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For a long, glorious, suspended moment, Jang Jun Woo—no, Jang Han Seok—no, Babo—glares at them with the most incredible stink eye Cha Young has ever witnessed. It’s a good sight, she thinks, and far more honest than anything the asshole had ever shown her in the past. The popcorn-rained audience stares at him, uncomprehending, and she pops her gum bubble in a burst of uncontained laughter, because—years ago, when she’d been a starry-eyed student with big dreams and bad hair—she’d been one of them, lapping up the words of some ‘self-made’ corporate overlord. What an idiot she had been.

Now, however, her hair is amazing, her braces gone, her complexion immaculate, and an unbelievable man from the mafia just made one of her dreams come true.

She thinks she might have the hots for him.

This realization doesn’t come as a surprise to her. She has always thought that he looks like a cannoli and a half, but then again, there’s an ocean’s worth of difference between being attracted to someone for how they look, sort of liking and having feelings for that someone after going through some very harrowing experiences, and—as of right now—being actually, viscerally turned on due to the inherent eroticism of that someone prearranging their common enemy’s public humiliation via pig blood baptism.

Vincenzo has turned his eyes away from the stage and towards her. She can feel the weight of his gaze, like a weird, shitty, overly specific superpower that only serves to make her self-conscious and squirmy. She pretends it doesn’t bother her. Pretends she doesn’t get even hotter under his gaze. Pretends she doesn’t notice him at all, her own eyes fixed to the breathless crowd beneath them.

She’s good at feigning unflappability. It’s one of her best assets, back when she’d been at Wusang, and it continues to serve her even after she moved on to the lawless pastures of intimidation and power moves and arson.

The spell eventually breaks. Security swarms Babo, swaddling him in a blanket, ushering him away. He looks like the most murderous newborn baby in the world. Vincenzo leans even closer now, his hand slipping to wrap around hers, curved loose like a question mark; she squeezes it and feels him relax in her grasp. His breath is a warm brush against her cheek, her ear as he says, low enough that only she can hear him in the uproar, “Let’s go.”

They leave. Outside the auditorium, Babo is put in cuffs and—she knows she’s been grinning for all this while, but it deserves to be said—her cheeks are stretched in the biggest, most joyous grin she’s had probably in a long, long while. Vincenzo isn’t grinning, though. He’s smiling. A gentle, unadulterated one, like he’s happy to see her happy. His eyes search her face as if she’s the only thing that matters now. Maybe she is. He had expressed his dislike for the pig blood ritual, yet here he is, having arranged it to happen for her entertainment. Her grin falters. It feels like someone’s squeezing her insides.

She is once more faced with the knowledge that not only does she have the hots for him, she also has feelings for him. How inconvenient. She also knows that either he doesn’t reciprocate said feelings or he has hang-ups about acting on it. She’s not sure, and her guess changes at least three times a day. The conclusion is the same, though. He’s uncomfortable whenever she tries to express her feelings, so she has been pretending the feelings don’t exist. Sometimes she’s just so good at the pretense that she even believes her own lies.

It is, right now, not one of those times.

No, it is one of those times she feels brazen and invincible—and no one should blame her for it, least of all him, as he’s the one who had made her feel like this with his little show and popcorn and bubblegum—and that means careful, measured action is beyond her.

So Hong Cha Young, ace lawyer and mistress of great life decisions, swallows her gum, pulls Vincenzo Cassano down by the lapels of his coat, and kisses him.

As soon as their lips touch, she realizes two things. One: they’re in public. There’s a crowd of reporters some ways away from them—though she’s pretty sure they’re not aiming their cameras at her and Vincenzo—and an argument that’s simmering to a boil between Prosecutor Jung and that snake Choi Myung Hee. Cha Young is also relatively sure that jerk Jang Han Seok is still glowering at everyone, the promise of a painful death in his infuriating face.

Two: she doesn’t really care.

She can’t bring herself to care for anything else but Vincenzo and the way the curve of his back, his neck, goes rigid for a brief second then eases into something languid as he steps closer to press her body flush against hers. The way he sighs something like resignation before he kisses her back, his mouth tasting like bubblegum. The way his palms burn hot against the small of her back, against the line of her jaw. He often touches her, casual brushes, comforting warmth against her shoulder, her arm; she’s grown attached to these touches like a plant is attached to sunlight.

