Beth walks into the kitchen. The lights are off, but the ones in the dining room are on full brightness. She looks over to see Dean, sitting there with her good bourbon.
Beth sets the bag of groceries down on the counter. “I need to get these in the fridge,” she tells him, then turns around to start doing just that.
At Dean’s shout, she whirls around. His face is red and he’s standing up, fists planted on the table.
Beth slowly takes a seat, perching on the chair, poised to run to the door if she has to. As soon as she has the thought, she’s surprised at herself.
“I had an interesting chat with that FBI agent today.”
Beth raises her eyebrow. “Yes?”
“How long have you been fucking him?”
Beth’s head jerks back at the question. “What?” What is he even - her eyes widen in understanding and Dean sees it.
“The bounce house guy,” he says, stepping around the table.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Dean cocks his head. “Really? Because you told the FBI that you most certainly do.”
Rio agrees to meet her at a café.
“Turner went to my husband,” she tells Rio as soon as she takes a seat across from him. “Told him.”
He just looks at her.
“That we slept together,” Beth clarifies. Rio still doesn’t even move. “He’s threatening divorce.”
“So get a divorce,” Rio says. “It’ll do you good to get away from that guy.”
“He could try to take the kids away from me.”
Rio sips his tea. “He could try.”
“He’ll know that something’s up with the money, namely, me having any.”
“And if he wants to keep all his limbs,” Rio says, “then he’ll keep his mouth shut.”
“So I just cross my fingers and hope it all works out?”
His solution turns out to be twice as scary as he is.
“You’re seeking a divorce on the grounds of infidelity,” Gretchen Zorada says from across an alarmingly large desk. “Infidelity is -“
“He cheated on me,” Beth cuts in. “Multiple times.”
Gretchen nods. “Still, as of now, your infidelity is part of an official criminal investigation. Which is why you’re meeting with me instead of one of my colleagues.”
Beth raises an eyebrow. “Oh?”
“I’m not a divorce lawyer,” Gretchen says. “I’m a criminal lawyer.”
So that’s how Rio knew her.
“I’d like to talk to you for a little bit before I decide which of my coworkers is a good fit for you,” Gretchen clarifies. “I might need to consult on some of the aspects involving Agent Turner.”
“Oh. Alright.” Beth nods.
“Have you continued the affair?”
Beth starts. “Pardon me?”
“The affair,” Gretchen says. “Is it ongoing?”
Beth opens her mouth, closes it.
“Rio wouldn’t refer a one night stand to me.” Gretchen sits back. “So you have to be more than that.”
And what’s Beth supposed to say to that? I’m not sleeping with him, I’m smuggling counterfeit cash and looking after gunshot victims? Yeah right.
“Is that relevant?” Beth asks instead.
Gretchen shrugs lazily. “Could be.”
“And if I say that I work for Rio?”
“He already told me about that,” Gretchen says. “And I’ve already told him to move you to legitimate operations for the next little bit, while this is being sorted out. We don’t want to give your ex any additional ammunition.”
Beth leaves Gretchen’s office with a list of things she’s supposed to gather. Copies of the mortgages. Household expenses. Any physical evidence of Dean’s cheating.
She goes to Annie’s.
“What’s wrong with you?” Annie asks, continuing to eat cereal after she opens the door to Beth.
“Dean’s staying at his mother’s and I’m getting a divorce,” Beth says, feeling a little…surprised by it all.
“Oh thank fuck,” Annie says through a mouthful of Lucky Charms, then gestures her inside. “Let’s call Ruby. We’re celebrating.”
Rio slips into the booth across the table from Agent Turner.
“So you following all my fuck buddies now?”
“Because I can give you a full list, help you save some time,” Rio tells him. “How far back you want to go?”
Turner sets down his pen and closes his file. Rio already saw the top few lines, it’s budgetary.
“What are you doing here?” Turner asks.
Rio cocks his head, waves away the waitress.
“Sorry, Special Agent, was I supposed to make an appointment?” Rio grins. “I don’t know, when someone’s harassing my girl, I get a little upset.”
“Your girl?” Turner asks. “That would be Beth Boland?”
“What me and Elizabeth got is none of your business,” Rio shrugs.
“So what,” Turner sets his elbows on the table, “she and her friends knocked over Fine & Frugal and somehow wind up working for you?”
Rio laughs. “Knocking over Fine & Frugal? Elizabeth?” He throws his head back as he laughs. “Good one, Jimmy. Nah.”
“Then where’d you meet?”
Rio raises one eyebrow. “You interested in my romantic life now?”
“We met, we went back to hers,” Rio shrugs. “Had a taste and wanted more.”
“She did?” Turner asks.
“We both did.”
“Because she told me that you were a one night stand,” Turner says. “I think she might even have used the word mistake.”
Rio grins wide. “Oh, she still calls me that, but I’m good with it so long as it comes with the rest of her. Her husband’s a pain in the ass though. You ever met a car salesman that doesn’t make you want to beat the shit out of ‘em?”
Turner crosses his arms over chest.
“Guy’s a prick,” Rio goes on. “Wouldn’t trust a word that guy says. Looked into him and turns out he’s got a habit of picking his secretaries with his dick, then chasing them off. Messed up, right?”
He sees something in Turner’s eyes flicker. He hadn’t known that. Good. Now he’ll be second guessing stuff that Dean tells him, like he should be.
“Should we be filing a restraining order or something, Special Agent?” Rio asks, with an air of innocence.
Turner’s jaw ticks. “Is that all?”
“Is what all?” Rio tilts his head to the side.
