Rock should not have bought the dress. He knew that now.
Of course, he did not understand why buying the dress for Revy had been a bad idea. He only understood that they were late, really and rudely late, and Revy was glaring at him in her cut-offs and scuffed boots with one gun under each shoulder.
She alternated sentences with gulps of protein shake. "Look, Rock. I'm your bodyguard. I ain't your date. I'm wearing this."
"But what's wrong with the dress?" Rock asked. He didn't mean to whine, but old habits die hard.
Back in the day, Revy would have jumped on his weakness with both heavy-booted feet. Yelling. Cursing. Insults. Today's Revy pulled a bitter face, applied the shake can to her mouth, and downed it. Rock recognized the silence as her newly-learned version of restraint.
Half of him (the half that had forgotten how much a sucker punch from Revy hurt) itched to argue with her. Given fifteen minutes and a heavy dose of manipulation, he could get her to wear that dress. It was a simple yet lovely thing made of black jersey satin. Nothing fancy, nothing slutty. Just a basic dress that would look great on her. Rock had been looking forward to seeing her wearing it.
"Revy, this is a formal event. You can't wear shorts. It'll look bad," he tried.
"Like I care," Revy shot back.
"Please," Rock said, careful not to let his voice lilt again.
The emptied can sounded like a gong when Revy dropped in it into the sink instead of the garbage pail tucked under the sink, just like Rock had been hounding her not to do for months.
He didn't get the chance to start that same-old argument because Dutch rapped on the door to Revy's old apartment before letting himself in. The new charcoal jacket looked impossibly crisp through his broad shoulders, but Dutch wore it well. Rock had made sure of the fit when he bought it for his former boss.
Revy gave a low whistle. "Lookin' fancy, partner."
Dutch surveyed her outfit with cool eyes. "I see that you don't change," he said before turning to Rock. "We ready?"
Rock allowed himself one last, helpless glance at the black dress hung carefully from the back of the closet door. She would have looked so breath-taking in it, but Revy's sour frown would spoil the whole thing. And they were beyond late.
"Yeah," Rock said. "We better go."
Rotton drove the silver Benz carefully through the streets of Roanapur with Dutch riding shotgun and Revy tucked in the back seat next to Rock. In the old days, Benny would have been behind the wheel, terrorizing pedestrians with a lead foot in his candy-apple red American classic roadster, but Rock couldn't be so conspicuous now. Roanapur had learned that Rock was the new face of power. To see its kingpin careening through the urban center would start a panic, so Rotton drove because, unlike Benny, he didn't mind coming to a full stop at intersections and viewed an empty boulevard as just another street instead of the Autobahn. Rotton didn't mind the menial work, and Rock could trust him with it. An extra set of guns didn't hurt either. Besides, Benny's skills were better used back at the office.
Revy devoted all of her attention to the window as they drove. Rock watched the lines of her body contract with tension as they passed from 14K turf into the realm of Hotel Moscow. The Ivan sentinel posted at the street corner nodded solemnly at the vehicle as they drove by. From the front seat, Dutch nodded back even though the darkened windows would blot out the gesture. They were expected and welcome, but Revy's mental map of the old Roanapur would never die. The heel of her left boot tapped out a nervous rhythm as Rotton steered the car to the curb in front of their destination.
A couple of hulking Ivans calmly watched them emerge from the car. The thread of music and conversation slipped through the cracks around the curtained windows and thick double doors of the newly restored building in front of them. As Rock had suspected, the wedding was long over, and the reception well underway. As further proof of their tardiness, one of the doors swung open, and a red-faced Italian stumbled out. He muttered something that must have been a curse at the seam in the pavement that almost caused him to face-plant into the concrete.
The woman who followed him giggled, then hiccuped. Each spasm of her generous chest threatened to pop one of her huge tits free of her low-cut velvet dress.
Rock sighed. Not only had the reception already begun, but the guests were already plowed. He dreaded the ice of Balalaika's glare for their insultingly delayed arrival.
The drunken woman stepped out of her stiletto pump and careened into her equally inebriated escort, who cursed again, loudly enough to make the Ivans reach for their weapons. Revy wasn't the only one whose old habits lived on despite the new order in Roanapur. Rock opted to play it safe.
"Rotton, would you please help these two make their way home?" he asked.
The Italian turned on them his face red and twisted with indignation, but the expression melted back to slack skin when he realized who has issued the order.
