Epilogue, p.12
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       Epilogue, p.12

         Part #3 of The Dark Duet series by C. J. Roberts
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  you were sad.” Listening to my words aloud and staring into those same eyes, I wondered what the hell had ever possessed me to hurt someone so innocent, so beautiful.

  “You told me about your mom, about how she treated you, but I didn’t know that in the beginning. I saw you in your baggy pants and oversized sweaters and it didn’t make any sense to me why such a beautiful girl would hide.” I knew she had been hiding from someone like me. I thought, life is cruel.

  “And then I fucking met you. You ran right into my arms and I…” I almost couldn’t say it. “I had to have you. I’m sorry, Livvie. I’m so very sorry.”

  Livvie shook her head.

  “I don’t need you to apologize anymore. We’re together and I don’t need you feeling bad about it. I just want you to stop pushing me.” She gripped my shoulder and shook me playfully. “I need to know how we arrived here, but it doesn’t mean I’m not happy to be where I am. I’m here, with you. That’s nothing either of us should be sorry about.”

  “It doesn’t seem that way sometimes. You care about me, Livvie. I know you do. Except you won’t say it because you’re punishing me for what I did. I know I deserve it, but stop pretending you’ve forgiven me. If you want the truth from me, start being honest.” I felt the shift in power between us. Livvie had me where she wanted me, but I had her too. We had each other, and I liked knowing it wasn’t something either of us could surrender easily.

  She put her head down on my chest in supplication. She could ply me so easily sometimes. If I had anything to do with her ability to wield power through submission, then I’d done my best work in Livvie. However, I doubted that was the case. She’d been playing me since the day we met in one fashion or another.

  “I forgive you, Caleb. I’m just… angry. You’re angry too. I don’t like how easily you can hurt me.”

  “It’s not easy, Livvie. I don’t like hurting you. That’s not fair.”

  She made a growling sound. I almost laughed but managed to hold it in.

  “I didn’t mean it like that,” she said. “I mean… you left. You could leave again. You think about leaving and going back to that life. How is that supposed to make me feel?”

  I wanted to get up and throw things around the room. Livvie could be so infuriating.

  “The only reason I said that is because you do the same to me. One minute you can’t live without me and you want me to treat you rough. The next minute you ask me if I’ve killed someone. Casually! As if I ever killed anyone on a whim. Am I supposed to believe you want to spend the rest of your life with someone you think is capable of those things? If so… you’re definitely not the person I remember.”

  Livvie smiled.

  “The rest of my life? You’re ambitious.”

  I took in a breath and let it out in rush. Yes, she was infuriating. I had to laugh to keep from shaking her.

  “I… fine. I’m ambitious.” Unable to resist, I added, “It’s not like I have anything else to do with forever. My schedule is wide open.”

  “In that case, can I ask my questions?” She smiled sheepishly.

  I sighed.

  “Shit. Come on, then.”

  We spoke for hours, it seemed. How many people had I killed? Why had I killed them? Did I get rid of everyone at the mansion? What happened to Celia (she’s very much alive)?

  I answered all her questions as quickly and efficiently as I could and without becoming emotional about them. I didn’t regret the lives I’d taken. I had never killed indiscriminately. I only felt guilt for those I’d put in harm’s way.

  I didn’t care for the questions involving Rafiq, of which there were few, or the ones having to do with Livvie’s and my history, of which there were many.

  “Did you like the things you did to me?” she asked. I was mentally and physically exhausted.

  “Did you?” I asked. I hoped she’d get the hint and stop asking me so many damn questions.

  “Some of them,” she whispered softly.

  I turned my head toward her and stared. She was blushing. Things were finally getting interesting.

  “Such as? And don’t say the spanking—I know you love the spanking.”

  “I… well, it’s mostly the spanking, but I like… other stuff too. It’s your fault. You’ve turned me into a sexual deviant like you.” She kissed my chest.

  I laughed.

  “Lucky me.”

  “You could… tie me up. If you wanted. If you… like that.” Livvie’s finger slid beneath the sheets and caressed my dick. I groaned.

  “Kitten… I’m…” I was distracted. Her fingers wrapped around my flesh and began stroking. “I’m beat all to hell. I don’t think…” I trailed off as my eyes slid shut.

  “Would you like that, though?” Her voice was small and shy despite the boldness of her touch.

  “Yes,” I whispered. “I’d like that very much. I miss… god, that feels good.” She’d slid her hand to my balls, her nails dragged slightly over the sensitive skin.