“Is that all you came to pester me about? Your relationship with Elizabeth Boland?”
Rio raps the tabletop with his knuckles. “Is that what you think this is, Jimmy? I’m hurt. I thought we were keeping each other updated on our lives. Must have sucked, missing Jesse’s birthday,” he says right before he stands up.
“Take care now,” Rio drawls, turning his back on the agent and walking back out.
Rio has every intention of letting Gretchen handle the whole Boland problem.
But he’d be a liar if he said he wasn’t going to look for insurance. So he pokes around. Asks around to see who has dirt on the guy.
All of which leads him to Kate.
He leaves his meeting with her wanting to drive down to Boland Motors and take a bat to Dean Boland’s knees. Rio has a problem with men like him, the ones with wandering hands and too much power over the young women that work for them.
Kate had been clear, he’d never done anything. At least not anything that could have gotten her any kind of victory over him in court or arbitration.
But it’s enough for Rio.
So he goes to see her.
“He won’t be a problem,” Rio tells Elizabeth when he slips into her house.
She jumps, whirling around with her hand over her heart like she’s about to tell him that she’s got the vapours or something out of an old movie.
The image fits her. She’s classic Hollywood bombshell.
“What?” she asks, lowering her hand.
Rio shakes his head. “Found his weak spot.”
Rio takes a seat at her kitchen counter, enjoying the way that her eyes widen in surprise.
Rio cocks his head. “Not going to offer me something to drink?”
Elizabeth’s mouth purses, then drops open again. It reminds him of a fish.
“Got any of that peach juice left?” he asks.
She actually goes to the fridge and pours him a glass of juice rather than telling him to go fuck himself or something. She doesn’t even say anything as she does it.
“So what’s his weak spot?” Elizabeth asks again. “I assume we’re talking about Dean.”
Rio sips the juice. “You sure you want to know that?”
“Seriously?” She crosses her arms over her chest.
“Yes, I want to know.”
“You totally sure?” he asks, just drawing it out that this point.
She scowls, gaze sharpening again. “Oh fuck off.”
“You kiss your babies with that mouth, mama?”
“God,” she mutters, “you’re an ass.”
Chuckling, Rio watches her. But when she speaks, it isn’t what he expected.
“The police are talking to Eddie.”
Rio looks at her. “I know. How you know that?”
“Ruby’s husband, Stan, he’s a cop. The one who arrested him, actually.” Beth shifts her weight to her other foot, nervous under Rio’s far too perceptive gaze. “The FBI is involved.”
Rio makes a quiet sound not unlike a laugh. “I know.”
“What are you going to do?”
Rio pushes the cup away and steeples his fingers. “Why you wanna know? I got the impression that you liked keeping yourself high and mighty up here in the ‘burbs.”
She flushes and turns her head away.
She’s curious, but won’t admit to it. Not to him. Not yet. He takes the opportunity to rake his eyes over her. Normally she’s so buttoned-up, but now she’s got on a silky robe, belted at the waist and a little more open at the front than she probably realizes.
It’s flowery - probably from her husband or her kids, purchased based on some idealized version of Elizabeth that they’ve got stuck in their heads. Rio doesn’t like it. The pattern is too big, overwhelming, the colour just a couple shades too light to be especially flattering. It was a careless purchase.
“That’s what I thought,” Rio says softly. “And your husband leverages his power over the women that work for him for sexual favours. Ices out the ones who don’t give him what he wants.”
Her face turns whiter, something that he didn’t even know was possible.
He stands and moves toward the door. As he passes behind her, he runs his hand over her shoulders. “Take care, Elizabeth.”
Rio considers the store across the street. His meeting doesn’t start for another five and the guy hasn’t even shown up yet, so he’s got the time. It’s a lingerie boutique - the kind where you make appointments and a thong runs you $50. While he’s never been in this particular one, he’s had girlfriends before and he knows the type.
That’s not what drew his eye in the first place though. There’s a trio of short, kimono style robes in the window. If he had to guess, they’re real silk. Dry clean only. One is a delicate pink with cherry blossoms, another white with little starbursts. The one in the middle though, it’s a deep burgundy with a cream, geometric patterned lace at the bottom and the ends of the sleeves.
Before he can stop himself, he’s picturing it on her. It would look gorgeous with her skin and hair. He wants to see it.
Some part of his brain, the one that’s kept him alive this long, snaps him into the present moment before his associate opens the door to the café. The guy comes to sit at the table and Rio raises a brow.
“You should order something, Jack,” he tells him, taking a pointed sip of his own tea. Doesn’t matter if you’re just staying for a minute, you buy something.
Jack nods and turns right back around to get himself something. He comes back with a regular coffee.
“Yeah,” Jack replies. “Won’t be a problem no more.”
Rio jerks his chin in response.
After that, it’s a matter of hashing out a few details for a weekend run, then Rio’s free for a few hours. On a whim, he crosses the street.
Rio opens the door to the shop. It smells nice, a little floral. A little too grown-up to be girly.
“Hi,” a young woman with natural hair and a pair of cat-eye glasses comes out from the back. “Can I help you with anything?”
Rio nods. “The robes in the window.”
She smiles. “They’re gorgeous aren’t they? We got them a week ago but we couldn’t put them on display until yesterday. Would you like me to pull one?”
“The burgundy one,” he says. “There sizing?”
She nods. “I’ll bring out both sizes.”
She’s only gone for a second and comes back with a short clothing rack, two of the robe hanging off of it, along with a couple of bras and panties that are clearly meant to be paired with the robe.
He doesn’t say anything.
