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Surrounded and Against a Wall

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“Emma! Can you come in here please?” Betsy called from the kitchen, her tone indicating that the blonde was in trouble. The sound alone nearly made the blonde drop the pizza tray in her hands, spinning around and scrambling to the back room. She skidded through the kitchen doors, grinning from ear to ear at her grandmother, despite knowing that the older woman was probably not entirely happy with her in that moment. She was stood at the counter, stacks of money in front of her that definitely weren’t all from selling pepperoni pizza to college students that managed to wander their way through the kitchen, “Emma your tills were off again, and it wasn’t because of Barry’s deposit. Did you take any money out?”

“Grandma I-” Emma started, ready to defend herself, but with one simple ‘don’t mess with me’ look from the other woman, her composure melted and she ducked her head as if she were ten and her father had caught her stealing cookies again, “I just needed to borrow some so I could afford some... extra expenses.” She peeked up from beneath her hair to see if her grandmother had softened any, but Betsy was still stone faced and glaring down at her. How did she tell her grandmother that she took the money so she could buy a new outfit so she didn’t look like she’d just rolled out of bed when she went to formal events? “It was for a new suit. My one I wore to dances in high school fits weird. It’s-I can put the money back, I was going to go after work.”

As she reached into her pocket to pull out the money hand return it to the stack, an arm reached out to stop her. She looked up and met her grandmother’s eyes with an apologetic look, only to find Betsy looking down at her with a loving look. “You could have just asked Emma, you know that I’ll give you money if you need it. I just don’t want you running off with it for a drug deal. Or another weapons deal without my permission, again,” she gave the other girl a look that was the perfect mix of a boss and a parent and it made Emma’s face burn with embarrassment. She was being scolded by both in one mix, as Barry just watched on like it was nothing.

“I promise, it was just for a new suit and some shoes. There’s an event up at the college that I got invited to, my friend’s art gallery opening, and it’s a formal thing. I-I swear I’ll be careful and I’ll pay back any of the money that I spend out of my tips this month,” her stammering wasn’t helped any when Alyssa Greene wandered through the kitchen doors, clearly looking for the front of the restaurant and Emma’s brain fried. Her grandmother saw the girl and quickly swept the money off of the counter and into the ‘bank deposit bag’ that would be less noticeable, nodding toward the front of the restaurant so Emma could get back into customer service mode. The blonde however was still stunned into silence, a dumb smile on her face as Alyssa wandered past her.

“Emma will be right up to give you a menu,” Barry offered, motioning toward the door before stepping on Emma’s foot and shocking her back into reality. She shot the older man a look before scurrying past Alyssa and holding the door open for her.

“Thanks Emma, I haven’t seen you since ‘42,” Alyssa chuckled, slipping through the doors and wandering to a table where her friends were seated. Emma didn’t know what had come over her, but she hadn’t seen Alyssa in years, and here she was, just waltzing into the pizzeria as if it was nothing. As if they had been nothing. Emma felt her heart strings start undoing themselves, her thoughts cloudy, as if being a lesbian in this day and age wasn’t bad enough.

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“Grandma, I don’t think you understand why this job is a bad idea. You can’t just sell my services without my conse-”

“Emma Rose Nolan, I will do just that until you learn that in this business there is no ‘bad idea’ when it comes to work unless it gets you maimed or murdered. Now, I know you had that art gallery or whatever, but this is more important,” Betsy wasn’t going to take no for an answer, when she’d committed to a job, she was an unstoppable force. She watched as Emma stormed across the kitchen and launched the pizza pan into the sink with all her strength, “I will not take no for an answer. I already told Veronica that you would be there at seven.”

“And you aren’t going to possibly even give me a say in this? I told Carrie that I was going to be there, she’s expecting me,” Emma shouted, not caring that any customers wandering through the kitchen could probably hear her. She’d been planning on going to Carrie’s art exhibit for a month and a half, she’d even borrowed money from the store to buy her suit. But with one fell swoop a Greene had ruined her plans once again. She glared at her grandmother before her shoulders slumped and she went toward the phone to warn Carrie that she had to cancel. “I just don’t think its fair that the Greene family is still even allowed to hire me for my services after what Alyssa did.”

