So even though I first imagined my Mindy Project Powerball AU as a dirty, hatesexy story, I had a hard time writing it, and ended up writing a much more lushly romantic version first. I did manage to write the dirty version, but it still falls short of my first imaginings. Oh well. I owe blithers once again for the smart and sharp beta. Like the other Powerball AU story, it's Danny/Mindy, rated R.
[There are a few allusions to other works scattered throughout this story that aren't explained within the text.
- Mindy's "Alaia" is a nod to Clueless
- the real and spectacular line is from Seinfeld
- the Bond villain line is something Schmidt said on New Girl
- the "day ending in Y" joke is from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Also, Go Fug Yourself is real and hilarious and I have absolutely no rights to it. (Also: let's pretend that this is exactly how cabs in Manhattan work. Incidentally, cab call-signs in Manhattan have a numeral-letter-numeral-numeral format, but I changed it so I wouldn't be citing a real call-sign in this story.)]
"Two Hotel Rooms and a Cab"
"Dude, stop it!" Danny heard from the street. "It's none of your business!" Whoever it was that was shouting out there, she had an impressive set of lungs and a voice like a cracked flute.
There was silence, and he turned back to the shitty black-and-white TV in Doc's office to keep an eye on the game. The crack of the bat was drowned out by another screech from the demented harpy outside, who'd clearly turned it up to eleven. "You do not get to talk to me like – hey, HELP!"
Danny swung his legs off the desk and raced outside. There was a woman struggling to get out of one of those ridiculous pedicabs, and the driver was twisted in his seat, trying to keep her where she was. When the driver turned his head to avoid one of the woman's flailing hands, Danny could see it was that scumbag Brendan Deslaurier.
"Hey!" he called, running over. "Deslaurier, let her go!"
Brendan sneered at him, no doubt ready to run off at the mouth again about how pedicabs were a green alternative to the gas-guzzling environmental nightmare that Danny drove, so Danny popped him one hard in the solar plexus, stealing his breath. He extended a hand to the woman, who gripped it like she'd been dangling off a ledge instead of seated in relative comfort. She stepped out onto the sidewalk in absolutely ludicrous sky-blue heels that had ribbons that wrapped all the way up her calves; they were probably supposed to be sexy enough to bring a man to his knees, but all they made him think was that she had clearly been exhibiting poor judgment long before she'd gotten in Brendan Deslaurier's pedicab.
"Whoa," she said, glancing back at Deslaurier, who was still wheezing. "I thought he'd totally take you. I mean, look at his calves!"
Danny snorted at the notion that he couldn't kick the ass of some loser who wore shorts to work.
"But I guess, in a brawl, the fact that you're basically a hobbit means you've got a low center of gravity so you're hard to knock down," the woman continued as if that was totally okay to say.
"You know I can hear you, right?" he asked, just to make sure. She didn't have an accent, really, so it wasn't an English-as-second-language problem. She was just rude.
"Yeah, whatever," she said, fluttering a hand in the air. "Thank you for the rescue and all, but what I need now is a cab, a real cab."
"I've got one," he said, and she turned to him with a pleased smile on her face that faded when he pretended like he was going to walk right by her – like he'd leave any woman out there with Deslaurier still lurking.
"Okay, wait," she said, grabbing his arm. "You're not a hobbit. You're totally manly and buff and tall." That was probably the closest to an apology he was going to get from a woman who was wearing diamond-studded sunglasses after ten p.m. He sighed and gestured to his cab, washed and ready in the first parking spot for the morning shift, and ducked back inside the office to grab his keys from the hook.
When he stepped back outside, he could see the woman's body outlined against the bright yellow of his cab. The mouth-wateringly exaggerated curve of her ass was almost enough to cancel out her ridiculous get-up. But she had serious attitude – she was drumming her acrylic nails on the roof of the cab, clearly waiting for him to open the door for her like her arms were broken and she was absolutely helpless – and no ass, however magnificent, could make that worth it.
"Where're you going?" he asked as she climbed in ungracefully, the tightness of her skirt keeping her from full flexibility.
"To the Hot 97 House Party at Madison Square Garden," she said, not even bothering to look up at him because she was doing something on a phone that looked like it was made of solid gold.
"Are you kidding me?" he asked, exasperated. "Walk."
"It's like six blocks away. You can walk there faster than I can negotiate traffic."
"I'm not walking!" she said, crossing her arms defensively over her chest. She made it sound like he was forcing her on the Bataan Death March. "Look at my shoes! There's no way I'd make it even one block!"
"Then why did you put them on your feet?" he couldn't help yelling. This woman was a certifiable lunatic.
"Do you want the fare or not?" she demanded.
"Just – you have to drive me! It's the law, I'm in your cab!"
"You were in Brendan's cab too," he pointed out, not even bothering to dispute her shaky grasp of the legalities of the situation. He never thought he'd see the day he agreed with Brendan Deslaurier.
"He started lecturing me about the misogyny inherent in rap culture when he heard where I wanted to go, and said that I needed to be more responsible about what I opened my ears and mind and soul up to! Like I needed a lecture from some dirty hippie."
Danny rolled his eyes automatically at hearing Brendan's latest gibberish. Maybe this woman was actually the lesser of two evils. "Fine. I'll take you."
"Thank you," she said, all dramatically, then pulled the door out of his grasp to slam it shut. Good to know her arms weren't broken after all.
Danny slid into the driver's seat, checked his rearview mirror – she was putting on another coat of lipstick, like her lips weren't already fluorescent purple – and flipped down the sun visor to tap two fingers on the image of Jesus clipped there.
"Whoa, Danny," the woman said – he'd thought the sun had faded his posted license to the point where it was illegible, but no such luck, apparently – "your boyfriend is way out of your league."
