Savage Love, page 12
Carolina rummaged through the nightstand in search of her keys and when she came upon the empty condom wrapper, she slammed the drawer shut. “No I'm not.”
Dylan taunted her, an air of cunning tingeing his voice, “How are you going to get the twins? Are you just going to run off and leave them behind?”
Enraged she stood speechlessly looking at him for a few seconds, realizing that if she didn't leave soon she'd do something she just might regret. Picking up as much of her stuff as she could safely manage, Carolina turned to leave the room only to be greeted by three pairs of eyes: Callum, Calder and Justin. She felt the energy draining from her, fearing the hex she'd come into the world under would always win.
With his voice clearly troubled Justin asked, “Mom are you leaving?”
Still shocked by their sudden appearance, she had to make herself breathe and even blinking was a chore. She wanted to slump to the floor, curl into the tightest ball possible and cry until the stone floor was pooled with her tears. From the very beginning, Justin had owned her heart, their lives interwoven with such complexity that she couldn't consider her sanity before his happiness. Loving people meant doing the things that were hard, Carolina reminded herself and told Justin, “No baby I'm not going anywhere. You guys go back and get some sleep.” Dropping the possessions she held, she opened her arms to her boys for a group hug before telling them to scoot.
Many fraught seconds passed before she, with her back still to him, spoke to Dylan. Her voice fluttered weakly, like the wings of a dying moth, “I will never forget what happened today. I will never forgive you and I will never love you.”
He wanted to stop, didn’t want to hear the defeat in her voice but he knew he had to press on or loose her forever. Dylan declared, “You'll change your mind.”
She clenched her fists at her sides thinking of the pleasure she'd derive from eviscerating him. “Don't bet on it,” she verbally designated the battle line between them.
Dylan liked her fighting spirit, believed that as long as he kept her riled up she'd open to him. He'd seen for himself that when she closed herself off and dug in her heels a man stood very little chance of connecting with her. Taking up her challenge Dylan replied, “I am betting on that very thing, betting also that you'll make me believe you love me by our wedding day.”
He was absolutely certifiable Carolina thought. “I'm not marrying you.” She'd rather be super glued to an elephant's backside for the rest of her life.
Dylan announced in a commanding tone, “Yes you are and you will forgive and love me by the day of our marriage or you'll never see Justin again. I'll have him enrolled in a private school out of the country.” He remembered what she'd said earlier, that love meant sometimes doing what's hard. Using Justin to make her stay was extremely difficult for him, because he loved his son as much as he loved her. However, he felt he had no choice, other than to let her go, which he was unwilling to do.
Carolina's heart slowed and gave a bit of a hiccup. “Go ahead,” she choked.
He knew he'd eventually burn for what he was doing but having her with him was worth eternal damnation. Blithely, Dylan took up the gauntlet, “Okay.” He walked to the bedroom door and opened it, “I'm going to tell him to pack.”
Carolina's temples were starting to throb and she felt weak. She wanted to call his bluff but was too afraid for Justin, too afraid to face the possibility that his father was as much a monster as Liz. In a small, sorrowful voice, Carolina stopped his progress out the door, “You win, Dylan. Can I finish moving my stuff now?”
One victory down and a few to go he thought. “You're staying in here with me,” he walked back across the room to stand a few feet away from her.
Carolina felt the contents of her stomach churning. She focused her attention on the worn leather of his boots, “Are you completely insane? Or do you simply hate me?”
He was definitely going to Hell, would probably rank as one of the Devil's head minions, “I already changed the linens. I'll buy you a new bed tomorrow.” He wanted to touch her so badly his fingers ached. Instead, he clasped his hands behind his back and set his booted foot to tapping.
Carolina raked him up and down with a glance, thinking he was a pig, a handsome, lying, cheating, golden-haired pig. If he was content to wallow in the mess he'd made she didn't give a roasted wiener. “Don't bother. Can I go to sleep now?”
Even in her defeat she was glorious he thought. “No. Come here Carolina.”
She walked over to stand before him, letting him see the hurt and anger in her eyes, the unconcealed rage she was craving to let loose. “What else do you want?”
Dylan thought if she had a gun at that moment he would have certainly been a dead man. “I want you to know doing this hurts me. This is not how I want to keep you, but you've left me no choice. What I did with Liz was wrong and I deeply regret bedding her and violating you. I offer no excuse because my actions were unjustifiable. But I swear on my life, on the graves of my parents that I'll never bed her again.”
“Whatever... I need a bath.” She walked away from him, stripping off her black t-shirt as she went. When she reached the closet, she removed the gun she'd placed in the security of her snug spandex panties. Unloading the small but effective weapon, she placed the pistol amongst her possessions in the closet and put the ammunition clip on the top shelf pushing it back as far as she could reach.
At the sight of her operating the .22 caliber Beretta as if she'd been born with a gun in her hand Dylan asked her a question he'd voiced before, “Who are you?”
Carolina looked back at him and scowled, frigidly stating, “You should have taken more time to find out before you pissed me off.” She closed the closet, gathered her night attire and with imposing dignity entered the bathroom. Pushing the door silently shut she hurriedly turned on the shower to maximum pressure. Dropping the items she held to the floor, she rushed to the toilet to retch violently hoping the symphony of cascading water was effectively drowning out the sounds of her misery-induced nausea.
