Grant Meyer hadn't lied about there being no trace of dead bodies in her apartment. Her apartment looked squeaky clean and homey. Her bedroom looked nothing like the state she she'd left it in. It had obviously been cleaned up.

Her father had even had the nerve to replace her old bed with a new one, along with a fluffy bedspread and colorful pillows. Apparently, they had needed an inconspicuous way to transport the bodies from one place to… well, some place where they'd never be found. So her carpet tortilla theory hadn't been too far off.

She wondered who'd helped her father with such a particular 'clean up' and how often he used those people. Naturally, she couldn't help but wonder what kind of jobs Chris and Deacon had done for her father as well. The clean up was obviously way below their pay grade, but so was babysitting her. A former marine and Green Beret had acquired skills meant for much more dangerous missions than babysitting. She knew a bit about that now. She'd spent the whole night reading about Special Forces and what it took to become a Green Beret. She'd done the same back when Chris had been hired a few years back and he'd accompanied her to one of her father's charity balls. It never did hurt to learn something new and Cassidy had discovered that she could tell a lot from a person just by the way they stood, which car they drove and what career they'd chosen.

Although, Chris and Deacon seemed somewhat decent around her, she knew that they kept a lot of secrets hidden behind those handsome features. They'd been to war where they had fought and killed and learned how to become exceptional killing machines. Perhaps, that was where they had required a taste for it – the killing? Why else would people she normally considered to be patriotic heroes turn to the dark side?

"You ok?" Deacon asked suddenly, breaking her from her trance.

Cassidy froze by the sound of his voice behind her. Flashes of clammy hands around her neck, a knife against her skin and soulless, dark eyes played before her inner screen, making her sick to her stomach.

"Yeah, no– I'm not… not really," she admitted, shaking her head. Her hands unconsciously went up to touch her neck. She'd covered the faint bruises with make up.

Deacon only nodded his understanding. He would have comforted her with a word, a touch, anything, but he knew it was better to keep his distance. He wasn't supposed to care. Chris was also watching them differently, undoubtedly a result of what he'd witnessed two days ago.

"Doesn't it bother you?" Cassidy asked suddenly, her voice frail and shaking.

Deacon understood her vague question and shrugged. "Not now… but maybe it will someday."

She couldn't comprehend how he was able to just stand there, completely unaffected as if he hadn't been responsible for killing two lowlife criminals where he stood. But then it all made sense. This was peanuts next to some of the classified stuff he'd done in the army… and for her father.

"Are you really any different?" This time Cassidy spoke to the both of them. Chris' head peeked up, frowning. He'd been standing in her small living room, observing the stream of cars from her window. Her question clearly caught them both off guard.

"Could you have done the same? Could you have broken into some girl's apartment and–"

"I'm a little offended you'd even ask such a question," Chris replied solemnly.

"Well, if my father tells you to jump–"

"We don't always ask him how high," Deacon finished. "We're not rapists, Cassidy… I'd even go as far to say that we actually have a reasonable sense of right and wrong, but we've just chosen to operate in a grey area. And I would have hoped you'd found us very different from the guys that broke into your place, by now."

Chris nodded in agreement and turned his green gaze towards the below traffic again. Cassidy almost felt bad for having compared them to the two would-have-been-rapists; Stanley Simms and Robert Otis Fisher, but she couldn't fool herself, either. Chris and Deacon weren't the good guys. They were just the lesser evil.

Frustrated, she packed her laptop, more clothes and a bunch of stuff she knew she would need for her work and studies. By the time she was finished she had filled two large duffel bags to the brim.

"And you sure you've got everything?" Deacon arched a brow in question.

"No," she answered simply, meeting his steely blue eyes. "If not, we'll just have to visit my place again, won't we? But if you're lucky, maybe it will be Pete and Lachlan's turn to babysit me the next time. Well, if there'll even be a next time – if the bad guys succeed and catch me or whatever the hell they plan on doing, then at least you'll be able to go back to do whatever it is that you do for my father… so really, it's a win-win for you, isn't it?"

