"Ain't no reason the guns can't be here next week."

Lorelai leaned back in her chair, crossing one leg over the other while she took a deep breath around the butt of her cigarette. Slyly looked to her left, she watched the four men sitting around her side of the table lean back in their chairs, taking their attention off of Red and directing their gaze to run up her legs to where her skirt rode right up to about a hand's length from her hips.

Letting the smoke out of her mouth, she just slightly shook her head as she flipped her hair behind her shoulder and looked from the gawking gangsters to the man sitting next to her. Who was talking. "You said they'd be here yesterday."

One of the men sitting across the little table in the smoky room looked uncomfortable, from the way he twisted his fingers in his hands as he looked at his hands and said, "Some…" he hesitated, and Lorelai knew he was finished. "unseen complications stalled delivery, Red."

Lorelai felt Red's breath on her neck as he leaned down, as if he wasn't being watched for his next move, and he said, loud enough for everyone to hear, "What'do ya think, doll?" His hand along her bare knee traveling just a little higher than the hem of her silk skirt. "Complications?"

She just closed her eyes in a smile as she nestled up against his rough suit and then looked across the table, saying to Red, but looking right at the man waiting for the verdict. In a sweet voice, she purred out, "Business is business, Red." And, taking her time as she took another drag on her cigarette, she turned her head and blew the smoke out before she coldly said, "Can't have business with complications."

Red took a breath, sitting back up in his chair and nodding, his face beginning to harden as he stared the man down, "You heard 'her, Joe."

Suddenly Joe began talking fast, looking around at the seven or eight other men gathered around the table. "You guys know where I'm coming from." When no one moved, his pleas echoed his panic around the room, he reached out towards one of the men. "Ed, you do collectin'. Ya know how it goes with those dumbass tenants, stallin' and losin' their jobs and all."

Ed just pulled the rim of his hat a little lower over his eyes. Lorelai knew no one was going to say a thing to Joe. Everyone knew what was coming. She knew what was coming.

Joe knew what was coming.

Still he pled. Like a sissy.

"Frank, how I supposed to collect when ain't no one got no money?"

Frank just shrugged his shoulder. And repeated her own phrase. "Business is business."

The sweat was visible from the tiny light hanging over the table – pooling down Joe's face as he slammed his fist down on the table. "Fuck, it ain't my fault!"

But when Lorelai felt Red's arm leave hers, she watched Joe jump out of his chair, his back hitting against the wall as he held his hands up in surrender, "Red, you gotta believe me! I swear I'll get you the money for the guns! I fucking swea…"

He never finished his sentence.

Lorelai closed her eyes, the pain from the sound of the pistol right beside her taking just a second for her ears to stop ringing after the three shots were fired.

The blood spattered along the wall, and Joe's cowardly body slid down the wall, leaving a trail of blood behind with only the bullet holes in the plaster a break in the stream of red.

Smoke from the cigarettes and the pistol hung in the air. And silence did.

Lorelai knew Red kept things silent right away. Just to drive fear into any of the others around them who would think to try and pocket money instead of bringing it to him.

Another inhale of her cigarette.

"Now, where were we?" Red's voice permeated through the smoke and silence.

Smoke out, and she just reminded him, "The guns."

He ran his hand down her bare arm, and sweetly said, "What would I do without you?"

To all the men in the room, Lorelai just smugly replied, "You'd jerk yourself to sleep every night."

The small chuckles around the table lightened the mood, with Red's laugh the loudest. "Well, on that note…"

The knock on the door silenced all of them, and all heads turned to see the new guy, the man designated to be on the lookout – he sheepishly stuck his head in. His voice shook as he looked at Lorelai and said, "Ms. Gilmore, I…I'mmm sorry to bb—bbbother you…"

Rolling her eyes, she said, "Fuck, what the hell you need?"

"It'sss… wellll…" The gunshot must've scared him.

Red's voice thundered through the room, "You next?"

"No." Fear so evident in his eyes, Lorelai had to laugh a little as he tried to say something, but only his mouth opened and no words came out as he looked at the stripe of darkening blood on the wall.

"If he doesn't shoot you, I will." She hissed, "What you think you're doin' interrupting this?"

