#RunningWilde Ch. 9 | How To Lose You

The sticky red bottoms of Vince’s Louboutin brogues treaded into the main office with cool measured steps. The smell of blood and death clung to his tailored suit, his usually perfectly slicked back hair was tousled and his icy blue eyes wild with redemption. He felt better now, he felt like himself. Beating that little punk to death was therapeutic, the only problem was that now he didn’t have anything to leverage getting his only child, Ava-Marie, back with.

Chris -Vince’s underboss -and three capos were in the office. The capos were discussing the move they had made on the Diamond Mafia’s salon earlier that day and were busy plotting their next move while Chris was on the phone to Max being updated on the aftermath. He hung up the moment he saw Vince walk in looking like a massacre.

                “Lemme call you back… Boss what the hell happened to you?”

                “I’m fine,” Vince huffed fanning his long-time partner and friend off as he made his way to the minibar in the corner and poured himself a double shot of scotch, the good kind he saved for special occasions.

Chris noticed the wounds on Vince’s knuckles and his jaw tightened, “Vinny, what did you do?” He only called him Vinny when it was serious, when he had to be more than The Syndicate underboss; when he had to be a friend.

Vince ran his bloodied hand through his tousled chestnut locks and took a deep swig of his scotch. He wasn’t fond of Chris referring to him as Vinny in front of company and Chris knew that, but the fact that he had done it anyway meant that Vince must look a sight. He sunk down into his leather desk chair and took off his suit jacket then handed it to Chris, “I need some fresh clothes,” he replied flippantly. He took another swig.

Chris held the bloodied suit jacket out to Bruce, one of the capos, “You heard the boss, go get him some clean shit.” Bruce nodded and left the room. Chris turned back to Vince who was now in the process of unbuttoning his ruined white shirt; that much blood was never going to come out of the previously pristine fabric properly. Chris sucked his teeth, “You shoulda taken off your outerwear; you taught me that.”

Vince glanced up, his wild blue eyes glinting under the bright spotlights that were embedded in the low dark ceiling like an electric starry night; “I know,” he said lowly through gritted teeth, “I got carried away.”

“Doing what? Vinny you gotta start talking. What do we need to clean up?” Chris pressed holding out his hand for Vince’s shirt.

“The basement,” he replied morbidly looking away from his men and glaring into his now empty tumbler. He fucked up big time and now he had to admit it. Vince never liked admitting that he fucked up.

“The basement?” Chris’s forehead wrinkled, “Boss, are you serious? That kid was all we had_”

“YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW THAT?” Vince boomed slamming his palms down on his desk and jumping to his feet. The capos flinched but Chris didn’t even blink, he simply waited for Vince to compose himself and continue. Vince sighed, “We need to find something else; we need a new plan because K. Dot is dead.”

                “What else? The whole reason Michaels took Ava-Marie is because we took his brother. What the fuck do you think he’s gonna do to her once he finds out you offed him?”

                “He’s not gonna find out, not until we get Ava back, so think Chris.”

Bruce came back in the room with a navy suit by Tom Ford for Vince in a clothing bag. “Here you go boss.”  

Vince looked away from Chris’s disappointed face and removed the remainder of his tainted clothing. This was a real rookie move for him, something he would have been stupid enough to do when he was just a solider, and something he knew better than to do as the boss. But it had felt so good when his fists pummelled the boy who had started all of this mess, the stupid boy who made Vince put his little girl’s life in jeopardy at the hands of the notoriously dangerous Aiden Michaels, and it had been so long since Vince had gotten his hands dirty -as the boss he usually had other men handling the gritty stuff so his hands could stay clean. As good as it felt, Vince was quickly wishing that his hands were clean because the longer he spent in Chris’s presence the more it weighed down on him about what he’d just done. The risk of losing Ava-Marie was realer than ever before, and if he didn’t find some way to get her back before that bastard Michaels found out, he would lose her forever.