But his warmth is now like sparks to a kindling and she is sure, now; she is sure that he is drawn to her as she is to him. That whatever has driven her to kiss him now, had been the same thing that had brought pig blood down on their enemy. A sound forms in the base of her throat, not quite a moan but not not that, either, and he quietly swallows it into him, swipes the sound away from her lips with his tongue. She clings to him, her grip tightening around the fabric of his coat, and his thumb gently strokes her cheek in response.

They part, panting. His eyes are wide and dark and searching, always searching her face. He’s not smiling, though. He looks hungry, and she’s sure he sees the same look on her face. At this moment, they’re in perfect agreement.

Someone clears their throat. Still locked in their embrace, both Cha Young and Vincenzo turn their eyes to the direction of the interruption. Prosecutor Jung looks like he really, really doesn’t want to be here right now. To be fair, the man never looks comfortable anywhere, with his spine constantly stiff as a metal pole, but Cha Young has never seen him simultaneously red and green at the same time before.

She asks, “What?” and fails to not sound as if she’s not out of breath.

“We’re taking CEO Jang in,” Prosecutor Jung says, and he sounds… apologetic. Weird. If Cha Young were him, she’d want to throw laundry water at the dumb couple making out in the middle of an arrest. Not that she currently wants to have laundry water thrown at her.

Vincenzo huffs out a chuckle. He’s still so close to her that she can feel the air shift between them. “Okay,” he says, and unlike her, he doesn’t sound like he just emerged from a very long—and really good—kiss. “We’ll meet you there.”

The prosecutor nods absently. “Yes,” he says. “All right.” Then, as an afterthought, “They’ll probably demand a shower and a change of clothes for him first, and with the traffic it’ll be between one to three hours before we can start questioning him.”

Vincenzo raises an eyebrow at him, then turns to Cha Young.

“Then, I’ll see you there,” Prosecutor Jang says, and he makes his escape before he has to witness some more making out. Or so Cha Young thinks, anyway.

Vincenzo clears his throat, his mouth pressed into a thin line. There’s a little furrow between his brow and something like shutters falling down behind the dark pools of his eyes, and Cha Young knows: if she lets him, he’d make excuses for the kiss and it’d be like it never happened at all.

She doesn’t let him.

“Let’s sleep together,” she says, and she makes it loud enough that she can’t take it back.

He looks at her with a carefully neutral expression, though one of his eyebrows is raised in question.

Before he can give her an out, she digs her heels in. “I don’t mean a sleepover. I mean, I want to have sex with you.”

His mouth falls open, his eyes wide. There, she’s done it now. No going back, nothing. She has a problem and she proposes a straightforward solution and if that’s too much for him—if she’s too much for him—then she’ll deal with it and lick her wounds later.

“And then,” she continues, biting her lip because despite her resolve, there’s still a little fragment of uncertainty lodged in her mind. “And then, we’ll have a sleepover anyway, because it’s just a hassle to go to the other side of the city late at night. You know? I mean, we have each other’s keys anyway, so it’s not… it’s not a big deal.” She’s faltering like a rookie lawyer doing their first cross-examination. She forces a smile at him, all teeth and disguise, and he looks at her with an expression she can’t read, not objectively.

“Byeonhosa-nim,” he starts, and his voice sounds so gentle, the address so jarringly polite—in this context, anyway, even though he calls her that all the time, and she calls him with the same title—that she steels herself for the incoming rejection.

“What?” she says, a little harshly.

“I think a hotel is a better idea.”

That is so far removed than whatever she’d expected him to say or do. Not that she has a lot of experience propositioning her work partners, but somehow she’d expected him to say something smooth, or maybe swear in Italian, or flat out refuse. She says again, “What?”

He starts walking towards the lobby; she follows, his hand on the small of her back. It feels like every other time he’s touched her, yet also oddly illicit, after what he’s just said. He says, matter of fact, “My bed is a twin. And yours, too.”

Her bed at her childhood home is a twin. At her place, there’s only one queen-sized bed, and that had belonged to her late parents, gathering dust. She hasn’t managed to touch that room, since… since. “Ah,” she says, nodding, ignoring the pang of grief. “You’re right, but it’s not like people can’t have sex on a twin bed.”

Disgust crosses his face. “If we’re doing this, we’re doing this properly. Not like broke university students in their shitty apartment.”

She nods again, slowly. “I get it. You want it to be more like we’re having an affair behind our spouses’ backs.”

“It’s probably just as ill-advised,” he mutters darkly. “We’re good partners. We don’t have to disturb that balance.”

