Love Meets You part 2

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25.

* Clover *

Clover never considered herself a petty or vengeful person. Sure, she was snarky when classifying certain women as Plastics, but to her, it was an insecure joke about her appearance. She’d come to terms with being a full-figured woman long ago, but that didn’t mean others had. Sometimes people belittled her to feel better about their lot in life, and free will meant she either took offense to their vicious barbs or listened to those who praised her quick wit and natural beauty. She chose the latter — which men like Mason found sexy.

No one likes a whiner.

While Mason tore through the cabin, Pearl had turned to her grumbling he deserved someone as fucked up as he was. She received it as a compliment. She wholeheartedly agreed with the wife of the love of her life. Mason and she belonged together.

She gave zero fucks as he pulled Reese to the edge of the dark shore of Lake Sunshine, chuckling when her feet met the water. The sandy beach area sparkled under the now visible moon, the obscuring clouds scattered in the twinkling sky.

“How long can you hold your breath, Reese?” Mason asked, circling her, “Where’s my shit?”

She looked at her, curiosity and sadness in her gaze, “Clover, did he kill our Sir?”

She sniffed, running her fingers through her ratty hair. Her entire body hurt from fighting. Cuts and bruises dotted her arms and legs, but the bleeding had stopped. She didn’t want to pretend she was anything but elated Bentley died.

Gone forever.

She licked her dry lips, gazing down into the bright blue eyes of a very twisted girl, “We both did. We ripped his throat out and did a happy dance when bled to death. I’d say it was the sweetest way for him to die.”

Reese shook her head, screwing up her features, “I knew the second he claimed to love you, you would not see the importance. He never harmed us, not really. You’re pathetic. You never deserved Bentley’s attention.”

It was the first time she had heard Reese use his name, and it gave her pause. She glanced over at Mason, who waved for her to do her thing. Did she need closure or were they just prolonging the inevitable?

“I had no choice when they drugged and kidnapped me, you stupid bitch!” she leaned in close, “What? Did he ask you nicely if he could beat and rape you?”

“Whatever… you wouldn’t understand,” Reese sounded defeated at last, “I won’t go back. I can’t.”

Clover stepped away, reaching for Mason. He was quick to pull her to his bare chest, which was still coated in Bentley’s blood. Was Reese capable of change, or would she come after her no matter what?

While they eyed each other, silently asking each other if they were prepared to end another life, the weirdo began digging her hands in the soft sand. She jutted her chin to make him aware of the girl’s movements, growing concerned by her frantic shoveling.

A flash of metal.

“Gun!” she hollered, lunging to stop her.

“Die!” Reese screeched, attempting to unearth the weapon.

She punched her in the face, and Reese flew backward with a grunt. Mason snatched the handgun, tossing it in the lake. After a brief struggle, the girl sagged, resigned to the fact she couldn’t win against them.

“That’s where I threw your shit!” the lunatic laughed at them, pointing to the dark waters, “Sir planned for everything.”

Suddenly, a familiar figure stood behind Mason and before Clover reacted to warn him, he struck him in the head. She surged forward, wishing he hadn’t tossed the gun. If he became incapacitated, her odds of survival were nil. But she shouldn’t have worried, because Mason’s rage guided his actions. He somehow maneuvered himself so the man bowed over his right shoulder. His large forearms bulged when he pulled while twisting at the same time on the man’s neck.

CRACK!

“Oh, my fucking shit!” she bent at the waist as bile threatened to spew, watching Mason snap Grant like a twig. It was over so quickly she wondered if she imagined the whole thing until hearing the thump of his corpse hitting the ground where Reese cowered.

“Clover!” he rushed over, patting her down, “Are you hurt? It’s okay, baby. Take deep breaths. That’s it, count with me. One… in…. Two… out.”

After a few minutes, she calmed down enough to focus on Reese. The fight had left her sagging frame as she sobbed into her palms. It was a sure bet Bentley never planned on that happening.

“I need to leave soon to find help,” he murmured in her ear, “If you want to walk away…”

Clover peered into his eyes, which shone in the moonlight a rich amber color. She kissed him. He groaned, grabbing the back of her neck as he plunged his tongue into her mouth. She felt everything in his passionate kiss.

“I love you, although you’ve proven what a sneaky shithead you can be. You have a lot of explaining to do,” she grumbled, catching his flinch of guilt, “You either get a divorce and we live our lives, or you let me go.”

