Creed, p.30
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       Creed, p.30

           Kristen Ashley
 

  “Yeah,” I agreed softly. “It always is.”

  “I hope my fine doesn’t take sixteen years, though,” she told me and I grinned again.

  “I hope so, too.”

  She nodded and didn’t grin back. She dipped her chin and stared at my chest.

  I lifted a hand and pulled her hair away from her face and neck. Then I wrapped my arm around her again and held tight.

  Once I did that, I said quietly, “Love you to bits, Charlene.”

  “I know, Sylvie,” she replied quietly back without looking at me. “Love you, too.”

  I held her close and listened to her take another staggering breath.

  And I held her close until she fell asleep in my arms.

  And I held her close for a while after.

  Then I got up, left her sleeping, closed her door and, as quietly as I could, I cleaned her house.

  * * * * *

  “Got a firm on retainer. I’ll call them. They have a divorce lawyer who’s a fuckin’ piranha. This asshole left her with three kids, one Down’s, that guy’ll nail his balls to the wall.”

  I was sitting on Knight’s couch in Knight’s office with my cowboy booted feet up on his coffee table.

  Knight was standing at his window, looking down at his heaving club.

  It was late. Charlene’s kids were home, fed, pajama’d and put to bed. Creed was outside in his truck waiting for me to chat with Knight. I was upstairs doing that, having asked him if he could help Charlene out in some way and also telling him that I would soon be moving to Phoenix to be with Creed.

  As suspected, Knight stepped up for Charlene. It wasn’t just hookers he looked after. He wasn’t big on any woman getting screwed over in any way that could happen.

  I smiled at him. “You rock.”

  Knight didn’t smile at me. I guessed this was because he really didn’t like it when women got screwed. He was pissed Charlene was going through this, even though he’d met her only a couple of times so he barely knew her at all.

  When Knight didn’t say anything, I offered, “If I have free time from Hawk’s job, I’ll work for you the next month for free if you set that guy on Dan.”

  “Did you miss the part about them being on retainer?” he asked.

  “No,” I answered.

  “It’s covered, Sylvie.”

  Yeah. Knight totally rocked.

  I smiled at him again but this time it was bigger.

  Knight turned his head away and looked out the window.

  Weird.

  He could be intense…

  No, strike that, he was pretty much always intense but he wasn’t broody. He spoke his mind and didn’t hesitate to do it when he had something to say. He wasn’t a man of few words. He had words and he used them.

  So, as I noted, this was weird.

  “I’ll take on Creed.”

  This came from Knight, directed toward the window but meant for me.

  “What?” I asked.

  He turned to me. “I’ll take on Creed. Make it worth his while. If he’s got to take extra time to go down to Phoenix and see his kids, he’ll have it. I always need good men, men I can trust. He’s a man like that.”

  I stared at him, my breath failing me.

  He didn’t want me to leave.

  He was trying to make it so I’d stay.

  Holy shit!

  I didn’t know what to do with this.

  “I…” I started, swallowed, sucked in breath then told him quietly, “He doesn’t agree with what you do.”

  Knight tipped his head to the side. “He doesn’t agree?”

  I shook my head. “He believes you do what you do with integrity but he doesn’t agree with what it is you do. He won’t work for you and even if he would, it wouldn’t be fair to ask him to leave his kids. He loves them. For me, I believe he’d do that but it would tear him apart, so I won’t make him.”

  Knight held my eyes a second then looked back out the window.

  I took in another breath as I pulled my boots from his table, put them to the floor then leaned my elbows into my knees.

  “I’ll come back, visit you and Anya and Kat,” I told him.

  “Got a lot to be thankful for,” he told his window, his words confusing me. “A good woman, beautiful daughter, work I believe in, money, men around me I trust.” He turned back to me. “Still, you left, that hole will not be filled. Not ever.”

  Holy fucking shit!

  I felt my throat start to close and forced through it, “Knight,” but that was all I could think to say.

