in her kitchen, asking to work for him. Staring at him with lust from across the bar, enticing him into that bathroom. The unexpected warmth in them that afternoon in her bedroom. Huge and dark with fear when he surprised her with his resurrection. And they had stayed like that for a long time since then. But working with her all these weeks, being around her, tugged on something inside him, on their unfinished business. Somehow, impossibly, even though she tried to kill him, she was more tempting than ever before. And when she started to look at him with something resembling happiness, something flipped in Rio.

So when they had their best month ever, their fastest print run, the biggest wash under the best terms with their customers they’re both high off success and adrenaline and the smell of money and whatever this thing was between them. So it seemed natural for Rio to suggest a celebratory drink and for Beth to accept. And when Beth invited him to her house to keep the celebration going, to try her homemade chicken casserole, the best she insisted, he went even though he didn’t like casseroles. When they wordlessly, instinctively ended up in her bedroom instead, he finally gave in to the flirty, naughty, wonderful, deep, fantastic sensations urging him to get close to her. The ones he’d been fighting for so long. 

He dipped his face to Beth’s, her pink lips parted, just a little, in invitation. He traced a finger over her lips before sealing his mouth to hers. Rio took his time, wanting to experience every moment of kissing her again. Months of anger and hate and revenge and lust unspooled instantly. It was the hit he’d been craving and it went right to his head, made his brain hazy. Everything felt familiar. Like the time in the bathroom. Like the time in the bedroom. His muscle memory immediately recalled how to fit Beth perfectly against him. But this also felt more urgent, everything fast and spinning, more out of control. Rio was different now. More jaded, more bitter, more obsessed. Beth was different too. He could tell, feel it in her touches. More confident, more sympathetic, more overwhelming to him. 

Rio’s kisses became hot and hungry and rough, and Beth matched him. He pressed her up against the wall, crushed her mouth, hiked her leg up around his hip, ground against her. She grabbed at him, clawed wherever her nails landed. They were both frantic, desperate for their fix. In a blur their clothes were off and they were revealed to each other again. Beth’s hands immediately went to his chest, tracing the three scars she put there. Rio’s hips jerked when she kissed each one. He licked his lips as he cupped her breasts, running his thumbs over her nipples until they hardened, until she stretched against his touch, sighing. 

As much as he wanted to fuck her, he wanted to slow down, try something. He had an instinct there was something new to learn about Beth. He gave her a demanding kiss before changing the pace, trailing his lips along her neck, nibbling on her ear, turning them to lay on the bed.

“Where’s your vibrator?” Rio asked, feathering his fingers over her body, between her legs. 

“What?” Beth could barely speak or think. Instead, she wrapped a hand around his length and squeezed and stroked. Rio shuddered at the wave of pleasure as she ran her palm up and down. His let his eyes float closed, savoring the sensation for only a few seconds, unwilling to lose focus. 

“You heard me.” 

Beth paused at the seriousness in his tone. She looked at him, deciphering his intentions. When the corner of his mouth tilted in the smallest of smiles, she opened her nightstand drawer, handed Rio what he wanted. She hadn’t tried it yet, but when she did she planned on doing it solo and not with Rio in the equation. So she waited for his lead.

“Why’d you buy this, Elizabeth?” He dragged the silicone head of the toy down her stomach. “What do you want to do with it?” 

She whimpered, arched up against the vibrator as Rio traced it over her inner thighs.

“Do you want me to fuck you with this?” 

 As Rio hoped, expected, anticipated, she parted her legs and pushed his hand down between her thighs. 

“Spread your legs more,” he said, barely recognizing the tone of his own voice, a mix of arousal and disbelief at the moment unfolding in front of him. Somehow they’d gone from him laying in his own blood by her hand to this, a fantasy come to life. 

Beth did as he asked. Rio dragged the head of the toy between her legs, gliding it against the wetness, her back arching off the bed instantly. He rubbed the shaft across her center, getting her used to the feel, the size, the shape. When she started grinding against it he turned the vibrator on, circling it against the her clit. Beth moaned, a primal plea for more. Rio obliged, rubbing the toy against her, up and down, over and over, slower then faster. When her breath turned uneven, when her hips lifted, he slid it inside her. She groaned as he went deep, emulating the long strokes he knew she liked. Rio switched his position, kneeling between her legs to get a better angle. He followed her cues, found a rhythm. Whatever Beth wanted, he would give her. 

Rio watched as she lost herself in the rhythm and sensations. Her eyes squeezed shut, her hips rocked, her legs opened wider, her toes curled, her breath came faster. Her reactions turned him on more than he thought possible without being inside her. When he could tell she was close, Rio moved up and kissed her as he fucked her with the vibrator. It was a short kiss but that’s all it took for Beth’s entire body to tense, then shake from head to toe. Rio watched as she floated back down to reality and eased the toy out of her, setting it on the bed.

Relaxed and sex-drunk, Beth turned her attention to Rio and dragged a lazy hand up her stomach, tracing a seductive path along her flesh. She reversed, sliding her hand down between her legs, stroking a few times before she brought it between her breasts, coating the valley there with the wetness from her orgasm, not taking her eyes off his. 

“Fuck,” Rio’s mouth went dry. He looked at Beth to make sure he understood her meaning. Beth smiled, a small one, her lips swollen and sexy, and nodded, giving him assurance on what she wanted, was asking. He straddled her, rubbed himself between her legs to coat himself in her wetness. She pushed her breasts together, and he jerked forward, sliding his length between them. Of course he’d thought about this, fantasized about it. Beth’s body was like a beautiful drawing with her exaggerated pin-up proportions. It was the most perfect, unreal sensation to be in this position with her and Rio knew it wouldn’t take him long. 

“Come on me,” she whispered, as if sensing his thoughts. 

Rio grabbed onto the headboard and thrusted and stroked and it wasn’t long at all before his vision blurred, his world spiraled into a white hot blast. He shuddered from the intensity of his release, grunting and panting. Just when he thought nothing else could top this experience, of being with Beth again, of experimenting with her, Beth dragged a finger between her breasts and licked her fingertip. 

Rio lay next to Beth, pulled her into the spoon of his body. He knew their dark, twisted reality wasn’t going away, that the limits of their relationship were constantly going to be tested in dangerous ways. He had evidence of that in the three scars on his body. His awareness of how complicated it would be to end this thing with Beth acutely sharpened. Maybe the end of them would come messy and ugly an deadly. Or maybe it would never have to.