“Leave us,” he snapped at his capos. He had to speak to Chris alone, Chris would figure out what to do. They’d always made a good team, Vince and Chris. They’d met in their late teens working under the previous holder of The Syndicate, Harry Thronton -God rest his soul -and had worked their way up. When Harry got popped Vince was his successor and had taken The Syndicate to a whole new level with Chris as his right hand man. Whenever he went off the rails Chris was the one who helped him get back on again. He needed him to do that now because he was so far off the rails that he couldn’t think straight. Once the room was cleared Vince looked over at his friend and waited.

Chris pulled a black and gold Sobranie cigarette from his breast pocket and slotted it between his thin lips, “Vinny, you fucked up, big time,” he said patting his jacket for his lighter.

Vince slid open his desk draw and grabbed one of his spares and tossed it to Chris; he was always losing his lighters. “Chris you don’t understand. That bastard put my baby on the phone…and he was doing things to her…” he trailed off and closed his eyes, forcing his mind to sing a melody over the memory of the illicit song that Ava-Marie whimpered for their enemy. He needed another shot of that scotch. “The fucker told her about Louise too.”

Chris froze mid-imported Russian cigarette lighting; “Oh shit! How the fuck did he know?”

“His team is exceptional. We never should’ve fucked with them,” Vince admitted quietly. Yup, he definitely needed that scotch now. He poured himself another double.

“Vinny, we’re The Syndicate, we run this fuckin’ city, which means that we can fuck with whoever we want. The DM is getting too big for their boots and it’s up to us to put ‘em back where they belong; in the fucking gutters of the ghetto.” He lit the fancy cigarette.

“They’ve got Ava, Chris! We got cocky and we weren’t prepared for this. I wasn’t prepared for this and now I’ve fucked up and there’s a dead kid in our basement.”

“Don’t even worry about that; clean-up will clean up and there will be no trace of him. We’ll be all right, Vinny,” Chris replied confidently, not because he believed it, but because for the sake of their livelihood he needed his boss to.

Vince frowned at his underboss, “How? We have no leverage.”

Chris pursed his lips around the gold filter then clicked his fingers promisingly, “We might,” he smiled.

“Well let me hear it ‘cause we got two days left and nothing to trade Ava for.”

Chris leant over Vince’s desk and ashed his cigarette into the empty glass tumbler –Vince had had enough to drink. “I just got off the phone with Max. He’s down at the salon watching who shows up to handle business.”


“Right, so the front owner of the salon, Trish, ain’t been around since the day after I got K Dot.”


“Turns out that K Dot’s girl, Sofia, had a kid with the little punk and Trish is the God mother. I sent some guys round to his place to see if we could find the baby, figured that a little more leverage with Michaels’ nephew might make him a little more cooperative with Ava, but the place was swept clean, no fingerprints, no evidence of where he went, so we asked around. One of the neighbours said he was probably with Trish.”

“Michaels’ probably shipped them off. We won’t find ‘em.” Vince sighed.

“Not exactly; Aiden sent Dougie down to the salon to talk with the police and try to get shit sorted. Trish’s last name is Monroe; she’s Dougie’s sister. We get Max to bring him in we may be able to lure Trish out of hiding and that way we get the kid.”

“No,” Vince shook his head. The plan had sounded promising up until then. “Max can’t handle Dougie. He’s not ready.”

“Ahh Vinny c’mon; you’ve been schooling this kid for years, of course he’s ready! He’s a Syndicate solider; let him do what he’s supposed to do. You had him trailing after Ava-Marie for the past three years, wasting his talents, and then he fuckin’ loses her to chase after some pussy and you don’t even top him!” Vince glares angrily at Chris. “All I’m saying is the kid needs to earn his place back among us. Make him prove that he deserves this second chance Vinny, make him bring in Dougie.”

