Savage Love, page 9
Giving Carolina and Justin another intensely displeased look Dylan turned and lumbered over to the twins who were each already sitting astride their mounts. He swung himself up into the saddle of his chestnut thoroughbred and calling to the twins, they set off at a gentle walk. Dylan surveyed the boys' horsemanship and outwardly praised them for the skill they demonstrated. Before long, he allowed Calder and Callum to urge their Appaloosas into a trot, taking pleasure from the sight of them enjoying themselves. With the same speed he'd fallen in love with Carolina, Dylan had grown deeply connected to the twins, felt for them as he'd the first time he'd held Justin.
Urging Sorrel to slow, Dylan cast a hurt look back at the truant members of the riding party. Seeing the two of them engrossed in conversation, not paying any attention to the twins or himself, made him realize that one of the qualities he admired most in Carolina, her ability to care for his son, was now a burr under his saddle. Urging his horse into a canter Dylan tossed aside his sense of gloom for the remainder of his ride, pushed down gnawing mistrust fueled by years in a mephitic marriage.
When they'd all returned to the house, after he'd joyfully announced being awarded Justin's sole-custody, his doubts came rushing back. Waves of mistrust wiped him out when he searched for, but couldn't find her. Then he discovered Justin was also missing and his mood became as volatile as a storm tossed sea.
Carolina sensed Dylan was having issues with the amount of time she and Justin spent together. Stealing away from the main house so he wouldn't see them, she and Justin walked across the grassy lawn and through a thick of trees where they sat under the large canopy of a weeping evergreen. She took Justin's hands in hers beseeching, “Please tell your father what happened.”
“I don't think I can,” he expressed nervously.
“I can only imagine how difficult it seems, but you're a survivor and the therapist Patrick sent here will help you, as will I. I fear if you don't tell your father what happened he'll start imagining scenarios and by the time you do confess your ordeal to him, he’ll send me, and the twins away because I haven’t been honest, have been keeping this very important matter from him.”
He looked at their joined hands. “I can't. You're my mom, you tell him for me.”
She didn't want to tell Dylan either. She stroked the boy's cheek with an unsteady hand, “We'll wait a few more days and see how you feel. Justin, know that those men who hurt you can never do so again.”
He gave a noticeable shudder and sniffed over his tears. “The news reports they've gone missing.”
She hugged him close to her heart, told him how much she loved him, yet still she felt his fear. Kissing his cheeks she assured him, “Baby don't worry, Patrick took care of everything, sent them far away. Know that you're safe and adored by us all.”
Justin clasped her hand in his and looked at her searchingly, “You're really going to marry dad aren't you? We're finally going to be together again.”
She squeezed his fingers reassuringly. “I'm planning on it.”
He still had doubts. “If you two don't get married then what happens to me?”
In a rush of intense emotion she squeezed him fiercely to her, “You will always be my son. If we can't live together as a family, then we’ll live apart, but I’ll never stop loving you. I never did.”
He eased out of her hold to look longingly into her eyes. “Please mom, make sure dad marries you.”
For years, she'd seen the same yearning on her own face every time she looked in the mirror, the desperate desire to belong, to have a sense of permanence. “I'll do everything I can, my precious child.”
Sitting in the darkened bedroom, acoustic guitar in hand and an open bottle of Jack Daniel's at his feet, Dylan hummed an old Al Green tune, sinking further into despondency, a malady that was meshed with his musical genius. There wasn't a song he couldn't sing or an instrument he couldn't play, but the intense emotions required to do so haunted him, made him mercurial some days and on the really bad ones, well they defied description, often resulting in his search for oblivion.
Pausing in his musical Niagara of wretchedness, Dylan took a healthy swig of whiskey before resuming his trance like rendition of 'For the Good Times'. Mentally he cursed himself for being open to heartache. His life was a cruel joke. Women across the globe wanted him but the ones he cared for never truly loved him, except for his mama and August. His failings and flaws hadn't once changed their opinions of him. However, his Ma was gone and August was consumed with so many responsibilities that he didn't bother her for reassurances although he knew she'd stop the world for him.
