Astrid was a bundle of nerves as she strode hand in hand with Calder into the Italian Door. She had eaten there with Remy several times before. The place had great food and vibe, along with a fantastic wine list she planned on ordering from as soon as possible. Calder senior sat in the back of the restaurant, although it was half empty.
Calder squeezed her hand reassuringly as they walked. She noted the man carried himself differently. Less uptight in casual clothes, and he even smiled when he stood to greet them. His eyes had the same deep, piercing gaze she saw in his namesake. When she watched recognition dawn on him, her pulse hammered. His mouth twisted into a polite smile, pulling out a chair.
“Nice to see you again, Mr. Lewis,” she rushed to say, slipping into the offered seat.
He sat to her right and Calder took the one on the other side of the table, picking up the drink menu, searching his father for signs of disapproval, and she tensed for the backlash.
Cal Sr. grinned at them both. “I’m sorry, I recognize the face, but not your name.”
“Astrid,” she supplied, mortified, “Astrid Trahern. I worked at the firm.”
“Ah,” he held up a finger, “Now I recall.” He seemed a little confused as he glanced at Calder, then at her, “You two are… dating?”
“Yes,” Calder snapped, banging the menu down so hard she jumped, “She’s my girlfriend and I love her.”
His father appeared as startled as she felt. “Fine. No need to become defensive.”
“Isn’t there?” Calder jeered, “You looked at her scornfully. Astrid’s the best woman I’ve ever dated.”
“Stop,” he hissed in return, “I gave her no such look. If you insist on causing a scene, I’ll go. I only wanted to ask how you’re doing.”
“It’s okay,” she gently lifted Calder’s clenched fist in both her hands, “I’m sure seeing me was a surprise.” She smiled at the older man, “Mr. Lewis, I love your son too. I quit my job to date him. I didn’t have too, I have more respect for your business than conflicting our relationship with his work.”
He nodded, staring at her with something she couldn’t determine swimming in his green orbs, “How very… considerate of you. I imagine you’ve only met since he just graduated and moved here.”
“About a month, yeah,” Calder muttered, easing his hand open for her fingers to slide between, “She should be rehired. The library hasn’t been the same and Chris bitches about having to do his own extended research because Astrid excels in that area.”
She blinked at the news and Cal Sr. chuckled, “He should do it himself. Do you think I had help? Back in the day, I had no one except Florence, who refused to do anything but answer phones and schedule appointments. Your mother used to assist me…” he drifted off, lost in a long-ago memory.
“I’d love a glass of Riesling,” Astrid changed the conversation, “The lasagna is to die for here.”
The men became less agitated after she initiated the meal. By the time they’d finished a bottle of wine and eaten, Calder was laughing along with his dad. It pleased her Calder tried to reconnect with his father before it was too late. She understood all too well there were no second chances for redemption once someone died.
“Stay the weekend when you come,” Cal Sr. warmly told them before parting, “I had hoped to visit Sarah and Sam, but Chris is a stubborn man. Anyhow, I had an idea to spend time with my sons outside the city.”
Calder looked at Astrid for approval. She wasn’t sure she wanted to waste two days in a stuffy mansion full of the five C’s, but instead said, “Sounds fun. I’ll see you tomorrow, Mr. Lewis.”
“Please, call me Cal,” he grabbed her by the hips, pulling her in for an awkward hug, then he hugged his son before walking away.
Cal Sr. seemed to want his family to grow closer, and her low opinion of him went up a few degrees. She smiled during the car ride until hearing Calder sigh. “What’s bothering you? Didn’t you have a good time? He sounded sincere.”
“Yes. It makes me wonder if something’s wrong with him,” he glanced at her perplexed expression, “Like, he’s ill or dying?”
“How could you think that!” she chided, “Fathers cherish their children, but it’s harder for some men to show their emotions. Try opening up and see how he responds.”
“Would you want to stay overnight?”
“Maybe. Depends on how everything goes and you know as well as I do Chris will go out of his way to make me uncomfortable. Aaannnddd there’s Julia.”
“Fuck them all!” Calder scowled, “I’m sick of everyone’s judgment.”
He took a corner sharply, glaring at the road, “Yes and no. It’s me too. I’m too young. Too inexperienced. Too this and too fucking that.”
“Hey,” she touched his knee, “Fuck ’em! We’re happy. Focus on that.”
He relaxed, smiling slyly at her for a moment, “Thanks, princess. Fuck ’em.”