“I don’t care about personal issues you might have with the daughter. Veronica is paying you a grand for the night and you’re going to do your job as best you can. Anything she asks of you, I mean it Emma,” Betsy knew that a grand was more than Emma usually made on a job in a single night, and it was definitely something that would sway the blonde to finally caving. “I know it sounds like I’m running a brothel when I talk to you like this, but this isn’t something you can opt out of at this point Emma. If Veronica Greene needs a security detail for the night, she’s going to hire the best. Even if the best has a history with her daughter.”

“You couldn’t send Dee Dee?” Emma grumbled, crossing her arms, “Why does it have to be me? Why don’t I get to go on like a business excursion or something for once? Why am I always the muscle?” 

“Dee Dee is good with guns. Barry is my right hand man, he stays by me. Angie? Angie is for when we need sultry, she’s our quick kill. Trent can talk circles around anyone. You know that you’re the muscle. If you found someone else we could trust enough that could do the muscle work as well as you then maybe I could give you a night off but until then, it’s just us six,” Betsy glanced around before moving to lock the kitchen door, flipping the sign around to say they were closed for a break. “Now, you know where the Greene’s live. You’re too meet them at their back door and Veronica or Alyssa will explain from then on. If you’re walking then you’ll need to leave soon, but if you want I’ll let you borrow the motorbike so you look... more impressive, when you pull up.” There was a glint in Betsy Nolan’s gaze that told Emma there was more to her wanting Emma to take the bike. 

Snagging the keys off of the hook, she shot a smile at her grandmother, “Fine. But if I come home and the Greene’s never hire you again, it’s not my fault.” She threw a cheeky grin before darting out of the kitchen when she heard Betsy tell her to behave. She jogged all the way to the garage, excited to have the green beauty all to herself. She was expected at seven for God knows what, and it was currently only six fifteen, meaning she could just take a quick joyride, let out any frustrations she might have a little preemptively.

God only knew what the night would bring her.

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Emma rode and didn’t take into account her surroundings. She knew that if she stopped riding she would think about what her night was going to be filled with and who she’d have to spend it with. Alyssa Greene was bad enough when she plagued Emma’s thoughts during the day, but to have to spend her entire night with the girl that shattered her heart? That was almost torture, and she knew her grandmother knew exactly what kind of torture it was. “A job is a job, Emma,” she reminded herself, rolling her eyes as she took a sharp corner and came face to face with the Starlight Diner. Hesitating as she parked outside, she wondered what it would be like to just pull a stunt inside and never leave again. It seemed dramatic, but something in her genuinely didn’t want to spend the night playing security guard for her ex-girlfriend.

“Oh no, don’t you come strolling in here,” A voice scolded as soon as she walked through the door. Her head snapped up and she found herself staring at Dee Dee Allen, another employee of her grandmother. Dee Dee didn’t have to do the boring work of being at the pizzeria however, she came with a shiny secondary location in case they ever needed to move and shut down the pizza joint. “You have a job tonight and I’m not having you shrug it off on Marcus or Brittany tonight. Your grandma warned me you might com in here,” The shrill older woman crossed her arms across her chest and planted a firm glare on her face as Emma just sauntered up to the counter, ignoring her.

“Dee Dee, I’m going to the job. I just don’t know if I exactly want to spend the night with the girl that broke my heart, even if she spared herself the trouble of learning about Grandma’s work,” Emma’s voice was soft, not wanting anyone to eavesdrop, despite the diner being empty.  She wouldn’t admit it to anyone, but she missed Alyssa dearly despite knowing what keeping the brunette around would’ve done. She felt that stupid twinge of guilt hit her heart harder and harder each time she had to spend more than five minutes in the same room as Alyssa, and tonight was going to be like someone was stabbing her in the chest.

“I think you’re being childish. You know that whether she left you or you left her, it was stupid to try and bring a relationship into the picture when you’re in this business. Her mother is so close with the police, who knows what she could’ve put in their ear had she found out,” Dee Dee leaned on the counter, watching as a glass of something dark was slid down to where Emma was seated. “Working a security detail is the best way to throw off suspicions so that she’ll forget this summer.”

