Creed, p.33
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       Creed, p.33

           Kristen Ashley
 

  Okay, good.

  No, fucking great.

  I survived that minefield.

  Fucking awesome.

  “You’re really, pretty, totally cool too, Brand,” I replied.

  “Awesome,” he kept whispering.

  I grinned.

  Adam found Creed and Theo, not hard since Theo was making so much noise, and it was Adam’s turn to giggle.

  Yes, this was it.

  The life.

  My grin turned into a smile.

  * * * * *

  Creed stifled the groan of his orgasm in my neck.

  I held on with all four limbs as he did and I kept holding on as he stayed seated inside me and came down.

  When his breathing started to even out, I whispered, “Right, I seriously liked it, in a big way, but what was that?”

  It was late. A lot later than I expected to be in Creed’s bed, in his hotel room with Creed. It was also hours later than I expected to get his call and I didn’t expect his call to include him saying, “Get over here. Now. Bring the oil,” before he hung up.

  I got over there as soon as I could, which, admittedly, included me driving a little bit more than my normal crazy, and I brought the oil.

  The minute I arrived, I barely knocked twice before the door was opened, I was in and Creed was on me.

  He didn’t speak. What he did do was do me up the ass, fuck me normally and make me come three times before he found it.

  I let this happen because he was being silent and broody, except a lot hotter since he was fucking me while doing it.

  Now, I wanted to know what was going on.

  He lifted his head and declared, “You’re staying with me in two weeks when we go down to Phoenix. No more of this hotel bullshit.”

  “Uh,” I proceeded cautiously, “not sure I’m down with that, baby. It’s too soon.”

  “If Brand lays shit on you like he laid on you tonight, then it’s not too soon.”

  There it was.

  They had the talk.

  “Tell me what’s happening,” I encouraged on an arm squeeze.

  He pulled out gently and rolled off to settle on his back in the bed. Once there, he lifted both hands and swiped his face.

  I rolled to my side, plastering my front to his and got up on a forearm.

  “Creed, baby,” I called.

  He dropped his hands, rolled toward me and got up on his elbow, head in his hand.

  “You told me that shit went down and since you suggested the kids have a chat with me, they did.”

  I dropped down to lie like him and prompted, “Okay.”

  “So they shared their shit and I was right. Kara likes you. Rabidly. She thinks you’re the key to gettin’ me back. And, as you know, she thinks her Mom’s the reason why she lost me.”

  “Right,” I said softly when he stopped speaking, so Creed started speaking again.

  “I had no choice but to share that shit with Chelle. This meant I had no choice but to listen to Chelle bawlin’ her eyes out and workin’ out with her what we’re gonna do about Kara. This, for some fuckin’ reason, led to her goin’ back over, a-fuckin’-gain, how she trapped me into marriage and how I needed to be free of the burden of guilt for our marriage not workin’. Except, unlike the seven hundred fuckin’ times we went over that shit before, she wouldn’t let it go. She kept at me. For-fuckin’-ever. It was only when I said I’d let that go did she calm down. Then she started up again bawlin’, but this time it was about how happy she was for me and how you were the shit ‘cause you bein’ around meant we were workin’ all this out.”

  When he stopped talking, I remarked, “None of this sounds bad, Creed. Why are you in a mood?”

  “’Cause I gotta work all this shit out and I have no fuckin’ clue how to explain to my daughter that she’s got a great mother who’s a good woman she should learn from and emulate and, bein’ a girl, she needs her Mom growin’ up. Therefore, she is not movin’ in with you and me.”

  “Can I suggest that giving a little might get you all a lot?”

  His brows drew together. “What?”

