Page 21

 Kristen Ashley

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“I told her. On your birthday seven years ago. The one day she never got. The one day every year I’d get shitfaced hammered out of my mind, all alone, just me. Difference that year was she didn’t let me be. She pushed it. So she got it. All of it. Best thing that ever happened to her. Finally meant she could be free of the ass**le that’s me.”
“Lucky her, now she probably celebrates my birthday.”
“No,” he shook his head. “For me it was you. For her it was me.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!
I ignored that and stated, “I wasn’t a ghost, Creed.” I motioned to myself with my free hand. “As you can see, I’m alive and well.”
“You were a ghost to me.”
“Your choice.”
“No it wasn’t,” he returned immediately. “Dig deep and you know it.”
I felt my eyes narrow, I leaned in and hissed, “I don’t know shit.”
“Know this,” he growled and turned his back to me. It was a move so surprising, I didn’t have a chance not only to retreat but even to brace.
At what I saw, I couldn’t control it. I sucked in a sharp, audible breath.
I’d drawn blood on his back as well as his neck and you could see other scratch marks.
None of them marred the tattoo that spanned the entirety of his skin.
A pier.
A lake.
A horizon.
The sun shining.
And along the pier a name spelled out in flowers up the indent of his lower spine.
He turned to face me again but my eyes stayed at the wall of his chest, the vision of his back burned in my brain.
“I been back not even a whole f**kin’ day, Sylvie,” he went on and my eyes cut to his face. “And we’re f**kin’ on the floor of your back room amidst a pile of f**kin’ ziti.”
“You f**king motherfucker,” I whispered.
He ignored me and asked, “You get yet that we need to talk?”
I shook my head and ignored the pit in my stomach.
“We’re not gonna talk.”
He tore a hand through his hair and bit out, “Fuck, Sylvie.”
“We are not gonna talk,” I repeated with added emphasis.
His hand swept out in an arc indicating the couch and the floor. “So, that’s not gonna happen again?”
“You’re really f**king good at giving head so, no. I won’t say that. I’ll take seconds. Even thirds.”
His brows shot up and his escalating anger slithered through the room. “You gotta be shittin’ me.”
“I’m not.” I tilted my head. “Unless it wasn’t good for you. If it wasn’t then I’ll take my attention elsewhere.”
His anger gathered, grew, built, filled the room.
We held each other’s eyes in silence.
Creed broke it by asking something that wasn’t his to have.
“Why don’t you like to be held down?”
It wasn’t his to have but still, in a way, he deserved it so I gave it to him.
“He held me down. He also tied me down. I didn’t like it.”
His hard jaw got harder and a muscle ticked there.
Then he whispered, “You didn’t like it.”
“I didn’t like anything he did to me.”
His entire face got hard and the muscle moved to leap in his cheek.
Then he remarked, “So now they’re all just cocks.”
I jerked up my chin. “Yup.”
“And you want me to be one of them.”
“Uh… Creed, hello?” I swung out an arm to indicate the room. “You already are.”
He shook his head. “No getting in there?”
I shook mine too. “Nope. Not you. Not anyone. But especially not you.”
“You won’t dig deep,” he said quietly.
“I know what’s buried there so no. No f**king way. I leave that be.”
We both went quiet again.
He broke it again.
“It was good for me.”
I nodded. “Glad I’m not losing my touch.”
His eyes went cold but his lips said, “I’ll take seconds and thirds and whatever you’re willin’ to give me.”
“That was hot, baby, so it’s good to know this partnership has all sorts of advantages,” I replied.
He crossed his arms on his chest but didn’t for a millisecond release my eyes as he whispered, “Baby, just you wait and see.”
“Oo, exciting,” I whispered back sarcastically.
“You bet your ass,” he returned.
“Are we done?” I asked then carried on. “See, something else to learn about me, when I’m done, I’m usually done and either he goes or I do. Since we’re both staying I’m still ready to go. So are you through with me?”
“Not even close.”
“Good news,” I retorted. “But just to be clear, I’m up for seconds. You seemed pissed. Angry sex works for me but I’m guessing you’re beyond that. So, what I’m asking is, for now, you through with me?”
“Yeah,” he jerked up his chin. “For now.”
“Best get supplied, baby,” I warned. “That was just a teaser. I get in the mood, I can go all night. The emergency condom in your wallet isn’t gonna cut it.”
“Drugstore just got scratched on our itinerary for tomorrow. First stop.”
“Works for me.”
“Right. You done bein’ a bullshit badass?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Sure.”
“Good. But don’t lose the bullshit smartass. She makes me hard.”
“I’ll keep her at the ready.”
“You know the beauty of this?” he asked cuttingly.
“No, handsome, tell me,” I invited mockingly sweet.
“This was exactly how your father and stepmother talked when they weren’t fighting. Remember? You told me all about it.”
His aim was true.
Right through the heart.
“I see,” I whispered. “We’re not fighting fair.”
“Nope,” he confirmed and made his point by lifting a hand and touching the tips of his fingers to my mark on his neck. He dropped his hand and went on, “All’s fair. No rules. No holds barred. Winner takes all.”
My shoulders straightened, I wrapped my arms around my belly and I kept my eyes locked to his when I said softly, “Six years, Creed, six years, every day, every minute, every second, I lost whole pieces of me. After I got loose, I made certain I don’t ever lose. Not f**king ever. You just entered a game you cannot win.”