Authors: Roxy Harte
Tags: #Romance, #Adult
“Sophia?” I move from room to room calling her. I distantly realize that George and Enrique are leaving, being heralded out by Garrett. I go from room to room, calling,
“I’m here, Lord Fyre,” she whispers from behind me. I pivot, seeing her standing half-shielded by the bedroom doorframe.
Seeing her, I smile. Tension I hadn’t realized was freezing my shoulders, releases. I whisper, “Come here.”
She shakes her head and I realize that it isn’t because she is disobeying me, or not directly so, knowing that as long as she stands within the walls of the bedroom she is just a woman, not property, free to say what she feels without censor, one of Garrett’s many house rules. If I demanded, she would come … at least, I still hope she would come to me, and I suddenly face the fact that I am unwilling to risk it, taking the two steps forward required to touch her, sliding my fingertips down her face. “I missed you.”
She lifts her hand to cover mine, still cupped around her face, stepping backward, luring me to take a step forward in an awkward dance, not nervousness, but uncertainty. I linger just on the outside of the doorway in the hallway, though my arm transcends her space because I am unwilling to release the soft touch of her cheek and she is unwilling to release my hand. In soft-cast shadows, I see all of her for the first time since arriving.
She stands nude. God, she is, in one word, alluring. I drink in the perfection of her body.
She asks me, “Are you still mine?”
She doesn’t wait to hear my answer but instead turns my hand in hers, and kissing my palm, asks, “Did you find her?”
My heart pauses mid-beat, like when I am facing the decision of whether to kill is my only option and I react, pulling the trigger, or slicing a jugular with a knife. It is the moment that I, in my deed, change the world forever. I whisper, “Yes.”
“Is she here?”
I take the two steps into the bedroom to pull her into my arms, hugging her tight, wanting so desperately to make my decision to find Eva not ruin what I’ve created here with Kitten and Garrett. I speak to her as a man, and as her Master, “I love you, Sophia. I am yours as you are mine.”
I call her by her birth name, knowing that to call her Kitten now, Garrett’s name for her, or Celia, the name she chose for herself when she left the real world behind, would not be right. Instead, I call her Sophia, the name she has not been called by any other except me since her mother died. I kiss her softly on the cheek. “I love you, Sophia.” On the bridge of her nose, I kiss her again. “I love you.”
She pulls away from me before I can kiss her again, crossing the room in fast, angry steps. She turns abruptly to face me, wrapping her nakedness in her arms, hiding her breasts. Her voice trembles. “She’s here then. You brought her here?”
I sigh. “No, she isn’t here, but yes, I would like her to join me here.”
“What does that mean?”
It is my turn to cross the room, but I don’t do so angrily, more like exhaustedly, not going to her, but to the bed. I sit on the edge of the mattress. Tired. So very, very tired.
The problem with being here, in Garrett’s bedroom, is that we all follow his rules, and here we are real, as nowhere else allows us to be. All other times we wear masks to fit the situation; here there are no masks, no lies … and here, in this moment, the real me, Aristotle, though neither Garrett nor Celia knows me by that name, is exhausted. Life has worn me out. It’s been a long year. Lattie, my children, Nikkos, Eva, and even Garrett and Kitten have played roles in pushing me to this point, though Kitten least of all. She has been my refuge and now I may have lost the only serenity I had.
I open my eyes to find her kneeling before me, having not heard her cross the room—so very unlike me—but I find that I don’t even care that I’ve let my guard down so much with her. Placing her hands on top of my thighs, she rubs softly. “Talk to me.”
“I wouldn’t know where to begin,” I answer.
“You honestly love me?”
“Dear God, yes, Sophia.” I cup her face in my palms, a hug for her face. “If nothing else in my life is truth, that is. I love you.”
She nods, kneading her fingers deeper into my thighs. Half-rising, she pushes me back into the mattress and follows me, moving to straddle my hips. Her lips are on mine suddenly, kissing me, licking me, tonguing me deep and hard. I don’t try to stop her, I don’t want to stop her. I just lay there beneath her, my hands at my sides, not even attempting to touch her, too afraid of breaking the spell that is allowing her to be so aggressive. I sink into the mattress, relaxing, letting her kisses take me to a place I haven’t been in a very long time, the soft wetness of her mouth, the insistent sweep of her tongue and warmth of her breath in my mouth lulling me. When she pulls back …
minutes later … hours later … she whispers, “You can’t leave us.” A sob breaks in her chest as she begs, “Don’t leave me.”
