Published By: J. Jenkins on Smashwords
Copyright © 2010 by J. Jenkins
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This book is a blending of fantasy, romance and erotica. The story is the product of the author’s imagination, and while some geographical locales and referenced material mentioned truly exist, main characters, and events are completely imaginary and any resemblance to actual persons or events is entirely coincidental. Please be advised that this book contains ‘Adult Reading Material’: implicit and expressed violence, strong language and graphic descriptions of sexual encounters between adult characters that some readers might find offensive.
Persons under the age of 18 please do not venture beyond this page.
I dedicate this book to everyone who gives the words and characters a chance to come alive in their imaginations. Thank you for investing your valuable time in downloading and reading my work. Without you, my story would never have an end.
Much thanks to my daughter Destiny Lopez for her editorial advice and suggestions on cover design. ‘Trumpa’, your energy is forever inspiring. To my mother Katherine Jenkins, here’s a little incentive to get online.
The cover image ‘Blood Rose and Gun’ is the work of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net and appears in accordance with the site's usage terms.
The invigorating brininess of the Pacific Ocean and the need to face the sunrise had Carolina Conway out of bed by five every morning. Rising early allowed her time to tend her garden, exercise, and prepare for work before she cooked a full breakfast, as she was doing now, in the kitchen of her Ventura, California home. Her mornings were very productive, the time when she plotted real estate deals and the like, focused hours when she gave thanks for all she had, a small portion being a thriving business and financial security. At age thirty-one, she was in good health. She prided herself on being caring and dependable, qualities that were partially responsible for cementing her bond to her friend Patrick, who was the greatest constant in her life.
Heaving a mental sigh, Carolina's thoughts moved on to the regrets of her life. Her twin brother had been stillborn, and then her parents died when she was a teen, leaving her to be raised by her older brother Ciaran who'd died six years ago, as had his wife. Another huge regret was ever planning to marry Ryan Sullivan who on their wedding day walked out on her. She'd never gotten over his betrayal or her life of abandonment.
Having finished her musings, Carolina placed three plates of food on the breakfast table just as two additional reasons she was grateful rushed into the kitchen. Calder and Callum were twin boys of thirteen, her deceased brother's children whom she was now parenting. The boys were happy, intelligent and active. Carolina knew she'd be lost without them.
Moving with natural grace, she took a seat at the table, playfully tousling two heads of already unruly mahogany-red hair. Cheerfully she inquired, “What are we doing tonight?” It was Friday; they always had plans for the weekend. The twins looked at her with brightly shining eyes, one pair rainforest marble green, the other set rainforest marble brown and her being vibrated with familial affection.
Callum talked around a mouthful of food, “The guys are coming to practice. Can they stay for dinner?”
Having already anticipated her affirmative response Calder chimed in, “Please bring home our favorite cake.”
Of course, she would. She’d swing by the bakery after work. Carolina gave them a fond smile before taking a large drink of Irish breakfast tea sweetened with lavender honey, and then dipped a finger of oat bread in Texas chili sauce before biting hungrily into the spicy treat, her eyes rolling in delight. As she continued her breakfast, she sat with renewed sadness listening to the boys' chatter about music and particular performers they longed to meet.
With breakfast completed and the twins upstairs gathering their school gear, Carolina studied her reflection in the entryway mirror, seeing fair and flawless skin, naturally arched brows, and an impish nose. With a gold-toned tube, she added just a hint of rose gloss to her softly full lips before running a smoothing hand over an abundance of waist-length, radiant red curls secured at her nape with a decorative silver clip. Carolina turned slightly, making sure the lightweight, charcoal-gray skirt suit successfully played down her womanly curves. Although she was now denied the sexual closeness she'd shared with her longtime lover, she didn't invite or want other male attention. Her family and its happiness were her priorities. Picking up her keys, leather tote and pink gym bag she called up to the twins just as they came charging downstairs. Rushing by, the boys planted kisses on each of her cheeks before hurrying out to the waiting SUV. Carolina smiled after them, thinking her life was good.
Dylan Savage brought his truck to a stop before turning to give his son, Justin, a measured look. The boy was slouched in his seat, petulance emitting from every pore and for emphasis, he thumped the worn heels of his sneakers down onto the leather dash, crossing his arms over his chest. Dylan's voice bespoke of his worry, “Will you tell me where you've been?” The teen had disappeared from school, a longstanding habit that had gotten him expelled from many private academies since the start of his formalized education and before that, he'd been prone to wandering from home, returning without an acceptable explanation. Now there was no response from Justin other than the turning of his head so he could gaze out the passenger window. Dylan tossed up his hands in defeat. “I can't help you if you won't talk to me.”
The thirteen-year-old turned, giving his father a sad look, “I don't want to live with Liz anymore.”
