Savage Love, page 30
Chris looking very relieved answered, “She's upstairs in the nursery with Callum. We were just heading out to find you. Where the heck have you been and where did you get those little critters from?”
He grinned like a Cheshire cat. “Not to sound rude, but none of your business and you can bet I won't be wishing for y'all to get any like 'em. Now each of you gets to hold one of 'em for a few minutes while I go and take care of some things.” Not forgetting the debt he owed to his animal companions, Dylan turned to thank them but they had disappeared.
Freshly showered and dressed in clean clothes, Dylan stood in the doorway of the nursery, “Callum, son, where are your brothers?”
Callum considered his father and answered casually, “They said they had things to do before the wedding and that I needed to stay here and help mom.”
Carolina gave Dylan a look of concern, “Where have you been?”
“Just a minute.” He resumed his talk with Callum, “Thanks for helping out. Your uncles are waiting with a surprise for your mom. Go down and y'all can bring it up for me in a few of minutes.”
“Sure dad.” Callum left with a wave toward the sleeping babies.
Dylan stepped inside the room and closed the door. Walking over to where she sat curled up on the loveseat he knelt down beside her, felt her hands in his hair, moving over his face as she leaned sideways to kiss his brow. “You had me worried. I tried getting into your head, but all I could hear was the crying you kept talking about and when it suddenly stopped I asked your brothers to go look for you.”
Capturing her hands, he kissed her palms. “I'm all better now. Am I forgiven?”
The brilliant sparkle in his eyes told her he was indeed past his crisis. However, she had to see for herself that he was able to physically care for their children. “If you'll hold the babes I will. They need you as much as Justin needed you when he was born.”
“I know they do.” He kissed her and stood up. Walking over to little Dylan he carefully lifted the sleeping child to his shoulder, nuzzling him tenderly, inhaling his pleasing baby fragrance. Placing the still sleeping baby back into his crib, Dylan went down the line picking up and cuddling each of the remaining babies before returning to take a seat beside a smiling Carolina. “I can never apologize enough for the things I did and said earlier. My grief at thinking we'd lost the baby finally overtook me and I behaved like both ends of a mule. I know I can never undo what was done but I want you to know how really, really, sorry I am.”
Comfortingly she held his hand. “The way you were feeling earlier, I understood, so you need not have apologized. You were so excited, talking to the little dote and making plans, naturally you'd take the loss really hard.”
Adoringly he told her, “I want you to have something that was very special to me and my mama.” He lifted the loose ends of his denim shirt to retrieve a wide, flat, jewelry box from the front of his waistband.
Shaking her head at him she touchingly professed, “I already have the most special thing your mother possessed and that's you. I don't need anything more.”
He knew she was serious, had always known that gifts and tokens weren't what she needed. “That you accept and wear this symbol of commitment will please my parents, August and me. The only way Liz could take possession of this necklace was by murder, and for years she lied to me about having it.” He opened the rich black velvet box toward her and heard her catch her breath.
She swung her legs to the floor and lifted the heavy pink diamond necklace from its bed of black silk. The air stirred around them and the stones sparkled the distinct pale pink of Rosa 'The Fairy'. “Oh Dylan I can't-”
He shushed her. “Honey, don’t say no, please. If you reject this symbol of commitment, then I‘ll forever question your devotion to me.”
Carolina knew he was right. She could hear Mama Sue and Papa Joe telling her to accept it, to accept their boy as he was, with all his strengths and imperfections. Silently she told them she would and their voices floated away as the air calmed. Still holding the necklace, feeling its warmth and energy she exclaimed blissfully, “It's lovely.”
Taking the necklace from her, he instructed, “Turn around.” He waited while she swiveled and lifted her heavy fall of hair. Sliding the V-shaped necklace with its large central teardrop stone against her smooth skin he fastened the platinum safety clasp at the base of her neck then began kissing his way down her back.
Hearing the door swing open, then approaching footsteps she giggled and tried squirming away saying, “Dylan, behave yourself.” She attempted to turn but his strong body blocked her movements.
Keeping her captive in the boundary of his arms he nuzzled her neck, trapped her earlobe with his teeth, whispering, “Honey, turn around, your other gifts are here.”
Carolina did as he instructed. When her eyes fell upon the babies in the security of his brothers' arms she pushed him aside and rose to stumble forward. She knew they weren't the babies he'd wished for his brothers and all five of her babes were present, but these new pixies were familiar, calling out to her mind and energy. She held back, not wanting them to vanish. “Where did you get them?”
“Hold on a second.” Dylan stood and walked over to his brothers and a grinning Callum, taking one baby at a time to bunk them with their siblings before saying to his helpers, “Thanks guys. Y'all can go and Callum call Patrick, tell him the news so he'll stop by the superstore on his way home.”
“Sure dad.” Callum quickly glanced at his uncles then hurriedly asked, “Can Justin, Calder and I name the new babies?”
Dylan's brothers voiced their displeasure, “Hey squirt, we want to name 'em?”
“I called dibs first. If you snooze you loose, that's the California rule.”
