Renton followed Henry out to the car. His hands were shaking as he pulled the seatbelt across his chest—he wondered briefly if he should forego the safety measure in case he had to make a quick escape. Henry was characteristically silent, completely aware of the terror that Renton was experiencing. The conversation they were going to have was long overdue, and Henry wanted to keep up this level of anticipation for just a few minutes longer.
He could feel Renton watching him out of the corner of his eye. He thought back briefly to the early days of their friendship… he liked having Renton around because he had been cold as shit. Henry identified with that. They both were pensively aware of the lengths to which they would go to get a job done; they both had explored their limits and established their boundaries. Most people believed they were aware of their own parameters, but very few actually were. Renton and Henry had both been to the brink of depravity, had both stared unblinking into the eyes of pure sadism, and knew exactly how to react in order to serve their own best interests.
Early on, Renton had agreed that Henry would be the one to lead, and Henry appreciated this concession because he knew that Renton had intricate knowledge of what he was giving up. Unlike Jeremy, whose loyalty Henry appreciated, but who was born to be a follower. Henry knew that Renton struggled for months with his submission—he’d rather fight shoulder to shoulder than one step behind. Henry was accommodating in many aspects, but giving up even the slightest ounce of control was not one of them.
“Maybe it’s my fault,” Henry said aloud, and smiled a little when he saw Renton jump. He liked to start conversations as if he had already been talking—it made the other person feel uneasy, not knowing if Henry was crazy or they were. “I should have sensed this earlier.”
Renton swallowed. What was he referring to? Did Henry think that Rent was in love with Maya?
“I thought you were content with the way things were. I didn’t realize you wanted more. You know that I can’t let that happen. So where does that leave us? We have about an hour to figure out a solution, and by that I mean you have some time to come up with a way out of this mess, something that I find acceptable.”
Silence filled the car. Renton balled his hands in to fists. He had no idea what he was going to do, but a kind of morbid relief washed over him at the thought of everything finally being out in the open.
Maya stepped out of the shower. So many thoughts were swimming in her mind… Rent’s defense of her, however slight, had been surprising. She had never considered that he cared for her much at all. He had always been so indifferent towards her. When she first started dating Henry, everything happened so quickly—she moved in with him less than three weeks after they met. Usually her decisions were much more cautious and thought-out, but she had been so swept up in him, the romance, the passion that she left everything she knew to create a life with him. She had tried endlessly to be warm with Renton and Jeremy, because they were her only friends in her new life. Jeremy was receptive, and although she regarded him fondly, wasn’t exactly the brightest crayon in the box. He was sweet, but they didn’t have anything to talk about. She found herself falling into a motherly role with him, which she resented a little. She had never wanted to be anyone’s mother.
But Rent was different. It was as if she barely registered with him, as if he didn’t care if she lived or died. In that first year she had tried so hard to bond with him—had even suffered a few beatings from a jealous Henry because she was paying him too much attention. But she listened to the conversations between Rent and Henry, she saw the books that Rent read, she longed so much for intelligent discourse and she knew Rent was more than capable of giving that to her, but he refused. He looked through her.
In the beginning, she had even been na? enough to try and talk to Henry about it. “What does he have against me?” she used to ask. Henry would tell her not to worry, that Rent was just like that—he was cold, barely human. But she saw his well-worn, dog-eared copy of “The Dharma Bums” and she snuck looks at the passages he’d underlined. “I think that there’s more to him,” she tried to tell Henry. And then his eyes would cloud over, and he’d interrogate her softly as to why she had such a deep interest, anyway. So she’d drop the subject.
All of this had made loving Deke easy and impossible at the same time. He was so open, so unassuming, free from motive or hang-up. When he touched her, he looked into her eyes, not to intimidate, but because he wanted to see her at the same time that she was seeing him. She laid back for him to take her, but he didn’t and she couldn’t understand why not.
Maya hung the towel on the rack and walked to the closet. She pulled a light blue dress off its hanger and slid it over her head. She turned towards the bed—and saw Tony standing in the doorway.
Renton knew that Henry was waiting for him to speak, but he didn’t know how to start. He didn’t know how to tell his partner, his best friend, that he was in love with Maya. He wanted to tell Henry, “You don’t really love her. Or maybe you think you do, because this is the closest thing you’ve ever felt. You could replace her with any other girl, but you don’t want to because you don’t want to have to train another one. But I really do love her—I know not just what books she reads, but why she reads them, and what the words mean to her, although I’m desperate to hear her tell me. I love her, and I don’t think I can exist for another second if she and I aren’t together.” Renton wanted to say all of those words and then some. He wouldn’t even hesitate if he had an inkling that she felt the same way, but the unknown stripped him of his usual bravado.
Henry was waiting for an answer. Renton instead asked, “What’s your opinion on the whole thing? I’d like to hear what you would prefer before I suggest anything.”
“Clever evasion, but I’ll bite. I know you’ve wanted more power and more authority. I can’t give you complete control, and I can’t give you equality. But I can make it more apparent to everyone that you are absolutely my second-in-command. I can make sure they all know that you have complete authority in my absence, and I can give you more control, under my direction of course. You’ll always have to be below me in this sense, but just me. If this isn’t going to work for you, then you’ll have to go.”
Renton was screaming inside, but managed to remain completely collected on the outside. All this time, he thought Henry suspected his feelings toward Maya, but he had interpreted everything as a power play instead. Rent saw his chance—accept Henry’s offer and stay in the house… with her… and try to figure out if she felt the same way. If she didn’t, then he wouldn’t lose any part of the empire Henry and he were building.