Deacon narrowed his gaze at her and shared a quick look with Chris. They both seemed to agree; the Meyer heiress sure was in a feisty mood today. "You obviously don't understand what your father would do to us, if we failed to keep your safe."

"Oh, I know… and it only proves how high you can make someone jump if there's a gun aimed at your head."

Deacon scoffed humorously and decided it was better to end their small discussion there. Continuing it would only get him in trouble. Since the day they'd met, it seemed that she'd given and gotten him nothing but trouble, but what was it his sister always told him? He attracted that shit like bees to a honeypot.

The difference this time was that this was the kind of trouble that actually scared him. Just when he thought he'd lost the ability to actually feel fear, Cassidy was there to remind him of how it felt like to be afraid of losing something. He just wasn't sure of what that something was.

Whenever she gave him those spiteful stares or just stood within arms reach, he felt tempted to touch her and let his cover slip, and it only reminded him that he had to solve her case quickly so they could go their separate ways. If he lost control and did something inappropriate, he could end up paying with his life and with Cassidy he knew it wouldn't take more than a simple, innocent touch for him to break. Now that was a frightening feeling.

Clearing his throat, he signaled for Cassidy that it was time to leave and luckily she followed his simple instruction without any protests. They left as quickly and silently as they had arrived, but halfway towards the elevators, the doors suddenly dinged open and revealed Cassidy's kind neighbor, Ellie Larson, back from a midday stroll with her small terrier.

The old lady literally lighted up at the sight of them, and her dog Charlie joined in with his usual squeal. Meanwhile, Chris casually strolled past them and entered the elevator as if they didn't know each other. He only exchanged a knowing nod with Deacon before the doors closed. Such good actors, those two…

Ellie didn't notice a thing.

Before they'd left Malibu they'd already planned to keep up with appearances, but Cassidy had honestly hoped it wouldn't have to come to this again. She wasn't a great actress, but at least Deacon had proved how well he played the part as a loving boyfriend and much to Cassidy's dismay, she did feel safe in his presence. She felt scared too, though. Two very contradicting emotions.

"Cassie, what a pleasant surprise!" Ellie exclaimed cheerfully. She looked at the stuffed duffle bag that was slung over Deacon's shoulder. "Please don't tell me you're leaving again so soon? I've just finished making your favorite chocolate chip cookies so if the two of you aren't in a hurry, please join me, will you?"

Cassidy had masterfully managed to replace her pout with a sincere smile. Despite everything, there was nothing she wanted more than spend some much-needed time with Ellie. She longed for the normalcy and company of a friend and Ellie had always managed to make her feel safe and warm. Somehow, she made her feel home.

"Oh, Ellie I don't know… Deacon and I–"

"We'd love to join you, Mr. Larson. Our plans can wait. Besides, Cassidy has mentioned those famed cookies to me a few times now, but I still haven't had the chance to try one yet."

"How splendid! Well, there's no time like the present, is there?" Ellie beamed and quickly led the way to her apartment.

"Ain't that right," Deacon grinned and slowly followed the kind woman. He stopped midway to her apartment and tested his luck by draping an arm over Cassidy's shoulder. She tensed shortly, but let her get pulled into him, her hand automatically reaching up to rest on his chest. She didn't even need to say anything. He could read her expression loud and clear:

Why are you doing this?

Leaning down, he brushed her long wavy locks over her shoulder and whispered; "You looked like someone who needed a little reminder of what awaits you when this is all over. I assume Mrs. Larson is good at that. So whatever you want me to be right now, I'll be that guy. Enjoy it while it lasts. And you're welcome."

Cassidy swallowed hard and tried to ignore how good the warmth of his body made her feel. "Just… be nice. Or better yet, try to be everything you're not. You think you can manage that?"

Deacon huffed and smirked when he noticed her tremble against him. "You'd be surprised of how easy that is."

"What's taking you two lovebirds so long?" Ellie called from inside her apartment.

"Sorry, Mrs. Larson," Deacon called back quickly, his eyes never leaving Cassidy's. "I just got distracted by Cassidy. She does that to me a lot. It's really not her fault, but…"

Ellie had appeared at the door, gesturing for them to come in, but she paused when she saw what she believed was two people deeply in love. Deacon still had his arm around Cassidy's shoulder and the way they were looking at each other, had her clutching her hands at her heart.

