Sempre redemption, p.73
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       Sempre: Redemption, p.73

         Part #2 of Forever series by J. M. Darhower
Page 73


  “Sure. The nicest motherfuckers I know, tesoro—like rainbows and sunshine. ”

  She laughed, bumping against Carmine playfully. “You know what I mean. They weren’t cold to me like I thought they’d be, since I am . . . or I mean, I was . . . ”

  “They aren’t stupid,” he interrupted, squeezing her hand. “Corrado would kill them if they disrespected you. ”

  She seemed taken aback and stopped beside the car. “He’d really do that?”

  “Of course he would,” he replied. “Corrado doesn’t have kids, and you’re the closest thing he’s got to a daughter. ”

  Her eyes widened. “Me?”

  “He vouched for you. In their minds, he gave you life. I mean, come on, Haven. He demanded your presence tonight, knowing you wouldn’t want to be here. He only tortures his real family that way. You’re in, whether you like it or not. ”

  “I think I do,” she said quietly. “Like it, I mean. ”

  “Good. Now let’s get out of here. ” He held out his hand. “Keys?”

  She laughed dryly, pushing it away. “I don’t think so. I’m driving. ”

  She gave Carmine a playful wink as she walked around to the driver’s side. He rolled his eyes and grumbled, feigning annoyance, although he didn’t mind if she drove. He trusted her. Always had and always would.

  She started the car as he put on his seat belt, knowing she wouldn’t leave the parking lot until he did. She adjusted the mirrors and fiddled with the seat so she could reach the pedals and he held his tongue, refusing to get upset over something so petty. Years ago he would have snapped, but losing her once gave Carmine a new outlook. The seat’s position could be fixed, as could the mirrors. The entire car could be replaced, for that matter, but she was one of a kind.

  Carmine glanced around as she situated herself, spotting a form trudging through the parking lot. His eyes narrowed as something clicked in his mind, recognition dawning. It was the man from the corner in the restaurant, the one that had left at least an hour before. He kept his head ducked as he weaved through the cars, but there was no doubt in Carmine’s mind that it was the same man.

  The guy slipped into a dark Chevy Camaro. He drove past them as Carmine quickly studied the car, getting a brief glimpse at the Illinois license plate. All he could make out were the first two letters, JK.

  “Do you know that guy?” Haven asked, noticing he had been watching him.

  Carmine shrugged it off. “No. He has a nice car, though. ”

  The drive home from the restaurant was a hell of a lot different than the drive to it. Haven drove the speed limit—if that—while he lounged in the passenger seat, alcohol buzzing through his veins. Haven excused herself when they arrived home as Carmine locked up, making a point to enable the alarm for the doors and windows.

  He strolled into the kitchen and took out his gun, sticking it in a top cabinet. Grabbing the bottle of Grey Goose from the freezer, he leaned against the counter and took a swig, closing his eyes and savoring the burn as it coated his throat. It was only a minute later that he heard Haven approach and he opened his eyes, seeing her in the doorway. “Whatcha wanna do, tesoro?”

  She said nothing as she slowly strolled in his direction, having discarded her heels somewhere between the door and Carmine. He took a second drink as she paused in front of him, and she grabbed the bottle when he finished, gently taking it from his hands. Hesitating, deliberating, she brought it to her lips and tipped the bottle back. She grimaced as the liquor filled her mouth, the swallow bitterly painful by the look on her face.

  Reaching behind Carmine, she tipped the bottle and slowly dumped the rest of it down the sink drain, her eyes remaining on him the entire time.

  Carmine had a brief moment of panic. His insides seized up and he felt sick to his stomach, watching the liquor disappear. He pushed the feeling back, refusing to let it control him. He could stop if he wanted to . . . if he needed to. It wasn’t the end of the world. There were more important things in life, and he didn’t need the vodka to make it through his days.

  He chanted that in his head, willing himself to believe it.

  Haven grabbed his tie then, the knot loosening as she tugged on it. He offered no resistance, putting up no fight as she pulled him away from the kitchen counter and led him toward the stairs. She let go eventually but he didn’t falter, blindly and wordlessly following her upstairs. His feet were heavy like concrete slabs, his body weary and mind just as tired, but obedience ran through his veins.

  He closed the bedroom door when they made it there, the single click of the lock echoing loudly through the still silence. He glanced at Haven, watching in the light from the glow of the moon as she unzipped her dress and let it drop to the floor. The pressure in his chest, the burn and craving of the addict, lessened a bit when she turned to face him.

  “Do you remember the first time we made love?” she asked quietly.

  “Of course I do. ”

  “You worshiped me that day,” she said. “Actually, thinking about it, you worshiped me every time. You were so attentive and always made me feel your love, but I never really had the chance to do the same. I tell you I love you all the time, and I do . . . I love you so much, Carmine . . . but I don’t show you enough. ”

  “But you—”

  She held her hand up to silence him before he could object. “Just shut up, okay? Why do you always have to talk?”

  He cocked an eyebrow at her, a surprised chuckle escaping his lips as he waved for her to proceed. Sassy.

