Theirs to cherish, p.46
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       Theirs to Cherish, p.46

         Part #8 of Wicked Lovers series by Shayla Black
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Page 46

 

  Chapter Nineteen

  AFTER a shower and a change of sheets, Sean emerged to find Thorpe waiting for him.

  “Can we talk?” the big Dom asked solemnly.

  His heart stuttered. “Sure. ”

  “Not where Callie can hear us. Outside. ”

  Where they’d freeze their asses off? It had to be serious, and Sean feared he knew where this was headed.

  Single file, they walked through the galley, where he paused to kiss Callie gently on the forehead. “We’re going to step out here for a minute, lovely. We’ll be right back. ”

  She frowned, her dark brows dipping with obvious concern. “All right. ”

  “Why don’t you wait in the bedroom? You look tired. Get comfortable. ” He tried to smile. “Take half the bed. You always do anyway. ”

  “Hey!” she protested.

  Forcing a laugh, he herded the other man outside, noticing that Thorpe said nothing to Callie. He barely looked at her.

  The moment the door shut behind them, Thorpe walked to the railing at the bow, then turned back to him as if preparing to launch a speech he’d rehearsed in his head.

  Sean lost his temper.

  “Don’t you dare say it,” he snarled. “One reason I brought us here was to spend time together, so you could see how perfect this is. I’ve given you access to every part of the woman I love, even some I’ve never taken. I fucking trusted you not to break her heart. ”

  Thorpe’s face closed up even more. “I didn’t lie about the fact that I will never be what she needs. The danger is going to come. Hopefully, she makes it out unscathed. Then you’ll take care of her. You have the capacity to love her and—”

  “You’re being a total chickenshit. That woman loves you. She would lay down her life for you. Tonight, she trusted you with everything she’s got. Did you not understand that?”

  “No, I got it. Damn it, what do you want from me, to admit that I’m fucking broken? Fine. I am. ” Thorpe grabbed his arm and snarled in his face. “I will not spend months or years tearing her down while I try to get my shit together. It’s not going to happen. I’m doing her a favor. ”

  Sean snorted. “Don’t kid yourself. If you leave, you’re going to kill her. And you’re going to destroy yourself in the process. When you wake up a bitter, lonely man, I’m going to hold her tighter and tell her how much I love her. You’ll only deserve every ounce of your misery. ”

  He’d had it. No way he could look at Thorpe anymore—someone he’d considered . . . if not a friend, then a partner in Callie’s completion—and not feel betrayed. Yes, the stupid lug had said he wasn’t staying, but Sean had refused to believe that someone could love Callie as much as he did and still leave.

  With a glare and a jerk of his arm from Thorpe’s grip, Sean turned to head back to the galley.

  “Wait. ” Thorpe’s voice shook.

  Sean didn’t turn back to him. He didn’t care anymore. “We’re done. As soon as she’s safe, I expect you to fuck off. ”

  “And I will,” he swore. “Just . . . let me have the rest of tonight with her. ”

  That made Sean whirl around, jaw dropped. “Are you out of your mind? There’s no way—”

  “I won’t touch her. ” Thorpe held up both hands, fingers splayed. “But she deserves an explanation. I’ve never told anyone what I’d like to share with her. I can’t give her what she really needs, but I owe her this much. ” He swallowed hard, holding back a wealth of regret. “Please. ”

  Sean wanted to punch Thorpe, make him hurt and bleed and welcome a painful death. He came so damn close. The only thing that stopped him was Callie. She’d be mad, damn her big heart. And she’d need Thorpe’s explanation for closure. She wouldn’t be able to move on without it.

  “I really hate you right now. ”

  Thorpe looked up at the sky, whether for divine intervention or to ward off tears Sean didn’t know. Nor did he give a shit.

  “It can’t be more than I hate myself. ”

  He sounded so defeated. If he was anyone else in any other circumstance, Sean would feel sorry for him. But . . .

  “You know what she’s been through in the last nine years. ” His tone sounded every bit like the accusation it was.

  “I watched it for the last four. If I were the right man for her, I would have scooped her up back in Dallas, and you would never have had a shot. So don’t tell me what she’s endured. ” Thorpe drew in a shuddering breath. “I am never going to convince you that I’m doing what’s best for her and to not hate me. And I’m deeply sorry. She’s your submissive. I won’t trespass any more than this. Do I have your permission to explain?”

  Sean huffed in short, furious breaths. He struggled to put Callie’s needs above his pride. It chafed him in every way possible to let Thorpe even talk to her now. “You don’t need a whole night alone in the bedroom with her. ”

  Thorpe shrugged. “Maybe I don’t in order to get the words out. That’s just so I can hold her and convey all I can’t tell her. ”

  “You’ve got an hour. Then she’s all mine. ” He stormed back into the galley, slamming the door behind him.

  Already, Callie looked like she knew she was about to get bad news that would shatter her heart. Sean swore he’d do whatever he must to pick up the pieces and make her whole.

  ***

  “I need to talk to you. ” Thorpe reached his big hand out to her, his damp hair still slicked back, his cheeks lean with a fresh shave. Despite his grim expression, he was so achingly handsome.

  Callie knew where this was going. She couldn’t help but overhear his conversation with Sean from the other side of the door. The minute Thorpe’s intention had become clear, a hollow sorrow had assailed her. Tears worked up from her chest, crowding her until she couldn’t keep a blank face. Still, she tried like hell to press them down. All the while, she stared at his hand, wondering . . . if she didn’t take it, would he still break her heart?

  Finally, he approached her softly and slipped his hand in hers. “Come with me. ”

  She dug in her heels. “You’re going to leave me. ”

  “I’m going to save you,” he swore as he tugged gently on her arm.

  “No!”

  “Will you please just listen to what I have to say?”

