“What’s the best memory you have of her? Tell me in detail.” Lucy was sat in the sofa, her feet being massaged by Bobby while Bethany knelt before her, carefully applying glossy red nail polish onto her nails.
Trev stood ahead, eyes glossed over, deep in trance. “My eighteenth birthday. We went to the arcade. James was there with Libby, before they were a couple. Tiff, Josh, and Alice were there.”
“I remember you telling me about it…” Lucy mused. “My mother wouldn’t let me come visit you as I was still in highschool. You were a freshman there.”
“Alice challenged me to a match on almost everything in the arcade. We played games for hours and won thousands of tokens. She won with more than me at the end. With the combined tokens we got the lava lamp and Xbox controller I wanted.”
“I remember that…” Alice said. She was behind the sofa, massaging Dillon’s shoulders as he sat next to Lucy. He was listening with interest to Trev’s story as he sipped on his whisky, occasionally looking back to see Alice’s reactions. Alice was trying to hide her nerves. She was waiting for her moment to turn the tables on Lucy, and she couldn’t help but wonder what had become of Tiffany and Erin. Did they actually manage to escape their fate as Alice had intended, or was one of them lying at the bottom of a river while the other trudged back a broken shell of a person?
And if they were free, would they come back at all? It occurred to Alice that the best way for them to protect themselves was to leave town. Run. Disappear. Her mind furiously played out all the scenarios in her head, all while she did her best to pay attention to what was happening before her.
Trev continued in his dull, tranced tone. “At the end of the night, just when we were parting ways, we hugged, and I wanted so badly to kiss her. She told me that my girlfriend was a lucky girl, and that I’m a great guy.”
“So you didn’t kiss her?” Lucy asked, her fiery gaze piercing into Trev.
“No,” Trev replied. “I didn’t kiss her.”
“But you wanted to,” Lucy said sourly.
“Unbelievable…” Lucy made to clench her fist, but her freshly painted nails gave her pause. Instead, she gripped the arm rest until her fingers were white. “All the times you told me there was nothing going on between you two…”
Dillon snorted in amusement, catching Lucy’s attention.
“You have something to say?” she asked, her head shooting in his direction. She waved away Bobby and Bethany, both of them retreating a few feet then waiting patiently.
“Sure, I’ll bite.” Dillon gave her a scrutinizing look before taking a large gulp of his whisky. “Are you really upset that he wanted to kiss Alice, even though he never did?”
“Of course!” Lucy frowned. “It proves what I suspected all along, that he was unfaithful to me!”
“No offense Lucy, but you’re fucking crazy!” Dillon laughed. His words were slightly slurred at this point, and he moved so energetically that his whisky nearly spilled more than once.
“Fuck you!” Lucy snapped. “I’m not crazy!”
“Deluded, then…” Dillon scoffed in amusement as he got to his feet. “You know I despise this fucker, right?!” He slapped his arm around Trev’s shoulder and pressed the whisky glass against his jaw. “But I’m man enough to admit it’s because I’m jealous of him.” He turned and whispered to Trev. “It’s true you know… Don’t tell anyone…” He then faced Lucy and pointed at her accusingly. “You…. You either don’t know what unfaithfulness is, or you’re lying to yourself.”
Lucy stared at him, her expression becoming more and more angry. “Get your hands off him,” she said in a cold, threatening voice.
Dillon, smiling broadly, nevertheless removed himself from Lucy’s mindlessly static boyfriend. “Don’t you get that Trev here wanting to kiss Alice and not making a move on her is faithful as fuck to you?! You were, what, in a long distance relationship at the time, barely seeing each other? Were you even putting out when you did meet up? I’m going to put my money on a big fat ‘No’.”
“That’s none of your business,” Lucy replied icily.
Dillon burst out laughing again. “So that’s a no if ever I heard one… Yet my man Trev here stayed faithful to you!” Dillon’s arm was around Trev’s shoulder again. When Lucy opened her mouth to protest, Dillon cut her off. “No! No, he did!” He turned to whisper to the tranced out Trev. “You did, man, you did.” He returned his attention back to Lucy. “It’s easy to resist temptation when there’s none around, Lucy… The fact that he wanted to kiss Alice and never did speaks a shitton of how faithful he was. How can you not see it that way?”
Lucy sat with her arms crossed, moodily.
“At the end of the day, they chose each other.” Dillon shrugged, motioning to Alice and Trev. “We’re assholes for hijacking that, but I don’t care if I’m an asshole. I take what I want. No fucking apologies!” With his last gesticulation, some whisky flew out of his glass and landed on the sofa next to Lucy. “Whoops! Sorry.”
Alice had been watching the interaction with great interest. She couldn’t help but gaze at Dillon in admiration as Lucy’s silent, stewing anger signaled that she had no counter argument to offer up. Even slightly drunk as he was, he easily bested Lucy’s argument. Fuck, he was sexy when he got all riled up and passionate... She ached to have him bend her over the sofa she stood behind and jackhammer her until her legs gave way. If her needs weren’t met soon, she would have to drag him to the spare bedroom and have her way with him... Except no, Ross was in there… Gross! Bathroom, then….She gripped the sofa tightly in frustration.
“But look, I’m not judging or anything,” Dillon said after waiting a long time for Lucy’s reply. “It’s just my two fucking cents. I tell it how it is, I’m not going to bullshit you.”
“Alright,” Lucy said dismissively. Then a devious glint came into her eye. “How about we ask Alice what her favorite memory of Trev is?”
“Go for it!” Dillon invited. “This should be good.”
Alice frowned at them both. If they thought she was going to-
“Alice, drop into a trance for me now,” Lucy said bluntly.
