Epilogue, p.14
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       Epilogue, p.14
 

         Part #3 of The Dark Duet series by C. J. Roberts
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  “What did it say?”

  “That she’s sorry. She says she misses me, that they all miss me: my brothers, my sisters. She wants to know if we can work things out.” Livvie sobbed and held me tighter.

  “Is that what you want, Pet?” I wanted her to say no. I wanted her to say I was the only person she needed and to hell with the rest of them. But I knew what that would mean. I’d been orphaned. I might have one living parent, but as far as I was concerned I was still an orphan.

  “I don’t know.”

  I sighed.

  “It’s me. It’s always me. I don’t want to be the thing that keeps you from the people you love.” I wasn’t sure what I was trying to say, I just knew it hurt like hell to say it. Livvie’s relationship with me was always going to alienate her from the rest of the world and I was too selfish to change that.

  “You don’t!” Livvie insisted. “Things were shit between us before you and I ever met. You know that, it’s just…”

  “She’s your mother. They’re your blood.”

  “So are you.” She kissed my chest and went back to lying against me. “We’ve bled for each other. That’s more than I can say for my ‘blood’.”

  I inhaled sharply. While I found her words moving, they were also troubling.

  “That was my fault too.”

  “Caleb, is this about you? Are you trying to make me angry with you? You make me happy. Today was one of the best days I’ve ever had. Don’t ruin it by making this about us. This is about my mom and the way she manipulates everything. At least you had reasons for what you did to me. She’s my mother. What the fuck were her reasons, Caleb? What were her reasons for treating me like shit and then waiting five days to come see me in the hospital?” Livvie sat up. Her fists were clenched around what I presumed was her birthday card.

  “I’m sorry, Kitten. I didn’t mean to make it about me. Here’s what I know: You deserve to be happy. If getting the answers to your questions is going to give you peace, you owe yourself that much. If you’re done with her, that’s okay too… but I don’t think you are.” I pulled her back into my arms. I didn’t know if I did it to comfort her or myself, but it seemed to help us both.

  “Maybe I’ll call her next week.”

  “Okay,” I whispered. It was all I could manage.

  “Promise me you won’t leave.” Livvie’s arms gripped me tight.

  “I promise. Can you say the same?” I almost dreaded the answer.

  “I promise. I’m yours,” she said.

  “And I’m yours.”

  “Sophia? Should we go?” Claudia shouted from downstairs.

  “No!” Livvie said. “We’ll be down in a minute.” She sat up and kissed me, softly at first, and then passionately. I pulled her to me and caressed her breasts. She broke the kiss. “Later, Sexy. We have all the time in the world.”

  “I plan to hold you to that.” I kissed her one more time.

  “Good. I love it when you hold me.” She smiled and I could see she was in a better place.

  I went downstairs to keep our friends company while Livvie cleaned herself up. Once she came down, we dined on arroz con gandules and steak. We had birthday cake for dessert, and I will always remember the smile on Livvie’s face when she blew out her candles.

  That night, after everyone else had left and we were finally alone, Livvie and I sat on our new sofa and stared into the flames of our new fireplace.

  “Thank you, James. I had a great birthday.”

  I chuckled.

  “Moving boxes, emotional trauma, and birthday cake—you’re easy to please.”

  She nudged my ribs.

  “Butthead.”

  “I’ll let you have that one since it’s your birthday.”

  “Speaking of, do I get a present?” I could hear the smile in her voice.

  “Yes. Do you want it?” I coaxed.

  “Of course!”

  “Very well, but first… I believe it’s customary to give the birthday girl a spanking.”

  Livvie squirmed.

  “But… I’m so tired!”

  “Good. Less chance of you moving around so much.” I adjusted our bodies and placed her over my lap. It was the most uninspired spanking I’ve ever delivered. She giggled through the entirety of it and I did nothing to curb her behavior.

  “Aww, you went soft on me.” She was still laughing between panting breaths.

  “There are no drapes in the living room. I don’t want to scare the neighbors just yet.”

  “Oh. My. God. I forgot about the windows.” She scrambled up and sat in my lap. “They probably think we’re perverts.”

  “Aren’t we?”