Allowing his fingers to flow into a different tune, he lamented that for him, love really did hurt, and as was the case of late, his mind drifted to thoughts of Carolina. No matter how hard he'd willed himself not to think about her the last few hours, he always had. In his mind's eye, he could picture her exactly as she'd been the first day he'd seen her, with the sun turning her hair into a halo of fire, her face radiant.
The first song he'd heard on the day of his Texas birth came to him, his fingers moving with transcendent precision over the guitar strings. He sang soulfully the gospel he'd learned at his mama's knee, his voice soaring from deep within his chest, filling the room and carrying beyond. With the song, Dylan sought clarity of vision, conviction of faith and deliverance from the darkness threatening to consume him. Even now, he could hear his mother's voice urging him to cry out for salvation, he did until the walls and windows reverberated, until his fears were stilled, until he moved from the murkiness into the light.
Dylan's voice quieted, his eyes opening to find Carolina's shimmering presence standing before him. He told himself if only for a few seconds he was saved. She had turned on the lights, the room's pollen yellow walls glowing, her figure illuminated. Dylan saw concern on her face but not love. “I'm alright,” he told her morosely.
Carolina looked from him to the three-quarters empty bottle of whiskey, the memory of his almost deafening spiritual plaguing her. “Your brothers don't think you are. They told me to come up here and get you. None of them wanted to.”
“I was playin' a little music is all. Feelin' a little blue.”
“Was that you sounding a little blue? The way the windows were rattling I thought there was a thunderstorm.”
“Maybe I was feeling a lot blue,” he bit out.
“Partly because it's a curse of my nature. Mostly because I was missing you. Where'd you go?”
“I was around.” Telling him she'd spent time with Justin would be a mistake.
“Next time let me know where you are.” He could smell the deception on her.
“I never needed to account for my time alone before. But if you want I'll tell you,” his concern touched and pleased her, made her feel secure.
He looked at her coldly, “Where you hold up talkin' to Patrick?”
“I was just sitting and thinking.” A part truth was better than a lie she told herself.
He drank from the whiskey then set the bottle aside. The strong spirit causing his well-established guard to slip, “For a while you were out in the distance with Justin. Isn't that so?” Strumming the guitar strings, he waited for her to answer.
She shouldn't have omitted the truth but she hadn't wanted to anger him. “Yes. We were talking.” Straightening the hem of her sweater, she looked him in the eyes.
He narrowed his gaze, silently daring her to lie again, “It's strange, you discount love at first sight but you clearly felt it for my son, told him you cared for him while you two were under that tree and how long have ya' known him?”
She guessed Justin had told him details of their time together. Therefore, she was going to have to lie again, “A few minutes longer than I've known you but loving him isn't the same as your wanting me to have feelings for you. He's a little boy who needs his mother,” and he'd found her again she silently finished.
Her face grew hot. His uncommon vulgarity was shocking. He never swore. His brothers constantly teased him about it. “We've made love several-”
He picked up the whiskey cap and threw it against the wall halting her lies, “You don’t have the damn right to say your wrigglin' around with me was love because you don't love me! So how many times have you rutted with me like a bitch in heat?”
She jumped nervously at his raised voice. Smoothing her hair back she shamelessly raised her chin, “We've have sex five, maybe six times, I think.”
“In how many days?” He wanted her to see she had to love him, unless she was like Liz and if that were the case then God help him.
She wanted to shout that they'd known each other always, something mega-romantic and super-corny that would shock him out of his funk, but instead she timidly noted, “I've known you for a month.”
With a bellow that caused a nearby light bulb to burst he warned, “Don't make me come over there and get the truth out of you. How many damn days has it been?”
