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The whole fuckbuddy thing didn’t work, Rich muses as he picks shards of heart from the porch mat, because neither of them really wanted it to. Distracted by the memory of her chest when she cried, he manages to jam one sliver deep in his palm.

It was an arrangement founded not on lust but on greed: he and Allany were perfectly capable of orgasms alone. They wanted the treasure map, the kernel hack, the shortcut to unearned intimacy. Cruelty turns out to be as quick a path as sex.

Rich tugs the sliver from his hand. It bleeds; he doesn’t.