“Boys that's enough. Callum you and your brothers get first names. Chris, Frank and Jesse y'all get middle names. Now go. I still need to talk with Carolina.” There was a bit of good-natured grumbling from the older three as they playfully chased Callum from the nursery.
As soon as they were alone, with wide-eyes, Carolina asked him again, “Dylan, where did those babes come from?”
“From you. They're your womb and heart babes. I was out by the lavender field and a couple of our wolf friends led me to them. They were crying to come home. Apparently, the wolves could hear it too. When they got me to the site, our silver-haired boy was nearly dug free. The other two, a boy and a girl, rested beneath him. I got to bring them all forth myself,” he boasted.
She hadn't possessed the power to save them. She'd tried everything. Recalling what Justin had told her about Dylan having the ability to have children without a mate she asked solemnly, “How did you do this?”
His eyes never wavered from hers. “I reached my hand in-”
“No, I mean why are these babes here?”
“Because we're their parents. Isn't that all we need to know?”
“Of course.” She studied him for several seconds unable to determine if he knew what he'd done by dreaming as he had the previous night. Giving him a bright smile, she momentarily clutched her medallion then caressed the diamond teardrop at her throat. Staring down at all of her babes she felt her breasts expanding, filling out more with the nourishment they would need.
He kissed the top of her radiant hair. “Come, let’s leave them to sleep.”
She touched his arm. “Dylan, promise me you’ll never leave me.”
He drew her into his arms, “I promise.”
Lifting her face to his she lay her palm over his heart, feeling its strong steady beat, “Tell me you'll always love me.”
Holding her gaze, he caught her hands in his, leading her from the nursery back into their bedroom where he lustily confessed, “Honey, I'm not gonna just tell you; I've got my mind set on a very thorough demonstration.”
She flowed into him, her body growing hot beneath the intensity of his look. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she beckoned him with smiling eyes an
An hour had passed since she'd fallen asleep and still he embraced her, breathing in her warm creamy, nutty fragrance, listening to the soothing buzz of her snoring. He thrilled in the perfect fit of her body against his own, fighting hard against his desire to make wishes for more babes so soon. He wanted to focus on meeting her needs proving how much he cared for her, that he was worthy as a friend, lover, husband and father. In little over a month, she'd given him more than he could have ever hoped for and he'd given her very little in comparison, but he'd give his life to prove just how much he loved her and their kids.
The cellphone vibrated on the nightstand beside him and he hurriedly reached back and pressed a button to silence the mechanical humming of the slim device so Carolina wouldn't be disturbed. The phone's lit panel displayed the caller identification and he immediately answered, “Hey son?” Listening intently he gently unwrapped himself from around her, rising stark naked from the bed to take the call in the bathroom. His tone was even, “Calder where's Justin?”
In a huge white stucco and glass house scant feet from the lapping waves of the Pacific Ocean, Calder stood shaking and frightened, the cold press of steel against his temple, but he kept his voice steady, “Dad you have to come and get us. Justin's tied up. Liz says she wants the necklace back and then she'll-”
Dylan heard his little boy cry out and the sound of crashing. “Calder? Calder?”
“I'm sorry he can't come to the phone right now. He and Justin are napping,” Liz's voice was mocking, bitter and cold.
Dylan looked in the mirror above the basin seeing the flinty set of his jaw and the brilliance of heat lightning in his eyes. “What do you want?”
Her voice was hard-edged, “You know what I want, and the necklace back of course. Those diamonds should have always been mine. Your hillbilly mother never appreciated its value. Where, the hell was she going to go in a rare diamond necklace? A collector once offered me a hundred million for the single teardrop stone. With that kind of money, I could have bought that shit-kicking little town you grew up in and a few more. But to me, it’s priceless and I will not be parted from what should have always been mine. Do you understand?”
“Yes Liz,” he acquiesced, tasting bile.
“Now that's the sweet little boy I married, so agreeable.”
“Is there anything else?”
“I want a very public announcement that you plan to remarry me and not that whore you've been shacked up with.”
“We'll fly to Vegas this afternoon and notify the press once we're there.”
“I've always loved you. That's the reason I killed your parents. They were going to take you away from me, from the life I was creating. Then you stopped wanting it anyway. That's why I divorced you but I'd hoped you'd start craving what we had. I need to know you want that lifestyle again or don't bother coming.”
He had to dig deep to access the accommodating, co-dependent tone she preferred, that was uncharacteristic of him aside for his association with her, “I want what you want, and if you guarantee the boys are unhurt, I’ll bring along something to kick off our celebration.”
Churlishly she stated, “I told you they're napping.”
“Fine, I'm on my way.” He hoped he sounded meek enough.
“How long will it be until you get here?”
“Give me an hour.”
“You've got thirty minutes. Come alone and don't call the police. If I think you're trying to trick me I'll kill that bitch's brat,” she finished forcefully.
His hand tightened on the phone. “You know me Liz I'm a man of my word.”
“That's the problem Dylan; you use to say we'd always be together. Now look at me, left alone to fend for myself. This is all your fault,” she yelled.