Although he'd been divorced for over three years, Dylan had yet to reconcile himself to the division of his family. He wished his son could respect Liz the way he'd always admired his own mother, but he and Justin had been down that road before. In an even tone he reprimanded, “She's your mother, don't call her Liz.”
Justin, to some extent, followed his father's directive by saying, “I don't want to live with that female creature you were married to. I need to live with you.”
Dylan took in his son's disheveled appearance and felt sorrow over the poor choices he'd made as a parent. “You're with me on weekends and when we're working you see me everyday.” From experience, he knew his words wouldn't placate his son.
In a steady voice Justin stated, “When I was newly born you swore we'd never be apart. I remember the vow you made over me. Dad, I have to live with you for good.”
Moved by his son's profound recollection Dylan sadly responded, “That's unlikely to happen unless I move back in with the two of you. However, as things stand, your mother is not open to the idea. When we divorced, she said she'd only have me back if I agreed to her stipulations about our way of life. She was setting conditions I could never agree to. But if she'd see reason I'd move back in.”
“After everything she put us through you'd really go back to her,” Justin's tone was disbelievingly horrified.
Dylan confessed the truth that directed his actions, “If she'd settle into an unobjectionable lifestyle I'd go because a man must always make his family the priority.” He watched as the boy studied him intently, hoping the child could understand.
Justin's voice was pained as he reported, “She's sleeping with my f
Dylan set his face in an unreadable mask before turning away from his son's acute gaze, away from the truth that had been clear for years: Liz wasn't going to change. As a wife, she’d fallen far below his expectations on every level except sex. As a mother, she’d been uninterested in Justin excluding his marketability but Dylan had never thought she'd flagrantly expose the child to her foolishness, public ridicule and scorn. For Justin's welfare, Dylan knew he had to accept Liz could never be the boy's mother, would never care for his son, who was the only reason he'd married her. She valued the material things he gave her, thrilled in his wealth, had enjoyed the star-studded parties and notoriety but when he'd grown tired of the manic existence, deciding to seek out a less hedonistic lifestyle, she'd filed for divorce and he, to his own amazement, had consented, all the time hoping she'd come around to his way of thinking, that family was important above all else. That was the way life had been for his parents and he'd worshiped them, a feeling he'd wanted Liz to inspire in Justin. He'd invested thirteen years, all of his son's life, waiting for her to be better.
Feeling electrified anger at her latest betrayal, he was deafened to the sound of Justin leaving the truck. Sitting for a long time, cell phone in hand, he wondered how his personal life could have gone so wrong, but could come up with no rational answer. Finally resolved to give his son what he needed Dylan telephoned his lawyers.
Balancing a pink cake box on both hands, Carolina walked through the open-air shopping complex smiling warmly at everyone she passed. As she drew even with a child seated on a bench, she felt warm winds stirring. The boy looked to be the same age as the twins, his lowered lashes glistening like gold dust in the spring sunlight. She tuned into his sorrow, feelings of loss, estrangement, indignation and loathing. Without hesitation, she turned and asked compassionately, “Do you need help?” His tears fell in response. Sitting at his side, she offered him her Irish lace handkerchief, waiting patiently until his distress ran its course.
After a time the boy lifted red-rimmed eyes to meet her gaze and she resisted the acute drive to hug him close, instead asking, “Is there someone I can call for you?”
With his eyes fixed on hers Justin shook his head, terrified of uttering the words he desperately wanted to say, that he knew her. With shy fingers, he touched the back of her soft hand resting on the bench near him, felt awesome tuning fork like vibrations travel from her skin into his and he inhaled her familiarly unique fragrance of meadow flowers, honey and fiery chili peppers. Strangled by emotion and round eyed with wonder, Justin sat silently staring, basking in her protection and warmth.
Carolina knew she shouldn’t have allowed the boy to touch her, reproached herself for permitting the charged contact to continue. She simply wanted him to feel happier for a moment. Children were definitely her weakness because she was unlikely to ever bear any of her own and this child was extraordinary, his energy positively wrapping around her, trying to blend with her own, as if they were long-time acquaintances. Deciding the contact had gone on far longer than was good for either of them, she eased her hand away just as a tall man stopped in front of them.
Carolina looked from one to the other, taking in their identical appearances: shoulder length, golden blond hair, tan skin, extraordinary lapis-blue eyes, the cleft chins and judged them father and son. She hesitated, concerned for the child's well-being, but seeing only relief on the man's face and sensing overwhelming adoration in the child for his father she felt comfortable leaving. Pulling a card from her purse, she placed the thick, white rectangle of rare opaque paper, containing her contact information, on the bench, offering, “If you need to talk, and with your father's permission of course, call me.”