Staring at him she replied, “Not even three.” It was what they'd both wanted, what she was supposed to give him. She wouldn't feel ashamed.
“In three days how many times have you told Justin you love him?”
Her gaze faltered and she admitted weakly, “A couple of times.”
His voice thundered causing the windows to rattle, “Your damn calculations are off. Add ‘em up again and this time tell me the truth.”
Whispering, she confessed, “I can't count them because I tell him every chance I get.”
“In the number of times and in all the ways you've given your body to me I should have heard the words by now unless you do the things you've done with me with all your men.” He wanted her to say he was the only one she'd been so free with.
Before Carolina was only ever capable of being sexual with Patrick but admitting the truth to Dylan would have been worse than saying she'd banged the entire NFL, so instead of upsetting him further she feigned ignorance, “What men?”
“The ones who've taught you to sexually please, to act obedient and docile, to accept pain and ascendance as honors on one hand, then to be wild and unrestrained on the other. And today with the dagger where the hell did you learn that?” He wanted to find the bastards who'd tutored her and skin them like catfish.
It had been her instinctively giving him what he needed. “I don't understand.”
Oh yeah she did. Patrick was the one who'd taught her, he thought jealously, imagining the other man's residual fingerprints covering her entire body. However, it was over between the two of them, he had to believe she no longer desired the other man as a lover or risk roaring headlong toward insanity. In a flash, he shut off all thoughts of Carolina being with Patrick telling her glumly, “Never mind. You're here and that's enough for now, but if you want out tell me now, because later I don't want to hear your bellyaching about you've changed your mind. I won't ever let you go, not for anyone or any reason.”
“I don't want out,” she strongly stated.
“Okay. Go on back to whatever you were doing. I need to be alone.” He took another big drink of whiskey before settling back on the bed with his guitar.
“But, they told me not to leave you up here by yourself. And Chris told me to pour out whatever you're drinking,” she asserted boldly, wondering if she could wrestle the bottle away from him without causing him injury.
“Since you kissed him you're wetting yourself trying to satisfy his demands, instead of doing what I say. If he told you to blow him, how fast would you fall to your knees?”
Planting clenched fists on her hips she scolded him stiffly, “Your nastiness is uncalled for. I can see why your brothers wouldn't come up here.” Sitting next to him, she stroked his rough cheek, looked deep into his blue-black eyes, “Why are you being like this? Tell me what to do to help, what you need.”
He pushed her hand away stating harshly, “I don't want sex and I definitely don't need your mothering, so obviously there's nothing you can do for me. Go back and hold Justin's hand or go flirt with Chris and Vega, but don't come back to me tonight.”
Folding her hands in her lap, she tried reassuring him, “I think I'll love you in time.”
Big fucking whoop, he thought bitterly. “Get out Carolina.”
“Alright,” she conceded dejectedly. Collecting her black denim jacket from the closet, she left the room without a backward glance, made sure to extinguish the lights, confining him in the dark as she'd found him. Carolina took the stairs leading down into the sitting room and hastily left the house for the solitude of the hidden stone patio she'd discovered earlier.
Once she eased her tired body back onto the wooden bench Carolina stared into the blackness that shrouded the valley and hills, thinking if she hadn't been so weary she would've fought with him and maybe if she hadn't cried her eyes dry the previous day over Justin she could’ve wept for Dylan's sadness or bawled because he'd pushed her away so carelessly. She'd do none of those things. Zipping her jacket and shoving her hands in the pockets to block the chilly night air she realized Dylan had passed on more than his looks and musical genius to Justin and of course, she had first hand experience with the labile emotions their child had probably carried over into this life from her. Therefore, with the exception of some horrible occurrence taking place she wouldn't leave them, no matter how mean Dylan acted, because they needed her to love them. She'd just have to mind how and when she cared for Justin to avoid fueling Dylan's suspicions. Above all else, she'd cater to Dylan's need to be first in her life and employ any strategy necessary to get him out of his misery. Including opening her heart to him. Because the last words she heard him blaring from his wretched soul, were lines from one of the few songs she knew, a Hank Williams' tune she'd sang very badly many times in her life and they always moved her emotionally, 'Did you ever see a robin weep, when leaves began to die? That means he's lost the will to live, I'm so lonesome I could cry. The silence of a falling star, lights up a purple sky. And as I wonder where you are, I'm so lonesome I could cry.'
