Poughkeepsie, p.21
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       Poughkeepsie, p.21

           Debra Anastasia

  Once she was committed and clearly enjoying the moment, Beckett allowed himself some breathing room. This woman seemed so hard but felt so soft. Eve was now lost to herself, letting her need rule her muscles. Beckett watched as her well-defined legs pumped at a maddening pace. She pulled him completely out of her, then slammed back down, taking him in roughly, over and over again.

  Finally, she fell backward, and he reminded his hands to let go of the couch cushions and catch her by her hips. By the time he climaxed, Eve was arched and her hair touched the floor. Her face was as far away from his as it could get while still having him inside her.

  They panted like this for a moment, until he realized she was too ashamed to sit back up and look at him. He’d just been at the center of her loss. He’d poisoned the only place she’d ever held her baby. Beckett looked at her long, white form. He ran his hand over a fine white scar he found just under her belly button—the scar somehow he had put on her body.

  When she felt his hand she grabbed it. Beckett made a fist and watched her fingers on his forearm as they covered his Sorry tattoo. She maintained her grip and let him pull her up. But Eve looked to the right of his face, focusing on a mounted gun.

  She let go of his arm and ran her hand through her long, tangled hair. Beckett could see the turmoil on her beautiful face. She didn’t seem to know what to do with herself now. She bit her wrist and finally turned her blue eyes to him.

  His eyes flared with shock when she backhanded him. Now she would empty out her anger.

  “Fuck you. Fuck you, Beckett Taylor.” She flexed her fist.

  Beckett’s jaw tightened. “Looks like you got that covered, gorgeous.”

  Eve full-on slapped his face in the opposite direction.

  Beckett raised an eyebrow as he felt himself harden inside her.

  “You like that?” she demanded.

  Beckett just licked his lips. No woman had ever slapped him. But she did. Eve made her fingers into a claw and played a deep, painful game of connect-the-gunshot-scars on his skin.

  He moved his hips against her. She growled, which just about undid him immediately. He grabbed her throat and cut off just enough oxygen to tinge her red lips blue while pushing harder against her. She could breathe, but just barely. He knew it would make the next moment insane for her.

  Beckett stuck his thumb in her parted mouth. She bit him and sucked, as he’d expected. When he finally removed his thumb, it was moist and a little bloody. He smiled as he used it to touch her right above where his whole universe was embedded. She bucked at his touch, and Beckett assaulted her senses with pleasure. He knew just how to move himself and his thumb to make her die a little bit.

  By the time he let go of her neck so she could take a gasp, she had the eyes of a predator. He stood and carried her to his perfect-height-for-doggy-style coffee table. He dumped her on the hard surface, arranging her on all fours. She seemed hesitant, but he knew she would submit. She needed him now. There would be no stopping.

  Beckett let her know who he was. He let her know how many women he’d made scream his name as he slid into her from behind. He twirled her hair in his fist, yanking enough to make her curse. He added his favorite pimp ass-smack, alternating it with guiding her hips into him faster.

  Beckett delighted in her screams and moans, and then Eve kicked up her game. She arranged her legs between his, crossing them at the ankles. She turned herself into a vice grip, and his dick was her happy prisoner.

  By the time she was done squeezing him into a puddle of man, he was screaming so loud Merkin banged on the door.

  “Merkin! Go…the…fuck…away!” Beckett yelled breathlessly as he staggered backward.

  Eve collapsed on her back, looking up at him from the table.

  Beckett wiped his mouth with his wrist. “If you’re planning on fucking me to death, I’m so on board with that.”

  She gave him a sad smile. His heart actually stumbled when he remembered her pain. He immediately knelt by her head.

  “Eve, how can I fix this? Tell me what to do. I’ll do anything.” He moved her hair out of her face.

  Eve let his words lay in the room with them for a while before she uttered her blasphemous ones. “When I’m with you, it doesn’t hurt as bad.”

  He picked her up again, surprised—now that he could think—at how much she weighed. This girl’s pure muscle.

  He sat on the couch with her on his lap. Starting over. “I’m so sorry, Eve.”

  Eve touched the new marks on his chest, lines that linked all his past violence with a path of red, new pain. “I know you are, Beck. I know you are.”


