Epilogue, p.4
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       Epilogue, p.4
 

         Part #3 of The Dark Duet series by C. J. Roberts
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  I pushed him with all my strength, knocking him backward over the table and onto the floor. I leapt into the air and landed on top of him. I punched him. Repeatedly. My fists felt ineffectual; I couldn’t get the force I required to beat him to death. Switching tactics, I held his neck in my hands and tried to squeeze the life out of him.

  Rafiq’s maniacal gaze fell on me.

  “I am a god here! You’ve made it so.”

  “Just fucking die! Die! Die! I hate you! I wish you were alive so I could kill you all over again!” I dug my fingers into his eyes, growing hard as blood oozed onto my fingers. Rafiq tried to fight me this time. His hands pushed against me, his legs flailed, and his body twisted as he tried to buck me off. “I can kill you, Rafiq. You’re not a god. I feel nothing for you.”

  Rafiq’s body went still under me.

  “Master?” I heard a voice behind me. I turned and saw Livvie. She was wearing a white robe that reached the floor. Her hair was loose and unruly. She wore a slave collar at her throat. A wave of overwhelming guilt slammed into me.

  “Livvie? Don’t look!” I turned my head toward Rafiq. His body had disappeared. Only a large bloody stain remained. My hands were covered in blood and gore. I wiped my hands on my thighs, but the blood wouldn’t come clean. “Don’t look,” I said and I was sobbing again. “Don’t look.”

  Livvie’s footsteps approached and I could actually feel the weight of her arms wrapping around my shoulders. Her warmth descended on my back.

  “It’s okay, Master. I know why you do it. You can’t help who you are.” I hunched over and her weight followed me.

  “Don’t look.”

  There are moments that define our lives. At the time, most of mine were comprised of people I had murdered or enslaved. I’d done something about the slaves. I couldn’t take back the murders. I didn’t want to. However, my subconscious was not appeased by my belief in justifiable murder. I enjoyed it a little too much, my subconscious admonished. I was a little too “well-adjusted” for someone inured to such treachery.

  I woke to find Livvie’s body wrapped around me. Her chest was pressed to my back and her arm lay covetously against my chest. Her warm breath skated against my neck. I smiled to myself. So far, each moment with her seemed to be better than the last.

  Panic lingered in my chest, but I had grown accustomed to the nightmares. I am nothing if not adaptable. What I found more frightening than the dream was the voice in my head telling me I’d never let Livvie go. Mine. Mine forever.

  If you’re sighing with contentment, you’re either one sick fuck or you don’t grasp the seriousness of the situation. While I no longer kill, I am a killer. A killer in love is a very dangerous thing.

  I laughed softly because Livvie was spooning me.

  “Mmm,” she sighed. Her fingers caressed my chest. She pressed closer, her lips finding my neck and leaving a sleepy kiss. I reached for her arm and stroked it with my fingers.

  “Are you awake?” I whispered. There was no way I was going to be able to go back to sleep. My dick was hard and Livvie was much too soft.

  “No,” she grumbled. I chuckled.

  “If you’re not awake, I can’t have your pussy for breakfast.” She twitched behind me. Her foot stroked my leg.

  “Never stopped you before.” She undulated against me.

  “Oh?” I held her arm and rolled over. Her breasts felt hot against my naked chest. It went nicely with the silky feel of her thighs as I slid my cock against them. “Do you mind if I help myself then?” She bit her lip and tried not to smile. She was more than awake but determined to feign sleep. Her lipstick had faded, but red stain remained. Aside from the disorderly mess of her long hair, she looked every bit the goddess of the night before.

  “Mmnmyeah,” she muttered.

  “You’re fooling no one,” I whispered against her neck. She didn’t respond.

  I pushed my own hair from my face. Livvie had been playing with it before we fell asleep and I hadn’t bothered to tie it back up. It was annoying, but I traveled with a Swiss passport and it helped me look the part. I often traveled with a snowboard, though I had no idea how to use it.

