by Sandrine Shaw

She sleeps with Connor because he's not Monroe.

She sleeps with him because she can. Because he's hot and he wants her and he's not a mass-murdering ex-dictator.

Because she can do this and have it be just a stupid, meaningless mistake rather than a betrayal of her brother's and her father's memory. Because if Miles and her mum find out – and she's not naive or stupid enough to think they won't; there's not much you can keep a secret when you're living in each other's pockets – they will flip out and yell at her, but it won't be an unforgivable offense, liking having sex with Monroe would be.

Connor is not Monroe, but he's just enough like his father to make her skin crawl and her stomach somersault at equal measure. The same swagger and snark and arrogance, the same devil-may-care smirk, the same hunger in his eyes.

When she pushes him down and crawls on top of him, she can pretend that it's Monroe under her. Monroe's rough, calloused hands sliding down her back. Monroe's stubble burning against her chin when he arches up for a kiss she denies him, turning away and forcing him to lie back with a push of her hand against his naked chest. Monroe's hard dick driving into her again and again, forcing the air out of her lungs.

She bites her lip when she comes, swallowing the name that's on her tongue. It leaves a strong, metallic tang of blood in her mouth. Such irony, because that, too, makes her think of Monroe, blood and violence and death invariably linked in her mind to the man she used to want dead more than anyone else. Used to imagine killing him with her own hands.

Now she imagines doing less lethal things to him, and she can't shake off the guilt because she shouldn't want this. She can't remember when she started wanting it, wanting him, when cold hatred gave way to white-hot desire. Perhaps, if it were only that, it wouldn't be so bad, but somewhere between New Vegas and Willoughby, she started caring – enough to fight her mother for his life and weep when she thought he was dead and feel the sharp pang of disappointment when it looked like he left her to fend for herself in the school. It's how she knows she can't allow herself to get too close; because fucking Monroe would never be just fucking. There's too much history between them for it to ever be that simple.

Connor... Connor is her safe choice. (Not safe exactly, but a hell of a lot safer than Monroe could ever be.)

And yet, nothing gets her blood boiling like when Monroe finds them naked and spent in the field together, with no doubt left of what just happened between them.

His anger is like a flare of fire when directed at Connor, and the part that's aimed at her is slow burning embers, poorly hidden in the sharpness of his tone and the way his jaw is set when he talks to her. She loves it. Loves that she gets under his skin like that when normally, nothing seems to ruffle him. Sebastian Monroe, former President of the Monroe Republic, may not give a fuck about anything much these days, but oh, he does when his son is sleeping with Charlie.

Connor is amused, clearly getting some cheap thrill from what he perceives as rebellion against his father. "I think he's scared that your uncle is gonna run me through with a sword," he tells her, lowering his head towards her, as if he's sharing a secret. Across the clearing, Monroe watches them with narrowed eyes, like he's contemplating coming over and pulling them apart. Charlie knows because her gaze hasn't left Monroe even once since he walked in on them.

Beside her, Connor laughs. "Or maybe he's just jealous."

When Charlie's eyes flicker towards him, he winks at her, like he's made a particularly clever joke. She turns back towards Monroe, and their eyes meet across the flames of the campfire.

She smirks. "Maybe."