  Knight held my eyes and I was so undone, I let him and I did it silently.

  Finally, he spoke.

  “We’ll visit you, too, but, warning Sylvie, we’re not comin’ down there in the summer. I’ve been down there in the summer. It’s torture. Maybe Thanksgiving. Anya gets off on holidays. She’ll like that.”

  “Creed has a big table,” I said quietly.

  “You cook?” he asked.

  “When forced,” I answered and finally got a lip twitch from Knight.

  “Creed cook?” he went on.

  “Absolutely.”

  “Then it’s a plan.”

  I stood, and was going to move to him but I found my feet failing me. All I could do was stand there, staring at one of only two men in my entire life who really, truly loved me.

  So I decided it was time to give that back.

  “You know, I love you, Knight.”

  “You could have been one of my girls.”

  Again, that wasn’t the response I was expecting.

  “Say again?” I asked.

  “You came to Denver, after that shit went down with you, if that had broken you, you could have found me for another reason. You didn’t. You didn’t let that shit break you. You didn’t bow to it. You fought it. You didn’t become one of my girls. You became the woman who protected them. That says a lot about you, Sylvie. I respect that. I respect you. I respect that you’re professional, I can trust you but you still got a personality, a sense of humor. After that shit happened to you, you kept that, you kept you. I respect that. I respect that we had an attraction and, not like a lot of women, when we found we didn’t suit, you didn’t let that shit turn catty or destructive. You let it go, you kept us solid and it means somethin’ to me you shared your shit with me. You trusted me with it. You trusted that me knowin’ it wouldn’t alter our relationship. That was an honor, Sylvie. I know you haven’t given that to anyone but me and Charlene, and, babe, it was an honor you chose me.”

  Told you Knight could talk.

  And that was nice and all, really nice, but I was a little put out he didn’t say it straight. He always said it straight.

  Then he said it straight.

  “We been through a lot and you earned a piece of my heart, babe. It’s all yours and always will be.”

  I pressed my lips together.

  “You cry, I’m tellin’ the boys,” he warned.

  I unpressed my lips and glared at him.

  He smiled at me.

  “Come here,” he ordered.

  I went there and when I got close, Knight Sebring’s arms folded around me.

  Mine folded right back.

  We’d hugged only once in the time we’d known each other and that had been when we were drunk and I told him all about Creed.

  It felt better not being drunk and after I got Creed back, even if that meant I was semi-losing Knight.

  “I’ll miss you, Sylvie,” he whispered into the top of my hair.

  “I’m not leaving tomorrow,” I told him.

  “Then I’ll enjoy you bein’ a pain in the ass for as long as it lasts.”

  I sighed but it was fake and both of us knew it.

  Knight gave me a squeeze then he let go and I stepped back.

  “Gotta get to my man,” I said.

  “Go,” Knight replied.

  I nodded, lifted a hand, squeezed his bicep then moved to the door.

 
I stopped at it and turned back. “You know, I agree.” I shook my head. “That’s not true. I don’t agree, exactly. I believe. I believe in what you do, Knight.”

  “I know,” he told me.

  “The Serenas though, before they begin –”

  Knight cut me off. “Know that, too, Sylvie.”

  I studied him and I knew. He felt what happened to Serena. He felt it deep. He knew she had no business in the business.

  “We’re instituting better screens,” Knight explained and I knew what that meant. A girl came to him, she wouldn’t work unless she understood the life and could take it.

  “Right,” I muttered before, “You got work to throw my way, I can take it on and do Hawk’s job, I’ll take it and be a pain in the ass while doing it.”

  “Would expect nothing less,” Knight returned.

  “You’d be right,” I replied.

  He shook his head and jerked his chin to the door.

  I shot him a grin and walked out of it.

  I was down the steps, through the club and out the backdoor before I let it hit me and when it did, it nearly brought me to my knees.