Deacon smirked and winked at Cassidy. "Can you really blame me? She's not only the most beautiful girl I've ever laid my eyes, but she's also kind and gentle and… everything I'm not, really."

Oh, he was good, Cassidy concluded. She barely managed to contain her expression of both irritation and admiration. That smug bastard.

"Aren't you two just the cutest. Between you and me Deacon, I honestly hope you can keep up with this one. I'm not saying there's been a lot of men in Cassie's life–trust me, there hasn't–but the last one sure was one sore excuse of a–"

"Ellie!" Cassidy interrupted, embarrassed.

"Honey, it's all in the past now, no need to be ashamed about it, but you know I'm right and our walls are thin. He wasn't worth breaking any vases for, that's for sure."

Cassidy didn't know if she should cry or laugh. Deacon couldn't hide his amusement either. It was only his second time meeting Ellie Larson, but she was such a fun character, he couldn't help it but like her.

"Speaking of broken vases, how's that arm of yours?" Ellie continued happily.

"Good as new, ready to break more stuff," Deacon lied, smirking.

Ellie laughed and stared at the bag he still had slung over his shoulder. "Christ Cassie, is that why you'd rather spend the nights at Deacon's place?"

"What, no! It's just… Deacon lives closer to work, so it's been easier–"

"I see… but still, when you're spending your time here, you could just knock on your bedroom wall three times, and I'll put on a good, loud album. For your sake, I just hope he lasts longer than a single."

Deacon couldn't help it. He grinned out loud and actually found he didn't know how to respond to such a comment. "I think I'll let Cassidy answer that one for you."

"Seriously Ellie, I can't believe we're having this conversation. How about I just help you make some coffee and we'll save the girl talk for a rainy day where Deacon's not here."

"Sure," Ellie agreed with a wink. "And since you didn't give me the complete story behind the broken vase, maybe you'll also tell me the reason for why you suddenly needed a new bed."

Nothing went past the old woman, Cassidy remembered. Ellie Larson knew mostly everything about anyone on their whole apartment floor, but she'd revealed that being curious was something that naturally came with old age and retirement. Old people just loved their gossip and Cassidy actually didn't mind. Ellie had always known how to make her laugh and smile, even now. Despite their wide age difference, Cassidy could talk to Ellie about everything and she had often acted more like a great friend than a grandmotherly figure.

"It squeaked… the bed. And it was old," Cassidy lied, shaking her head and feigning defeat.

Ellie's infectious grin only grew wider when she turned to Deacon and saw him confirm it with a quick shrug.

Kids nowadays…

.

.

Deacon worked for the FBI. He'd been recruited straight out of the army where he'd served in the Special Forces. He'd left that last part out, but Ellie wasn't stupid. She actually knew a lot about the military, so when Deacon had brushed off some of her questions with very modest answers, she knew "served in a special unit" meant he'd been more important than just canon fodder. He also revealed he was born a raised in Austin, Texas, but he'd moved to California shortly after his parents died. He had a sister too; who'd just finished studying law. 'Fighting crime' ran in the family, so it seemed. He'd never been married, but he hoped Cassidy might be the one worthy of getting down on one knee for…

Oh, bull… fucking… shit, Cassidy thought to herself, but she'd managed to smile lovingly at Deacon's comical lies. That, and deceptions seemed to be his specialty. He really was a brilliant actor. He was incredibly believable and compelling in the way he spoke and casually answered all of Ellie's questions without the slightest uncertainty or stutter in his voice. The old widow never once seemed suspicious or doubtful of anything he said.

As promised, he was being that guy Cassidy wanted him to be. Polite, nice and respectful – the all around good guy.

Every now and then, he would even look at Cassidy and smile or wink, as if he was trying to encourage her to act more relaxed. She did try her best, but pretending to be head-over-heels in love with a guy she practically didn't know–and what she did know only frightened her– to say it wasn't easy would be an understatement.

