Savage Love, page 23
He stared at the glowing tip of his cigar, “What do you want to talk about?”
Brightly she reassured him, “Nothing bad, I love and plan to marry you.”
He sighed heavily, thinking the concealment made whatever it was, she planned to say, sound bad. “I'm leaving now.”
Looking at their babies she nervously broached the matter, “I need you to stop off at the superstore to pick up a few things. If you're in the study, check your e-mail and please don't substitute anything. If the store doesn't have an item, call me.”
“You should keep lettin' Patrick do the shopping.” Dylan knew he could manage a quick whiskey and beer run but anything more and he'd need to pay his respects to every fan that stopped him and the shopping would cease to be a priority.
Her voice was honeyed seduction, “Please, treacle bear, just this once.”
“Oh, alright,” when she asked like that he'd wrestle a hungry lion.
“Thank you. Now check your e-mail so I know the list arrived.”
“Hold on a sec.” Placing the cigar aside, he typed rapidly. Logging into his e-mail account he quickly found her message. “It's here; I'll print it and be on my way.”
She could hear the printer operating, “I'll wait. Did you get any sleep?”
“No. Hey, those kids are cute. Are they relatives of yours?”
“In a manner of speaking. Don't forget to call if you have problems with the list.”
Dylan scanned the printout and began to feel tightness in his skull. “Are you gonna try and talk me into babysitting? I love you to death but I want to spend my wedding night with you, alone, not bouncing a bunch of squealers.”
On cue, the five babes noisily fussed and Carolina shushed and comforted them, “Don't say things like that. They're right here and they can hear you.”
He stubbed out the cigar, “You've committed us to keeping them haven't you?”
“Well of course I have. When you see them you'll change your mind.”
Testiness was starting to shoulder-in on his good mood, “Where is their mother?”
Carolina cooed to the babes, trying to calm them, “She's right here.”
Cheerful lost the fight and Dylan's bearish temper made a rare appearance causing him to growl into the phone, “Then tell her to foster her kids off on somebody else. I want you to myself for a while. Do you understand?”
The babies' cries grew louder, “Yes I understand. Will you still run the errand?”
“Yeah, I'll go to the store but I won't change my mind. Those kids are not coming here and that's final. We already have a house full of people and they're not half as noisy as that bunch you're with now,” he shouted.
The babies were red-faced and straining. After all she’d endured, Carolina saw no reason to tolerate his nasty selfishness. She hung up and gave his babies a no-nonsense look that instantly quieted them.
He heard a click, then hollow silence. “Hello? Hello?” He stared at the phone in disbelief before flipping it shut. She'd hung up on him. Taking a deep breath to calm his volatile mood he rose to his feet just as Chris ambled into the room, walking over to peer at the computer screen. “I'm going to run an errand for Carolina, watch out for my boys while I'm gone and under no circumstance is Liz allowed in this house.”
“Sure, I'll watch the kids and don't worry about Liz 'cause Jack Hanna couldn't get in here if he wanted to. There are so many beasties out front I have the younger kids convinced you sideline as a zoo keeper.” Taking a quick look at his brother's monitor Chris gave a hearty laugh, “How did you make those kids look like that?”
“Like what? All I did was open the e-mail,” Dylan said, not really paying attention to the image on the monitor as he collected his keys and wallet from the desk drawer.
“Five kids, if they were yours and Carolina's except you've put curly red hair on the boys who look like you and blond hair on two of the girls who look like Carolina and that little blond on the end looks like Ma when she was a baby.”
Dylan heard a great whoosh as he looked at the monitor, his heart accelerating out of control. “Where's Patrick?”
“He's out front talkin' to those animals.”
“Thanks, I'll see you later.” Picking up the shopping list, he hoped he looked calmer than he felt as he quickly made his way to the porch where he saw Patrick, in the middle of the driveway scratching a wolf behind its ears. There were also various other animals lying around as if they owned the place. From a safe distance he called out, “Carolina e-mailed a list of things she needs picked-up from the superstore. Take my truck cause the list is pretty long. I'm on my way to meet her at her house.”
With a gentle wave of his hand, Patrick sent the animals trotting off. “Sure. I love shopping. The sales associates are usually attractive and always accommodating.”
Dylan gave Patrick the keys, then the list allowing him time to look peruse the detailed requests before relaying, “She told me no substitutions.”
“Who needs this much baby stuff?” Patrick scanned the list again.
“Apparently we do,” he offered, passing him the photo printout.
Staring at the picture, Patrick made the sign of the cross over his black silk shirt. “Heavenly Father they're beautiful. Is she alright?”
“She sounded fine. We'd better go.” He held his hand out for Patrick's keys.
He eagerly handed them over, “Of course. I'll see you there.”
Trying to make sense of what had happened to Carolina Dylan asked, “Is this standard for women like her?”
Patrick shook his head. “Carolina is unique. Now go take care of them.”