  Meat Curtains

  AS THEY PULLED IN at her house, Livia gave the crumpled convertible a closer look in the late-morning sun. Kyle had really done a job on it. Dad’s going to lose his mind.

  Blake offered a gloved hand to take her keys, and she smiled at his ski mask-covered face. She tried not to see his desperate need to cover up in the sun as a setback.

  “I’m safe in the meadow with you,” he’d told her as they dressed. “But you, Livia, are extraordinary. You’ve seen me differently since that first day on the train platform. What if they still judge me?” He’d looked so longingly at the mask on the ground when they were ready to leave.

  “Blake, you were amazing today,” she’d told him. “If covering up makes you more comfortable, that’s what you should do. You’ve climbed a mountain, so it’s okay to rest.” Livia had picked up the mask and handed it to him.

  He hadn’t removed it since. Livia handed him keys as they walked up the driveway, and he opened the front door for her.

  Livia leaned up to kiss his considerate mouth as she passed. The brush of wool against her bottom lip sent a pulse of pleasure through her. They walked into the kitchen together to find Mouse still knitting away. Instead of being surprised by Blake’s getup, he immediately began critiquing his own work.

  “I think the eye holes on that one are bit too big.” Mouse motioned for Blake to give it to him, which he did.

  Mouse absorbed himself in comparing the hat in his hand with the pile of soft yarn he was knitting into submission. All three looked to the ceiling when they heard Kyle stumble-stomp to the bathroom. The door slammed. The old house had thin walls, and Kyle’s voice carried clearly into the kitchen.

  “Livia! My pussy smells like a monkey. Why do I wear leather pants to dance in?”

  Livia felt her skin redden as she looked at Mouse. “She doesn’t know you’re here?”

  He smiled widely. “Um, no. When she started waking up I came downstairs. I didn’t want to scare her.”

  Kyle opened the bathroom door so Livia could hear her wherever she might be in the house. “Correction—my pussy smells like a monkey that got fucked by a dirty gorilla. Did I shower last night?”

  The bathroom door slammed again.

  Livia tried to choke an explanation out around her embarrassment. “She and I try to make each other laugh in the morning when our dad isn’t here.”

  The distinct sound of the bathroom door opening again lifted Livia’s eyebrows in alarm. She waved her hands uselessly in the direction of her sister’s voice.

  “I’m pissing straight alcohol,” Kyle informed them from above. “Still peeing…still peeing….oh God, I’m bladdertastic!”

  Livia grabbed her hair and shouted up to her sister. “Kyle, shut up! We have company. Shush!”

  Blake and Mouse had cracked up as quietly as possible, but Mouse lost it first and started in with his full-volume hyena-like squeak. Blake actually had to sit down and put his head on his arms to laugh out loud. Livia gave them a grimace and took the stairs two at a time.

  Kyle’s wide eyes peeked out from behind the bathroom door. “Who’s here?”

  Livia shook her head. “Blake and Mouse, for God’s sake.”

  “Now that right there is making my ass sweat.” Kyle banged her head on the doorjamb.

  “They can still hear
you, Shakespeare.” Livia smiled at her sister’s horrified face.

  “What the hell did we do last night? It tastes like I was sucking on a troll’s dick.” Kyle stuck her tongue out as if she might remove it.

  Livia gave up trying to censor her sister. “Hairy Buffalo ring a bell?”

  Kyle slapped her forehead with her palm. “Aw, man. That stuff eats me alive. I vaguely remember dancing with you.”

  Kyle fell silent, and Livia watched as her mind retraced its steps, then tripped and landed in the screaming, bloody end of the night.

  “Oh, Liv, what happened? What happened? Cole and the men? Did that happen? What happened?”

  Kyle looked even more pale than she had when she was vomiting. Livia opened the door the rest of the way and grabbed her hand. She dragged Kyle into her purple room and shut the door.

  “All I know is you were in danger and Cole found you. You didn’t want to leave him. What do you remember?” Livia wouldn’t let go of Kyle’s hand.

  “There was dancing, and then the ladies’ room line was too long. And then the men said they loved me. Oh, God. I told them I would do them both at once.” Kyle squeezed Livia’s hand tighter and looked down at the bed. “And then I didn’t want to do it anymore. I told them no, but they didn’t want to stop. I’d already said yes.”

