Savage Love, page 4
Her inner muscles tightened eagerly, her body arching into his hardness. “Oh god, it was you,” she sighed as if in a trance.
He knew he could have taken Carolina then but instead he released her from the tight hold of his commanding gaze. Controlling the primal part of himself, Dylan righted her dress and stood before her, their bodies almost touching. “Honey, please give me a chance. I'd never do to you what your ex did. I wouldn't leave you.”
Something in her wanted to believe him, but she couldn't let herself, feared she wouldn't survive being rejected and abandoned again. She was already loosing the twins, loosing control of herself, and the experiences were tearing her up inside. With fists clenched, she gritted words between her teeth, “Get. Out.”
Dylan could see she was fighting her feelings, saw her fear, determination and sadness. Her tortured eyes made him regret bulldozing over her resolve. “Honey I'm-”
“No,” frightened by her weakening mindset she didn't wait for him to finish. She marched past Dylan and opened the door for him to leave. When he wouldn't she stalked back to her desk, gathered what she needed for the luncheon and left. Taking the documents from her assistant's outstretched hands as she passed the workstation, Carolina fled the building wondering if her life could possibly get worse.
Having business luncheons at Ventura's beautiful marina was a deliberate decision on Carolina's part. She wanted to grind away at the memory of her ex. This had been the locale for their wedding reception; a celebration that had taken place without vows being exchanged and despite the prospective groom being noticeably absent. She needed the positive present to outweigh the negative past so she never conducted business negotiations here, that sometimes-uncertain process could take place anywhere else, but never by the beautiful blue water that held the tears she’d shed for hours six years earlier. In her mind, this was a sacred place of sorts, which demanded beneficial energy. Therefore, her luncheons consisted of contract signings and drinks first, always club soda for her, then an elegant meal and more drinks with a good bit of jovial conversation thrown in because she genuinely liked the people with whom she now formed alliances. Having today's contracts finalized and secured in her briefcase, she settled into the flow of badinage with her seven guests, her best friend and constant client Patrick Donovan, Judge Sapperstein, Dr. Bixby and four other powerful and wealthy men who'd joined together in a California property venture totaling over half a billion dollars, a very satisfying deal for her since she'd lured two of the buyers away from her former fiancee's firm. Carolina felt giddy in her victory and wouldn't allow the day's issues, with the twins or Dylan, to diminish her elevated spirits.
She was deeply engrossed in Dr. Bixby's detailing of a Florida development he'd been pondering when Carolina heard the Judge ask no one in particular, “Is that who I think it is?” His gaze was fixed in the direction behind her seat. The pheromone levels at the table rose dramatically, stinging her ultra sensitive nose.
“She's coming this way,” heralded Dr. Bixby, straightening his tie, smoothing his thinning hair and reddening like a teen with his first erection during co-ed gym.
The dining room grew quiet. Not one to be star-struck, Carolina never looked toward the approaching figure. She simply waited for the woman to achieve her destination and in short time felt someone standing beside her. Carolina's lunch guests, with the exception of Patrick, rose courteously.
“Aren't you Ms. Conway?”
Carolina turned, looking up at a woman with fashionably styled ebony hair, cold gray eyes and a runway model's slender figure, thinking the woman would have been superbly beautiful if she didn't have a razor sharp edge of cruelty about her. She could sense that the woman derived pleasure from hurting people, physically and emotionally. This was a woman she, in no way, would have, or wanted any association. Aloofly Carolina asked, “Have we met?”
“I'm Liz Savage and since you're fucking my husband I thought introductions were long overdue.”
Oh my gosh, Carolina thought. Looking hurriedly at Patrick, she saw him raise one dark eyebrow. “I'm not sleeping-” Carolina felt the splash of liquid on her face, the sting of alcohol in her eyes. Quickly she grabbed her linen napkin, dabbing the wetness from her skin. She felt Patrick rising to defend her and lifted a palm halting him.
“Stay the hell away from my husband and Justin,” Liz cattishly ordered.