Standing in the doorway Dylan watched as she sat on the ivory bedspread with her back to him, talking to their babies. In his head, he could hear his sons and daughters stating their impatience at having to wait. Carolina tried consoling them, promising they'd be going home soon, but her efforts weren't good enough. In unison, the babes cried at an ear aching volume as she cooed and sang horribly off key, which only served to upset them more, their wails growing louder, little fists waving in the air. “I hope they don't keep up that much racket at night,” he teased.
At once Carolina and the babies quieted and for a moment she worried he'd sense what had happened with Liz's boyfriend and his pals, what she'd done, but they were newly bound so she let the thought pass from her mind. Had she been preparing to face Patrick the reality would have been entirely different. Rising to her feet, she faced Dylan, wondering if he'd figured out the truth. Drinking in the sight of him dressed in a blue twill shirt, faded jeans and his favorite brown boots, she wanted to know the comfort of his strong arms holding her close. Feeling nervous, she smoothed her damp palms on her a-line khaki skirt, “I bet you didn't go to the store.”
Taking in her rosy cheeks, glossy hair, and shapely figure, to him the only thing hinting at her recent delivery of babies was the further increase in her bust size. Dylan hooked his thumbs in his belt loops and gave her a look of mock severity, “No, I hurried here to give the babies' mama, you, a strong talkin' to.”
She breathed a huge sigh, smiling broadly, “You know they're ours?”
“I do. Did you know when you left this morning you'd be having them?”
Shaking her head, she stated what she herself wanted to believe, “No. They surprised me. However, I think my body was preparing to have them since yesterday. Remember the shimmering fluid?”
He nodded trying hard not to look guilty, but he'd wanted her to be with him forever and now she would be. There was nothing wrong with a man wishing to be happy, desiring things from the depths of his heart and soul. She was unharmed, more beautiful than he'd ever seen, plus she'd never know. What he'd done would simply be lost in the existing mystery of who and what she was.
“Well that's all there was at first, then I got really tired. I dozed off and when I woke up the babes were here. Oh Dylan, they are perfect, plump and healthy.”
Well for one, she'd been busy getting rid of Liz's boyfriend and his buddies. “I didn't know what was happening at first. Then after the babes were here I waited because I was scared you'd think I was some sort of beast.”
He saw the genuine fear on her face, how her eyes darted trying to measure his reaction and he felt saddened by her insecurity. “Honey, I'd never think that. I know you're special, precious and not exactly human like you claim.”
“I am. My spirit is just a wee bit different, more enhanced than the average woman's,” she tentatively confessed, terrified of loosing him.
He raised an eyebrow, “Having five full-term babies after one month of pregnancy is much more than a little different, and our babies are like you as well I can hear them in my head now, like I heard you yesterday.”
Taking a deep breath she admitted, “My spirit is fay. Do you know what that is?”
“No I don't.”
Frantically, yet with a measure of self-protection, she unburdened her soul, “Fay, born of fire and meadow fairies many decades past. Years ago, my son and I, after his father died, were elected to enliven the bodies of twins who weren't going to survive being born. The arrangement was made because their parents and ancestors had always been faithful and generous to our kind. Therefore, at the time of delivery, I flowed into the form of the dying baby girl with no problems but my son didn't make the transition. The human baby boy, my physical twin, died and my fay babe was lost to me. So here I am, fay spirit in a human body just given birth to five babes who are fay of spirit and something else I haven't yet put my finger on, but they are completely human of form.”
There was no possible way she knew, only his Ma and Pa had known and Justin hinted at his true nature now and again. His tone was deceptively innocent, “What do you mean something else?”
She searched his handsome face, her eyes slowly, traveling over the strong lines, “Why don't you tell me? Four of your babes claim their coming early was what you wanted, claim you kept calling to them, wanting them to hurry along and they did because you are 'he who must be obeyed'. They also revealed that you set out to get me with child, wished them into existence our first night together. In addition, the little one on the end says you wished especially hard for him yesterday. Is that true?”
Dylan cleared his throat, conscience-stricken. “I'm their father, of course they feel they must obey me and I did wish for a child that first night. You wanted a baby, were ready to carry one. I could smell your fertility. But, I wasn’t certain you’d get pregnant. I use to wish for more kids all the time but was only blessed with Justin. While you and I were apart, I kept hopin’ you’d call me and say I’d gotten you with child, but you didn’t. When we got back together, I did wish for a baby a few times more. . But I swear I didn't know you were with child until you told me and then I couldn't stop thinking about our baby.”
She couldn't tear her eyes away from his and their growing brilliance. “How is it possible, five babes, and the little dote on the end, who's gonna explain him?”
He'd studied their picture and knew exactly what she meant and heaven help him he wished he had her remarkable talent for prevarication. “There are five babes because I wished for a big family, larger than my brothers have. The little one, well consider him an extra special wedding present. I wished for him because you were so miserable yesterday after you learned about Calder. Honey, I want your happiness.”
'He who must be obeyed‘, it was what the babes swore he was but could tell her no more. She wanted to truly know him. “Who and what are you Dylan?”
His eyes never wavered from hers, “I'm my parent's son, brought into this world by lightning, so I'm blessed, a mama's boy so I'm doubly so, Texan, singer, father, brother, family man, the person who's in love with you and I'm selfish. By giving you what you want I know you'll never leave me.”