“It’s actually by a local designer,” the woman says when she stops the rack in front of him. “She sources all of her materials herself and the biggest run of anything she’s ever done is a hundred of a wrap last year for Valentine’s.”
Rio eyes the robe. He was right. It’s silk.
“We only got fifteen of this beauty,” she goes on, “but there’s a few other stores around North America that she sells through. I think there’s eighty in total. I’d have to double check.”
Rio was planning to buy it the moment that he stepped through that door, but up close, it’s even prettier. “I’ll take it,” he says, reaching out to indicate that he’d like the larger of the two sizes.
The woman blinks, like she was expecting to have to sell him on it. She tells him the total and Rio shrugs. It’s worth it. He grins as he hands over his credit card, the one he knows the feds are keeping an eye on.
“You do delivery?”
“Delivery for Elizabeth?”
Beth blinks at the guy holding a box out to her. On autopilot, she accepts it. “Thanks,” she says, confused about who could have sent her something so nicely wrapped. It’s light and unlabelled, but for a little tag tucked into the gold ribbon that looks like “Elizabeth”. Kind of.
She sets it on the kitchen island and stares at it for a moment.
There’s no way it’s a bomb. Right? Those had to be heavier.
It wasn’t moving or making noises, so it probably wasn’t alive.
Steeling herself, Beth undoes the ribbon and opens the lid, only to be met by another ribbon, this one black, wrapped around some tissue paper.
Beth pulls the ribbon and unfolds the tissue. She gasps as she looks down at the most beautiful robe that she’s ever seen. Reaching into the box, she lifts it. It’s exquisite, more luxurious than anything she’s ever owned.
There’s only one person who would get her something like this and it’s so wildly inappropriate that Beth doesn’t know whether to swoon or scream. A piece of cardstock falls to the bed and lands face up.
It’s in the same borderline unreadable scrawl as her name on the box. There’s only one person it could be.
“You can’t just,” she starts to say as soon as she sits down across from him at what he’s starting to think of as their café, but Rio’s lips just curl into a lazy grin.
“We’re having an affair, remember?” He’s amused, far more than he should be, considering how fucking annoying Turner’s being. “Put it on credit card in case the feds want to take a look.”
Her cheeks turn red and Rio’s pretty sure that if he touched them, they’d be warm.
“We’re not actually having an affair, Rio!” she hisses at him across the table. "I told Turner that we slept together. Once."
Rio shrugs. “Clearly we've been seeing each other since. You need to pull me up in your custody bullshit, I gotta look like an upstanding citizen, sweetheart.”
“Who sleeps with married women.”
“Yeah, ain’t like I’m committed though,” he says. “If I fuck a married woman, it’s because she came asking for it.” He sucks his bottom lip into his mouth and looks her up and down. She looks extra good today in her black wrap dress that’s showing way more tit than he’s seen her flash before.
She leans back in her seat, the red spreading to her neck.
“Sides, your husband already knows about me, don’t he?” Rio smiles at the memory of Dean Boland standing in the doorway of the bedroom he’d been sharing with Elizabeth for well over a decade, looking like he’d just been shot. “Don’t you want to introduce me to your kids?”
Rio hides his smile. He’s almost looking forward to the day he lets her know about Marcus. She’s going to have to completely reorganize how she thinks about him.
“Wear it, yeah?” Rio reaches out so that his fingers are resting on the back of her hand, then trails them up her forearm until he reaches her sleeve.
He tosses down some cash to cover their food and a tip.
Rio’s pretty sure he’s had a tail on and off for a few days and if what Jack has told him about Turner’s newest photos of him, that tail’s got a camera.
He’s been using it to his advantage, making sure they get photos of him doing shit like grocery shopping when things are going down. The idea of using the FBI as his alibi for his crimes is something that delights him.
This little meeting hadn’t been planned - she’d called it after all - but he’d caught the surveillance car across the street earlier when he’d been walking from the counter to the table.
So he guesses he’ll give ‘em something fun to watch. “C’mon,” he says, “I’ll walk you to your car.”
The mama van’s just parked a couple of spots away from the café entrance, so the surveillance crew has a good angle when he stops her from stepping down off the curb by taking her hand and tugging her towards him.
He eyes widen in confusion and surprise, but she stays in place when he steps towards her.
“I’m gonna kiss you now,” he says.
“I’ve got someone on my ass,” he tells her, leaning down. “Want to make sure they think this is just us fucking, right?”
“So make it look good, yeah?”
Rio presses his lips to hers. She stiffens for a second, then relaxes, reaching her hands up to touch his shoulders. Her lips are soft and despite her initial surprise, she quickly responds. When Rio’s tongue touches her lips, she opens them for him and he deepens the kiss.
They’re outside, in broad daylight, and Rio’s never been particularly fond of PDA like this. It’s one thing, at night in a bar, pulling your girl into you and making sure that other guys know that she’s taken by touching her, kissing her.
This is different.
He tilts his head and wraps his arms around her, pulling her closer.
Rio can smell her - something light and a little sweet. He wants to taste her skin, wants to put his fingers and his tongue inside of her until she’s begging for the rest of him. And she will, Rio decides. He wants her. Wants to unwrap her.
But not now. Not yet.
So he gets his hands on her ass and squeezes. It has the effect he’s expecting - she pulls back, a little dazed and almost offended.
“Keep your phone on. Be seeing you, yeah?” Rio says, following it up with a kiss pressed to her forehead before untangling from her and heading to his own car.
He has shit to do.
All he sends her is a text that reads “be here at 7”, followed by an address. Beth looks it up, only to discover that it’s a bar. A nice looking one too.
