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With her brain as clear as a bowl of oatmeal, Beth brought her sleep-boggled self to a sit.  

The nightstand clock marked way past midnight. Last she knew it was six pm and Rio had shown up at her door. Beth took the opportunity to shower in peace. After slipping into her PJ pants, nursing tank top and robe, Beth had laid her damp hair onto the pillow and closed her eyes, drawn by its comfort. 

The baby. Beth startled.

She blinked the sleep away, shoved the heap of bedding away and rushed to the crib. 

Empty.

Five hours of uninterrupted sleep with a six-week-old baby was a small mercy that her painfully engorged breasts refused to acknowledge. Beth found the culprits of both her blessings and miseries sound asleep in the living room.

An empty baby bottle rested on the coffee table, a pair of black canvas Converse placed neatly at the table’s feet. Rio’s shirtless frame fulled the couch and enormous flipper feet jutted from the armrest. The pink bundle that denoted their daughter reposed over Rio’s gilded chest, even when a kidney-priced bassinet was at the princess’s disposal just a few feet away. 

She could’ve stressed over the possibility of spoiling the baby’s sleeping habits but Beth was well aware that opportunities to hold her like that were limited by the ticking of the clock.     

Beth’s fingers brushed the sable baby-tufts longingly. The tiny head concealed the bullet wound she’d inflicted on Rio’s chest. The tattooed arm snuggled behind his head allowed the other two on display. 

It seemed like a hundred years ago when she’d held that gun and pulled the trigger. The wounds might have healed but she was well aware that the soul-deep bruises wouldn’t.

And yet, as she watched the shadows of Rio’s elongated eyelashes dancing a serene bloom over the hardened edges of his face, and how his sinewy hand moved up and down veiling the baby's sleeping form so protectively, Beth couldn’t help but wonder.

Her chest unearthed its own wary swell, one so overwhelming that she had to look away. 

What a colossal mistake. 

Those goddamned jeans fit so provocatively low around his hips that she could ascertain his religion. Note that she already knew it… biblically. 

The guy was all limbs and trimmed brawn, wicked mouth, ink-kissed skin and dark whiskers, all bundled with a thick uncut dick. 

Something else swelled inside her and just like that, lust stuck firmly to her ribs. Her nipples stiffened, a painful reminder that she hadn’t expressed milk in way too long. Under the mantle of renewed motherhood, understandably, she hadn’t thought about sex until the last couple days, when the Doc gave her the green light at the six-week check-up, but heck if her body had forgotten how ingeniously he could use each part of his.  

With a sigh, Beth hauled herself from the throb of her desires into the kitchen. The dishes drying on the rack and the remains of pizza told her that Rio had taken care of feeding all her progeny. 

On topic, her stomach grumbled. She grabbed a slice of cold pizza and dug into the fridge for something to drink. She turned around, juggling with a pitcher of juice, the snacks she’d thrown in the mixture, and the slice of pizza hanging from her mouth only to find Rio smirking from the other side of the counter.

Months ago she would’ve been dismayed at the dishevelled picture she was painting, but that was before he’d witnessed her push a baby out of her. So that was where she was drawing her line. 

"Hungry, huh?"

God. That drawl. If she could bottle it, her finances would cease to be a problem.

Ignoring the sudden way her panties seemed to have dissolved, Beth released her booty and peeked past the broad of his shoulders to see the baby still peacefully asleep, this time in the bassinet.

She bit into the slice, the cold sauce smeared over her lip. Sensibly and lacking a napkin, she licked it clean. 

Rio’s onyx eyes hooded over her mouth. One of his concise throat clearings worked the corded muscles of his neck, his shoulders rolled and the veiny hands found his jeans' pockets, somehow dragging them even lower. Beth couldn’t stop herself from ogling the narrow of his hipbones.

"Thanks for dinner. And the extra sleep," she managed to say, before taking another bite.

"My treat. Kenny washed the dishes. They all packed for Dean’s tomorrow."

"Oh!" Well, that was... extra. "Thank you."

His shoulders bulged with a dismissive shrug but Beth wasn’t taking as lightly. If things between them were shaky, between she and Dean weren’t much better. 

