Craig reentered the house, telling Tony and Mark to come help him. “We need to check outside for any sign of light leaking. Last thing we need is for any passing cars, or helicopters, getting suspicious about a usually deserted cabin.”
As soon as they the door closed, Elyse hurried over to the small kitchen. “What are we going to do, Aeryn?”
Aeryn looked up from where she’d squatted to see what kind of canned goods had been left behind in one of the cupboards. “We’re at the cabin, that’s all I told them we would do.”
Elyse looked frustrated. “I mean about tonight. They can’t leave until the tide is going out in the morning.”
Aeryn stood slowly. “Elyse, don’t jump your fences before you have to, okay? They haven’t hurt us, and I think if they can just get away as planned, they will leave us here.
It will take us a while to contact anyone once they’ve gone, and Craig knows that. By then, they should have reached Canadian waters.”
Sara looked doubtful. “I’ve been watching Craig. I don’t think it is going to be that easy, Aeryn.”
Aeryn didn’t look at her cousin. She instead lined up the cans she had figured they could use to make into some kind of supper. She had seen the desire in Craig’s eyes. She had felt his hands finding any excuse to touch her while they had been in the caverns.
But she wasn’t going to worry about tonight…not yet. Instead, she pointed to the breadmaker.
“Sara, you start the bread, and Elyse, you set the table.” Aeryn commanded the others without thought. Being the eldest, they were used to her telling them what to do and when. They seldom argued, being so close. Aeryn filled a pitcher with water and added some dry powder, making lemonade. She poured a glass and took it over to the seventeen-year-old Jenny.
“Drink this, Jenny. It has sugar in it and it will help you feel better.”
“Can I help in the kitchen, Aunt Aeryn?” The pretty, petite blonde asked nervously.
Aeryn shook her head. “You rest for a bit.” She started to move away when Jenny caught her hand.
“Aunt Aeryn, I know how you feel about Craig. If he demands…well, you know…
I’ll go with him, so you don’t have to.”
Aeryn looked at her stepniece in stunned surprise. She knew exactly what Jenny meant, but was shocked at the offer. “Jenny, I don’t think—”
Jenny shook her head. “You know they will probably want to have sex with us.
Shit, Aunt Aeryn, they’ve been in prison, and are facing going back! I’m sure having sex is on their to-do list!”
Aeryn couldn’t stop the laugh that burst forth. Before she could reply, the door opened and the men came back in.
“Things look good outside,” Craig announced. He looked around, and then smiled when he saw the women had started to prepare some food without being told. “Tony!
You take the first watch.” He then walked over to Aeryn.
Aeryn stiffened as she heard Craig in the room. His voice was deep as he spoke softly, “I want to talk to you, Aeryn. Let’s go in the bedroom.”
Jenny moved to stand, but Aeryn pressed her back with her hand.
Craig grabbed her arm, halting her reply, and led her towards the bedroom. He pushed her inside and slammed the door shut.
Aeryn tripped across the floor rug, and fell onto the bed. As she flung her hair back, she heard the ominous turn of the key in the lock. She looked over her shoulder and saw that Craig was unbuttoning his shirt as he walked towards her.
Aeryn shifted on the bed, moving to the edge. “Craig, stop right there! I’m not sleeping with you!”
Craig smiled and removed his shirt, throwing it to the floor. “Damn straight!
Neither of us will be sleeping anytime soon. But you are going to let me fuck you, sweetheart, nine ways to Sunday, and just as many times as I please.”
Aeryn shook her head, refusing to show him her fear. “You might rape me, but I told you a long time ago that I’d never willingly let you touch me again.”
Craig kicked his shoes off and began unfastening his jeans, as if she hadn’t spoken.
“You are mine, Aeryn. You’ve been mine since the first time we slept together when we were seventeen. And even though we’re both ten years older, you still belong to me. I’m tempted to take you with me, even though you would slow us down. Do you realize that there hasn’t been a single night that I haven’t thought about you? That I haven’t remembered how sweet and tight that cunt of yours is?”
His lip curled when she gasped at his crude words. He reached down and tore her T-shirt open, down the center. She had a front-hook bra on, and he quickly ripped the front catch open as well.
