Astrid nervously opened the report on Remy she’d successfully avoided for three days. Calder urged her to read the file daily, and he was growing frustrated at her reluctance. He didn’t understand that learning Remy’s history would mess her head up further.
She spread the contents of the envelope on the glass table in the living room, studying the photos first. Pictures showing Remy at the Armor. Remy outside of her house. Of the two of them when she ran into him at the corner store. All the rest were odd. He had followed her, stalked her when alone at home. The PI had done a wonderful job catching him tracking her movements.
She gasped, picking up a photo of Remy with Julia, Chris’s wife. She met Julia a few times at the firm. Why would they meet at a gym? Or a hotel the glossy 4x6 showed them entering?
She picked up the typed rundown of a man named Renold Meys.
His mother abandoned him to a Catholic orphanage at birth. Never adopted, he left after turning seventeen with Arlo Suder, his best friend. At nineteen Remy was the main suspect in the death of Alice Flowers, also nineteen. She’d been a librarian for the county, said to be timid but attractive, living alone in the city. Their relationship broke off because of his temper Alice’s friends recounted. Two weeks later they discovered her naked, broken body in Lake Sunshine.
Astrid swallowed rising alarm, determined to learn more. The intense dread seeping through her veins, causing her hands to shake, was natural, she told herself. She squeezed her eyes shut, shivering at the memory of when Remy took her to the lake to have sex in his car.
His employer, Teena Lugwig, gave Remy an alibi, verifying he’d been on stage at the Armory the night Alice died. The police had to let him go. The officer in the document mentioned Remy’s cold detachment, telling the detectives how Alice got what a whore like her deserved.
At age twenty-four Remy’s girlfriend, Joyce Nelly, disappeared after a public argument where she declared she hated him and they split on the spot. She worked as a receptionist at a small injury claims company. She had been eighteen, shy, a victim of past abuse from her father who served time for it. A month searching for her whereabouts ended with locating her body molested and beaten almost beyond recognition in another state deep inside deer hunting woodlands.
Alibis once more cleared Remy of charges.
Astrid shook when finished reading. She felt ill, putting everything back. With a hand on her mouth, she ran to the bathroom, losing the contents of her stomach as her world tilted.
Was she so easy to manipulate? Why was he cruel to her if he loved her? Had his lonely childhood, much like hers, twisted his psyche? What would his next move be? Remy broke up with both girls before they died.
Anger stirred the pot of convoluted emotions raging through her mind. Astrid possessed something the other two women had not — Calder Lewis. The man refused to bow out of her life, resulting in saving her from their abuser.
Astrid did not want to file a restraining order. Calder must not have checked into her background. The Lewises had done a standard criminal check when they hired her. A mall cop caught her shoplifting at seventeen, but her record got expunged when she hit eighteen.
Brushing her teeth, she couldn’t help but judge Julia Lewis. She was beautiful, rich and without compassion. Every time Astrid spoke to her, it had been like talking to an ice-box. If she lacked attention from Chris, perhaps she hired Remy? Why hadn’t Calder told her?
Her cell rang after she left the bathroom. She snatched it off of the cluttered table, horrified to see Remy calling. She needed to talk to him, eventually. For days she’d stayed at Calders, hesitant to leave. If he followed her to Calder’s, there was no telling what he’d do to her at home.
After the phone quieted, she called Calder. He answered right away, sounding happy to hear from her. He was always quick to smile and laugh, and it brightened her moods usually.
“What’s up princess?” Calder’s smooth tone eased her knotted stomach.
“I read the report,” she blurted, “Why didn’t you say anything about Julia?”
“Um, it was a shock, I suppose. Are you all right?”
“No!” she cried, running a hand through her hair, “Remy snowballed me from the beginning. He probably stalked me before we met!”
“Astrid, calm down,” Calder kept his speech even and composed, “I hoped to be there when you looked at the facts. Take a deep breath, sit down, and reflect on what Remy’s said, done and insinuated these last months. It might help us figure out what his next move will be.”
“He hasn’t been forthcoming if that’s your point,” she snapped, “How was I supposed to know he’d end up totally deranged?”
“I understand, I’m on your side. I’ll be home in half an hour. Get dressed and we’ll go to your house as planned. In the meantime, just remember I love you.”
“Do you think he killed those girls?”
“I don’t like to speculate. Going off his actions, I could say yes,” he sighed over the line, “I’m glad you left him. You did the smart thing, and it only shows how strong you are.”
She smiled, hearing the pride in his voice. He was a great motivator, making her believe in herself. Her thoughts shifted as she mumbled goodbye maybe Remy began the teaching process.
She paced, unable to focus as Calder asked her to, overwhelmed trying to summarize her relationship with Remy. He made her feel so lucky at first, his demeanor sweet and patient. Sensitive and funny. He had taken her places and conversed with her in a way no man had before. He’d built up her self-esteem, calling her out when she was too hard on herself.