Carolina sat in the cold taking solace from the numbing air. From the shadows, two gray wolves emerged, climbing up the long stone stairway to rub noses with her before lying protectively at her feet. Friendly crickets stopped by to play hopscotch on her jean covered thighs and nocturnal insects harmonized, easing her worries Theirs was a night song to calm unlike Dylan's forceful belting out of emotion. His dangerous intensity would certainly ensnare her, then leave her ravaged and aching with damages even Patrick couldn't fix. Nevertheless, she had to do what was best for him.
In the middle of early morning when the blackness of night started giving way to indigo blue, Carolina rose from the bench bidding her nighttime companions ado. She made her way back to the bedroom where Dylan lay sleeping, his guitar and two empty bottles of whiskey on the covers beside him. Noiselessly she opened the glass doors leading to the deck. Gathering the packages Patrick had sent her, she placed them on a chair then closed the doors to secure Dylan within the room's warmth. She picked up the packages and tossed them lightly down to the stone patio she had occupied then climbed down to cart them off to her SUV. Before she exited the vehicle Carolina took off the medallion Patrick had given her, lovingly placing the gold to her lips before hanging it over the rearview mirror, finally prepared to start a new chapter in her life.
Silently Carolina reentered their bedroom. Seeing he was still asleep, she moved his guitar and the empty bottles from the bed. She hurried through a shower, towel drying her hair and slipped naked into one of his denim shirts that to her sensitive nose still held his unique masculine scent. Barefooted she hurried downstairs and prepared him a Northern Ireland breakfast; the type her father swore eased the ills of a hangover. While the food cooked, she sent messages to the boys, Patrick and anyone else she felt needed to know that she and Dylan wo
Back in the bedroom, she balanced a heavily laden breakfast tray and a fresh bottle of Jack Daniels while nudging Dylan's thigh with her knee. He groaned, rolling away from her. Sitting the tray on the floor, she yanked the covers from his naked body and he immediately sat up, mumbling under his breath.
“Rise and shine, we have a date remember.” Repositioning the covers to conceal his nudity, she plopped the tray in front of him and deftly removed the cap from the whiskey offering the black-labeled bottle to him, “You want some?”
He groaned, “No, I don't want to eat either. I feel lousy.”
Carolina recapped the whiskey, placing the bottle on the nightstand. “Eat your breakfast. After last night you owe me at least that.”
Bleary eyed he rubbed his forehead, “What are you talking about?”
She let the full measure of her hurt underscore her words, “Your implications that I'm either a whore or a whack-job, wannabe Florence Nightingale.”
Dylan thought he might have been drunk when she'd walked in last night but he didn't think he'd been that intoxicated. “I'd never say such things to you.”
“Close enough and you referred to me as a bitch. Now eat. You'll need your strength.” Picking up the fork, she stabbed one fried egg allowing the golden yolk to run. Passing him the utensil, she stated sarcastically, “Go ahead and trust me on this since you can't trust me on anything else. My dad and brother swore by the curing benefits of the Ulster Fry and they could out drink all of Dublin and they never had hangovers.”
He ate. “I didn't say I didn't trust you and I don't recall using the 'B' word either.”
She sat on the edge of the bed facing him. “Most certainly you did.”
Feeling small, he looked at the huge amount of fried food on the plate, felt his stomach rolling and wondered if she were trying to kill him. “I can't eat all this.”
“You will, because you love me. People who love each other deeply do things that seem impossible for one another.”