"Uh, that's Jesus, you heathen."
"His name is Jesus?" she asked, and he realized she was looking at the photo of him and Richie he'd stuck on the visor. "He's totally hot."
"What do you mean, out of my league?"
"Uh, I think you can pick it up from context," she said, still eyeballing the photo like she wanted to swallow Richie whole. Like he'd ever let this woman near his brother, even if he was mad at him. "Where'd you meet him?"
He prayed for traffic to be light so he could wash his hands of her. "At the hospital." It wasn't a lie. Richie had been this tiny bundle of curls and red skin and Danny had fallen in love for the first time.
"Tell me he's a doctor and I will die."
It was so tempting to lie. "He's not a doctor. Smart enough to be, though."
She made some weird gesture with her hand, her eyes fixed on his via the rearview mirror.
"What? What does that mean?" He repeated the gesture as best he could as he eased into the flow of cars on 31st.
"Do you not have a smartphone?" she asked impatiently, waggling her gold monstrosity at him. "It's the expand motion. It means go on."
"According to who?"
"So tell me more about Jesus."
Nope. "Why are you going to this House Party thing?"
What? He mentally replayed his question, considering each word carefully. "What the fuck? How am I a racist?"
"Hot Indians can be into rap, Danny!"
"You have actual problems," he said instead of defending himself.
"Yeah, like racists getting all up in my grill about how I spend my time and my money," she said, rifling through a little clutch purse that was – surprise – studded with bolts and sequins and tied with her shoes for the ugliest thing he'd seen all night. "Um, speaking of which, can you break a hundred?"
"No." When he was done for the night, he put his haul in the safe in Doc's office before heading home. Just because he'd decided not to go home for a little while – he didn't need Richie tracking him down and pleading Dad's case – didn't mean that he'd skipped the rest of his responsibilities. He was really looking forward to getting back to the office and bunking down and having this day be over. "Don't worry about it. I'm not gonna charge you for six blocks."
"Oh." She was quiet for a second. "But you also helped me out with that gross hippie."
"That was my pleasure." Her voice was kind of nice when she wasn't yelling or ranting. He sat back a little while he waited out the red light.
"I guess you're not a racist."
"I'll alert the media."
"But you're still totally lame for not sharing how you landed a piece of ass that fine."
"Whoa, hey, watch it. Don't objectify him."
"Sorry," she said, sounding like she didn't mean it at all. She squirted perfume into the air and ducked into the spray. "I didn't mean to offend the cradle-robber."
That stuff she was wearing was sugary sweet, too much to take in an enclosed space. "What – never mind, we're here. Have a good night," he said, waiting for the sound of the car door shutting behind her. As he pulled away, he could see her in his rearview mirror, tottering along on her spindly heels.
He was woken up by someone gently shaking his shoulder and he peered sleepily up to see Shulman's benevolent face way closer than it needed to be. He jerked his head back, only to have it bounce off the back of the couch.
"Danny, you know you're always welcome," Doc was saying nicely, "but I don't think this sofa is particularly conducive to sleep. You know you need at least six hours of real shut-eye before I'll let you out of here."
Danny checked his watch. It was coming up on six, and the last time he'd looked it had been just past midnight and his brain was like a hamster trapped on a wheel, totally caught up in terrible thoughts. Like how he'd been so close to saving up enough to buy his cab outright, but then Christina had filed for divorce and he'd had to spend almost half of it on a lawyer who sounded like he hadn't passed the third grade, let alone law school. Like how Richie'd spilled that their dad now had a new kid named Danni, a kid who must have been conceived when he, Danny, the real Danny Castellano, had been living for each of Christina's pregnancy tests and dying when each one was negative, and how was that in any way fair? Like how these days New York felt like a trap instead of home.
"I did, boss, I was on the couch at eleven," he said, not technically lying. He needed to be doing something or he'd be back on that wheel all day. "I'll be ready for a fare at 8."
Doc nodded his permission, still looking worried, and Danny made his escape, heading first to the bathroom to piss and brush his teeth, and then down the hall to the tiny room in the back where a couple of plastic plants were gathering dust next to old metal filing cabinets. He pulled open one of the drawers and yanked out the small duffel he'd stuffed in the back that held his workout clothes. He changed and wrapped his hands before starting to throw punches at the heavy bag in the corner. Each hit was one more bit of his brain won back from those dark thoughts, and he could feel his shirt plastered to his back, rivulets of sweat meandering through his hair. Danny danced around the bag in a neat semicircle, landing some solid combinations. Finally exhausted in a good way, he wrapped his arms around the bag and leaned his forehead against its solidity.
"Aw, does Danny want a widdle cuddle?" he heard, and despite himself he grinned.
"Dude, that's just sad. At least let me get you a doll, so you have something, you know, human-shaped." Peter was propped casually in the doorway. "Though, maybe you do? That was some primo expensivo perfume-o I just smelled in your cab."
"What are you doing smelling my cab?" He should have left the windows rolled down to get rid of that terrible woman's perfume. "Just, don't be a weird perv all the time."
"I leave the weird perving to Jer-bear," Peter said, lying through his teeth. Danny had once been trapped into hearing a long story about how Peter had spent so many years beating off to the St. Pauli girl's knockers in her lace-up blouse that he couldn't even tie his shoes without getting stiff, which was why he wore man-sandals all the time, and that was way more than Danny had ever wanted to know about a co-worker. "And chill, I just needed something from your glove compartment. Oh, that reminds me. I owe you a strip of condoms."
"Fine," Danny said, before anything else weird could come flying out of Peter's mouth. "I gotta shower."
"Or does your high-class lady like you all dir-tay?" Peter said in a rush, like he knew he had only a second to wedge that thought into the conversation, which was technically over. Peter was the worst.