He drove to her house. She checked her watch, seeing it was after two. The warm weather felt pleasant against her skin before they walked inside. Calder flopped down on the sofa, switching on the TV.
She kicked off her shoes before snuggling beside him, “Don’t you have work?”
“Nope. One client who won’t return my calls is all I have waiting at the office. Cody rubs in my face how busy he is while I twiddle my thumbs.”
She heard the bitterness in his voice. Maybe Calder wanted approval from more than his father. He was the youngest in a long line of prominent attorneys. It must be terrible to have so much pressure on your shoulders.
Stroking the inside of his thigh, she teased, “One day the job will consume your time and you won’t have a chance to hang out with me. I say we enjoy the lazy afternoons.”
He peered down on her with a sensual smirk, “Oh, you do, do you?”
Astrid giggled, arching her spine when his palm rubbed the small of her back. She tilted her head and his relaxed open leg posture shifted so he could look down on her. She loved the intensity of his gaze.
“When I become so busy I can’t return your calls, what will you do?” he asked, running a hand towards her ass.
She pretended to think seriously about it. “Rent a guy and make-believe he’s you? So, when you finally come home, you can trade places?”
Calder choked with groaning laughter, “You’ll hire a stunt double?”
“Well, if I could ever find one as handsome, funny and witty as you.” She purred sweetly, batting her eyelashes.
She glanced at his crotch, catching the bulge inside his slacks, and his eyes danced with amusement while lifting the hem of her dress, exposing her bottom. Her breathing hitched when he hummed in appreciation at her white lacy panties.
“I hope you never do,” he huskily retorted, “Because I’d never find a replacement. I would never dismiss you.”
Astrid kissed him hungrily, and he squeezed her ass. She sighed against his mouth, closing her eyes.
“Feel like getting naked, sexy?” he suggested, trailing kisses along her closed eyelids and cheeks.
She nodded, figuring Calder needed more of a tension release than she did. He always catered to her needs and wanted to show gratitude. After smacking him on the lips, she whispered, “Just relax, honey.”
Astrid unbuckled his belt, then unzipped him. After extracting his thick cock from his briefs, she licked and swirled her tongue around the shaft until he jerked with a low groan.
“Relax,” she scratched her nails down his thighs playfully.
One hand gripped her butt, the other came to rest on top of her hair as she pleased him. He gasped as she used her mouth and hands until he neared his breaking point. She savored the salty taste of his warm skin.
“Shit,” he clenched her chestnut strands, “You better stop Astrid.”
She didn’t let up, loving the way he squirmed under her touch. He stopped resisting and took control by gripping her hair and pressing to take all of him down her tight throat. His fingers dug into her flesh and she moaned in response, giving it everything she had in hopes he came soon.
“Yes,” Calder panted, “That’s right. Are you going to swallow? You want it, don’t you, princess? Here it comes… oh, fuck!”
She loved the gruffness in his voice when he cursed before spurting a hot load down her greedy throat. She swallowed and swallowed until his entire body shivered, and he cried out. He gazed down at her adoringly as she languidly licked up every drop. She smiled at him, hoping he felt relaxed enough to forget his family’s trouble for now.
“Your mouth should come with a warning label,” he whistled, pulling her so close she heard the frantic beat of his heart, “Fucking phenomenal…”
Astrid shrugged, having been told numerous times how well she sucked dick, “Thanks.”
“Let’s take a nap,” he nuzzled her neck, “Then I’ll eat you out.”
She winked in agreement, yanking him into the bedroom.
*In The Meantime*
Remy gloated when Astrid came back home. Not only that, but Calder also left her alone while at work, giving him a chance to work his magic on her. He would not jump the gun though, needing Astrid to want him as much as he did her.
He installed two cameras in her bedroom and one in the living room when she stayed at Calder’s. They were wireless and could remote access them from a laptop he purchased. Everything he used was thanks to Jay, whose job entailed installing CCTV around the city.
At home, he set the laptop on the small table inside his room to monitor Astrid. The audio feed came in weak, but by recording able to go back and listen to what he missed.
The most hurtful thing he heard made his heart clench along with his fists was her declaration of love to Calder — fucking — Lewis. Calder loved her in return. Did she really fall for his sappy bullshit lines? When he caught them screwing like rabbits after she returned, he flew into a rage. Calder handled Astrid delicately, and she seemed to enjoy it. Well, she got off on his touch too. In fact, hadn’t she chosen him first?
