Return to poughkeepsie, p.26
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       Return to Poughkeepsie, p.26

           Debra Anastasia

  “Lick. Bite. Blow.” She winked at him as he covered his face with a pillow.

  She proceeded with their torturous pattern as Blake managed a muffled, “You’re going to kill me dead. Right here.”

  At that point she wrapped her lips around him. She used every bit of knowledge she had to make him gasp.

  “Whoa. Stop. I’ve got a little more to do yet.” He pulled her onto him, kneeling while she straddled him.

  She slid him inside and waited, squeezing the whole time. “I love you.”

  Blake nodded and pulled her hair away from her face, gathering it in a ponytail. “So much,” he answered.

  He helped her rock on top of him. His strength allowing her to go faster than she could have on her own. And when she was full of him and concentrating on her pleasure, Blake added the perfect amount of friction with his thumb. His eyes flared as she began moaning his name.

  He flipped her over in a genius move that—if she hadn’t been in a blurry orgasmic state—she would’ve applauded. His lips captured her mouth as he fixed her legs to his liking, going even deeper than before. She summoned the strength to squeeze again when he had his release, laughing as he tensed up and panted.

  Blake collapsed next to her. “Thank you. I thought my balls were going to die.”

  She swatted him. “Blake Hartt. How dare you? I’m scandalized.”

  He grinned and tickled her. “Seriously? You’re going to play that card? You do know how often I hear you and Kyle’s witty banter?”

  Livia found her favorite place: with her head on his chest. It was slightly damp from their exertions. She pinched his nipple before he trapped her hands, kissing her nose. They snuggled for a bit before she sat up with wide eyes. “Was I too loud? Oh, God.”

  “You were fine.” He gave her a slightly guilty smirk.

  “Was it bad?” Livia covered her mouth.

  He shook his head. “A man has needs.”

  She rolled her eyes and felt her breasts drip like faucets. She pointed at her nipples. “Dinnertime again.”

  He ran a hand over his chest. “Yeah. Sticky.”

  She slipped into the bathroom to clean off their passion. “Come shower then,” she called. “I’m like a beverage machine. I can’t stop it.”

  Blake came to her, and they kissed a little more before Livia heard the baby start to wake. With a final kiss on her forehead, he released her and turned toward the shower. On her way out she stripped the sheets and set out a folded pile of clean ones for Blake to finish. Their sex had been wonderful, but breast milk was everywhere. She dressed quickly as Kellan went from fussing in his crib to all-out crying and stepped into the hall, only to find Kyle bringing Kellan.

  “You better feed this kid or I think Cole might start lactating.”

  Livia took her son from Kyle and walked him back to his bedroom, where she settled in the sliding glider. He quickly latched on as Livia found a breast pad for her other boob.

  “Was the sweaty Twister good for you?” Kyle eased down to Kellan’s plush carpet.

  “Seriously, I’m so mortified.” Livia tucked her boy into his favorite position and relished the release of her milk.

  “Oh, Blake. Right there. Yes! Yes!” Kyle fluttered her hands to accompany her high-pitched voice.

  “When I put this baby down I’m going to kick your ass.” Livia tossed a stuffed monkey at her sister’s head.

  Kyle laughed. “No, I know for a fact that after-kidnapping sex is fucking wonderful.”

  “Really? You were in the hospital.” Livia watched as Kyle yawned.

  “Bitch, please. I’m a sexpert. I can be a sperm jockey anywhere.” She stretched out on the floor.

  “I should have raised you better.” Livia lifted Kellan and burped him. “How’re you feeling?” She set him to her other breast.

  Cole walked into the room, spotted the breastfeeding, and did an about face. “Just wanted to ask about breakfast! You guys want pancakes? That’s Emme’s pick. Everyone’s wide awake now!”

  “She feeding the baby?” Blake called from the hallway.

  “Yes, sir,” Cole reported.

  Blake pounded his brother on the back. “Don’t worry, we won’t use the breast milk in the pancakes you’re about to make us.” They disappeared down the hallway together.

  “Anyway,” Livia prodded gently. “How are you?”