  Livia’s lips formed a straight, hard line. She had to be a sister now. She had to be a mother. Her rage would not help Kyle, so Livia swallowed it.

  “Did they make you?” she whispered. If they raped her and I was just outside. Oh please, no.

  “They didn’t get that far before Cole showed up.” Kyle took quick breaths.

  “He helped you?”

  “Of course he helped me. He stopped them. He stopped them so hard they couldn’t even get up.” Kyle covered her mouth. Her words became wobbly with emotion. “Those men—I think one of them was dead. His eyes just stayed open. That doesn’t happen if you’re alive, right? Cole tore them apart. He was so quick.”

  Kyle stood and rubbed her hands on her thighs. “I did that. What happened to them is on me. I made Cole do what he did.”

  Livia watched her sister tuck this new guilt into her essence. She stood and grabbed Kyle’s endlessly rubbing hands. “Stop that right now. You said no. No one has a right to take what you don’t want to give. Cole beat me to that bathroom by moments. I can promise you this, Kyle. Those men were dying last night, whether it was by my hand or his. And I should have been with you!”

  “I hurt everyone but myself last night. I wanted to punish me. Me.” Kyle looked at the ceiling now.

  “Well, then I’m going to have to kick your ass. No one gets to punish you. Enough of this shit, Kyle. You’re more than this. You know better than this. Yes, Mom left. But Dad stayed. I stayed. You’re more than enough for us. This is our family. You don’t get to throw away your life. I’m sorry, but you don’t. This is self-serving bullshit.”

  The girls looked at each other in startled silence. Livia was as surprised by her words as Kyle.

  Slowly Kyle nodded. “You’re so fucking right. God, I’m a sucking asshole.”

  “You’re a huge sucking asshole,” Livia agreed. “You have everything at your fingertips. You’re healthy, smart, fun, and highly fashionable. But instead you’re buying problems you don’t even want. Let the death of at least one and maybe two scumbags have a little meaning. Be the real you. Follow your beautiful heart.”

  “You’re not the first person to tell me that,” Kyle said.


  Kyle smiled for a moment, then blanched. “Holy crap! Did he get arrested?” She searched Livia’s face for an answer, but Livia didn’t know.

  Kyle rushed past her and down the stairs. Livia came scrambling behind.

  Apparently, the walls were very, very thin because Mouse was ready with an answer.

  “Good morning,” he said as she came flying into the kitchen. “Cole was not arrested. Beckett was, but he was just released on bail an hour ago.” Mouse stretched his fingers. “A douchebag checked in this morning and said he found Cole’s car in the lot at his church.”

  “I gotta go.” Kyle headed for the back door in her pajamas.

  “Hey, monkey pussy, you might want to give those meat curtains a spit shine before you leave the house.” Mouse pointed to Kyle’s crotch with a knitting needle. Mouse looked around in the stunned silence. “What? I knit, but I’m still hardcore. Seriously.”

  Kyle swore-muttered something about “talking about my dick mitten in the middle of my own damn kitchen,” and she stomped up the stairs again.

  The squeaking scream of the hot water coming on in the shower filled the house for a moment, and Livia sat down at the table with the guys.

  “What a stupid, crazy night,” Livia said. “Good that Beckett’s not still in jail. I have no clue what we’re going to do about the convertible, but I’m pretty sure Kyle’s either going to steal my car or make me drive her to church in a few minutes.”

  Blake held his hand out, palm up, and Livia slid hers into it. Her heart snuggled into its happiness. The sight of his fingers made her forget what she was about to say.

  Mouse handed Blake back his mask. “You can have this. I need to rework the holes anyway.” He bound off his knitting with a mysterious twirl of his wrist. “Well, I know a guy who works at a body shop. He could put the car back together. He owes Beckett a favor.”

  Livia saw an almost imperceptible shake of Blake’s head. She didn’t need to read his mind to understand.

  “We would want to pay our own way,” Livia said. She spoke to Mouse but kept Blake in her peripheral vision. He gave her a tiny nod.