Dylan heard the sounds of a scuffle then a single gunshot before the call was disconnected. He wasted no time getting dressed, blue t-shirt, tattered jeans and worn white running shoes. Calmly he walked over to the bed and kissed Carolina until she stirred, looking up at him with a dreamy expression. “Honey, I've got to run an errand. I'll only be gone for a little bit. You go back to sleep.”
“Where are Patrick and the boys?”
He caressed her cheek, “Patrick hasn't gotten back yet. The boys are out practicing, like they always are. They'll be up here later with you and the babes.”
Her fingers moved to touch the cool smoothness of the large diamond teardrop at her throat. “Please put this in the safe.”
Dylan moved her fingers away from the necklace. “No honey. Now get some rest.” He kissed her one last time before leaving the room and hurrying over to the nursery. Pushing the door open, he saw Callum sitting on the loveseat with his guitar. Approaching the boy he asked, “Son can you call Patrick the way Calder does?”
“No, sir,” he lied, feeling bad about the untruth but he and his brothers had agreed and he'd follow through with his role however bad he felt about deceiving Dylan.
“Can you hear your brothers right now?” The child shook his head and Dylan took a deep breath then exhaled slowly. “Would you know if your brothers were hurt?”
Wanting to somewhat ease his father's distress, Callum answered, “Sure.”
Dylan's voice was calm, “Are they?”
Callum replied reassuringly, “They're not seriously hurt. I can feel their heartbeats, strong as usual, but faster. Calder has a headache and his chest hurts a bit. Justin's blood pressure is up pretty high though.”
Dylan's voice held gratitude, “Thanks son. I'm going to get your brothers. You go down to the media room and hang out with your cousins and I want you to stay away from your mother until I come back. If you see Patrick, tell him to call me.”
Callum continued to play his part inquiring, “Is something wrong dad? You're not upset because Patrick told you Calder and I are really mom's and his children are you?”
“No son, everything is fine,” he said walking over to kiss all of the still sleeping babies before extending his hand to Callum. “Walk down with me. I was thinking tonight after dinner I'd give you and your brothers another driving lesson.”
Callum was in mid-stride beside Dylan when his feet failed him, his voice sounding anxious, “Aren't you having a bachelor party?”
“Driving lessons with my three oldest kids is the best celebration I could ever hope for.” He silently walked the rest of the distance to the entryway with his child where he reminded him, “Hide out from your mom and tell Patrick to phone me.”
Callum knew he'd be contacting Calder as soon as their father was out of earshot but he said to Dylan, “Alright dad. Is there anything else you need me to do?”
Dylan shook his head and watched the child hurry off before he turned away from the door to walk purposefully to the gun room, where he entered, leaving the door ajar. Opening the safe, he withdrew a medium-sized leather shaving kit. For several seconds he glared down on a part of his past with Liz, unsure why it was even still in his possession. He reached back into the safe and withdrew the keys to his electric blue SSC, calculating how much time he'd need to get the short thirteen miles to the beach house to free his sons. Liz had given him thirty minutes and a law-abiding citizen could make the trip in about twenty. He'd be there in ten. The clicking of high heels on the stone floor behind him caught his attention.
“Dylan where is Calder? My Constance is driving me bonkers cause she can't find him.” Vega, standing behind him, could tell by the tenseness in his back that not all was right. She was well acquainted with every line of his body and knew this wasn't the relaxed, sometimes volatile Dylan. He was angrier than hours earlier, in a frighteningly quiet fashion.
He pushed the safe closed and turned to smile warmly at her. Even preoccupied he could appreciate her beauty, the smooth golden skin and whiskey-colored eyes, her thick hair waving down over the shoulders of her rom
Seeing the black case in his hands Vega's eyes searched his but she didn't state the obvious, that he was hiding something. Instead, she touchingly confided, “She says he asked her to marry him. As a matter of fact she told her dad she accepted and that they've set the date for her eighteenth birthday.”
He moved to take her arm and steer her from the room, allowing the door to lock after them. His voice was filled with amusement, “And just how did Chris take that?”
She placed her free hand on his arm, silently requesting him to be still. When he stopped his strides she turned to him with concern in her eyes and voice, “Quite well so you better bring Calder and Justin home safely. All of you had better come back in one piece cause I don't think any of us can survive without y'all, especially not Carolina.”
He patted her hand. “Don't say anything to anyone.”
Though she thought it unwise, she'd do as he asked. “Take Chris,” she pleaded.
“No. This is my problem. I was dumb and blind enough to marry her, now I'll straighten her out.” Placing a brotherly kiss on her cheek he assured her, “I'll see ya later.” He walked away with long determined strides intent on having his boys return to their mother unharmed.
From the doorway of the media room Patrick sent out a mental command for Callum to silently leave his group of cousins and come over to him. Walking ahead of his eldest son it was only after they were a good distance down the long hallway that he voiced his concern in a somber tone, “Where are your brothers?”
Callum swallowed nervously. “They're at Liz's house.”
Patrick's mood turned as black as his clothing. “What are they doing there?”
The boy flinched then quickly answered, “Liz took Calder when he was out picking flowers for Constance. He called Justin for help.” Callum wiped his sweating palms on his blue t-shirt wishing he were in Calder's place instead of facing their father.