"Those Ivans know how to make the drinks serve their purpose," the man explained in Italian with a shrug.
"I'll keep that in mind," Rock answered.
The buxom woman smiled coyly and giggled again. The bust line of her dress slipped closer to blatant indecency.
Revy made a mock-gagging noise, and the Ivan guards stifled their laughter.
Dutch shook his head, tucked his hands into his pockets, and studied the underbelly of a passing jet.
Rotton opened the back door of the Benz with his sunglasses pointed directly down at the pavement.
Rock raised an eyebrow at the Italian, and the man reddened in an instant. He slipped off his dinner jacket and draped it over his date's shoulders.
"But it's not cold!" she protested, confusion written across her flushed face.
The Italian wrapped an arm around her waist and helped her stagger to the waiting car.
"My apologies," he muttered to Rock as he ushered her into the backseat.
Rock opted not to reply. The man's embarrassment was evident.
Rotton shut the door, and Rock turned back to his group. One of the Ivans already had the door open for them. The cool of the indoor air-conditioning billowed out and disappeared into the heat and humidity of the city. Rock took a step toward the welcoming interior.
"What are you looking at?" Revy demanded in English.
Rock blinked. "What?"
"Quit looking at me like that," Revy snarled. She had fixed him with another of her feral glares.
"What?" Rock repeated dumbly.
"Hey, Wizard! Gimme your jacket," Revy said.
Rotton paused mid-duck into the driver's seat. "Why?"
"Because I'm cold."
"In April in Roanapur?" Rotton asked suspiciously.
Revy crossed her arms. "I'm a delicate flower of a woman."
Rotton hmphed his disbelief, and before Revy could come unhinged, Dutch gave up and headed inside without them. He had his own invitation, a professional courtesy from Balalaika. One flash of the embossed card stock, and Dutch breezed past the Ivan bouncers to all-you-can-eat stroganoff and the slow repair of his courier business inside. Eight months of serving as Rock's personal guard disagreed with him. Something in Dutch needed control and adventure, or maybe some men were only meant to work for themselves. It was hard to fill in the details with Dutch. For a man so direct in his dealings, he remained stubbornly obtuse in his personal life. He never complained, but Rock had observed the steady uptick in Dutch's bourbon consumption. Rock estimated that he would need to depend on his former boss for another three months, just long enough to find, train, and test the loyalties of a replacement body guard.
Rock watched the crisp lines of Dutch's new suit disappear into the smokey dimness and gentle pulse of music inside the building.
It had been eight months since Rock's power grab, but only a few days since he had been able to pay off the balance of his debts. It wasn't that Roanapur's crime syndicates were unprofitable under his management. Quite the opposite, actually. Collaboration and coordination (instead of the tradition of in-fighting and malignment) made Roanapur into an even brighter jewel, but Rock had underestimated the costs embedded in his new career.
The loans had to be paid out at their insane interest rates; he needed to pay salaries to his new workers- those were expected expenses. The unexpected costs were problem. Rock hadn't fully calculated the price of his own safety and security: the reinforced Benz after someone took a pot shot at Benny's car, the scale of the bribes it took to install a new police chief of his choosing, the steep demands of the local police force to accept his new (corrupt) chief, the jacked-up tributes necessary to keep Chang in power, and all the lousy citizens of Roanapur who clamored for a little bit of blackmail money to help them rebuild. All of those things cost dearly.
From the staggering sum earned from those eight months' of work, Rock had nearly nothing left to show for his long days of work and masterful criminal planning. The meager total that his efforts yielded in discretionary funds had gone into gifts for the three people he depended on the most: repairs and parts for Benny's beloved car, a new suit for Dutch, and the dress that Revy had left hanging back in the apartment.
In the old days, they would have gone drinking at the Yellow Flag with the extra cash, but Rock couldn't risk that kind of exposure anymore.
Revy pushed past him, Rotton's duster jacket swirling around her. It was too big in the shoulders and too long in the sleeves, but Revy had it buttoned in the front to cover her immodest outfit. The fabric pulled in at her narrow waist and fell in long lines from her hips. It wasn't the black dress that he had picked out for her, not even close, but Revy's personal brand of beauty didn't need more than a well-collared coat to look lovely.
"You coming or what?" she called over her shoulder.
With a touch of his cufflinks to straighten his shirt, Rock followed her inside.