  I buried my face in her neck and inhaled. Her head fell to the other side, exposing her throat to me in clear invitation. Beneath me, her legs drifted open. The head of my cock missed the silk of her thighs but compromised by rubbing against the sheets. I’d get back to her heat soon—no rush. I took my time kissing the long line of Livvie’s throat. She moaned and undulated against me. Her feet found the backs of my knees and rubbed.

  “That feels good,” she sighed.

  “Shh, you’re supposed to be asleep. I’m having my way with you.” I used my thumb to trace her nipple until it was a hard little pebble.

  “Well, could you take advantage of me a little faster?” Her arms wrapped around me and pulled me closer. Her intention to get me to suck on her nipples was obvious, but I ignored it. I’d already made reservations at a different restaurant.

  “Don’t make me gag you,” I threatened. There was a non-verbal response from her, a slight tensing perhaps, but I was too otherwise engaged to think on it. I kissed and sucked my way down her chest and briefly stopped to tease her nipples with the tip of my tongue. I kept my pressure light. I didn’t suck or lave. I wanted the air to do my teasing as I continued my way south.

  Livvie’s hands found their way into my hair and she grabbed handfuls of it. It hurt. I decided I might have to cut it if she was going to use it as makeshift handlebars. Then again, I couldn’t blame her. I loved grabbing hold of her hair too. I decided payback would be more fun (and no one even had to die, which was a bonus).

  Finally, I decided if she wanted me to pick up the pace, I would. I had waited too damn long already. I reached for her hands and disentangled her fingers from my hair.

  “Let’s put these somewhere a little less dangerous,” I whispered against her taut belly. Holding one hand on either side of her hips, I pinned them there and shifted myself toward her pussy. I put my mouth on her without hesitation.

  “Caleb!” she cried out. She pressed her feet into the mattress and pushed away from my mouth. I tugged her back down by her wrists and continued my assault on her clit.

  I moaned against her. I loved the way she writhed on my face and I could already feel her getting slick. I traced her inner lips with my tongue. It wasn’t long before she was using my grip on her wrists and her feet in the mattress to leverage herself closer. She wanted me to put my tongue inside her… and I would, when I was good and fucking ready. In the meantime, I enjoyed the smell and taste of her. Some men don’t eat pussy. I think those men are pussies.

  I sucked Livvie’s clit into my mouth and licked her hard. I was rewarded with pain as she dug her fingernails into my wrists. She’d been pretty feisty since our reunion. I’d been slapped, teased, threatened with pepper spray, had my hair pulled, and then I was pretty sure she’d drawn blood. I didn’t know what to make of it, but I decided I’d try fighting fire with fire. I squeezed her wrists until her fingers unfurled and she let out a whine.

  I let her wrists go and sat back on my heels. Livvie’s legs were wide open, her chest heaved with arousal, and her wet pussy begged to be fucked. It also didn’t escape my notice that she hadn’t moved her hands. I think that might have turned me on more than anything else.

  “Flip over. Lift that sexy ass in the air.” I swallowed past my arousal.

  “Yes, Caleb.” She rolled onto her stomach and adopted a posture I recognized immediately. I’d taught it to her.

  I felt like someone had stroked my cock and punched me in the chest in chorus. Was it wrong to enjoy the view? Did she think I hadn’t changed? Did she know I regretted ever forcing her to obey such commands? Why was I so damn turned on? Was I still the same man who got off on breaking her?

  Not the time for ethical quandaries, asshole.

  Shaking free of my thoughts, I placed one hand at the small of Livvie’s back and hel
d my dick with the other. I lined up my cock with her slick opening and thrust halfway inside her. I pulled back and thrust again. I didn’t stop until my hips met her ass. Livvie cried out and fisted the sheets in her hands.

  “God!”

  I ran my hand up her spine, pressing her down. I jabbed her with my hips against her ass. They were short thrusts that had us both in a frenzy of lust. I leaned over and whispered in her ear.