“And what if he can’t? I practically raised Max since he was fifteen, he’s loyal, he’s family; what if Dougie kills him?” Chris looked away. “Dougie Monroe ain’t like the rest of those DM fuckers_”

“Neither is Max!” Chris snapped. “Look Vinny, if you don’t get this kid to do this we have nothing, and if we have nothing we don’t have a chance in hell of getting Ava back. I know this shit’s fucking with your head right now but you gotta get it together. You’re Vince Lockewood; people don’t fuck with Vince Lockewood cause you do whatever the fuck you need to do to keep your house in order.” Chris thrusts his phone in Vince’s direction, “So keep your house in order.”


Max was stood at the bus stop across the street from Diamond’s hair salon watching smugly as the locals gaped at the ruin The Syndicate had unleashed on it. Crowds milled about, stylists fluttered in and out, police tried to keep everything under control, and in the middle of the chaos he could see Dougie.

Dougie was like the eye of the storm; chaos surrounded him but he was calm and collected as he answered the necessary questions the feds fired at him. You could see that they didn’t trust him; Dougie didn’t look like a business man. Aiden could pull the act off if he put on a suit, but not Dougie; his entire persona rejected the idea. Dougie never rocked suits because he couldn’t move in them the way he wanted too, it threw off his lethal skills, so he rocked his Diamond Mafia uniform of black proudly, with a bit of thug in every drop. As much as the police had nothing on him it didn’t stop them from looking at him sideways, but Dougie didn’t care, they couldn’t touch him. The Diamond Mafia were no secret but Aiden had their operation sewn so tightly with crooked cops in one pocket and happy, cooperative, community members in the other that they had to let them all be.

Max watched the way Dougie moved among them, steadfast and self-assured, but not cocky. He’d heard about the likes of Dougie Monroe and how he was a silent and deadly force, that as soon as he wanted you dead, you were, and no amount of protection could save you from him. Dougie was the living hand of death. Max respectfully admired him; Dougie was a legend in their line of work. You never wanted to find out that Dougie was looking for you because it was a notification to let you know that your time was almost up. It was better not to know if he was coming for you –at least that way you didn’t waste your final hours trying to hide how scared you were to be on his radar up until the time his weapon of choice brought your existence to a swift and brutal close.

Max’s phone vibrated in his pocket; it was Vince.

“Yeah?” he answered.

“You still got eyes on Dougie?”


“Bring him to me.”

“Got it.”

Vince hung up.

Max tucked his phone away and tried not to lose his cool as he tried to digest that Vince wanted him to bring in Dougie Monroe, the living hand of death. Either his boss believed in Max’s capabilities that much or he was punishing him for losing his only reason to live; his little girl, the girl Max loved more than life, Ava-Marie. The thought of her forced him to calm his nerves. He would do it, he would get Dougie Monroe and bring him to Vince; for Ava-Marie he would do anything.

He swiped his spiked jet black hair out of his face and looked up to re-evaluate his new target, only to see his new target staring right back at him with a smirk that made Max’s blood run cold. He thought of Ava again.


With a towel hanging precariously off of his sculpted hips, flaunting his deep v that led to the part of him that caused many women to cross their legs at the mere thought of it, Aiden carried a sleeping Ava back to her room wrapped in a fluffy black towel. The effect of the wine and the cake and the ever tempting Mr Michaels had taken their toll on her. Her underwear and the long black satin robe still lay in a delicate heap on the tiled slate grey floor of the bathroom. To be honest they were both quite worn out after a further forty-five minutes of talking in the hot, scented bath. Yes, Aiden and Ava-Marie managed to have an actual conversation.