"Now if either one of you aren't going to bring it up, I will," Ellie set down her coffee mug with a dramatic thump.

Cassidy looked nervously at Deacon, wondering if they had been caught.

"Bring what up?" Deacon tried calmly.

"Of how the two of you met, of course!"

Before Deacon could answer, he was saved by the bell of the oven.

"Now, you hold that thought, dear." Ellie quickly rose and went to the kitchen to take out her second batch of cookies and prepare a third.

The whole apartment floor would always smell like a pastry shop once she started baking and naturally, Ellie had a few favorite neighbors she would share her delicious cookies with. Sometimes, if Cassidy hadn't been home, she would come back from work or school and find a little container in front of her door, filled with something the soothe her sweet tooth and belly with. It always came with a handwritten note that made her smile. That was Ellie for you. Always taking care of her.

Cassidy swallowed hard and shared a skeptical look at her pretend-boyfriend. She hadn't felt this unprepared since her NATA exam, but at least Ellie seemed like the kindest examiner she'd ever encounter. She was still in the kitchen, humming cheerfully as she skillfully scooped homemade cookie dough onto her oven plate.

"So…" Deacon whispered, leaning in closer. "How did we meet?"

"I don't know?" Cassidy almost whimpered in despair. She hated that she hadn't thought it through when they had accepted the invite. There was simply no way they could reveal the true story of how and under which circumstances they actually met and there wasn't enough time to make up the perfect love story. Maybe she could just go with "Tinder".

"I'm not good at this, Deac…"

"Clearly," Deacon grinned into his coffee, seeming completely unbiased by the situation.

"I'm serious. What are we–"

"Just follow my lead, like we did the last time. And try to loosen up a little. Be less… frigid."

"Gee, thanks. You really know how to flatter a girl," Cassidy whispered irately, her eyes narrowing in spite. "Frigid, my ass."

Deacon grabbed the edge of her chair and slowly pulled her closer. "I'm sorry, Cass. You wanna prove me wrong? Then relax, take a deep breath and stop squirming when I touch you. You wanted to be here, so make the best of it," he instructed matter-of-factly.

"Well, I'm sorry for being a lousy actress. I can't help it if I'm not able to pretend that I actually like you."

Deacon's one eyebrow rose in question. "Ouch."

"Like you care," Cassidy murmured with a shrug.

He huffed at her statement and slowly draped an arm over the back of her chair to pull her closer. "You can try and hate me all you want, Cass. But let's be honest, if you let go for just one damn a minute…" He whispered the words into her neck, his lips just barely touching the point of her pulse. His breath on her skin left an evident trail of goosebumps as proof of the effect he had on her. "There's no need to pretend at all, is there?"

"You're mistaking this for something entirely different," Cassidy replied stiffly. Inwardly, she was silently scolding her treacherous body, but there was no denying it. If Deacon wanted to, he could make her melt in his hands and he damn well knew it. "I don't like you, Deacon. I despise you and everything you stand for," she lied coolly.

Deacon only smirked and shrugged, unaffected. "You also said it yourself. You're a lousy actress."

Ellie was finishing up in the kitchen, so Cassidy didn't get the chance to explain herself, which by the look of it, she'd really wanted to. Her eyes, usually a shade of light brown, had turned dark with malice and denial, and it stirred something deeply primal and inappropriate within Deacon.

She really was a lousy actress. As much as Cassidy wanted to hate him, she couldn't. She hated the fact that she liked him, though. She liked his touch, his presence and the way he made her feel safe around him.

"So," Ellie said suddenly as she refilled the plate with fresh cookies. She sat down, readying herself for a good story. "Where were we?"

"Right, our first meeting," Deacon tapped Cassidy playfully on her knee and sent her an adoring smile. "You know, I honestly wish I could have met Cassidy under different circumstances, but we don't get to choose our own fate, do we?"

Cassidy angled her head curiously to her side and shortly met Deacon's bright blue eyes, surprised at the honesty she found there. He only broke it off to continue his story and as expected he delivered something credible and romantic, without it being too much. Even Cassidy found herself being drawn in by his lie and he even managed to script it in a way so Cassidy almost on cue, could add her part in their story as if it actually had happened.

