Savage Love, page 38
Carolina reached for Justin to pull him into her embrace but Dylan restrained her. She knew better than to pull away from him by the dark look that continued clouding his face. Carolina comforted her eldest son as much as she could with her lilting voice, “Thank you for telling me the truth and taking responsibility for your actions. Now, collect Vienna and your brothers, then go back to bed, all of you.”
Justin looked beyond his mother to Patrick who still held the very upset Vienna and reading no acrimoniousness in the dark fiery eyes he breathed a little easier until his gaze swiveled to meet Dylan's and he sadly beseeched, “Dad?” They stood looking at each other for long tense moments and it wasn't until the tears ran unchecked down the boy's cheeks and Vienna wiggled free from Patrick's arms to run over and stand protectively in front of Justin, tightly clutching his hands that Dylan relented with an almost imperceptible incline of his head. The boys gloomily retreated then with the little girl walking along at their sides, trying to comfort them.
Carolina felt Dylan angrily spin her around to face his brothers once again and she hiccupped to hold back a deluge of emotion before stammering, “Patrick, I have wronged you terribly and I wouldn't blame you for eternally shunning me. You are my first consort and I've forever loved thee. For the sake of my new life and family I wish it were not so but I fear if you asked me to leave this all behind, even with no promises of forever being extended to me, I would. That you make no such demands should be proof of you're caring for me. Today when you felt my longing for the babe, I feared lost, and set about righting the situation in the most expeditious fashion you could imagine I should have seen that you are truly devoted to me though you will not have me as a legitimate mate and bed companion. In all honesty, I fear I'll never accept that you won't legally wed me and I'm torn because I love and desire Dylan so desperately that the thought of another woman being with him makes me crazy and physically ill. I struggle with my desire for the two of you. The fear of loosing him ignites my anguish over you and I not being together and not being with you makes me feel he'll leave me at any moment. I don't expect ye to understand but please accept that I'm very sorry.”
Dylan didn't wait for a response to her impassioned words. He turned away from the men with Carolina's arm still held firmly in his grasp, silently marching her back to their bedroom where he pushed her into the bathroom, yanked off their garments and shoved her into the shower. Joining her he scrubbed them both under the forceful jets, was rough on her skin, rubbing and lathering first with his hands and lavender soap, then with the bath brush, followed by a course of similarly fragrant but extremely gritty exfoliating scrub until she was crying loudly and struggling. He wanted to rid her of Liz's touch, of the strippers' oily residue, cleanse her of the smells of tobacco, whiskey and the pungent, clinging odor of his brothers' desire and most of all he wanted to strip her unwavering love for Patrick from between them. The more he scoured the madder he got because he kept seeing Chris, Frank and Jesse ogling her body that never would have been exposed if she'd listened to him, trusted him, loved him and most of all there was the matter of Patrick.
He raised the flat side of the brush and brought the wood angrily down; smacking her thigh then slapping the heavy instrument of punishment against the fleshy curve of her other hip harder than he had the first. Her wet palms tried to push him away and shield herself at the same time. Angrily, Dylan ignored her efforts, repeatedly delivering blows up and down her flesh, from hip to mid-thigh, as she kept trying to ward them off. Furiously he swatted her hands down until she stood sobbing, unprotected and defenseless. Gripping her chin, he forced her to meet his eyes saying furiously, “You are my children's mother. You will behave as such in the presence of others at all times, resume being the woman I fell in love with or I swear I'll spank you til you can't sit down. Do you understand?”
Nodding, she cleared tears from her voice to say, “Yes, I understand.” To show that she was repentant, she lifted trembling arms to embrace him.
He didn't believe she even had a clue. Still mad as a March hare, Dylan jostled her to the back of the shower, hot-bloodedly ordering, “Turn around and put your hands on the wall.” He studied her as she did as she was told. Reaching back, he soaked the bamboo of his makeshift paddle in the hot running water, telling her through gritted teeth, “For thirteen years my life was a nightmare, being manipulated and lied to, married to Liz. She’d lift her skirt for anyone, do anything to get what she wanted not because I didn’t satisfy her, give her almost every material thing she ever asked for, but because she could. I'll not tolerate it again. You'll keep yourself covered woman, befitting a wife, mother and saint. Your body is for my eyes alone, not my brothers' or other men. Always consider how your public behavior will reflect on our children. I'm not telling you to deny your feelings but I'm warning you to keep 'em in check.”