My voice chokes as I answer, or try to answer. My face is wet and I realize that her kisses made me cry. “I’m not leaving you … ever. I am yours and I am Garrett’s for as long as you are both mine.”
“Then how can you say that you want her to come here?”
I feel tired and old looking at Kitten’s fresh, sweet face. Though she is far from being an innocent since meeting Garrett or me, she still evokes a certain naïveté. “I don’t know. All I know is it is unfinished.”
Kitten closes her eyes and I realize that she is shaking. “I’ve needed you while you were away. There is so much that I need to talk to you about.” She pauses and I search her face for what has happened. She finally says, “I can’t always talk to Garrett.”
I wrap around her nakedness, pulling her up into my chest. “Don’t worry, I’m here to stay. We’ll find time tomorrow to talk about everything … just right now—I need to rest.”
She nods her head against my chest and her solid warmth on top of me lulls me once more. I am home.
I awake in Garrett and Celia’s bed. The curtains are pulled but even not seeing a sky, I know that it is late night. I am still wearing the clothes that I arrived in and Celia is still naked, though tucked into the curve under my arm, her head resting on my chest. Garrett has joined us. He is wrapped around me, but has obviously changed from his dress clothes to a pair of old jeans. His chest and his feet are bare. I like him like that … bare skin and Levi’s. In my mind it doesn’t get much better.
He lies over me, covering me like a blanket. I don’t move, not daring to wake them.
In my mind, I capture this moment, hoping to hold onto it forever, praying to the God of my youth that I don’t ruin everything. I am such a fool.
“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I awake to kisses and, keeping my eyes closed, decide it is Thomas doing the kissing, even though I remember at some point Garrett joining us. “Good morning,” I hear Garrett say. Thomas answers, “I hope that it is a good morning.”
“It will be,” Garrett says.
I stretch and open my eyes, finding both men on my left, Garrett spooned around Thomas. I wish I had a camera every time I see them so, whether clothed, or naked, or a combination of clothed and naked, as today. They are beautiful to look at. “Will you stay with us today?”
Thomas strokes my face, promising, “I am yours for the day.”
My heart starts to go crazy. “Then everything is going to be okay?”
Thomas sits up higher in the bed, resting his back against the headboard. “Come here.”
I scoot so that I too have my back against the headboard, but am also nestled into the crook of his arm. We wait for Garrett to shift and he ends up sitting cross-legged on the bed, looking at us.
“We need to talk,” Thomas starts and my heart drops into the pit of my stomach. My head drops, leaving me looking at the blankets to keep from crying, thinking, this is it, this is when he dumps us, but Thomas lifts my chin, catching my gaze with his and telling me with his eyes that it is not over—at least not yet. I don’t know how much more I can bear.
I don’t know how much longer I can keep the secret I hide in my womb. I know that yesterday I thought I felt it move, but that couldn’t be. Could it? I’m running out of time regardless. If I am going to abort…
The thought makes my blood run cold and I am suddenly glad that I have Thomas’s unfolding drama to focus my unshed tears on. He thinks I’m crying because I don’t want to lose him. Would he understand that I am crying because I think I am losing my mind?
“I went to Paris to find a woman named Eva.” He pauses, but it is brief. “I don’t know where to start, except to begin at the end. I left her in a hospital in Paris. She was gravely injured while I was there and the doctors are not certain that she will live or die…”
I gasp, suddenly one-hundred-percent involved in his story, forgetting my own problem. How many nights have I lain awake hearing her name on his lips? Hating her?
And now she might die? I feel sick.
“…which makes it extremely difficult to be here, when I want to be there.”
He sighs and I sit in stunned silence, looking to Garrett to see if he will ask questions or say anything. Someone say something!