Some of it had even occurred…

"… so there she stood, looking all pissed and beautiful and guess what she calls me?"

"What?" Ellie said, already looking amused and gleeful.

"Yeah Cass, what was it you called me again?" Deacon baited, urging her to go on.

"Pompous prick," Cassidy finished, immediately catching on.

Ellie uttered a hearty laugh and shook her head in disbelief.

"In her defense, though she was probably right," Deacon added quickly. "I'd been through a tough week and maybe I wasn't on my best behavior that day."

Cassidy wondered if that part had been true. When she thought back to their actual first meeting, one of the first things that had caught her eye about Deacon had been a recent cut above his eyebrow. She never did find out how he'd gotten it.

"Anyways," Deacon shrugged. "She was still part of my investigation so we weren't actually allowed to date, but… I just couldn't get my mind off her. Trust me, I tried." Deacon shook his head, pausing for effect. "Cassidy did put up quite a fight too. She's stubborn as hell, this one, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't like that about her. So after a lot of trying to deny our feelings for each other, we finally gave up and gave in… and here we are. No law, rule or company policy could have kept me away."

If Cassidy weren't aware of every move of her body or expression on her face, she was sure she would have felt her jaw drop to the floor. She wanted to say something, anything, but she was afraid she'd ruin it if she as much as opened her mouth or blinked at the wrong time.

Deacon must have sensed her distress and he slowly reached out to entwine her fingers with his as if it was something they did all the time. He squeezed her hand reassuringly, just like the perfect guy would have done.

Relax. I'm here. You're doing great.

From across the table, Ellie saw nothing but young love. It calmed her old heart that Cassidy finally seemed to have found a decent man. Although there was a guarded pain in Deacon's eyes, she had learned that it derived from something inevitable. Her late husband had worn that very same expression long after the war had ended. Only time and a whole lot of love could cure that, and where Ellie Larson had been that drug for her husband, she hoped Cassidy could be Deacon's. There was no denying the passion between them and it only brought a smile to her lips that they sort of reminded her of her own love story.

"But what about that investigation you're involved in?" Ellie looked worried for a second. "You're sure you're not in any kind of trouble, are you Cassie?"

Deacon knew he had to let Cassidy answer that question so he could only give her hand another encouraging squeeze.

"It's nothing, really. Deacon just needed my statement because of something I witnessed… I'm afraid I can't reveal more than that, but as you can see I'm in good hands. I promise you it's nothing dangerous."

"Good, I trust you then. Both of you," Ellie added quickly.

Although, they had tried to stick as close to the truth as possible, Cassidy felt horrible about lying to her neighbor. Deacon had already tried to downsize the situation the best he could, but no matter how they put it, it did sound dramatic to have an FBI agent come knocking on your door for an interview. If only it had been the truth, though… it would have made an amazing story to tell the grandkids, but unfortunately Deacon Sawyer wasn't a man of the law and his heart wasn't pure.

If or when Cassidy was going to settle down, it would be with someone kind and honorable. She couldn't help but wonder if she could have fallen for Deacon, though, had he been a real federal agent with a strict moral compass. Now, that would also have been a great way to piss off her father.

They stayed for a little while longer, exchanging fake stories and memories while they filled their stomachs with way too much coffee and far too many cookies. When they finally said their goodbyes, Cassidy couldn't help herself and threw her arms around Ellie, thanking her for everything. She'd just received a small container filled with freshly baked cookies so 'the two of them could enjoy the treats at Deacon's place'. That simple gesture almost made Cassidy cry out of guilt, so she hugged Ellie for just a little while longer and hoped it wouldn't be too long before she'd see her favorite neighbour again. With a death threat hanging over her head, she honestly didn't know what tomorrow would bring. She tried not to think about that.

"Oh honey, don't act as if this is this a final goodbye. Just make sure to stop by here every now and then. And remember, my offer about the three knocks still stands."

Cassidy laughed and finally loosened her hold around the frail woman. "I will. But maybe I'll just be staying at Deacon's for the next couple of weeks. It's just easier with work, the ongoing case and all that."