  “I’m sucking at life, I guess?” Kyle managed a laugh. “But I was really glad to be here when you needed me.” She made circular patterns in the carpet with her finger.

  “I knew you’d be here if they hadn’t taken you too. I’m so glad they didn’t. Blake said you agreed to watch the kids if he and I didn’t make it back.” Her voice grew soft. Saying the words hurt. “So thanks for that.”

  “Any time. Well, don’t go anywhere, but you know I’ll always be here for them. You’re doing a great job, so you know. Emme is a pisser. And Kellan is so happy.”

  “They get a lot of awesome from their aunt.” Livia watched as her son fell asleep, little lips still working from time to time. She covered up and carried him to his crib. Once he was settled she put out a hand and pulled Kyle off the floor.


  She wanted to tell her sister she was wonderful and would make a great mother as well, but Livia could tell she was on the edge of crying.

  Emme appeared in the doorway, and Livia pulled her daughter into her arms. Kyle turned on the monitor as Livia put a finger to her lips to tell Emme to stay quiet. When Kyle had closed the door behind her, Livia kissed her daughter nosily. “So you want pancakes for breakfast?”

  “Mommy, who took you?” Her daughter’s giant green eyes were somber, her hand twirling in Livia’s hair.

  “Jerks. I’m back, and I’m not going anywhere.” Livia sniffed Emme’s hair.

  “I don’t like jerks. And yes, I want pancakes, please.” Emme laid her head on Livia’s shoulder.

  Gratefulness surrounded her like a warm blanket.

  Eve felt years younger who knows how long later when Beckett slid back into the driver’s seat and jarred her awake. “What time is it?” she asked as he sped back onto the road.

  “It’s almost nine a.m.—on Sunday, that is—and I’m pleased to report I’ve got more loyal assholes than I thought I did.”

  “People have no trouble being devoted to you.” She didn’t look at him. “It’s that reciprocal shit you suck at.”

  Beckett’s jaw tensed, and she could see him grip the steering wheel. But instead of responding, he asked, “You got a place with clothes?”

  She shook her head. “Not close.”

  “Let’s handle that. Fairy Princess still in the fashion business?”

  Eve shivered a bit. “She’s managing the new branch of Mode in the mall.”

  “I’ll call Cole. I bet she can open up the store for us.” Beckett pulled out his phone and began a quick back and forth with Cole. “Hey, brother…”

  It was surreal being in a vehicle with him. It fit like a murderer’s glove. After a few moments he confirmed the plan and hung up, and minutes after that they pulled into the parking lot at the mall.

  While they waited, Eve thought she best hand him all she could about her current situation. “Listen, Mary Ellen’s in up to her imitation forehead in crap. You remember the name Sevan Harmon from back in the day?”

  Beckett nodded. “Yeah…handsome motherfucker. Runs pharmaceuticals, as I recall. Likes to move his shit through Poughkeepsie.”

  “Yeah, well, he’s taken Mary Ellen for a ride. Started out getting some weapons from her daddy and moved right on into her pants after that. He somehow convinced her she oughta move some money around while her dad was out of commission—the old guy had a stroke a few months ago. And then after that Sevan disappeared and moved the money again. He’s trying to blackmail her, but she’s more concerned with covering her mistake so her daddy doesn’t find out. And she’s determined to ruin Sevan in the process—hence her obsession wi
th Poughkeepsie. She’s out there on the ragged edge of batshit crazy over this stuff.”

  “No shit?”

  Eve shrugged. “Isn’t that pretty clear?”

  “Well, true. But the Sevan angle is good to know. Thanks for the debrief.” He shook his head and scanned the parking lot. “I see Cole’s car. Let’s go.”

  Beckett climbed out and took off his jacket so Eve could wrap it around her waist as they walked. “I’m not sure nine o’clock in the morning is ready for how fabulous your ass looks in those fake pants.”

  “They’re Spanx.” She took the jacket and headed toward the mall entrance.

  “If they’re spanking your ass, they’re lucky.” Beckett gave her a forced wink.