There weren't too many drunks or exhibitionists out that day, and he was only forced into conversation twice, once with a pair of tourists from somewhere Scandinavian who wanted to see "the Tina Fey building" and once with some lady who'd been laid off without severance ten minutes earlier. "Six years," she said, seething, "six goddamn years, and suddenly that chickenshit says they're, get this, 'rightsizing.'"
"That's terrible," he said. He meant it, too, but his sympathy wasn't gonna do a damn thing for her.
"You could make me feel better," she said, and he was startled into meeting her gaze in the rearview mirror. He'd done revenge sex back when he'd found Christina riding some one-percenter's dick, had done it a lot, and he couldn't remember a single one of those women. He didn't want to be anonymous to anyone, not anymore.
He kept his mouth shut and dropped her at a bar where he knew the bartenders would keep an eye on her.
"Danny!" he heard just as he was about to take the steps down to the subway, and he looked around, only to see that godawful woman he'd carted around for free the night before. "Oh, thank god!"
He knew he should just ignore her, but he was kind of regretting not taking that lady up on her offer and thinking about maybe heading back to the bar now that his shift was over, and he was just a little too horny to do the smart thing. "What?" he said, flattening himself against the railing so he wouldn't have to fight against the current of people swarming down the steps.
"Can you please come here?" she said impatiently, and if she snapped her fingers at him, he was going to lose it.
"Yeah, what?" he asked when he was back up on the sidewalk. She didn't have the sense not to stand directly in the flow of traffic, and kept sucking her teeth in annoyance every time she was nudged. Some delivery guy pushed her straight into him, so he finally got his hands on her ass, and yeah, that was worth it.
"I need to get somewhere," she said, taking a step back, and he was trying to figure out why she was giving him a smile loaded with a shy innocence he knew was fake, and then he pieced it together. She thought he was an easy mark – he absolutely should have charged her for last night's ride – and was hoping to score twice.
"So hail a cab," he said. This woman had a definite talent for blowing everyday occurrences into disaster-movie scenarios.
"But your cab was the only clean one I've ever been in. Is that, like, a gay thing?" Was she kidding with this? Like he'd only know how to vacuum out the cab if he also liked cock? "Plus I lost my wallet somewhere."
"So take the subway," he said, running out of patience for her drama-queen antics.
"Have you smelled the subway?" she asked with a straight face. "I'm not getting eau de hobo on my Alaia. Serious suggestions only."
"What the fuck is an Alaia?"
"Haute couture," she said snottily, gesturing to the ridiculous get-up she was wearing, and there was no way he was buying that her French accent was even remotely accurate.
"Sounds like what you want is 24/7 limo service," he summarized. "Actually, that wouldn't work either, because there's nowhere for a limo to park in this city, and you wouldn't be allowed to make suggestive comments about your driver's brother or his sexual orientation." Man, that felt good to say. It felt even better to finish off with, "Looks like you're shit out of luck."
Before he could turn away, she stepped closer, and he was basically looking down her shirt – they were real, and they looked spectacular. Her hip was warm against his hand, which he kept from her ass by force of will. "Wait! Couldn't you, like, drive me, and I swear I've got cash in my hotel room and I will totally pay you?"
Not two nights in a row, with this woman. No way.
"Please, Danny. Please. Please." She caressed his chest with her hand, and she was hot, pressed up shamelessly against him. "I'll make it worth your while."
"You're basically prostituting yourself for a cab ride – you realize this, don't you?" he said. Not that he was moving away.
"How dare you," she said. "I'll pay you for the cab ride when we get to my place." There was a smug certainty on her face that he wouldn't walk away, and he had to admit it was justified when she stepped closer and dropped her hand to the front of his jeans, which was like a starter's pistol as far as his dick was concerned.
This woman – he should probably get her name before he had her shirt all the way off – had managed to make the fucking Royal Plaza Suite of the fucking Plaza Hotel look like a lived-in mess despite the army of maids who were probably there around the clock. Her bra was studded with sparkling stones and looked only slightly less expensive than her bracelet, big tacky diamonds spelling out Mindy. Thank fuck the bra opened in front, because he didn't want to be there all night and have a conversation with her that would get him too aggravated to finish what she'd started. He might hate one-percenters, but he wasn't about to pass up fucking one into her feather-soft mattress.
She was all soft little sighs, breathing Danny into his ear when he pushed her skirt up around her waist and tore off the sequined thong she was wearing. He could taste that expensive perfume Peter had mentioned, bitter on her neck and breasts, but underneath was just delicious warmth. Her thighs were smooth as silk and so hot against his hips that it felt like sustained contact would burn him. Danny rocked into her and pushed in until her head tipped back and she was panting helplessly, her fingers striping his shoulders with pressure. He kissed the soft underside of her chin, his mouth resting there while she got used to his intrusion, and suddenly she went savage, snapping her head back down and biting at his mouth, rolling her hips and pulling him close with her hands on his ass. If that was what she wanted, he could give it to her, and he pistoned his hips furiously, pushing all the words out of her throat until her voice was one long continuous wail.
She came with a viciousness that startled him into following blindly. When he lifted his head from her breasts, he saw dark marks on the wall from the bedposts' slams.
His heart was pounding like he'd just finished a marathon, but he forced himself to his feet to get rid of the condom and start pulling on his clothes. The fare and tip she'd paid him were still tucked in the front pocket of his jeans.
She sat partway up, resting on her elbows, and looking pretty damn satisfied. Her skirt was still rucked up around her waist, making her look like she was wearing a sparkly pink wrestling belt, and her hair was an electric mess. "Wait," she said, suddenly frowning, "you never told me – what number do I call for a cab?"