  “Do you like that?” She whimpered but didn’t reply. It incensed me. I was reminded of a cheetah that had just spotted a bolting rabbit. I wrapped one arm under Livvie and grabbed a handful of tit. So close to her face, I reveled in every little gasp, moan, sigh, and whimper as I slammed myself against her harder. “I asked you a question. Do you like it?”

  She bit her lip and her eyes squeezed shut. She had to be enjoying herself because I could practically hear and feel how wet she was. She refused to answer me. It was starting to mess with my head. The night before, I’d told her I loved her and she hadn’t said a word. The pattern was disconcerting and I decided if she was trying to piss me off, it was working.

  I lifted my weight off of her. I gripped her hips and slowed my rhythm. I looked down to watch myself sliding in and out of her. Indeed, she was sopping wet. Her shy little asshole beckoned. I smirked as I wondered if my next action would get her talking. I traced the puckered hole with my thumb. Her hips jerked, but then settled. I stepped it up a notch and let my thumb press its way inside her ass.

  “What about that, Pet? Will that get you talking?”

  “Mmm.”

  “That’s it? That’s all I get?” I became less angry. She liked it. She wanted me. She wanted the things I was doing to her. But for reasons yet unbeknownst to me, she couldn’t come right out and say it. Or maybe she’s turned on pretending she doesn’t. I had to shake my head to make the thought go away. It was too much to think about right then. I pulled my thumb out and held on to Livvie’s hips. I went at her hard until I felt her shake and shudder around my dick. I came inside her again and collapsed on the bed next to her.

  “God, I am starving! I want breakfast so bad,” Livvie murmured into the sheets. Her forehead was plastered with sweaty hair. I laughed.

  “She speaks!” I pushed the hair off her forehead and she closed her eyes to enjoy my touch. What a strange pair we made.

  “For a minute there I didn’t know if I wanted to come or bolt out for pancakes.” She smiled at me. “You certainly take it out of a girl.”

  “Hmm, I put some back in, too.” I winked. “We have to check out of here in about fifteen minutes. We slept late.” I knew it wasn’t going to be a problem, but I still liked to give Livvie a hard time.

  “Crap. That’s hardly any time to take a shower and I only have the clothes from last night.” She flipped over and huffed toward the ceiling. I rolled onto my side and propped up on my elbow.

  “We could go to my flat. It’s close.”

  “How close?”

  I grinned. “Next door.”

  Her eyes got huge.

  “You dick!” she laughed. “I thought you had a house.”

  “People say ‘come to my house’. It doesn’t mean they actually live in a house. I live in the hotel… but not in this room. You can’t blame me for being cunning. And… we can order room service.” I smiled broadly and waited for her reply.

  Thank goodness for whatever hormones make women so agreeable after you’ve laid them right, because that’s all it took to get her to agree. Also… pancakes.

  CHAPTER FOUR

  After our pancakes (and an obscene amount of syrup on some very interesting body parts), Livvie informed me she had to go to her apartment and get ready for work. I wasn’t too happy about it, but I decided to be cordial and allow her some sense of normalcy. We’d had a lot of sex and done more talking than I cared for, but there were still plenty of things unresolved between us. I had my work cut out for me with Livvie. She wouldn’t even let me take her home.

  “I can take a cab home. I’ll be in a rush when I get there and I’d feel bad ignoring you.” She smiled at me while putting on her shoes. “Can I call you when I get off work? It’ll be a little before midnight since it’s a Monday.”

  I was still in bed, naked. I hoped my silent protest about putting on clothes after our shower would have inspired her to keep me company, but it didn’t work. She still hadn’t said anything about my confession. It was making me more nervous than I cared to admit.

  “I still don’t understand why you’re leaving me. You know I’ll get up to no good without you.”

  She smiled at me again and walked toward the bed. She bent down and kissed me on the cheek.