Placing the wine stained napkin on the table Carolina turned away from Liz to address her guests, “I apologize for this uncivil display. Please stay and finish at your leisure.” Collecting her briefcase she stood for a dignified finish, “Working with you all has been a tremendous honor and I look forward to our future business ventures.” Carolina walked away calmly, atypical of someone whose dress was stained with red wine and who was being pursued by a jealous ex-wife plus her two-person posse.
By the time Carolina entered the restaurant's lavatory she was livid and when Liz, along with her companions, walked in, the myth of a redhead's fiery temper was in Carolina's case proven true. Using her briefcase, she pushed Dylan's ex-wife forcibly against the bathroom wall and kept the lanky prima donna pressed in place by the solid force of her body. As the two friends tried attacking her from the rear, she swung the case back with a steely arm, clipping them at their temples. The two aging Barbies shrieked, raising hands to faces far too familiar with a plastic surgeon's blade. She felt them back away and Carolina glared at Liz saying icily, “Listen closely cunt, I'm not sleeping with your husband; you divorced him and now that you've gotten in my face, embarrassed me publicly, I'm going to make it my life's work to shag Dylan day and night.”
With her hand drawn back, Liz pushed with the other against Carolina's restraining arm but stopped when Carolina raised the briefcase, ready to strike. “If you didn't have that case I'd scratch your eyes out,” Liz threatened.
Carolina didn't need the case. If she actually decided to put hands on the underfed bimbos, most of the restaurant's wait staff would need to intervene in order to stop her from causing the women serious injury. “Well I do. So I suggest you scat.”
“This isn't over,” Liz hissed and arched aggressively into the pressure of Carolina’s body.
Carolina felt her biceps quiver as she fought the urge to bash Liz over the head until the woman's face and hair were clotted with what few brains she possessed. “If my business suffers because of what you did today I'll crush you like a grape, now get out.”
The two blonds hurried from the restroom. Liz hesitated, glowering momentarily before slithering from between Carolina’s body and the wall to make her exit. Carolina watched the woman leave, slowly relaxing. She massaged her temples, begging the headache creeping its way into her hairline to be gone, wanting her seething anger to fade away before she seriously took to tracking Liz down and using her for target practice.
Walking to the basin, she ran scalding water over her hands, splashing some on her face until she felt her tensions ease. Cupping her hands she captured the hot flowing stream, raised palms full of steaming water to her lips, deliberately allowing the blistering liquid to enter her mouth. She contained the fluid, focusing her energy to intensify the temperature until she felt bubbling action against her tongue. When she'd endured enough, she absorbed all of the water's heat then spat the now icy slush onto her mirrored reflection, silently cursing her foolishly frolicsome ways.
For the first time in her life, Carolina wanted a stiff drink and thought a wee nip of Michael Collins wouldn't harm her. There was a bottle of that fine Irish whiskey in her office courtesy of Patrick and he seemed to suffer no ills after consuming large amounts of the pleasant smelling spirit. Purposefully walking past her assistant's workstation she called out, “Erica, the deal was signed. We all worked hard now it's time for a well-deserved break. Send out an e-mail, I'm giving the entire staff two weeks off with pay and I'll personally get the bonus checks run and in the mail by tonight if everyone can be out of here in le
Erica's fingers flew across the keyboard. The global correspondence was marked ‘urgent’, and then sent. “Ms. Conway...” Having noticed her supervisor's stained dress she voiced concern, “Are you alright?”
Carolina could already hear some staff members hurrying from the office. “I'm fine. Now gather your things.”
“I'll deal with Mr. Savage. Just go and have a great vacation.”
Wanting desperately to grab a shower, change into clean clothes and get familiar with drinking liquor, Carolina entered her office and closed the door. Flinging the briefcase aside, she was preparing to kick off her shoes when the chair behind her desk was swiveled in her direction. Justin sat there, appearing very shaken.
“I'm sorry,” he apologized in a trembling voice.