He clung to her, “Never. You’re mine, Clover. I won’t let you go for anything.”

She smirked at his palpable distress. They might have laid in bed designing imaginary plans to murder Bentley and his cohorts, but they’d accomplished it. After this, nothing would be the same. They broke the law, even though they defended themselves.

“What now?”

“We finish it.”

Reese shrilly screamed when Mason cut her ties with a switchblade. Clover seized her in a headlock, her body tight with anticipation. The tiny girl was no match for them both as they wadded out into the lake and held her under the lukewarm water.

Mason’s gaze never wavered from hers, conveying they were in this together. Reese put up quite a struggle for a petite thing. Clover placed her knees on Reese’s upper chest while holding her arms. Mason sat on her torso and legs, keeping her under the swallow depths.

It took three minutes for Reese Colleran to drown in Lake Sunshine.

Dawn crested the horizon when they reached the cabin a short while later. Mason had washed off Bentley’s blood, saying he didn’t want to give someone a heart attack when he ran for help. They found Pearl asleep on the porch.

Mason gave Clover a brief but meaningful kiss before leaving, addressing his wrongdoings, “I’m sorry for everything. For the secrets and lies. I swear I’ll spend the rest of my life making sure you never have a reason to distrust me. Pearl means nothing to me, and she’ll confirm we live separate lives.”

Ugh, now wasn’t the time to get into their trust issues so nodded, pushing him away, “Later. Just hurry.”

When Clover no longer saw Mason’s brawny form jogging down the dirt road, she moved inside to change her clothes. Her bag had been up-ended in the search for the car keys, but she picked through the mess until she located a clean shirt and a pair of shorts. When she returned outside Pearl was awake.

“Mason left to find a phone.”

She scoffed, rubbing brown dust off her cream-colored pants, “Great. What a nightmare.”

Clover had enough of her attitude, “Do you understand what happened last night, or are you too self-absorbed to realize we almost died?”

“Bentley wouldn’t have hurt us,” she fiddled with her tangled blonde locks, “I’ve known him for years. He’s a little…”

Was,” Clover interjected, “Bentley is fucking dead, and he was a monster.”

Pearl sighed heavily, planting herself on the steps, “I’ll tell the police what I know, that’s all I can do,” she finally looked up, giving her a critical once over, “So, you’re my replacement? Be careful. He hides his deviant side behind Amex cards and work. I wouldn’t have married him if I’d known how black his soul is. I got out as quick as I could, and you’d do well to do the same. Plus, a girl like you will wilt under his social obligations.”

Clover went to reply to the backhanded insult/warning, then decided she wasn’t worth the effort. Yeah, Mason’s elitist standpoint sucked sometimes, but no one was perfect. Did the woman have a brain fart, blocking out the fact they murdered three people while she took a nap?

Yup, better not rehash those fucked up details while waiting for the cops.

Turning her back, she walked to the end of the driveway to wait.



* * * * * *

“Again, when Reese Colleran followed you outside, where you made it to the lake, you ended up fighting in the water?” Agent Grey Mercer for the fifth time asked the same question.

Clover sat back in the squeaky plastic chair, holding a paper cup of cold coffee, “Yeah… it was her or me, Grey. Can you tell me how many knives you found in the cabin because she was kind of like a magician with those things.”

Grey frowned as he switched off his trusty recorder, “Clover, this is no joke. There are three dead bodies out there.”

She slammed the cup down, sloshing the brown liquid onto the table, “No shit? I was there. Those bastards tried to kill us in cold blood!”

He held his hands out in a surrendering fashion, “I realize it’s been a long twenty-four hours for you Clover,” he cleared his throat, “Off the record, what went through your head after learning Mason’s a married man? I noticed you changed your address to his residence.”

Her whole body deflated in exhaustion and repressed hurt, “I felt sucker-punched, but Mason’s intentions were to protect me instead of causing more angst after Bentley kidnapped me. I mean,” she let out a dry laugh, “I worked for him an entire year and never took a call from Pearl. Not once was her name mentioned in news articles.”

He rose and his back audibly cracked. He flinched as he shuffled towards the door saying, “The wealthy are experts at hiding unwanted secrets. All right, I’ll find out my orders for your case. Do you need anything?”

She just gave him a look. Although she liked the sympathetic agent, the only thing she needed was out of the police precinct, a scalding hot shower and rest. Her skin itched where forensic technicians swabbed her wounds. She felt filthy, inside and out.

