No. He didn’t think so.
His phone rang. At this hour of the night, it could only be one person and wasn’t it only too fitting.
“How is she?” Rafiq’s tone was cold and detached.
“Some cracked ribs and a dislocated shoulder.” Caleb ran a hand through his still slightly damp hair and made a fist. He didn’t want to have this conversation now. “I don’t think three weeks will be enough time for her to sufficiently heal. The journey might be too much.” There was a long pause and for a moment Caleb thought the line had gone dead.
“Jair says you’ve taken hostages. He also says you made quite the spectacle of yourself in retrieving the girl…what do you think of that?” Caleb’s hackles rose. This conversation was not going anywhere good.
“There was a man and a woman there. They could have answers I need. I don’t know who else knows about the girl or about me, there could be witnesses. I don’t know if she was able to contact anyone in the States. I’m covering our asses Rafiq. And since when do you get your information from Jair instead of me?” Caleb just barely stopped himself from shouting. He didn’t want to scare Kitten…Livvie.
“I get my information from whoever is useful and lately that hasn’t been you.” Rafiq spoke so matter-of-factly, as though his words were not deeply insulting. “You’ve made a mess Caleb. The girl is injured, there are potential witnesses, no doubt the authorities there will wonder about that fucking fire you set. And now I assume you’ve taken the girl to a hospital, where there are even more potential loose ends. Sloppy, Caleb.”
Caleb sighed heavily; weary down to his very soul. Still, his anger pushed to the fore, “Despite what you and your new friend Jair might think; I’m not a fool. This territory is run by the cartels; I doubt there will be any problems we can’t buy our way out of. The house is cleared out by now and we’ll be on our way to your contact’s home in the morning. The girl will be fine, give me some time and some credit.”
“Where are you now?”
“None of your concern.” Caleb hung up before it could escalate. Damn it! He just wanted to be left in peace. Livvie needs you.
He let out a slow breath and exited the bedroom. He could hear the doctor and his wife whispering angrily in the kitchen. The woman was blaming her husband for their predicament and trying to convince him to loosen her tape so they could leave everything behind and escape. He told her to be quiet and to trust him. Idiot.
If the good doctor had any sense he would listen to his wife. Caleb was a killer. If he wanted to, he could kill them both while they were taped to the dining room chairs and walk away. It would certainly be the smartest and most efficient thing to do, but Caleb wasn’t much for killing innocent people. Especially after they’d helped him.
Caleb stepped into the kitchen and all conversation abruptly ended. The woman eyed him guardedly, while her husband simply looked at him with raised eyebrows and a question in his eyes. Maybe that was why he was a doctor. Perhaps he was among the few truly altruistic doctors in the world. It would be a shame to kill him.
“Where do you keep your clothes?” He addressed the wife and she stared at him blankly. She obviously didn’t speak any English. The doctor did speak some English, but still seemed oddly perplexed.
Caleb shook his head and muddled through his Spanish until the wife’s eyebrows shot up. She turned to her husband and told him where he could locate what he needed.
“I understand you. It’s just been a long time since I’ve had to speak.” She stared at him with another blank expression. No, she didn’t understand a word.
Caleb turned and trudged down the couple’s hallway toward their bedroom. Apparently doctors did well for themselves, even here in Mexico. The room was very nicely decorated, warm colors and white furniture, very modern. Their wedding photo sat on their dresser in a crystal frame. They looked happy, presumably…in love.
You’re thinking like a woman.
Caleb smiled to himself; there was a thought he’d never had. But then, he never waxed philosophically on the topic of love before.
I killed for her. Held a doctor at gun-point in a hospital for her, and then followed the poor bastard home to keep her safe. Even now, I’m searching for things to make her more comfortable. Isn’t that what love is?
You’d better hope not.
Caleb’s smile faded. This line of thinking could only bring about more tragedy. Even if he wanted…things. What was he supposed to do? Explain it to Rafiq? As if he would understand. As if he would care. He’d probably put a bullet in them both – or at least her. And then he’d have to shoot Caleb, because there was no way he would ever allow him to hurt her. This thought instantly shocked him. He had already admitted that he would miss her, something he should never have said, and now…he presumed to risk his life for her with Rafiq. He pushed the idea away firmly.
It was better to keep things on course. The girl would heal. Rafiq would get what he wanted and then Caleb would be free of his obligations. He would set the girl free and cut his losses. Yes, he nodded; it was the best thing for all of them, even the girl. Livvie.
No. Her name is Kitten.
Caleb found what he was looking for, clothes for Kitten. As he headed back toward his procured bedroom, he passed his hostages in the kitchen. Again, their conversation halted. The wife had been crying, but her manner was stoic. She was a brave one. “We will leave in the morning. I promise no harm will come to either of you, but I must tell you that my mercy is conditional. If you tell anyone we were here, or what happened to you –”
“You have my word!” The doctor was adamant. He’d seen Caleb covered in blood, knew it was arterial, perhaps even knew what Caleb had done. He didn’t doubt the doctors’ sincerity. While the doctor stared into his wife’s tear-filled eyes, Caleb glimpsed the depth of their love for one another. They would live together or they would die together, but either way, they would do anything to protect each other.