She snorts, but puts on a nice dress and does her make-up and hair carefully. Then, just to make sure that he doesn’t think that he can just boss her around like that, she shows up seven minutes late.
When he sees her, he grins like he knows she’s been sitting in the van a couple blocks away and waiting.
“Look who showed up,” he teases, then stands up, wrapping an arm around her waist and ducking his head. “You get cold waiting out there?”
Beth scowls at him.
He just keeps smiling, other hand coming up to her cheek. “Aww, don’t be like that, Elizabeth.”
The way he says her name has Beth locking her knees in an attempt not to react, but just like with everything, Rio seems to know.
“No hello kiss?”
Beth tilts her head back, waiting for him to do the rest.
He chuckles, but takes the offer. The kiss starts soft, but when Beth starts to pull away, he deepens it, holding her close and coaxing her mouth open.
A loud whistle brings Beth back to herself, pulling away and blushing as Rio helps her onto a stool.
“Was that really necessary?” she hisses.
Rio moves so that his mouth is by her ear. “Yeah, it really was.” His voice is raspy when he murmurs like that, even more so than usual.
“So, what am I doing here?” Beth asks.
“We’re getting a drink,” he tells her, waving over the bartender. “What’s your poison? Summer rosé?”
Beth rolls her eyes and looks to the bartender. “Bourbon on the rocks. Top shelf. He’s buying.”
The guy behind the bar glances to Rio, who nods and it makes Beth scowl. Why is everyone always looking to him?
“Is there a reason that we’re getting a drink?”
Rio hums, sitting on his stool, but pulling it closer to Beth’s. How is it that he’s able to take up so much space?
“Going to share that reason?”
“Nope,” Rio says.
She sighs. He just keeps insisting on pressing her for details about herself, only to refuse the same in return. When her drink gets set down in front of her, she takes a sip and shuts her eyes. It’s good. Damn good.
Beth opens her eyes again, only to see that Rio has slid even closer to her. He sets a hand on her back.
“That how it is tonight, sweetheart?”
Beth stops breathing.
“Feeling yourself, huh?” He grins, but it’s hazier than his usual one, eyes half-lidded. “You dress up for me?”
She looks away. “No. I had plans.”
He laughs. “Sorry for messing with ‘em,” he says, not sorry at all. “I’ll make it up to you.”
“Oh yeah?” Beth says. “Another 5%, maybe?”
“Nah,” he says, shaking his head and still chuckling. “I’m thinking I’ll take you home.”
She raises an eyebrow. “And that’s supposed to be restitution?”
Rio hums. “Oh don’t worry, you’ll get it in a few hours.”
He’s a little too full of himself and it makes Beth roll her eyes. “How’d you know?” she asks.
“Know what?” He props his chin on his fist, just looking at her.
“What, I thought I’d honour where we met, y’know,” he tells her.
“How did you know about the name?” Beth clarifies. “What I told Turner.”
“You think you’re my only bit of camouflage, darlin’?” He says it with an exaggerated twang, like he normally says it to tease someone, then lifts his head. It makes Beth shift in her seat. “Relax, I said not to worry about it. I’ll take care of it.”
“Take care of what, Rio?”
The hand not on her back comes up to touch her chin. “Part of me taking care of it is you not knowing about it,” he says simply, then drops both of his hands and picks up his drink.
“You’re just going to keep me in the dark?” Beth hates that it makes her think of Dean.
“Not completely,” Rio consoles her. “You can still run your money. For a little while.”
“I actually have some ideas about that,” Beth perks up, “to make it go quicker.”
Rio lifts an eyebrow. “Why would I want it to go quicker?”
“Quicker means sloppier, Elizabeth,” he says. “Quicker means that things start slipping and I’m not going down just because you need pocket money.”
Beth bristles. “You know it’s more than that,” she hisses under her breath.
“Do I?” Rio finishes his drink, then stands so that he’s pressed against her side. “Come on, let’s go.”
“Where?” Even as she questions him, Beth finishes her bourbon and slides off the stool.
“I’ll take you home,” Rio says.
Rio shrugs. “I didn’t. It works out.”
“Well, then how will you get home?” Beth asks, following him out of the bar and into a night that seems to have gotten ten degrees colder while they were inside.
Rio wraps an arm around her shoulder. “Don’t worry about it.”
To her surprise, Rio doesn’t try to take the keys from her. Dean had always had this thing about refusing to be a passenger if she - or any woman really - was driving. But Rio? Just walked to the passenger’s side of the van and got in without complaint.
“You really aren’t going to tell me what this meeting was about, huh?”
He hums and starts fiddling with the controls. All of the presets are for kids’ music and he seems horrified by every single one before shutting it off with a sound of disgust.
“Your kids got terrible taste,” he tells her.
So no, he’s not going to tell her.
“What should they be listening to,” Beth scoffs as she stops at a red light, “50 Cent?”
Rio turns to look at her. “50 Cent? Fuck, when’s the last time you listened to new music? 2004? And no, not 50 Cent. If you’re going to listen to rap, you’re better off going old school.”
“Oh?” Beth turns left.
“Yeah. 50 Cent,” he mutters, shaking his head. “Aren’t your crowd supposed to be into playing Mozart and shit for your kids? Try and make them smarter?”
“You try playing classical music in the car with four kids. They need something to sing along with,” Beth argues.
“You can sing along with Tupac,” Rio says. He pauses. “Alright, maybe you can’t.”
She laughs at the expression on his face as she turns away from the main roads to get back home.