  Cole’s old man car came to a stop in the front row of spaces. He hopped out and slapped Beckett on the back. Kyle emerged from the passenger seat and enveloped him in a full-body hug.

  “Fairy Princess, look at fucking you. Gorgeous. Love the hair. And the tight ass.”

  He laughed when she slapped his butt in response. “You cock-wrangling testicle pimple. I swear I thought you died in a hooker’s meat drapes years ago.”

  “I tried. I promise.”

  “C’mon, you two. We’ve got clothes to find,” Cole urged. He slapped Beckett’s back again and the two fell in step.

  Kyle looked Eve up and down. “Rough night?”

  “One of many.” Eve shook her head. “Listen, it’s better if you’re not seen with us. I’ll pay you back for whatever we get. When does the mall open?”

  “Not for a couple hours, but it’s fine. I’m going to work on stock while we’re here.”

  Inside, Eve picked out jeans, a T-shirt, bra, and new undies before realizing she had no money on her. In an instant Beckett was next to her. “I got this.”

  Kyle cut off the tags and sent Eve into the fitting room to change. Wearing her new ensemble, Eve felt a strange shyness as she handed Beckett back his jacket. Five years had been good to him: his dimples a bit deeper, his intense eyes even clearer. Seemed he hadn’t taken drugs in a while.

  He tossed her old clothes in the store’s trash can, and they retraced their steps to the mall’s entrance. Keys in hand, Kyle let them slip out, giving them both a hug.

  “You gonna stay here all day, Cole?” Beckett teased.

  “I actually might. I help her with the heavy boxes and whatnot.” He smiled as he and Beckett parted in their time-honored way.

  “Hungry?” Beckett asked when they were back in the car.

  She nodded. She was actually famished. “We’ve got to get out of here, though. The bitch will be after me. You need to get out.”

  He ignored her and drove over to Starbucks in the mall parking lot. He disappeared inside and returned with two coffees and a sack of food. Setting them on one of the outdoor tables, he opened her car door and boldly invited her to sit. When she hesitated, he set out her favorite sandwich. Maybe she’d forgotten how reckless he was. And how much it turned her on. Fucker. She joined him at the table. The hot cocoa was a gift from God, and she was done eating in five seconds flat. Damn him for remembering she didn’t like coffee.

  He laughed at her. “Let me guess? It’s been about twelve hours since you’ve eaten?” He took a sip of his coffee.

  She gave him the finger.

  “You always slip into sign language when you’re turned on.” Beckett grabbed her trash and crumpled it into a ball. “Ready?”

  She felt slightly human again and decided to follow him. They should at least talk about what the hell was happening next. Was he leaving? Would she be cleaning up this mess with him or alone?

  As a lazy afternoon settled over the house, Blake’s view from his bedroom doorway took the cake: Livia had settled in the bed to nurse Kellan, and Emme had crawled in next to her. Livia looked up and smiled as he came in the room. He made sure she had a nice pillow to prop the baby on and a tall glass of ice water, because she got so thirsty. His daughter sucked her thumb, which she hadn’t done in at least a year, but he got it. Comforting, normal things felt like a miracle right now.

  Within minutes, Livia and Kellan were asleep, the untouched ice water forming condensation. Emme looked all around for a few minutes, but the afternoon light was softened by the drawn blinds, and she was clearly sleepy as well. Emme put her little hand on Livia’s cheek and patted gently.

  “Good mommy.”

  Blake felt his eyes rim with tears. This whole damn thing had him at the edge of his emotions. Emme’s blinks got longer and longer until she too was asleep. He turned the sound off on his phone before snapping a few pictures of the serene moment, then he stood and tucked a blanket around all three of them.

  He’d kill to keep them safe, tear the world apart to make sure they never felt anything but joy, no matter how unrealistic that was. Damned if he wouldn’t try. He turned on the fan so they’d have some white noise and aimed the monitor at them. There were about five hundred songs in his head, waiting to be written down. Really he should snuggle with his family, but at the tips of his fingers he had a way to memorialize this quiet, grateful moment. So he carried the monitor down the hall, noticing that Kyle and Cole had closed themselves in Kellan’s room after coming back from Mode. It was stupid—they were full-grown adults, but he was happy they were here as well. Their presence added to his inspiration. If only Beckett and Eve had been able to come home with them.