  “Good point. Now, kind sir, my present please.” She held out both hands. I lifted her off my lap and we walked upstairs.

  I’m going to interject now and tell you upfront that I won’t be sharing the details of my gift to Livvie. Don’t pout! It’s simply too embarrassing to rehash. However, as I don’t want to read the incessant questions about it on the internet, I’ll tell you this: It involved recreating another of Livvie’s memories… of me… alone… in the shower. Make your own panties wet! I’m moving on to the next chapter.

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  I was dreaming. I hate it when I dream, but for the first time in recent memory… it was good. I was having the kind of dream a person doesn’t wish to wake up from. Rafiq was there, but it wasn’t really him. It was a version of him I’d never know and that he could never be. His presence made it obvious I was dreaming, but his company added something and I chose to go along.

  Livvie and I were having a party. We were celebrating my birthday. There were lots of people I didn’t recognize, but Livvie seemed to know them. I think one of them was her mother. They were in the kitchen together, pouring champagne into long flutes. One of Livvie’s sisters was trying to convince them she could have a glass. She looked the way I imagine Livvie looked as a child. Livvie looked so happy.

  “You’ve done well, Khoya. I’m proud of you. You deserve this,” Rafiq said. He clapped me on the back and ruffled my hair the way he used to when I was a boy. I swatted his hand away.

  “I’m not a child. Stop doing that.” I couldn’t stop smiling.

  “I know. You’re a man now. You have a family of your own. Perhaps I am only reminiscing over the boy I knew.” He ruffled my hair again and I didn’t mind.

  “I’m glad you could come. I don’t have any other family.”

  “We’re orphans, Caleb. We make our own families.”

  I laughed.

  “Yes, I remember.”

  “And the rest? Do you remember that as well?” Sadness had crept into his voice.

  “I forgave you. It’s all led me here.” I looked toward Livvie and her mother. They waved at me and I raised a hand to acknowledge them.

  “Who’s this guy? He looks rather interesting and scary.” Claudia bumped into my side and nearly pushed me into Rafiq.

  “Do you always have to be so forceful?”

  “I don’t like it when I’m not the center of attention.” She winked.

  “It’s my birthday!” I chided. Claudia shrugged.

  I introduced Claudia to Rafiq and made a hasty exit. She was already asking him intimate questions about his role in my life. Rafiq looked like he’d smelled something foul and I laughed. He deserved it.

  As I walked into the main living room, Rubio was working on connecting the PlayStation. He turned toward me when I came in.

  “Give me a hand, James? I can’t seem to do anything in these ridiculously skinny pants.” Rubio is a quiet guy. My head couldn’t create inventive dialogue for him.

  I couldn’t quite put the PlayStation together either.

  “I’m dreaming, Rubio. I can’t put this shit together. Hold on.” I kicked the PlayStation and all the cables were magically connected.

  “Nice! Someday, when Claudia stops coddling me like an infant, I hope you can teach me how to be more of a man,” Rubi
o said (it’s my dream—stop judging me).

  “You can start by taking care of this.” I took out a pair of scissors from my pocket and cut the large hank of hair covering most of his face. There was a large round of applause.

  “Okay everyone, it’s time to sing Happy Birthday!” The crowd parted for Livvie as she walked out of the kitchen holding a large chocolate cake covered in candles.

  Happy birthday to you.

  Happy birthday to you.

  Happy birthday dear, James.

  Happy birthday to you.

  I scrunched my face. When had I learned that song?

  Wake up, Birthday Boy. It’s time for one of your presents.

  Something soft touched my face.

  Wake up, Sexy. It’s your birthday.

  I smiled both inside and outside the dream. Livvie. She was real. She was with me. She was mine. If the dream had been good—and it had been—waking up had been even better.

  I opened my eyes slowly. Reality and fantasy rearranged themselves in my mind until everything was clear. I smiled when I saw Livvie standing by the side of the bed. She raised her arm and tickled my face with a long feather. I rubbed my nose.

  “That’s not what that’s for,” I said. My voice was rough. I yawned and stretched.

  “Want me to tickle your penis?” She flicked the feather over the tent in the sheets.

  I put my hand over my erection and turned away.

  “No. That’s not for you. I have to go to the bathroom.”