"Of course, I understand," Ellie replied. She turned to Deacon, sent him a wink and then pointed a threatening finger at his chest. "Promise me you'll take good care of her, and difficult as it might be, try to keep her out of trouble. That's an order."

"Yes ma'am. You have my word," Deacon nodded and let some of that southern charm slip through.

Ellie gave them a final wave and sent them on their way, the same way a grandmother would have sent off her grandchildren. It wasn't until they were safely behind the elevator's closed doors, that Cassidy's let out a relieved breath. She felt horrible and spent. Apparently, lying could be very draining.

"I don't know how you do it…"

Deacon readjusted the bag over his shoulder and punched the ground floor button. "Do what?"

"Lie," Cassidy answered. "I feel horrible about lying to Ellie, but you… you lie so effortlessly. Without an ounce of guilt or remorse."

"Just because I make it look easy, doesn't mean I don't feel guilty about it," Deacon explained stoically. He hated the truth in her statement, although ironically enough, much of what he had revealed during Ellie Larson's friendly interrogation had been accuracies. He could have made up a suiting life story just as easy, but for some reason he'd chosen not to.

"So do you? Feel guilty?"

Deacon inhaled deeply, closed his eyes and inwardly counted to ten. He knew the answer she wanted and hoped he could give her, but couldn't, and it frustrated him beyond belief that he had to balance between that fragile line of good and evil for her. The last thing he wanted was this conversation. He wasn't being fair to her. He had tried to make her hate him, but just when it started working he unconsciously seem to do something that made her question her own beliefs. Again. And he was growing tired of it. Of everything, really.

"You wanna know the truth, Cass? I don't feel anything. You've actually been right about me all along. I'm just another Stanley Simms or Robert Fisher and if you knew some of the stuff I've done, you would have thought twice about stepping inside this elevator with me."

Cassidy's eyes widened in disbelief. It was far from the answer she had expected and for a second she wondered if he was kidding, but the cold look in his eyes suddenly sent chills down her spine and it wasn't the same kind he'd managed to stir in her earlier – not that she'd ever admit that to him.

"Enlighten me then. What have you done?"

The elevator door suddenly dinged open, but luckily there weren't anyone waiting at the ground floor. Without ever breaking eye contact, Cassidy pushed the button that closed the doors again. Maybe it was the fact that she was Grant Meyers daughter that gave her some sense of invincibility against Deacon. Or maybe it was because they were in a monitored elevator… or maybe she was just stupidly naive and believed Deacon wouldn't hurt her. Unless something unexplainable had changed the moment they'd left Ellie's apartment.

"So?" Cassidy questioned with a shrug. "Tell me… was my father right to trust you with my life or are you just fighting the urge to finish what Stanley and Robert started?"

Deacon's whole body tensed. He clenched his jaw shut and bawled his hands into fists as he narrowed his eyes at Cassidy. But he never answered her question. He went to open the door instead, turning his back to Cassidy. "Forget it, Cass."

"Just fucking answer me, dammit!" she grabbed him by his bicep, too late to realize it was his injured side.

Deacon suddenly whirled back, pushing her into the wall and slamming his hand into the metal surface, inches from Cassidy's face. She reeled back in surprise, a shriek seconds from escaping her mouth, but his hand immediately clamped over her mouth.

"My patience is wearin' mighty fuckin' thin right now, but if you really want the truth, Cass, I'll let you in on a little secret." He slowly peeled his hands off her mouth and stared at her throat where the fainted markings had been covered with light makeup. "I've seen exactly how high you can make someone jump if there's a gun aimed at your head… and more than once, I've felt the life slowly being drained from a person while I choked someone to death. But you wanna know the best part of it all?"

Cassidy nodded and swallowed hard as she felt his hands settle around her neck. His touch was light as a feather and his eyes were calm and calculating; the brightest of blues. He was standing right in front of her, their lips nearly touching, but Cassidy could only focus on those steely blue eyes, boring into her soul and staring down at her as he suddenly smirked and whispered his answer. "I enjoyed every damn second of it."