Not fair, Alice thought as she felt every other thought slip away like water down a drain. Her eyes glossed over and her vice-like grip on the sofa relaxed.
“Good. Now, Alice, previous programming notwithstanding, tell me the best memory you have of Trev.”
“I was failing a class in freshman year,” Alice stated emotionlessly. “It was the one class I had with Trev, and when I told him I needed a B to avoid flunking, he stayed with me for an entire weekend cramming. He fed me, studied with me, slept on the sofa, played games with me, and kept me from freaking out and going on a self-destructive night out. We crammed all weekend and we both got As in the final. When I thanked him, he just laughed and said that he wouldn’t have passed either if not for me. Then he said…” Alice paused for a slight moment, as if letting the memory fully upload to her mind. “That I had infinite potential, and that I deserved the world.”
After a few moments of silence, Dillon snorted. “Is that it?”
Dillon laughed, turning to Lucy. “Are we sure Trev isn’t actually gay?”
Lucy scowled, before snapping, “Alice, excluding tonight, what’s your best memory of Dillon?”
“There was one morning when I woke up and he’d brought me a bowl of cereal.” Alice remarked in the same empty tone. “After I thanked him, he told me how he wanted to go straight, change his life, give up dealing and make something of himself. He said he’d do it all for me and take care of me from then on. I felt like we might have had a future.”
Again, Alice went silent. This time Dillon was silent too. Lucy smirked and, not hiding her gloating tone, added, “And how long did this change last for?”
“Until that evening.”
“What happened that—“
“Enough!” Dillon snapped, his jovial nature having turned into a brooding scowl. “Why don’t we ask Trev what his best memory of you happens to be? I bet it’s fucking lame…”
“No,” Lucy replied, her own amusement fading.
“Because it is fucking lame, isn’t it?” Dillon mocked.
“It’s not… It’s just private...” Lucy muttered.
“We’ll then don’t fucking invade my privacy again, alright?” Dillon barked at her. “Wake Alice up.”
Lucy hesitated, but seeing how upset Dillon was, decided to comply. “Alice, wake up,” she ordered.
Alice’s eyes flickered as awareness returned to her. She instantly detected the sudden animosity between Lucy and Dillon.
Dillon shook his head, a bitter expression on his face. “Expecting everyone to be nice to you when you go around being a bitch is fucking deluded. You might pull that bullshit on other people, but you’re not pulling it on me, okay?”
Alice watched in silence as the two of them stared in animosity for a few moments. The stare was so intense, so charged, Alice wasn’t sure if they were about to hit each other or start fucking again.
Finally, Lucy broke the silence. “Are you done?” she asked coldly.
“For now.” Dillon scowled, before wandering off to the kitchen to heat himself up a slice of pizza and pour another drink.
“Good,” Lucy muttered at him before turning her attention back to Trev. “Trevor, all of the positive feelings you have from your best memory of Alice are now feelings you associate with me, not Alice. Is that clear?”
“Yes,” Trevor replied blankly.
“Your memory of Alice on that day is now a memory of me on that day. You will remember that I turned up at the arcade, surprising you since you thought I wasn’t coming, and Alice didn’t show at all that day. She didn’t even apologize for not making it. Clear?”
Alice knew better than to make a resentful comment about what Lucy was doing, even though she felt entitled to say something. That was time and effort she had put in with Trev, and now Lucy got to claim it as hers? What bullshit! At least since Lucy was focused so intently on Trev, she didn’t notice the evil eyes Alice was shooting at her. Although she had calmed down considerably from her near bursting point earlier, the hatred she felt for Lucy was an ever present undercurrent in her thoughts. She continued to wonder what had become of Erin and Tiffany. Her plans for implementing Lucy’s fate would change significantly based on whether one or both of them showed up.
Lucy continued, “You remember it was me there that you had a great time with, that bested you in tokens, that you wanted to kiss. Except you remember us kissing a lot that day, each one more perfect than the last. It was all me, you remember that it was me. Is that clear?”
“Good,” Lucy said, an unmistakable sadness in her voice. “Now you remember it as it should have been…”
“Ah fuck, you okay?” Dillon asked in a muffled voice as he returned, molten cheese strung between his mouth and a half eaten slice of pizza in his hand.
“I’m fine,” Lucy said bluntly, looking away.
Dillon slumped down on the sofa next to her. “So what, those are tears of contentment you’re crying right now?”
“Oh my god!” Lucy furiously wiped her cheeks. “Why do you have to be such an asshole?!”
“It’s who I am,” Dillon said. “Why do you have to be such a pussy?”
Lucy stared at Dillon in disbelief, shock and anguish.
“I know what’s eating you up.” Dillon glared at her. “You know that no matter how much you brainwash your boy toy there, nothing changes the fact that without the brainwashing, he wouldn’t pick you. Right?” When Lucy looked away he grabbed her hand. “Right?!”
“Fine! Yes!” Lucy sobbed, turning back to face him with puffy eyes. Several of the dancers turned to watch with concern, but continued dancing in their lifeless manner. Some of them were taking breaks to drink water and eat, but all of them were keeping the illusion of the party going.
Dillon scoffed lightly and pulled Lucy into his chest, holding her tightly on the sofa. “Yeah, I knew it. It’s how I feel about Alice.” He briefly looked up to Alice who gave him a questioning look back. “But you know what… I don’t regret brainwashing her. I don’t regret her loving me now the way I always wanted her to. It’s going to be better living the lie with her than being alone with the fucking truth.”