What started so wonderfully went sideways within a space of a few weeks!
The downward spiral set off the night she initiated sex, recalling how she’d threw a fit because Remy hesitated to show physical attention. He hadn’t wanted to ruin their easy camaraderie, and she now understood why. He couldn’t restrain himself and must have known Astrid wasn’t into kink. But then opened her damn mouth, boasting she would accept his truth after Calder lured her into sleeping with him! If he took her words as promises, why would he hold back?
Why did you come when he was at his roughest? her panties grew damp remembering his possessive looks, you exploded every single time his hands wrapped around your throat! You begged for it!
Astrid yanked on the white jeans she arrived in days ago and pulled on one of Calder’s shirts. Her mood spiraled with shame. She knew she had hurt him even if he used his hands to retaliate. Her constant rebuff of his love, twisted as it was, may have started the acrimony. She trampled on his feelings by running to Calder when shit became too much and he took revenge by using her body as his personal playground.
Still, after learning his two deceased girlfriends was possibly his fault, there was a niggling feeling he was innocent. Weren’t psychopaths antisocial and without remorse? Remy had an active social life and showed immense guilt after their fights.
Calder came home to find Astrid sitting on the sofa. The place was dark and silent. She hadn’t bothered to switch on the lights after the sun went down. He placed his briefcase in his study, changed, then silently sat beside her.
She stared at her shoes despondently.
“Hi,” he rubbed her back, giving her a patient smile, “What’s going on in that pretty head of yours?”
Astrid stood out of reach so he couldn’t touch her. Tormented emotions swirled in her eyes as they observed one another. “I have to go home tonight,” she stated, “I can’t stay here anymore. You are more than welcome to spend the night.”
That worked out so well last time, she internally scoffed.
He frowned, “Okay, I’ll do that. Hey, what’s really bothering you? I sense something off with you.”
She snorted, picking up her purse, “I’m a wreck. How can you not? Get your stuff and let’s go.”
“Astrid, talk to me,” he pleaded while standing, “I won’t let you hide your pain. I can tell you’re disturbed. Hell, I am too. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder. Knowing you’re safe when I’m at work helps me concentrate. If you leave, I’ll worry.”
She headed for the door, “That’s sweet, but it’s not your responsibility to be my guardian angel. I made this mess myself and must face the consequences.”
He quickly followed, “You did nothing wrong! Do you think you did? Look at me.”
She pushed the elevator button, refusing to turn, “Maybe? I treated Remy unfairly when he reached out for love. Calder, you left me, recognizing he and I share a connection. He helped me and in return, I stomped all over his fucking heart.”
“He hit you! Is that helping you?”
The doors slid open, and she entered before replying, “Of course not! Don’t act as if you understand because you don’t! I love you.”
He stepped inside, fists clenched at his sides. She wrapped her arms around his waist when he stabbed a finger on the panel for the ground floor. She peered into the depths of his beautiful, caring eyes, glad he felt so protective, needing his unwavering affection.
“Love you,” she softly repeated, hating his angry expression, “I’ve never told a man that, but I’m confused, and stressed all at the same time.”
He caressed her cheek with the back of his hand, “Ditto. I want to make sure Remy doesn’t hurt you. Have you considered a restraining order?”
“No. For all we know, he’s accepted the fact we broke up.”
The doors opened, and he took her hand in his, leading the way to the car. Astrid hadn’t been outside in four days. The weather was warmer, and she looked forward to running again because it helped reduce stress.
Calder headed downtown, anxiously checking his rearview for Remy. Astrid’s guilt magnified for placing him in the middle of her chaos. Was he paranoid every time he drove to and from work or client luncheons? She gazed at him, knowing their relationship had formed fast and heavy but grateful for his steadfast dedication. He worried about her.
No one else did.
“Are you sure you don’t want to return to my condo?” He asked later when standing on her porch, “Tomorrow’s Friday. We can spend the weekend on my boat if you’d like?”
She sighed, swinging the door wide, glad everything was as she’d left it, “Calder, I can’t leave my home. I have to live my life, not hide from it. He may not even want me anymore. We only know what the police reported over six years ago.”
“I’m worried you’re not safe here,” he pressed, locking the front door, “I thought trip on the water sounded relaxing.”
She switched on a few lights, “Maybe next weekend? I’ve been cooped up long enough. I need to exercise.”
“Ah,” he followed her into the bedroom where she planned to change, “I could go a sweaty workout right now.”
She coyly unbuttoned her jeans, pausing in the center of the room. “Do you run? Or are you a gym rat?”
Lust lit up his face, and she squirmed in expectation. Calder was so damn sexy. Gorgeous and strong. His lovemaking brought her to tears the previous evening. They stayed up late consuming each other’s life stories and spent hours making love until no longer able to stay awake.
“I ran in high school,” he replied, stepping so close she felt the heat of his body, “College was boxing.”