“We don’t,” she agrees. “But don’t you want to see if it works out? And if it doesn’t, what’s that American saying... ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.’” In Korean, she says, “What happens in the hotel can also stay in the hotel.”

He considers this for a moment, then asks, “What if it does work out?”

The first thought she has, if she’s being honest, is then we’ll both get laid regularly, isn’t that great? Except she knows that’s not the answer he's looking for, so instead, she shrugs. “We’ll figure it out.”

“I guess we will,” he says, simply, and he gives her a smile that says that he means it. He believes her, believes in their ability to figure it out.

She smiles back, a little tremulous. A little uncertain in the face of his steadfast faith in her.

They stop walking. Belatedly, Cha Young realizes that Vincenzo has led them to the concierge. This is, after all, not only a convention center, but also a five-star hotel. The woman behind the desk smiles at them, friendly, professional.

Vincenzo smiles back at the concierge, his charm in full force. “Good evening,” he says smoothly. “We’d like a room for the night, please.”

 


 

They book a room. The concierge gives Vincenzo the key cards with what Cha Young thinks is a really loaded “Have a pleasant stay!” and then they walk away from the counter, his arm now resting lower around her waist, hand curved against her hip. This is new, but so is everything else happening tonight. And it’s… she can’t say it’s nice, exactly, but it absolutely makes her want to climb him even more, and considering he’s agreed to more or less that, the sensation is an unwelcome one.

Still, she hadn’t expected him to just… check into a hotel immediately.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, squeezing her hip lightly. They’re still walking to the elevators, as if they don’t have to go and question their enemy at the prosecutorial office. “Don’t want to do this, after all?”

“No, I do,” she answers, a little too quickly to sound casual. “It’s just… we’re doing this now? I thought you were going to reject me.” She’s pouting, she knows. She can’t seem to stop.

“Prosecutor Jung said we have time, and”—he wets his lips, his tongue darting quickly into view before disappearing again—“weren’t you in the mood? Attacking me like that?”

Attacking—yah, Vincenzo Cassano-ssi, you kissed me back!”

“Mm,” he hums, nodding as if she just made a very eloquent argument. “I did.”

The elevator door opens with a quiet ding. They step inside, Vincenzo scanning his card and pressing the button for the 16th floor. Cha Young’s gut feels all squirmy and weird and it’s not because of the elevator. He’s no longer touching her, having let her go to press the elevator button, and the air between them is filled with something like anticipation, or electric charge, or… something.

“I wasn’t going to reject you,” he says quietly, not looking at her.

“Huh?”

He turns to her, and there’s a helpless little smile on his lips. “I can never say no to you,” he says, shrugging. Self-deprecating.

Her heart sinks. “What are you talking about?” she asks, just as quietly. As if a loud sound will startle them both, like deers on a hunting ground. “You should say no, if you don’t want to sleep with me for its own sake.”

“Of course I do,” he snaps. “It’s just…”

They arrive on the 16th floor, but neither of them move. The door begins to close again. Cha Young darts forward and presses the hold button. “It’s complicated,” she says, one foot out of the elevator and one foot in, a weird and too-obvious visual metaphor for the state of their relationship. “I know. You don’t want to stay in Korea for long, and I’ve already held you back longer than you planned. You have walls everywhere to keep people out. You think you don’t deserve to love because you’ve killed people.”

He doesn’t flinch at the last one. Not obviously, anyway. He lowered his eyes, though, turning his face away as if expecting a slap.

“It’s okay,” she continues. “You can still leave Korea. You don’t have to let anyone in. You don’t have to love anyone. I’ll still be your partner in this fight. But don’t kiss me back or book us a hotel room just to indulge me.”

Silence. She feels the pinpricks of unwanted tears in her eyes; she blinks them away, but her chest still heaves and the thumb pressing the hold button is starting to lose feeling and her body teeters unbalanced, straddling the elevator doorway, and she feels unbearably stupid.

He still doesn’t say anything, his brows furrowed, his posture rigid. Worse, he doesn’t even look at her.

She sighs, releasing the hold button and stepping back into the elevator. The door slowly slides shut. He turns to her, taking half a step forward, his mouth open in what most likely will be an apology.

