DG couldn't get any details from Cain about what he and Gulch had discussed other than it hadn't ended in a boxing match. She fell asleep undecided how that made her feel.
The doctor cleared Cain to check out, but DG needed another day before attempting a travel storm. She left him alone to dress. The admission nurse helped her finish the paperwork. "You don't have to worry about payment. Deputy Gulch took care of that."
"He did?" DG blinked.
"I did." She turned to Gulch's grinning face. "Why so suspicious?"
"Because I know you." She dragged him to a corner of the lobby where they wouldn't be overheard. "What gives?"
Gulch sighed with a dramatic eye roll. "Alright, I figured you could pay me back."
"At your rates, we'll be stuck here for six months. I can't do that."
He leaned over her, resting one hand on the wall. "In that case, two nights with you and we're square." He caressed her shoulder.
She wished she could blame her shivers on fear. "I gave it up."
"You've missed letting go."
"Not. It doesn't turn me on any more."
"Liar." Gulch squeezed her shoulder. "Just two nights."
"Cain's ready to go home now. That's not fair to him."
"Alright, one night with both of you, but that's my final offer."
DG searched Gulch's eyes for signs that he was joking and didn't find any. "What the hell are you trying to do, finish what Zero started? That's not funny!"
"I wasn't trying to be funny. I just thought--"
"That you'd like to break him!"
"Did I break you?" Gulch brushed her cheek. "The control he has is quite the turn on, but you know that. What really has you upset is you don't want to share."
That comment made her so mad, she spluttered. "He's not mine to share!" Gulch continued to smirk. "I can't believe you'd think that." Her body shook and she curled her fists. "He's been hurt so much; how could you suggest that I hurt him more?"
Gulch's smirk vanished. "Is this about kink or about how you don't deserve anything good?"
"Am I interrupting something?" Cain had on his trying-to-be-lighthearted expression, which fell as soon as Gulch stepped back. "DG, you're glowing."
"Shit." She pushed Gulch away and fled to the closest women's restroom. She did the breathing exercises Tutor had drilled into her until the glow faded. She couldn't meet her reflection's eyes.
Cain patted the seat next to his when she exited. She sat and cursed her brain for suddenly observing how good he looked in black. "Gulch told me what got you upset."
"Did you hurt him?"
"No, he's outside waiting at his car while we discuss his offer."
She shot a suspicious glance at the calm Cain. "What is there to discuss? I can't make a travel storm, so I might as well pay him back for the next two nights."
"Or be done in one night." She had no response, and he continued. "Did you even want me to know?"
"It's my fault." Why did she say that? Now Cain looked worried. "And you're injured. You shouldn't be forced into something."
Cain's fingers brushed her jaw, turning her face to his. "No one is forcing me this time." The fluttering his touch started now froze. She couldn't meet his eyes. "Besides, how can I protect you if I'm locked out?"
The frozen flutters dropped in her stomach. "It's always about protecting me."
"Is there something wrong with that?" He tucked her hair behind her ear.
"It gets you shot." She forced that out, but wasn't able to prevent adding lets me rape you in her head.
"Zero was gunning for me, has been for annuals. You got caught in the crossfire." He pushed her chin up to meet his face. He smirked, but his lips twitched up to a smile. "But I'll try not to let it happen again."
"You better not." DG sighed. "I can't change your mind, can I?"
He pulled back. "I won't force it if you don't want me there."
She had hurt Cain's feelings. What the hell did Elmer Gulch tell him? "I'm not trying to hide. Or leave you out." She growled under her breath, not even positive why the idea bothered her so much. "Let me negotiate with Elmer."
Cain looked at her when she stood. "Negotiate?"
"Trust me, there's stuff you will not want to do." Cain didn't protest as they left the hospital, and remained silent as he followed DG into the backseat of Elmer's regular car.
Gulch turned in the driver's seat. "Not going to detonate?"
"Don't think so." She took a deep breath. "We're both in, but we have stipulations."
"Alright, what are they?" Gulch faced ahead.
"No boxing for either of us." She glanced at Cain. "Hoods are out too."
"Claustrophobia no fun for anyone." Gulch glanced at them in the rearview mirror. "Anything else?"
"Don't gag or blindfold Wyatt. He should have a safe word."
"Right. What do you want to use?"
Cain looked at DG. "It's a word to end things if you're in pain or uncomfortable. We don't use stop or no because you might say that while roleplaying."
"Okay," Cain said. "I'll use emerald."
Gulch nodded. "Alright, Wyatt. Is there anything you want to give me for being so accommodating, DG?"
"Nothing else is off limits." DG looked out the window rather than meeting Gulch's eyes in the mirror. She deserved all the pain he could think up. Maybe she would hurt enough to stop feeling so horrible.