The short hallway gave way to a large room bedecked with flowers and candles. Round tables smothered with white linen stretched to the corners of the room, and the similarity of the faces grouped at each table reminded Rock of a high school cafeteria. The Colombians sat with other Colombians, the Russians with Russians. Even the Rip-Off Church had claimed their own private corner in the back of the room. The obvious divides failed to fluster Rock. Regardless of seating arrangements, the upper tier of Roanapur's criminal hives were all present for a social function. This was extraordinary progress for eight months, given the animosities of the past. In the old days, these groups would only meet on this scale in combat.
Rock spotted Balalaika making the rounds with the newly married couple on the far side of the room. He intended to make his apologies right away, but Chang beckoned to him from the table of honor. Rock could see his untouched place setting next to the 14K's leader.
"Just take a seat and play it nice," Chang instructed. "Goldie's on a war path that has nothing to do with you, so if your luck holds, she probably hasn't even realized you've been gone."
Rock said his thanks and dropped into the open seat. The other heads at the table acknowledged him quietly. Ronny issued a quick nod. Abrego lifted his vodka tonic in tributary. Yolanda waved a forkful of beef tips at him and smiled.
Despite the empty chair next to Rock, Revy ghosted back to the shadows with the other bodyguards lurking along the wall. The one in the black suit welcomed her by handing over his drink, which Revy accepted without hesitation. Most of the men of the 14K treated Revy with a sort of awed, school-boy crush. Old allegiances remained, despite the new order, but so did old grudges. The Italian on the other side of her fumed. The Columbian glared over his cigarette. No one would forget the role that Two Hands played in Roanapur's recent civil war.
As much as he wanted her beside him, Rock couldn't fault Revy's precaution. He needed her as a bodyguard. The influx of wealth to Roanapur surged under Rock's leadership, but the percentage splits didn't satisfy all parties equally. Someone had send a contractor after Rock just last week. The man was clearly incompetent. Rotton had been able to finish his introduction before offing the would-be assassin, but the hit wasn't meant to succeed. It was just a warning, and it wouldn't be the last.
A waiter swept in with a plate of hot food. Rock looked around the table. Neither Abrego nor Dago had touched their dinners, but Yolanda and Chang shared Rock's assessment of Balalaika. She wouldn't be so sloppy as to allow anyone to poison the guests at a Hotel Moscow party. The stroganoff tasted delicious.
Across the way, Balalaika moved from table to table in a spectacular blue shift that made the bride, a pale wisp of a woman draped in yards of lace, look like a ghost beside her. Only the groom seemed to achieve any sort of balance at dividing his attention between his new wife and his stunning commander. Balalaika held the attention of her guests like an enchantress.
Beside him, Chang sighed and lit up another cigarette. "You know those two lovebirds have been promised since childhood, or something like that. She has been waiting for him in the Mother Country for all these years. It's a cute story."
"I'll ask to hear it when they come by," Rock said. "Unless, of course, they have already passed through?"
Chang pushed out a long breath. Smoke wafted up to the ornate ceiling. Even with the customary shades, Chang's frown betrayed his devil-may-care exterior. There was only one person living who could unsettle the Heavenly King, and she was passing through the room in a breath-taking sapphire cocktail dress with the latest of her men to settle into matrimony in tow.
Rock returned his attention to his supper. So they were fighting again. Chang and Balalaika made a point to keep their personal relationship separate from their business dealings, so Rock saw no reason to pry into their affair. No one dared to gossip about the frequent trysts between Chang and Balalaika, but the information had to be common knowledge by now. The evidence was everywhere. Soon after they brokered a cease-fire in the city, wives and girlfriends had started arriving. Hotel Moscow's barrack-like living arrangements fractured and spread to an entire block of single family flats in less than six weeks after Rock's coup as the spell of Balalaika's warrior-monks broke. The Colombians seeded out to bungalows in the suburbs of the city soon after that. The Italians preferred closely spaced town homes. Rock welcomed the gentrification of Roanapur's combatants. It lent greater stability to the city and planted the hunger to maintain a safe status quo in the gut of every man who brought his woman (and sometimes children) past the smiling statue of Buddha in the harbor.
But perhaps Rock gave too much credit to Chang and Balalaika's quiet but certainly not secret love affair. After all, the whole of the city knew that Rock shared his bed with Two Hands nightly. Even now, he felt her at his back, watching and waiting in case he needed her.