  “Creed, you see your kids four days a month. I get that your work makes that the way you have to go but you’ll have me partnering with you and living with you, so maybe you’ll have more time to be with your kids. If Chelle’s down with restructuring custody, maybe you two can do joint or you can have a day or two a week. If they’ve got a ways to go for school and you’re busy, I’ll be all over getting them to and from school but more time with you may help Kara out. If Chelle gives that to her daughter, it may help her to see her Mom in a different light. And,” I grinned, “I’m awesome and you love me but I’m not her Mom. She’s young, she may not get it for years but I figure she’ll get it eventually that Chelle is really the shit and all that will work itself out. You all just need to power through it. Girls are complicated but, if we have a brain in our heads, which Kara does, we straighten ourselves out in the end.”

  His eyes drifted over my head and he stared unfocused into the room a moment before he muttered, “Chelle’d work that out with me.”

  I figured Chelle would do just about anything for Creed and her kids but I kept my mouth shut.

  He kept musing over my head. “And I’d get to see my kids more.”

  “And they’ll get to see you. An all-‘round winner.”

  He looked back at me and said softly, “You’re gonna be a good Mom.”

  Jesus, I hoped so.

  “If we’re lucky, we’ll find out that’s true sooner rather than later.”

  His arm snaked out and wrapped around me, pulling me toward him, off my elbow and tucking me under him as he rolled into me. “Doesn’t have to do with luck. We gotta put the effort in,” he told me.

  We certainly were doing that.

  “As you know, I’m all in on that plan,” I shared.

  He smiled down at me.

  I lifted a hand and ran a finger down his jaw as I said quietly, “Don’t know where you’re at with it. I told you Chelle told me all about it. I’m just going to say for the record, she’s right. She deliberately trapped you into marriage and knew through your time together she didn’t have your love.”

  “Can’t trap a man who agrees.”

  I shook my head. “Oh yeah, you can.”

  “Sylvie –”

  I cut him off to ask, “Did you tell her you love her?”

  I watched his jaw get hard before he forced out his, “No.”

  “Not ever?”

  He drew in breath then admitted, “Found other words that implied it but didn’t say it.”

  “Then you didn’t lie.”

  “She didn’t hold me at gunpoint at the altar,” Creed pointed out.

  “Babe,” my hand slid down to the side of his neck and curled around, “you’re Creed. You’ve always been Creed. She fell in love with you and did it hard, so even drifting after losing me, my guess is, you were Creed with her too. And the Tucker Creed I know would never knock up a woman and not do right by her. My guess again, she knew that and played on it. People do shit when they love someone. It wasn’t cool but it was understandable. That said, you gotta let that go. You both played your part in that doomed marriage. If you let it go, maybe she can let it go too. You’d be doing her a favor and I think if you two worked that shit out, your kids would feel that ease between you and it would work out for them too.”

  Creed stared down at me and asked, “Jesus, baby, when’d you get so fuckin’ smart?”

  I grinned up at him. “See, when I was six, I met this worldly eleven year old who was wise and took care of me and taught me everything he knew.”

  As I spoke, I watched Creed’s eyes flash, his face harden with intensity and I felt his body tense against mine.

  When I was done talking, he said softly, “Fuckin’ love you, Sylvie.”

  I kept grinning. “Fuckin’ love you too, Tucker Creed.”

  Then I lifted my head, touched my mouth to hi
s and only moved back an inch before I said quietly, “Thank you for giving me a great birthday.”

  I watched his face get soft and I fell back to the pillows just in time for his hand to come up, his finger touched my new (totally beautiful) pendant then it slid under it and twisted the chain gently before he replied, “You’re welcome, beautiful.”

  My grin got bigger but it didn’t last long.

  This was because Creed dropped his head and kissed me.

  Therefore, my birthday started great (notwithstanding the shitty dream) because of Creed.

  And it ended great too.

  Because of Creed.

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Come Back to Me

  A hot summer night in Kentucky, sixteen years earlier, Sylvie is eighteen…

  I sat on the pier in the moonlight, staring at the water.

  I couldn’t find Creed.

  I’d spent hours at the pier the day before, waiting, waiting forever. The Snickers were ruined. My skin was burned.

  Creed didn’t show.

  I went to his house. He wasn’t there. His truck wasn’t there.

  I went back to the lake, waited and waited and nothing.