Although her marriage had expired long before all this, and the pregnancy just injected a much-needed period at the end of such a lengthy sentence, Beth still regretted how she’d inserted it: 

“We have a million kids that we can’t afford, Beth! This needed a discussion, at least!”

“Well, it isn’t yours so you don’t have to worry about it!”

It hadn’t been her most tactful moment. And while the two-two-three parenting schedule might have worked on paper, a second rent and a newborn had proven different in practice. Instead, Beth was now repaying the mortgage in full and Dean was living with his mother until they could sustain a better solution.  

The issue now was that Dean wanted to sell the house and use the money to buy out his boss’ spa place. And Beth was at the risk of not having a roof over her head for the umpteenth time. Even if she’d get a share of the cookie from the sale, no one would give a home-loan to a forty-year-old divorcee with five kids and a minimum wage job.  

Then there was this. She eyeballed Rio through another slice of pizza. Whatever this was. 

Still felt like she had to walk on eggshells around him, even if they had been in this “lull” phase since the bar incident. Exhausted of fearing for her life, Beth had confronted him with two virgin Caipirinhas in her system, all pluck and no method.

“How much would it cost? My life?”

“Nah, it’s too late for that.”

“Try me. How much am I worth?”

“You couldn’t afford it.” 

The disdain that had drenched his voice could still chill her bones. 

“What if I could?” She’d returned with dread.

“What are you exactly tryna do here, Elizabeth, huh?” He’d glowered at her like he wanted to fill her with lead, and that stage, Beth was confident he would.

“I can’t live like this! You need to tell me what you want from me. Is this baby just a nine-month extension to my life? Do you want it? Would you even care if I got rid of it?”

She still recalled the way he’d said it, equal parts hubris and hurt. 

“What is it they say? No uterus, no opinion.”

“It’s your baby too.”

“Is it?”

Beth didn’t assume to hate him any more than that day, that moment. She’d stormed off from the bar, boiling in that same emotional concoction, overlooking the fact that Mick had driven her to the goddamned bar. 

Rio left her alone after that, albeit not for long. Soon she was printing every ten she could muster to his name, incentivized by the fingerprints on a murder weapon. He wasn’t the kind of man that let his catch off the hook but a shift did occur when the DNA results came out.  

He came to her, touched the prominence of her belly, rawness patent in his eyes, aware of what she already knew. He’d kiss her. The bold taste of Tequila abraded, hot against her tongue, but Beth had sought to kiss deeper sores, wary of saying words that might come back to bite her in the ass. He didn’t speak much either, still; they were loud enough. 

A lot had settled tacit in the quiet of that night. Acquitted, perhaps but not forgotten. 

"You’re leaking."

His thick drawl woke her from her musings. She looked down. A dark, wet circle expanded its way through her clothes. "Shit! Did she feed just now or?"

"Mm-hmm. We were chillin' for thirty or so."

"Ugh. I have to pump."

She stuffed the last bite into her mouth and made way to the cupboard where she stored the double breast pump. 

"Need help?"

Her heart dropped to her pussy, unsettled by what could only be the most suggestive offer her ears ever heard.

"With what, baby?" she humoured, "Suckling?"

He smirked like the cat that stole the cream. "Oh, y’know... if the mouth fits."

Just the thought of Rio feeding at her breast made liquid heat of her insides. But Beth knew better than to consider twice. She left the kitchen instead, a nervous giggle tittering behind her. 

He loved her tits. It was no secret. But that was before. She knew how she looked right now. Gross. Engorged breasts, darkened nipples, state-of-the-art stretch marks, and let’s get honest, that baby fat that wasn’t going anywhere at number five. Plus, her previous postpartum sexual experiences had left their report. So yeah… nope.

Naked from the waist up, Beth set camp on the bed. Bath towel. More towels. Pillows. Snacks. Fluids. Phone. And expression bustier for hands-free pumping. All set, except her breasts, which after five hours of neglect, had no interest in cooperating. They were so firm and full, one would expect it would touch and go. But no. 