After finding out he invaded Astrid’s privacy, Arlo avoided him. The tension between them ran high, but why waste his energy explaining himself? Arlo would always be there for him, so his disapproval meant he was staying out of the way until Remy needed him.
Jay came over to pinpoint technical problems, getting a kick out of Astrid strutting around naked after a shower. He only allowed him to watch because Remy required his help, but he hated how he touched himself when he thought Remy wasn’t looking.
Astrid was his.
Not Calder’s and definitely not his friends.
When she sucked Calder off on her sofa, he sat with tears in his eyes. He called her princess! How typical, but he kept her locked in his condo like one, that’s for certain. They interacted playfully, and when her honey voice spewed she loved him, a storm brewed fueling his outrage. He was putting himself through torture by creeping on their private moments, but she refused to answer his calls and he ran out of ideas on how to fix their relationship.
Remy observed a lot of physical activity going on, but not much conversation. They used to talk for hours. Didn’t she miss him? Even a little? He grew depressed. She sounded so damn hot for that idiot, giving Calder what belonged to him.
He perked up when they discuss something before Calder scurried off for the evening. It was after nine and the prick finally tired of fucking his girl. If he didn’t hate the fucker, his stamina would impress him. Astrid asked Calder if he truly wanted to spend the night at his father’s after the barbecue on Saturday. He told her to pack a bag, just in case.
Calder Sr. lived up in the hills on Sunrise Mountain. Remy knew all about the old bastard. A family get-together, huh? How fucking sweet.
He watched Astrid cleaning her kitchen, wearing the flirty robe he’d torn off her weeks ago, looking downright morose. Why? Calder fucked her silly for two hours! Was she realizing that asshole was using her as the rest had? She shut off the lights and retreated to the bedroom.
Remy picked up the phone, calling her. He was sure once again she’d ignore him, although he’d given her more space than his patience could handle sometimes but didn’t want to come across as a crazy person. Of course, he had broken into her house, like one, but was desperate.
“Hello, Remy.” Astrid’s flat greeting startled him.
He switched to the view of her bedroom as she strolled aimlessly back and forth. “Hi. Long time. What’s going on, baby?” Zooming in, he saw her pinched expression and his chest tightened.
“Don’t call me baby!” she snapped, “I’m sorry I didn’t break up with you properly. I got scared. You hurt my body and my heart, Remy.”
He scowled at her prissy tone. Her anger seeped through the line, and he swallowed hard. “Astrid, I never intended to be cruel. I went too far and I apologize. But, why the cold shoulder? We need to communicate when you’re upset.” Cue eye roll.
“Oh, yeah? What about when I said NO? When you drugged me and Jay forced himself on me?”
“Forced? Astrid, you don’t remember asking Jay to join us? YOU wanted him. We had fun, but I warned you not to accept drinks from him. We got fucked up, but stop blaming me for your actions.”
She gasped, “Seriously?”
“You were all over him.” Was this why she ran to Calder? Shit, he owed Jay a black eye now.
“What? I…” she faltered, “W-well, you have a horrible past I’ve just learned.”
When she relaxed on her bed with her long legs spread wide enough he made out her pretty pink pussy, he grinned, “My past?” he cooed, “How I grew up in an orphanage with mean Catholic nuns who spanked my bare bottom with wooden rulers?”
She cursed, “This isn’t a joke! Tell me about Alice. Explain how she and Joyce ended up dead!”
His knees buckled in horror, and he stumbled to regain his footing. Hearing their names on Astrid’s lips was like a violent earthquake, breaking the dam he’d placed around the memories. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to disperse the ghost of his former girlfriends and make them drift back into the dark abyss where they belonged.
“Remy? Remy, are you there?”
“How did you find out?” His voice came out hallow.
“A friend. Tell me you had nothing to do with the murders!” she demanded, rubbing her eyes, “I became sick when I heard, and I can’t go on fearing your erratic temper. Promise you didn’t… kill your ex-girlfriends?”
Wow, should he pinky swear too? he scoffed.
They sat in silence for several long moments before he formed words. Dredging up spiteful conversations with his late lovers the last thing he planned on discussing with her tonight, but after hearing the fright in her voice, knew the time had come to reveal a little more about his tumultuous history.
