Authors: Lucian Bane
Which did eventually come when Steve and Dale got tired of singing and playing.
And then we talked about everything
what needed talking about. I finally took Tara's wrist and held it up. "Nice bracelet you have there, Miss Reese."
She jerked her hand away and slapped m
y leg. I'd finally talked her out of more drinking, I didn't want to have to carry her out. Or sleep at the man's house.
I eyed Steve and eyed Tara to hopefully get him to help me get this shit over with.
"Sooo, Dale. You used to work for Tara's school."
Yeah. And?" The black man eyed Steve now, his tone clearly one that knew something was up.
Steve shrugged a little.
"That's… an interesting profession. My father was a janitor. Once." He took up his wine and drank a few gulps.
Don't forget you're driving," I reminded him.
Oh! You're right." He set the cup down. "In fact, I think it's probably tiiiiiiime we got going? Tara? What do you think? Do you think it's tiiiiime we got going?"
What the fuck is going on?" Dale said finally, looking from Steve, to Tara and me.
"Tara?" Steve did that graceful hand-slide. "You want to go ahead and take care of unfinished business?"
Yes, love. It's time."
Goddamn better hurry," Dale threatened.
Tara moaned and put her head in her hands.
Dale stared at her, concerned. "She ain't gone be sick, is she?"
No," I said, "I don't think so, she just… she's not eager to talk about it."
nailed me with a hard gaze for several seconds. "See, this is why I hate white people. Beat around the bush 'til the goddamn roosters crow."
I can't tell him for you, love," I reminded her.
Alright! Alright, Jesus, I will
She sat forward and put her hair behind her ears. I reached for her hand and she fluffed it away. "Dale. I told you I knew…know that girl that got you fired…" She looked around a little then finally went on when nobody saved her with an interruption. She opened her mouth to speak and it stayed that way for several seconds before she blurted in a tiny frail voice "…I'm the girl." She nodded and lowered her head. "I'm the girl that got you fired. That ruined your family's business. That…that ruined your life. And I just need you to know how very…very…very sorry I am. Hours and hours in therapy sorry. And I'm sorry about your son. And your wife." She shook her head, looking down at her wringing hands.
You went to therapy over that?" Dale sounded incredulous and maybe even a little pleasantly surprised. "Why would you go to a shrink over that?" His grin said he was ready for the punch line to the joke, because obviously, she couldn't be serious.
She looked at him, seeming worried he might not believe her.
"Because I…I felt so bad. I remember when they fired you…" She looked at me then back at him. "You were so sorry about locking me in the closet." Tears rolled down her cheeks unchecked.
His grin disappeared as her sincerity sank in.
"But I didn't lock you in the closet."
Tara froze at his words then wiped tears from her cheeks.
"See?" She looked at me. "Did I not say I didn't think he had?"
She did," Steve added.
Tara looked at Dale.
"I believed you. I fell asleep and I never really knew, but I believed you."
Then why didn't you tell them?"
's hopeful face crumpled in misery. "They…the way they kept saying things made me feel like… I was supposed to…"
Lie," he said quietly.
Tara sobbed and nodded.
"I knew it was wrong but I didn't know what to do. I was scared."
Aw chil'." He awkwardly reached over me and took her hand, patting it gently. "It ain't none of your fault. You was only maybe six years old."
Seven," she wailed, as if that one year made all the difference in the world.
Same thing. You was a baby. I never blamed you. Not one time." He shook his head and patted her hand. "Not once."
Dale, I'm so sorry, I should have stood up for what was right."
Stop it, now." The boom of his voice made Tara jump. "I done tole you it's alright. You need to go on and lay it to rest. You been lettin that eat at you all this time. It's honorable that you care that deeply. But it's done. Over. So quit it."
So you… forgive me?"
He glared at her.
"Ain't that what I done just said?"
She nodded a whole bunch, looking from me to Steve then back to him.
"Thank you. Thank you so much." She raised her bracelet. "He forgives me. Mr. Sennat forgives me," she whispered. "And I feel…free. I am… set free of this demon."
I patted her back and pulled her arm to me so she could quit speaking into her jewelry like a fucking nut. The last thing we needed was for him to decide she was either crazy or on drugs and there to harm him. And I had no doubt he could kick all kinds of ass then play some more music without breaking a sweat.
"Well it was fun." Steve shot up from his seat and held his hand out to Dale. "Such an honor and a privilege to sing with you, sir."
Dale stood and shook Steve
's hand. "Honor was mine. Crazy as you all is, I can appreciate a visit every now and then."
Dale showed us to the door and we made our way back to the car. Once inside it, we all sighed in relief.