“I fell in love with her almost a decade ago, but was too dumb to realize what that emotion felt like, so I threw it away, like it meant nothing, until I realized too late what I’d lost.” He pauses but I think it is to gather his thoughts or to suppress his emotion. “I never thought to go back to Paris to find her, but then it seemed I must. The dreams started coming every night instead of only occasionally. I was filled with such regret, such sorrow.”
Fine, I’ll ask. “I don’t want to be insensitive, but what happens if she lives?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” I gasp.
He pulls me tighter. “We are three, nothing will change that. Ever.” He kisses my nose. “But that said, I left her a summons, asking her to join me here. It will be up to her whether she answers it or not.”
“And if she does?” I worry my bottom lip.
“So many fears, Sophia.”
“I don’t want to lose you now that we are all together.” I tell him, frantically.
“You are not going to lose me.” He assures me, but my heart starts pounding triple time, not believing him, and I wish for a second that I could forget about the baby growing inside me that shouldn’t be there, can’t possibly be there, but six pregnancy tests confirm really is there. I want to tell someone!
I can’t tell Garrett…
Can I trust Thomas to keep his word and stay with us no matter what? Or will he see this as his perfect escape route to leave us … all for the sake of Garrett and my newly created family—to go to her?
“Prove it to me.” Both men look at me like I have lost my mind, but I am in Garrett’s bedroom and the rules are in place so that we all feel safe here. That we can all say whatever we need to say. Standing, I walk across the floor to a small chest next to the wall. It is where I store things that belong to the outside world … my laptop, my cell phone, and recently, a sketch pad. I take out the sketch pad and a small velvet bag before walking back to the bed, then waiting until I am situated between them, Garrett on my left, Thomas on my right, pillows propped behind all of us, and blankets covering our legs before revealing what I have been drawing, a design that represents our ménage a trois commitment. Inside a rounded corner rectangle, meant to be viewed vertically, are the Chinese symbols for Ice, Fire, and Water. “The water represents me, because I flow between the two of you, between worlds, being sometimes Kitten, sometimes Sophia, and sometimes Celia.”
Garrett is the first to say anything, tracing the design with his fingertips, “It’s beautiful. Do you want me to design a new collar and use this for your tag?”
Thomas’s gaze meets mine and I know before even saying anything that he understands what I need. He holds my gaze as he explains to Garrett, “I think she was thinking of something a little more permanent.”
I smile, knowing he remembers a conversation we had not so long ago when I spent the night with him and I woke to find him watching an old episode of Kung Fu with David Carradine. During the episode, a flashback revealed how the monk Cain received the scars on his forearms by placing his arms on an iron kettle filled with hot coals. The kettle had a raised design that was burned into his flesh and I hadn’t been able to get the image out of my mind ever since. I’d asked him then, “How could he stand that much pain?”
“He opened his mind to it,” he’d answered. “And his mind told him that he could do it.”
“But why did he do it? What did it mean?” I’d asked him.
“What he did had sacred meaning.”
Sacred meaning … that’s what Thomas needs to be reminded of … what the three of us share is sacred.
Smiling, I withdraw the impressive metal mold that I had created based on my drawing. Thomas holds out his hand and I hand it to him. He weighs it in his palm before lifting my arm, turning my forearm up to lay the mold over it. My arm is narrow beneath it. “That’s going to hurt. I’m not really certain you are ready for this.”
I look at him and hold out my hand for him to hand it back to me without speaking right away. Thomas obviously knew what I was thinking and I was hoping he would. I lift his wrist as he did mine and hold the mold against his forearm, pressing in lightly as I do. “The question is, are you ready for this?”
His eyes widen, but imperceptibly. If I had not really been looking for a reaction, I would have missed it. His lips twist, smirking, before he breaks into laughter. “You are a minx!”
I manage a smile, though I am so close to tears. I wanted to tell him about the baby
… but now, knowing that Eva could arrive here any moment—I can’t.
Garrett holds out his hand and I hand him the mold. “Wow. This is amazing work.
Do I even want to know what this is about?”
“It’s a branding mold,” I tell him. “I want all three of us marked, a sacred commitment by each of us to the others. Now. Before any of us can change our minds.”