For Carolina, time now possessed the toxicity of the Creeping lily and nearly thirty-six hours after Dylan's threats and ultimatums she felt she was barely hanging on to the essence that enlivened her. When she was unsuccessful at avoiding people, outwardly she adopted a cheerful countenance. When alone, her mood was the intense central blackness of Scotland's Geranium 'Dragon Heart' and she seriously questioned if anyone would ever see her again. Now she hoped she appeared emotionally stable as she sat in the tree house shrine, listening to Calder, Callum and Justin practice, trying to ignore Dylan's overwhelmingly revered presence. The twins adored him and Justin worshiped his dad. He was the father that had taken them to the lake with the rest of the Savage Clan while she'd been the spoilsport who'd stayed behind, locked in the bedroom, too afraid she'd completely breakdown if she'd had to face anyone, but also really terrified of being alone in case she gave into the deepening desire to wither away. Her head ached and her emotional upheaval kept her stomach rolling, but now hearing the boys play gave her a measure of relief from her turmoil. The music was beautiful and she could hear the improvement in the twins' abilities, being amongst the Savages seemed to allow them to absorb musical talent through every pore.
Slightly before nine, the boys stopped playing and after they'd put their guitars away, Carolina enthused, “I’ve never heard music as beautiful. The three of you sound as if you’ve played together your entire lives. Now it’s time I go and allow you to get some sleep. I'll see you at breakfast.”
In unison they piped up, “Can we ask you something?”
Callum started, “After you're married are we going to be adopted?”
She suppressed the urge to wail. “We haven't discussed it. I'll ask him tonight.”
Calder followed up, “We want Dylan to be our new dad legally so we'll feel like we're really a part of his family. You'll make sure he says yes won't you?”
Justin spoke up to close the deal, “You'll adopt me too, like you did the twins. So legally, you'll be my mother and they'll be my brothers. That's how it's supposed to be.”
“Justin, I'll talk with Dylan but as far as he's concerned, you already have a mother.” Actually she knew what Justin wanted would never happen because his father wasn't going to agree.
“She's not my mother. Promise you'll get dad to agree.”
“You should talk to him Justin. I can be there with you when you do.”
“You do it. He won't refuse because you're his heart. He needs you to live.”
“Justin he loves you and wants your happiness, you have to know that.”
“Yeah I do. But you'll talk to him for me about everything won't you mom?”
“Of course I will,” she knew what he meant by 'everything' and was glad he'd stayed true to his agreement that Dylan should know what had happened to him. Blowing kisses to them she promised, “I'll make something super special for tomorrow's breakfast.” As she turned to leave, she heard Justin and the twins chorus, 'Goodnight mom. We love you,' and she regretted that tonight would be the time she'd remember the twins honoring her with words elevating her to the seat of parenthood, no longer considered a stray desperate to do their bidding for whatever modicum of caring they chose to award her. Because tomorrow all three of them might despise her for not getting them what they wanted.
Carolina was halfway across the patio when she spied Dylan sitting on a wicker settee attired in a silvery-gray dress shirt and black tailored slacks that draped his muscular body sublimely. Uncharacteristically he wore black leather loafers instead of his preferred boots. His thick, shoulder-length, blond hair gleamed, surrounding his face in its usual, casually relaxed style. Tonight his jaw line had a sexy growth of shadowy hair that called out for a woman's touch and although her truest desire was to runaway and hide, she stayed to the course he'd charted.
When she stood before him, she bent to kiss his lips while running the fingers of one hand along his strong, stubbly jaw. He rose to his feet as his lips kept contact with hers and his strong arms went around her waist drawing her nearer. Carolina's eyes remained open, coolly noting his responses, the closed eyes that made him appear vulnerable and the throbbing pulse in his neck left exposed by the open collar of his shirt. She placed her forefinger against the thumping vein, stroking her nail up-and-down its length until she felt his breath catch, his eyes fluttering open, their normal deep lapis-blue overtaken by a lightning storm of zigging silver. She stayed within the circle of his arms, not only because she was playing the part of his doting fiancee but also because his gaze held her captive.
He lightly scolded her, “Everyone is waiting for us.”
“I was telling the boys goodnight. The twins want you to adopt them.”
His heart filled with joy. He wished for at least a dozen kids. “Of course I will.”
Carolina prepared herself for the heartache and disappointment. “And Justin-”
Even though she'd assumed what his answer would be the reality of how little he loved her and how very much he cared for that woman still hurt. If only he'd allow her to tell him everything then maybe he'd change his mind. “You didn't let me finish.”
His tone was razor sharp, cutting right to the heart of the matter, “Justin wants you to adopt him, the logical progression to this conversation. But, he already has a mother. Liz will always be his mother and given your history with her, she'll never agree to the adoption even if I would. You and he simply need to accept that you can't erase her from his life.”