  “What do you miss?” she whispered. Her leg wound around mine. My hand rested on the small of her back and I could feel her starting to rock against me.

  “Control,” I managed. “I miss having control.” I lifted my hand from her lower back and put it on the back of her head.

  “Over me?” she panted.

  “Yes. I… liked being able to tell you what to do. I liked knowing what was going to happen next.” I laughed to myself. “I liked…” Breaking you down and making you do whatever the fuck I wanted you to do. I liked owning you. I liked shocking you. I liked making you come apart and putting you back together. “Stop, Livvie.” I placed my hand on hers and kept her from stroking my dick.

  “What’s wrong?” she asked urgently.

  “This!” I sat up slowly. “What do you think I liked about it, Livvie? I’m not used to being… I’m not normal, Livvie. I used to get a hard-on when you cried. Is that what you want to hear?”

  Livvie’s expression was wounded.

  “I know that, Caleb. You told me. I don’t expect you to be normal. It’s just that…” She’d gone from wounded to embarrassed.

  “It’s what, Livvie? Explain it to me, because you’ve got me all confused.” I stared at her, willing her to answer.

  “It’s just,” she struggled. “Before you… there wasn’t anybody. And then we spent all that time together and we did all those things. Then after, I was alone and you were gone and I tried to maybe… with other guys, but they weren’t you… and I couldn’t…”

  “What?” I insisted. “I thought you said you weren’t with anybody since me.”

  She snapped out of her rambling.

  “I wasn’t! I couldn’t! Caleb, the things you did to me. I got used to them. I liked them. I could never do anything wrong with you. You told me what to do and… I liked it. There was nobody that could…” She blushed until even her chest looked red.

  I exhaled, shocked. I thought about the first morning in the hotel room and the various other times she’d goaded me into dominating her. I felt stupid for not putting it together before. I knew some people enjoyed games involving domination and submission, it’s just that it had never been a game for me before. I looked at Livvie and smiled.

  “Oh, Kitten. What a strange pair we are. I’m… a little speechless. You know what I like. I don’t just like dominating you—I love it. But it’s difficult to turn it on and off. It’s… different.”

  Livvie tugged at the sheet between us nervously.

  “I know. But… couldn’t we try? We’ve sort of been doing it. Like… just when we’re having sex. Couldn’t it be like that?”

  My brain felt like it was expanding in my skull. She was offering me control, but only under certain circumstances. It was a big concept for me to grasp, but one I was eager to thoroughly comprehend. My dick was fully erect just trying to understand it.

  “So if I were to say to you, ‘Get down on your knees.’ You would say?”

  Livvie let
out a deep breath and smiled. She slid off the bed and onto the floor.

  “Yes, Caleb,” she whispered and blushed.

  My heart leapt.

  “I think… I’m going to like this. A lot.”


  February. Things were changing. Again. Some of the changes, perhaps even most of them, I enjoyed.

  My favorite development had to do with Livvie’s thirst to be dominated. Since “The Laptop Incident” and our subsequent pact to be more forthcoming with one another, Livvie had no choice but to break her silence on the subject.

  Some of it hadn’t been surprising. The sex we’d been having had been undoubtedly familiar to me. I knew Livvie enjoyed being spanked, chased, held down, and occasionally fucked in her ass. What I hadn’t anticipated was her desire for what she called games and I referred to as reenactments.

  It had been my hope that upon finding Livvie again, we would start fresh and pretend the past had never occurred (it sounds asinine when I read it back). However, all freshmen are required to take psychology and Livvie seemed to take to it like a duck to water. She wanted to experiment with Exposure Therapy in the hopes that by reliving some of her experiences in a safe environment, she would no longer fear them.

  Needless to say, I thought it was a bat-shit crazy idea (that’s the technical term). The last thing I wanted was to reprise my role as Livvie’s captor. What if it didn’t work and she ended up hating me? It took a great deal of convincing from Livvie, but ultimately I’d agreed to some of the less… disturbing moments.

  One morning I made us breakfast, put it on a wheeled cart from IKEA, and took it into Livvie’s room. Livvie had taken the time to prepare herself while I cooked breakfast, and I’d been pleasantly surprised to find her wearing one of my white button-up shirts and a dainty pair of kitten ears. I understood the significance of the shirt. The ears were a nice touch. I felt that touch center mass.

  “Should I take my shirt off?” I asked. History dictated I should.