"You can't call a cab in New York. Just stand on the street and raise your arm like everyone else." He did up the buttons on his shirt from bottom to top and rolled up the sleeves.
"Ugh, like a commoner?" she said, as if she'd been so high and mighty with her legs in the air, and that was it, he was out of there.
"Danny," Doc said, interrupting the poker game just when the pot had cracked triple digits and Danny knew in his bones that Jeremy was bluffing, "could you please come see me after this hand?"
"Ooh," Peter said, "somebody's in trouble!" It'd been his turn to get snacks, but all he'd brought was one package of Oscar Meyer sliced lunch meat, which he'd been cramming in his mouth between stories about his frat buddies. It was like watching a particularly gruesome Nature special, and Danny had been frankly relieved when he folded and just settled down to eat.
"Shut up," he said, wondering what the problem could be. Jeremy called, but Danny had the hand to beat him; he pulled the pile of cash over to his spot before getting up to find Doc.
"Yeah?" he asked, knocking on the glass of Shulman's wide-open door.
"I got a call from a woman who wants to hire you as her private cabbie," Doc said, running a hand over his shiny head. "And while that's not something I would ever encourage, she is offering a considerable financial incentive to make me consider it."
His stomach dropped, and all he could think was that he'd known she was crazy and he probably deserved whatever Fatal Attraction thing she had going for fucking her anyway. "Doc, listen, you can't. This woman's a lunatic."
"Danny, she's offering a lot of money, and the word is she's close personal friends with the Mayor, and, well, my hands are tied. She bought out your contract."
"What she's paying means more than all the fares I make?" Danny asked, trying reason. Stupid question – it wasn't like he was rolling in it the way she obviously was. "I've been driving for you for ten years, Doc." His hands clenched on the back of the chair he was standing behind.
"I know, Danny, and you'll always have a home here. But I have to do this. And this will be good for Jeremy and Peter, to have to step up and do some real work. Perhaps you'll enjoy working for Miss Lahiri; she's finished paying off your cab."
Which meant that it was in her name, like all those years he'd saved for it meant nothing. He squeezed until it was clear either his fingers or the chair would break, and then let go. He turned on his heel, scooped up his winnings, and headed for the back room for another session with the punching bag.
She had the nerve to be sitting on the hood of his cab when he showed up for work in the morning, and he was viciously glad to see that she looked tired – he bet she wasn't used to waking up at a time when decent people were clocking in. "Danny," she said brightly, which just showed she didn't even have the sense to be wary.
"Mindy," he said, because he was betting that she expected to be called "Miss Lahiri" like she was some let-them-eat-cake aristocrat instead of a nouveau riche tourist who'd happened to win the Powerball jackpot – he'd looked her up.
She played it off like it didn't matter, but he saw her lips tighten. "We've got a lot to do this morning."
"Like what?" he asked, calmly sipping his smoothie from the fruit cart two blocks away.
"Oh, you'll see," she said, with enough malicious promise in her voice to make him think she wasn't about to take his attitude lying down.
By the time he dumped her at some hole in the wall for what she claimed was a totally necessary pedicure, he had a uniform, the cab had been painted Pepto pink, the service lights on the cab's roof had been disabled, and he had a smartphone with "Single Ladies" set as her ringtone.
"Danny," she said, that shrill voice cutting through all of the chatter in the shop, "come back here."
She had to be grooming him for some Letterman bit called "Stupid Employee Tricks," because no one in the real world thought it was actually okay to talk to a grown man like that. The hell if he was going to be deferential; he hadn't signed up for this nightmare version of Driving Miss Daisy. "What?" he said.
"Come do the fishy pedicure with me!" she said, clapping like this was some big treat.
"Nope." If she was gonna be spending money like it was going out of style, why couldn't she like good things, like box seats or gangster movies or Springsteen shows?
She'd evidently decided the problem was that he didn't understand what she was asking, not that her request was seriously stupid. "Just take off your shoes and socks, roll up your jeans, and stick your feet in this little pool, and the fish will eat away all of the dead skin." All of the little Korean ladies in the place had stopped gossiping to watch his ritual humiliation, and his contract was iron-clad; if he quit, he'd have a bank balance of about twelve bucks and no cab. He pinched a smile on his face and did what she asked. She squealed in dismay, "Oh my god, your feet are totes gross!"
His patience snapped. "You didn't seem to mind before," he said.
She grinned, completely shameless. "The rest of you was pretty talented." She swirled the water with her legs. "Doesn't that feel good?"
"No," he said stubbornly, even if he'd always liked the feeling of water between his toes.
"This isn't working for me," Mindy said when he responded to her summons, a text that, in its entirety, read Pronto!
Thank God, Danny thought, and turned away to cross himself quickly. Doc would take him back – he'd been there just last night for poker, and Jeremy and Peter had begged him to return; Peter had even paid back the strip of condoms, and Danny had long ago given up on getting Peter to remember any of the debts he owed.
"When I need you, I need you immediately, so this whole, 'Uh, I have to come from the poor part of town on the gross subway' thing is delaying me." Her impression of him was terrible, like she'd been mainlining Who's the Boss?.
The only way to cope with her, he'd found, was to pretend she'd said something the way a normal person would have. "Well, I can't afford to move –"
"Duh, of course you can't afford it. That's why I'm moving you here."
"The Royal Plaza Suite?" he yelped. It wasn't like she needed a three-bedroom suite all on her own, but still.
"Yeah, you wish," she said, poking him like they were friends. "You're getting a room on the next floor down." Right. Because he needed "white-glove butler service" like he needed a hole in the head. "This is going to be awesome!" she said.
He wasn't going to get into it with her. "Where did you need to go?" he asked, fingering the knife-edge crease in his stupid chauffeur pants.
