The foot to my ribs caught me by surprise and I was sent skidding across the floor of the bus. Bane yelped at the pain and it vaguely registered in my mind, but... what she had told me was such a shock to me that I just felt empty. I was craving the comforting haze of alcohol I’d gotten used to having back, but I was already nearly sober.
I glanced up to see Russell watching in shock. He scrambled across Mog to get to me, asking me if I was okay. Mog was completely indifferent and as Russell started to talk, I wished a little that Russell had been indifferent too.
"You know, he used to care too. I think that somewhere deep inside, he still has a heart. I really think that an animal would do the trick," Russell said with a wink. "He always had a soft spot for animals." I growled a little, hoping like hell that he wasn’t about to say that I should be the one to soften Mog up with. "He wouldn't go for me," Russell told me with this pained look in his eyes. "Maybe it might change your opinion ofmeif I encouraged you to soften Mog." I growled properly then, pissed off that he felt he could treat me like some dumb animal. He backed off when I snapped my teeth at him, apologising hastily. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Don't you want him to soften too?"
I clenched my jaw, forcing Bane back into my head. I clearly couldn’t talk to this man without words.
"I'm not a pet," I snarled, ignoring the pain in my bones as they all clicked back into place.
"No, but if you're saying a wolf is not an animal, you're stupid."
"I've just found out that Isis was the reason my last relationship fell apart, Russell, I'm not in any sort of mood for this," I reminded him. The events of the last ten minutes or so had apparently already slipped his mind.
"Oh..." Russell frowned, "Of course. I'm sorry. I should be more sensitive." He wrapped me in a hug, before backing away from me again for some reason, his eyes fixed on the floor. "Sorry."
"Sorry for what?"
"Hugging you,” he said, looking back up at me and meeting my gaze, refusing to look anywhere else. “You’re...” he nodded down at my body. It took a moment for me to realise. I was butt naked. I was just so used to it that I hadn’t even taken it into consideration.
“Oh,” I picked up my jeans, quickly inspecting them for damage before pulling them on, “better?” I asked, noticing just how red Russell’s face was.
"I'm severely tempted to check out your torso," he confessed, keeping his eyes trained steadily on my face. I shrugged. It was a bit of an odd thing to say, really. A chest is a chest, why should I care if he looked or not?
"Go ahead, I don't mind," I said, wondering vaguely if he would be opposed to me using him for angry rebound sex. He flashed me a wry smile.
"No, that might lead to metouchingyour torso."
I chuckled, “I worked in the sex industry for a century and a half. As long as you don't have any silver jewellery on, I don't care what you do." After a moment, Russell finally looked down at my body, sighing with some kind of relief as a smile spread across his lips. It was odd to come across someone so restrained these days. He looked like he was trying not to touch me as he looked up, thanking me.
"We'll call it a free preview," I joked, looking through my bag for a shirt to put on. I wasn’t too sure where the one I’d been wearing before had gone.
Russell let out a laugh, "Oh no, I don't pay."
“Not even if you pay in alcohol rather than money?"
"I don't have any alcohol on me, and no."
"Shame," I muttered, thinking about how good it’d be to have some booze right now.
"Come on, you're worth more than that," Russell says, smiling.
"Oh I know," I laughed, thinking just how much I really was worth, "but I like alcohol."
"You're worth more than an addiction too," Russell says winking. I resisted the urge to hit him. I wanted angry rebound sex not another person kicking the crap out of me. So I put my finger over his lips to silence him.
"It's not an addiction," I told him firmly. I just enjoy drinking. Is that so bad?
"Ooh, don't tempt me," he nipped at my finger. "I'm very bad when I'm tempted." I grinned at him, glancing up as Mog spoke for the first time.
"Oh, please don't," he begged.
"Jealous, pretty boy?" I asked.
"Far from it."
I went back to looking for a shirt, shrugging on the first one I found. "If you say so.” I mean c’mon. I already told them I’d been a sex worker for nearly half my life. I’ve got a lot of experience under my belt. Literally.