Naturally Ava was suspicious and hesitant at first, but Aiden was persistent. He liked the way her voice sounded soft and husky like a thousand waves crashing against the shoreline, and how expressively she used her pretty little hands when she spoke. It was like she couldn’t keep still, like she couldn’t contain herself once she let go. Everything was so much more with Ava-Marie and Aiden liked that too. Maybe it was because he was still high off of his sadistic addiction, but there was just something about her. She was so alive it was like she wasn’t even real; this cinnamon skinned fantasy with romantic lips and eyes of autumn, who blushed rose gold, whose existence thrummed through her with every breath she took…and every breath she missed. Ava missed many breaths with Aiden, he’d noticed, and it wasn’t because she was scared, it was because she felt him. Whatever black magic a man like him was made of, she could sense it, and she responded to it with a breathless enchantment that made him only want to continue taking her breath away. Even as she lay against him, if he so much as shifted in any way, or spoke too deep, or too softly, she would squirm.

There were moments there with her in the deep oval tub where it was almost as if they had forgotten that they were captor and captive, both of their realities and its pressing demands quieting for a little while to allow them exist together, but she’d remember in random spots of clarity when the weed and alcohol took a brief break from dulling her logic, and she’d freeze up. Aiden liked that also, it reminded them both of who was in charge, and Aiden was a man who loved being in charge and having his formidable power acknowledged. Every time she’d show fear and remember her place, he’d ask her questions, purely to hear her begrudgingly call him ‘sir’ when she answered. It kept his hard-on going, which he used to persuade her to warm up to him again by gently bumping his length against her slit.

His fullness ached from being stood at attention for so long. God he longed to ram himself deep into her pink velvet and unearth her secret self, the secret self that women like Ava only revealed in the throes of passion -but he didn’t. As fun as it was for him to torture her, he found solace in torturing himself too. He was strong, he had will power, he would not break his control, not for anyone, especially not for a woman with wild hazel eyes that blushed rose gold, and hated him as much as she craved him. Not for her.

They spoke about Ava’s childhood mostly; Aiden was curious to know how Ava-Marie had no idea about her father’s dodgy dealings, and how it felt to be sent away to boarding school, and what it was like to lose her mother. Ava didn’t say much about that last bit. Every time she tried to talk the hurt came back, teamed with the recent heart-breaking discovery of her father’s betrayal. It was so much worse than before. You never really get over losing someone, no matter how much time goes by because you’re haunted –the people who touch your life never really leave you, so you just learn how to live with it. You build a wall around it and you try your best not to visit that dark place inside of you where their ghost resides, but you do eventually. Whenever you do something that you were used to having them around for, their ghost speaks, and its voice carries over the wall saying all the things that person would say, and suddenly you’re on the other side of the wall imagining yourself talking with them…and then that God awful twinge of realisation that none of it is real comes, and you miss them again. You miss them and it fucking hurts. So no, Ava didn’t say much when Aiden asked about her mother, she just told him, “I’m living with it.”

There was silence after that. Ava had closed her eyes with a heavy heart, the feel of Aiden at her back and his soothing scent mixing with the expensive bath products, and she fell asleep. Aiden let her sleep because somehow even silence with Ava-Mare was something to be revered. The silence wasn’t empty with her. He was so used to empty silences that when he shared this reverential one with Ava-Marie sleeping beautifully in his arms, surrounded by water and bubble kingdoms that had formed over the surface, he wanted them to exist together some more. It made him want to keep her, but Aiden shouldn’t keep beautiful things, especially not beautiful women.


Aiden lowered Ava’s sleeping frame onto the bed of her temporary prison and unwrapped the plush black towel from around her slowly, pinching the top corners of the material that he had tucked tightly around her pert brown breasts and dragging them away slowly to reveal her body to him all over again. He sucked in a breath as his dark eyes examined her peaceful naked form covered in tiny water droplets that made her golden skin glisten in the light, and the physical start of her ruin around her neck, wrists and feet. The corner of his lip quirked upward; she had come to him an image of exotic perfection and within a few hours he had made her flawed. He preferred her this way; not because she was marked up, but because she wasn’t perfect anymore. Perfection was overrated in Aiden’s book. A little bit of damage was far more interesting to behold.