She doesn’t want to hear it. She doesn’t want him to say a word. So, she waves a hand at him, plasters on what she hopes is an embarrassed smile, and says, “Forget it. You’re probably right—”

He plucks her hand mid-wave and brings it slowly, gently to his lips. She watches mutely. His grip is loose enough for her to pull away from, but she doesn’t. Not even as he brushes his lips to her knuckles.

Not like a mafia kissing the godfather’s ring, but like a prince asking a foreign princess to a dance in those western fairy tales.

His eyes are closed when he kisses her hand. His lips are soft and dry and warm, and the kiss lingers, or maybe it’s only that time is suspended between them in the liminal space of this elevator.

When Vincenzo opens his eyes again, the intensity of his gaze arrests her, freezes her in place. Cha Young cannot decipher it. Something like resolution, and intent, and—anger? No, not quite. There’s no malice in there. A shiver runs down her spine. It’s not fear, but something close to it anyway, something that makes her heart pound and her breath catch. For once, she is out of witty repartees.

Good.

She has said enough today. She has kissed him without asking first, then propositioned him, then argued with him, then attempted to take it all back. She has made a mess of the situation. Whatever he does to her in return, she probably deserves it.

He takes one inexorable step after another towards her, backing her up to the elevator wall until the small of her back is pressed against the hand railing, until her shoulders lean on the polished marble. Until he, too, is but a handbreadth away from her.

And then he kisses her. As inevitable as the sun kisses the horizon before plunging the world into nighttime, Vincenzo kisses Cha Young—and she kisses him back, gilds herself in his heat like the skyline on a summer evening. He kisses her hungrily, urgently, as if he’s trying to make a point. Her stomach lurches a little; is the elevator going back down, she thinks, or is it the way he slips one leg between his and she lifts her own to wrap around him? Is it the way he is hard against her middle? Is it the slide of his thigh against the juncture of her legs?

He pulls away to kiss her cheek, her jaw, the spot on her neck just beneath her ear. His fingers tug on the ribbon on her collar and it unravels, revealing her clavicle, and he nips at the curve between her neck and sucks.

She gasps, bucking against him, grinding her cunt against his leg—he apologizes with his tongue, a wet caress on the now-blooming bruise, and a whimper escapes her. His breath is warm against her skin as asks her, raggedly, “Did that feel like indulgence to you?”

“No.”

He nods, satisfied.

She turns her eyes to the little rectangle where they show the floor number. They’re almost back to the lobby, so she pushes him back and he complies. As she ties her collar back into a bow, she continues, “You actually want this, then?”

Plainly, he says, “I want you.”

“Yah,” she chides him, for no reason other than the heat rising to her cheeks. “Italian men sure are forward.”

“Says the one who kissed me out of nowhere before propositioning me,” he replies with a teasing grin.

She huffs out a laugh. “Ah, I guess I did that, huh,” she says, and laughs again, exhausted and baffled and most of all, relieved. She that she hasn’t ruined it, hasn’t ruined them.

The elevator stops. The door opens but no one’s waiting; whoever called for it must have gotten on a different one. Vincenzo lifts the keycard in question. Cha Young nods, and he scans the card again. Presses the button numbered 16, again.

They watch the number go up in companionable silence, not touching. She’s glad. If he touches her again, they might end up getting arrested for public indecency.

Once more, the elevator stops on the 16th floor. This time, they alight from it, stepping into the hallway; a knot in Cha Young’s chest lets go and she takes a deep breath.

This is it.

 


 

Their room is a blessedly short walk from the elevator. Cha Young is nothing but a bundle of nerves and anticipation and libido, at this point; she shifts her weight from one leg to another as Vincenzo takes his time scanning the key card to get into their room.

“Hurry up,” she whines.

“I’m trying, it won’t—”

A quiet beep cuts his speech short. The little light turns green, and as soon as he opens the door, Cha Young shoves him into the room before following him.

She closes the door behind her. Turns the lock. Rounds up to Vincenzo, grabs him by the front of his clothes, and swings him around to pin him to the door. He lets her, follows her movement so that she barely has to exert any energy. As his back hits the solid wood pane with a quiet thump, he laughs, a little short sound.

His hands rest lightly on either side of her waist and he looks at her like she’s done something funny.

She was going to kiss him, except there’s something about his expression that nags at her. “What?” she demands.

He shakes his head. “Nothing. Just…” He cups her chin, tilting her face up. Reads her face again, again, again. He looks at her like she’s a painting to interpret, like she’s a poem to decipher, like he sees her and he knows her and he still doesn’t have enough. It is the same look as always. It is nothing like any look he’s given her. I want you, he’d said earlier. Is this what longing looks like on his face? And if yes, how long has he wanted her?