  I loved the life I had in Denver and the people I shared it with. I was only moving a state away but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt like a mother knowing I had to let it go.

  I saw Creed standing outside his truck, leaning back against it, having a smoke, probably doing this because he was worried about me.

  He studied me as I walked through the streetlamps toward him and he flicked his cigarette into the alley when I was three feet away. He saw it on my face, I knew, and that was why he pulled me straight into his arms and held me tight.

  “He’s gonna help Charlene,” I shared, snaking my arms around him.

  “Not surprised.”

  My arms tightened around him.

  “That sucked,” I said into his chest.

  “I bet.”

  “I’m not gonna cry,” I stated.

  “All right.”

  I sucked in breath.

  Creed whispered, “I love you, Sylvie. Thank you for doin’ this for me, baby. I know you know but I’ll say it clear, it means the world to me. Just like you. All I can promise is, a day won’t go by where you won’t know you got that from me.”

  At that, I started crying silently.

  I did this while Creed held me and I kept doing it for a good long while.

  Through it, Creed never let me go.

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  My Creed

  A hot summer night in Kentucky, sixteen years earlier, Creed is twenty-three. It’s Sylvie’s birthday, she’s just turned eighteen…

  I was in the warm, midnight blue waters of the lake when I saw his truck drive up, the headlights bright, cutting through the cloudless night.

  I treaded water and watched the lights go out on his truck. I kept doing it as I watched his tall, shadowed form stalk through the dark toward the pier.

  I adjusted my position and kept my eyes on him as I heard his boots fall on the wood slats while he made his way to me.

  At the end, he stopped and I felt his eyes on me through the dark.

  “Baby, what the fuck?” he asked, sounding irritated. “We got all of six hours before we’re home free. Why did you call me and what the fuck are you doin’ in the lake?”

  “What time is it?” I asked back.

  “What?” he returned.

  “Creed, honey, what time is it?”

  He looked to his watch then back at me. “Can’t see shit, so I don’t know but I left the house at two fifteen.”

  I did a lazy breast stroke and when I made it to the end of the pier, I lifted a wet hand and curled my fingers around the edge, tipping my head way back to keep my eyes on Creed.

  “I was born at two oh four.”

  His patience waned. I knew this when he asked, “Sylvie, again, what the fuck?”

  “I was born at two oh four.”

  Creed said nothing but I saw the line of his body go completely still.

  He understood me.

  “I’m legal, baby,” I told him softly.

  I barely got out the word “baby” when he crouched low, leaned forward, his hands went under my pits and he hauled me clean out of the water. Just as suddenly, he was down and my wet, bikini-clad body was on him and his hands were on me.

  All over me.

  Finally.

  I’d wanted this for as long as I knew it was mine to have. I’d wanted to give this to Creed for as long as I knew it was mine to give. For a year, we’d held back.

  The floodgates opened and it all rushed out, beautifully.

  But not perfectly.

  He started by kissing me then he reached out and grabbed the blanket I brought, pulled us up to our feet and covered the pier with it.

  After he did that, back down we went, this time, Creed on top of me.

  A place I loved him to be.

  Creed, being Creed, gave and gave, with his hands, his mouth, his fingers, his tongue, even his teeth. Gentle, slow, sweet.

  Restrained.

  I knew it cost him because I felt his tenseness, heard him stifle the noises he would normally make, probably so he didn’t scare me.

  My hands up his shirt tensed against his sleek skin.

  “Let this be everything it’s meant to be, Creed,” I whispered into his neck.

  “Want it to be the best it can be for you, Sylvie,” he whispered in mine.

  “It’s you. There’s no other way it can be.”

  His head came up and I felt his eyes looking down at me.

  “What do I do?” I asked.

  “Whatever you want,” he answered. “Do what comes naturally.”

  I shoved my hands in his tee and pulled up.

  Creed arched his back and lifted his arms.

  I pulled his shirt off.