He slipped a t-shirt over her head, refastened her restraints which were still attached to the four bed posts and pulled the duvet over her. She could rest for now while he checked in with the team and handled some outstanding business, but he would be back for her later on. He grabbed the discarded towel and headed for the door, turning out the lights as he twisted the door handle when Ava shifted and strained against the ropes thenspoke his name.


Aiden froze and his back stiffened as his name fell from her blushing lips like a prayer. She wasn’t meant to call him that, he had warned her many times and surely after today’s experiences she knew better. He turned back on the light to glare at her only to find that she was still asleep. He frowned. Why would she speak his name in her sleep; was she dreaming of him? He found himself wondering briefly if it was a good dream…or a nightmare. Aiden shook the thought from his head; it wasn’t like it mattered either way. Ava-Marie was just his captive, living collateral damage that he would be thrilled to be rid of once he got his baby brother back. He turned from her and left the room, flicking the light back off and plunging her back into darkness where she could continue to dream or have nightmares of him.


Once Aiden was dressed in his signature Diamond Mafia blacks he ordered the maids to clean the bathroom and headed back to the meeting room for the evening check in with his crew. Stone sat in his usual seat in the corner smoking a blunt, this time with three large black duffle bags in front of him. Mighty was tapping away at his laptop with his headphones on. The music he was playing was loud enough for Aiden to hear that it was that death metal shit that he didn’t like. He tapped Mighty on the shoulder as he passed to let him know he was there so he could put an end to the electric guitars and satanic howling.

Mighty pulled the headphones off his ears grinned up at Aiden, “You all right boss?” he wiggled his eyebrows making Aiden furrow his.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Aiden replied sank down into his usual seat at the head of the table.

“I bet you are,” Mighty scoffed switching his music off and running his hands through his shaggy blonde hair.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“She’s a loud one,” Stone smirked.

Aiden furrowed his brow further, confused as to what his pot head capo was on about.  “What?

Stone took a quick drag of his blueberry blunt, “Lockewood’s daughter fam, she was loud as fuck; the whole compound could hear her. Gina’s cake had her loosened up nicely, yeah?” he laughed making cannabis smoke fill the air in small translucent grey bursts.

“It must have,” Mighty said wide eyed, “I mean Jesus, Aiden, what were you doing to her? One minute she’s crying and the next she’s_”


Mighty, Stone and Aiden looked over to the door to see a very disgruntled Ash staring them down. Aiden clenched his jaw; if what his men said about Ava’s moans filling the compound was true then there was no doubt that Ash heard her too, and if Ash heard her too then that was another problem on top of the many Aiden already had to deal with.

Mighty looked away from Aiden’s jealous ex-lover and back to his computer screen where he didn’t have to deal with the weight of her scrutinising turquoise eyes shooting daggers at them. “I told you she was loud,” he said quietly. He leant a little closer to Aiden, “But if you’d like to give me a few pointers I’d be much obliged.”

“Mighty!” Aiden warned stiffly, shooting a cautious look at Ash who still hadn’t made a move to sit down.

Ash raised her perfectly arched eyebrow at him with controlled annoyance. She was seething inside but tried her best not to show it because she knew there was no place for her personal emotions when they were discussing business. “No don’t mind me. It’s not like I care or anything.” She sat in the chair the furthest away from Aiden, kicking out her long legs as she crossed them, with her infamous siren smile on her painted red lips.

“Sorry bro but not all of us have the luxury of being a handsome, rich and powerful, six foot tall black man. I can use all the help I can get,” Mighty chuckled, “I’ve never made one of my girls scream like that.”

“And you never will,” Ash snapped. She didn’t want to hear another word about Aiden and that little Lockewood bitch, she was having a hard enough time trying to block out the memory of her innocent moans echoing down the hallway as her former lover did the things he used to do to Ash to his so called prisoner. “Now can we stop wasting time and talk business like we came here to do. You lot will have plenty of time to trade tickle dick tips later.”

                Aiden rolled his eyes; Ash knew better than anyone that Aiden didn’t have a tickle dick. He’d made her scream louder than Ava had once upon a time. “Stone, how we doing?” he asked choosing to jump right in rather than waste more time talking about things that would piss Ash off.

