Billy liked to think he was an aware guy. He liked control, and prided himself on maintaining the upper hand in any given situation.
Falling asleep in the arms of Helen Gates was not an example of this.
Falling asleep in bed with a woman wasn't something he did. Period. But with Helen? It was infinitely worse. She was at the apex of everything. Not a woman, but the woman. Not that he'd ever tell her that, or that she really needed him to verbalize it. There was an unspoken understanding between them, an agreement that went unacknowledged. They were lovers, with all the trimmings. There wasn't any question about that now; not after the night they'd shared, all the talking they'd done between each mind-blowing session of sweaty, toe-curling sex. Gone was the attempt at casual fucking. This, between them now, was something much more dangerous.
And yet, when Billy slowly opened his eyes, his mind groggily rewinding, fear wasn't what he felt.
Helen was next to him, flat on her stomach so he could see the long pane of her bare back and choppy mane of black hair. She slept silently, her back rising and falling with each breath. He was content to watch her like that for a while, one of his arms trapped beneath her head. They'd been tangled in the sheets, he noticed, their bodies twisted in the white fabric until it had knotted around their legs. His hips were the only thing still covered, Helen's body completely bare for him to stare at.
And stare he did. She was perfect to him, despite the large scar on her thigh and the patches of freckles that spanned her shoulders and back. He knew her body like it was his own, down to the tan lines her racer back tanks left between her shoulder blades.
Dangerous. Very dangerous.
"I can feel you staring."
Billy snorted a laugh, Helen's voice muffled by mattress. She'd woken without even a change in her breathing.
"It's a fine ass to stare at." Her laugh was throaty as she lay facedown beside him. Then a sigh fell between them. Billy let his eyes droop closed for a little while, content to maybe drift off.
Helen rustled the sheets, his temporary peace shattered. Opening one eye, he watched her tug at the covers, ripping them from his hips. When the cold air hit his crotch, Billy hissed and sat up, glaring as Helen shuffled off with the bed sheet wrapped around her body.
"Are ya kiddin' me?" He snorted after her, shaking his head. It wasn't like he hadn't seen every intimate inch of her. But Helen continued to shuffle out of the bedroom entirely, plucking her clothes off the living room floor.
"I wasn't planning on this little sleepover, Darley." She muttered from a distance. "People are gonna wonder where the fuck we wondered off to all night long."
"And morning." He murmured with a smirk, interlacing his fingers behind his head as he propped against the headboard. Helen stepped into the doorway for a moment, in only her bra and jeans, shaking her head at his cocky smile.
"It's a wonder that thing is still attached." She muttered, eyeing what he wasn't trying to hide.
"Still attached and working." He purred. They exchanged a moment of silence, a decision being made. Then Helen laughed and ducked from sight.
"Find someone else for seconds. I gotta go." Billy didn't hide his disappointment, because Helen didn't make another appearance in the doorway. So he went to her. Walking out into the living room, he caught her fixing her hair in the reflection of a window. He watched her rub her eyes and comb her messy mane with her fingers, a feeling of dread finally sank into his stomach. It was dark and ugly, like a cloud sitting in the distance. And it was nearing, only a few hours away.
"Ya sure about this?" He came up behind her slowly, watching her face in the window. She looked up into his eyes and they held, her expression hardening in understanding.
"Don't have much choice, do we?" She finally answered, avoiding his gaze to straighten the jacket on her shoulders. Billy took a final step, his jaw grazing her temple.
"You can always run." He whispered, his hands framing her hips. Helen sighed and stared at him, unreadable as she ground her jaw. When she finally did speak, she held his eyes.
"Like I said…" Turning around, she looked up at him, standing on her toes to kiss the left corner of his mouth. "…don't have much of a choice." With both hands, he held her there and kissed her again, this time slowly. When he pulled back, he didn't let go until she put her hands on top of his.
When the phone call came, Joey groaned as he reached for the nightstand. Danny was lightly hugging him beneath the sheets, her hair tickling his chest. The bruises on his arms and torso hurt, but looked worse more than anything. And as he flipped the phone open, he pretended his split lip didn't hurt when he spoke.