"Oh, nowhere," she said airily. "I just wanted to see your face when I told you the news."
"Okay," he said, trying to remain calm. "Then excuse me. I need to go get some breakfast." He stalked toward the door, pretending he didn't hear her say something about room service.
There was no place in a five-block radius that sold coffee for under six bucks, let alone an affordable omelet or smoothie. He was going to be very hungry, living with a view of Central Park. Maybe he should just go on a hunger strike and see if that made her tear up his contract.
All of Mindy's mail and room service got delivered to his room now, because she had delusions of needing a bodyguard, so he had to go through everything and make sure it was all safe before walking it up one floor to her. She'd given him an unbelievable wad of cash so that he could tip all the delivery people, so much that at first he went through it like Monopoly money, like it didn't really count. He wised up by the end of the first month, even if she never did; she handed over a similar roll of bills whenever he dropped a hint.
He got to know that stairwell – which was surprisingly dingy – really well. That was his only real exercise most days, at least until he got the doors taken off one of the closets of his room and a punching bag installed.
The same check-in point at his door went for her guests, all of them male and all of them unbelievable dicks, even though the second and third bedrooms of her ridiculous suite had separate entrances and the hotel had provided her with a private butler whose salary probably depended on his discretion. Danny wondered sometimes if she just wanted him to see who she'd be screwing so that all of the sounds that filtered down to him through the vents had accompanying mental pictures.
It wasn't up to him to figure out if these guys were good enough for her – the answer was always no anyway – but a couple of them had at least looked a little intimidated by his glower and the fact that he always answered their late-night knocks with his boxing gloves looped around his neck.
He had no idea where she was finding these cheeseballs, or why she never seemed to figure out how useless they were until after she'd slept with them; not one of them lasted more than a single night.
Then again, neither had he.
"Ooh, fancy-schmancy!" Peter said, even though Danny had left his awful uniform in his room and pulled on jeans and a button-down before heading over while Mindy was on some date she'd been babbling about for three days, something about athletes in peak condition and thousands of screaming fans. Danny had determinedly tuned her out when she said something about crotcharazzi and wearing her cutest panties.
"It makes no sense," Jeremy complained. "If this Mindy wanted a touch of class, she should have acquired me, not Sweaty Pacino, and put me up at the Plaza to serve her every need."
"Ugh, gross," Danny said. "She's a pain in the ass, alright? Trust me, you're better off where you are."
"Ingrate," Jeremy said, managing to sound more Masterpiece Theatre with every syllable. "I look awfully dashing in a chauffeur's cap."
"Whatever, Jeeves," Danny said. "Wait, how did you know about the cap?"
"Bro, you're all over the internet," Peter said, sticking his phone under Danny's nose. "My sister loves this site, and it's like the only thing in my browser history now that she's staying with me. It's pretty good for the spank bank."
"What's a browser history?" Danny asked.
Jeremy rolled his eyes and sighed. Peter shook his head. "Never mind. Just take a look."
The screen on Peter's phone had some website up that looked like picture after picture of the people in all of the magazines Mindy subscribed to. Peter's finger scrolled the page up and when he stopped, Danny saw, to his shock, a picture of Mindy in her bright yellow coat – she was the only person he'd ever known who actually looked good in yellow – and oversized sunglasses, smiling at him as he closed the door behind her. His cab looked hideously pink in the picture, and the bright color only made his black uniform and cap all the more striking. How was that even legal, to have a picture of him on some website he'd never heard of?
"What is this?" he asked, and Peter smiled.
"I'll send you the link."
"Can we just play cards now?" Jeremy asked peevishly.
"Whatever, just deal," Danny said, wondering what he could do to get his picture taken down. He flicked on the TV to catch the game.
"Uh, bro," Peter said, three hands in, and Danny looked up and over at the TV when Peter pointed. There, on the screen, were Mindy and her date, making out like the beginning of a particularly good porno for the kiss cam. Danny watched, trying to see the parts of the guy's face that Mindy wasn't swallowing up, because it definitely looked like this guy had plans to stick around for more than one night, and he needed to recognize the guy when he came around next.
"Shut up!" Mindy said, sounding excited instead of appalled. "You saw me on the kiss cam and I'm in Go Fug Yourself?"
Danny put down the tray with her morning coffee and bear claws on the coffee table, but she ignored it in favor of turning on her iPad and syncing it to the giant flatscreen TV. "Oh my god," she breathed reverently when her picture came up. "I look amazing!"
Danny looked at the TV and saw that he was resolutely unsmiling. Good. Then he saw the text that went with the photo, in which he was called "Driver Danny" and there was speculation about what he'd look like if he ever smiled and how Mindy had "landed" him. The comments were full of unf and go, girl! and the whole thing was so mortifying that it took him a full minute to process that there had to be other pictures of him on that website. "Look, I have my own tag!" Mindy squealed, clicking a link at the bottom of the page, and there they were, dozens of photos: Mindy in every color of the rainbow and him always dour in his fucking uniform.
She was having too much fun to take any of this seriously, so he left her to it and went back down to his room. He went through the pictures on his ancient laptop, reading all of the text under each one. The girls who wrote the site seemed nice enough, even if they did talk about Mindy's clothes as seriously as if her fashion choices could bring about world peace, but the people who left comments weren't so restrained. About half of them took their cue from the site and said nice things about color choices and patterns – and him, like he was up for grabs – but the rest kept knocking her. Or at least that's what it sounded like when he worked out what all of the acronyms and slang meant. Some of them said she shouldn't be "out banging half the city" – which, it hadn't been that many, because she did have a very specific type – when she had "a piece like that" – that was supposed to be him, apparently – waiting at home. And some of them hated her for being a big girl who didn't skulk around in a muumuu to cover what they called her outsized ass.