She kicked off her shoes, “Hmm… care to hit below my belt?”
Calder smashed his mouth to hers, sliding his hands under her shirt in a smooth motion, causing her skin pebble. He always touched her so tender yet passionately, touching and caressing as if he needed her to breathe.
The kiss sweetened, making her sigh in disappointment when he lifted his head. “Don’t stop now.”
He chuckled, fingers trailing along her waist and lower back, “I don’t plan to.”
Closing her eyes as they kissed once more, she lost herself to the moment. The physical sensations of his want stronger than any expression she’d find on his handsome features. Calder urged her to appreciate their love through caresses. She treasured how his arms sheltered her in his embrace. He adored her, and it fed her devotion.
He attacked her lips, shuffling towards the bed, and she trusted his steps, clutching his forearms. He lifted her onto the mattress, undressing her with a mouth that never faltered.
“Astrid,” he gasped, parting her restless thighs, “Do you have condoms?”
Her eyelids fluttered open, and she saw his hesitation with his massive rod inches from her slit, “Nope. Just pull out.”
He groaned, “It’s not as easy as it seems. Especially with you! Fuck, you drive me wild.”
She took his engorged shaft in hand, massaging it until his hips bucked, “You’re cute when you try to hold back.”
“I’m not,” he vehemently denied, breaking into a sweat as she worked him near her aching opening.
She grinned at the need in his voice, sliding the head of his cock against her inner thigh. His pupils dilated, and his dick twitched. “Yes, you are,” she teased, “What are you waiting for?”
He bent until their foreheads met, forcing her hand off his leaking erection, “I’m not holding back,” he repeated in a darker tone, “I’m building anticipation before I wreck this pussy.”
“Yeah?” she nipped his bottom lip, pulse racing, “Extend our pleasure, honey.”
He licked and squeezing her flesh until she thought she’d burst with impatience, squealing and undulating underneath his form. His wicked tongue had her matching how she begged for Remy, she admitted to herself. Well, Remy’s foreplay consisted of threatening to beat her ass if she didn’t give up an orgasm, but both men somehow secreted out how to make her body sing.
She tried to not think about him as once again she compared the two. She squeezed her eyes shut, focusing on what Calder was doing, hating that Remy invaded her thoughts and how wet she became while doing so. Threading her fingers through Calders’ wavy blonde strands when he brought his lips back, she kissed him passionately, letting go of fears and worries along with pleas for him to fuck her raw.
With their lips locked in a clash of teeth and heavy breathing, Calder thrust at last into her tight heat. She cried out in delight, arching her spine when his hands gripped her waist. He rained kisses on her exposed collarbone as they rocked together.
Astrid’s skin was on fire, and his grip grew intense as he urged her towards a climax. She wrapped her legs around his waistline, pressing as close as possible, still gripping his hair as he bottomed out in her, hitting the sensitive bundle of nerves that made her keen. His warm mouth latched onto her neck, and she came hard while he bit down and pumped furiously until she was sure she’d be sore the next day.
“Calder,” she moaned, “Don’t stop. You’re incredible!”
Meeting his smug smile, she realized he felt the same. Did she really make him happy? He was exceptional and all hers. The seriousness of their relationship made Astrid nervous from years of self-doubt.
“Let’s try a different position,” he knelt on his knees, “Get up.”
She sat forward as he laid down with a devilish grin, his erection bobbing in the air. “Sit on me facing the other way,” he ordered, “Put your legs together, feet flat against mine.”
She giggled, doing as instructed, “Well, you certainly know what you want.”
“Actually, women receive more out of this than men. There’s increased G-spot stimulation, I’ve been told.”
She didn’t admit reverse cowgirl was one of her favorite positions.
When Calder slipped his thickness back inside, all thoughts disappeared when she ground backward, his hands keeping her steady as another intense orgasm had her cursing and calling his name for the entire neighborhood to hear.
He chuckled, positioning her limp body until they faced each other again and he could hold her sitting up against the headboard. He kissed her cheek, letting the moment linger, still rock hard inside her clenching heat.
“Wow,” she breathed, “Thanks for the ride!”
He smirked, “Any fucking time.”
They melted together, their lovemaking louder than before as he worked her harder than any exercise she had in mind. Astrid brought him as much pleasure as she could, hoping he’d fall deeper in love with her. He growled, increasing the tempo of how she rode his swelling cock.
“Astrid,” he panted, “Let me come on your tits.”
“No,” she begged, crude sounds of skin slapping skin clapping off of the walls, “I want to feel it. To feel you. Come for me, my love.”
He shot his load, unable to stop under her sultry command. He groaned, her pussy milking his dick. She grinned into the crook of his shoulder, only slightly remorseful for not allowing him to pull out when he wanted to.
“Perfect,” he mumbled, “So hot.”
“I love you,” she whispered, holding him as they drifted to sleep in each other’s arms.