"Heard ya threw a fucking tantrum at the Roses." Billy's voice felt like a cup of coffee in Joey's belly, warming him with relief.
"Jesus Christ, where the fuck were ya?" As gently as he could, Joey moved from Danny's arms, sliding across the bed. When he stood, he swallowed a groan and walked out of the room. "I waited for ya all goddamn night."
"I was busy."
"Well I would fuckin' think so!" Joey hissed, grabbing handfuls of his hair to tug with irritation. "What's the fuckin' news with these Russian motherfuckers?" His blood was pumping through his veins as he thought about the asshole who'd threatened Danny's life.
"I'm takin' care of it, alright? You just lay low 'til this shit is over." Gritting his teeth, Joey nearly threw his phone across the room. Holding his voice down, he took a breath before he hissed his reply.
"Fuck that. I'm not waitin' around for shit." Looking back into their bedroom, he caught sight of her red hair in the mess of blankets. "I need ta know, Bill. I want that fucker."
"Listen ta me, Joe." Billy's voice lowered in warning, sending a flash of fear down his little brother's spine. There were only a few things in life that could ward Joey off, and that tone was one of them. It didn't always work, but it always resulted in Billy getting what he wanted, one way or another. "This shit is my problem. They came for me. You are going to stay out of it."
"FUCK THAT BILL." Joey didn't bother quieting his anger, spit flying from his lips as he yelled. "THEY TRIED TO KILL MY GIRL." Before he had a chance to continue, the line was dead, his brother hanging up without another word. Enraged, Joey threw his phone, watching it break against the wall and fall in pieces to the floor.
"Joey!" Danny was at his side in a heartbeat, her face shocked as she reached for him. "What's wrong? What happened?"
"He thinks I'm gonna just wait around?" He spat, pulling from her gentle hands. "FUCK HIM."
"Joey, stop." Her voice was stronger as he stumbled towards their bedroom, his face red and his hands shaking. It didn't matter that his face was a bruised mess. It didn't matter that his ribs hurt like hell and his gut was reeling. All he felt was rage. Pure, unfiltered rage. Pulling on his pants, he wandered around the bedroom looking for his keys. If his brother wasn't going to listen to him on the phone, he was going to hear him loud and clear in person.
"JOEY STOP." Danny's voice broke through and he whirled around, watching her pant lightly in the doorway. "You're not going anywhere until you tell me what the hell that was about!" Pointing back at his broken phone, Danny looked angry and scared, her bruises faded and yellow around her face. Meeting those determined eyes, Joey huffed a few breaths and ran his fingers through his messy hair.
"Billy is pushin' me out of the Russian thing. Won't let me in—"
"GOOD!" Danny threw up her hands. "Maybe then all this shit will STOP!" A tear slipped out of her eye, but she flicked it away like it meant nothing. "Joey, we've been on a rollercoaster of shit for so long. When can we just…STOP."
Throwing her hands up in the air again, she sat hard on the bed. "…I want to wake up in the morning knowing that you're going to be okay when I go to bed that night." Joey wiped his face in frustration, but he listened, hearing her over the roar of his pulse. "I want to go to the store alone and not be afraid! I want to have the chance to move into a house and own a car and marry you!"
Joey's heart stopped in his chest.
"Marry me?" Danny's flopped a hand on the bed and Joey sat beside her, his anger suddenly replaced with something very different.
"I'd like the opportunity." She whispered, gently stroking his face as to avoid his injuries, yet she didn't meet his gaze. "But if you chase after your brother, you'll end up just like him. Alone."
Sid knew the exact moment Helen was in the house, because suddenly there were a whole lot of voices coming from downstairs. Unhappy voices. And when footsteps stomped up the stairs, he braced himself for an entrance.