  I was worried.

  Creed would never leave me.

  Never, never, ever.

  Something was wrong.

  I called him but he didn’t answer. I called him again and he didn’t answer. And again. And again.

  When it got late and he didn’t show, I went back to his house. I broke in the window and lay in his bed, waiting. I hoped he’d come home but I also couldn’t go to my house.

  I told Daddy I was leaving. I told him I wasn’t coming back. He was really angry then he got all calm and tried to talk to me. I told him I wasn’t going to change my mind and he let me go. He even said I could keep my car.

  It was kind of strange how easily he let me go. I mean, it wasn’t pleasant but it wasn’t as hard as I imagined it would be.

  So when he let me go, I went but I told him I wasn’t coming back and I couldn’t. I couldn’t go back. I had a life to begin with Creed and I had a life I hated that had to end.

  But Creed didn’t show.

  The next day I went back to the pier and waited again.

  I didn’t know what to do.

  No one knew about us and Creed wanted to keep it that way just in case Daddy sent someone out looking for us, so I couldn’t ask his friends. I told Daddy I was leaving but, as Creed told me to do, I didn’t tell him I was leaving with Creed.

  Creed had worked out his notice the week before to get ready to leave but he would also be angry if I went by to the factory, so I couldn’t go there either.

  So I got in my car and drove around, drove everywhere, went into the stores and diners and swung by gas stations to check and see if he was around, even if his truck wasn’t outside.

  He wasn’t in the stores or diners.

  He wasn’t anywhere.

  Worried, scared, feeling truly alone for the first time since I was six, I did the only thing I could do.

  When it got late, I went to the bar. I stood outside until someone showed and asked if they’d go in, find Winona Creed and send her out to talk to me. I found someone, they went in and she teetered out and proved what I knew. She paid absolutely no attention at all to her son and she cared about him even less.

  When I asked her if she knew where he was, she threw out an unsteady hand which made her list to the side before she righted herself and she stated, “He lef’. Goin’ somewheres. Doan know wheres. Just know he sold the house an’ he gone.” Then she squinted her eyes to focus on me and she asked, “Whas’ a Bissenette doin’ askin’ after a Creed?”

  I didn’t answer that. I asked, “He left?”

  She nodded unsteadily. “He gone.”

  “Are you sure?” I asked.

  “Sure I’m sure, gurl. He’s my boy, ain’t he?”

  No, he was my boy.

  And he wouldn’t leave without me.

  Would he?

  Would he take my virginity then take off without me?

  No.

  No.

  No way.

  Creed wasn’t like that. Creed wasn’t like other guys.

  Not Creed.

  Not my Creed.

  “Thanks, Mrs. Creed,” I mumbled, moving away.

  “Whatever,” she mumbled back and lurched into the bar.

  I went to his house, I drove around town and then I went to the pier.

  No Creed.

  I sat on the end, my feet in the water and my head spinning. I didn’t know what to do. How could he disappear? No one just disappeared. Should I talk to the police? Should I risk Creed getting mad at me and talk to his friends?

  Oh God, I didn’t know what to do. Not only didn’t I know what to do to find Creed, I didn’t know what to do without him.

  There didn’t seem a time when he wasn’t there.

  I didn’t want there to be a time when he wasn’t there.

  And I was terrified. Two days, no Creed. Something was wrong. Very, very wrong. I felt it in my bones. He’d never leave me. Never disappear. Never make me wait to start our new lives.

  Never.

  Something was very, very wrong and that something had to do with taking Creed away from me.

  I stared at the lake, our lake, the place we met, laughed, swam, ate, necked and made love.

  “Come back to me,” I whispered.

  I closed my eyes tight, using everything I had, praying hard, hoping, when I opened my eyes, I’d feel Creed moving toward me.

  I opened my eyes and saw lake.

  I twisted around and saw the dark grass, wood and pasture, all empty.

  I twisted to the other side.

  More empty.

  No Creed.

  I twisted back to the lake, my lips trembling, my nostrils quivering.