Aeryn reached up to push him away, but that only gave him the position he needed.
Craig moved one leg between hers, and holding her wrists, he fell forward where her body lay on the bed.
Aeryn was unable to use her legs to kick him, but she twisted and writhed furiously, hoping to dislodge him, anything.
He held her wrists easily. He held her eyes as he dragged her hands over her head, clutching them both with his left hand. His right hand was now free to move back down her body. He caressed her jaw, and down her neck. He paused with his hand resting flat on her breastbone. Slowly, he slid his hand to the side and dragged away the cloth concealing her firm, full breast.
Aeryn saw his eyes move down and knew he was looking at her body. She closed her eyes as she felt his fingers encircle her nipple, teasing it to taut distension. She didn’t want to be aroused by him. Her mind replayed what her rape counselor had told her about many rape victims being aroused during the act. This often led the woman to feel guilty, when in fact it was merely a response of nervous tissue to stimulation. It was out of her control, no matter what her brain might be saying. Now, here it was happening again! He had hurt her too many times, and too deeply. She couldn’t go back to that!
“Damn you, Craig! Stop this at once.” Aeryn struggled and strained against his grip.
Craig lifted his head to meet her angry gaze. “You may have divorced me while I was in prison, Aeryn, but you are still my wife. Why do you think I came back here, of all places?”
Aeryn shook her head. “Craig, use your head and think. You can still get away—”
Craig laughed softly. “I will get away, and I will have the memory of fucking this lovely body of yours once more.” The sound of his zipper sliding down seemed loud in the quiet room. “Maybe you’ll get knocked up and have something to remember me by,” Craig told her hoarsely as he freed his raging hard-on. “Tell me how much you like to have your cunt dripping my cum. Remember how we used to fuck all day sometimes?”
Aeryn shook her head. “Screw you!” She fought even harder to free herself from his hold.
Craig laughed again. “That’s nice, when you do that, Aeryn. Makes your tits shake.
You always had great tits, honey. You knew you could always turn me on by just jiggling your big boobs.” Craig moved to yank down Aeryn’s cotton shorts, dragging her panties away.
Aeryn wiggled and pulled her hands. Even if she could just curl her fingers enough to dig into the back of his hand, perhaps it would hurt and he’d pull away. If only she could get the room to—
He stopped abruptly when he saw her womanly mound.
Aeryn didn’t need to know what Craig’s problem was.
Gone was the lush, black bush he had remembered and dreamed about. He pulled back as he stared at her bald pussy. “What the hell!”
Aeryn waited until Craig glared at her angrily. Making her tone as sarcastic as possible, she spoke, “Is there a problem?”
“Why did you shave your pussy, damn it? You know how much I liked that black bush!”
Aeryn knew what he was thinking. Many times he’d refused to let her even trim for bathing suit weather.
“I told you to never trim or shave,” Craig shouted at her.
Aeryn saw the anger in his face. She considered lying to him but she had no desire to spare his feelings. “My lover shaved it off. He didn’t like it when he sucked on my clit.” That was not strictly true, but Aeryn hoped to turn Craig off by distracting him.
Craig reeled back as if she had slapped him hard, across his face. “Lover!” He released her hands and grabbed her shoulders, shaking her. “Have you been fucking another guy while I’ve been gone?” he demanded angrily.
Aeryn glared back at him. “We’re divorced, remember! And yes, I met a man, and we’re lovers.” She spat her words at him, defiantly. She didn’t care if he lashed out and hit her in anger, so long as it stopped his rape of her.
Craig stood and closed his jeans hurriedly.
Aeryn didn’t move.
Craig’s eyes went over her body angrily.
She didn’t care what Craig thought, just that he left her alone.
“You slut! What do you mean by sleeping with some guy and shaving your cunt?”
He turned away in disgust. “Cover yourself up!”
Aeryn sat up, pulling her shorts up, and then the edges of her T-shirt closed.
He didn’t give her time to answer. Craig jerked the bedroom door open and walked out, slamming it behind him.
Aeryn stood, finding her legs shaking so badly she almost fell back to the bed. She looked down and saw that her bra was useless and slipped it off. She pulled the ripped T-shirt together and tied the ends below her breasts. There would be no disguising what had happened in the bedroom. Or at least, what had almost happened.