Beth teased her fingers through the hard swells and massaged the areolas gently, trying to initiate the milk letdown. Under the pressure of her fingertips, she sensed the blocks in her milk ducts were gonna take more than gentle rubbing. 

"Here,"

Her noodle almost bumped the ceiling. Hands skidded and shuffled, unsure if she should cover her breasts or raise in surprise. It wasn't anything he hadn't seen before but... Jesus Fuckin’ Christ. Did the man float or something?

In fact, he resembled an enormous feline, slinking by her bed with offerings. All stealthy grace and low sinking jeans.

"I should tie up jingle bells to your ankles." Sneered Beth.

"Beware of what you wish for, Christmas' just around the corner," he purred right on cue.    

"Anything else on your wishlist?" she flashed, snatching the warmed gel packs he held.

He reached for his back. Months before, she would have seen the glint of a gun. Nowadays it was just the baby monitor.

"Electric toothbrush. The normal one you lent me sucks ass," he said, placing it on the bedside table. 

Beth blinked as he pushed the pillows at her back away and scooted his lean body into their place in one fluid move. 

"What are you doing?"

"Helping."

One of his ropy arms wrapped around her ribcage and cuddled her against his packed torso. Adroit fingers pushed her hair away from her nape and his pillowy lips found the support of her neck. Heat spread through her spine, top to bottom, mellowing her to his shape. Rugged fingertips found the sides of her arms with a gentle caress, whispering all the way down her hands. His palms guided hers, placing the warmers over her aching flesh. She held them in place while he shadowed his way back to her neck. 

His fingers found their way around a tension knot almost instantly, making her croon in pleasure. "Mmm, that feels good."

Rio kept working his magic while the warm compress did its job, and the cosy silence reigned long enough for her to fully relax.

"You think Santa would bring me the keys to your door if I asked nicely?" he hummed against her ear, tending his way through her collarbone and down to the bulged upcurve of her chest.

Her eyes snapped open. He slept there more days than not and never needed keys to find his way in before. 

"I-I don’t think you’d want to go through the trouble when, most likely, I’ll have to move out."

His fingers froze. "What he do now?"

She sank further down his chest and sighed. His hands immediately sought her sides with comforting strokes. 

"Boland Bubbles."

"Heh?" Rio scoffed.

"He wants to buy the spa showroom. Needs capital," she fanned her arm through the room. "This is it."

"He ain’t learned shit, has he? A dead ringer for Boland "Chapter 11” Motors. He couldn’t run a business if his life depended on it."

It was like a light switch flicked in her head. She perched up and shimmied from his embrace, hurling the forgotten warmers in the process. "What if he didn’t have to?"

"Uh?"

"Hot tubs. It’s perfect. Rich people love ’em, financing plans," she rambled, reaching for her phone and typing as fast as she talked, "Layaway…there’s like a million ways to cook the books. Not targeted by the IRS. It’s not regulated. No licensing. Any idiot can sell them—" 

"And you know just the guy." Rio finalized for her.

"Brands aren’t apples to apples so there’s no way off knowing what the real price is. I can get away with anything I want. It’s all profit. It’s perfect," she repeated, glancing up from her phone to find him intently studying her.

"What? You don’t think it’s a good idea? I mean, I’d need your help and I still have to pitch Dean in, but Santa would have no trouble in dropping that key in your stocking—I-I… forget it."

"Nah, nah. I like it." He smiled his lopsided smile. "A lot."

"Oh! Okay. Good," she mumbled, watching how his tongue played between the white zirconium of his teeth. 

"I ain't ever seen you in action before. It’s like watching a spider spinning its web. Quite..." his dark eyes roved to her mouth and further down, to her bared breasts. They branded her skin, raging unquenched thirst and guaranteed satisfaction alike. "Riveting." 

The bump in Rio’s throat bobbed. The movement seemed to suck in all the oxygen in the room and replaced it with blatant desire. She inhaled it harshly. The heat bolted through her bloodstream, gathered in her core and pulsated its way to her erogenous ends. All of her prickled, her lactating breasts kindled and right on cue, white beads of milk welled from her nipples. 

Beth snapped out of it in an appalling instant. Before she could dart for one of the towels, Rio caught her wrist. His body slithered towards hers, abs rippling in a way that transported her back to the last time they undulated, just so, but between her thighs.   