Slightly calmer, but not moving from her place on Dillon’s chest, Lucy sighed before saying, “I know I won’t even feel this way once I change my own memory, but right now it’s more clear than ever that he doesn’t want me.”
“Fuck him then!” Dillon sneered. “If he doesn’t want you then he doesn’t deserve you. How exactly are you going to change your memory?”
“I’m going to use the Algorithm on myself…” Lucy said calmly. “Make me forget that I cheated, make me forget that I brainwashed him, even make me forget that I’m brainwashing myself…. Leave me feeling like the love he has for me wasn’t forced into him, that what we have is real.”
“That sounds…” Dillon scrunched up his face in concern. “Nice.” He gave Alice another look. This time she raised her eyebrow in curiosity.
“Pretty pathetic, right?” Lucy muttered, wiping away one more tear.
“I bet you’ll feel a lot better than you do now…” Dillon said supportively.
“Yes… But I’ll be living the lie then,” Lucy said solemnly. The tears had been replaced by a more moping sadness.
“Except you won’t know it.” Dillon smirked. “So maybe you’ll lighten the fuck up.”
Lucy looked up at him, considering something. “Am I a miserable person?”
“Do you mean right now, or in general?” Dillon asked in a tone that was cautiously joking.
Lucy didn’t react. “I feel like now I have Trev exactly in a place where I can program him exactly as I want him, I’m just questioning the whole thing.”
“For real?” Dillon raised an eyebrow.
Lucy moved off his chest and looked at him earnestly. “Like, I’ve wanted him to be more committed to me for years. Now that I’m about to make it happen, I can’t help but feel that it’s not how a relationship is meant to work.”
“Who the fuck knows how a relationship is supposed to work?” Dillon rolled his eyes. “I sure as fuck don’t, neither does Trev or Alice or any fucker here. All that matters is how you want it to work.”
“I guess I need to figure that out, then.” Lucy frowned.
“Just so you know, you don’t have to do that tonight,” Dillon offered. “Especially now we’ll be working together and no one is forgetting about the existence of the Algorithm, there’s time to...”—he ran his hand up Lucy’s thigh—“explore things.”
Lucy gave him a sly glance. “I thought we’d already explored that…”
“We’ve barely scratched the surface!” Dillon smirked, slipping his other hand down past Lucy’s neck to cup her breast.”
“Well now…” Lucy sighed, gently lifting Dillon’s hand away. “I think we can at least stay focused until we have everything agreed and Ross onboard.”
“Speak for yourself,” Dillon replied, gently wrapping his hand around her neck instead. He leant in to whisper into her ear while sliding his other hand right up between her legs. “I know I want to explore you a lot deeper.”
“Mmmmmm.” Lucy shuddered under his touch. “Patience…” she whined softly. “Have a little p—“
“I’m not a patient person…” Dillon said into her ear.
Lucy squirmed and gasped, her hands clutching Dillon’s arms as he forced her head back and legs open. She tugged at him and his grip on her neck tightened. “Wait…” she rasped. “Wait…”
“Don’t be a tease! You’re so fucking wet right now,” Dillon hissed. He leaned back, pulling her with him with ease.
Lucy moaned, but it was pleasure mixed with distress.
“You want this!” he said forcefully. As her legs pushed against the sofa to try and loosen Dillon’s grip on her, he simply held on tighter, making Lucy squirm and cry out. “Yeah baby, squeal for me…”
Alice couldn’t help but smirk at Lucy’s predicament. The sudden look of panic in her eyes as understanding of what was happening flooded through her felt like karma to Alice’s thirst for revenge. This was an encounter between her and Dillon that she didn’t mind watching. It reminded her of a significant amount of her time with Dillon, yet it was surreal watching it from the outside.
But Alice also noticed that Bethany, Bobby, and several of the nearby dancers were watching as well, frowns of uncertainty on their faces. Alice immediately knew they were trying to decide whether or not to intervene, and it would only take one to get everyone to rush at Dillon to protect their ‘Mistress.’
Alice couldn’t allow that. Her hand slapped down firmly on Dillon’s shoulder, squeezing hard. “Babe! She’s saying no…”
Dillon released his grip on Lucy and she slid to the floor, gasping for breath. Cursing repeatedly, Dillon jumped to his feet and turned angrily on Alice. “She was asking for it you bitch!”
Alice knew the slap was coming. It was still lightning fast and made her stagger. Gasping in pain, she held a hand gingerly up to her cheek and looked at Dillon as tears filled her eyes.
“No!” he snarled at her. “Don’t you go making me feel guilty! Not again!”
Alice said nothing, her solemn expression and rosy cheek speaking loudly enough. Dillon cursed again, before storming off to the kitchen and pouring himself more whisky.
Alice turned to Lucy. “You okay?” she asked in a toneless voice. As much as she could use this to earn some points with Lucy, she didn’t want to actually make it seem like she cared about her wellbeing.
Lucy was still breathing heavily as she picked herself off the floor. She turned to stare into Alice’s expressionless eyes, a mixture of anger, shock, and shame on her face. They exchanged no words as Lucy brushed herself down, fixed the hem of her dress, and briskly walked towards the bathroom.
Alice waited until she had closed the bathroom door behind her before she hurried out from behind the sofa, pushed her way through the throng of half-hearted dancers, and caught up with Dillon in the kitchen. There were a few of Lucy’s brainwashed drones there eating pizza, but they seemed to have enough of their own autonomy to be avoiding Dillon.
Dillon had just poured himself another double measure of whisky, but as he went to down it like a shot, Alice snatched the glass out of his hand and threw it into the sink where it shattered.