"Yyyyyourr… daughter…"

All the men let out the breath they had been holding in, turning around and she heard mumbles of, "We didn't have this when it was just men in here…" or "Fucking sure leads to some real problems…" or "No place for a woman in here like that…"

With each comment about her floating around the room, Lorelai grew angrier and angrier. And, to the message boy, she spat, "Get the hell out." And the door slamming behind him was her answer to that. Turning around to Red, she leaned up and brushed her lips against his cheek and whispered, "I'll be right back."

"Ok." Was the only reply. Hardened and tense. He was just as unhappy about this interruption as she was.

Putting her cigarette out on the ashtray sitting on the table, she said to the men, "If you'll excuse me for just a minute…" As she stood to her feet, she expertly walked across the room, her high heels clicking against the wood floor of the secluded room. Swaying her hips, she knew almost every man's eyes were on her ass, the pencil skirt she wore clinging to every groove, drawing them in like honey.

Getting out into the long hallway, she closed the door behind her and dropped her act. Anger clicked through her heels as she walked down the hallway, with each step her irritation at being away from the meeting growing. The skinny man who stuttered took the brunt of her anger as she walked past him, hissing, "You'd better watch your back, boy." And he cowered against the wall, but she didn't have time to watch him long before she turned up the long staircase.

Expensive carpets ran up the stairs, the wood inlaid with golden streaks up and down, matching the chandelier that hung down in the middle of the lobby of the huge mansion. Fifty-five stairs up, she turned and walked down the next hallway, pictures on the wall memories from guests Lorelai couldn't' even remember. Who gave them to her and whether or not they were stolen pieces blew past her mind as she reached the last door.

She started talking as she turned the handle, "I swear to God, Rory, this had better be important…"

Lorelai walked into the room and watched her daughter sit up from where she had been laying on the bed. A book in her hands, her brown hair tumbled in front of her face until she pushed it away, revealing deep blue eyes that were surrounded by red. Rory's hand brushed not only her hair away, but what Lorelai knew to be tears from her daughter's cheek.

"I'm sorry." Rory whispered, her sweet voice sounding so soft and calm for a sixteen-year-old teenager.

Lorelai rolled her eyes as she walked over to the bed, "How many times have I said that…"

"I cry too much?" Rory asked, turning her legs off the bed to make room for Lorelai to sit down on the edge of the bed. "I'm sorry. I know I…"

"And sending someone into the meeting to get me?" The whispers from the men echoed through her mind as she felt the anger grow again, "What was so important?" When she watched her daughter look at her hands in her lap, twisting them nervously, Lorelai reached over and lightly flicked the girl's hands. Rory immediately looked up, and Lorelai angrily replied, "Stop that. What is with you tonight?" No matter how much Lorelai tried to get the point across, her daughter would not stop acting like a weak woman, scared all the time, crying at the drop of a hat, apologizing left and right – not something that would get her far in the world Lorelai had made for her.

"I had another bad dream." Rory simply said.

Lorelai's heart softened, only a little, but she reached over and pulled Rory's hair behind her shoulder and then rubbed Rory's nightgown covered shoulder. "The same one?"

"Blood. And screaming. And running."

It had been the same dream since Rory had seen Red shoot someone a few weeks ago. The man deserved it. Rory didn't seem to understand. If Red hadn't killed the intruder, the man would've shot them all up – that's what happened in this mobster life they lived – it was kill or be killed. Kill or be broke. Kill or become the next guys' girl. That's just how this life worked.

Lorelai pulled Rory into her chest, holding her close and saying, "Why can't you seem to get over this, honey?" Such a sensitive child wasn't a good combination for this place. The place where in the middle of the night, a gunshot wouldn't be uncommon. "I know it's hard, but it was weeks ago."

"He's dead, Ma. He's gone." The girl wasn't crying. Just talking. Things that Lorelai never thought about anymore. "What if he had a family? What if he was a dad? What if his kids are at home missing…"

Lorelai pulled Rory from her chest and gripped both sides of her daughter's face with her hands, making Rory look up at her. "Listen to me." Firm. Cold, even. "We do anything to protect our families." She paused for effect. "He came into our house. Our place." She could almost hear the speech in her head – the one Red gave any newcomers. "And you know Red… he looks after you like you're his daughter, ok?"

Rory opened her mouth to argue, but Lorelai pierced her lips and sent her a smoldering glance. "Do you understand?" Rory just silently nodded. "Good." And then she lightly tapped her daughter's nose with her finger. "Now. Crawl back up in that bed and read." Thinking back to downstairs, she said, "I have to get back."