That is what is important, she reminded herself. She’d succeeded in avoiding being raped. She’d won this round.
Aeryn sat back down on the bed, shaking her head. She didn’t think Devlin would appreciate the humor in the situation as she was seeing it. She closed her eyes, remembering how sweet it had been, when Devlin had shaved her for the first time. She had been so nervous, shaking even, but trusting him implicitly. Of course, she couldn’t recall how many mutual shaves they had exchanged since the first one a little over a year ago, but each one was special.
Aeryn remembered the first time she had met Devlin. There had been a knock at her door about a year after her divorce. Craig had been in prison almost three years at that point. Feeling the need for change, she’d decided to repaint the house. She greeted her visitor in smeared T-shirt and cutoff jeans.
The man on her porch was tall, broad-shouldered, slender of waist and hips, and damn it all…dressed in a sheriff’s uniform.
Aeryn couldn’t stop the sinking in her stomach. She didn’t want to have anything to do with the law, either side of it. But she couldn’t help but notice the man’s craggy face, strong jaw and deep blue eyes. As she stared, he removed his hat, and she saw his hair was black as her own. His first words made her anger flare and her stomach curl though.
Aeryn shook her head. “Not anymore. It’s Aeryn Michaels.”
Sheriff Devlin McDonald nodded, picking up on the woman’s not too subtle cues.
He’d read in the reports that she’d begun divorce proceedings shortly after her husband went to prison. He knew you didn’t see that too often. No one though had prepared him for how beautiful Aeryn Michaels was. He couldn’t miss the perfect body, which was not concealed very much by the clothes she had on.
“I would like to talk to you about a few things, Ms. Michaels.” Devlin watched as the woman shook her head negatively. Frowning, he added quickly. “I would like to keep this casual, and not have to do this down at the station.”
Aeryn looked surprised, frowning at his words. “No, I’m sorry. Now is fine but we will have to talk on the porch because it’s a mess inside.” She gestured to the porch swing as she spoke, “Please, be seated.”
Devlin moved over, pausing for her to be seated first. Aeryn shook her head. “I’ll sit on the step. I don’t want to get paint on the swing.” She shrugged and sat on the top step.
Devlin opened his notebook, glancing over it.
Aeryn didn’t wait for him to ask his first question, though. “I don’t know where he hid the money. It’s not in my house, we looked there. And if I knew, believe me, I would tell you.”
Devlin met her eyes. “You cut to the chase, don’t you?”
Aeryn smiled slightly, shrugging. “I can’t think of any other reason why you would be here. Every so often, rumors start up about where the money might be, and so the sheriff’s department has to come and check it out. Obviously, you must be the new sheriff, McDonald, right?”
Devlin realized that his preconceptions about Craig Morelli’s wife—or rather, ex-wife—were all wrong. He closed his notebook. “I know you both grew up around here.
Can you think of any hiding places he might have, from when he was a kid?”
Aeryn shook her head. “Craig was never big on tramping through the woods, so I doubt it.” She shifted on the cement. “What brings you to this backwater?”
Devlin didn’t conceal his surprise at her question. “I got tired of big city life, and at the same time, my uncle decided to retire. I applied, and they gave me his position.”
“What did your family think about the move to small city, USA? Most people spend their time trying to get away from places like this.”
“You’re assuming I’m not from a similar small town, Ms. Michaels.”
“Logic, Sheriff McDonald. If you were in a small town, you’d most likely have stayed there, betting on taking your boss’ place when he retired. Therefore it seemed most likely you are like a lot of cops who see so much death and destruction in the big city that they opt out for some peace and quiet.” She smiled smugly.
“Back to your first question, my parents are fine with my move north from San Francisco.”
Aeryn smiled. Pulling one leg to her chest, she wrapped her arms around it. “I meant was there a wife, or girlfriend, or…significant other who objected.”
Devlin grinned now. He tucked his notebook back into his top pocket, and replaced his hat. He slipped his mirrored sunglasses on, concealing his eyes. He saw Aeryn frown, knowing that all she could see now was her own reflection. “The woman I was seeing at the time didn’t want to move, even though I never got the opportunity to ask 137