“The fuck!” Dillon shouted, quickly filling up with anger. His eyes stared at the amber liquid as it drained away before turning back to Alice, full of fury. “You—“
Alice’s slap to his face took him so much by surprise that he was stunned into silence long enough for her to speak.
“Pull yourself together you fucking moron!” Alice snarled furiously into his bewildered face. “You’re drunk and you’re slipping up! You’re about to lose everything unless you do some serious damage control right now!”
“Fuck off…” Dillon shook his head dismissively. “It’ll be fine…”
Alice clenched her fists at the top of her head. “Urgh you’re so infuriating sometimes! You’re going to lose me as well, don’t you see!? Lucy just needs to speak a few fucking words to me and then you’ll have lost me, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be forever this time.”
Dillon looked like he was following her train of thought, albeit with some difficulty. “Alright, where is she?” He reached around his back.
“Put that away!” Alice hissed, charging into him to stop him from pulling out his gun. “If any of these people see it they’ll all rush you! You couldn’t fight them all off even if you were sober!”
“Fine!” Dillon relented angrily. “Fuck, I thought you were supposed to fuckin’ support me now and shit…”
Alice sighed in frustration. “I am! Right now I’m trying to save you from yourself! You drank too much, and now your judgment has gone to shit! But if you can drink some water and wise the fuck up, you can probably still salvage things…”
Dillon frowned and seemed to be fighting down angry urges. He shifted on his feet and looked angrily at the bystanders on the other side of the kitchen island and then the small crowd of people still dancing to the background music. Alice took a nervous breath then placed her hand gently on his cheek.
“I’ll always support you, and I’ll always forgive you, but I also need you to trust me…”
Dillon tossed this over in his head. He seemed to be about to retort when they were interrupted.
“Hey guys…” Hannah slunk into the kitchen with a devilish smile on her face. She was completely naked aside from a pair of panties, but didn’t seem bothered about this at all. “So how’s your evening going?”
“Not as well as yours by the looks of things,” Alice said with wide eyes, immediately noticing Hannah’s bright red cheeks and eyeliner stains running down her face. She couldn’t help but let her eyes trail over Hannah’s milky freckled flesh. Hannah’s skin had strange marks in multiple places across her body. When Alice got a look at the redhead’s backside, she saw that it was bright red across most of both cheeks. She then noticed Dillon doing the same thing, looking at Hannah with hunger and intrigue.
“Look but don’t touch, babes.” Hannah winked at them before rummaging in the fridge.
“What are you all doing in there anyway?” Alice asked. “You’ve been in there for ages. You can’t be doing nothing but… I mean, not for so long surely… Like, doesn’t he need time to…”
Hannah giggled. “You can have fun with more than just a dick you know…” She then fixed Alice with a manic stare. “You wanna come see what I mean?”
“No.” Alice felt a shiver run through her at the intensity of Hannah’s hungry glare. “Thank you, but I’m good here.”
Hannah stalked up to her and ran her fingers lightly over Alice’s cheek that was still sore from Dillon’s heavy handed slap. “Looks like you’re having some fun at least.” Alice pulled away from her, a look of vulnerability washing over her face as she found herself unable to stop from tenderly rubbing her red skin.
Hannah then turned to Dillon. “But you’re not doing it right if you didn’t make her cry...”
Dillon regarded her with a mixture of guilt and anger. His fists clenched as he stared her down.
With a cheeky smile, Hannah brushed past Dillon holding two beers in one hand and a bottle of schnapps in the other. “We’ll be finished soon!” she called back to them, before blowing a kiss and disappearing back into the spare room.
“That poor girl,” Alice murmured
“She seems happy enough,” Dillon said, though concern was evident over his face.
“She’s been brainwashed to be like that.” Alice crossed her arms and hugged herself. “I didn’t know her well, but the way Tiff talked about her… That’s not the same person anymore.”
“It’s what Ross wants.” Dillon shrugged.
Alice turned to him, a thoughtful expression on her face. “And what do you want?”
“What do you mean?” Dillon looked at her with confusion.
Alice took ahold of one of his hands, and shyly looked up at him with glittering blue eyes. “Because it looks like you’re not interested in having a harem of bitches, you’re just saying you do to look macho in front of Lucy and Ross… You don’t really want Cindy or Helen. You only care about me, don’t you? And the real me… That’s why I’m not calling you master and obeying you like a robot, right?”
“You know how much I love you,” Dillon said defensively. “I don’t want to change you any more than I have to for you not to fucking leave me…”
“I get that,” Alice replied earnestly. “And I know how much you say you love me, I’m just sorry I don’t always feel it. You want to do better, don’t you? You want to feel like I say I love you not just because you brainwashed me to say it, right?”
“Of course I do,” Dillon muttered in irritation.
“Then let me help you…” Alice stressed. “Programmed or not, I love you and I’ll do anything for you.” She gave a deliberate pause. “But that also means I’ll tell you when you need to pull it the fuck together…”
They locked eyes for a moment, Alice gazing at him with love and affection. She could see the scared little boy through his angry eyes, and she watched as the anger fizzled away. Dillon hung his head, sighing heavily. “You’re right…” he muttered. “I’m sorry I hit you.”
“And I forgive you.” Alice smiled gratefully, pulling him into a tight hug. “Now we just need to make sure Lucy does as well.” She then lowered her voice to a whisper. “Or get her in front of the Algorithm without her lackeys interfering… Then you can fuck her any way you want anytime you like… And I’ll watch, take part, do whatever you want…”
After a long embrace, Dillon murmured, “It won’t bother you?”