  He sat down in his soundproofed basement studio and put the monitor in front of him where he sometimes placed music to read. With a fresh notebook and a sharp pencil, Blake began to create. Lately he’d been designing mood music for movies and television shows, but right now he could only think of his family. A song began to form, first in his heart, then in his mind.

  It was about peace—the peace that came after stunning worry. It was about being strong enough to fix and powerful enough to keep things that way. The melody sang of a love so intense it changed how he was made. Loving Livia had changed his DNA. There was only her and him. There wasn’t one without the other anymore. And then the children. He added them to the song as the bass line, the steady and most important part of their love. He added forever to the song, because he would lose everything if forever wasn’t there.

  Over and over he played, pausing to draw notes on the paper and stare at the monitor, watching his family sleep peacefully. He didn’t even realize Cole had entered the basement until he saw him coming down the stairs. He finished up the last bit, nodding at his notes on the page before turning toward his brother.

  “That’s amazing—maybe the best song I’ve ever heard you play,” Cole announced as he sat on the couch.

  “Thanks, brother. I’m motivated.” Blake nodded at the image.

  “Yeah. I get that.” Cole touched his tattoo. “Wonder where he is.”

  Blake shook his head. “That was a shock. Damn nice seeing him, hated the circumstances.”

  “For sure.” Cole put his hands behind his head. “There’s a lot of days I wish he could just be around. You know?”

  “He’s got so much counting against him.” Blake turned on his piano bench and fingered the keys.

  “Can you play that one again? I really loved it.” Cole reclined completely.

  “Sure. I’ll record it this time.” Blake looked at the monitor again, flipped a switch on the computer, and the song poured forth once again.



  IT WAS SUNDAY AFTERNOON, and after more than three months, Rodolfo Vitullo sat in his own chair, in his own house on 59th Street, gratefully. Although he would still have daily visits from his OT, he’d been discharged from the hell on earth known as rehab. Coming back from this stroke had hurt every damn minute, and it was a fight he’d never expected. His whole life he’d battled others—for money, for market share, for power—but the worst he ever had it was from his own damned body.

  Truly, it was good to be home, even though a visit from DiMonso a few hours earlier had damn near given
him another stroke. It seemed Mary Ellen—senseless, worthless Mary Ellen—had somehow handed a nice chunk of his fortune to Sevan Harmon. Every time he began to think she showed a bit of real potential, something slapped him across the face and reminded him that she was crazy. If he hadn’t been so busy relearning to use his limbs, he might have noticed she was being less than forthcoming during her visits. DiMonso had apologized profusely, but given that he was not employed at the time the transactions had evidently occurred, his ability to sort them out was greatly impaired.

  Hmmm…and what else was making his first day back a veritable bowl of cocktail weenies? One of the tails he’d placed on Primo had spotted him betting on digital horse racing in a gas station all morning. And this was his best option to run the company after he died? This freaking kid was still living his teenage years as he approached his fifties. Speaking of the devil, Primo walked in the front door, looking haggard. Rodolfo wondered for a moment if he even knew he was home—or had he just stopped in for cash and booze?

  “Son, I’ve had it up to here with you slaving to your vice,” he barked, causing Primo to jump and very nearly turn around and run from the room. Guess that answered his question. “I’m going to have to put my foot down.” Rodolfo watched as panic overwhelmed his son. So weak. So predictable.

  “Dad, Mary Ellen had an event last night that blew up in her face and makes us all look like shit. She dragged your reputation through the mud, and she’s out of control. I heard people saying you were probably dead. Everyone knows something’s up. Rumors are flying about money being missing, and Mary Ellen never got the cash to me that she was supposed to.”

  Rodolfo listened as Primo’s complaints and confessions circled inevitably back to his addiction.

  “Hofstra.” He signaled the man waiting just outside the door. “Find my daughter and have her pay me a visit. Tell her I know about her indiscretions, and it’s time to pay the piper.”

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