"What are you doing?" she panted.

"Adjusting your web."

His hands curved underneath her breasts, boosting the tender masses to his hankering gaze. A low rumble grew in the depths of his throat as the droplets dilated and dripped. His tongue curled over one of them before it rolled too far. Her body nearly convulsed when his hot, greedy mouth encircled her areola and freed her nipple with a wet draw. 

Rio eagerly squeezed the fullness within his hands before diving for the other droplet and teasing her nipple with the same suck. 

"God... you’re sweet as fuck."

Purring in absolute delectation, Rio closed his eyes and rubbed his shadowed jaw all over the pendulous orbs. A feline all over its prized catnip. 

Shaky, incredulous gasps eased through her lips while he expedited her onto a straddle over his lap. His thumb looped the tender flesh, the dusky pink teats, darkened by pregnancy, distended and secreted, lush and ready for suckling.

"It’s like sipping from a ripe cantaloupe. I could drink you all day, mama."

And hell if he wasn't going to do just so. He’d called her a spinning spider but she was the one all tangled up in his trap, about to be devoured.  

He drew her breast into his mouth, accommodated the nipple on the concave of his tongue into a perfect latch and wasted no time.

She couldn’t stop the groan that escaped from her throat, or how her hands wrapped at the back of his skull and clutched him to her, or the way her body arched, feeling the exact moment milk flooded his mouth.  

Rio moaned, cupped her tit with both hands and kneaded, drawing more nectar from her. 

His suckling had nothing to do with that of a babe. All indulgence and no nourishing purpose. Oh, he was hungry all right. She felt it in the way he swallowed huge mouthfuls; on the thick, and violently aroused length of him pressed hard against her nether.  

Her other teat began to trickle, increasing in lactant expectancy and Beth could hardly breathe. It was sheer eroticism to watch his wicked mouth lead its greedy crusade. The unapologetic, ravenous way he gulped each gush of liquid delight that pulsed hot into his mouth. How the tan, long fingers dented the pale veined marble of her skin like an artist carving a sculpture. Her early worries appeared preposterous before this stunning spectacle he etched from her.  

His eyes locked on hers as he drew deeply and released. Creamy jets of milk spritzed his chin, he didn’t care. The man was on a mission. He took her mouth; she tasted herself, rich and fruity, just as he described. His hands moved over her, his fingers splayed wide to take every bit of skin in his way; stroking, cupping and caressing all of her. Milk streamed a hedonistic course between their bodies, aiding his path through her waistband and towards the patch of tight, coppery curls.

The mellow scent of breastmilk filled the room and blended with that of her arousal, heightening the prowess of his touch.

Beth threw her head back, mind nearly exploding with the pleasure. Her fingers twisted over his cropped hair, trying to seize what was not there. Didn’t matter. She held him to her, pushed her hips into him. There was a lot of him there. Fingers playing with her clit, skidding through the moisture of her folds. And yet, not enough.

As if sensing her distress, Rio hoisted her by the buttocks and laid her on her back. He found the waistband of her PJ’s, hooked her panties and slowly peeled them both from her body. 

Bared, Beth watched his mesmerized reaction. His hands cupped the tender sides of her breasts and playfully made ‘em clap. Every time they did, squirts of milk would sprout. She would have laughed her hat off, except he opened his mouth and they landed onto his expectant tongue.

She didn’t think it was possible to kindle her fire any further, obviously; she was dead wrong. Liquid fire trickled on the inside of her thigh just like breastmilk from her teat. 

Beth cupped the breast he hadn’t fed on and milked. He panted, momentarily numbed by the sampling.

"More?" she offered, spreading her legs.  

"Hell, yes."

He wasted no time and latched. It wasn’t like before; the letdown had let like an open dam. It was wicked, how he gorged on it, the way he fought to breathe through the consecutive mouthfuls. God, he tried but there was so much that it burst through the corners of his mouth.

"Goddamn!" he said out of breath and puzzled by the river of her breast, "I don’t know how she ain’t choking more frequently."

"Practice."