“Of course.” Stepping away from him, she removed one silver high-heeled slingback from each of the robe's pockets. Dangling the shoes from the crook of her finger, she slowly took off the robe and tossed it onto the settee, taking morbid pleasure in the sound of his hissed intake of air through clenched teeth.
“Hold these please,” she handed him the shoes before placing one of her palms against the muscled wall of his chest. With one hand, she reached under the hem of her minute sparkling silver dress to remove a silver-sequined thong that she, with great ceremony, slid into the front pocket of his trousers. Taking her shoes from him, she once again braced her hand against his chest and slipped on the spiked heels to stand before him, allowing the mad genius to see the monster he'd created.
Dylan opened and closed his mouth, then opened his mouth again to allow a single phrase to pass his lips, “Sweet mercy.” His eyes caressed her from head to toe. He noted how her hair was arranged artistically atop her head with strategic wisps of curls left free to surround her face, which bore not a hint of makeup but was captivating in its unspoiled beauty. Her gorgeous body was barely covered by a dress that appeared painted on, more of her figure teasingly exposed than artfully covered and leaving very little to the imagination. With a neckline that plunged to her navel, the scant bodice of the dress had him wondering if her high, plump breasts were in danger of falling free and its skirt barely covered her upper thighs. When she sat, minus her thong, she'd be giving everyone a peek at what was meant for his eyes only.
He knew she wanted to get back at him for Liz, and for threatening to send Justin away, but she wouldn't get her revenge dressed like that. There was no way he was going to allow her to walk virtually naked into a room full of Savages and a motley crew of others. Taking her hand, he brought her open palm to his lips, allowed his tongue to caress its center slightly, all the while peering into frozen sea green eyes. Not seeing even a bit of thawing in their depths he allowed her hand to fall to her side commanding nicely, “Go change then hurry back down. I'll make up an excuse for you.”
Her eyes narrowed, “If I leave I'm not coming back. This party wasn't my idea. I'm going along to avoid hurting Vega's feelings.”
“You already hurt Vega when you wouldn't come out earlier and talk to her. She was standing sadly outside our bedroom door waiting for you to answer. I've already made enough mistakes for the both of us. Don't worsen our situation by injuring her or any of the rest of the family just because you're mad at me. Now go put some clothes on, something elegantly conservative, sort of Jackie Kennedy meets Barbara Bush.”
Inhaling deeply so her breasts really stuck out, she slowly swiveled, modeling for him, allowing him to enjoy her attractions further. “I like this dress. Don't you?”
“I certainly do and I'll be the only one to ever again see you with so little on.”
Carolina shrugged dismissively. “No you won't. I'm not changing, so let's get this over with. I've had a migraine since Sunday. By the way, you should call Patrick.”
Now his head was starting to ache. “What for?”
“To thank him for the dress. He has an amazing memory for details.”
“If you're trying to start a fight, I suggest you stop courting defeat. It's over between you and Patrick. Now take your tail upstairs and change.” However, he remembered how Patrick had touched her.
She looked at him daringly. “I'm wearing this dress and there's something you should know.”
He could still see her naked in Patrick's arms. His tone was harsh, “What?”
“Patrick came... for a visit,” she announced smoothing her hand suggestively over the dress.
His thoughts were dangerous for them and for himself. “Oh?”
“He left you a present.” She turned abruptly, switching towards the house.
Dylan moved to catch her and stopped in his tracks at the view of her naked back all the way down to the beginning swell of her round derriere. However, the nonexistent back of the dress wasn't the reason he couldn't move. An elaborate temporary tattoo displayed at the base of her spine is what had his feet glued to the stone patio. In exquisitely detailed calligraphy, someone had inked 'Dylan Savage, Kiss My...' across her lower back and had framed the phrase with curling pink-bloomed rose vines that dis
Carolina knew he'd seen the tattoo because he'd stopped walking and she goaded him, “He did it to me- Oops, I meant to say 'for me' yesterday in your bed.”
Behind his eyes, he saw flashes of light then the looming utter blackness. “Are you telling me you slept with Patrick?”
“We never did sleep,” she baited him, sashaying seductively away with every intention of joining the engagement party.
Dylan, on the other hand, had something else on his mind...
His head was filled with images of Patrick's hands moving along the bare skin of Carolina's backside. He could imagine the other man straddling her hips, moving in close to stroke his tool around her flesh and he wanted to kill them both. Dylan grabbed her from behind and whirled her to face him. Maintaining the grip he had on her upper arms he gave her a rough shake saying angrily, “You're not going into that party dressed like that and with that trash scrawled on your back.”
“Hah! You're not man enough to satisfy me let alone keep me out of that party.” She glared at him, her chin set defiantly.
He looked at her aroused nipples. “You're a liar. I felt your orgasms every time.”
“I was faking. Don't you recall me saying you weren't my best lover? Now let's remember who that was... I do believe his name starts with the letter 'P'.”
He narrowed his eyes, felt his muscles tensing, “I'm warning you...”
“You should have warned me that you were planning to play 'hide the pork link' with your emaciated hag of an ex-wife,” she uttered waspishly.
He wasn't beyond playing in her league. “Your mouth is gonna get you into a world of trouble not even your sexually confused, watchdog, lover can get you out of.”