Steve started the car and craned his neck to back out the driveway. "That was successful, I think."
Tara plopped into my lap with a moan.
"It better be. I feel like I've been gutted." She sat up abruptly. "But it's a good feeling."
You feel lighter?" Steve flashed his weird grin as he pulled onto the main highway.
I pulled Tara back down onto my lap and my phone chirped in my pocket. The dread the sound had brought on all day failed to appear.
Tara sat up and decided she should be the one to get it out of my pocket as Steve rolled the window up between us, humming one of the blues tunes. I straightened my leg and she worked it out, deliberately brushing my cock as she did. She slid her finger across the phone and I watched her face for clues as she read the text. When she smiled, my heart raced. Any smile from her was good. She turned the screen toward me and I read the anticipated instructions.
Aftercare for Tara.
?" I furrowed my brows. "I'm the one that needs it."
She gave me a smile that stole my breath.
"Awww." She climbed into my lap and took my face in her hands. "Does my sweet baby need aftercare?"
Her tongue glided along mine, setting me on fire.
"God yes. Yes, I do," I breathed in her mouth while sliding my hands under her t-shirt.
Her fingers slid up into my hair and she ground her ass on my pounding cock. I grabbed her hips and helped just as blues music filled our little area. She broke the kiss only long enough to tear her t-shirt off then worked at mine while her tongue danced along mine. Fuck, yes.
The sounds in the music brought out a different kind of hunger in me. One that I knew she didn't want to share, one that I was supposed to hide for now. Just don't breathe. That's what it felt like.
I raked my nails along her entire back until my fingers hooked in her jeans with a
take them off
yank. "I need you," I whispered. "So fucking much." I grabbed a handful of hair and pulled her head back, daring her triggers to deny me what I had to have.
Baby," she whimpered, fighting to get her pants off while struggling to kiss me at various angles. We worked at my jeans next, the premonition of something fucking phenomenal driving our moans higher, harder, faster.
My hands trembled by the time we were naked and I helped her onto my cock. She dropped onto me with a sharp cry of pleasure, bringing my orgasm raging forward. I embraced her tightly to me, fighting it back,
my breaths shuddering out loudly. She held my head to her chest and the tidal wave climax slowly receded. I gradually unlocked my arms from around her body and her delicate moans began as she kissed me again. This time it was different. Sweet. Soft. God, nobody had ever kissed me that way, not with that kind of tenderness. It was fucking undoing me.
She stroked my face with gentle fingers.
"Let me make love to you."
Jesus Christ. I could only stare into her gaze, trapped in a need so hard and raw I couldn
't speak. I prayed she saw it in my eyes, her making love to me was more than anything I'd ever wanted, or ever knew to want.
She began to move on me, slowly, while kissing me in that same way, adding to the demanding melancholy of blues music, stoking the fire in my veins. My fucking sweet angel. I stroked her face carefully, letting her have her way with me.
"I got you baby," she whispered in my mouth.
The love and compassion in those words finished me. With a gasp, I jerked her body to mine and slammed her down on my cock. The runaway urge to have all of her now in one instant locked onto my brain. I growled in her mouth as I moved her with vicious force on me, bucking my hips, not caring about anything but devastating both of us in one fucking breath.
Her desperate cry pierced everything I was, broke the chains of fear, and shoved me into that terrifying abyss. The abyss where I gave it all, every bit of myself, all the power, all the control, with all my might. I held her
so tight as I went to that place of no return, praying that she did have me, that she wouldn't fucking break me. Because she could. God, she surely could.
Final leg of the journey. The mystery address. No details allowed, had to be winged. Anonymous demon herd, three o-clock. So fucking awesome.
Tara rolled down her window and leaned out of it like a child. "So can we at least know? Where I mean?"
Steve pumped gas with that tormented look a parent might have on a long road trip full of are we there
Tara, love, stop badgering the man. You'll throw the game if you make him say more than he should. Or cost him." What concerned me was what Steve knew. It was something that pained him. Worried him. He didn't even want to tell me.
Tara got back in and huffed herself back into the seat.
"Doesn't matter. It is what it is."
Back to that. She reverted from worrying to pretending not to care every five miles. I couldn
't blame her, really. "You hungry for anything? Chips? Coke? Cock?" It was risky for me to make sex jokes at this time. I could easily be seen as an insensitive fuck happy bastard which could earn me reprimands I didn't like.
Is that all you can think about?"
Just like that.
Logically, I understood why she'd say that, I did. "I think I'm addicted to you."
Hmm." She chewed her thumbnail and stared out the window, her leg jumping. "So sorry for you."