  “If you’re over your self-indulgent modesty,” she whispered. In the past, I would have found her words incendiary—another time, another place—but in our reimagining I found them to be… charming.

  I’d removed my shirt, enjoying the way Livvie’s eyes lusted instead of feared. I took a chance and played along.

  “It’s a pity I have nothing to bind you with. I’d be hard-pressed to recall anyone who looks as good as you do in a collar and shackles.”

  Livvie turned and brought me a box from beneath her bed. Inside I found a jeweled collar, a leash, and a pair of fuzzy handcuffs. I laughed.

  “Oh my, you have been a busy girl. When and where did you get these?”

  Livvie blushed and the memory was further reshaped.

  “I ordered them online,” she said timidly. Her hands were already behind her back and she swayed gently from side to side.

  I kissed her. It was a light meeting of lips, a token.

  “Turn around,” I ordered. Livvie shivered and a small sound escaped her lips. She complied quickly.

  As I fed Livvie breakfast while she knelt at my feet, I was struck by several thoughts. First, I realized the power of forgiveness. Second, I found Livvie’s game enticing. Third, I could never leave Livvie. Fourth, I never wanted to leave her.

  For better or worse, Livvie had been irrevocably altered by her experiences with me. She was a nineteen-year-old with proclivities no one her age would understand and a vulnerability any creep like me could easily spot and take advantage of. She was strong, smart, willful, and driven, but she was also soft, trusting, and needy where her heart was concerned. Livvie needed taking care of.

  Other changes in our relationship I didn’t enjoy quite as much. As part of our pact, Livvie and I discussed our fears, hopes, and aspirations for what our relationship could be. She wanted to know more about my past, Mexico, and the less gruesome ways I’d spent my year away from her.

  Also, I wasn’t comfortable with Livvie’s writing. However, aside from the time we spent with Claudia and Rubio—or having sex—there seemed little else occupying Livvie’s and my time. Apparently, I’d inspired her to go “back to the drawing board.” She wanted to incorporate more of the facts I’d given her.

  Suddenly, there were days when she wouldn’t speak to me because she’d just finished rehashing some traumatic event involving me. There were some moments neither of us wanted to re-imagine. At first I tried try to seduce her away from her thoughts, but after the first few times she began to see it as manipulative. Soon after, I decided to make myself scarce during her periods of… well, her periods.

  Other days, she took to cornering me on the sofa or at the dinner table to ask me invasive questions about my past. These usually ended in an argument over my “evasiveness” or sex. Sometimes we had both—an argument first, and sex right after. I worried that if it kept up, I’d get an erection every time she looked upset with me.

  Yet, as with our sexual games, I began to see the merit in expressing myself through my conversations with Livvie. I began to realize I wasn’t as upset by her questioning as I had been before. In slow gradations, I found myself offering information she hadn’t asked about. I told her about RezA and how guilty I had felt for not warning him Narweh was dead. He’d been such an optimistic person. He hadn’t enjoyed his slavery any more than I had, but where I’d been rebellious unto my own ruination, RezA had navigated his situation with grace.

  “Do you think he could have escaped? I mean, I’ve heard that gun go off. The whole neighborhood probably knew someone had been shot. Couldn’t he have heard it and escaped?” Livvie asked.

  This is going to sound absolutely ridiculous but… it hadn’t fucking occurred to me! It really hadn’t. I’d been out of my mind. To this day, whenever I recall the moment of my first kill, there is no sound beyond the beating of my heart and the high-pitched wail of adrenaline in my veins. I remember the heavy weight of the gun. I remember the look of disgust on Narweh’s face. I remember shutting my eyes and squeezing the trigger. I remember something wet splattering on my face before I hit the ground. I remember the silence.

  I sat up and I heard nothing. I stared into Narweh’s cold, empty eyes. I remember thinking the soul must be real. Something had been keeping Narweh alive. That something was gone. There was only meat, blood, and bones left behind.

  I remember an acute feeling of anger and sorrow that I had not been brave enough to keep my eyes open. I remember thinking: I should have made him beg for my forgiveness. I should have made him plead for mercy. I should have raped him with the cane he used to beat me.

  “I… don’t know if RezA could have escaped. I suppose it’s possible,” I said. I was dumbfounded. “Rafiq said he burned the building down with Narweh inside it. I guess… I didn’t want to ask too many questions.”

  “Why?” Livvie’s hand rested on top of mine.

  “I wasn’t sure Rafiq would like it,” I said simply. “I figured if he could burn a building full of people down and chat about it over breakfast, I had no business getting on his bad side.”

