3 ~ Ryan

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Shelly was in the shower when Ryan got the text from his mom.

Felicity Taylor is coming to see you. Sounds like she's in trouble. Text me when she gets there so I know she's safe.

What the hell did Felicity Taylor want from him? All he remembered of her was how incredibly shy and insanely smart she was. The only class they had together in high school was Algebra, and the few words Felicity spoke were directed at the teacher when she corrected her. The last Ryan heard, she had left Chicago to attend MIT. That was four years ago. She should be a professor by now.

He wasn't surprised to hear a knock on his door, despite the fact that it was almost three AM, but he pocketed his gun just in case, speaking through the crack with his usual greeting. "State your name and your business."

"Hey, Ryan. It's Felix, um...Felicity Taylor. I got your address from your mom. We used to live next door to each other. I...I need your help."

He watched her through the peephole as she explained herself. She didn't look like the Felicity Taylor he remembered, but people have been known to change. He opened the door and scrutinized the woman standing in front of him. Although he hadn't committed Felicity's face to memory, this woman didn't resemble the shy neighbor who used to doodle hearts and flowers on her school folders. Her previously brown hair had been dyed black and draped over a leather bomber jacket with a patch of a winged skull sewn onto one shoulder. Tucked under her arm was a motorcycle helmet.

"I'm really sorry to drop in on you so late, Ryan," she said. "But I couldn't think of anyone else I trusted."

She trusted him? How could she trust him when she barely knew him? He took a moment to assess her state of mind. She seemed to be in full command of her faculties. No swaying or bloodshot eyes, and she didn't smell of liquor. What was that smell? Baby powder?

"It's no problem," he said. "I was awake anyway. C'mon in and we'll see if we can get things straightened out for you."

As Felicity walked in, he stealthily pulled his gun out of his pocket and set in on a table next to the door. She caught him in the act and gestured to her boot. "I guess I should tell you I'm packing. What would you like me to do with it?"

Ryan's eyebrows ratcheted up, and he put his hand on his gun again. "Take it out slowly and lay it on the table."

She set her helmet on the dining room table and sat down, unzipping her boot and lifting out a Beretta Tomcat.

"I assume you have a license to carry that," he said, still watching her for signs she might be speed balling or experiencing a psychotic episode.

She had no trouble meeting his gaze when she answered. "You assume correctly."

"When did you start carrying a weapon?"

"After I was attacked at the university."

"Oh, damn." Ryan relaxed his stance, putting away his gun. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be. You weren't the moron who tried to sever my carotid artery." She slouched out of her jacket and hung it on the back of the chair, grinning when she caught him staring at the tattoos decorating her arms, shoulders, and back. The designs were unique, sort-of tribal, and they scrolled over extremely toned muscles beneath her tank top. "Are you an appreciator of the tattoo arts? I designed these and had a friend immortalize them in ink. One of them hides a scar from the attack." She pointed to a swirling shell design at her right shoulder.

"They're really nice. I remember you used to doodle a lot on notebooks, but not stuff like that."

She chuckled. "Actually, I was doodling stuff like this, but I kept those in my private sketch books. It wasn't until I left for college that I decided they were ready to see daylight."

The bathroom door opened and Shelly sauntered down the hall, wearing nothing but a seductive smile and a towel. The towel was wrapped around her hair. When she saw Felicity sitting at the table, she stopped in her tracks, looking defeated and slightly annoyed.

"Oops. I didn't know you had company," she said, making no effort to cover herself.

"Don't worry about me," Felicity said, clearly checking out Shelly's perky boobs. "I own something similar."

Ryan laughed and Shelly shot him a venomous glare.

"I guess I'll get dressed then, if you've got others waiting their turn."

"Excuse me?" Felicity lifted out of her seat, her hands balling into fists. "There's no need for insults. I'm just here for some helpful advice."

"Ladies, put your claws away," Ryan said. "Shelly, this is Felicity. She and I are old neighborhood friends. Why don't you get dressed and we can all sit and talk."

"Fuck that. I'm outta here." Shelly turned around, flashing her ass as she stomped down the hall.

Felicity shrugged and returned to her seat. "Too bad. Those are some prodigious tits."


PLAYLIST SONG: Trip Switch by Nothing But Thieves

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