Gathering her possessions, she moved past the man and fleetingly brushed his forearm with her fingertips to offer a small gesture of comfort. In return, she was awarded a look of immense gratitude. Carolina took her leave of them. Yet, having progressed only a few feet she was compelled to look back, experiencing the sensation of determined hands pulling at her and she heard a faint breeze carrying unvoiced words of longing as light as the flapping of butterfly wings. Her eyes met the golden haired duos' for a heartbeat, and with a friendly wave farewell, she proceeded on her way.
When the doorbell rang, Carolina had just finished preparing dinner. Ridding herself of her floral apron, she hurried into the entryway. With a warm smile in place, she opened the door and was surprised to see the freshly outfitted, golden-haired duo she'd encountered earlier. The tall man was dressed in faded jeans and a long-sleeve, chambray shirt, attire that emphasized the powerful muscles of his body. An imposing, hand tooled, brown leather belt, with a highly polished silver buckle that read 'Savage', encircled his trim waist, hinting at the washboard contours underneath. The boy at his side wore denim cargo shorts and a vinca-blue tee. In the child's hands was a huge yellow planter overflowing with large flowers of deep blue, their glossy green leaves edged in bright white. Heartbeat accelerating, she stared at the boy, feeling sharp pangs in her damaged and ever empty womb. Her eyes studied the beautiful lapis-blue of his own, and then shifted again to the pleasingly familiar color of his shirt, both similar to the hue of the flowers he offered. Again she felt his energy twining around her and she couldn't stop her emotionally whispered, “I love Periwinkle blue.”
In a strong clear voice the man stated, “We wanted to thank you. My son is quick to take off, never considering the danger.” He nudged the boy's white sneaker with the tip of his brown cowboy boot, urging the child on.
“Thanks.” The boy beamed, his eyes riveted to hers.
The child's wide-eyed, happy look caused her to smile broadly, as she accepted his gift. “You're welcome and thank you...” She waited for him to offer his name.
“Justin,” he sighed, his smile broadening.
“Would you and your father like to come in?”
“We wouldn't want to impose,” the man stated sincerely.
She heard a relaxed twang in his richly modulated voice that made her heart skip a few beats, then assume a reckless thumping. “My boys already have friends here. You'll be my guests.” She nervously extended her hand offering, “I'm Carolina.”
“Dylan Savage,” he said, waiting for a spark of recognition at his name. When none came, he took her hand and felt burned to the marrow of his bones by the simple act of her warm, petal smooth skin contacting the rough calluses of his fingers and a low, audible crackling occurred in the air. For a brief moment, the lights flickered from a power surge, causing her mysterious eyes to meet his and he smiled invitingly, drawing her closer with a lightly commanding touch.
Shocked, she hurriedly withdrew her fingers from his before lowering her eyes. “Please come in,” stepping back she allowed them to cross the threshold just as a loud crash of cymbals reverberated through a nearby speaker. “Sorry.” She placed the flowers on the black occasional table in order to lower the volume on the Bose system. “The kids are rehearsing. Follow me and I'll introduce you to the entertainment,” she joked as a low riff from an electric guitar filled the area.
Dylan and Justin said in unison, “They sound good.”
“Thank you. Like their father the boys enjoy playing.”
As they arrived at the garage and makeshift rehearsal studio Carolina inquired, “Justin, do you play?”
The child nodded shyly, answering, “Yes.”
At their arrival, the band immediately halted in mid-song, gaping at the father and son as Carolina gestured to an array of instruments housed neatly along one wall of the large area saying to Justin, “Feel free to join in.” She shot the assembled group
The band members stared slack jawed at her and the visitors. She cleared her throat and the awestruck teens nodded eagerly. Justin picked up an electric guitar and took a place within the ensemble. Under her breath, Carolina playfully whispered to Dylan, “Watch this.” Walking over to stand behind a microphone, she was immediately booed by the original band members. Feigning hurt disbelief at their unwillingness to let her showcase her singing, Carolina shrugged and then returned to Dylan's side.
He flashed a teasing smile. “Are you really that bad?”
Carolina saw the glimmer of brilliantly white, perfectly straight teeth against tan skin and was amazed at how humble he was for such a handsome man. “Lethal,” she chuckled and would have laughed outright if she hadn't been transfixed by the complex circular sound emanating from Justin's guitar. She studied the child as he played, the fluidly precise movements of his fingers flitting across the strings. “He's truly gifted,” she complimented, unable to look away from his son.
Casually Dylan responded, “Music is in his blood. Growing up, my brothers and I played every instrument we got our hands on so we'd never be short musicians for church.” Although he downplayed Justin's talent, he was proud of the mastery his boy had achieved through unwavering dedication. He was also pleased that Carolina appreciated the boy's talent without knowledge of his or Justin's celebrity and wealth.
She gave him a respectful look. “The twins' dad also played at church. He started teaching them when they were in diapers. Since his death they take lessons.”
His voice lowered comfortingly, “How long has it been since his passing?”