They fall silent, although before long, Rio starts drumming his fingers against his leg and tapping his feet. He seems to realize that he’s doing it and stops, but he starts again a few minutes later.
Beth doesn’t think that he spends a lot of time being still. Even when they’ve been at drops, he’s been tapping away on his phone or up and moving, like he’s got so much energy inside of him that if he stays in one place too long, it’s just gonna come exploding out of him. He’s graceful though, always seems to moving with purpose rather than just pacing or twitching. It makes his moments of stillness that much more weighted.
A ping from his jacket stops his fingers and he reaches into his pocket to pull out his phone. Or a phone. Criminals have more than one, right? They always did on TV.
He taps a few times, then puts it away.
“Good news?” she asks him.
“The best,” he says as she pulls onto her street.
When Beth parks, Rio’s out of his seat and around the front of the van in no time, waiting for her when she opens her door.
“So how are you getting home?” she asks again, grabbing her bag and slinging it over her shoulder.
Rio presses close to her.
“What are you doing?” Beth asks him.
His grin is wicked, his hand snaking out to settle on her ass. “Going home with you, ain’t I?”
“I don’t think the FBI is watching us that closely,” Beth says.
Rio just laughs. “Oh sweetheart, the FBI and its kind are always watching. Tracking.” His other hand comes up to brush her hair back. “It’s how they get off.”
“And now you expect to -“ Beth flushes, “get off.”
“After what you told Turner?” Rio’s eyebrow goes up. “I think it’s you who expects to get off. I’m just the convenient option, right. I happened to be at that bar when you needed someone other than your husband and now that you’ve had a taste, you want more.”
Beth tilts her head, taking in his amusement.
They’re still standing next to the van in a well lit spot on the driveway. But Rio’s caging her against it with his body even if he doesn’t have her pressed against it.
He’s always pressing his advantage, making one when he doesn’t have it. Beth wants him to feel like he’s on uneven ground for once.
“Are you sure about that?” Beth asks. He’s opening his lips to answer when she lifts her hand from where it’s hanging by her side and reaches out to cup him through his pants. He freezes.
“Because I think in that scenario,” she rubs her thumb back and forth, feeling him, “I wouldn’t be the only one who wanted another taste.” He twitches. “I’m sure you have plenty of options available to you. But for you to come back - to me?”
Beth squeezes and he groans.
“Put that mouth to better use and we’ll see, sweetheart,” Rio says.
Beth jolts back, scowling at him. He laughs and bends down. There’s the briefest hesitation before he kisses her, but it doesn’t last.
His lips are soft, full as they settle against hers. It’s a tentative kiss. He’s not sure how she’ll react. Beth lifts her arms and wraps them around his neck, pulling him closer. Part of her is acting out of spite, to show him he can’t throw her. The rest of her is just curious.
Rio doesn’t leave her waiting. He’s immediately sliding those big hands around her back and pressing her close to his solid chest.
He stays pressed against her the whole time that they walk to the front door, when she fumbles with the key and struggles to get it in the lock, he takes it from her hand and does it.
Beth’s head falls to the side as he sucks a kiss on the underside of her jaw.
“What are you doing?” Beth hisses, shutting the door behind them.
Rio chuckles. “I gotta tell you about hickeys, ma?”
Scowling, she pokes him in the side. “Why are you giving me hickeys? This isn’t tenth grade.”
“No?” he asks. He lifts her onto a stool, her back against the counter, so he doesn’t have to lean down as much as he kisses her lips again.
It feels…it feels good to have him pressed against her front, his mouth moving against hers, then dropping down again.
One of his hands comes up to curl around the top of her dress, his fingers slipping under the fabric to brush over her skin. His fingers are long. She’s spent time looking at them, knows how they look when they’re clasped together in front of him, can guess how they feel when they’re inside of her, knows how they look when he’s holding a gun.
His hand moves towards the centre and undoes the button there. Then the next one. A third button gives him enough space to palm her breast.
Beth gasps, grabbing onto the back of Rio’s head as he works on her neck.
Rio groans, rubbing his hard cock against her belly.
It takes a second for her to realize that it’s Dean saying her name and then she gasps, this time in horror, and shoves Rio away. It doesn’t really work. He’s too solid, too strong. He stops chewing on her neck, but doesn’t go far.
“What are you doing here?” Beth asks, hating how breathless she sounds.
Dean is staring at her in shock and she knows he’s taking in everything - the half undone dress, the hickey forming, Rio still standing too close.
When Rio steps away, she feels a hint of relief, but it evaporates when he palms her hip. “I’ll let you handle this,” he says loud enough for Dean to hear, then bends down to kiss her lips sweetly. “Come to bed when you’re done.” He squeezes her hip, then walks down the hall towards her bedroom.
Beth is flustered when she looks at Dean, fumbling with the buttons on the front of her dress.
“I was hoping that we could talk,” Dean says.
Beth gives up on the buttons. “You couldn’t have called first?”
“It’s my house.”
Beth looks at him. “Is it?”
Dean nods, stubborn to the end the one time that she doesn’t want him to stick by her. “Beth, it’s time for me to come home.”
She stares at him. Had he…not seen her and Rio? Heard what Rio had said before leaving?
“Are you joking?” she says.
“No,” Dean replies. “The kids want us to -“
“Don’t you dare,” Beth snaps.
“With the treatment, I think I really should be at the house,” he says. “The doctor said that stress can impact the effectiveness.”
She stops, biting her tongue. “Now is not the time to talk about that.”
“Right, because now you’re having sex with the bounce house guy,” Dean replies, tone snide.
