Savage love, p.17

Savage Love, page 17


Savage Love

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  “Justin, that's enough,” Calder warned, seeing from their dad's expression that he was terribly wounded and that someone else had entered the room.

  Justin ignored Calder, “When my mom told you I'd been abused she-”

  “Callum and Calder go upstairs,” instructed Carolina from her standing position, directly behind the sofa where they were sitting. She watched the twins hurry out and observed Justin's posture loosing its bold fury. Still standing behind the sofa Carolina's voice was filled with disapproval, “You will apologize to your father for your behavior.”

  Justin swiveled his torso so he could look at her. “Mom, I want him to agree to the adoption.” Greeted by none of the warmth he normally received from her Justin turned back to his father. “Dad I'm-”

  “I don't want to hear your hollow words,” he interrupted bitterly; disheartened because he knew Justin wasn't sorry. He addressed Carolina sharply, “What didn't you tell me?”

  “I told you everything,” she fibbed, knowing she hadn't told him about Liz but she was sure Justin wasn't aware that Liz had instigated his abduction and abuse.

  Unable to determine if she was telling the truth Dylan shifted his gaze to his son quizzing him, “What didn't Carolina tell me?”

  Justin asked gravely, “Did she tell you she gave me this life back?”

  “Yes she did,” Dylan admitted, feeling deeply indebted.

  “But her saving me makes no difference to you does it?” Justin sat back folding his arms across his chest glaring at his father.

  “I'm extremely grateful to Carolina because I would never want to know the grief of loosing you. But for this, no, it doesn't make a difference.”

  Justin sighed heavily, “Before, you only ever showed me love; until you made me live alone with Liz these last years, which was the sign you no longer want me as your son. The closer I got to finding my real mother the more you pushed me down into that hell with your ex-wife. Now that I've found your soul mate for you, it seems that you plan to toss me out like week old leftovers. I heard you threaten to send me away to boarding school but if you ever try I'll tell Uncle Chris and he'll stop you.”

  Carolina tried calming Justin, “Your father wasn't ever going to send you away. He only voiced the threat so I wouldn't leave the two of you. You're his life.”

  Never looking at her and with his eyes glued to his father's, Justin continued as if she hadn't spoken a word. “You deliberately got her pregnant, like the one who broke her heart the first time. Everything has to be about you. Her loving you on your terms. You don't consider her feelings. You haven't romanced her or done anything special to prove yourself worthy of her love. The first day I was the one who got her the planter because I knew the colors blue and gold make her happy, but you can't take the time to get her flowers or her favorite honey. You spend a fortune on Liz, unwilling to bow out of the drama you created, trying to fit her into the mysterious puzzle of your life but she will never lock into the rest of the pieces because she doesn't belong.

  Carolina tried to calm him, “Justin please, you mustn't be disrespectful. Your father cares for us, cherishes you. I don't need flowers and honey.”

  Justin wouldn't allow her to belittle her value, minimize her desires and end up wasting away like an untended garden. “The one thing she's asked you for are to accept her as my mother, allow her to adopt me. Mom didn't ask for a new baby. She only wants her own son back. Patrick would arrange the adoption for her just as quickly as he sprung me from Liz's prison. That's why she'll always love him more than she'll ever care for you. So, I'll accept your coldhearted decision about the adoption but know neither you or your new baby will replace me and when she leaves I'll get emancipated and go to her, the twins and the new baby and we'll be a family.”

  Before Dylan or Carolina could respond to Justin's emotional bombshell the twins walked back in saying in unison, “We know we're not supposed to be here but we have something to say.” Calder glanced in Dylan's direction, and then looked at the floor, leaving Callum to speak, “If Justin isn't going to be adopted then I don't want to be either.”

  Calder knew his twin was waiting for him to make the same statement but he couldn't. Instead, he raised his eyes to Dylan's saying charmingly, “I want you to become my blood-father. Patrick has to perform the ceremony.”