Summer. The lake incident where Emma let herself feel something for someone a little too much. Her grandma called it her ‘first botched job’ but she couldn’t even really consider it a job when she had just been trying to go on a date with her girlfriend. She hadn’t expected the target, or her father, to show up in the same location as her picnic. She didn’t know what had hurt more, seeing the barrel of a gun pointed at her, or seeing Alyssa leave her in the middle of nowhere, miles from town. She’d called after her, after her father, hoping either of them would have some semblance of a heart to help her. “Dad! Lys! Anyone?!” Her voice had been hoarse and nearly gone by the time a passerby finally found her, laying amongst the brush, nearly unconscious from a combination of blood loss and the contusion on her forehead. Emma buried her head in her hands as she remembered every bruise on her body and her heart that still hadn’t fully healed. “Dee Dee, I didn’t intend for that to happen. You need to know that, and I would’ve kept Alyssa as far removed from all of this as I could. But you can rest assured that I will not let my heart get in the way of a job again. We lost too much because I let myself believe in love, and I refuse to let Grandma lose anyone else because of me.” She slammed back her drink and nodded her head to Dee Dee, not letting on as she exited the Starlight just how worried she was that her heart would betray her again.

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Pulling up outside of the Greene house, Emma whispered to herself in an attempt to gain whatever courage she could, “They know you’re coming, they wouldn’t have requested this if they didn’t want you here.” Smoothing her shirt over her stomach, taking a moment to fiddle with the top button before she undid it and knocked on the back door. Taking in the deepest breath she could muster, her eyes fluttered closed for a brief moment before flying back open as the door creaked open. “Alyssa,” She greeted, giving her a tense, but cordial smile, “My grandmother said my services were needed tonight, is your mother home?”

“You can stop trying to be all business like,” Alyssa sighed, rolling her eyes before turning back into the house and calling out, “Mother? Your security is here for the night.” She gave Emma a tight smile, waiting for her mother to come from wherever in the house she was, as if she wished anyone but Emma were there, “I don’t see why a simple dinner event needs some lowlife as security, but my mother insisted. Keep your hands to yourself, and do not think about it.” Emma furrowed her brow, mood dampening as she wondered why Alyssa was being genuinely cruel, her heart knowing that it was brought on by the events that she’d been put through. The single time that Alyssa had ever said the word love to her replayed in Emma’s head, heart aching as she tried to figure out why she had been dealt the cards she held in her hand. She shook off her negative aura as Veronica Greene came up behind her daughter with a brighter smile than Emma had ever seen.

“Mrs. Greene, a pleasure as always,” Emma greeted with a soft smile, willing herself to make a good impression on the woman.

“Likewise, Miss Nolan. I expected your grandmother to assign your father to us, as she usually would,” Mrs. Greene hummed in thought, “but she when said that he was no longer in town, I thought who better than the woman he raised.” There was something behind her eyes that made Emma trust her a little less, but without any real way to get out of the job, she could only nod as she waited for instructions as to where to meet them, if she should follow their car. “We will be attending a dinner down past the train tracks, with the Boomer family and a few others. Some of the attendees are less savory, kind of like you, so we wanted to have someone to keep an eye out for anything suspicious and potentially dangerous. You know about the various ‘mobs’, I assume? They’re mostly rumored, but one can never be too careful. Especially when someone like Alyssa or myself are involved.”

Emma had to fight back a scoff at the mention of mobsters, knowing that if she gave too much reaction something might give her away. However, she couldn’t help but feel like she’d been slapped when she was insulted, eyes hardening and gaze shifting to Alyssa, to see if there was any reaction to be had. What she found was the brunette’s gaze shifting to her mother with a shocked expression before she went blank once more. “I understand. The mob is entirely a rumor, however I know about the less wealthy families that live beyond the train tracks. We can’t all be as fortunate as others, but don’t worry. I won’t let any ties I might have with them through school or family connections get in the way of my duties of protecting you and Alyssa ma’am. I uh- I will follow you on my motorbike? Keep an eye out on anything that might be an outside threat as you make your way? That way it will just appear as if I’m going to my home, and you both will not have to be forced to make small talk.” She gave a tight smile before moving toward her bike, “I don’t know what you are paying my grandmother, but please know that I would do this job for free.” Her voice was soft, knowing that it was fueled by the pain in her heart.