Carolina studied him from the top of his gleaming blond head down to his leather shod feet, then reviewed the subject of Dylan Savage once more and in the index of his eyes she found an additional answer: he was even more secretive than she, and was hiding a serious truth. “Your mother prayed for you to live. You've wished for these babes. Is that how you got Justin?”
“Yes. After Vega left me, I was lonely and miserable for years. I started wishing I had a son and no sooner than I'd met Liz, we were pregnant. She wanted me and I wanted my son. Shortly after my parent's deaths, we were married. But I was still miserable and lonely, devastated by the loss of my Ma and Pa, only connecting with Liz physically, so I found myself wishing the baby would be the child of the woman I'd love forever and that he'd hurry into the world. He did and although I never felt I loved her I assumed Liz was the woman I was to spend my entire life with.”
“He was premature?”
“He was born the first day of June, one minute past midnight, three months early, but was perfectly healthy and fully developed. I loved him from the moment I envisioned him and made sure Liz stayed off the booze and drugs, forced her to eat which wasn't easy because she worried about gaining weight. August told me Liz would starve herself and the baby, vomit, take laxatives, do anything to stay thin. I put a stop to her dangerous narcissism, watched over her and hired staff to monitor her health.”
“Not being able to trust Liz must have been very nerve-wracking.”
He nodded. “From the time Justin was born he didn't want anything to do with her. When she tried holding him, which wasn't often, he'd scream like she was killing him. The first year I, along with August, took care of his every need. After that, I employed nannies to accompany us on tour. I was a good dad to him while I tried to be a decent husband to Liz. Never did I have sexual relations outside the boundaries of our marriage bed, even though from the beginning she clearly had a taste for other men and women. But I overlooked her many faults, as a wife and parent, because I never really loved her and because I could take care of Justin myself.”
“You've always been his mother and father.”
“He needs his real mother. I accept he's yours. He's even starting to resemble you, changes to his eyes and hair, that aren't cosmetic because he hasn't been anywhere to have them done. His spirit is that of the baby you lost, which means you were always meant to be mine. I told Liz I want you to adopt Justin and of course, she didn’t agree. But she'll be out of our hair by tomorrow night. She's relocating to New York. I'm sorry I couldn't make Justin yours legally but I accept that he is in every way, plus we have five new babies and the twins. I think we're a long way towards happiness.”
Carolina held out her hand to him, “I love you for giving me what I'd never have without you. I think if you acknowledge to Justin that you accept me as his mother and keep reassuring him then he'll probably be alright. Now come meet your babes. Then dash off to the store. We can't take them home unless they're secured in safety seats.”
Walking forward he grasped her hand, rubbing his calloused thumb against her palm before lowering his head to kiss her leisurely, her taste, sweeter than he recalled, her mouth opening, inviting him, her tongue shyly mating with his, hinting at changes her body had undergone again. He released her lips, murmuring, “I sent Patrick. I would have needed a week to gather up all that stuff.”
Carolina swatted him hard on his bicep, stamping her foot in irritation, “Drat, I told you to come alone. We've got to get the babes to the courtyard before Patrick-”
“Before I what, Carolina?” Patrick asked from behind Dylan, stepping around the other man's taller, broader form, sniffing the air and getting none of the odors, blood, sweat, hatred and death
Growing up the youngest of four brothers Dylan was accustomed to being pushed aside. Therefore, he wouldn't argue with Patrick over his shunting to avoid upsetting Carolina. His voice was deferential as he gave Patrick a sideways glance, “Thanks for following up with him.”
Carolina looked from Patrick to Dylan and back, “Patrick I will not tolerate being bullied. Don't stir up problems with my babes here.”
Patrick's tone was low, coaxing, “Tell him Carolina or I will.”
She was fearsome of loosing everything. Feeling stinging pressure behind eyelids she'd closed to keep threatened tears from flowing, pitifully she wailed, 'You will not. I've loved ye faithfully, please don't do this to me.”
Patrick couldn't look away from her, from his medallion, which was back at home lying atop her sugar pink blouse. Remaining steadfast he started, “Dylan-”
Anxiously, she cut off Patrick's words, “When I got here Liz's boyfriend and two men were waiting to hurt me. However, they didn't. I'm fine. I don't want either of you getting ideas about vengeance.” Her eyes were open, misty, looking into Patrick's begging him not to correct her account and she saw his support but not his complacency. She was too afraid to look Dylan's way, just that morning she'd promised to be forthright with him and already she'd cut a Irish jig around doing that very thing.
Dylan knew then he'd completely misunderstood his mother's words. They'd been a warning. Dylan shoved Patrick aside, stepping close to thoroughly look her over for signs of violence but there were none. Pulling her into his arms, he held her closer, sniffing her hair, around her face, along the line of her neck, detecting only her familiar scent and the new aroma of hazelnuts and sweet cream. With concern and fury at the forefront of his mind, he held her at arms length, “What did they do to you?”