After the day's events, she wasn't surprised to see him. “What for?” She was the one who was sorry for being such a selfish, sex starved idiot.
“I should have gone home that night.” He didn't mean what he'd just said. He'd wanted to stay with her forever from the moment he'd seen her, wanted to rush into the security of her arms right now.
The mere sight of him filled her heart. He was a wonderful little boy. “I was happy you stayed.”
“So why couldn't I visit anymore?”
Guiltily she averted her eyes, “I decided not seeing your father was for the best.”
Justin had believed once they'd been reunited everything would magically fall into place. “Did you two fight?”
With a tight smile and a shake of her head she answered, “No we didn't.”
Unreservedly he inquired, “Did he make love to you?”
Carolina felt heat surge into her face. “Justin I've had a really long day. Please call your father and have him pick you up.”
He hadn't meant to embarrass her. “Sorry. I'm not going to dad's.”
Although she knew she'd dread making the suggestion, feeling there was little else she could do, she instructed, “Well, call Liz,” the recent events with that woman made her voice uncommonly sharp. Taking a calming breath she started over, “Justin-”
“No. I'll be alright on my own.”
He didn't sound like he could manage all by himself. There was a faraway quality to his voice that chilled her. Across the distance, her eyes searched his face. “Why aren't you in school?”
His voice grew small, “I got into some trouble.”
She heard shame in his words. “With who? Were you hurt?”
He shook his head chasing away the memories. “What happened isn't important because you won't see my dad. I'll just be a casualty of the war you've mounted against him.”
His lowly spoken words held for her the impact of a nuclear blast. Clearly, he was terribly troubled by more than her refusal to see him and his father. “Justin allow me to call Dylan?”
He tried to make his voice sound light, but he was tired so the words were sluggish, “Never mind. He'll know soon enough. I won't bother you again.” Justin woozily walked over and kissed her on the cheek as he'd seen the twins do, as he'd desperately wanted to do at their reunion. “Please remember me,” he sadly wished aloud.
Up close, she saw how pale he was, with faint telling bruises on his face, arms and wrists. She touched his cheek lightly, felt him wince, struggling to maintain control as she levelly questioned, “Who did this?”
He couldn't look her in the eye, “If you won't see me and dad nothing matters.”
Her head felt as if it were going to explode from the images and memories bashing around the interior of her skull. This can't be happening again, she thought. “Justin, baby, I won't let you go.”
“I've missed you and now there's no time for us,” he voice was groggy and with deep regret.
Carolina clasped his hands, felt life claiming cold creeping over his skin. She held on to him tighter and disagreed, “We have all the time in the world. You'll stay with me. I'll call your dad and tell him we're together.”
Weakly he anticipated, “It won't be forever though.” Pulling away from her he placed his hand over his heart and raised his eyes heavenward, mimicking the gestures she'd made to him weeks earlier. “I've always loved you,” he tenderly professed. Turning he managed to take a few wobbly steps, before collapsing to the floor with a thud.
She rushed to him, checking for his pulse and respiration but unable to feel either began CPR, alternately breathing for him and compressing his chest, silently begging God to spare him, thinking his life slipping away was all her fault. She pleaded with Justin to stay, told him she wouldn't live without him now that they were together again and shocked by the unchecked admission, the inner truth she'd been ignoring, she sat silently for several brief seconds, pushing down the memory of a lifetime long lost to her.
Too afraid to leave him to phone 9 1 1 Carolina cried out for help and when none came she blamed herself for sending everyone home. She felt his life flame flicker in the breeze that stirred to usher him on to another existence before the final flaring of his energy depleted his vitality. Determinedly she worked to revive him, all the while confessing her sins hoping her disclosure would help save him, but he remained motionless, growing colder. She was weak from exertion, throat raw and aching. Desperately wanting him to live, she offered her soul and spirit to any deity who would take them in exchange for his life, offered to do anything because having lost him once, she wasn't prepared to do so again.