Stone rose to his feet in his fluid high fashion, and unzipped the three duffle bags to reveal the wads of cash stacked by the thousands and held together with thick rubber bands. He chucked two stacks into the centre of the black top table, “We made about eighty G’s,” he said neutrally waiting for Aiden to decide how he felt about their recent takings before he decided to voice how he truly felt about it.

Just like Stone thought he would, Aiden frowned; “Eighty grand! What the fuck is this, Stone? We should be raking in one-fifty minimum, and that’s on a bad week. What the fuck is going on?”

“This shit with the Syndicate is too hot, fam. Some of our distributors are either laying low for the time being, or they’ve pulled out altogether,” Stone explained tightly.

Aiden gritted his teeth in an attempt to try and keep a lid on his temper. As the boss, he couldn’t get mad the way he used too when the Mafia were just a bunch of small time hustlers. They were a well-respected criminal organisation on the come up so even if everybody was running around screaming, Aiden had to keep his cool. “What do you mean some of them pulled out?”

Stone sat back down and took another drag of his blunt, “Bruv, we’re up against Vincent Lockewood. They’re more shook of him than they are of us.”

“Then they’re even dumber than they look.” Aiden growled.

“The real idiot here is the person who’s stealing our business,” Mighty chimed in unexpectedly, chewing on the corner of his lips, deep in thought. They all hushed and turned to look at him. Once Mighty stopped being irritating and was actually making good use of his genius, he was worth listening to.

“You think someone’s stealing from us?” Ash asked uncrossing her legs and leaning forward.

“It’s possible; I mean there has to be another source. All these distributors can’t drop us without having a back-up.”

“You think they could be going to the Syndicate instead?”

Mighty shook his head, tossing his dirty blonde tresses and making them fall back into his face, “No, Vince would never reach that far down the food chain, not even to piss us off.”

“We run the south. There is no one out there on our level that could take our spot,” Stone interjected arrogantly.

“No one that we know of...”

Aiden lifted his elbows onto the table and rubbed his large hands together mechanically -he was itching to hit something. His mind instantly went to Ava-Marie, tied to the bed and sighing his name in her sleep. He cracked his knuckles. “I want a list of every mother fucker that is stupid enough to think they can fuck with our cash flow, including the ones who are laying low. If Mighty’s right and these pricks have found another source I wanna know who the fuck it is so I can put them and every single one of these pussy’oles out of business.”

“How are we gonna do that? Aiden, we’ve already got one war on our hands, do you really think we can afford to start another one alongside it?” Ash asked.

Aiden’s dark, stormy eyes peered at her over his still moving hands. He licked his lips, “Simple, a little bit of divide and conquer,” he said darkly. He rested his palms on the table and cocked his head to the side, “Work ‘em from the inside out.”

Ash shifted in her seat and dropped her once withering gaze to the less intimidating blackness of her top. She watched her cleavage tremble within the low cut confines of her top as she tried to control her shaky breathing, trying not to let on how much his gaze was affecting her. It had been a while since Aiden looked at her like that, like he wanted to bend her across the desk and take his frustrations out on her until she was swollen and sore between her long pale legs. Whatever he had done with the Lockewood girl in that bathroom had triggered the part of him he had sworn off of. Aiden’s sexual predatory demon had been reawakened and was hell bent on making it hard for Ash to focus on doing her job.   

“Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter,” Mighty grinned, cottoning on to where Aiden was going with this.

Reluctantly, Aiden ripped his eyes away from Ash and looked ordinarily at Mighty. That gave Ash the opportunity to look up again without fear of whimpering and blushing. She crossed her legs and sat straighter as if nothing had happened, as if Aiden had not undone her with just one heated look and two sexual innuendos.

“Once the sheep scatter we recruit them for our cause,” Aiden said; the corner of his moist lips quirking upwards smugly at how easy it was to make Ash react to him.