That wasn't fair. That ass was the only thing he unequivocally liked about her.
Kiss Cam Dude kept Mindy busy for nearly a week, and Danny now knew what Mindy sounded like when she was faking it. Why this guy was worth it if he couldn't even give her an orgasm was beyond him, but he knew better than to tangle in her personal life.
He was just settling into the armchair by the window with the hardcover of Summer of '49 he'd spotted on the racks outside the Strand while Mindy and KCD had been scarfing down chocolate at Max Brenner when he heard shouting from her room. He'd heard just about all of her bedroom noises at this point, and that definitely wasn't in the repertoire.
He grabbed his key and took the steps three at a time. If that dickweed had laid a finger on her –
When he burst in, they both jumped a little, and then the douchebag made the grave tactical error of pretending like they didn't have an audience, a witness who could clearly see the tears on Mindy's face. Danny had to admit it was a little fun to catch the guy's arms behind his back and throw him bodily out of the suite.
When he came back, Mindy was still standing there, most likely in shock. "What'd he do?" he asked, kept asking even when all she did was shake her head. He wasn't gonna get anything coherent from her tonight, so he got his hand on her arm – how he managed to find bare skin with all the lace ribbons she had dangling off her arms, and how they were attached to the painful-looking bustier she was wearing were things he had no intention of investigating – and steered her to her bed. He shut the door behind himself and called down to the front desk to make sure the douchebag had left the hotel and that he would be denied entrance in the future, only to be told that Ms. Lahiri's guest had not come down to the lobby.
He slammed the phone down, cursing and wishing for a baseball bat. "Min –" he said, tapping gently at her bedroom door. "I'm gonna make sure he goes, okay?" He didn't get a response.
The douchebag wasn't loitering right outside the suite, and Danny took a moment to consider. He didn't really want to be running around the Plaza in just his pajama bottoms; heading back to his room for a shirt and shoes was probably the smart play. He probably should have figured that the asswipe would be waiting for him in the stairwell.
The guy slammed him back against the door so hard that even the echoes hurt, but Danny took the lead pretty quickly – good thing Mindy's type was boys built like pipe cleaners – and got a hand around the guy's throat. "Sweet little cash cow like that," the guy was saying, like he was a Bond villain determined to spill his whole plan, "why wouldn't I want to get in on that action? Should've figured you were already there. What'd she give you, huh?"
Danny flung the guy away from him like a rag doll, and the guy collapsed in a heap. Danny addressed his words to the blond spikes of hair on top of the pile. "She hasn't given me anything. You want something nice, you earn it."
"Big words," the douchebag said, panting.
"Here are some bigger ones," Danny said, crouching down and enunciating crisply. "You come near her again and I'll kill you."
His bruised back so didn't need this, but he tried to relax on the overstuffed couch in her living room; he always woke up before her, so he could sneak back down to his room in the morning without her ever knowing that he'd been there. Jamming a couple of throw pillows under his spine helped a little, but he just couldn't relax enough to sleep. He turned on the TV and quickly hit mute, scrolling through the listings; with a sigh of satisfaction, he landed on an in-progress re-airing of Baseball, and he was just in time to catch the beginning of "The 6th Inning," the one all about Jackie Robinson and World War II. PBS had to be having a pledge drive again. He sat all the way up, readjusted the throw pillows, and turned the volume up just loud enough to be audible.
Mindy appeared on the couch next to him halfway through the next episode, the one about the history of the game in New York. "Why are you here?" she asked.
"That guy – he was still hanging around, and I don't trust hotel security to handle him," Danny said.
"Oh," she said, ducking back down into her terrycloth robe. She actually looked nice in white; it was easier on the eye than the searing assaults of color she usually wore.
"I can go," he offered. She looked at him for a long moment.
"Yeah," she said, her face half-lit by the TV. "Thanks."
He'd thought he hated her ridiculous social life – there was always a clutch-purse store opening or a launch party for some upscale liquor that she had to get to, always in some new and outrageously expensive outfit – but she hadn't wanted to go anywhere for a week, and that was somehow worse. His mental map of Manhattan now had pins for good pastries, bags "to die for," and sample sales, where once it had simply been the food-carts with coffee for a buck and bathrooms that were most likely clean.
He'd gotten used to her weird little chirpy voice because she was seriously unrivaled as a motormouth and couldn't let anything go without extensive commentary. Now she was acting like she'd gone mute, and seriously, what was it about that guy that got this strong a reaction from her? She didn't need to change for anybody.
"Come on," he said. "We're going out."
She sighed, tucking her legs under her and continuing to stare fixedly out the window.
"I want to show you something," he said. "Get dressed and we'll go." He was fully prepared to pull that stupid robe off her and dress her in things that didn't match, and she must have seen it on his face, because she squeaked when he took one step toward her and raced for her bedroom.
He held the front door of the car open for her instead of the back. "Just get in," he said before she could argue. He'd thought it would be easier to keep an eye on her that way, but a week of gloomy stillness had gotten him to forget that she was a fidgeter, and that his preset radio stations were doomed.
"Ugh, Jersey rock, really?" was the first thing she said in about a week, and Danny laughed in relief and irritation.
"Yes, really. Leave it alone," he said, smacking her hand away from his radio.
She subsided, and he drove them first to a diner for pancakes – she hadn't been eating, and he'd ended up pulling her bear claws apart for the birds on his balcony four mornings straight – and then down to Brooklyn and across the Verrazano and into Staten. She went quiet in a different way – relaxed, peaceful – as he drove along the North Shore, past all the big Victorian houses.
It could have been a perfect moment, except that a John Cougar Mellencamp song came on just then; Mindy beat him to the punch and started twirling the tuner knob, cycling through a lot of terrible songs before settling on the worst one of all.