“What?” she asks again, tugging the fabric in her clutches. She scrunches her nose and looks away, insecure in the absence of comprehension. “Ah, do I have popcorn husk in my teeth? What a mood-killer. Hold on, I’ll brush my teeth—”

But as she pulls away, he tilts his own face down and kisses her.

The third one today, her mind supplies. No, the third one ever. It’s the gentlest one by far; there’s no tongue, only the slow, careful coaxing of his lips against hers, the warmth of little breaths they take in between, intermingling, the way everything seems to dim and fade away except for him. She melts against him, her hands slipping under his coat, one hand pressed to the thumpthumpthump beneath his ribcage, the other to his neck, fingertips slipping under his high turtleneck collar to play with the soft hair on his nape. He holds her close, yet tenderly, as if he is scared of breaking her.

They part with a sigh. His thumb strokes her shoulder blade, back and forth, back and forth, and for a moment there’s nothing she can do but press her forehead to his and close her eyes as they breathe, uniform in their inhalation and exhalation as if sharing the same pair of lungs.

Eventually, she opens her eyes and finds him watching her with the same awestruck eyes. No smile, though, so she asks, “Did you get it? Is it gone?” and bares her teeth for inspection, even though it wasn’t even that kind of kiss.

It works, though. He laughs again, a little, and she follows suit because there’s something dizzying and infectious about his laughs, about him.

And then he says, somewhat sadly despite his expression, “You won’t like it.”

She frowns. Tilts her head. “I won’t like what?”

“What I’m thinking about, right now.”

“Oh,” she intones. She lifts herself on her toes and pecks his lip, quick and chaste—fourth, now—and says, “Tell me anyway.”

He says something in Italian; she protests, a sharp “Yah!” that earns her a playful grin. He presses his forehead to hers again and confesses, “I don’t deserve you.”

“Why?” she asks, just as quietly. “Because you’ve killed?”

“Among others.”

“So have I,” she says. “I’ve bribed and threatened and blackmailed, too. I’ve bankrupted people with frivolous lawsuits. I worked in Wusang, and before Choi Myung Hee came, I’d been the best of them. Or the worst, I guess. What do I deserve?”

“But—”

“No. Answer me. What do I—after all the lives I’ve ruined and taken—deserve?”

He doesn’t answer. Cannot answer. He’s smart enough to know that he only has flimsy excuses made of self-loathing and regrets, and that she’ll tear them apart if he even tries.

“Well?” she demands. “Did you lie, earlier? Do you actually want me?”

“Of course I do!”

“Then forget about deserving,” she snaps back, shoving him back to the door and taking a step. She needs room to breathe. She needs to—she doesn’t know, not really, but something. Stand on her own feet when she scolds him, for reasons she can’t understand. Kicking her high heels off and ignoring how much shorter she is without them, how much she has to tilt her head back to look him in the eye, she continues, “No one ever gets what they deserve in this world. The good gets nothing and the bad wins everything. Do you think the enemy cares about what they deserve? If you think you’re a villain, take what you want and don’t you ever dare be sorry for it.”

He stares at her like she’s made a compelling closing argument—and she has, thank you very much—and he’s the opposing prosecutor shit out of luck. Wait, no. Shit out of luck and aroused. Which surprises her, somehow, even though it shouldn’t have. He always likes it when she gets riled up. She just never considered that he might like it like that.

“Decide now,” she tells him, crossing her arms in front of her. “We don’t have much time before we have to go to the prosecutorial office.”

He nods slowly, as if actually thinking through his options despite the very clear answer tenting in his pants. “Well, then,” he says calmly, kicking off his shoes with a lack of care more suited for beat-up sneakers than for fine Italian leather before taking off his socks. He shrugs off his coat, dropping it to the floor, and she gets to appreciate the way his top hangs from his frame.

But then, he starts pulling up his sleeves, like he’s about to fight—or do the dishes—and she says, “Wait, what are you—” and before she can finish, he takes one long step forward, pulls her towards him, and hoists her up. She shrieks in surprise, but her legs instinctively wrap around his waist, her arms around his shoulders. He looks up at her with a shit-eating grin as he starts walking, completely unburdened by her weight, to the king-sized bed that had been the reason they booked a room in the first place.