  Hearing Calder's statement on the tail end of Justin's heated dialogue left Carolina feeling winded. She agitatedly shook her head at Dylan urging him to refuse even though she knew he had no idea what the child was talking about or the significance of the request. She felt the weave of her tightly crafted life unraveling.

  Dylan read her unease and was torn. He started, “Calder, son-”

  Sensing the possibility of being refused Calder knelt before Dylan taking both the man's hands in his, forcing him to not look at Carolina, and started to explain, “She's not supposed to influence you. I want you to be my dad because you spend time with me, listening, making me feel important, teaching me things like Ciaran did, as Patrick does. I'd be respectful, obedient and you'd never regret being bound to me.”

  Justin and Callum chorused, “Calder you're a traitor.”

  Calder rolled his eyes at them saying, “You're the selfish ones. Dylan is the head of this family. It should be enough that he and Carolina love us. Patrick says although we should try to live within the parameters of earthly rules, we're all beyond man's law. I don't need a piece of paper to symbolize Dylan's willingness to be my father because in my heart he already is and only blood is stronger than a heart connection.”

  Giving the child's hands a strong squeeze, Dylan assured him, “You're right Calder, you and Callum are my sons like Justin is.”

  With his eyes still on the brilliant man he viewed as a god, Calder continued to speak to his brothers, “Justin we're all mom's children and additionally she gave you your human life again which makes you more connected to her. But, you’ve dishonored her by saying the things you did. You're the one who doesn't deserve her and neither Callum do you or I.”

  “Shut up Calder,” his twin warned.

  Releasing Dylan's hands Calder turned on Callum with a glare, “I won't. When she refused to see Dylan, it was your stupid idea to keep getting into her head when she was asleep. That's when she started getting sick.” Unable to face Carolina, Calder turned to Dylan saying, “We didn't mean to hurt her. We just wanted us to be a family. But Patrick always says strength of blood has to be respected and you're a lot like him Dylan. You want Justin to respect Liz because you placed her in the position of your wife, want her to know the respect you believe all mothers are due, even though you know there's nothing of her that gave life to Justin. Patrick tells Callum and me to respect Ciaran even though he chose to die and be with our birth mother, as we should have respected Carolina’s decisions about you. But Justin, Callum and I had to do something because Patrick says mom can be stubborn and defensive.”

  Dylan gave Carolina a bewildered look, “I thought your brother died with his wife.”

  “No, Ciaran died a few weeks later.” She closed her eyes against the memory.

  Callum chose to correct her, “He begged Patrick to kill him and he did because-”

  Carolina's voice was edged with pain, “Callum, I need you to stop talking.”

  “Sure,” the child clammed up, lowering his gaze to the floor.

  Calder looked momentarily from his twin to Carolina then went on with his dialogue, “While blood is the ultimate connection, a heart connection, in rare circumstances, can be stronger. Patrick's connection to Ciaran is like that, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to make Ciaran happy. Carolina and Patrick’s heart connection is not all consuming which allows her a great capacity to care for others deeply, like me, Callum and Justin, which is sort of expected because we’re her children, but she embraces others too without reservation. Callum and I are more like our blood father, we're not as open to people as mom is but we immediately took to you and Justin because we alwa
ys knew we would be together. Even before we officially met the two of you we learned all about you, knew we are all deeply connected, especially Justin to me and Callum. We twins and Justin were born exactly three months and one day apart, three minutes separating each birth within the same hour. That makes us brothers to an extent that is mind-boggling. Growing up with mom we use to talk about the two of you all the time, like the morning of the first day you came to our home, we'd been talking about you and Justin but she doesn't remember, she suppresses things that make her sad so she won't want to disappear. Now that's unlikely to ever happen, because she'll finally be happy and the consuming blood-heart connection she shares with Justin, like you and your brothers have with your own parents and August, especially like the connection you have with your mother, will make her acting drastically to avoid life's pain almost impossible.”

  Dylan looked at Calder as if he were from another planet but asked with genuine interest, “What do know about my relationship with my mother?”

  Callum angrily scolded his twin, “Shut up idiot. You're freaking him out.”

