Alec said, “I kind of want to do it anyways.  Hitting a bank gets you on the front page.  It’s huge for our rep.” “The runt is right,” Bitch said. Brian grumbled, “Not fucking up is better for our reputation in the long run.” 

I finished doing up the buttons of the dress and opened the curtain, “Ever think I didn’t want you prying?” She undid the top button. “What you want and what you need are two different things. 

Kayden answered with a curt nod.  To anyone else, this conversation would have sounded perfectly innocent.  As someone who had worked alongside Max for ten years and been married to him for one, she knew this was all negotiation.  He was making it clear he was doing her a favor, and he’d expect recompense at some point, tonight or a week from now.  It was how he was – always playing for power, for advantage, for dominance.  All the while, he was doing it in a way that you couldn’t confront.  If she called him on it, he’d play innocent and she’d look like the crazy one, the one in the wrong.  Sometimes even to herself.

“Maybe, a long time ago, he started to lose a little hair, but he could brush it to one side in a way that made it not show so much.  Every year that passed he brushed his hair over a bit more.  It was gradual, something he slowly got used to, seeing it in the mirror every morning and every night.  Lots of small steps.” “Why doesn’t someone point it out?”  I’d asked her. “He doesn’t have anyone to point it out for him,” she had replied, “And anyone who knows him well enough doesn’t want to hurt his feelings, even if it might be better in the long run.”

Was my situation the same as the old man’s?  Had I let myself gradually slip into a bad spot, because of my lack of perspective beyond what was going on inside my own head?

Was I scared of arrest?  No.  Well, I’d seen bureaucracy at work with school, I didn’t trust the system, I fully expected to get screwed over somewhere down the line.  But that wasn’t what was driving my choices.  It was something more personal.

I leaned forward, “Not saying you’re wrong in not trusting him, but why?” Angelica, the one eyed, one eared terrier, nuzzled her, and Bitch scratched her behind the ear.  Bitch explained, “He talks too much.  Only reason people talk like he does is if they’re covering something up.”

“You should offer to sleep with him.” “I-uh, what?” I stammered.  Relief mixed with embarrassment, and the abrupt change of topic left me struggling to get my thoughts in order. “It’s what guys want.  Tell him you’re available if he ever wants to fuck.  He’ll accept right away, or he’ll start thinking about you as a possibility and he’ll take you up on it later.”

“That’s-  It’s more complicated than that.” “It’s complicated because people make it complicated.  Just cut the bullshit and go for it.”

In short, as much as I liked his company, liked him, I was glad for the break and the chance to calm down and get my thoughts sorted, so I could handle it when the conversation happened.