He swung the wet wood and the sound of the makeshift paddle contacting her damp backside was like the mesmerizing crack of lightning, her pained scream a dark aphrodisiac stirring the sexual violence within his tortured soul. Drawing his arm back, he swung again, his breathing growing heated as the brush made contact, her rippling and reddening flesh further stirring his desire. He wanted to drop the paddle, shove her face-first up against the marble wall and ram his drumming rod into her tight rear until the visions of her flashing his brothers left his mind. Ideas of twisting his hands in her hair like reins as he controlled and rode her roughly, made his muscles quiver.
The urgency of his desire for her was terrifying and he felt the handle slipping from his grasp just as his brother's taunts filled his ears. Tightening his grip, without mercy for either of them, he increased the strength of each blow he delivered to her bottom because of what she'd done, his brothers' reactions, his increasing need and slipping control. He punished her until she was crying loudly and shaking. Her ample bottom swayed and shimmied with the beauty of a belly dancer's, raised welts, the rich coral-red of Prelude raspberries, standing out against her white flesh. She was beyond pretentious beauty, this was bare, raw, elemental appeal that called to him and he knew if he answered, he'd reveal his true need and risk loosing her.
Carolina's backside burned and throbbed. The skin from her hips down to her knees felt as if hundreds of Harvester ants were stinging her. She was in agony, trying to escape him, dancing one way then the other, hoping to elude his fury but she had nowhere to run. Her cries were sincere but she felt no love and was granted no mercy from her treacle bear. She feared she'd driven him from her by brandishing a burning torch in his face and for that, she must atone to regain his favor, accept with honor and humility the thrashing he prescribed and dispensed. Never had she been punished so, as either a full fay or in her human life. Only once in her lives had a loved one smacked her. It had been her meadow father taking his hand to her tail end, giving her three gentle swats, for stealing honey from the hives throughout the countryside. She'd not been reformed, had continued her headstrong raiding. However, the discipline Dylan was subjecting her to made her want to give up her fiery ways temporarily, operate for a time only from the meadow portion of her spirit. She cried out her remorse, “What I did was wrong. I'm undeserving of my children and of you.” Trying not to shift away from the paddling he continued subjecting her to she wailed, “I beg for deliverance from my ungovernable rage and my wicked need for retaliation so that I may be a dutiful wife and responsible mother. I can be better, can be worthy of your love. Now- Oww, ouch, owwie.” Her skin was on fire and she could no longer stop her feet and hips from moving frantically, desperately shifting away from his blows.
“Be still woman,” he angrily commanded, swatting her again, his hand hurting from the force of the strike. He felt anguished, pressure building behind his eyes, because he hadn't ever wanted this with her. Nevertheless, there he was, fully aroused by the sight of her quivering flesh and rising welts. Abruptly he ceased the punishment, willing himself not to press up against her and r
Standing beside the oak chiffonier, Carolina held the towel tightly to her breasts. On one hand, she was contrite, wanting to be good and pious, prove to Dylan that she'd conformed to his will but the other hand was presenting her with some big problems. She couldn't tear her eyes from his masterful physique. Her unbridled, fiery nature wanted her to fall back upon the bed and demand that he slate her sexual thirst. She closed her eyes to his magnificence, hoping to smother her fire. In a weak, mousy voice she pleaded, “Please don't be angry anymore treacle bear at me or our sons.”
He pulled open a drawer and took out a navy blue pajama top. Holding it out to her he commanded, “Come here.”
On unsteady legs, she approached him. “Am I to put that on?”
“Yes. But first turn around.” She moved so her back was to him and he swept the heavy length of her damp hair over her shoulder to unfasten first his mother's necklace, then the medallion Patrick had given her.
Carolina touched her fingers to her bare throat, her lips moving in silent apology. She didn't want to be sent away. Her place was at his side with their family as his devoted wife. Blinking rapidly she gripped her left hand with her right, trying to stave off what was sure to come. This time she had no curse to blame, this mess was of her own making. When she felt him trying to reposition her she resisted, pulling away. Terror had her on the verge of shape shifting, so she could fly away until he calmed down and resumed caring for her, but he caught hold of her and yanked her around.
“You better not shift or take off running,” he warned, reaching for her left hand.
She snatched it away, crossing her wrists behind her back, shaking her head in refusal. “No. No. Please don't. I love you, will do anything.”
