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his is it?”

Taryn looked skeptically around DaShawn’s apartment.

“You actually live here?” she asked.

He wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by that, but he had the feeling it wasn’t anything good.

“I was gonna straighten up,” he said. “But you didn’t give me a chance.”

She laughed. “I hate that defensive fucking bullshit,” she said, kicking off her heels and flopping down on the low leather beanbag chair. “Why do men do that? Why don’t you just say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m a pig, fuck you if you don’t like it.’”

“I’m sorry, I’m a pig, fuck you if you don’t like it,” DaShawn said.

“You don’t have to talk to me like that.”

They stared at each other, hate zinging back and forth, and then they both burst out laughing.

“I’m dead,” Taryn said, putting her hands behind her head, stretching out. “Do you have anything to drink?”

“Beer,” he said, guessing. “Vodka.”

“Vodka tonic,” she said. “But only if you have diet tonic. If not, just give me some vodka on ice.”

And then she leaned back,  looked around, waited.

This is not the way it was supposed to go. DaShawn had not had too many women over to his place, preferring to do his business elsewhere, but Taryn had invited herself. Told him — not asked, but told – that she was going to be staying there till they took possession of the farm. And now seemed to expect him to wait on her hand and foot.

He had to lay down the law right this fucking minute.

“Glasses in the sink,” he said. “You’re gonna have to wash them. In fact, better clean up everything in there while you’re at it.”

He sank down on the sofa opposite her and stretched out his own damn legs. Closed his eyes for good measure.

She was quiet for so long he thought maybe she’d just very quietly gotten up and started cleaning. But finally she spoke.

“Maybe I need a different partner,” she said.

His eyes popped open. “We have an agreement.”

“Oh, really?” she said, with the soft, high voice of a virgin. “Do you have a contract, Mr. Jones?”

“Don’t need no contract,” he said. “We have a verbal agreement.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you’re talking about. Everything is in my name, and if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t your prior business shut down because of a felony, a murder wasn’t it….”

Shit, man,” DaShawn said, leaping to his feet. “You are one ball-bustingest bitch.”

Taryn laughed. “Just get me my fucking drink, and make it snappy.”

As he washed the glass, as he retrieved the ice, as he unscrewed the cap of the vodka bottle, he tried to think. He definitely wanted in on the operation she was planning. There was never going to be a written contract. If she continued treating him like a slave, he was going to get so mad he’d blow the whole thing. But at the same time, much as he hated to admit it or even think about it, the more she bossed him around, the more he thought about touching her that night on the houseboat, the harder it made him.

In fact, he could feel a hard-on pressing against his pants as he carried her drink, looking like water and tinkling like his mother’s fucking wind chimes, out to where she sat.

“I’ve been thinking,” she said, taking the drink without even a thank you. “We need some more help around here. How about getting some of the girls back to work for us, D?”

“They’re all scattered to Little Rock and Memphis, dancing and hooking. Would take money.”

Taryn frowned. “That may have to wait a little while.” She sipped at her drink and then, without seeming to be aware she was even doing it, pulled her ugly dress up to bare her milky thighs. Sweet Jesus.

“Don’t you have a little brother?” she asked DaShawn. “Kid still in high school? Like to make a little extra money?”

Read DaShawn’s side of the story.

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