Back on form, Ash narrowed her eyes at him, “And if they refuse?”

Aiden cocked his eyebrow, “What makes you think they would refuse us?”

“We’re on shaky ground right now Aiden, our name might not be enough,” Mighty said, “The streets know a war is coming and they’re picking sides. We’re up against the Syndicate, ain’t no way in hell they’re pegging us as the victors.”

“Are you bitching up on me Mighty? ‘Cause if you are_”

Mighty threw up his hands, “I’m not, I’m just saying it how it is boss. Until K Dot is back they ain’t gonna hear us and you know it.”

“I’ve got Lockewood’s daughter,” Aiden pointed out.

“Lockewood’s got the whole of London,” Stone countered.

“So what, you got a better idea, brainbox?” Ash snapped at Mighty, irritated that they were back at square one.

“As a matter of fact I do,” he smirked at her.

“Well let’s hear it then.”

“You.” Ash stiffened. Mighty turned to Aiden, “We can’t afford to make new enemies right now and nobody wants to lose out on money, so how about instead of pissing the distributors off, we send in the Siren to make friends with them for the time being?”

“I don’t fuck small timers,” Ash sneered narrowing her eyes at Mighty. She wanted to slap him for even suggesting something so beneath her.

“That could work,” Aiden said settling back into his chair “Good thinking, Mighty.”

“What?” Ash blinked at him in disbelief, “Have you lost your fucking mind?”

“We need to send you out there Ash. You play nice with them and get them back on our side so that we can get our money right, and when this shit blows up we’ve got enough soldiers to take on Lockewood. Once it’s over we can send in Dougie for Aiden’s divide and conquer plan,” Mighty explained in a logical manner.

“I like it,” Aiden nodded. This was a good plan and if they pulled it off right then not only would they have a better chance of beating The Syndicate, but this could elevate them to the next level in the game.

“Aiden, the shit hasn’t even blown up and yet and these fuck boys are already running, and you expect me to lay down with them? They’ll fuck you over the first chance they get,” Ash yelled, her perfect freckled alabaster face turning a deep shade of red.

“No they won’t, Ash. You’re good at what you do. I’ve got faith in my little Siren,” he said firmly, the undertone of a warning for her to remember her place evident in his tone.

“In your little whore, you mean!”

Aiden glared at her. Stone and Mighty shifted in their seats.

“Ash, babes, we’re under a lot of pressure right now, we can’t afford to rock anymore boats. You down with us like you say you are or what?” Stone asked gently, hoping that his mellow approach would diffuse some of the tension.

Ash huffed, “Of course I’m down with you lot, but_”

“But nothin’!” Aiden snarled, “If you’re down, then be down. Do it for the crew.”

Ash bit down on her red lips and closed her eyes to gather her thoughts. “Everything I’ve ever done has been for the crew,” she said quietly. She looked at Aiden, “And look at how the crew is doing me.” Aiden’s jaw tightened and he looked away.

“How we’re doing you? What? This is what you do, Ash,” Mighty stressed confused as to what the big deal was when Ash did this sort of thing all the time.

“Yes, with the odd world leader, sheik and mob boss, not with these run of the mill dope boys.”

“A dick’s a dick Ash,” he shrugged, “I don’t get why you’re being difficult.”

“Of course you don’t get it, you’d jump at the chance to fuck something other than your hand,” she hissed. She sighed and put her head in her hands, “Stone, how many guys are we talking, roughly?”

Stone shrugged like it wasn’t a big deal but diverted his eyes, “I dunno b, about seven man_”

“SEVEN! I have to spread my legs for seven fuck-boys, basically one after the other,” she was back to glaring at Mighty, “And you don’t get it?”

“I don’t have time for this,” Aiden sighed. Every moment they wasted arguing was another moment nothing got done. “Are you down or not Ash, yes or no? ‘Cause if you’re not, you know where the door is.”