“That sounds perfectly acceptable,” he replied, trying his best to sound detached. “I want you to know that I never would have betrayed you or gone behind your back. I wanted to find a way to approach you without you feeling like I was confronting you. You just sensed it before I could figure out what to do.”
Henry nodded. “Well, I appreciate your honesty, Rent. Once we pick up this batch, I’ll leave you in charge of distribution.”
Her heart nearly leaped out of her chest.
“What are you doing?” she asked angrily.
“Watching you,” Tony replied, a mocking smile playing on his lips. “You have an incredible body. I’ve never really gotten a chance to see it like this before.”
“Get the hell out of here!”
“No.” He began to advance on her. “Jeremy was called away unexpectedly. And I’m bored. I promised you that—”
She leaped on to the bed, trying to make it through the door. He was a split second faster than her and tackled her onto the bed. She writhed underneath him. “Let me go!” she shouted.
“Stop screaming, bitch, there’s no one here to hear you.” He pushed his knee in between her legs and forced them apart. He dropped his head, giving in to the urge to kiss her, but she bared her teeth and he thought better of it. “Stop fighting,” he growled.
“Fuck you!” she cried, pushing against his chest, her hands as useless as fluttering doves.
He backhanded her gently, but it still drew blood from her mouth. She seemed shocked by the taste and turned her head to spit. He grabbed her wrists in one hand and held them above her head. “Just calm down,” he said. “I want to be able to take my time. Last time I had to rush, and don’t get me wrong, it still was pretty fucking great, but it’s not how I imagined it would be. So this is how it’s going to go—there’s no one here to help you, Jeremy’s gone and the others shouldn’t be back for at least another hour, you can’t get away, I’m a hell of a lot stronger and faster than you are—it would be better for you if you just played along, okay?”
“I hate you,” she whispered.
His fist landed against her cheek and she cried out in pain. She felt her teeth cut the inside of her mouth, and more blood dripped down her chin. “I could beat the shit out of you all day. Are you going to play along?”
She nodded slowly.
“Awesome. I know you’ve been in love with me since you first met me. Tell me about it, tell me in detail how you’ve always wanted me.”
“I’ve always wanted you. I’m in love with you.”
He stared at her. “Wow, that was terrible. I’m going to give you one last chance, so you’d better do it like your life depends on it. There won’t be a third chance. Go.”
She closed her eyes. You don’t have a choice, she told herself, just pretend and go with it. Imagine you’re talking to… in her mind, Rent’s was the only face she saw. She was shocked at her own subconscious, but she knew in that moment that the thought of Renton was the only thing that could get her through this.
She opened her eyes, staring at Tony but seeing Rent. “I’ve always loved you, since the very first moment. I was scared, what I felt for you was so intense that it frightened me. I wanted you to like me, I wanted desperately for you to see me as I saw you. I think even Henry might have known all along, but he didn’t want to admit that you were a threat, because you were so important to him. I wanted to be with you, not him… and it’s been torture having to see you all the time and think that you couldn’t care less about me.”
Tony’s mouth was hanging open slightly. Never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined she’d be so good at this. He thought he’d have to work at pretending to believe her, but what she was saying made it easy for him to slip into the role. “Tell me what you want me to do to you,” he whispered.
“I want you to kiss me softly at first, then plunge your hands into my hair.” He obeyed every word she offered without question. “Move your hands to my breasts, hold them and feel their fullness, slide the straps of my dress over my shoulders, run your fingertips over my nipples, use your tongue now.” He filled his mouth with her breasts. “Move one of your hands down my stomach, linger at my hipbone, slide between my legs and find my clit.” She moaned as be complied with her orders; she closed her eyes and imagined it was Rent’s rough hands against her soft skin. Tony couldn’t wait for her next command, as much as he wanted to. She had set up the scene perfectly. He buried his face between her legs hungrily, plunging his tongue and his fingers in and out, groaning in spite of himself. He heard her breathing intensify, felt her hands on his hand, gripping his hair and holding him to her. He felt he might cum already so he pulled away from her grip and moved back onto her. He went to kiss her, but she turned her head.
“Please don’t fuck me,” she whispered. “Tony, please. I’ll do everything else with you, but please—”
He felt unbridled fury raging out at her—she had completely ruined it! Who the fuck did she think she was? He couldn’t even speak, he was so livid, so absolutely beside himself with rage. He returned her to her original position—wrists held over her head, legs spread, fear scrawled across her face—and then he slammed into her. She cried out, tears streaming down her face, liquefying the blood that had begun to dry. He looked down to watch with delight as he thrust in and out of this petite little blonde that dared to turn him down again. He fucked her with all his force; his anger giving way to pure pleasure as she tried to struggle but eventually lost her strength. He kept waiting for her to feel loose around him, but her pussy was incredibly tight, tighter than he had remembered, and when he finally orgasmed, his cum filled her to capacity and spilled out onto the sheets underneath her.
As soon as the plea had left her lips, she knew the words were a mistake. But as long as she didn’t have to see his face, it was easier to pretend that Tony was Renton, and she found herself deep in the fantasy as Tony licked and sucked her, and she had been so close to her orgasm that she had begun to see the rolling landscapes that only ever entered her mind when she was alone and pleasuring herself… and then Tony pulled away and the visions faded, and she opened her eyes and stared at that evil face and the terror returned. It was as if her body had decided that no one but Renton could touch it. So she had tried to bargain with Tony as a last-ditch effort, but it was all wrong and only enraged him again.
As he was pounding into her, she tried to fight but she knew it was useless. So she turned her head to the side, tears flowing, and tried to think of anything but him. She was so distressed that she even hallucinated that Renton was standing in the doorway, watching them. How bizarre, she thought to herself, but it comforted her to know that he was watching over her, even if he was just an illusion.