Doing the motherly thing, Lorelai watched Rory crawl into bed, and pulled the covers up over her daughter, lightly pressing a kiss to the top of her forehead and whispered, "I love you, sweets."

And she quickly walked away, closing the door behind her and walking back to where she was supposed to be right now. Not up here dealing with a sensitive child. She had a job to do. A job that needed her more.

But as she walked down the stairs, she saw Red standing at the door, seeing people out, well, the people who went out the front. The others – they went out other exits – to avoid suspicion. Shaking Ed's hand, Red said something and laughed, while Ed put his hat on and left.

"Short meeting?" Lorelai asked as she reached the bottom of the stairs, smiling at Red as he turned around from shutting the door.

Red just nodded, walking over to her, "Things always go faster and smoother after a problem is dealt with." His voice was cold towards her as he asked, "The kid fine?"

Lorelai shrugged, "Bad dreams again." And she reached over and ran her hand up the arm of his suit coat. Coyly, trying to smooth things over after she left the meeting, she changed the subject and said, "But let's forget about the kid and tell me what…"

He pushed her arm violently away from him, his face narrowing as he stared down at her, "You think you can just leave in the middle of things?"

God. She didn't have time for this. It was always the same. "Rory needed me, Red." And, not wanting to be the needy girlfriend, she turned and walked over to the drink cart. "So can you just tell me what happened?" Popping the top off of the bottle of scotch, she tried to keep her voice from sounding as irritated as she felt. "Did they agree on the delivery of the…"

A hand reached out and grabbed the bottle from her hands, and pushed it away, sending it flying to the ground, shattering by her feet. And Red grabbed her wrists and whirled her around, yelling, "Damn it, Lorelai!" His face, bright with anger, was only inches from her face as he then secured his hands around her small shoulders. "You bitch! You're my bitch and I have told you not to leave in the middle!"

Rage at being handled the way she was, Lorelai yelled, "Get your hands off me, you jackass!" He knew better than this. He knew she hated being treated like this. He knew… "I'm no one's bitch! And you fucking know it!"

And then he started to shake her, her soft curls trembling back and forth at his rage. "I pay for everything you have here!" His breath was hot against her cheek as he pulled her up off her feet, holding her in the air as his hands dug into her shoulders. "You're mine…"

She clenched her teeth. "I said…" And she stared him straight in the face, making him look into her eyes as she warned him, "Get your fucking hands off of me."

And when he didn't, she brought her hand up and slapped him hard across the jaw, the sound filling the room in between the silence. And he put her back on the ground, but this time, he pressed her up against him.

Hitting him wasn't uncommon. Them yelling at each other wasn't either. Because it wasn't a surprise to feel his passionate lips hungrily enclose over hers, and a deep, violent, dark kiss develop between the two of them, him holding her in place, her turning her head for a better grip on his mouth.

Heart pounding. Skin tingling as he let her shoulders go and cupped his hands around her mouth, breaking every once in a while for air, whispers of need and want mingled from the both of them.

He was strong. She was strong-willed. He was powerful. She was irresistible.

She soon felt her back up against the drink cart, and his hands left her face – she heard the crashing of countless expensive bottles of liquor hitting the floor as he cleared off a place on the cart for when he grabbed her hips and set her up on the cart. Her hands expertly began ripping his suit coat off of him – whining for him to move faster as he allowed her to lift it over his arms.

"Be patient, little thing…" He whispered patronizingly.

To which she angrily replied, "Little thing, my ass." And, as she ripped his dress shirt down the front, buttons flying everywhere, she commanded right back, "Get my shirt off me, Red."

And soon they found themselves completely naked, her legs wrapped around his torso, her fingernails clawing into his back as his muscles bulged underneath her hands. His hands holding himself up against the wall as she begged for more, with her body pushing against his thrusts. Little moans from her as she could feel her power coming back as he dwindled underneath her most important weapon – her body. His breathing grew heavier and heavier with each thrust into her, and, just when she could feel he was on the edge, she whispered, "I belong to no one."

And, with one final thrust of her hips forward, she felt him tremble inside of her, and a loud, "Jesus, fuck…" he set his forehead against her naked shoulder, his sweat-riddled body pressed completely onto her, and she knew she won that round…

And she rubbed that in. She tilted her head, leaning her cheek up against his, and whispered in his ear, "Red, you know you need me…"

He breathed, "I do. I do."