The wedding reception continued with the hum of conversation, the chink of ice chips in crystal glasses, and the thin strains of a string quartet. Rock relinquished his dream of Revy in the dress and opted enjoy the Russian hospitality for the rest of the evening until a bit of trouble reared up.
Balalaika opted to skip the table with the heads. She shot one icy glare at Chang out of the corner of her cruel blue eyes and passed them by. The bride and groom followed like sheep.
The effect of the snub was instantaneous.
"Puta fea," muttered Abrego.
Ronny cracked his knuckles.
"Damn," Chang said to himself. He tipped back in his chair and gestured to one of his men. When his man arrived, Chang slipped him a white envelope. "Take this to the bride with my congratulations. The bride, alone. Got it?"
"Yes, Boss," the Triad underling nodded and vanished to complete the task.
Chang flashed a smile at the rest of the table. "Our hostess should join us shortly, but since she has kept us waiting for so long, I think we should start our enjoyment of these without her."
A slight wave of Chang's hand brought a team of servers to the table with a passel of premium cigars and full bottles of aged scotch. Rock accepted the cigar, but he had no real taste for hard alcohol. He would find a way to pass it along to Dutch later. The other heads seemed to enjoy the peace offerings with greater gusto. Rock couldn't decide if Chang had rigged it to cover for Balalaika or if he had simply put the jump on her plans, as he claimed. Either way, Chang's quick-thinking stopped the bad situation from becoming a disaster.
Rock watched with detached interest as the low-ranked Triad made the delivery to the bride. She had no trouble opening the envelope, but the furrows in her sweet face showed that she couldn't read the contents. She passed the papers to her husband, who couldn't decipher the meaning either. He submitted it to Balalaika, who took in the entirety in a a glance. Rock watched her eyes flash toward Chang. There was no rancor in her gaze this time.
Chang pretended to be unaware of the thawing. He sipped his scotch and nodded along with the now-cheerful Abrego's booming tales of parties in South America. Balalaika joined them minutes later.
"I apologize for keeping you waiting. You were right to begin the celebrations without me," she said with a smile.
She took a seat next to Chang, and the servers scurried forward to put a fresh cigar in one of her hand and a glass of liquor in the other. She waved off the plate of food since platters of desserts was already being served around the room.
The bride and groom moved around the table to greet each head appropriately and thank them for attending. The bride had very few words in English, but she didn't need them. Her gratitude toward Chang showed in the way she bowed. Her husband flushed; Hotel Moscow made it a point to eschew Asian customs. The bride ignored her husband's discomfort.
"Thank you," she said in careful English.
When the couple had gone and the rest of the table had gone back to their pleasures and stories, Rock noticed Balalaika's hand skim over Chang's as she reached to flick the ash of the cigar into the tray. The motion lasted no longer than a second, but Chang's frown finally eased at the slightest touch of his lover's fingertips. Whatever it was that had come between them was now over.
The party lasted late.
When the scotch ran out, Ronny sent for a few bottles of wine from his private stock, and then Abrego felt it necessary to provide something from his collection. Rock made a mental note to start stocking finer liquor. Yet another expense he hadn't planned for...
When Balalaika left the table to see the young couple off for their wedding night, Revy unpeeled herself from the wall.
"Hey, what did you get them?" she asked Chang while helping herself to Rock's drink.
"What does it matter?" Chang responded.
"It matters because I want an ace up my sleeve in case Sis ever gets pissed at me. Whatever you did got you back on her good list in a hurry," Revy said.
Chang laughed. "I pulled some strings and cut some corners to get the bride her papers. Legit, so she doesn't have to worry about visas and all that. She also looks like she has a nice little state job, so she can have a bank account in her name with clean money."
"That's it?" Revy scoffed.
"Hey, that's not something you can just buy. It took some time," Chang said.
"Yeah, but how did that get you off the hook with Fry Face?" Revy asked.
"Let me explain something to you, Two Hands." Chang pushed up his sleeve to reveal a shiny new watch. It was nice, but nothing too impressive. The quality and make were a cut below Chang's typically high-end tastes. "You know that I used to have a different life, and yesterday was my birthday. That former life of mine decided to send me a little present. And let's just say that Balalaika is the jealous kind."
"Then why did you wear the watch?" Revy asked.
"Because I'm suicidal," Chang dead-panned. "That's besides the point. Here's the lesson. The fastest way to stop that woman from craving your blood is to be nice to her troops. So I did."