  “How old were you?”

  “I’d have to do the math. When’s my birthday?”

  “James. Seriously?”

  I laughed.

  “Give me a break. I’ve never had to remember before.”

  “You’re twenty-seven.” She smiled a little sadly. I let myself think for a moment.

  “I guess I was… twelve, maybe thirteen?”

  Livvie sat back in her chair and stared at me.

  “Jesus.” She shook her head and wiped at her eye.

  “I’m fine, Pet. At least… I think?” I didn’t mind opening up to Livvie (much), but afterward there was always the worry she would see me as weak. I didn’t want her pity. I only wanted her to understand why it took so much effort on my part to give her what she needed. Though I was beginning to learn that what I thought Livvie needed and what she actually needed were sometimes two different things. Not often, but
sometimes. There were days I could take my job as Livvie’s protector overboard (drunk college boys should watch their mouths if they value having teeth).

  “You’re better than fine. I’m so damn impressed with you. I feel like… the more I learn about your past… I had all these feelings I couldn’t process in Mexico. When I tried to explain them to Reed or Sloan, I could see on their faces how ridiculous they thought I was.”

  “It’s easier to explain your feelings for an abused whore than a man who held you prisoner. Is that about the size and shape of it?” I kept the sound of my balls shriveling from my voice.

  Livvie appeared horrified.

  “No! James… no. It’s more like… you could be so cold. But when I was at my lowest, when I felt like I was hanging on by a thread… you always knew what to say. You have this ability to hold me and make me believe you. You’re full of warmth and kindness.”

  I had to scoff at that, and Livvie slapped my arm.

  “You are!” she insisted. “I couldn’t even see you in that room sometimes, but I could still feel it. I didn’t understand where it came from, but when I hear you talk about the past it all makes sense to me.”

  Admittedly, I was a little embarrassed. I’m not really accustomed to compliments, especially when they’re intensely personal and genuine. The void almost felt… full. I, on the other hand, felt squirmy.

  “Well then. Good. I suppose. It’s good that you think I’m… nice.”

  “James, you look like I just farted in your general direction.” She grinned.

  “What! That’s disgusting.”

  Livvie laughed. It was her incredibly loud cackle that meant she couldn’t control herself. It was not a pretty sight, but I loved it when she laughed like that. I love it when she laughs like that.

  “No. It’s Monty Python.”

  I was laughing too. Livvie’s laughter is too infectious not to take part in it.

  “A what?”

  “It’s a movie.” She wiped tears from her eyes.

  I pulled her hand toward my mouth and licked her finger. There are so many kinds of tears. I plan to collect them all.

  “I’m not sure I want to see it.”

  Livvie leaned forward and kissed my lips.

  “Well, we have to now. It’s an older movie and over-the-top ridiculous, but I can’t wait to see your face.”

  I made a face of the “what the hell is wrong with you?” variety.

  “It’s disturbing when you do that. I always know when something big is about to happen because there you are, staring at me with your huge doe eyes.”

  Livvie shrugged.

  “Not my fault you’re so nice to look at.” Her expression turned ruefully judgmental. “You’re the only person I know who looks sexier with bruises.” She poked the butterfly stitch on my eyebrow and I hissed.

  “Dammit, Pet. That hurts.” I’d been visiting the gym a few times a week and sparring. I fought Fernando mostly, but other fighters from time to time. Some of them were even decent conversationalists, so long as the topic didn’t stray from matches, fighting styles, or food intake. I was compelled to try a protein shake… once.

  “Oh? And it didn’t hurt when that guy kicked you in the face?” She made a fist and twisted it near the corner of her eye while sticking out her bottom lip.

  “Are you calling me a cry baby?” I stood and glared. Livvie’s head was craned all the way back to meet my eyes. “Big talk for such a little girl.”

  “I’m not scared of you. I’ll poke your band-aid.” She puffed out her ample chest.

  It was difficult to keep a straight face. Had I really been outmatched by her? The answer was a resounding yes.

  “You poke my band-aid and you’re going to have a serious problem.”

  She sucked in her cheeks to keep from smiling. Slowly her hand reached up toward my eyebrow. Her eyes met mine. She considered. A flicker of excitement caused her to lick her bottom lip. She pressed her fingertip to my cut. I didn’t wince.

  “Is this the part where I get angry and threaten to teach you a lesson?” I asked calmly. Livvie practically vibrated with excitement.

  “Yes.” She shivered.

  “When do you leave for work?”

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