  “Well get up! I have a whole day of birthday activities planned and you’re spoiling my fun with your sleeping… and your pee boner.”

  I laughed.

  “I hate when you call it that.”

  “Yeah? Well I hate that I can’t play with it. Why the hell is it so hard if I’m not supposed to play with it? That’s false advertising, Mister.”

  I flopped onto my back and threw my arms across my eyes.

  “Fine. Ravage me. But don’t expect to go anywhere for a while.” The last time she mounted my morning erection I couldn’t come for over an hour. Livvie had to take a nap when we finished and the whole morning had been appropriated.

  “Le sigh. It’s going to have to wait. We have plans. Now, get up!” Livvie put her hands on my stomach and bounced me up and down.

  “Stop!” I really had to piss. I grabbed Livvie around her waist and pulled her into the bed with me. She squealed as I tickled her. “I’m going to do this until you pee!” Her legs were kicking, but I threw the comforter over them until she was trapped.

  “Oh, god! Oh, please. Please stop!” She was laughing despite the panic I could see in her eyes.

  “Are you sorry?” I teased.

  “Yes! Please!” Livvie was panting by the time I stopped tickling her. She smiled up at me.

  “Can I kiss you?” I asked.

  “You haven’t brushed your teeth.” She wrinkled her nose.

  “I know. That’s why I asked.” I was already leaning down toward her mouth. I kept it brief. I hopped off of her quickly and made my way into the bathroom before she could try to retaliate.

  There was a knock on the door.

  “Meet me downstairs when you’re done. I made breakfast.”

  “Okay,” I said.

  Once I was done using the bathroom, I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. As I wiped my face on a purple hand towel (Livvie had worked her frilly girl-magic in our bathroom), I stared at myself in the mirror. It was my first birthday. I was twenty-eight. The feeling was surreal. I wondered if I looked my age.

  This is my life. I was a whore in my youth, a killer since my adolescence, and a monster as a man. Who am I now? What am I now? I shrugged.

  Livvie and I had been living together for about four months. It had taken some getting used to in the beginning. I wasn’t accustomed to having another person around me every day. Although, having already spent so much time with Livvie during her captivity and also having made every effort to see her often while we were dating made it somewhat easier to adjust. If I needed to hide out for a while, I would usually go upstairs to work on Livvie’s library/office some more. Otherwise, I was downstairs working on building new sets to exorcise my perversions (a few of the perversions were her ideas). Livvie made me put a lock on the door so no one would accidentally stumble across it.

  Livvie didn’t seem to have much of an adjusting issue at all. She explained she was used to a house full of loud people. If anything, she sometimes didn’t like the size of the house. She said it was so big it felt empty sometimes. However, Claudia and Rubio practically lived with us, so that didn’t last very long. On the days Livvie needed to be alone, she was usually upstairs writing on her laptop.

  I was ever changing and discovered that while some things would always make me uncomfortable—Livvie’s new phone-relationship with her mother, meeting new people, attending film festivals (I love Livvie, but some of those people are so dull!), and explaining my lack of actual employment—I was happy being James. Admittedly, there were moments when I missed my former life, but for the most part I was becoming more comfortable with my new life and the things that came with it: Livvie, friends, and… birthdays.

  Livvie was impatiently waiting for me once I reached the bottom of the stairs. She’d made small pancakes with strawberries and bacon. They were arranged in a smile on my plate.

  “I was expecting a bowl of cereal,” I quipped.

  “Don’t worry, I’m saving that for tomorrow,” she replied. She came around the counter and put her hands on my face. “Happy birthday, Sexy.” She pressed her lips to mine. She tasted like orange juice and syrup. I chased the sweetness of her tongue, pulling her toward me until I felt her go soft in my arms.

  Livvie once told me I stole her breath when we kissed. She said it was as though I filtered the very air she breathed into her lungs. I thought it was more of her flowery words. However, once the thought was planted in my mind, I began to pay particular attention. Yes, I felt something too. I loved the moment Livvie gave herself to me. She became nothing but her instincts. She swayed. She whimpered. She rubbed against me.

  I let my hands travel down her back and over her rounded ass. I pulled up her skirt. I was seconds away from putting my thumbs in her panties and pulling them down when my efforts were thwarted.