“I know,” Alyssa’s voice responded, Emma turning to find that Mrs. Greene had gone back inside, leaving Alyssa at the top of the steps, watching Emma curiously,“and I’m sorry about my mother’s choice of words, she doesn’t know how to treat others sometimes.”

Emma studied her for a long moment before nodding and climbing onto her bike, “Miss Alyssa Greene, I’ve missed your kind heart. Please know that whatever history is between us, I have no harsh feelings towards you.”

“Neither do I towards you Miss Nolan,” Alyssa’s voice was barely audible as Emma started the bike. So quiet that Emma wasn’t sure that she’d heard it correctly, but before long she was heading back through the alleyway, around the corner to wait for the Greene car to take off. Usually on jobs like this she would ride alongside the driver, but something told her it was better she follow behind. Whether it was because she didn’t want Alyssa to be seen with her, or because she genuinely worried about the pair going past the tracks she wasn’t sure. All she knew was that there was a feeling in her stomach that wouldn’t go away, and she wished with her entire heart that it would.

The job went smoothly for the most part, despite the unnerving glares that Nicholas Boomer and Amanda Klein gave her when she arrived. She hadn’t expected the Klein or Gonzales’ families to be at the event, although she shouldn’t be surprised since they had not only money, but power in the town. Joseph Gonzales was the Chief of Police in Edgewater, and being in the same room as him unnerved Emma on a whole new level. There was something about the way he studied her when she would interact with Alyssa, mostly to remind her or reassure her that things were under control. At one point toward the end of the night, after he had made his exit and the rest of the room was filled with the adults closer to her own age, Emma felt Alyssa begin dragging her out to the balcony.

“Alyssa, I don’t think your mother would li-” Emma’s chastising was cut off by the brunette’s lips on her own, eyes growing wide for a brief moment before she let herself sink back against the building and return the kiss eagerly. She didn’t know what had changed between the way Alyssa presented herself early in the day and now, but she wasn’t going to complain.

As the kiss broke, Alyssa grinned at her, words slightly slurred as she spoke, “I’ve been waiting to do that all night. I-I’ve missed you Emma, more than I can say.”

“Alyssa, are you drunk? Because I will not kiss a lady if she cannot properly consent to it,” Emma studied her for a moment before pulling her into a gentle hug, resting her chin on the crown of Alyssa’s head, “I have missed you as well, my dear. I am terribly sorry I put you in danger, and I would never let it happen again, but I thought you hated me terribly.”

“I could never hate you, Emma,” Alyssa mumbled against her chest, wrapping one arm around the blonde’s neck and the other grabbing a fistful of her shirt. “I was just scared and I’m still scared. I don’t know what you are, or who you are. And the sight of you all bloody and near death still gives me nightmares. I wasn’t lying when I told you I loved you that day.”
“And I wasn’t lying when I said I would protect you, no matter the cost,” Emma whispered, pressing a kiss to Alyssa’s forehead before pushing them both off of the wall, “We should get you home however, so I can make good on my promise to you. We can discuss this more when you’re rested and sober. Will you come by the diner?” As they walked back off the balcony, Emma ignored the looks that Kaylee and Shelby gave them, eyes studying Alyssa and her smudged lipstick in the light.

As she wandered back to the Starlight after she made sure the Greene’s got home safe, she couldn’t help but let a goofy smile cross her face, lipstick still staining her own lips and cheek as she chatted the night away with people she felt she could trust with anything.