  Amazing.

  All that smooth, muscled skin in the moonlight.

  Amazing.

  I put my hands to it.

  Not amazing.

  Sublime.

  Creed kissed me.

  Even better.

  He rolled so I was on top and I used my hands on him, my mouth, my fingers, my tongue, even my teeth. Just like he did on me.

  He rolled us again so he was on top, he did the same to me and I felt it building. Building so much, I couldn’t stop the noises from escaping my throat. Little whimpers, low moans, breathless gasps.

  Creed’s lips on mine, he told me gently, “Gonna put my hand between your legs, beautiful. Are you ready?”

  “I’m ready,” I breathed.

  His hand slid down my belly and I shivered, waiting, braced, anticipating, needing but he stopped with his fingertips at the top edge of my bikini bottoms.

  “You sure?” he checked.

  “Baby,” I gasped. “I’m ready.”

  His hand slid in.

  My neck arched.

  Oh wow.

  Wow.

  His finger hit me right at the perfect spot and my hips bucked violently.

  I liked that.

  A lot.

  His finger retreated.

  No!

  “Jesus, I hurt you, Sylvie?”

  “No,” I panted, my hands moving on him, feverish, communicating, then I gave it to him verbally. “Please,” I whispered.

  Apparently he needed no further encouragement. I knew this because his hand slid back in and his finger went right where I needed it.

  My mouth opened on a silent moan.

  Yes, this was good.

  Now, it was perfect.

  His finger moved on that sweet spot between my legs as his mouth moved on my neck, his tongue traced my jaw. Then, just as it built so high it crashed over, obliterating me with its sheer beauty, his mouth took mine and his tongue slid inside.

  Yes.

  Utterly.

  Perfect.

  As it slowly receded, I felt Creed’s finger move tenderly away then his hands went to the string ties on t
he sides of my bikini. He pulled them and I felt the material loosen around my hips.

  “Gotta have you, baby,” he murmured against my mouth, his hand doing something at the back of his jeans.

  “Okay,” I whispered.

  “I’ll go slow. Be gentle,” he promised.

  “Okay,” I repeated.

  “It may hurt, beautiful,” he warned. “I’ll try to –”

  My hands slid up his back into his hair and I curled them around the back of his head as I lifted mine, my lips to his and I urged, “Creed, baby, it’s okay. I want it. I’ve been waiting forever for you to make me really your Sylvie. So, please, please make me your Sylvie.”

  I heard, just as I felt, his deep groan.

  Yes.

  Yes.

  Utterly perfect.

  Then, at the end of our pier, surrounded by our lake, my Creed set about making me really his Sylvie.

  And he really became my Creed.

  * * * * *

  “We should just leave.”

  That was Creed.

  We were at the end of the pier. I had my legs curled under me, my bikini bottoms back on, Creed’s tee covering the rest of me. He was wearing his jeans, rolled up, his legs over the side, feet in the water. I was resting against him, my arms around his middle, my cheek to his chest. He had his arm curled tight around me and we were studying the lake.

  “Just leave?” I asked the water.

  “Get in my truck,” he answered. “Go.”

  I closed my eyes and drew in a breath.

  Then I reminded him, “I’ve got a bikini, Creed, shorts, a tank, flip-flops. That’s it.”

  “That’s all you need. That and me.”

  He was right.

  But what he wanted to do was wrong.

  I pulled my head away from his chest and tipped it back. As I did, his arm tightened around me, pulling me closer and his chin dipped down so he could study my face in the moonlight.

  “The plan is, we meet here, eight thirty tomorrow after I tell Daddy I’m leaving,” I reminded him.

  “We should change the plan.”

  “Creed –”

  His arm got super tight as he pulled me and twisted me so my bottom was in his lap.

  Then he stated, “You don’t owe him that, beautiful. You don’t owe him shit.”

  “He’s my father.”

  “He’s no father.”

  This was true.

 
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