Beth lifts her chin. “As far as I’m concerned, the only reason that you’re still my husband, legally, is because we don’t have the money to get divorced yet.”
“Bethie,” he starts to say, stepping towards her, but Beth steps back, shakes her head.
“No, Dean. If you want to talk about this, you call me and I’ll set the terms. Now please go.”
He looks like he’s going to argue, eyes darting to the bedroom, but he nods.
It doesn’t even occur to her to ask him where the hell the kids are until she’s locking the door behind him.
And isn’t that rich - him coming here to try to use their kids to guilt her into letting him back into the house. Like that erases what he’s done to her, to them.
Fury slowly building, Beth goes into the bedroom, unbuttoning her dress so that she can step out of it once she’s through the door.
Unbelievable, the nerve of that man! The one time he decides to stick with something. It couldn’t have happened earlier, back when there was still something to salvage?
She kicks the dress away and moves to the dresser, only to stop when there’s a low chuckle.
Rio’s still there. She forgot about him. Or maybe she’d thought he would just dip out through the French doors in her bedroom.
“Take it off,” he says, “take it all off, baby.” His tone is slightly mocking, but there’s something else in it too.
Beth whirls towards him. He’s reclined on her bed. Thankfully, he’s removed his shoes. It’s the first thing that Beth notices before taking in the rest of him. He’s got that ridiculous smirk on his face, though it falters a little when his eyes fall to her breasts, turning into something different.
She’s seen it once before, at Kenny’s birthday party, when she’d asked him what he wanted. The heated look had made her feel uncomfortably aware of herself and it’s no different now.
“You can go,” she tells him.
His eyes snap up to hers. “Yeah?”
“I’m not liking what that would imply about my stamina,” he says, making no move to get off the bed.
“You don’t even know if they’re watching,” she replies, grabbing a robe to cover herself.
Rio lifts his head and slides his hands behind it. “The grey car parked at number 15.”
“What?” Beth frowns.
“It’s a government car. Now,” he says, “it’s possible that one of your neighbours has done something to warrant that kind of attention. In this neighbourhood, wouldn’t surprise me. But it’s a fed.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Beth demands.
Rio raises one eyebrow slowly. “And what would you have done, Elizabeth? Can you keep cool?”
“I don’t know,” Beth snaps, “you tell me.”
He uncoils from his position on her bed and is up and across the room in a blink of an eye.
“You’re good on your feet,” he says, “but inconsistent. As we’ve already established. Can’t keep your stories straight. And your body gives you away - too tense. Like you’re waiting for someone to call you on your bullshit.”
He circles around her, sets his hands on her shoulders and begins to stroke the back of her neck.
“If I’d told you about the tail, which you should have been able to identify yourself,” it’s a reprimand and Beth flushes, “would you have stayed calm and relaxed? Or would you have stiffened up when I kissed you?”
Beth doesn’t answer.
“Not going to try to defend yourself?” Rio asks, digging his thumbs in. He chuckles as his hands descend, slipping down the back of her robe, and his lips come to her neck. “Looks good on you,” he comments, making Beth realize that she’s wearing the robe that he got her, “just like I knew it would.”
“Fine, you can stay,” she says, tilting her neck to give him more space to work with. “But not in my room.”
“Oh baby,” he cajoles, “don’t be like that.” He pulls the robe down over her shoulder as he kisses the skin he’s revealing. His fingers are lightly massaging her lower back now, zeroing in on the spots that have been bothering her.
“What did Car Man want?” he asks, digging his thumb into a knot and massaging it out.
It takes Beth a moment to realize what he’s asking and another to gather herself enough to pull away from Rio.
“He wanted to talk,” she says, putting distance between them because she knows that the second his hands are on her, she’ll forget herself again.
“Uh huh?” Rio leans against her dresser, looking amused. “Bout what?”
“Coming back to live here.”
He stares at her for a beat and when she doesn’t go on, he throws his head back and laughs.
“That man’s a trip,” he says.
“Well, apparently the doctor said that stress interferes with the effectiveness of chemo so he -“
“Wait,” Rio holds up his hand. “Cancer?”
Rio’s eyes narrow. “How long he had that?”
“Few months,” she says.
“When he tell you that?”
Beth stiffens. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means,” Rio drawls, “that when I was looking into your husband, I didn’t find anything about him having cancer.”
“What, did you look at his medical records?” Beth scoffs.
“No,” he admits, “but there’s certain things that suggest a serious illness. All I found with your husband is that he’s bad with money and a fucking creep.”
“I went to an appointment with him.”
Rio hums. “If you say so.”
She glares at him for a moment, but his questions are slowly settling in. She bites her lip. “How would I look into something like that?”
“You know his doctor’s name?”
“I could pay the good doctor a visit,” he says.
“And what’ll that cost me?” Beth asks.
He smiles, stepping away from the dresser to walk over to one of Beth’s chairs. He sprawls in it, his legs long.
“Take it off.”
Beth’s taken aback. “And if I’m not okay with that price?” she asks, holding her robe a little tighter.
“Never said you had to do anything else,” Rio says. “Just wanna see you.”
What he’s saying has all of Beth’s hair standing on end as she stares at him.
“Haven’t you ever just wanted to look?” he asks, voice dropping. “Even if you’re not gonna get to touch, you just wanna see.”
Beth’s breathing is erratic as his eyes slowly move down her body, tracing all of her, even what’s covered by the robe. “You already saw,” she says. “I forgot you were here.”
He shakes his head. “I wanna see,” he says.
Oh. He means all of her. He wants her to take off her robe and then her underwear and what, just let him look at her?