  Mouse pulled out his phone and pushed a button. “Bill, I got a convertible that needs attention…The two ladies are going to pay their own way.” Mouse listened for a moment before he countered. “Beckett’s fond of these two.”

  Mouse closed his phone. “He’s ready for us now. Blake, can you drive my car? One of the douches brought it over last night.”

  Blake smiled easily at Mouse. “Sure, I’d be glad to.”

  Livia was grateful the cars wouldn’t be here when her dad got home. Not only did she not want to explain, but the continued lack of police involvement had Livia wondering why Chris had kept his mouth shut about the accident.

  Blake stood and joined Mouse by the front door. “Please drive safely,” he told her.

  Livia pulled her cell phone out and handed it to Blake. “I want to be able to reach you.”

  Mouse opened the door as Blake pulled Livia close. “I’ll miss the hell out of you,” he whispered.

  Livia leaned into his ticklish breath. “I’ll never look at fall leaves the same way.”

  Blake kissed her forehead and caught the keys Mouse tossed him.

  “Just to the church and back, okay?” Mouse said, looking at her pointedly. “I have to check with the boss before you’re free to roam.”

  Livia had just shut the door behind them when Kyle came leaping down the stairs with the grace of an elk running for its life. She wore a white sundress and flip-flops. Her hair was wet from the shower, and she hadn’t put on makeup.

  “Kyle, you do know you’ll freeze your tits off in that outfit?” Livia shook her head.

  “Sure, now you have a dirty mouth. I take it the boys are gone?” Kyle gave her the finger.

  “They took the car to the body shop. We can say you decided to leave the car at a friend’s because you’d been drinking when Dad asks.”

  Livia went to the front closet to find a coat for her sister. After some shuffling, Livia found the white trench coat Kyle had nicknamed “The Romantical.”

  Kyle took it without thanks. “I have to get to that church. He needs me today. I just know it.”

  Livia looked around the living room, then grabbed her keys from the key hook by the door. Blake had put them just where they were supposed to be. As they headed out the door, Livia wanted to call him just to hear his sweet hello.
  I wonder how he answers the phone? I wonder how he likes his eggs in the morning? I wonder if he likes black or white lingerie better? Livia started the Escort and pointed the car in the right direction.

  Kyle sat silently in the passenger seat, her hands folded and pulsating like a heart.

  As she drove, Livia stole glances at Kyle’s cell phone, which she’d carelessly thrown in the cup holder in the console. Livia took a breath to settle her itchy hands. She’d call Blake as soon as Kyle was safely delivered to Our Lady of the River.

  In the meantime, Kyle wouldn’t talk and kept a white-knuckle grasp on the door handle.

  As the church appeared up ahead, Livia made an announcement. “Kyle, I’m going to stay in the parking lot in case you need me.”

  Kyle gave her a stern look. “Would you want me to wait for you if you were seeing Blake?”

  Livia said nothing. She had a point.

  “Cole needs me,” Kyle said. “I don’t know how long that’ll take. He must be so confused and blaming himself. I might never leave his side again. You don’t need to protect me.” Kyle’s lips became a straight line as Livia pulled into the parking lot.

  She was out of the car before Livia came to a complete stop.


  Murphy Oil

  DRESSED IN HIS CLEANING jeans and a white T-shirt, Cole grabbed the Murphy Oil Soap, a sponge, and a bucket. Every time he looked down he thought he saw a spot of blood. He was way too early, but he needed to clean.

  Cole filled the bucket with water and dumped in a glugging splash of the fragrant golden liquid. He took a deep breath and let the scent fill him like the Holy Spirit. It spoke more of the church to him than the incense at high mass.

  It was the smell of his Saturday cleaning sessions with a selection of the dedicated parishioners from next door. The ladies on the “Pew Crew” spent at least two hours once a week to shine their cherished house of worship.

  These Saturdays had shown Cole how competitive the older women were. Each lady took her swatch of the holy structure seriously and scrubbed and scrubbed until the honey tones in the wood glowed. In between the sounds of sloshing water and rubbing, he got a healing dose of their chatter. They had a wicked sense of humor, which had surprised him at first, then challenged him to join in their witty repartee. Bea was the ringleader, often regaling the group with tales from World War II or the Depression.

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