  “Come back to me,” I begged, the tear slipping over my eye and gliding down my cheek.

  * * * * *

  I fell asleep on that pier.

  Creed never came back to me.

  *****

  Three days later…

  I paced the room.

  How did this happen?

  How was this happening?

  And where was Creed?

  He had to be out there. Maybe he’d heard something was wrong. Maybe he knew Daddy knew about us. Maybe he was working to save me.

  He had to save me.

  There was noise outside. My heart jumped and my gaze swung to the locked door of the room I’d been held in since Daddy found me.

  The door opened and my father and a man walked in.

  Daddy led the man to me. He couldn’t meet my eyes.

  The man was looking at me.

  I stared into his eyes and I did not like what I saw. Not at all.

  Not at all.

  My stomach clenched so hard, I thought I would throw up and I backed up, up, up, up until my body was in the corner.

  “Sylvie, I’d like you to meet Richard Scott,” Daddy said to my shoulder.

  Richard Scott smiled at me and I did not like that smile. Not at all.

  Not at all.

  He came toward me. Daddy looked to the floor and I pressed myself into the corner.

  Oh God.

  Oh God!

  Where was Creed?

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Consider It Done

  Present day, eighteen days later…

  I sat on a tall stool at the bar in a swank restaurant staring at myself in the mirror behind the bar and not much liking what I saw.

  My hair was three times its normal volume and I had five times as much makeup on. I was wearing a skintight black dress that left absolutely nothing to the imagination. It had a straight bodice that sat low and tight making my not altogether spectacular cleavage nearly spill out and thus, exposed cleavage, as everyone knew, miraculously became spectacular. It also had spaghetti straps and the little ruffle (yes! a ruffle!) at the hem was the o
nly thing that, when I was standing, saved me from having my ass cheeks hanging out. Sitting, it was a disaster. In other words, near-to crotch shot. Last, on my feet were spike-heeled, bronze sandals that I had to admit where hot but they fucking killed, even when I was sitting.

  Serious yuck.

  So not me.

  Suffice it to say there was nowhere, as in no-freaking-where, to stash a weapon.

  This meant I felt exposed in more ways than one and it sucked.

  The only good thing was, I’d had my mani/pedi done the day before and in that getup they looked awesome.

  My eyes slid to the art deco clock behind the cash register and I dipped my chin and muttered into the microphone taped between my shoved together and pushed up tits, “He’s half an hour late.”

  In the transparent ear bud receiver tucked in my ear, I heard Hawk Delgado’s deep voice reply, “He’ll show.”

  It was go time on Hawk’s job and I was meeting the contact to set up the principals in order to bring them down.

  I was antsy for action.

  This was partly because I hadn’t had a drink or cigarette in two weeks. I didn’t know if I was pregnant but the amount of effort Creed and I were putting into making me that way meant that undoubtedly would happen (I hoped) and I wasn’t taking any chances. As the days went by, it was getting better but I wasn’t there yet.

  This meant I was in a bad mood.

  Further, shit was falling into place and I wanted this job done.

  I put my house on the market and, miracle of miracles, I got an offer that was acceptable within a week. This, I figured, was because I didn’t really give a shit what it sold for, so the buyers got a screaming deal but, whatever.

  Money didn’t mean anything to me.

  Starting my life with Creed did.

  I’d set up an estate auction to sell everything even though most my shit was junk. Still, there were people who liked junk and I needed to unload it, so they were going to get their chance to have mine. Lucky me, this gave me my chance to kiss that crap good-bye.

  As for Charlene, she’d made the decision to move back to her hometown. She had a brother and parents there that were concerned about her and too far away to help out. Her Mom was semi-retired so she could help take care of the kids and her brother owned some asphalt company and he needed an office manager. All she had to do was sell her house, pack up and go. When she unloaded the house, Creed, me and the kids were going to come up and help. Then his kids would go back to Phoenix and Creed and I were going to help drive her down to New Mexico.

 
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