Dylan's voice was domineering, “Stop resisting then. Give me your hand.”
She drew the requested appendage into sight, her fingers unsteady, and when he stripped his mother's engagement ring from her hand the room began spinning, her knees buckling and she felt invisible hands steadying her, his mother's lips against her cheek, then she was gone. Carolina looked into Dylan's eyes that were as black as the darkest night. Silently she begged fire to go away, Dylan wasn't happy with that part of her spirit. He needed the sweet, tenderness of her meadow side.
Dylan helped her into the pajama top, quickly fastening the buttons, being careful not to touch her skin. “Go and feed the babes then come straight back to bed.”
Rubbing her naked ring finger, she hesitated; perhaps if they went together he’d start thinking better of her and give at least the ring back. “Will you come with me?”
“No. Hurry along.” He'd yet to recover from the only time he'd seen her start to feed baby Patrick. If he went into the nursery with her, the babes would never drink because he'd be all over her, so filled with lust at the sight of her beautiful breasts nourishing his children that he'd have to rush her back to the bedroom to get inside her.
“Alright.” Walking away Carolina's body registered such pain she didn't think she'd successfully make the short trip next door to the nursery. Her backside stung and her arms hurt. The biggest ache, however, was in her heart, fearing he’d banish her from his and the children’s lives, and needing to be near them she’d be forced to hide out in the lavender field until she wasted away.
As she entered the nursery, she once again touched her bare throat and chest. Slowly she moved over to the first crib and picked up baby Patrick, carrying him to the loveseat where she sat and offered him her breast. He latched on, drinking hungrily and although she should have been relieved, taken the change in his behavior as a good omen, she felt forsaken, fearing that upon her return to the bedroom Dylan would have her bags packed and she couldn't dare turn to Patrick for comfort.
Back in their room, she stood staring at the bed Dylan had completely redressed in navy blue linens. The coverings she'd crafted had been removed and he was also missing. The tiny bits of hope she'd clung to started slipping through her fingers.
Walking to the bathroom door, she knocked timidly, calling out his name. When there was no answer, she entered and at one of the twin basins, she unbuttoned the pajama top in order to wash the milk tackiness from her skin. She applied a natural soap and warm water to a washcloth, bathing her still full and aching breasts with light circular sweeps. Concentrating on her sore nipples, she winced at each pass of the textured cotton.
From the doorway, Dylan studied her profile, the artistic lines of her lovely face, how the fall of her thick curly hair veiled the breast she was bathing. He fleetingly thought about offering to assume the task but he had needs that could no longer be denied. His voice was smoky and impatient, “I thought you'd be in bed.”
Looking up from her task, she met his still black gaze in the mirror, feeling her cheeks burn under his scrutiny. Her hand stilled, then shook nervously in anticipation. Wringing out the cloth she hung it up, shyly offering an explanation, “They were sticky.”
He'd hoped they would be, had wanted to lick them clean. “When will you feed the babes again?”
“Around four. They drank a lot just now, even little Pat and Cam,” she offered, wanting to demand her jewelry back. She needed to know he still loved her, that they'd be wedded tomorrow. There was no question he still desired her, it was in his hungry look, was the same way she felt about him every second of the day. Earlier in the shower while he'd been giving her a hiding, she'd wanted him to take her as he had the night of their first engagement party, had craved the feel of him slamming against her bruised skin, the huge, long length of him giving her the hedonistic torment she'd been longing for but had been hesitant to request. Frightened of her wanton thoughts, she didn't face him. He didn't want her fiery passion.
“Turn around and let me see you,” he was watchful as she followed his request. “You get more beautiful every day. Tonight your skin has the luster of pearls and your hair is the red-orange of firelight.” Walking over to her, he stroked his fingers across the swell of her breast. When she winced, he grit his teeth imagining sucking on her nipples as he kneaded each pale globe. Drawing in a mind-clearing breath he told her, “I'm sorry about earlier, but I needed you to understand how serious I am. I never wanted to touch you in anger and I swear I'll do all I can not to resort to such behavior ever again if you simply obey one of the few things I'll ever demand of you.”
Meeting his gaze she vowed, “I won't ever behave again as I did earlier.” Except when it was just the two of them, her inner being guaranteed, then her fire spirit could be free and he'd enjoy her abandon. Having that self-assurance she wanted to cling to him, run her palms up under his t-shirt, caress the sculpted perfection of his muscular chest, then slide her hands down