"Hey, Mindy –" Danny called, walking into her suite with her mail, a stack of magazines. He stopped and sniffed the air again. "Have you been smoking?"
"No, Dad," she said, but he swore he smelled smoke, and she was shockingly and wholly ignorant of any and all kitchen appliances, so she couldn't have been cooking anything. "Smoking's gross."
"Where'm I taking you today?" he asked.
"Why, do you have plans?" she parried back.
"I've got a poker game, but I could skip it," he said, considering. Peter would probably still be complaining about his sister taking over his apartment, and Jeremy would be oversharing about the bridesmaids he'd nailed at Tom's wedding.
"Let's just go somewhere normal and be anonymous," she said. "Give me an hour to get ready and then you can come back up."
"An hour?" he checked. He could get in a quick workout, shower, and still beat her.
"Actually, I'll text you when I'm ready. It might be more than an hour," she said. "I'm thinking a nice hot bath sounds like just the ticket."
"Fine," he said. He got back to his room, changed, and started nice and easy, just working the bag lightly, concentrating on his footwork more than his arms. He was breathing heavily when he heard the water sloshing; she must have gotten in the tub.
Her first moan was a quiet, breathy thing he barely caught between his own panting breaths. The second came with a small splash, and he abruptly realized that she was getting herself off ten feet above him, lying back in hot water and perfumed bubbles. He wanted, more than anything, to see.
He rested his forehead against the punching bag, his arms just pressing against it, and listened for every small sound, absently rubbing his dick against the bag when he remembered he could.
Anonymous Mindy wore a navy-and-pink raglan, jeans, and silver sandals with barely any heel to them. Her hair was in a low ponytail, bound by a thick silver coil, and her face was relaxed and smiling. She stood back and let him do the work of hailing a cab because, come on, she was still Mindy, but he was used to her being lazier than a well-fed cat sleeping in sunshine.
She looked inquiringly at him when the cabbie – not Jeremy or Peter, thank God – asked where they were going, so he named the burger joint where he'd taken Richie on his first visit back to the city.
The place hadn't changed much, and they managed to snag the scarred wooden table in the corner under the broken TV.
Mindy liked onion rings instead of fries and her burgers with barbecue sauce, Swiss, and bacon. "I could just eat these all day," she said happily, letting her burger go cold as she plowed through their second order of rings.
"Hey," he said, then took a long pull of his beer, "eat your burger."
"Can't," she said with her mouth full. "These are just too good."
"Let me try one," he said, and she pulled the basket closer to herself. "Come on – I'm paying for 'em, aren't I?" He hadn't seen any of her million and one purses all night.
"Actually," she said, drawing a bill slowly out of her cleavage, "Mama's buying."
The hundred-dollar bill was warm when he plucked it from her hand. "Stick this back in the Bank of Mindy," he said. "Tonight's my treat."
She smiled and tucked it away. "He's probably happier there. Benjy was a boob man."
Anyone would be when Mindy's was the rack in question, he thought, swallowing down the rest of his beer.
Danny was going to be smothered to death by Mindy's prodigious rack, and he had no complaints at all, not when her ass was filling his spread hands.
Her hands were gripping his headboard and her upper arms were clamped around his ears, so her voice came to him like they were underwater. "Danny, come on, Danny, yes, please, uhhhh," she said, chanting like it was a magic spell, and he pushed her back, gulped in a lungful of air, and pounded into her like he'd been imagining since he'd heard her alone in her bath.
"Were you thinking about me?" he asked. She bit his shoulder in response, her voice lost somewhere in her throat. "In your bath. Were you?" he repeated, with a thrust that pushed her half off the bed. She wound her legs around him so tightly he basically lost all feeling below the waist, and he heaved her back up, pulling her on top of him.
She rolled them again, clearly wanting him on top. "Tell me," he said, growling the words into the soft skin of her neck.
"Or what?" she asked on a gasp.
"Or," he said, doing a little biting of his own, because she deserved it, "I'll stop. I'll give you to the count of three." He was sure he remembered how to count to three – it couldn't be that hard, even with her pulsing around him and sucking on his earlobe. "One," he said, lifting her legs from his waist to his shoulders. "Two." He could get even deeper this way, and her voice registered her shock. She was going to snatch him bald any second now. "Three," he said, and her surprised cry as she came made it impossible for him to carry out his threat. "Four," he said, surrendering, his voice choked, as she came floating down from the high he'd given her.
She undulated her whole body luxuriously, glittering with triumph as he lost control, and said, "Yes."
Danny was sure that if she knew, she'd install mirrors on her ceiling, his ceiling, and the inside roof of his cab just to see for herself, so he never told her that she was unspeakably gorgeous when he was fucking her. All her makeup was smeared away, her skin glowing, and half the time he was afraid to look at her in case he said something he wasn't yet sure he meant.
The other half, he was a glutton, sucking on her skin, watching for every uncontrolled reaction when his fingers stroked the wet core of her, when he tested with his tongue just how wet he could get her.
This time, he had his face buried in her neck while she stroked him off, her grip sure and painfully slow, and he couldn't quite tell if he was going to come or go crazy first. "C'mon, c'mon," he said, and she let go.
"Wait," she said, pushing his shoulder down so he was flat on his back.
"What're you –?" he begged. He didn't need the sultry smile she shot him; he just needed her hand back on his dick. She was fully sitting up now, and he was frustrated as hell. "Get back here."
"Trust me," she said.
"Uh, was it the Italians who wrote the Kama Sutra? Nope, it was us."
He knew better than to respond, but he did it anyway. "Stop saying that like you personally were responsible."