"Why the fuck did ya bury Neil without me?" Helen burst through the bathroom door without a knock, taking up the doorframe with her wrath. "I thought we fuckin' agreed—"
"Ya never came home, Hell. The fuck did ya want me ta do?" He murmured, careful to continue shaving his face with controlled strokes of his razor. In nothing but a towel and his skin, Sid stood at the sink, inches from the mirror.
"I would have waited for you!" She hissed, slapping his arm with a flick of her wrist. Closing his eyes, Sid missed cutting himself by a millisecond, holding in his irritation as he lowered his razor into the sink.
"The kid needed ta be put in the ground." He spoke carefully, looking back at the mirror only when he felt the control return to his temper. "If this shit tonight goes bad, at least one of us will get a proper burial."
She had no reply. Staring at him in the mirror, Helen watched as Sid smoothly shaved the remaining hair from his neck, tilting his head back to run the length of his jaw.
"So where were ya anyway?" The question instantly brought a darkness to her eyes, and Sid shook his head as he ran the razor under a stream of water. "Darley."
"Fuck you." She hissed.
"No, fuck you Hell." He turned his head to face her for the first time, shaving cream covering one of his cheeks. "Ya spent what could be your last night with that prick, and all the boys know it." Looking back into the mirror, he shook his head a second time before he started another stroke from his throat. They didn't speak for a long while, until his face was nearly clean. Helen simply watched him make long passes with his razor, her eyes hard and angry.
The apology was so out of character, Sid nearly sliced his cheek open. Looking back at her, he set his razor down and cocked an eyebrow.
"What?" With a sigh, Helen leant against the doorframe.
"I'm sorry I wasn't here, okay?" She crossed her arms and stared down the hallway, her expression difficult to read. "I've got some shit ta figure out." Sid watched her for a moment, saw the way her eyes relaxed and her mouth loosened at the corners.
"Good thing we're all dyin' tonight." He finally broke the silence, wiping his face on a towel. Helen frowned in confusion. "Dead people don't have problems."
Billy almost didn't answer the phone when it rang. Fresh out of the shower, he was tempted to shut it off for an hour or two. The world could fuck off. He had so much going on already, the last thing he wanted to do was allow the world back into things. Billy wanted to be in bed with Helen again. He wished he'd held her down, naked on that mattress, until they'd been fucking like the animals they were, forgetting all the complications that came with their lives.
Unfortunately, he'd left after she'd driven off. And after a few short calls, he'd decided to wash away the previous night. He let it drip off in the scalding hot water, falling away like a lost memory. The plan was to move on like it had never happened.
So when the phone rang, it took him a few seconds to flip it open and speak.
"The price has changed." His stomach turned ice cold as a familiar Russian accent bit into his ear.
"Is your boss too busy to talk to me himself, or are ya just his bitch?" He listened as the one-eyed Russian swore under his breath, and the phone was passed.
"Mr. Darley, I trust you had a pleasant night's sleep."
"The fuck is this bullshit about prices being changed?" Billy hissed into the phone, glaring at nothing in particular. "Are we partners, or what?" Andrei let out a little sigh, painting a picture of the snobby younger man perfectly in Billy's mind.
"I still vant Ms. Gates, but I want her alive, Mr. Darley." Billy swallowed, closing his eyes.
"I vant you to bring her to me. Alive."
"So she can escape you assholes and come after me? Don't think so, pal." Faking Helen's death was one thing, but bringing her to Andrei alive was very much another. There weren't any tricks up his sleeve for this. Billy felt the heat of panic swirling in his gut. There wasn't a play for him to make.
"You bring her to me, tonight, at Marion Bay Storage, or I'll send this to the police."
His phone beeped angrily in his ear and Billy pulled it away, staring at a picture message. When it opened, the frown dropped from his face, leaving him blank.
"Do ve understand each other, Mr. Darley?"
A/N: Oh lord, I finally updated. I know it's been a while, and I'm so sorry, but life has been kinda crazy. A big thank you to ollie-oxycotyn for inspiring this chapter. :) I'm going to try and keep these chapters shorter so I can get more of them out on time. Hope you enjoy! Love you all.