Her proposals went unaccepted, dissipating into the atmosphere, and he remained deathly, static. Carolina, beside herself with grief and longing, chose to do something that had only ever worked for Patrick, thinking the process might work for Justin despite their connection, although her special ministrations hadn't for other members of her family. Placing her left palm in the center of his chest, she leaned down to whisper an ancient Gaelic oath in his left ear and Irish promises in his right. Sitting up she finished with the audible English declaration, “I'll never let you go Justin Christopher Peri Savage.” Keeping her palm flat against his chest she drew in energy until she felt the first stirrings of heated air swirling around them, the lights in the room flickering. Leaning over she grasped his left-hand in her right, kept her left palm on his chest and blew a warm stream of brilliant electrified air from her mouth into his left ear until she felt the tiniest movement in his chest beneath her palm, then she severed all physical contact with him, sat back, waiting, hoping she'd given him enough, but not too much. She counted off the minutes in her head, deeply breathing in the scents of earth, sunshine, rain and the aroma of every beautiful memory she'd ever had. When ten minutes had passed she resumed praying before finally telling the child she'd always loved him, that she was sorry they'd been separated, apologized for being selfish and afraid.
Justin inhaled, choked and sputtered breaths that brought forth a flood of malodorous vomit. Carolina wiped his face and cradled him in her arms, silently giving thanks for his return before trying to pull away. “I need to call for help and your father.”
Justin clutched her arm, “I don't want dad to know.”
Stroking his hair she shushed and calmed him, “There's someone else who'll help us. I need you to tell me what happened.”
He did. Lifting his navy t-shirt he revealed bruises on his chest and back, confided the brutal acts he'd been subjected to that no child should have knowledge of and definitely not have endured. He admitted taking a handful of Liz's pills to temporarily ease the pain so he could make the journey to her because he knew she’d fix everything.”
Justin needed her to nurse and strengthen him and she would. Carolina phoned Patrick for assistance and he arrived at the office door within mere seconds to drive them to a doctor known for his discretion. The graying, bespectacled physician secreted them into his offices, quickly treating Justin before murmuring instructions and cautions to Carolina. With a respectful look toward Patrick, the doctor sent
While Patrick drove them back to her business complex, she called Dylan saying Justin had paid her a visit and wanted to spend the weekend with the twins. Dylan though immediately amenable to the situation, requested to speak with his son. Carolina sitting beside Justin, in the back of the black Cadillac Escalade, passed the lethargic child the phone, holding his hand to give him a burst of energy so he'd sound normal to his father. When Justin passed the phone back she allowed him to rest his head upon her shoulder, as she listened to Dylan questioning what the sudden change in events meant for them. Carolina could only say she'd call him in the morning.
Patrick escorted them back into her office then left abruptly, without even saying goodbye. She had Justin rest on a black leather sofa while she cleaned the area where he'd been sick. When Carolina was satisfied with the area's spotlessness she grabbed her gym bag from the safe, her briefcase from the chair and Patrick's bottle of whiskey from the bar, telling Justin they were finally going home.
That night at perhaps a quarter of ten, certain the twins and Justin were asleep, Carolina finally left them in their bedroom and made her way down to the study. Entering the room she flipped on the light and found Patrick sitting absolutely still on the edge of the desk with her gym bag at his side, his boyish face, and slim build camouflaging the predacious cunning of a crocodile.
Her voice warbled, “Patrick?”
Coldly he spoke, “I'm not an idiot Carolina. Did you think I wouldn't know?”
In his cool manner, he was angry. Carolina could tell his mood by the luciferous specks of orange and blue dotting his normally coffee brown eyes and she gulped down a mouthful of heebie-jeebies. Not trusting her voice, she nodded affirmatively.
Unzipping the gym bag Patrick spilled out two automatic pistols, several clips of ammunition, two pairs of brass knuckles, handcuffs, chains, padlocks, and banded stacks of cash onto the solid oak desk. He gave Carolina a probing look, “Why couldn't you ask me?”