  For once he wasn’t ordering her. He wasn’t using that Dom voice to demand her obedience. She wished he would, but no. Instead, his voice cracked. He sounded like he was falling apart.

  Callie had no way to refuse him.

  Stunned and disintegrating on the inside, she allowed him to lead her to the spare bedroom where the old computer rested. Her head raced, trying to think of a way to keep him from leaving. The pain of his departure was already pelting her all over and spreading debilitating agony. He’d been her constant for four years. Losing him was like losing a piece of herself.

  Thorpe closed the door behind them, then led her to the bed, sitting down and dragging her into his lap.

  “Don’t do this,” she begged. “Why can’t you love me at least a little?”

  It sounded pathetic the moment the words left her mouth, and she hated her weakness. The woman behind Callie Ward and every other alias had been tough, never allowing anyone to penetrate her armor, much less hurt her. Where was that woman now?

  Gone. Deeply in love. Mired in loss.

  “I wish it were that simple,” he said with such aching regret. “I’m sorry. ”

  Callie leapt from his lap and to her feet. She’d let herself fall in love twice, once with a man who couldn’t love her back. Somehow, she had to pull herself together, gather her strength, and not beg Thorpe again.

  “So that’s it. You’re leaving?”

  “As soon as you’re safe, yes. If it all works out, by tomorrow this time, you’ll be free to be Callindra Howe again. ”

  And she wanted that so much. She wanted the world to know that she’d loved her family and would never have ha
rmed them. She wanted to honor their memories. But damn it, she wasn’t sure it would mean anything without Sean by her side . . . and Thorpe on the other.

  “Can you do me one favor and tell me where I fell short. What do you need that I don’t give you?”

  Thorpe cursed under his breath, then reached for her, tumbling her back to the bed and pinning her down with his thigh. She squirmed, anger flaring and making her fight him with everything she had.

  “It’s not like that, damn it. Would you lie still and let me explain?”

  “The old ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech? Spare me. ” She struggled against him. “Let me up. ”

  “Two minutes, please. ” His voice shook.

  “Does it matter? If you need me to tell you that your leaving won’t break my heart, I’ll lie to you. I love you enough to say that. Just . . . I don’t want to hear the excuse. ”

  “You’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever met. ” He stared down at her, his gray eyes so intent, almost angry with conviction. “Don’t you dare think otherwise. And don’t you lie to me. This is breaking my heart, too. If I was the kind of man capable of the devotion you deserve, I would give it to you, Callie. I would give you everything. I would open my heart for you and . . . ” He broke away, turning his back on her and scrubbing a hand down his face. “But I’m not. Would you please let me tell you why?”

  Callie felt her heart shatter into a thousand pieces in her chest. She wanted to be furious with him, rant and rail and tell him to go to hell. But it was obvious that whatever was tormenting him was killing him inside. He’d always been an island—controlled and closed off, a part of everyone around him yet not. His ability to remove himself was one of the things that made him a great Dungeon Master.

  “Fine. ” Tears fell like hot acid down her cheeks. “Tell me. ”

  He turned back to her with a watery gaze. “I want you to know what I’ve never told anyone. It’s the only way I can explain that there’s never been a more special woman in my life, and I will never forget you. ”

  “Every word you say makes it sound like you love me. Whatever it is, we’ll work it out. We’re strong. We can—”

  “The summer I was fourteen, I started my first D/s relationship. My dad worked. My mom was out with friends, doing charity work, lunching . . . whatever she did. I was stuck alone in a big house with our cook and maid. To a teenage boy, Nara was hot. Eight years older than me and fresh from Brazil. I’d been in lust with her for over a year. ”

  Callie swallowed. She didn’t want to hear this. She didn’t. On some level, she knew that he needed to say it. And that she’d need to understand later when the shock had passed and she bargained with herself to find him and try again—whatever she thought would end her pain. So as much as she wanted to dash out of the room, she simply nodded. “Go on. ”

  “My dad had some magazines. I know now they were BDSM-themed. I’d been having fantasies of tying girls up and spanking them since puberty set in. My head told me it was wrong. A good guy didn’t have ‘violent’ urges. But that didn’t stop the thoughts. And these pictures proved that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. They fueled my thoughts like never before. ” He tried to turn his pained expression into a rueful smile. “As teenage boys do, when they don’t have anyone to play with, they play with themselves. Nara found me. ”

  A thousand questions ran through Callie’s head. Had this woman chastised him? Made him feel dirty? Blabbed to his mother? “And?”

  “She was holding a pair of cuffs in her hand and said that if I wanted to experience my fantasies, she would teach me. ”

  “She was submissive?”

  “Sexually, she could be. That summer, I began learning how to be a Dom. It was a teenage boy’s paradise. ”

  “You restrained her?”

  He gave a low, bitter laugh. “In the first five minutes. I spanked her, flogged her, paddled her. She taught me to use a whip, how to tie knots, how to read a sub’s body language, how to anticipate her needs, how to discipline, control, and manipulate. There was nothing I couldn’t do to her. Nothing. ”

  Callie blinked at him. “You had sex with her?”

  “Oh, yeah. A lot of it. In about every way you can think of. ”

  At fourteen? “Mitchell . . . She took advantage of you. ”

  “I was no one’s victim. I was a very willing participant. She gave me an education I craved. I’m not proud of it now. At the time, I was the envy of my friends. ” He shook his head. “By sixteen, I was six foot one and could grow a decent beard. No one questioned my age, so she took me to my first club. I loved it. She was an exhibitionist, and I didn’t mind. I started learning from the other Doms. Needle play, fire play, blood play, breath play—she wanted it all. She even let me pierce her. And ménages. Lots and lots of those. She liked it when I invited friends over or took her to someone’s house with me. ”

 

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