"Duh, with reincarnation, I totally might have been," she said, finally sinking her sweet weight onto him and leaning back to hold her own ankles; her breasts were pointing up at the ceiling, where, come to think of it, he wouldn't exactly mind a mirror.
Mindy was inside Tiffany's, probably buying herself something just because it was a day that ended in Y, when his phone rang. Leaning against the cab, Danny stopped looking through the window at Mindy, who was gesturing at her chest, and the manager, who kept dropping his gaze to where she directed and then remembering how inappropriate it was for him to stare at a customer's rack – poor bastard – to see Shulman's name on the screen of his phone.
"Hey, Doc!" he said.
"Danny. It is so good to hear your voice." That was Shulman, uncomfortable and sincere and weird all at once.
"Everything okay?" he asked, rubbing at a smudge on one window with his sleeve.
"Yes. I was just calling because your contract is up in a few months, and I was wondering if Miss Lahiri had mentioned extending it, or if you would be free to return to us."
He looked up again at the plate-glass window and saw Mindy laughing at something the manager was saying, her hand on his arm. How had he forgotten that she basically owned him, down to the clothes he was wearing? He'd been so high and mighty, saying Mindy had given him nothing, but he'd been too stupid to recognize that the one-way street was going the other way, and she'd taken everything he'd given like it was her due. "No," he said, feeling numb and knowing he needed to get off the phone before he gave voice to any of his thoughts, "she hasn't said anything."
"Should I call her and ask her?" Doc asked.
"No, why don't you let me handle it," Danny said, disconnecting the call and tearing off his cap and jacket; he was abruptly spoiling for a fight, and even if he wasn't throwing any punches, it helped to dress like he was getting into the ring.
He was a fucking coward, and that was something he'd never known about himself. He was, because he stewed for a couple of hours and then made one desperate call to Peter, asking for his help.
He left Mindy a note claiming he had to attend to a family emergency – he prayed that Ma and Richie wouldn't be struck down for being the subject of his lies – and that Peter Prentice would fill in for him. He was a coward because he called Peter, who was even less her type than he was, and not Jeremy, who she'd eat up with a spoon.
Danny locked himself in Peter's apartment, ignoring Sally, who was intensely irritating, yes, but not in the way he'd become accustomed to, and tried to think about what he was accomplishing with this stupid plan. He was a coward for letting his phone ring whenever it started blaring "Single Ladies" and then listening to the voicemails Mindy left instead. She said she was worried about him, and that she wanted to help if she could.
He was a coward because, lying in Peter's bed at night, he still wanted Mindy more than he wanted to be free.
"I gotta tell you, bro, this Mindy chick is intense," Peter said. "She's holed up in her room, and she screamed like a vampire when I tried to open the curtains to let some light in. What happened, man? Were you givin' it to her good? Cause she's got the look of someone who's had her D-bone taken away."
Danny couldn't help the disgusted sound he made at that. Peter was so crude.
"Seriously, you two drama queens deserve each other," Peter continued, "but I gotta say I'm really gettin' jiggy with the room service menu here. They've got caviar, dog!"
"Who cares?" Danny shouted, his patience completely frayed. He thought by now he'd have a better handle on how he wanted to move forward.
"Maybe you could use some," Peter said. "Fish is supposed to be brain food, isn't it?"
He didn't need a brain, he needed guts. "I'm coming back," he heard himself say, and immediately felt better. Yes. He just had to take some action.
"You better make up with her. You've got a DTF chubster who's also kind of a hottie livin' large in the penthouse suite, and you could be up there with her."
"Thanks, Pe –"
"Plus, if you stay up there, I get a few more hours in this room, away from my evil sister. Go get 'er, bro!"
He still had the key to her suite, but he knocked on the door like a guest. She looked tired when she finally opened the door, and the sheets wrapped around her only added to his impression that he'd dragged her out of bed. "Danny!" she said. "How's your family? Why didn't you ever call me back? What's –?"
"I don't want to work for you," he said, "and I know if I break my contract, I've got no car and no money, but I don't care."
Her hand stole up and tugged on a chain she wore around her neck. "You want to get away from me that badly?" she asked.
"No!" he said, wondering how he'd managed to say it all wrong. "I want to stay. I just can't be – both. Not anymore, because I don't know where one begins and the other one ends."
She held a hand up to stop him. "There's no both. I burned your contract the day after you took me out to Staten Island."
Staten had been before she'd pulled him into bed a second time, before he'd even realized that was where he wanted to be. "You did?"
"Without setting off the smoke detector?" he asked, getting his arms around her waist.
She fought him off. "I'm not an idiot, Danny. You don't get to doubt me."
"I'm sorry," he said, meaning it.
"You better be," she grumped, but there was a smile behind it now.
"Can I come in?" he asked, and slung her over his shoulder when she nodded. He bypassed her bedroom – he wasn't about to give Peter the free show the acoustics made possible – and dumped her on the bed in the third bedroom. Her hair was a wreck but she was beaming at him, so bright it was like she'd flipped some internal switch that would let her glow in the dark. He straddled her and tugged gently at the sheet, unwrapping her like she was every Christmas gift he'd had rolled into one, and she stretched her arms over her head luxuriously, already panting for his touch.
There was something sparkling between her breasts, rising and falling with each of her quick, eager breaths – a pendant, custom-made, it had to be, because its tiny diamonds spelled out the call-sign of his cab: M4DC. He tugged her up by the chain, and she kissed him like an onslaught. When they fell from the bed to the floor, they were still joined at the mouth.
He tossed the uniform, but she insisted on keeping the cap, hanging it on one of her bedposts. It looked better on her than it ever had on him.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.
This same entry also appears on Dreamwidth, at http://innie-darling.dreamwidth.org/443583.html.