“Why do you want to?” she asks. “See me, I mean.”
Rio cocks his head as his eyes travel back up to her face. “Cause you hide yourself.”
Beth pulls her lower lip between her teeth and considers. Thinks about the stuff that she does try to hide. Her scars, stretch marks, the bad choice of tattoo.
“Show me,” he says it, speaking far more softly than he ever has to her before.
Beth swallows, then lifts her hand to the tie of her robe. She doesn’t look at Rio as she undoes it and shrugs the robe off, putting it down carefully on the back of the other chair. She does, however, glance at him, seeing his hands settle on the tops of his thighs.
Reaching behind her back, she unclasps her bra with ease, lowering the straps slowly down her arms. Not in an attempt to draw this out for him, she wants to inform him, but something that she’s learned to do over the years to make sure that her breasts lower slowly rather than all at once in a way that makes them ache.
She hears the change in his breathing when her nipples come into sight and when she looks again, one of his hands has moved a little higher up his leg.
Before she pushes her underwear down, she hesitates. She hadn’t exactly gone to the salon before this, but when she makes eye contact with Rio and he raises an eyebrow like he’s saying, “What? You think I haven’t seen it all before?” she shoves those down too, stepping out of them.
Beth’s not sure the last time that she was naked like this in front of someone. Years. At least, if ever.
“Turn around,” he says.
She does, turning slowly in a circle, looking back at him over her shoulder when she’s facing away. “That do it for you?” She has no idea where the confidence to say it comes from, but it makes him grin and rub his hand over his cock through his pants.
“What do you think, Elizabeth?”
Beth completes her turn. “I think I’m not the only one that hides themself.”
Rio stops touching himself, returns both of his hands to the armrests. “You wanna see?”
And she does. Beth wants to know what’s hidden under all the layers that he’s always wearing. She nods.
He taps his chin, like he’s thinking it over. He doesn’t say anything, but he pushes himself up out of the chair.
First thing to go is his jacket, which he hangs just as carefully as she had the robe. Then there’s a button-up, done all the way to his throat. When he reaches his chest, Beth realizes that he’s got an undershirt on too and can’t hold back her laughter.
“Cold?” she asks.
He doesn’t respond, just undoes the buttons at his wrists. Once the shirt is off and hanging over the jacket, he takes off his socks. As if he can sense Beth’s growing impatience, he smirks as he rises up and undoes his belt, but leaves his pants on as he tugs off the last of his shirts.
There’s a thin line of hair below his belly button that leads into his pants, rough in comparison to his skin. What had Annie called it? A treasure trail?
In contrast with how carefully he’s removed the rest of his clothing, he shoves his own underwear down with his jeans, stepping out of them and kicking them aside, leaving him completely naked.
“Turn around,” Beth tells him, throwing his earlier command back in his face.
He grins, but does as asked. He’s fit and Beth runs her eyes over his muscles. When he’s facing her again, he doesn’t waste anymore time, just walks to Beth and looks her in the eye. “Wanna touch,” he says.
Beth wants him to touch too. She wants to touch him.
She nods and in an instant, his hands are on her, one cupping her ass and pulling her towards him and the other on the back of her neck as he leans down to kiss her.
If kissing had felt good before, out in the kitchen, it feels even more intense now. She can feel him against her stomach, hard and wants to reach down and take him in her hand so she does.
Rio tenses, then moans into her mouth as she explores his cock.
Beth’s not sure if she walks to the bed herself or if Rio carries her there, but she’s tumbling back onto her sheets with Rio right above her, still kissing her.
“Fuck,” he murmurs when she breaks the kiss so she can breathe again.
She goes to press her mouth back to his but he shifts so that his head is even with her chest.
His mouth settles on the underside of her breast, teasing one moment and harsh the next. The contrast makes Beth squirm under him, searching for something. Searching for more of Rio.
He does a push-up, lifting up off her body.
“Open those pretty little thighs for me, sweetheart,” he says. It should bother her, the way he commands her and demands that she do certain things, but it doesn’t. It makes her belly drop like the one roller coaster she’d gone on with Ruby when they were 17, makes her wet.
She does asked and his hand comes to rest at the apex of her thighs, fingers just brushing over her.
Rio nips her bottom lip and Beth growls at him. She’s immediately mortified by the noise, but he just moves his lips to her chin, then to her jugular, then down.
He teases her with a finger as he kisses over her breast, slipping it in when he bites her nipple. He starts up a steady rhythm with his finger, sliding in and out to rub over her clit as her legs shake.
“When’s the last time someone got you off?” he asks.
“I get -“
“Not you,” he stops her. “Someone other than yourself.”
Beth flushes, not even sure what the answer to that is.
He makes a noise of pity. “Poor Elizabeth,” he murmurs, “all alone in your big house. Bored out of your fucking mind. Touching yourself when your husband’s not around so he don’t know you still need it.”
A second finger pushes in alongside the first and he moves to take her other nipple into his mouth.
“I’ll take care of you,” he says when he pulls off. “I’ll make it good for you, don’t worry.”
She rolls her hips. “I’m hearing a whole lot of talk,” she tells him.
Rio laughs. “Here I was, thinking I’d need to ease you into it.”
Before Beth can retort, Rio’s moved further down her body, pulled out his fingers, and shoved her legs apart. She only has time to gasp before he’s got his mouth on her.
She jerks, legs starting to close instinctively. But Rio’s grip is strong and he just shoves them back apart with ease.
There’s no teasing now, no easing into it. He’s fucking her with his mouth and demanding that she come for him.