"Whatever. Sounds like a big, dumb hassle to me," Revy said and stalked back to the wall, Rock's full glass of iced sipping tequila from Abrego in hand.
"She's not happy," Chang observed.
"Yeah," Rock said.
"What did you do?"
"I bought her a dress. A nice one. Black."
Chang puffed on his cigar. "Sorry, but that's not it."
"I'm pretty sure it is," Rock said miserably.
"Trust me, kid. You may be the mastermind now, but I'm old and I know far too much about women who can kill you. Some dress isn't your problem."
"There'a a problem?" Balalaika asked in her honey-smooth voice as she rejoined the table.
"No, not at all," Rock replied. "You look lovely, Miss Balalaika."
"You're still adorable," she smiled back. "Which is why I won't bother to ask why you were so very late to the celebration."
Again, Rock noticed the subtle language between her and Chang. Her fingers slid across the end of Chang's white scarf as she slipped into her seat. He passed his untouched glass of tequila to her and signaled to the servers for another. No glances shared. No words exchanged. They made it seem simple.
Rock looked back at Revy, who had resumed her sentry from the wall. Maybe he had been missing some small signal for her all these months. Or maybe he had been communicating something to her through little motions that he did not mean to say.
Maybe it wasn't about the dress.
The ride home was blissfully uneventful. Revy once again paid all of her attention to the window. She only relaxed once Rotton, who was happily reunited in his black jacket, turned the car back down neutral streets.
Back at their building, Rock ached to follow Revy back to their apartment, but just like the old days, he couldn't. Instead, he trailed Dutch up the stairs to the office to do his final check-in with Benny before he could rest.
"Hey, we're being blackmailed again," Benny called out as soon as Dutch had the door open.
Dutch tossed his jacket over the back of a couch and went for another glass of bourbon. "Again? These people are like maggots on roadkill. They come out of nowhere."
"Do they have a case?" Rock asked.
"Do any of them have a case?" Benny sighed. "Some blonde in the red-light district says that you dished about your nefarious plans while boning her. Apparently, you are going to kill off all the heads in Roanapur. All of them. Just because."
"Blondes aren't my type," Rock grumbled. He loosened his tie and considered his options. Chang and Balalaika wouldn't care about some scrap of gossip, but Abrego had a thing for blondes...
"Her asking price just happens to be the same amount as a plane ticket to Hawaii," Benny said.
"Doesn't make much sense," Dutch interjected. "A blonde whore is going to make more in Asia than the US. She's a novelty here. Sounds like she wants to get someplace safe."
Rock thought about the incompetent assassin that Rotton had killed. Someone had to send him. Abrego had been particularly vocal about his displeasure lately, and when he went whoring, his taste was always leggy blondes. He might have been the one talking in bed. The pieces fit well enough.
"Set up a meeting with her," Rock said.
Benny cocked an eyebrow at him. "Oh?"
"I'm not paying for blackmail, but I don't mind trading for information," Rock explained.
"Whatever you want, Rocky." Benny turned back to his chat session with Janet.
The nightly debriefing ended with the usual absent formality. Rock killed a few more minutes going through some of Benny's latest bits of intel and the stack of mail before heading back to the apartment. Dutch walked with him, just like any other night, because Rock needed the security. In Roanapur, even the dangerous likes of Balalaika and Chang only moved with an escort. Rock missed the independence of the old days. To think, he used to go down to the corner and get a shave with a straight razor from a near-stranger.
Dutch and Rock usually made the nightly walk in silence, but tonight, Dutch paused and drew a breath. Rock already knew what he was going to say. He had seen the number of guests who had quietly approached Dutch at the wedding reception.
"Rock, I'm starting Lagoon again. This is my two weeks' notice."
It wasn't easy to hear and the time table was truly daunting, but Rock smiled. "That's fine."
Dutch scratched the back of his head. "I know that I'm leaving you in a bad place, but-"
"No," Rock interrupted. "You've done more than enough. I intend to repay that favor."
"You might want to save that sentiment. There's more." Dutch paused to consider the stars. "I'm going to offer Benny and Revy their old jobs back."
Years of training kept Rock's smile in place. "Of course. That makes sense."
"Yeah, well, Benny won't go for it. You won't make him keep his precious gear on a greasy boat. Besides, he likes your sort of challenges more than the standard communication officer crap. But I'd like to let him know that I would be happy to have him back," Dutch said. "Thing is, I can't say what Revy wants. I thought that you would want a word with her before I say anything."
