CH 9: Heat Lightning

The safehouse in Little Havana was a far cry from the luxury Dorian was accustomed to. Peeling wallpaper and the musty scent of disuse greeted them as they entered. Outside, the storm continued its assault on Miami, wind and rain lashing against the windows.

Carlos disappeared into what once might have been a study, muttering about making some calls. Left alone, the tension between Dorian and Vivian, which had been simmering since their drive from South Beach, finally boiled over.

"You still don't trust me, do you?" Vivian challenged, her eyes flashing in the dim light.

Dorian's jaw clenched. "Trust is a luxury in this game. One I can't afford."

"After everything we've been through?" She stepped closer, her voice rising. "I've had your back this entire time, Dorian. I could have turned you in a dozen times over."

"And yet here we are, in the middle of a storm, literal and figurative, with no clear way out." Dorian's voice was cool, controlled, but there was an edge to it. "Tell me, Vivian, what exactly am I supposed to trust?"

The argument reached a fever pitch, Vivian's eyes flashing with anger and something else—something Dorian recognized all too well. In the dim light of the safehouse, her caramel skin seemed to glow, a sheen of sweat from the Miami heat making her collarbone glisten.

"You don't trust anyone, do you, Dorian?" Vivian challenged, stepping closer.

Dorian's eyes involuntarily traced the curve of her neck, down to where it met the swell of her chest. Her sundress clung to her perfect figure figure, leaving little to the imagination. He felt a familiar stirring, one he usually kept in check.

"Trust gets you killed in this game," he replied, his voice low and husky.

Vivian moved closer still, the scent of her perfume mingling with the storm-charged air. Her naturally long, crinkly waves—the kind of hair that had always been his weakness—cascaded over her shoulders.

"And what if I prove you can trust me?" she whispered, her lips mere inches from his.

In that moment, something snapped. Dorian grabbed her waist, pulling her against him as his mouth crashed onto hers. Vivian responded with equal fervor, her hands tangling in his hair.

They moved as one towards the worn couch, a tangle of limbs and heated breaths. Dorian's hands roamed her body, appreciating every curve, every inch of her flawless skin. Vivian arched into his touch, a soft moan escaping her lips. As clothing fell away, Dorian took a moment to drink in the sight of her. She was all long legs and graceful lines. Her body was a masterpiece, and for a fleeting moment, he allowed himself to truly appreciate it.

Their coupling was intense and primal, driven by adrenaline and need rather than emotion. Dorian lost himself in the physical sensation, the release of pent-up tension, but kept his heart firmly locked away. For him, this was an act of the body, not the soul.

Afterward, as they lay catching their breath, reality began to seep back in. Dorian felt Vivian's hand on his chest and gently but firmly removed it, sitting up and reaching for his discarded clothes.

"Dorian," Vivian began, a note of vulnerability in her voice that he chose to ignore.

"This doesn't change anything," he said, not unkindly but with finality. "We still have a job to do."

As if on cue, the burner phone on the table buzzed. The real world was calling, and with it, all the dangers they'd momentarily forgotten.

Dorian glanced at Vivian, noting the mix of satisfaction and hurt in her eyes. He'd seen that look before, and as always, he steeled himself against it. In his world, attachment was a luxury he couldn't afford—especially not now.

The phone buzzed again, more insistent this time. Whatever was coming, Dorian knew it would make this interlude seem like the calm before the storm. And storms, he reminded himself, were what he did best.

As the situation spiraled further out of control, Dorian felt a familiar sense of calm wash over him. This was where he belonged—in the eye of the storm, where every decision could mean life or death. Here, in the chaos, he was truly alive.

He answered the phone, Vivian watching him intently as she straightened her dress.

"We've got a problem," Carlos's voice crackled through the speaker. "They've found us. We need to move. Now."

Dorian's mind raced, already formulating a plan. "How many?"

"At least a dozen. Heavily armed. They'll be here in minutes."

"Understood," Dorian replied, his voice steady. He turned to Vivian, who was already on her feet, alert and ready. "Hope you're ready for round two," he said, a grim smile playing on his lips. "This one's going to be a lot less fun."

As they prepared for the impending attack, Dorian couldn't shake the feeling that this was just the beginning. The real storm was yet to come, and he would need every ounce of his skill and nerve to weather it.

Whatever came next, Dorian was ready. After all, chaos was where he thrived.

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