  “No, Sexy, not right now.” She put her hands behind her in an attempt stop my mauling.

  “Yes,” I said. “Right now.” I grabbed her hands and held them in my left. With my free hand I began slipping her panties down. I placed sucking kisses across her shoulder.

  “James,” she groaned. “The windows.”

  I sighed.

  “Dammit! I’m putting in drapes. Today!” I said, exasperated. What did I have to do to get laid on my birthday?

  Livvie pulled away and righted her clothing.

  “Don’t be upset.” She kissed me quickly before she scurried back into the kitchen to get her own breakfast. “You’ll have plenty of time to play ‘Kitten’s been a naughty girl’ later. I promise.”

  “We better,” I grumbled. I picked up a piece of bacon and put it in my mouth. Rafiq wasn’t what one would call a devout Muslim, but I was pretty sure he would roll over in his grave at the sight of me devouring bacon. I, for one, really enjoyed it in moderation. “So what do you have planned for me today? Please tell me it doesn’t involve leaving the house.”

  Livvie glared at me ruefully.

  “Don’t be such a geezer, Sexy. Let’s get out of here and have some fun.”

  “I hate fun.”

  Livvie laughed.

  “You would. Good thing you’ll never have to put out a personal ad.” She assumed her ridiculous parody of my voice. “Hey, I’m James. I’m twenty-eight years old. I enjoy kicks to the face, having sex on kitchen counters, stalking my girlfriend, and telling kids to get off my lawn. I also hate fun. If you do too, hit me up.” She was nearly doubled over while laughing at her own joke.

  “I do not
stalk you… anymore. Also, I’ve never yelled at anyone to get off our lawn.”

  “What about Claudia?”

  “The front yard is not a place to tan.” I couldn’t help but laugh at the memory of turning the sprinklers on Claudia. She’d been mad as a hornet. I’d let her process her anger on the porch before Livvie let her back inside.

  Livvie and I joked a lot over breakfast. Livvie is the only person I know who can make me furious one second and laugh the next. She likes to say I’m contrary, but I feel the same dichotomy is present in her. I suppose it keeps things interesting.

  Livvie could not have planned a more perfect day. To begin, she assured me we would be spending the day alone. As much as I had come to like Claudia and Rubio, the only person I wanted to spend my first birthday with was Livvie. I never had to pretend with her. I could be myself—whoever that happened to be from one moment to the next.

  Livvie was full of charm and whimsy. Since I’d missed out on so many birthdays, she was determined to show me what I’d missed. The first place she took me to was a go-kart racing track. Though small, the karts could reach speeds of up to forty-five miles an hour. Livvie won four out of seven races—she weighs less than me, so her car was inevitably faster. All things being equal, I’m sure I could have won every time. Of course, Livvie didn’t quite see it that way. She is a very sore winner.

  After go-karts, we ate pizza and played video games in the arcade upstairs. Livvie was no match for me when it came to shooting games, and I think we spent close to thirty Euros pumping change into a game called Area 51. If the earth is ever attacked by aliens, you’re welcome to stand behind me.

  By early evening, we were just finishing up eighteen holes of glow-in-the-dark mini golf. I was having one of the best days of my life and was spending it with the best person in my life. I couldn’t wait to get Livvie home and express my gratitude to her for being everything I needed and far more than I deserved.

  “You can’t do that, Pet. You’re cheating.” I glared at Livvie as she picked up her ball and reset it on the mat.

  “You distracted me. I should get to try again. It’s the last hole.” She stuck her tongue out.

  “I distracted you while I was standing here being quiet?”

  “Yes.”

  “I’ll let you try again if you tell me you love me.” I smiled my most wicked smile. The one I liked to give her just before I stripped her down and had my filthy way.

  “You first,” she said with a grin. She hit the ball and it rolled part way up the green before it failed to make it over the ice cream hill and rolled back toward her.

  I laughed.

  “That’s what you get.” Livvie kept hitting her ball until she made it into the hole. She was a sore winner and a very quiet loser.

  “Are you hungry?” she asked as we were leaving.

  “Not really. We’ve had a lot of junk.” I hit the unlock button to the BMW.

 
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