Yeah, me too."
'd bitten her, she jerked a hazel glare at me. "Nobody's making you."
I gave a humorless chuckle.
Why are you laughing? What's so funny?"
You are, of course."
Stop being obtuse."
Stop being obtuse."
She stared at me. I wasn
't sure why I repeated her, it sort of just…happened. "You're repeating me?"
You're repeating me?"
She eyed me for several seconds.
I stared back at her, wanting to kiss her. Hold her. Arrest the fears imprisoning her.
"How childish." My voice softened to tender.
Our gazes remained locked for many seconds before she whispered,
A second later, I had her in my arms then in my lap when that wasn
't close enough. "I'm here all the way. Right next to you." I pressed her head into my shoulder. "I'm your rear guard, love. Your shield. Nothing will hurt you." I stroked her head and kissed it. "Let me fight with you baby."
I held Lucian's hand, secretly grateful he was here. Maybe I couldn't admit it to him out loud yet, but I wasn't hiding it from myself any more. I was beginning to wish we could just stay in our little cocoon of the limo, insulated from the rest of the world. We'd be okay then, with nothing to intrude.
We pulled to a stop around noon. A small quaint house in a small quaint neighborhood. My stomach tensed. Everything in me screamed who lived there.
"Probably my parent's house." There. I'd said it out loud.
Lucian kissed the back of my hand and caused all sorts of havoc in my body. Without looking his way, I pulled my hand back. I couldn
't do that right now, couldn't be distracted by all the things he made me feel. I needed to focus for whatever was coming. Needed to be ready.
Demon domination. Dominate…my demons. I had. Already. Therapy, remember? Lots and lots of it. None of this could touch me without my letting it in. I
'd learned all the techniques for isolating the torment and putting it away from me. That's why I couldn't deal with Lucian's feelings at the moment. How was I supposed to manage that
the crushing fears of my past? But I could handle the past. I'd done it thousands of times.
So why the terror? Dread?
All those hours of therapy. All that
Gramma's money. I stared at that house. Dom Wars. One million dollars. Bring Gramma home. No turning back. I drew in a deep familiar breath and felt an old resolve stiffen my spine to unbreakable, set my heart to impenetrable, my soul to unreachable. It was like putting on a good pair of gloves so I wouldn't get my hands dirty. And I was comfortable, at home, with it. I smiled at Lucian. "Ready?"
His look of concern nearly felt like a betrayal. I fucking didn
't need weak counterparts. I needed hard. I needed absolute. I needed a top Dom backing me up for this.
Guess that was me after all.
I got out of the car, not waiting for anybody else. They'd better keep up.
Walking up to the door, I knocked then rang the doorbell. The door opened immediately and a man stood there, confused.
"Sorry, I was expecting the yard boy."
I used my hand as a visor over my eyes.
"I'm Tara Reese. I was sent here to…" I stared for several seconds. Well shit. That was the only detail in the whole thing I hadn't rehearsed in my head.
To meet you," Steve added on my right.
Yes." I smiled. "Here to meet you."
's features remained obscured behind the screen door. "And who might you be?" The gentle lilt in his voice was pleasant. Kind. Strange.
Ahhh, right." I looked at Steve who stared at me with a pained frown. "I might beeee?"
My heart lurched and I smiled.
"There you have it. Your…long lost daughter."
The screen door opened abruptly and I met the troubled blue gaze of the semi-aging man. Maybe mid-sixties. I waved a little with a smile.
"Surprise!" I turned to Lucian, needing something. "This here is Lucian. A…very dear, dear, friend of mine." I stood next to him and he put a firm arm around my shoulder. I gestured a hand at Steve. "And Steve. Another true…blue friend."
The man seemed to finally come to his senses and shook his head a little.
"Come in. Sorry, I'm just…perturbed."
Of course," I boomed. "Who wouldn't be?" We followed him in and I escaped Lucian's death embrace that was calling me to need him. God he was dense.
I looked around at the small living room. Everything was… neutral. From the freshly vacuumed beige carpet to the slightly worn brown sofa and chair. The only personal touches I spotted was a tall bookshelf bulging with worn paperbacks. It listed to one side a bit, leaning toward a heavy leather recliner as if the reader often sat there and pulled books from the shelves.
The off-white walls were perfectly bare, and plain blinds covered the windows. Well. My father certainly wasn't much of an interior decorator.
I realized I
'd been searching for hints of my past, of the man who'd sired me, in the slightly darkened room, but there was nothing. Just that bookshelf and chair. What kind of people could live in a place more than a few days and not put their own stamp on things? My inner psychoanalyst jumped to provide the answer. Ones who were hiding from themselves, or someone else.
