Disaster Adjacent 2 by D.I. Jolly

Content warning: Violence and themes of rape.

People didn’t often arrive at Winter’s house unannounced. But of everyone who might, the very last person he expected to see when opening the door was Sarah Sinclair. Granddaughter of Morris Sinclair Snr, one of the big old names in organised crime.

To look at Roman Winter was to accept that you’d never forget his face. It didn’t matter if he was topless, naked, or in a three-piece suit. You know this man was big and he was serious. A body built by violence.

He’d reached the ripe age of 52 by being quicker than people expected, both physically and mentally. And yet, he was not an assassin, a petty thug, or a bodyguard. He’d done those things but never made a regular career out of it. No, Winter worked when people stepped out of line. If someone decided that playgrounds were the untapped drug market, they had to stop and ask themselves if they could take him. And like any good missile deterrent system, most people didn’t. And the ones that did never made it to their second sale.

Most of the old hands owed him in one form or another, and so he lived comfortably. Not wealthy, not to excess, but comfortable. He worked when it suited him, and he did favours for people he liked. But only when it seemed necessary.

Which is how he’d met Sarah in the first place. Sinclair Sr was throwing her an 18th birthday party but didn’t like some of the boys her age. They were born rich, and entitled, and it made him nervous. So, he called Winter and asked for a favour. He’d linger in the shadows and watch. So, when he saw Josh Barker Jr. Carry an unconscious Sarah into a bedroom and lock the door with him inside, Winter was only more than happy to kick him in the nuts so hard that one burst, then drop him out the third story window. Not to kill him, just to break his knees and teach him a lesson. Then the next morning he sat in Sinclair’s office and explained himself to the old man, and the young boy’s mother, and then went home. Presuming the whole ordeal would be over. Unfortunately, though, Roman Winter left an impression. The day after that Sarah arrived at his door with flowers and Chinese food, and there started the weirdest most annoying friendship of Winter’s life. Every day for an entire summer, Sarah would arrive at his house to just hang out. If he wasn’t in, she left a note. If he had company she’d listen to music, and if he just wanted to be alone, she’d laugh at him, and order them something to eat. She took him to movies, to fancy restaurants, and gave him a standing invitation to Sunday dinner. Which he never accepted.

If he was being honest with himself, he actually liked it more than it annoyed him, but only marginally, and it could change depending on the day. But when she arrived with bottles of champagne, and an acceptance letter to her university of choice, he was a bit sad. He’d miss his little friend.

In the morning he woke up with a dry mouth and a hangover he felt was not befitting the crime. But when he thought back he found holes in his memory which made him uncomfortable. A feeling only compounded when Sarah didn’t show up that day, or the day after that, or any other day for the next 2 years. Until, there she was, standing in the hallway looking like herself. Only terrified.

“Hello.”

She winced a little and her voice came out soft.

“Hi.”

“Been a while.”

“Yeah.”

“How was uni?”

“I… I haven’t started yet.”

Winter raised a curious eyebrow and said nothing.

“I… I had a baby.”

Winter frowned, he hated people talking around the point, but she was obviously in distress and a few old feelings had sparked when he saw her.

“Congratulations.”

Sarah’s face turned paler and she nervously scratched the back of her head.

“It’s… it’s yours.”

A darkness seemed to fall over Winter’s features and his voice gave evidence to his reputation.

“At best, that is a lie.”

He then held her gaze until her nerve broke and words started to spill out of her mouth.

“It’s just that, the more time we spent together, the closer I felt to you and also the more I realised that you didn’t look at me that way, but I really, really wanted you to be my first. Then I got the acceptance letter and realised it was my last chance so I got those bottles of champagne and something, too, uummm… loosen you up.”

Winter’s eyes narrowed but he didn’t interrupt her.

“At first I just put in a little hoping it would relax you and maybe make you a bit more open to the idea. But you’re so damn big and it didn’t seem to be having an effect, and then you got that end of evening look on your face so I just dumped everything I had left into the last glass and next thing I knew you were unconscious.”