It was a strange thing to witness. It was an even stranger thing to feel envious of his hostages. No one had ever looked at him that way, as if life were insignificant without him and he’d never valued anyone more than he valued himself. Whatever love was, it was a concept he could not grasp.
On his way back to Kitten, he spied the linen closet and grabbed a set of fresh sheets for the bed. The air felt different once he entered the room again. The bathroom door was slightly open, steam drifting into the bedroom. Caleb placed the clothes and sheets on the bed and went inside.
She had found the mirror. Every bathroom had one and he hadn’t thought to cover it in his haste to get away from Livvie and her emotionally charged questions. He stood watching her, trying to discern his next action.
“They really did a number on me didn’t they.” She winced as she poked at the large bruise covering most of her cheek and eye.
“It’ll fade.” Caleb said, trying to imitate her nonchalant tone. They both knew there was nothing casual about the situation, but he was willing to pretend if she was.
“Will I still be pretty enough for Demitri?” she said. This time her voice was cold and hard as he’d never heard it. She had meant the words to cut him and with great surprise, Caleb accepted that they had.
“In a few weeks,” he said just as harshly and regretted it instantly when he saw sadness break through her façade of calm. She was strange to be around at the moment. A bomb waiting to explode. He couldn’t possibly predict any of her actions and it made them both erratic.
She turned, facing him fully nude. Her body may have been marred with bruises, but she was still beautiful. Still…the girl he wanted. There was something in her demeanor that made him want to take a step back, but he fought against that instinct. He would never back down from anyone, especially not her.
She was…stalking him. Like a panther or a lioness and it was odd to think in that moment that he had given her such an appropriate moniker. Though, she was not truly a kitten at the moment. Kittens didn’t approach you with their eyes fixed and their heads lowered in such a manner to evoke images of a huntress eyeing a meal.
She stopped just short of Caleb’s chest and so close he could almost feel her nipples brush against him. He shouldn’t want her, not when she looked like this. But he did. Perhaps he even wanted her more. She had been beaten and bruised, but she had survived! She had looked those sons of whores in their eyes and she had drawn the first blood. There was a fighter and a killer in there somewhere. And there was just something sexy about that. He’d thought so even while she had pointed his gun at him.
“Caleb,” she whispered. Caleb could only make a non-committal sound and stare at her. “So much has happened. I’ve been so powerless.”
Bullshit, Caleb thought.
“If I could just…have one thing for myself.” Caleb’s urge to step back was nearly overwhelming, but he held his ground and nodded.
Livvie looked up at him with pleading and hungry eyes. “Make love to me,” she said, so softly Caleb thought he’d only said it in his mind. Then he realized her small hand had slipped under his shirt. “I want to choose this one thing for myself. I’ll do what you ask of me. I won’t try to run away, but I want this one thing, this one choice…to be mine.”
Caleb wanted to say something, anything, but his every thought revolved around being inside her. There was an easy answer for why she might try this. If she’s not a virgin…. He didn’t care. He just didn’t fucking care. He’d deal with it later. So instead of ‘no’, he simply said, “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You won’t. I know you won’t.”
He couldn’t stop himself from leaning down and putting his lips to hers. She shook slightly, more like the kitten he remembered. His heart raced and his cock swelled and pulsed. Her tongue darted out shyly and he opened his mouth to her, letting her take things where she wanted them to go.
He didn’t trust himself to touch her quite yet, so strong was the urgency he felt, so he finally took that step back and rest his hands against the door jam while she pressed forward and kissed him more assuredly and aggressively.
Her mouth tasted of mint, which he figured was toothpaste and salt which he knew were her tears. He didn’t want her to cry. Not right now, not for any reason. He pulled away slowly, “Stop.” She stared up at him with a startled and vulnerable look on her face.
“Did I do something wrong?” she said and the words lanced something deep inside him.
“God, no. You’re perfect. I just…I don’t want to hurt you. And the way I feel right now…” If he ever blushed in his life, he might have blushed right then. “I know I’ll hurt you.”
He nearly groaned when she blushed, smiled, and looked away. “So, what then?”
“So come with me.” He took her hand, careful of which hand it was and led her to the bed. Slowly, he guided her onto it. She was far more timid now than she had been a few moments ago, but she didn’t hesitate. He kissed her lips softly as he lay next to her and coaxed her legs slightly apart. In a maneuver he had practiced with her many times, he kissed his way down her neck, chest, breasts, and stomach.
“Oh!” She whimpered as soon as his lips touched the soft, damp, hair between her thighs. He hadn’t even licked her yet and he could feel her coiled tension. He kissed the top of her pussy in the hopes of soothing some of her fear. This wasn’t going to hurt one, little, bit. He was going to make her feel good. He was going to make her feel the way she deserved to feel.
When he felt her thighs slowly open, giving him room to move, he dipped his head and let the tip of his tongue slide from the very bottom of her slit to the hard pebble of her clit in one slow, steady motion that had her mewling and opening for him further. “Do you want me to stop?” he whispered against her wet lips and with no intention of doing any such thing.