Well, if he’s going to be like this, then she shouldn’t waste any time, either. She peels her arms from around him and shrugs her suit jacket off, letting it fall unceremoniously to the floor. When she has undone the ribbon on her collar and the top two buttons under it, he gently sets her down on the floor with the foot of the bed behind her.

For a moment, they stand there, face to face, absorbing the reality of this dreamlike situation.

Then, because they really don’t have that much time, Cha-Young tugs on his sweater and says, “Off.”

As if he’s been waiting for her to ask, he pulls the garment up and over his head in one smooth movement, the lean muscles of his arms and torso stretching and contracting. She realizes that she’s never seen his biceps before. They had met in fall, and his wardrobe had been full of three-piece suits, and after fall came winter, where short sleeves became impractical. They have been partners for only a few tumultuous months, but it feels as if it’s been longer, with how well they work together, anticipating each other’s moves like well trained dancers.

He must have noticed the change in her expression, because he asks, so very gently that she feels like crying, “What’s wrong?”

She shakes her head and the thoughts off. “No, it’s nothing,” she says, undoing the last few buttons of her blouse and taking it off her entirely. “Take off your pants.”

She peels off her own slacks as he does so, pretending she’s not nervous about how her bra and her panties don’t match. The bra is fine. Better than fine, even, as it’s one of her newest pairs, a lacy black thing with a little satin bow between the cups. Her panties, however, are plain cotton gray, somewhat ratty, the elastic around the waist already loosened and crinkly.

It’ll be fine, she thinks. Men are all the same, right? Her last boyfriend certainly hadn’t cared about her underwear as much as what lies beneath.

Vincenzo chuckles. “I should take you shopping, one of these days.” She opens her mouth in protest, but then he slips his fingertips under her one loose bra strap—and there’s always one, no matter how new the bra—and strokes her collarbone, then the juncture of clavicle and upper arm, then her shoulder blade as he slides the strap off the shoulder. Goosebumps mark the trail of his touch, and as he presses his lips to the curve of her shoulder, a shiver runs up her spine.

“I just realized,” he says absently, his mouth kissing a path up her neck as his hands fiddle with the clasps of her bra. “I’ve never seen your bare shoulders before.”

She gasps; he chuckles, kissing the crook of her neck lightly. He probably thinks she’s reacting to his touch instead of his words. She lets him. “Shouldn’t we hurry?” she asks.

“We have time.” The clasp releases; he peels the bra off her, his fingers tracing the crescents of cup wire under her breasts. “I’ve always wondered—do these hurt?”

He touches her gingerly, as if handling a wound or a bruise; she catches his hand and places it firmly on her left breast, her eyelids fluttering closed at the sensation of his calloused palm, his warm skin. “Not really,” she says, squeezing the back of his hand.

He takes the unspoken direction and cups the breast, feeling its weight, flicking her nipple; at her whimper he rolls it between his thumb and his forefinger, sending jolts of heat to her cunt. She arches her back, looking for more, more, takes his other hand and places it between her legs, and he slides his fingertip there, finding her clit and stroking it through the fabric, and she moans and he swallows it with a kiss—the fifth one, she thinks—and somewhere in the middle of this they get on the bed, clambering gracelessly on top of the covers.

He puts his mouth on one nipple and the wet heat of it alone nearly undoes her, but not yet. Not yet. She wants—she wants—

“I want you inside me,” she manages to say, pawing on his boxer briefs, freeing his cock. The tip glistens with pre-cum; she spreads the wetness with her thumb and a curse, foreign and breathless, tumbles out his mouth, and then he—

—pushes her back to the mattress and her hands away from him and says, with an expression very much similar to the one he’d worn when he’d just lost the gold, “I don’t have a condom.”

She drops her head back to the mattress and swears, too.

“Are you… on the pill?” he asks, hopefully.

“No,” she groans out in frustration. “They give me so much acne. I’m clean, but I’m also not on anything else.” Since she got hired by Wusang, she hasn’t had much time for dating. After a few failed dates, she’s relied entirely on her battery-powered rabbit.

“Damn,” he says, getting off the bed. He takes his underwear off entirely and walks to the night stand, pulling the drawer open before shoving it back closed. “Nothing here.”

She rolls over to the other night stand to check. “None here, either.”

“I’ll call the front desk,” he offers, looking like he really, really doesn’t want to have to do that. “Maybe they can bring us some.”