  “No, I want to hear what Calder has to say,” Dylan assured Callum.

  “You're the child she wasn't supposed to have, a child like me, Callum, Justin, Patrick, Carolina and Uncle Chris. Your mother is the reason you can sing the way you do. You were born three months prematurely, during a freak storm when she was alone. She delivered you but you weren't alive and she couldn't call for help because the phone lines were down. But, she wanted you to live so she took you out into the lightning seeking divine intervention and sang over you the first song you ever heard, the first song she ever taught you, 'Amazing Grace'. She vowed you'd live to sing and from your first breath you could open the gates of heaven.”

  Dylan gave an uneasy chuckle shaking his head in wonder at the boy's surprise retelling of his Texas birth. “How did you hear that old story?”

  Calder looked at Carolina knowing she wouldn't be happy with his revelations, the thin line of her lips already telling of her displeasure so far, but turning from her he took a deep breath and proceeded, “Your mother, Susan, told a bit of your history a few days ago. Gammy confided she hadn't wanted you to marry Vega or Liz because Vega was too gentle and Liz was pure poison. So your Ma had Chris and Vega marry, but she didn't have time to get Liz away from you before she and your dad went to heaven.”

  Watching as Dylan's tanned face drained to paste-white, Carolina cautioned Calder, “You've told us enough tales. Why don't you and your brothers-”

  “Calder, come here,” Dylan motioned to the sofa cushion next to him, exhaling slowly to give himself time to adjust to the rush of blood back into his head. When the child was seated beside him Dylan asked, “What else do you know?”

  Obligingly Calder announced, “Gammy Susan wants you to wear your dad's wedding band and Carolina should wear her rings. They're everlasting like true love, that's why they weren't destroyed in the fire; it's why the flames couldn't touch your parents.”

  Dylan thought his brother's were playing a cruel joke on him because they'd always teased him about being their mother's favorite. Now he was gonna find out for sure and if his brothers were involving Calder in their shenanigans he'd chuck the hulking miscreants out on their backsides faster than a dog could lift his hind leg on a post. Narrowing his eyes and scratching his head he asked Calder, “Did my Ma or Pa say where the rings are 'cause I've kinda forgotten?”

  “Sure. Gammy said they're in your safe in the gunroom, the combination, in case you don't remember, is the date and year of their wedding. Also Gammy wants you to know that Carolina is the happiness she always promised you.”

  Dylan suffered another color-drain and his hands shook as he tousled Calder's hair, “My Gosh you're amazing.” He remembered on at least two occasions asking Carolina who she was and now he knew he should have been questioning what all of the Conways were. He was poised to ask that very question but reconsidered when he saw her nervously twisting her hair around her index finger.

  Carolina pleaded, “Calder, I want you to stop right this minute.”

  Dylan shushed her, waving his hand in her direction, “Carolina go have a nap. I'll come up when we're done. Now Calder, tell me, do you see and talk to my parents?”

  Calder looked to Carolina, watching as she folded her arms across her chest in disapproval but he forged ahead, “Patrick does. He talks to and sees my birth mom and dad too. However, they're not in heaven with your parents. They're in Patrick's other home.”

  Carolina paled, her fair complexion going milk-white before Dylan's eyes as she begged the child, “Calder please stop this. Patrick shouldn't tell you those things because you're too young to make sense of them.”

  “Mom, he can't refuse to tell me if I ask about important things. Just as he had to do, what Ciaran asked. You're the only one of us he can deny,” Calder reproached her, holding her gaze until she flushed and turned away from him.

  Seeing Carolina had nothing else to say, Dylan asked Calder, “Is there more?”

  Calder seized the opportunity to continue demonstrating his superior knowledge, albeit second-hand, and to brooch his own agenda, “Yes. When a person is really lucky and not related by birth-blood or bound by earthly moral constraints, they can have a physical connection that makes a heart connection better. So, when I'm ready to marry Chris' daughter, Constance, I can because we're not birth-blood related.”