“Not if you make the bitch your fucktoy.” Alice shrugged with a cheeky smile. “I just can’t stand the thought of her being free willed and lording that over me as she sinks her fangs into you.”
“Okay…” Dillon nodded in understanding. “But how do we get her? She controls everyone here…”
Alice smiled coyly, whispering, “There’ll be an opportunity, I’m sure of it.” She kissed him tenderly. “Just… sober up and be charming again… Apologize, say yes to everything and anything she says, put her at ease, and then I’ll help you take advantage of said opportunity. Trust me.”
“Okay,” Dillon said before they kissed again, long and passionate. “I’ve missed you…” he said.
“Well you won’t have to again, so long as—“
“Hello?” A voice interrupted them.
Alice and Dillon both turned to see a girl with dark makeup, crimson hair, and multiple face piercings. She looked around, smiling shyly. “Umm, I just finished my shift and thought I’d drop by…”
“Pizza girl!” Alice snapped her fingers. “I mean… Emily?”
“Emelia! Right!” Alice smiled bashfully. “Sorry…”
“That’s okay,” Emelia replied awkwardly. “Is, umm… Tiffany here?” Her eyes scanned the dance floor.
“She’s out right now,” Alice said quickly. “But I think she’ll be back soon! You wanna beer or something?”
A momentary confusion swept across Emelia’s face. “It’s okay, I don’t wanna crash, I don’t really know anyone here apart from Josh anyways, and that’s just a deliverer-slash-deliveree relationship…”
Alice frantically searched for Josh, and due to his height, quickly spotted him in the middle of the dance floor. He probably wouldn’t come join them unless directed to by Lucy. Alice’s mind raced with ideas. This was maybe an opportunity to gain the upper hand… She abruptly extended her hand towards Emelia. “I’m Alice, by the way.”
Emelia smiled as she took Alice’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“This is my boyfriend, Dillon.” Alice turned to Dillon who was brooding behind her. With an urgent expression on her face, she tilted her head towards Emelia.
“Yeah. Hi,” Dillon grunted.
Alice rolled her eyes and played off Dillon’s grumpiness with an embarrassed smile. “Don’t mind him, I just told him off for drinking too much.”
Emelia still smiled, but her eyes betrayed her uncomfortableness. “Really I don’t want to impose!”
“No! No imposition!” Alice grabbed her arm, interlinking it with her own. “Come help me find my phone so I can call Tiff and find out where she’s at!”
“I, umm…” Emelia started in protest. “Are you sure?”
“And you can ask me literally anything about her while we’re at it. Like, nothing off limits.”
“Well, uh…” Emelia let Alice guide her towards Josh’s bedroom. “I guess, that girl she was with earlier…”
“Erin!” Alice said energetically. “Oh I can confidently say that they’re both interested in you…”
Dillon watched them as they entered Josh’s bedroom while Emelia failed to hide a blush. It seemed like moments later that Lucy reappeared from the bathroom, flanked by two of the basketball players who had been guarding the entrance corridor. All three of them stared coldly at Dillon in a way that he found genuinely unsettling. It was clear from hastily corrected mascara that Lucy had been crying.
“Oh,” he said, shifting uncomfortably. “You’re back.” After a few seconds of Lucy saying nothing, he added, “Look, I’m sorry about before. I got carried away.”
The tension in Lucy seemed to lessen slightly. She scoffed in amusement. “That’s it? That’s all you have to say?”
“What do you want me to say?” Dillon tensed up defensively. “You’re hot! We’ve already fucked! I seriously thought you fucking wanted it, and I got caught up in the moment! So yeah. I’m fucking sorry, okay!?”
Lucy gave him a scrutinizing look, before shaking her head in disbelief. “I actually believe you…”
“Good!” Dillon grunted. “It’s like I said, I don’t bullshit. I really didn’t mean to upset you…”
Lucy mulled over his words. “You really think I’m hot?” she said, unconvinced.
“You could be fucking Alice or those other two bimbos I programmed to obey you. Why bother with me?”
“Fuck, I don’t know!” Dillon said in exasperation. “You’re hot, you’re interesting… I can relate to you a lot easier than I thought I could. You pretty much brainwashed this entire fucking party single handedly, which is fucking impressive…”
A silence fell between them. Lucy pursed her lips in consideration, while Dillon looked at her with intense eyes of desire.
Lucy seemed to make up her mind about something, then took a cautious step towards him. “You’ll never, ever do something like that again, will you?”
Dillon shook his head. “I can’t promise that. Once I get going it’s like nothing else matters, and I want to fuck your tiny perfect cunt into oblivion.”
Lucy blushed despite herself. “You’re not touching me again until I have a way to make you stop.”
Dillon’s defensive tension suddenly gave way to intrigue. He leaned forward, a sly smile appearing on his face. “Sounds like you want me to touch you again…”
Lucy’s cheeks only turned redder. “I didn’t say that.”
“You implied it,” Dillon snapped back. “Sure, I may have fucked up on the sofa, but you still want it bad…”
“Forget it.” Lucy shook her head and started to turn away.
“I want it bad,” Dillon said firmly. Lucy turned back, a cautious curiosity on her face. Dillon looked at her earnestly. Sincerely, even. “I don’t fully understand why, but I want you so fucking bad…”
“Yeah?” Lucy raised an eyebrow.
“Fuck yes,” Dillon exclaimed. “I keep picturing me lifting you up and pinning you against a wall to fuck your brains out, or throwing you over the table here to take you from behind until you’re out of screams.”
“You really want to do all that to me?” Lucy asked, cheeks burning as she took another step towards him.
“Yes!” Dillon nodded. “Now tell me you don’t want it too…”
Lucy stared him dead in the eye. “Kneel,” she said firmly.