A dark tension rippled through Winter’s body as she spoke.

“Then what did you do?”

Tears welled up in her eyes but she kept talking.

“I… I was kind of drunk, and you were there and I been thinking about it for so long that I, I thought I’d see what would happen so I… undid your trousers and tried to bring it to life but nothing was happening really and… and then I thought you could still be the first man inside me so I got on top and well… the thing is the drug is supposed to keep the important parts sensitive and I guess that still worked because while trying to get you in you came. I freaked out and quickly cleaned you off and went home. I was so scared I just tried to forget it until a few months later when… uummm.”

Winter took a long deep breath.

“You used the same drug on me, that that boy used on you at your birthday party. You spoilt little brat. Just like that boy, you saw something you wanted and when it wasn’t freely given to you, you decided to just take it because you wanted it.”

“I’m not like him, I loved you!”

She threw the words at him, but the look on his face told her they were in vain.

“You’re going to use love to justify literally raping me? Go home Sarah, tell your grandfather I’ll be there in the morning to discuss this with him.”

At the mentioned, Sarah leapt forward suddenly desperate and pleading not to tell her family but Winter caught her with one hand around her throat, spun and pinned her to the wall and locked eyes with her.

“No, no child, you’ve run out of good favour here. You’ve undone enough decisions for me for one lifetime.”

His eyes were burning with fury and then he hit her the most savage blow she’d ever received. But it wasn’t with his fists. As he stared at her for an instant his face lost all emotion, all anger and his voice came out soft.

“I trusted you.”

Then he dropped her and said.

“Now get out.”

In the morning when Winter arrived at Morris Sinclair Snr’s office, he found the old man waiting for him. He was dressed for business and the atmosphere was tense as he said.

“Tell me, are you the one who put those bruises on the neck of my granddaughter?”

“I am.”

“And can you tell me why.”

“I can.”

By the end of the story, the old man had a pained expression on his face.

“So, it is your child after all. I had wondered. You two did spend a lot of time together. But not like that.”

The old man sighed and looked up finally.

“Let’s hope it’s a bit more like you, than it is like her at the end of the day. I appreciate you telling me about this Winter, it once again shows a strength I don’t get to see much of anymore.”

“What are you going to do with them?”

The old man narrowed his eyes and reached for a cigar which he then lit.

“What if I told you that I was keeping the child and throwing her out of the family to fend for herself?”

“I’d invite you to a poker game.”

The old man let out a soft but genuine chuckle.

“Of course. I wouldn’t do that to my family. She will go to university and the child will stay here with its grandparents. It’ll go to all the finest schools, want for nothing and live the life that we work so hard to provide for them.”

A smile crept onto Winter’s face for the first time in two days.

“Maybe let it want for somethings.”

“What?”

“Make it earn what it gets, teach it the value of waiting, of not having. There is something missing from people these days. If it’s not freely given then they seem to just try and take it anyway.”

The old man tapped his cigar and let out a long breath of smoke.

“Her father’s influence. I never understood what a spoilt child really was until I saw what my son had grown into. A soft entitled boy of privilege. My fault of course, I was young and wanted to prove I could provide everything my family could ever hope to want for, and never let them work for any of it. No, I know what you mean, what you’re worried about. Don’t, it’s Great-grandpa will do right by it. I promise.”

Winter’s eyes grew distant for a moment then he nodded.

“Thank you, and thank you for your time.”

He turned to leave but the old man’s voice cut him off.

“You could also be involved you know.”

Winter turned but didn’t speak

“I mean, being a parent changes a person. It’s already changed you, I can see it, from one father to another I know that look, those feelings. You could be involved, teach it the values of life yourself, if you wanted.”

Winter looked down at his hands, then back up at the old man.

“Thank you, but no. I made the decision a long time ago not to follow that particular path, and I never meant to go back on that decision.”

“Alright, but that door will remain open and for what it’s worth. I think you’d be good at the job.”

Another smile tickled the edges of Winter’s face, this time even reaching to his eyes, and without another word, he left.

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