“Ugh, but that’s going to take forever even if they have it. And you’ll have to put on clothes, too,” she whines, throwing one arm over her eyes to block the light coming from the ceiling lamp. She’s too wound up to wait, too hot and bothered to get creative. His fault, really, for the whole show with the pig blood. It probably says something about her that of the many sweet gestures he’s done for her thus far, it’s this one that turns her on the most, but she can’t really bring herself to care. “Are you clean?”

He sounds flustered when he answers, “I mean, I don’t… I don’t really sleep with a lot—”

She drops her arm to the bed, opens her eyes, and sits up. “Yes or no?”

His back straightens. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Let’s just do it, then.” She pushes her panties down her hips and wriggles free, then spreads her legs on the covers. “We’ve gotten this far; might as well.”

His cock twitches at the sight—men are so predictable sometimes, even one from the Italian mafia—but he still asks, “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’ll get a prescription tomorrow.” It’s so much trouble, having to go to a women’s clinic, meet a gyno, and get asked all sorts of questions before she can buy a morning after pill, but then again, she’s kind of desperate right now. “I’ll be fine,” she tells him. “Just—come here and do me already.”

He does. He straddles her hips, forearms braced on either side of her shoulder. She shifts, opening her legs wider, and as she does so he takes his cock in one hand and aligns it with her cunt, careful as he is with everything else, and then he enters her in one slow stroke.

She inhales, sharp. The sensation is overwhelming, his cock hot and hard inside her, stretching her, the tip pressed against a part deep in her cunt that—as he starts thrusting shallowly—sends shivers of pleasure all through her body. It makes her greedy, makes her want more contact; she wraps her legs around his hips and cups his face in her hands. His eyes are closed, brows knitted in concentration, or maybe consternation, his lips parted as he pants with every thrust.

“Look at me,” she asks selfishly, and oh, he’s right, he can never say no to her, can he? Because his eyes fly open as if they’re hers to command, and so he looks at her, searches her face as he always does, his open mouth stretching into a smile.

He smiles often, lately. She can’t remember if he had smiled as often when they’d just first meet. What was his life like, before? And what’ll it be like, after?

“You’re smiling,” she says, apropos of nothing.

“Yes.” He slips one hand between them and finds her clit, splaying his palm on her hip and pressing the flat of his thumb against it. She moans, loud; she’s always been too loud for everyone else, but he doesn’t seem to mind. If anything, he smiles wider, his thumb tracing circles around her clit. “Shouldn’t I be?”

“No,” she shakes her head. “I like it.” And she pulls him down for a kiss—seventh—and this one is all tongue and teeth, give and take, rough and urgent as his rhythm stutters, faster and more uneven, and she feels it, too, the building tension, the curled toes, she’s close. Almost, almost—his thumb moves faster on her clit, too, abandoning the circles for a simple up and down stroke, and it’s not long at all before she cries out, her legs and toes curled and taut, her cunt pulsating with the orgasm, back arched and tense as ripples of pleasure wash over her in a torrent, a tsunami.

He continues to thrust through this, never relenting, never pausing, and soon he follows, emptying himself inside of her before he collapses on her, spent, his cock growing soft inside her.

His head is bowed over the hollow of her shoulder, hair falling over his forehead in disarray. She reaches up and cards her fingers through the strands, pulling them away from his brow; he leans into her touch, nuzzles her palm tiredly like a sleepy cat.

Soon, they’ll have to clean up, put their clothes back on, and go question Jang Han Seok. There is still a long way to go before they can win. There is still some time for her to have his smiles before he leaves her.

 


 

After they question Jang Han Seok—or, more accurately, annoy his legal team to death—and meet with Mr. Nam at Jipuragi to get an update on his data-crunching, Vincenzo and Cha Young return to the hotel room, making a stop at a convenience store on the way. This time, they only take one trip to go up to the 16th floor. This time, they barely make it into the room. He fucks her in the entranceway of their room, against the door, and then the bed again, with her braced against the headboard, and then in the shower, his cock in her mouth.

In the morning, he eats her out slowly, until she pulls on his hair and toss her head back and beg and beg and beg.

Later, after having breakfast at the hotel restaurant and before going to Jipuragi, they inform the concierge that they’ll be extending their stay.

 


 

A few days later, Mr. Nam suggests they pretend to be a couple to get the accounting data stored in an art gallery owned by Babel. Vincenzo’s eyes bug out; Cha Young simply grins and says, “Sure, let's do it.”