“What?” Dillon looked at her with a scowl of confusion.
“You want to fuck me, yes?” Lucy said calmly.
Dillon hesitated, looking at the other people nearby. The two basketball players either side of Lucy stared at him aggressively, both of them poised like panthers ready to pounce on him. The three others in the kitchen watched the proceedings with a resigned disinterest that was the result of Lucy’s earlier programming.
“None of them will remember any of this, if that’s your worry,” Lucy said offhand. “Imagine that it’s just the two of us here.”
Dillon let out a deep, aggravated breath as he stared back at Lucy. Ideas flashed through his mind, but finally seemed to come to a conclusion. “Kneel?” he asked.
“Kneel,” Lucy all but whispered, adding a slight nod to drive the point home.
Dillon slowly lowered himself down onto one knee. When Lucy looked at him impatiently, he shifted his other leg so he was then on both knees.
Lucy closed the distance between them. She stroked his hair, caressed his cheek, and then smiled warmly. “Good boy. This is the way it’s going to be…”
Dillon breathed heavily, an internal struggle being waged within him. “What way is that?”
Lucy took a step back and stood over him, looking down with a commanding presence. “The way where once we’ve dealt with Ross, you’re going to sit in front of the Algorithm for me, and I’m going to make two small changes to you. The first is that I will program you to stop when I say stop and go when I say go.”
Dillon frowned, but said nothing. Lucy saw this, and her smile widened.
“The second thing is that I will program you to adore me more than you do Alice.” When she saw the immediate protest on his face she quickly held up a hand and added, “you don’t need to worry, I won’t change anything about how you feel about her, I’m simply going to make you feel stronger about me.” Her eyes then darkened somewhat, and her smile faded. “I’m done playing second fiddle to her, understand? I’m done.”
Dillon gave Lucy a steely look, and nothing but cold silence existed between them for several moments.
Lucy then smiled with amusement once more. “Now then, if you accept these terms, then show me you mean it and kiss my feet.”
“You’re fucking kidding.” Dillon glared in annoyance.
“I’m fucking not,” Lucy taunted him. “I want to see just how much you want to fuck me. Do as I ask, and you’ll be able to do everything you just said and more.”
“Except you get to stop me whenever you want.”
“Yes…” Lucy nodded slowly. “Except I’ll only need to do that if you pull the same shit as you did on the sofa…” She stared down at him patiently. “So what’s it going to be?”
Dillon struggled to decide for more than a minute. Lucy stayed silent as she watched a range of emotions play across his face. Eventually, keeping eye contact with Lucy as long as possible, he leant down and pecked her left foot as lightly as he could, before recoiling and jumping to his feet. “There!” he growled. “Happy?”
Lucy smiled smugly as she watched his discomfort. “Yes, actually. Believe it or not, what you just did really helps me trust you.”
“Good,” Dillon grumbled. “And you’ll make sure none of these fuckers remember it?” He looked at the people surrounding Lucy.
“Of course,” Lucy replied, “I’m the only one who needs to remember it anyway. Not even Alice has to know…” She then looked around in momentary confusion. “Where is Alice anyway?”
“Oh, some chick showed up.” Dillon shrugged. “Alice took her through to the bedroom to call Trish or something. I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention.”
Lucy tensed, staring at Dillon in disbelief. “Stay here!” she ordered. She then gestured to her two basketball guards. “You two follow me still.” Lastly, she addressed the other partygoers laying low on the far side of the kitchen island. “And you lot, make sure nobody follows us into this room.”
Dillon frowned as Lucy disappeared into Josh’s bedroom with her two tall and built bodyguards. The three people from the kitchen island repositioned themselves outside the bedroom door to block anyone who would dare try to enter. Dillon eyed them up, figuring he could take them. But then he looked at the throng of the party dancers and decided it would be best not to start shit. Not without Ross to back him up at least. The girls that Lucy had programmed for him, Cindy and Helen, were still tearing it up on the dance floor as per his instructions. He could order them to help him… They could force their way through the door…
But then what? Take on those two muscled motherfuckers Lucy had flanking her? Wouldn’t happen without his gun, and that would just bring a world of pain down on him. He grunted in frustration as he accepted that Alice was on her own.
“Hey,” a voice spoke softly from the entrance corridor.
Dillon turned, and his mouth fell open. “You!?”
Lucy barked at her guards to close the door behind them and stay there as she stormed towards Alice.
“Fuck.” Alice grimaced, stepping away from where Emelia sat entranced in the Algorithm chair.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?” Lucy asked, her voice an icy glacier that eroded Alice’s sanity.
“Programming another slave for you…” Alice replied coolly. “What does it look like?”
“Like you’re in here programming this girl to fuck me over.” Lucy grabbed Alice and shot daggers into her eyes. “Admit it.”
“I’m not.” Alice glared down at the shorter Lucy. “I’m programming her to ensure our deal goes through without you trying to tamper with it.”
Lucy snorted derisively. “Why would I tamper with it? I’m giving your sleazy boyfriend so much, and agreeing to fucking supply him with one victim after another…” She placed her hand on her forehead, frowning off to the distance.
“Honestly, are you sure you want to do that?” Alice sighed heavily. “I mean…”
Lucy shifted uncomfortably, then looked solemnly at the girl sitting entranced in the chair.
“You got a taste of Dillon today.” Alice hugged herself, speaking morosely. “One minute he’s all charm and class and… the way he wants you is… it’s… primal… intoxicating.” She sighed. “But if you’re not exactly what he wants you to be, he gets angry… he gets mean.” After several moments of Lucy staring silently at the entranced Emelia, Alice held out a hand to put on Lucy’s shoulder, albeit stopping short as she added, “Look… Are you okay?”