  “I trust you.” She moved away before I could drag her back into bed.

  “You’re not wearing any underwear,” I teased. The last thing I wanted was for her to run into trouble with some cab driver.

  “I think the odds of being kidnapped twice in a lifetime are pretty slim. Don’t you?” Her tone was meant to convey sarcasm, but there was an edge to her words that smacked of resentment.

  I forced myself to smile when all I wanted to do was tell her I was through taking her shit. I knew I deserved it. I deserved much more than she was giving. It’s just not in my nature to let people kick me while I’m already down.

  “I suppose you’re right. I’ll be here if you call.” I rolled out of bed, kissed her on the top of her head, and walked into the bathroom to take a leak. I heard the door shut.

  I tried to keep my mind away from Livvie by keeping busy. I read a book. I returned the Lamborghini. I ate. I searched through local and international news. Regardless of my intentions, it wasn’t long before my thoughts veered toward Livvie again.

  I thought about the night before and her hasty exit in the morning. One set of thoughts made me smile; the other had me on high alert.

  Livvie’s apartment was near her school. I researched the campus and neighborhood. Crime was relatively low. The internet wasn’t flush with stories of sexual assault at her college. However, I doubted the university would willingly offer such information. I made a mental note to investigate for myself at a later time. Livvie had a tendency to trust too easily.

  I’d already done my due diligence and researched her neighbors. The man across the hall from Livvie had been arrested for domestic violence the year before but hadn’t been in trouble since. He’d been living with a female student at the time. I’d be keeping a close eye on him as well.

  I showered around ten-thirty.

  I had champagne brought up an hour later.

  By midnight, I was expecting the phone to ring at any moment.

  With each passing minute, I realized the void inside me was alive and well. It was thriving. It had a taste for a new sort of misery—hope. It had been a long time since I had allowed myself such an emotion. The void feasted on it while old memories reminded me how dangerous it could be. Hope and fear are different sides of the same coin. I had gone from missing Livvie to hoping I could be the man she wanted. I didn’t know which was worse.

  I had gone through all sorts of scenarios in my mind prior to making contact with Livvie. However, her passive aggressive behavior toward me was not one of them. My mind is much more problem/solution oriented. Mad at me? Scream at me. Punch me if you’re up for it. Please don’t smile at me sweetly, act like nothing is wrong and then leave me disillusioned. And before you say anything, yes—I realize how fucking ironic my words are. I have played my fair share of mind games with Livvie. It doesn’t mean I liked being on the other side. No man does.

  I took a cab over to her apartment. There was a wall of buttons and a speaker panel just outside the door. I ran my finger down a column of buttons until someone buzzed me in. I ignored the groggy insults coming through the speaker. I made it a point to ignore the button marked “S. Cole.”

  The elevator to the fifth floor moved at a glacial pace. Thoughts raced through my mind, each bombarding me with different emotions. In
the time it had taken to arrive on Livvie’s floor, I had changed my mind about what to say or do a dozen times.

  I could turn around, change hotels, and let her wonder where the hell I’d gone. I could pound on her door and make a scene in the hall. I could push my way past her when she opened the door and refuse to leave until she gave me answers. I could tell her to go fuck herself and then leave.

  I could.

  I wouldn’t.

  I took a deep breath and knocked. My heart beat a staccato rhythm and my breaths filled in the gaps. I’d been in more than my fair share of perilous situations, but few had the ability to affect me so physically.

  After a few seconds, the door opened. A small chain prevented it from opening fully. Livvie’s tear-stained face looked at me through the gap. My anger evaporated and fear blossomed.

  “Are you okay? You didn’t call.”

  Livvie glanced away and shut the door in my face. I heard her dealing with the chain just before the door reopened and she motioned me inside. I stepped slowly and carefully. As I let my eyes wander around her apartment, I realized I’d never walked in Livvie’s world. I didn’t know all the different sides of her. There was a blue sofa and a coffee table in the shape of a splat. Fake orange daisies stuck out of a vase filled with clear marbles. Framed posters adorned her walls: Interview with a Vampire, The Crow, The Social Network, Inception, a poster of four different colored records, and a half-naked man whose virtues were compared to chocolate.