  “I don’t show you enough,” she repeated. “You do so much, you go through so much in life, and you need to be shown love, too. You deserve to be worshiped. ”

  Carmine remained right in front of the door, not daring to move. He held his breath, watching intently as Haven removed the rest of her clothes and stood in front of him completely naked. He slowly scanned her, drinking in every drop of her petite frame, his eyes tracing her soft curves. The silvery scars that coated her skin glowed under the moonlight, intricate patterns that told countless stories—some of which only he would ever know. They were secrets she had told him, secrets he would take with him to the grave, whether that be tomorrow or a century away.

  She stepped forward, grabbing his tie again, but this time she undid the knot and tossed it aside. Slowly, carefully, she unbuttoned his shirt as he remained still, fighting the urge to reach out and caress her skin. She removed his shirt, her hands tracing his abs before reaching for his belt buckle, staring into his eyes as she unfastened it.

  He licked his lips, his mouth suddenly dry as the nerves inside of him bubbled up. His heart hammered as his pants dropped to the floor, her hands shoving his boxers down to his ankles. A cool chill ripped up his spine and he shivered as the air hit his erection, making it jump as it throbbed harder than he could ever remember it being before.

  “Christ,” he muttered, falling back against the bedroom door as Haven dropped to her knees. She took him in her mouth, warmth enveloping him, goosebumps immediately springing to every centimeter of exposed skin. “Oh, fuck. ”

  He knew he wouldn’t last long. He couldn’t. Within a matter of minutes, as she sucked and licked and stroked, he could feel the pressure building in his gut. He wanted to warn her, but he couldn’t find the words. All he could do was curse and sputter, gripping the back of her head as he spilled down her throat.

  She climbed to her feet when he finished, her hand still wrapped around him, gently stroking as he grew hard in her palm again. She kissed his chest, making her way to his neck, before he leaned down and captured her lips with his.

  The rest of his clothes were discarded on the floor before she pulled him over to the bed, making him lie down. She didn’t hesitate, no wavering as she climbed on top of him, sinking down into his lap. He filled her completely, deeply, her body tight and formed to his like leather against damp skin, clinging, suffocating, taking his strained breath away.
  He lay with his eyes open, watching her move, savoring her passion. He could feel her devotion, her desperation, her craving; he could feel her need, her want, her love. He could feel it all each time she shifted her hips, their bodies slapping together as he filled her to the hilt. And he could hear it in her voice, her throaty groans and raspy words when she cried out his name again and again as orgasm shook her to the core.

  She drove him madder with every moan, every thrust pushing him further to the brink. He wanted to flip her over and pound into her, take her hard, ravish every inch of her and claim her flushed body as his own, but he didn’t. He couldn’t. There would be plenty of time for that later. Now it was her time, her rules, her game.

  And it was a game he was elated to play. The sensations building inside of him stirred up something, a vaguely familiar euphoria, the high of all highs . . . it infiltrated his cells, blanketing his entire body until he felt like he was floating on air.

  And it didn’t take a bitter bitch named Molly to do it this time.


  They lay in bed together later that night, her head on his bare chest, her long hair a tangled mess. Carmine rubbed her back as her fingers explored the trail of fine hair leading down his stomach.

  “I love you,” Haven whispered. “You’re the best thing that’s happened to me. ”

  The best thing. It was a far cry from the disgrace he felt like earlier. The conviction in her words made him want to believe it. Even though he still thought she deserved better, that she deserved more, he wondered if maybe, just maybe, he could be good enough.

  She fell asleep before he could find the words to share the sentiment, her soft snores filling the room. Carmine lay there holding her, but despite his exhaustion, he couldn’t fall asleep. His mind worked a million miles a minute, a feeling overtaking him that he couldn’t push away. It invaded his body, nagging and prodding, putting Carmine on edge. He was alert, noise intensifying the paranoia. Something was off—he could feel it.

  Carefully, so as not to wake Haven, he slipped from underneath her and climbed out of bed. He tiptoed across the room to the window and pulled some slats of the blinds apart to look out into the night. It was nearing three in the morning, the sky pitch black and the city quiet. Carmine surveyed the street, looking for any sign of trouble, and tensed when his eyes fell upon a car out front.

  A vaguely familiar-looking dark Chevy Camaro.

  He stepped back from the window and gave Haven a quick glance before heading out of the room. Instinct took over, every move calm and calculating. He found his pants and pulled them on before grabbing his gun downstairs. He made sure it was loaded as he quietly slipped out the back door. He headed around the house and came up behind the Camaro, eyeing the license plate.

  The moment he saw the letters JK, his adrenaline kicked into overdrive.

  Staying in the shadows, he watched the car for a bit. The man was alone with the driver’s side window down, his attention focused away from Carmine’s house. Every time headlights flashed nearby he would watch them like a hawk until they passed. He was waiting for something, but Carmine wasn’t sure what until a set of headlights shone their way. The man ducked as a black Mercedes sped by them before swinging into a driveway about a block away.

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