After ten minutes or more went by, Grey and another officer came to release her. Mason stood strong and imposing in the lobby, dressed in one of his power suits. He yanked her possessively against his chest while two good-looking lawyers watched.

She blushed, “Hi… What now?”

He motioned to the silent men, “You were to lawyer up, babe. Why didn’t you listen to what I said earlier?”

Clover scowled, “I have nothing to hide.”

He placed a quick kiss on her forehead, “A driver’s waiting to take us home. We’re done. Self-defense. Pearl corroborated all of it.”

She had never been more grateful to see a town car before. She sank into the leather, nearly falling asleep before they were on the highway.

“Are you okay?” Mason wrapped her in his arms, forgoing the seat belts.

“I honestly don’t know. It’s not like the last time I escaped Bentley.”

“Still love me?” his tone sounded off. Maybe he expected her to tell him to go to hell, which crossed her mind, but their vindictive actions solidified they belonged together.

She needed space to decompress. So much had happened and her brain hadn’t caught up yet. While glad to not be behind bars, there would be repercussions for their crimes. Her parents had no clue what Bentley put her through. If they learned their only daughter was a murderer, her mother would never speak to her again!

She sighed, “Still love me? What if they arrest us?”

Mason pulled her onto his lap, his brows drawn, “Never a possibility. It’s already settled. Done and dusted.”

What?”

Wow, guess money really buried problems.

He gripped her chin, keeping her in place so she read every heartfelt emotion to cross his handsome face, “I have never loved before I met you. You’ve changed me. I…” he glanced at the raised partition, probably realizing the driver could hear them, “I would kill for you. Rather spill my blood than see you hurt. Isn’t that what love’s supposed to be?”

She swallowed, holding back a flood of tears. How many times had she cried since she woke up in that dank room in West Wind, swearing she’d never break? Ha, these men found ways to crush her over and over. Still, she wanted to believe Mason was her other half. The one who understood her and placed her well being ahead of his own, as she did him. After all, they ended the lives of evil individuals who wouldn’t stop until they had no choice but to kill.

“I fell in love once. He treated me wonderfully… until he didn’t. He lied, cheated on me, hit me, and after I left him… I guarded my heart. You deceived me over and over! But you also were willing to give your life for mine. Even when I quit speaking to you, you were there for me.”

“I’ll always be here for you, but I am truly sorry I never told you about Pearl. We agreed to finalize our divorce before she scurried off to whatever hole she crawled out of.”

Clover just nodded, relaxing into his tight embrace. What more could she say on the subject? Dark secrets tethered them together now. Murder. Bentley tried to take everything from her. She shuddered to think of the plans he schemed for their future.

When they walked into his penthouse, she went straight for the bathroom. “Shower… On! Hot!”

The massive stall lit up in an array of pastel colors recognizing her voice and while she stripped and stood under the steaming spout Mason lingered in the doorway, before turning on his heels and leaving. Perhaps he needed space to process too.

She closed her eyelids, letting the spray cleanse away tears and crusted blood. She hit the wall, Bentley’s face right before taking his last breath floating to the front of her mind. His expression had been one of a devastated man. As if her abject horror confused him. Why hadn’t he left her alone?

Now he was dead.

Grant and Reese… So many lives ruined!

“Fuck, babe,” Mason broke through the madness, intense brown eyes pinning her in place as he joined her, “Look what they did to you.”

She sniffed, allowing him to fold her in his muscular arms, “We’ll heal. Right?”

“That’s right. Together.”

He held her for so long, she feared the water would turn cold. Then he kissed her, and her chaotic thoughts quieted. Found peace in his steadfast presence. Careful of her wounds, he washed and dried her off, leading her to bed.

“I can’t believe it’s finally over. And look at me, sleeping without a nightlight,” she dryly laughed after settling beside him to ease the tension, “I feel like I could lay here for a week!”

“Me too,” he sighed, the blackout shades hiding them away from the world, “You can’t tell anyone the truth, Clover.”

“I know,” she swallowed at his ominous tone. She wasn’t stupid enough to presume he’d allow her to confide in Aurora. The old adage three can keep a secret if two of them are dead, sprang to mind, and she shivered. “Don’t worry.”

“Get some rest, and when you wake, I’ll be here. Always. I love you.”

It took minutes for her to fall into a deep sleep, snuggled securely against his warm chest.

She dreamed of Reese reaching for her through watery reeds. Her fingers wrung her neck until she floated to the surface, a manic smile on her face the entire time.

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