"You're disgusting." Cassidy's voice was low, but menacing. She was breathing hard, desperately fighting the urge to push him away, but she knew it would be to no avail. Turning her head to her side, she saw his hand curl into a fist against the metal wall. She closed her eyes and warily awaited his next move, but he remained hovering inches from her. Her legs almost gave in under her, but then she felt Deacon's hand on her chin, his touch cautious and testing. It was the only thing that kept her from sinking to the ground.

"You're right to despise me and if you know what's good for you, keep it up. I'm sure you won't find it that difficult. And if your hatred for me runs deep enough, our little session has been recorded." Deacon nodded at the ceiling where a small surveillance camera probably had captured everything. "It doesn't take more than a few photos of this to convince your father of his poor choice for a bodyguard. It'll be my last mistake – one I'll have to pay with my life, so there you have it. Leverage. But use it and you'll only be proving you're just like your father."

Cassidy was left speechless and confused. She looked and felt like she was on the verge of crying, but she managed to replace those feelings with anger. Just like she always did. Somehow, she found some strength in her arms and shoved him away from her. Her attempt was weak and pathetic, but he let her get that one.

"Fuck you, Deacon," she hissed venomously and pushed past him.

"Get in line," he muttered and watched her step out of the elevator and continue walking until she suddenly stopped dead in her tracks.

.

.

Cassidy felt her phone vibrate and stopped to look at the message she'd just received. It wasn't from a contact or a number she knew and it only contained a small video file. That alone made the hair on the back of her neck stand. Her gut feeling was preparing her for something terrible. She could feel it and it only made her want to ignore it. As much as she wanted it to actually just be a virus, she knew it was something much worse.

She reluctantly pushed play and immediately wished she hadn't.

Someone, a young girl, was whimpering and begging whoever filming it, to stop. She was bent over a table, forcefully being held down while the sad and desperate pleas in her voice had Cassidy struggling to breathe. She stood completely frozen and speechless, her eyes glued to the horror that played before her on her phone's small screen. The girl's face was barely visible as her long brown hair was draped all over her naked back where a message had been written on her pale skin.

"This should have been you."

Cassidy winced and reluctantly saw the molester's hand pull at the girl's locks which only made her scream louder while other unspeakable things were being done to her. Clearly against her will. Although, it was filmed in angle where Cassidy couldn't see anything completely revealing, there was no mistaking the sounds and what there was being done to her. She was witnessing someone being raped. Someone who looked like her.

"Oh my god," Cassidy whispered and covered her mouth with her hand. Her phone suddenly slipped from her fingers and fell to the floor. She would have fallen too if it hadn't been for Deacon, catching her the moment her legs buckled beneath her.

He didn't understand a thing of what had just happened until he picked up her phone and saw the video that had been sent to her from an unknown number. When he pressed play, Cassidy quickly withdrew from his hold, clearly not wanting to replay what she'd just seen and heard. Her expression of guilt and an ache too painful for her to endure almost made him reach out and comfort her. But then he noticed the fury in her eyes as he realized what he'd witnessed as well.

"Who the fuck does that? How–" Cassidy's voice broke as she gathered herself against the concrete wall. Then she stared at Deacon with a hatred so hot and deep, she almost breathed fire. "And what about you? Do you get off from that too?" she spat bitterly, her voice trembling with guilt and anger.

Deacon suddenly wished he could have taken back everything that just had happened in the elevator, but it was too late to change that. Sighing, he shook his head in defeat and leaned his back against the wall opposite Cassidy. "No, Cassie… I really don't."

Trouble, huh... he really did attract that shit like bee's to a fucking honeypot.


.

.

.

.

A/N: Dun dun duuun! Seriously, my search history is scary. As a writer you find yourself researching and googling the oddest things, but knowledge is power, baby. I've actually learned a lot about the Special Forces and the military in general. And 117 other strange facts, so guess who (mostly) wins in Trivial Pursuit?

Anyways, thanks to the guest who reviewed - I hope this chapter delivered a lil' bit of that sexual tension, mwehehe :)

Take care and stay safe, ya'll!