To the left, a partially opened door revealed a small bedroom with a neatly made bed. My father
's room? It seemed likely, since the room looked as impersonal as the living room. How was I supposed to dominate the demon when he gave me no hint?
Uh, have a seat. I'll put on some tea." His creased forehead spoke volumes. He was worried about why I'd turned up like a bad penny after all these years. And he wished I would just go away again.
Do you have coffee?" I asked, giving in to the perverse need to be difficult. I looked at Lucian. "Unless you guys want tea."
Whichever is fine baby."
Ugh fuck, really? Was he going to be constant
the entire time? Wear me down? Like a traitor?
My father nodded, looking distracted.
"Coffee. I'll get some on."
Lucian and Steve maneuvered me between them and sat on either side of me, waiting to give the support they were so sure I would need. Acting as if I hadn
't already dealt with all this. They were in for a big surprise.
We all sat quietly, staring around at the generic living room. I kept my hands folded in my lap, making sure Lucian knew I didn
't want to be touched.
I caught myself listening closely to the sounds from the kitchen, searching for a hint of another person, some small sound to indicate my mother
's presence. I waited for the sound of another voice. Female. I had one picture of my mother and father that Gramma allowed. She'd rarely talked about them and it was always in a bitter tone. A few times, she'd even gone so far as to say she wouldn't spit on them if they were on fire. For her, that was tantamount to saying a person deserved to burn in the fires of Hell for eternity.
Most of the time, I was careful, making sure I didn
't ask too many questions for the sake of not upsetting her. Whenever curiosity and that empty loneliness got the better of me and I did ask, she would get moody, what she called being on the warpath, for days. Now I knew it was her way of dealing with the pain, but back then, it had felt like yet another betrayal.
I wondered if they
'd seen pictures of me? Did they know anything about me? My guess was no. Gramma's sentiment toward them had always and forever been, '
they're dead to me.'
Which made them dead to me too by default. I'd wasted years wishing I had a choice in the matter.
My…father returned with a tray of china and set it on the coffee table. He served, the perfect host, asking about cream and sugar preferences as if that was the most important topic we could possibly discuss. When everyone had a cup, he finally sat.
We all looked like members of the jury in a capital case, none of us wanting to be there and pass judgment. None of us wanted to be responsible for the death of another, no matter their crimes. And yet that was the task before us.
No judgment passing was necessary. The facts were clear. All that remained was the sentencing.
"So." I smiled brightly at him, my professional mask firmly in place. "How are you?"
I could have spoken Russian for all the comprehension he showed.
"Fine, fine," he mumbled. "And you?"
Oh, super! I was in the neighborhood and I thought…it is
time I break the ice and visit my parents. Don't you agree?"
More perturbed guilty stares. My father set his cup down and put both hands on his tan slacked knees, his mouth open.
We all waited.
I don't know what to say, Sheila."
Sheila? Who's Sheila?" I pushed down the annoyance threatening to buzz along my neurons.
He stared at me, blinking carefully, his jaw slack with confusion.
"That…was the name we gave you. Oh dear, I'm sorry."
I'm Tara." My voice was hard, letting him know the name was not changing, I didn't care who had given it. "Gramma…can tell you."
Yes, yes, of course. Tara." He cleared his throat. "I'm sure you want answers." His tone said the giving of those answers would cost him dearly.
No. Not really. I know everything and I'm fine with it."
You are?" For the first time, he met my gaze directly, even if only for a second.
I waved my hand.
"I mean as fine as a person can be. I've been to therapy of course, things of this nature must be…properly dealt with." I nodded and sipped my coffee.
I'm so sorry," he said, truly sounding it.
For what? You and…my mother did the right thing to give me to Gramma. It must have been extremely difficult on both of you. I can't imagine having to give up complete rights of my child because I didn't have the means to support her. I truly feel for both of you. But Gramma has done an amazing job. I love her for that."
I could really do without his constant look of confusion. Like this was all news to him. That buzz of annoyance threatened again, not so easily put down this time. I looked around.
"So…where is she?"
She's…no longer here."
I looked at him.
She died. Many years ago." The depth of the pain in his voice made it sound very recent.
I nodded, waiting for the pain to come. Anything. But I had nothing but empty. I supposed that was to be expected without having connections. I
'd never had her to begin with, and I'd dealt with that grief. Her death didn't touch me. "So sorry to hear it. How did she die?"
He looked down at his hands, clenched in his lap.
"Health complications." He looked back up at me. "She…really loved you, you know. You really need to know that."