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For Better, For Worse

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FALL 2013: New Jersey Municipal Detention Facility

 

“You weren’t supposed to call me.”

 

“What?” Debbie seethed, pressing her forehead against the cool steel bars of the holding cell as she glared at her brother through the gap. “You’re just gonna let me rot in here because I fucked up?”

 

“No,” Danny sighed, pressing his forehead against hers, taking in a deep breath.

 

“I only got one call.”

 

“I know,” he frowned. “That’s exactly my point, Debs. I shouldn’t be your one call. It should be…”

 

“Don’t.”

 

“She’s your wife, Debbie.”

 

“I don’t deserve that title,” the brunette spat, her eyes flashing as Danny fell back a bit, looking at his sister, perplexed.

 

“Why are you in here?”

 

“You already know,” she huffed, sitting down on the steel bench with a loud thunking noise as Danny studied her.

 

She looked different. Tired. Exhausted, even. And sad. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen her look so sullen. Surely, it had to be years ago. More than a decade even. Ever since…

 

“Don’t tell Lou,” Debbie whispered, looking up at him with tears in her eyes. “Tell Reuben, Rusty. Whoever you need. If you don’t want to deal with this, then go on and let Tammy know. She’ll hate that I roped her back into this, but she won’t be able to say no, and then I’ll be out of your hair. You won’t have to worry about me.”

 

“She has a right to know,” he sighed, kicking at the bars as Debbie looked away.

 

“I don’t want her to know.”

 

“It’s not like she’s going to be surprised. Upset, sure,” he laughed, shaking his head. “But we all know the risk in this line of work. She’s probably more prepared for this situation than you think. It’s probably her worst fear. Other than, well, really losing you. But I’m sure she has a plan. Or really, knows you have a plan and is ready to hear it. She’s your ride or die, Deb.”

 

“She hates me,” Debbie whispered, looking down at her shoes. She hated these heels. She’d only worn them because they made her an inch taller than Claude and he hated that. He was insecure. Immature. Condescending. A real asshole. And that’s all before he’d landed her here behind bars while he roamed free. He’d set her up. Lied and told her he loved her. That he needed her for this to work. That all that was standing in their way was this one last, big job. One payment. Then she was out. Easy squeezy. He never mentioned that he was only pulling all the strings to fuck her over. Only telling her he loved her and needed her and wanted her because he wanted her to take the fall. She was nothing more than a scapegoat in some lipstick and a short sequin dress that left her freezing as she stood in this holding cell. He’d done it. He’d conned a con. And she couldn’t say she didn’t deserve it. It was exactly what she deserved in fact. Karma was a bitch, and she had quite an interesting style.

 

“I don’t want to get in the middle of your lesbian politics, Deb, but—”

 

“Shut up,” Debbie growled. “I fucked things up. I wanted bigger things. She wanted to quit. She’s not the person I thought she was.”

 

“She’s exactly the person you thought she was, and that’s the problem,” he murmured. “Because it scares the shit out of you.”

 

“That she doesn’t want to run jobs anymore?” Debbie asked. “Because that’s how we met. That’s what we do. What we’ve always done.”

 

“No,” Danny frowned. “You’re scared because she loves you for more than that. She wants you, Debbie. All of you. She wants to be a family. I mean you’re married for fuck’s sake.”

 

“We’re partners,” she rolled her eyes.

 

“Spouses, Debbie. Partners, yes. But you’re married. Committed to each other for life. You exchanged vows.”

 

Vows that Lou had wanted to write. Vows that Debbie had said would be easier if they just did them by the book. Because then she didn’t have to emote, or feel, or think about it. She could just memorize something. Keep the vulnerability out of it. No wonder Lou didn’t want to see her face ever again. She was a monster.

 

“You can’t just run away when things scare you, Debs,” Danny whispered, moving to the corner where she was sitting, reaching his hand through the bars. Debbie watched him as he let it dangle for a moment, looking disappointed as he finally took it away, nervously scratching his head and then pocketing his hand, looking down at his sister with concern. “You can’t just run away because things are good. Lou just wanted things to be even better.”

 

“She wanted to stop me from pushing myself. From doing what I do best.”

 

“You can’t do this forever.”

 

“Watch. Me.”

 

“Not really a great point you’re making here,” he smiled gently. “From your prison cell.”

 

“That’s thanks to that douchebag Becker. That wasn’t me. You know my plans always work.”

 

“Yeah,” he nodded. “It’s who you put your trust in that’s questionable. Maybe if you stuck to doing jobs with your partner then…”

 

“Danny,” Debbie seethed. “I didn’t call you here so you could berate me about Lou. God knows Tammy does that enough. I fucked up. I fucked it all up, okay? I know I did. And yes, as I sit in this damn cell, I’m not stupid. I’m realizing that I’ve created a shitstorm of a disaster and I only have myself to blame, but I need help. I need you to get me out of here. And if you can’t, I need you to teach me how to survive, because I only have one goal when I get out of that box.”

 

“Good,” he smiled. “That should be the only goal. Getting her back. Telling her you were wrong, and you screwed up and you just want her back.”

 

“You’re shitting me, right?” Debbie asked, raising a brow, cursing herself because it was a habit she’d picked up from Lou. “They told me I was looking at six years. Chance of parole if I play nice. But I’m going to spend that whole time trying to get revenge on that fucker. I want him to rot. And I want to be the one to put him behind bars.”

 

“You know what?” Danny sighed, biting at his lip as he considered his words. “You’re right. You fucked things up. Big time. And if you’re going to spend your time in prison trying to get even with Becker, you’re even more stubborn than I thought. You could have called Lou. You could’ve apologized. She would have helped you. Waited for you. Kept you safe. And you’re just driving the wedge even further. How’s she gonna feel when she finds out from someone else you’re in prison? That you didn’t call her? Shit, Debbie. How stupid can you be?”

 

Arguing wasn’t going to help even though she was fuming. She merely gave Danny the win and asked to talk about something else. Come up with a plan. She was right. She knew what she wanted to do. She was serving time, sure, but she knew how she wanted to use it. She was going to make Claude wish he’d never fucked with her in the first place. Danny didn’t know what he was talking about.

 

But she knew what she was doing. She was doing it again. Debbie stared at the ceiling of the cell, counting the ceiling tiles as she played with her necklace, letting the gold band slink from one side of the chain to the other, back and forth, back and forth, finally letting it land softly on her finger as she considered it for a moment, still cool and comfortable against her skin before she released it again, tucking the chain into her dress, the ring out of sight, out of mind, but still dangling against her heart.