"Yeah?" his eyes flashed at the challenge.

"Yeah."

His tongue lapped at her spontaneously lactating nipples, lavishing them in attention, before supping a mouthful of the flow. She cried out a protest when his mouth left her breast, but then watched, fascinated, as his mouth drifted, whiskers feathering her belly, and lower still to her mound. His hands cupped the soft of her inner thighs and his head lowered onto her heat.

She couldn’t see it, but she damn well felt it. The milk showered her clit and drizzled through her seam. She heard her own choked scream as he gathered breastmilk and cunt juice with the roll of his tongue and pushed it inside of her.

Beth trashed, the towel curled under her tight fists as he abandoned her. Her hips followed him, disapproving, possessive and downright frustrated although he didn’t go far. He drained more milk, his heavy fullness humping her like a horny teenager until she swore she’d go mad if he didn’t cram her up.

He did better. Went back to her kitty and devoured it. His thick middle finger drilled her as far as it could reach, then he cajoled a second finger; all while his tenacious mouth supped at her clit. The noises... God, she was so wet and riled up that she hadn’t the faintest idea where they were coming from the loudest - if her cunt or her mouth. The gathering pressure threatened to blow the top of her head off but it was her belly that imploded in a vicious, agrestal orgasm that seemed to swallow the world around her. 

Rio didn’t move, his muscles taut as she came around his fingers, all over his mouth. He waited until her fertile body stopped giving and her breathing soothed, not sure which head was pulsating harder. 

He dropped beside her and endured very still, sure one more scruff with cloth would bust him. Alas, he was stuck in her web. Her long legs straddled him, elegant fingers clawed their way through the buttons of his jeans. She didn’t even need to trap him to destroy him but he didn’t dare to complain when she did. 

Pre-cum beaded her hand as she rocked him sensuously against her golden mound. The gorgeous lactating tits specked his torso with their secretion. He cinched her thighs hard; afraid he was rushing her. "You sure?" 

Her forehead lolled onto his, their pants blending as she aligned the raging, pulsating crown to her entrance. "Yes."

Beth inhaled, ready for some quite possible discomfort but before anything could happen shrilling cries boomed through the bedroom.

Both their heads snapped to the monitor, holding their breaths as if it would make a difference. Of course, it didn’t.

"Fuck..." Rio loafed his head onto her chest, all of his slim fibre quivering in strain. "Maybe if we just sit here, she'll settle?"

Beth laughed. "With that avid appetite, she inherited from you? Good luck!"

"Oh, those lungs are yours," he declared as she dismounted and collapsed by his side. His hand moulded into the shape of a gun, Rio pointed the finger barrel to the scar under his pec, cocked the thumb hammer and fired, sound effects and all. "That's for damn sure."

Beth’s laugh dried out. The phantom of his hook scraped her larynx like an invisible bone stuck in her throat. 

His chuckle bubbled, low and smug; and for a split second Beth couldn’t breathe, her fears taking shape in front of her eyes but then laughter filled the room; the contagious, carefree kind that could drive you to throw your head back and let go.

"That's not how genetics work," she mumbled, not able to do so just yet.

"Says who?"

"Science! Go get her before she wakes the whole house!" Beth urged even if he was already sliding his trunks up.

"How am I supposed to walk?" he asked, rubbing his hands down his belly and jutting his groin forward. "Belly full like this and balls blue like that?"

"God…" Beth shook her head disapprovingly but a giggle already brewed in her throat. "I hate you."

"Oh, is that what we calling it now?" 

Rio leaned against the door’s frame with a sensuous slink, eyes half-lidded like a predator considering a prey. Beth held her breath, aware of her status. 

She was no spider. The only threads she had were the strings of her heart. And quite clearly, they didn’t belong to her anymore. A beat passed, and another. The cries of their daughter grew, possibly deafening, but all Beth could hear was her heartstrings’ brittle strum. How unfair that he could play them like that. 

"I hate you too, Elizabeth."

Beth only dared to breathe her relief once he left. More than one thing had been bound to settle that night. Through the monitor, she watched him coo and nestle their baby in his arms. Soon all would be right in her world again... and maybe theirs too.