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As the bell dinged above the entrance to the Starlight, Marcus’s eyes were drawn to the beautiful brunette that passed through, clearly looking for someone. He mustered up the most charming smile he could and hopped over the counter to greet her, knowing that if it wasn’t just him and Jules here cooking there would be consequences for putting his feet on the counter. “Can I help you find someone Miss?” He asked, feeling a little more comfortable asking as no one else seemed to be with her. His comfort soon ran out however as he found himself staring at the barrel of a gun within moments of his approach, “I-Or not. I’m terribly sorry for coming into your space, you just appeared to be searching for someone.”

“I’m looking for Emma Nolan,” She stated simply, not dropping the gun even a centimeter as she awaited an answer. Her curls framed her face beautifully and something in Marcus found him comparing this scene with being greeted by an angel. “If you tell me where I can find her, I’ll let you live.” Patiently, she waited as Marcus tried to find words once more, pulling back the hammer and smirking. He didn’t know what to tell her, he had no idea where Emma would be at this hour, probably her home but despite working for the Nolan’s, Marcus had never been there. He had no answers, and he feared in his heart what it could mean for him.

“I-” He started before hearing a crash from the kitchen and seeing Barry round the corner with a gun of his own, a rifle, pointed at the mysterious woman. Taking the chance, he bolted to the back half of the restaurant, trying to get as far from the weapons as possible when he didn’t have one of his own. It wasn’t that he was scared, he would never admit to that, he just simply wasn’t in a fair fight. With Barry involved, he no longer had to be.

“You don’t want to be here,” the older man warned, gaze hardening as he took two steps forward, watching as the girl’s resolve cracked ever so slightly. She couldn’t be much older than Marcus, or even Emma. Barely over her teen years, and thrown into a hunt for Emma could only mean one or two things. Either the blonde had made a promise she couldn’t keep, or she’d made an enemy along the way. “I don’t know who you are, or what you want with Emma, but she isn’t here and I’m not the person you’d want to find in her place.”
“Threatening me? Old man, you wouldn’t murder me if you had a reason. You’re soft, Barry Glickman,” Her voice taunted him, daring him to fire at her. Something in her saw right to the part of him that didn’t know why he got into this business in the first place. The slight fear the tinged her emotions didn’t stop her from taking a confident step forward, tightening her grip on the gun, “If you were going to shoot me you would have from the start when I was threatening the boy. Now I will ask again, where is Emma Nolan?”

Barry felt a part of himself die a little at the predicament that he was in. He either had to fire and break one of Dee Dee’s rules, or he had to break an oath he took. He knew what he had to choose, but there was still something holding him back. As the woman took a step forward however, he found his trigger finger itching, that one last notion in him to choose option two fading away before he aimed at the door behind her and fired, just barely nicking her shoulder, “I said, you don’t want to be here. I suggest you leave before the lady who’s window I just shattered gets here, she won’t care about dirtying the floors a little more.” He watched as she bolted from the diner, making sure she was gone before he grabbed the phone off the wall and rapidly began dialing the number for the pizzeria.

“Nolan’s Pizza, Brittany speaking.”

“Brittany, it’s Barry. I need you to put Betsy on the phone please,” His voice was hurried, heart beating far too rapidly for his liking. He listened to the shuffle of the phone and the distant calling for Betsy, saying it was an emergency on the phone. When he was sure that Betsy was on the other end, he spoke, “Betsy. Someone’s put a hit out on Emma.”

“Barry, are you sure?”

“What do you mean, am I sure? I just had a very pretty, very dangerous woman in here holding Marcus at gunpoint. There is no glass in the diner door anymore, and blood on my floor. I left her alive, as a warning. But yes, I am sure,” Barry had no idea why Betsy would even question him, but he could hear the panic rising in her voice as she called for Brittany to go find Emma.

“Clean up there and shut it down. We need to have a meeting. The Bar, two hours from now. No tagalongs. I’ll send out the word to everyone else.” With that the line went dead, and Barry set forward to clean up, signaling for Marcus to grab a board from the back to put up over the broken window so that they weren’t going to be robbed blind while they were away.