Lucy frowned and placed a hand on Emelia’s cheek as the goth girl stared into the glowing screen of the Algorithm. Not looking away from Emelia’s blank face, Lucy spoke in a blunt tone. “I really hate you, you know.”
Alice shuffled uncomfortably, her arms crossed in frustration. She was all too aware that Lucy still had control over her. The last thing she wanted was to be turned into a drooling mess when, if she could maintain her semi-autonomy, there was so much she could do. Part of her wanted to shrink down, but another part of her told her that this was supposed to be a no-bullshit conversation. “Yeah. I know,” she said with a lacing of bitterness. “Since we’re being honest, I really fucking hate you too.”
Lucy spun around, a smile on her face that was almost manic. “I knew it.” She looked almost relieved. “And Trevor tried so hard to convince me it wasn’t true.”
Alice smiled as well, a smirk that came with dropping a lie. “Well he lied to you constantly then.”
“I hated the bond you had with him.” Lucy glared at Alice, still with an unfriendly smile playing across her face. “I hate how much he liked you and how much time he spent with you before I moved here.”
“I hated how you tried so much to control Trev and everything he did,” Alice shot back. “Even before you moved here you were checking up on him like some crazy obsessive psycho…”
Lucy bared her teeth now, in a part smile, part growl. “I hated how you poisoned him against me since the moment you met him.”
“I hated how you seemed to act like you fucking owned him!” Alice snarled in reply.
“I hated how much you interfered with our love,” Lucy retorted. “Always there, always the temptation that stopped him committing fully to me.”
Alice burst out laughing. “Okay, okay…” She snorted in amusement. “I hated how delusional you were that you and Trev had this perfect romance. I hated how you never saw that he only stayed with you out of loyalty and obligation, not love…”
Lucy’s smile vanished in an instant, her eyes becoming pools of darkness. Alice maintained her confrontational posture, but a part of her felt an icy chill of fear. “So you’re saying that Trevor never loved me.”
Alice shook her head, chuckling in contempt. “Of course he loved you. He always has and always will. But it’s platonic love, that’s what you refuse to see!”
Lucy stared deep into Alice, unblinking with a look that seemed to Alice to be downright murderous.
“And of course you won’t look at it. Trev lied to you to convince you it’s all fine where it’s not, and meanwhile you know something is wrong between you so you sought out fucking James to screw you rather than reflect on why you and Trev lack that chemistry.” Alice felt the heat of Lucy’s gaze, but despite the knowledge that she was playing with fire, she continued to dive in. “And do you know why it was so easy for you to fuck James and why you couldn’t resist opening your legs for Dillon earlier?!”
Lucy opened her mouth to reply in anger but Alice cut her off.
“Because they fucking wanted you! They were actually sexually attracted to you! Trev would never admit it because it’d break your heart, but you’re more like a sister to him, and trying to force the romance is making him miserable!”
Lucy felt her blood boil. She wanted to hurt Alice, to hear her scream in pain for her ignorance. It would be so easy… Surely she knew that… Surely she knew she was playing with fire.
Alice sighed angrily. “Look, you claim to love Trev so fucking much, but real love isn’t as selfish as you’re being. I don’t think anyone has ever actually told you this in your entire life, but if you truly love someone, you take their feelings and needs into consideration…”
Lucy simmered in her anger, but she still considered the words Alice was saying.
“Now, do what the fuck you want with me. I don’t care about Trev, and I don’t care about you… It doesn’t matter if you turn me into a vapid bimbo whore for the rest of the party… I’m sure Dillon will get some sick pleasure out of it anyway…”
“What Dillon did to me on the sofa…” Lucy said with an eerie calm, “he does that to you a lot?”
“He did,” Alice said solemnly. “Back when we were together he had good days and bad. It was one of the reasons I broke it off with him… But I let him do it to me far too much before I found the self respect to walk away back then…”
“And if he starts doing it to you again, will you leave him again?”
“No,” Alice said plainly.
“Why not?” Lucy asked.
“I feel differently now,” Alice remarked with a shrug. “There’s nothing he could do to make me leave him now. I need him… I love him.”
Lucy looked at Alice with a mixture of hatred and pity. “Fall into trance for me now,” she said bluntly.
As Alice’s eyes lost focus and her belligerent expression melted away, Lucy leaned closer into her, as if daring her to resist the programming that had emptied her mind.
What a stupid bitch, Lucy thought. She must have known mouthing off to her like that would be a one way ticket to a severe punishment… Lucy had never thought highly of Alice’s intelligence, but she had still thought her smarter than that.
And all that bullshit she had been spouting, like Trevor’s love being platonic and loving her more like a sister… What a load of crap. Clear lies, all of it.
Yet there would be an easy way to know for sure. Alice was right there. In trance. Mind open and defenseless.
Lucy opened her mouth to ask the question, then hesitated. What if everything Alice said was true? What if she had been blind to it this entire time?
Did she want to know? Or would she be best wiping her memory of such thoughts once the night was over and start living her happily ever after with a Trev whose love she would never doubt?
“Fuck,” she muttered. Sighing heavily, she looked at Alice’s blank face. “Alice, tell me, was everything you said just now the truth?”
Lucy could feel herself tensing up. Of course, it was only the truth according to what Alice thought she knew. She could be completely misinformed and be saying things she only believed were true…
Lucy shook her head and laughed quietly at herself.
How long was she going to do this?
How long was she going to ignore reality and deny everything except her own made up opinions?