  Justin and Callum groaned loudly. They'd been listening to Calder go on about Constance since he'd met her and they were tired of the subject. Just like they were now sick of his nonstop yapping. They were preparing to speak up about his endless yammering when Dylan gave them a look of blazing white light and they stayed silent.

  Calming himself Dylan looked at Calder and replied, “That's right.”

  Calder leaned closer to Dylan saying conspiratorially, “You'll talk to Uncle Chris so he'll promise her to me and not someone else. I know he'll not part with her easily especially since I'm younger than she is and not as hefty as he'd want for the spouse of his most favored princess but I can make her happy. We met up the other night out by the stables and dad she sang to me so beautifully, my heart stopped and I saw angels everywhere. Now I understand why Uncle Chris doesn't allow her to sing for ordinary people. But I'm way better than average and I'd be a great husband to her.”

  Noting the fevered exuberance on the boys face Carolina asked him, “Calder what time were you out at the stables and what were the two of you doing?”

  Calder gave a start of surprise, in his excitement about Constance he'd forgotten Carolina was there. Bashfully he answered, “We were out there for a few hours, from midnight on, just doing stuff promised couples do.” He cast love struck eyes upon her and blushed pink from the neck of his tie-dyed tee, to the roots of his hair.

  Justin and Callum burst into laughter and Carolina gave them a cold look prompting them to clamp their mouths shut. To Calder she explained, “You're a little boy. You shouldn't be sneaking off to do stuff with girls, especially not Chris' daughter and not because he'll be upset when he finds out but because you need to respect and love a girl before you do things with her.”

  Trying to put her mind at ease he assured her, “I do love and respect Constance. We did things like you and Patrick use to do in Dublin, but I didn't bleed Constance.”

  Remembering the things she and Patrick had done, it was now Carolina’s turn to blush. Struggling for composure, she tried to find words to address Calder’s midnight tryst, however, all she could do was sputter, looking helplessly at Dylan who stared back at her questioningly and a bit peevishly too. She guiltily shifted her gaze to the yellow planter of blue flowers Justin had presented to her weeks earlier, which now adorned the piano top.

  “Chris is going to kill him,” Callum mumbled under his breath and when Dylan focused on him, he shrugged and stared out the window.

  Dylan asked with a shocked note to his voice, “What does he mean Carolina?

  She looked at Calder hoping he'd keep quiet and addressed Dylan, “It's like becoming blood-brothers but strictly between individuals who feel intensely drawn to each other and for particular bloodlines the undertaking is very serious.”

  “So you and Constance cut your fingers, exchanged blood and became...” Dylan had no idea how to finish and sat looking at the open-faced child waiting for him to supply some further explanation.

  Calder glanced at everyone in turn, his eyes resting for a long time on Carolina before his gaze shifted to Dylan at which point he confided, “Nope. We sat out.” This man was his new father and he saw no reason to lie to him. Leaning over he whispered into his dad's ear what he had done with Constance then sat back waiting for a response.

  Dylan gave the boy a nod and ruffled his hair not once letting his face register the fact that while Chris would be proud that at least Calder was exhibiting the Savage flair with the opposite sex he'd be pissed that the recipient of the romantic attention was his pride and joy, Constance. Dylan had already sat through one of Chris' talks today and now he'd be getting another earful and very likely punched as well. Not taking his eyes off the child Dylan cleared his throat and in a despondent tone he addressed Carolina, “You and I need to talk about your life in Ireland.” With that proclamation made, he told Calder, “No more sleeping in the tree house for any of you and no more going out to the stables after dark without supervision Calder, not because you went there with Constance but because the stables at night aren't safe when you're unsupervised.”

  Undeterred, Calder campaigned, “Yes sir and you'll talk to Chris for me?”

  Dylan affectionately assured the child, “Calder every chance I get I'll put in a good word for you with Chris. Now go on with what Patrick taught you.”

  Calder beamed at Dylan before continuing, “Physical bonds alone, like you had with Liz, won't last forever.”

  “Newsflash,” Justin interjected sarcastically.

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