Rock's brain supplied the appropriate words, even through the shock. "Thank you. I will do that."
"This isn't personal. Are we cool?" Dutch asked.
Rock's mouth moved again. "Yes. Of course. Goodnight."
He turned and went into the apartment.
She never locked the door. She said that it didn't matter, that if someone wanted to get in, they were coming in with or without the lock. It didn't matter how much he nagged, and tonight was no different. Rock pushed open the door without the usual reprimand on his lips because he felt too sick. Losing Revy wasn't an option, not when Dutch was leaving, too. He couldn't replace them both in two weeks without seriously compromising his security. He needed them. He needed her. He would have to find the right words to make her stay.
He looked up, his mind made, and there she was in the black dress and barefoot.
"Happy now?" she said.
Revy looked spectacular, better than he imagined. The dress dipped and curved in all the right places and she looked delicious, but Rock couldn't tell her that because even a selfish idiot like him could see that she was miserable. His heart twisted up inside of his chest because it hurt to see her that unhappy. Chang was right; it had nothing to do with the dress.
She must have misunderstood his expression for disapproval because Revy crossed her arms and turned from him.
"Don't look at me like that. Christ. You're the one who bought the damn thing."
Rock reached out for the woman that he loved. One hand caught her waist. The other found her hair. Despite all her bravado, Revy succumbed to his touch just like always. She leaned into him and let herself be held. He loved that about her- how she could curse and rage and kill, but she never resisted the pull of his arms. Some part of her couldn't resist him, just as a piece of him couldn't refuse her.
"What else do you want from me, Rock?" she asked of his shoulder. Her arms hung limp at her sides.
What did he want? That was easy. He wanted her to be his bodyguard and his lover. He wanted her to be safe, and he wanted her to protect him. He wanted her to wear her guns and his dress, to kill for him but never die for him, to obey his every order and to be his equal.
He wanted everything.
The realization of his selfishness made him tighten his hold on Revy. She let him crush her body against him without compliant, and Rock felt all of the worse for her surrender. He could glimpse the shine of his cufflinks peeking out from the sleeves of his dark jacket. Over eight months ago, he adopted Revy's emblem to show everyone the reason why he had taken over the city. He had done it all to get her clear of the blood. A hundred grand. He meant he to show her another way, but then, she had stayed. He had been too drunk on his victory and her hot kisses to make her leave right away. And then he discovered that he needed her help. And then he got busy and overwhelmed by his new responsibilities. And then he bought her a black dress that she hated because he wanted to reward himself. He stopped doing it for her and started doing it for himself. God damn it. He was a fool.
"Revy, I'm sorry. You look amazing, but that dress isn't you," he said into her tattooed shoulder.
"No shit," she shot back, but her hands came up to return his embrace.
Rock reminded himself that she deserved what ever she wanted before he spoke again. "Dutch is restarting Lagoon. He's going to ask you to come back onboard."
She stiffened in his arms. "And? I got a gig as your heavy, you know."
"And I need you more just like this. I don't want to be your boss and your..." Rock trailed off because no word seemed adequate. Boyfriend? Lover? Nothing seemed to fit, and if there was one thing that he had learned from Revy, it was that action beat words every time. He used his handful of her hair to tip back her face so he could kiss her.
"I want you to be happy. That's it," he finished when the kiss broke apart on its own. His brain was screaming at him that he was making a mistake. Letting her go would leave him vulnerable and foul up his carefully-laid plans. He needed her protection. He needed Two Hands. But he loved Revy more.
"What if I'd be happy sitting my ass on a bar stool all day?" she asked.
"What about getting my own rig and going diving whenever I wanted?"
"Anything," Rock replied.
Revy pulled away from him and found his eyes. Rock couldn't stop his hand from touching her face.
"Rock, baby, I hate being your body guard," she confessed.
"Then don't do it," he nodded.
"If Dutch wants be partner up again, I'm all for that," Revy went on.
"And I fucking hate this dress," she concluded.
Rock found the zipper with ease, and after it was undone, the straps fell from her shoulders with only a tiny push.
"Then don't wear it," he said.
She grinned at him, and that flash of unadulterated joy made him breathless.
He wanted her.
He loved her.
He would keep it that simple.
In Roanapur, city of heat and betrayal and hardship and blood, he would keep them that simple.
Story wrap-up at unkeptsecret (.) insanejournal (.) com /11286
Thank you and good night.