Trevor didn’t love her. At least, not in the way she loved him. He never had. He never would. She could brainwash him into being her perfect man just as she could brainwash herself into forgetting her manipulations, but even if she did, the absolute truth would be that she was nothing but a coward and a fraud.
She felt a sickness in her stomach. She looked at Alice’s blank expression and vacant eyes. She remembered the sofa, and how Dillon had grabbed her despite her protests. She remembered the humiliation and shame that flooded through her both before and after Alice had made him stop. She remembered crying and throwing up in the bathroom immediately afterwards. She remembered the terror she felt when she went to confront him after, and remembered that she could only force herself to do it because she had two brainwashed basketball players there to protect her from him if things went badly.
And she was just handing Alice to him like an object of trade. Worse still, she had stripped away Alice’s ability to defend herself from him. Hell, she had brainwashed her to practically embrace it.
Lucy sank slowly to her hands and knees and started to sob. What was wrong with her? She had programmed those six other girls for Dillon and Ross like their own lives were meaningless. Ross had turned that poor red haired girl into a bloodthirsty psycho…
Ugly, loud tears of anguish. Trev wasn’t in love with her, and her response was to brainwash an entire party full of innocent people… She was fully ready to let a dozen or more of them be turned into prostitutes, or worse… What was wrong with her?
“No…” she whimpered. Oh fuck, oh shit. “No…” She had just let them send Tiffany and Erin away to decide between them which one of them had to die.
What was wrong with her?!
There was a small trashcan next to Josh’s desk. Instinctively, Lucy scrambled over to it just in time to catch the vomit that came out.
She couldn’t control herself. Her emotions were bursting out in ways she hadn’t felt since her parents divorced. She felt such immense grief and such powerful anger towards herself, it came out as angry, blubbering sobs as tears poured down her face, dripping into the bin that she hugged tightly. Then she threw up again.
The penny had dropped and there was no picking it back up. She was a monster. She had literal blood on her hands, and it was only going to get worse from here. She openly wept for a few more minutes before her mind started to properly function again.
She had done a horrible, horrible thing in allowing Tiffany and Erin to leave the way she had. But it wasn’t too late to save all the girls she had programmed for Dillon and Ross. As her sobbing began to subside, she quickly formulated a plan. It wasn’t too late. She could still put some things right…
The only thing she actually wanted was to sit down with Trevor, free from any programming, and to open up about everything. Why she cheated, how she felt about their relationship, all of it. But what would he think of her once he learned that she had sold out everyone just to try and force him to be with her? What would he think of what she did to Alice and all the other girls? To Tiffany? To Erin?
He would turn away from her in disgust, of course he would. And as she shivered and hugged herself on the cold hard floor, she realized he would be right.
She wanted to be someone he could still be friends with, at the absolute least. That was the bare minimum she needed to achieve, and even just that required a lot to undo the damage she had done.
“Alice…” she said shakily as she got to her feet. “Once Ross has been successfully put into trance via the Algorithm, you will sneak Dillon’s gun away from him and immediately signal to me that you have done so, understand?”
“Once you have done so, all of the programming that has been put in your mind by me and anyone else will be gone. You will be reset to no programming at all, clear?
Good, Lucy thought. She had to go about this carefully, after all. She couldn’t just free Alice now, or Dillon would know something was up. Much as she hated to do it, keeping Alice under Dillon’s thrall was the best way to ensure things went to plan. They would take Ross off guard first, and without his weapon, Dillon would be easily subdued by the many strong basketball players under Lucy’s control.
And once both Ross and Dillon had been taken out of play… Well, then Lucy could maybe try to right a few wrongs…
“Oh, one last thing Alice…” Lucy said. She dried her eyes as she imparted her last command, not wanting it to be too obvious that she had been crying profusely. Once done, she added, “You will be aware that I put you into trance once you wake up, but you won’t have any memory of what I said to you while in trance. Understand?”
“Wake up now, then.”
Alice’s eyes flickered back into awareness. “Oh hell, what did you do to me?” She sighed in irritation.
“Nothing you don’t deserve.” Lucy shrugged. “Now go back to Dillon, I need to make sure that this girl here is programmed properly…”
“Emelia,” Alice said. “And I can’t help but notice that I’m not being overwhelmed with whorish thoughts…”
“No more than usual, you mean,” Lucy said coolly. As much as she wanted to offer Alice an apology for how she had treated her, it was important she didn’t make her suspicious either. “Now get lost, will you? Dillon will be looking for you…”
“So that’s it?” Alice looked confused. “I thought after everything I said you’d totally fuck me over…”
“The night is young,” Lucy quipped. “Besides, I can have my fun in different ways…” She timed her last word with a gentle prod of Alice’s stomach.
Alice recoiled suddenly and cried out as if she’d been electrocuted. “Ah! What the fuck!?”
“Like I said…” Lucy grinned manically, jabbing Alice softly on the arm. “Fun!”
Alice screamed sharply and sprang back from Lucy, clutching her arm as if it were heavily burnt. “You bitch!”
“Oh, quit whining.” Lucy smirked. “I could have done a lot worse. Now do I have to tell you again?” She feigned like she was going to tag Alice once more.
Alice sprang towards the door. “I’m going! I’m going! Fuck, you’re a crazy bitch…”
“And don’t you forget it.” Lucy glared at her, albeit her voice full of amusement. “Bye bye now!”
Alice shook her head as she pushed past the two basketball players guarding the exit. Lucy remained staring at the door once it closed again, and muttered under her breath. “And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”
She then turned to Emelia, waiting mindlessly in the chair.