“Right there!” Beth moans when his tongue hits just the right spot. “Yes,” she gasps when he zeroes in on it. He chuckles against her, making her squirm.
The noises he makes are obscene as he drags her over the precipice and Beth wails into her arm as she comes. It’s the best orgasm she’s had in…forever. She slowly realizes that she’s rubbing herself against Rio’s face and she slumps, suddenly drained.
Instead of pulling away and getting right to fucking, like Beth had expected, Rio keeps licking her gently. It makes her whimper and jerk, especially when he flattens his tongue against her clit and rubs.
She has to push him away after that.
He presses one last kiss right to her cunt, then pulls back and moves to lie on his back next to her.
“You good?” he asks.
Beth’s hand is clenched in the sheets so tightly that it hurts. She makes herself let go. “You have to ask?”
She turns her head to look at him. He’s staring at the ceiling, his breathing a little uneven. She glances down his body to his erection and swallows.
“Do you have a condom?”
He lets his head fall in her direction. Nods, but doesn’t do anything else.
“Do you want to-“ Beth doesn’t know how to ask him if he wants to have sex with her.
“Do I want to what, Elizabeth?” He’s smiling slightly. “Do I want to fuck you?”
“Say it and I will.”
“Do you want to fuck me?” Beth rushes the question out.
He rolls to his side, then closer, until his face is hovering over hers. “I want to make you feel me for days,” he says. “I want you to scream for me.”
With that, he moves away, goes to his jeans and comes back, already unwrapping the condom. Beth watches him slide it down his length and then stroke a few times before rejoining her.
“Ready?” he asks, settling in between her legs and lining up with her.
“Yes,” Beth says, more sure of that than she’s been of anything in a while.
As he slides into her, Beth can’t help but think that he’s perfect. He fills her up, but it doesn’t hurt. It’s just…satisfying. Beth whimpers as he starts to withdraw.
Rio dips his head to brush his nose against hers. “I’m coming right back,” he says, doing exactly that. He pulls out slowly, then pounds back in with a slap of his hips against the insides of her thighs. “You like that huh?”
Beth swallows, tilts her head back.
“Me inside of you,” he goes on. “I can feel you twitching around me, squeezing me tight.” She tightens around him on purpose and he groans. “Just like that, Elizabeth.”
He puts his hand over her pelvis, heel of his hand just above her clit, and presses down slightly.
Beth grabs onto his arms. “Don’t stop,” she pants.
“Don’t worry,” he tells her, moving his hand until it’s his fingertips that are rubbing against her, “I’m not gonna stop. Not ’til you and me are both done.” As he speaks, he keeps up a steady rhythm with his hips.
Beth tightens her hold on his biceps, then forces herself to let go, reaching up to grab onto her pillows instead.
Shutting her eyes, she tilts her head back and rides the feeling of Rio moving inside of her. There’s still sparks floating through her from her first orgasm and she’s starting to think that her second one is going to be better. Her mouth falls open on a gasp, that turns to a groan.
“Yes,” she says, toes curling against the top sheet as she lifts her hips to meet his.
“Look at me.”
Beth doesn’t even think of denying his demand, just drops her head down and opens her eyes so she’s looking into his.
She’s not expecting him to bend and connect their mouths, kissing her deeply as he works her to her second peak.
Not content to grip the pillows anymore, she wraps her arms around Rio’s neck and kisses him back as she melts for him. In some hazy part of her mind, she registers that he’s coming too, moaning into her mouth as he fills the condom.
They come down slowly, still kissing, although sometimes it turns to nipping at each other’s lips, breathing each other in. When he pulls out and Beth sighs at the loss of him, he rubs his nose over her cheek.
He pulls away and goes to the bathroom.
She tries to gather herself together, vaguely noticing when the toilet flushes and the sink turns on.
When he comes back out, he heads back to his clothes.
“Now what?” Beth asks, tugging her sheet up to cover herself. “Are you going to tell me what tonight was about?”
Rio gets dressed. “You don’t need to worry about -“
“I’m not worried!” she snaps. “I want to know.”
He stops buttoning his shirt. “Yeah?” Beth nods. “Because right now, you haven’t showed me anything that says I can trust you with that.”
“I haven’t sold you out or anything.”
Rio snorts. “You got questioned once by the feds and you shared all kinds of stuff, Elizabeth.”
“It was meaningless, it didn’t -“
His jaw tightens. “Nothing’s meaningless in this. Nothing. The feds show up to your house, you say nothing. They ask you to come into the office, you do not go. You’ve got a lot to learn.”
Beth holds the sheet closer to her chest. “So teach me.”
He doesn’t say anything to that, just finishes buttoning his shirt, then comes back to the bed. “I am teaching you. You just ain’t paying attention.” Despite his words, he kisses her goodbye before leaving. When she looks out, he’s gone, so he must have had someone come by to pick him up and -
She’s overtaken by embarrassment that one of Rio’s guys had been waiting outside for them to finish. Or maybe Rio had timed it perfectly, knew how long he was planning to take with her.
Biting her lip, she drops onto her back and stares up at the ceiling. What’s she doing?
Rio hops into Mick’s car.
Mick nods, once.
So that’s it. Eddie’s taken care of.
“Should I ask why you’re late?” Mick asks.
Rio laughs. “You really want to?”
Mick’s face pulls into an exaggerated grimace. “Nah, I’m good.”
Rio leans his elbow against the door, propping his chin on his fist. He’d really only needed Beth as an alibi until 8, but he’d been enjoying himself. He rubbed his hand over his chin and sighed.
What the fuck was he doing?