  I felt conspicuously out of place. Livvie was young. She cared about movies, music, and boys. She preferred bright colors. I smiled when I saw her PlayStation. A set of drumsticks, a microphone, and a plastic guitar were crammed up against the TV stand. I wondered if Livvie liked to sing or if she preferred one of the instruments. I wondered who she played with and decided the couple she was always with seemed the most likely. They knew her in ways I didn’t. It made me jealous.

  “I’m sorry,” Livvie said as she walked toward a side door. She was wearing a pink robe with teddy bears on it. I would never have chosen an outfit like that for her. I followed her onto her balcony and watched her light a cigarette. “I got out of work late and I figured you were probably asleep.” She inhaled deeply and let the smoke out smoothly, a sign of a well-seasoned smoker.

  “How long have you been smoking?” I asked. I hadn’t noticed her smoking during the course of my surveillance. She smiled and scoffed sarcastically.

  “You going to give me shit about it?”

  “No. We all have our bad habits.” I would be doing something about the smoking, but I didn’t need to get into it right then. She turned her head toward me and gave me a grin.

  “Not all my habits are bad.”

  I smiled despite my unease.

  “There’s a few I’m quite fond of,” I quoted her. I stepped closer and brushed her hair away from her forehead. I liked touching her. I liked to remind myself she was alive. To my relief, she closed her eyes and enjoyed my touch.

  “I only do it when I’m stressed out. I took it up after I left the hospital. I haven’t had one in months.” She turned away and took another drag from her cigarette.

  “What’s the real reason you didn’t call?” My fear surged. “Did you… change your mind? About us?”

  She glanced at me over her shoulder before pointedly staring off into the night. She took two more drags from her cigarette.

  “I don’t know what us is.”

  My eyes were burning. The smoke, maybe.

  “It could be whatever you want it to be, Livvie. Or it could be nothing. It’s up to you.” I knew the moment the words left my mouth they were a lie. She scowled at me.

  “No, Caleb, it’s not so simple. It’s been a year. A fucking year! You never gave me the chance to be angry with you. You just disappeared and left me to worry that maybe you were dead. I had the FBI up my ass and the whole time—the whole time—I defended you. I defended what you did to me because I loved you and you’d just risked everything to save me. And now you walk back into my life.” She wiped at the tears on her cheeks. “And goddammit I can’t bear the thought of being without you again. But there’s all this other shit too. All the things I never let myself feel because I didn’t want to admit that maybe Reed and Sloan were right. Maybe I can’t love you.”

  Adrenaline coursed through my veins as my dormant and underutilized emotions were accosted.

  “Please,” I heard myself whisper. I didn’t even know what I was asking for. Perhaps it was only that I wanted her to stop saying those things. Her words hurt me. They hurt me more than I thought anything could hurt. They hurt nearly as much as the memory of Rafiq’s eyes going dead. My own words taunted me.

  “I did think it was really cute when you said you loved me though.”

  Livvie, in her infinite capacity for compassion, put out her cigarette and wrapped her arms around my waist. I took the lifeline she offered and held her in my arms. I might have squeezed her too hard. I didn’t want to let her go. I couldn’t.

  “Caleb,” she gasped. I loosened my grip but didn’t let her go. “I don’t want you to disappear again. Please, promise me you won’t.”

  I searched blindly for my voice and had to clear my throat before I could speak.

  “I promise, Livvie. But I… I don’t know what to do. I’ve never been here before.”

  “Neither have I, Caleb. And we’re seriously more fucked up than anyone else I know.” She laughed morosely. “But you have to give me time. You have to let me be mad at you. You have to promise that no matter what I say or do, you’ll forgive me. You’ll wait for me to let it go.”

 
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