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“Grandma, why do we have to have a meeting? Why are you acting like something bad happened?” Emma wasn’t exactly excited about having to drop what she was doing to go across town to the bar. She knew that her grandmother wouldn’t have called a meeting unless it was important, “I was waiting to meet with Alyssa, we’re supposed to... talk. About things.” She knew her grandmother wasn’t an idiot, and she had definitely seen Emma sneak back into the house after her job with the Greene’s with lipstick still on her face. She hadn't said anything, but Emma could tell by the look on her face that she definitely knew.

“You can see Alyssa later, she should already know that what we do isn’t something she can come to, and she should know that the family business needs to come before any fling that you might have with that girl. You almost caused a lot of problems this time, and with what the purpose of our meeting is I would really like to protect anyone innocent from being hurt,” Betsy didn’t leave any room for commentary as she opened the back door of the bar, letting Emma in first and locking it behind her. “Everyone else should already be waiting for us, Barry will be taking the lead for the meeting. I expect you to listen to him and be respectful.”

“Yeah, I know Grandma,” Emma groaned, stalking into the main room and throwing herself dramatically onto the couch that was in the middle of the room. She looked over to where Marcus was seated, seeing him looking absolutely terrified to even make eye contact with her and a knot formed in the pit of her stomach. This was serious. She sat up straighter and looked to Barry, “What happened?”

“Emma,” He started, taking a deep breath and crossing his arms over his chest, “Have you made any deals or promises to someone that you weren’t able to keep?” There was a sense of hesitation in his voice, like he knew more than he was letting on about Emma’s personal life.

“No?” Emma responded but it was more of a question than a sure answer, “The only person I made a promise to is the girl currently en route to the pizzeria to meet me. I also promised Carrie I’d go to her art show, but I got sent out on a job. She understood, and she’s definitely not part of anything shady. She’s an art student. Why are you asking?” Every part of Emma wanted to run, to escape whatever type of interrogation she was being put through, but she knew that it wouldn’t do any good.

“I’m asking because it seems like someone’s put a hit out on you. We’re going to have to up security on the pizzeria and the bar. They’ve already compromised the di-”

“What do you mean someone put a hit out on me? I don’t talk to anyone. I couldn’t have possibly made any enemies in the past year, let alone the past week. Are you sure that it’s on me? Dee Dee is always out there being loud and making issues. I haven’t seen Angie in a week either, how do we know it’s not just her?” Emma felt her defense fly up, body tensing as her grandmother sat down beside her and wrapped her arms around the young woman.

“Emma,” Betsy sighed, rubbing her arm and giving a sad smile, “The woman that approached them in the diner was asking for you specifically. I promise we aren’t just assuming its you, we know its you. That’s why I don’t think you should be with Alyssa right now, and that’s why-”
“What if they go to the diner again? Or worse, what if they’re at the pizzeria when Alyssa gets there tonight? Alyssa doesn’t know what’s going on they could hurt her,” Emma felt the panic rise in her chest, wanting to bolt across the town to call Alyssa ahead of time and tell her not to come, to meet at the bar instead, but the steely grip that Betsy had on her was keeping her firmly in place. “Please, Grandma. What if they hurt her? You didn’t want someone innocent hurt but you’re letting the risk be there.”

“Alyssa is smart enough that if the diner is closed she’ll leave. She’ll come back tomorrow. Or, you can go see her tonight with Barry or Angie. Only on the condition of you telling her it isn’t a good idea for you two to see each other,” Betsy looked over to where the rest of the group was sitting silently, all of their faces a mixture of confusion and irritation at the idea of it all. “I’d send you with Trent, but he’s so new, I don’t even know if he knows how to use a gun yet.” She threw in the joke, seeing Trent out of the corner of her eye.

“I’ll have you know I studied how to use it, I just haven’t had a chance to use it yet so I’m not sure if I have the method entirely do-”

“Fine, I’ll take Trent with me, but I’m not going to run the risk of an innocent person getting hurt because of me. Because if someone did put a hit out on me, then I need to be seen with her as little as possible. I’m going to bring her here when it’s dark and I won’t tell her... a lot. But enough so she knows that it’s not safe for us to be public.” As the rest of the meeting continued on, she felt herself zoned out, not caring much beyond the growing fear that Alyssa might get hurt. She was less concerned about her own well being, she knew how to defend herself.