“Joyce was a member of the fetish scene,” he hoarsely explained, his heart pumping too hard, “I watched her become addicted to heroin and fuck five guys a night instead of loving me the way I did her. When she overdosed in another man’s apartment, and the dickhead left her to die, I’d had enough and checked her into rehab before walking away. Alice was different,” he took a deep, shuttering breath, “We couldn’t connect, but I fell in love with her anyhow. She didn’t understand me or attempt to try. We dated for months, but in the end, she dumped my ass at her friends’ party. I have no idea who killed them, or why, but it wasn’t me!” He clenched his teeth, refusing to admit out loud he plotted to fucking decimate whoever snuffed his former girlfriends.
“Remy…” Astrid sounded unsure.
He regarded her on the small screen, appearing as anxious and sad as he felt. “I have unresolved anger issues,” he admitted, licking his dry lips, “Women are either drawn to it or fear me. You once mentioned I deserved somebody hotter, but appearances mean jack shit when your soul’s rotten. I have faults, but you do too, Astrid. Come on, get real. Do you honestly believe I would murder someone I cared for?”
“Well…” She started again, looking near tears.
“Baby, we share a connection you’ll never develop with Calder. I listen to you. Really listen. I want to be the man you deserve, but you keep rejecting me. Sex is great, but we were friends first, yeah? I taught you to fight the tide, right?” He tried to remind her of everything they had before he went too far, “I know you.”
“Are you judging me?” She growled, angry once more, “I don’t understand you though! I thought I did. Then all your dirty secrets and lies surfaced.”
“Try living with my lousy record, coming into a new relationship! I’ll tell you anything! My past doesn’t define who I am now. Also, I get you better than you realize.” He smirked, flicking the computer with his forefinger.
“No, you don’t!” she shouted, pounding a fist on the mattress, “Can you explain Julia?”
“Chris’s wife? Chris Lewis, Calder’s brother?”
Shit, Shit, shit! How had she found out? Remy had been careful while seeing Julia. Obviously, Astrid was a lot craftier than gave her credit for. “I’ve no clue who you’re talking about. My clients don’t give real names.”
“What about following me? I saw you outside of Calder’s building last week. You’re a liar! I’m sorry, but it’s over.”
The hell it was! Not after spilling his guts.
He glared at the screen, watching Astrid shaking her head. It would be difficult to get her back after this, but he wouldn’t let up until she heard him out. “Fuck, I can’t stop loving you. Thinking about you. Can we go out to lunch or dinner tomorrow, hmm? Discussing my personal shit over the phone is bullshit. Do you miss me?”
“No!” she cried, “I don’t! Leave me alone, Remy! Calder and I are in a committed relationship. I… love him. You need to move on.”
“Not happening!” he refused to accept her rebuff, “You and I belong together! You fucking miss me and you know it. You miss our talks and what I can do to your body.”
“Not true!” Astrid sobbed, and he pleaded for her to quit crying and listen, but she continued rejecting him, “Remy, I’m not changing my mind. Goodbye.”
She hung up, wiped away her tears while placing the cell on a charger, then went to bed as if she hadn’t upended his world. He shook with unease, realizing she may no longer care for him. Was he unlovable? If someone as sweet and forgiving as Astrid didn’t want him, who would? She held so much promise.
How did she learn about Alice or Joyce? How had she known he met Julia? He knew it would not be long before she discovered the cameras, deciding to take them out on Saturday while she wasn’t home. Remy dragged his feet into the living room. Rose, Jay, and Arlo sat on the sofa smoking and drinking like they usually did on Friday nights.
“Hi,” Rose jumped up eagerly to greet him.
He treated her awful the last time Astrid pissed him off, and yet the little whore begged for more. Rose was the type of girl he should be with. She was attractive and decent in bed. It wasn’t all he wanted though, and as he shot her a half-ass smile, tried to picture a future with her and shuddered at the bleak outcome.
Still, she was a warm body on a night where a woman he was deeply in love with ripped his fucking heart in two.
Arlo and Jay watched Remy lead Rose into his bedroom. Her eyes fell on the laptop while she stripped, and he shut it with a bang before tearing his own clothes off.
He had to ask, “What keeps you coming back?”
She giggled, pressing her soft skin against his bare chest, “You’re the sexiest man I’ve ever met and I want your fury.”
He blinked, “For real?”
“It’s hotter when you’re rough,” she purred, staring stupidity at his limp cock.
Catching her neck, he squeezed until she squealed with bright wet eyes, “Good enough.”