I thought that coming back here would be weird. But it is not. Sitting here in his room waiting for him is... natural. This room feels so much like home even after all the pain I have witnessed in here. I guess that is what makes it home. The good and the bad.
I called but he did not answer so I tried again and again. To the point when I approached a seriously scared Lil’Ed and asked him where Wood is. He had no answer but he didn’t dare oppose when I got in my car and drove to Valhalla. I have been waiting for Wood ever since.
And now he is here. My heart tightens at his sight. He is even more breathtaking than I remembered. My traitorous body reacts before my mind has the chance to even process the fact that he is here. It’s both emotional and physical what I am feeling. I long to sink into his embrace and at the same time I want to kneel before him and ask him to take me like he used to.
His look is filled with disbelief as I am a vision the bottle he is holding induced. He is just standing there, looking at me blankly. He looks tired, has thin lines under his eyes, his lips are chapped and- God! That’s when I see the bloodied bandage around his arm.
“What happened?” I rush to him and I take his arm in my hands.
There is a makeshift bandage around his arm that is soaked in blood. He is hurt! He is hurt and bleeding. All that I had prepared to tell him, all the thoughts and accusations I was ready to pour on him and give him the chance to plead his case are gone. All that matters is that the man I love, the one in my life, is hurt. That’s when I realize that all else is stupid and unimportant. I can’t even stand the thought that he is pain and even the flicker of danger over his head is unbearable to me.
I pull him to the couch and make him sit. He obeys meekly like he did that first night I stayed here. I don’t sit next to him and he looks up into my eyes with the expression of a hurt child. If it wasn’t for all that blood, I would have pushed him back and crawl into his arms. But I need to take care of him.
I go for the first aid kit he has in the bathroom. I come back and sit right beside him. I take out what I need and I unfasten the bloodied cloth. The blood has dried and pulls his flesh but he doesn’t even flinch. I take the antiseptic and I pour some on a gauze.
“This might sting a bit,” I warn and I try to clean the blood.
He says nothing, just breathes and I am focused on the job at hand. When most of the blood is gone, I see the wound. It’s deep. Maybe it needs stiches. I will wrap this as good as I can and then we can call Doc. He’ll know what to do. I finish by wrapping it with fresh gauze.
“I think you might need stiches. Doc can do it. What happened?” I look up into his dark eyes.
He is eyeing me with the same mesmerized look, mystified by my presence. It’s a look so full with emotion that I find myself blushing.
“You are here,” he whispers as if talking louder will make go away. “You really are here.”
I give him a faint smile. That’s how it was everyday with Wood. He was looking at me as if I was some kind of wonder that was gifted to him. Perhaps, not the poor substitute of a love unrequited. Perhaps...
“My kitten is here. Am I dreaming?”
“I am here Wood. What happened to your arm?”
“Never mind that. It’s over.”
“What is over, Kyle?”
Me calling him with his real name breaks the spell he is in. He moves and cups my face with his big hands. That sweet skin-on-skin contact ignites the dormant fires in me and I am like a volcano erupting after centuries of sleep. I bite my lip to keep a moan slipping through my lips.
“Tamie,” he says my name like a prayer. “Why are you here?”
Truth was I have no idea why am I here. After Rage left, I was drawn here as if a secret tether holds me anchored here, to this very place. No, not the place. I can’t lie to myself. Am I irrevocably tied to this man no matter how much I want to stay away.
My stupid heart refuses to listen to all the compelling arguments my mind poses. My soul has moved passed the fear I had of men and is convinced that this radiant but tainted soul is its other half. I try to be angry, I really try but as he takes my hand and kisses the back of it, I can’t.
“I am sorry I hurt you, kitten,” I melt at the sound of my nickname. “If you are here to punish me, do so,” he moves a bit away from me. “I deserve that and a lot more. But know this, Tamie. I have never loved anyone in my whole life like I love you.”
With those words, he puts more distance between us, withdrawing to the other side of the couch, placing his elbows on his knees and letting his head fall. Wood, Kyle...
“I think...” my mouth speaks before I form the thought. “I think five is a good number.”
He looks up to me and scowls. He looks so adorably forlorn, so charmingly cute that I can’t resist a true, wide smile.
“I have forgiven you three times. This will be the fourth. I will give you one last chance.”
He leans back in surprise. My smile goes wider.
“No, Tamie,” he goes back to his dark place inside.
“I will hurt you again. Not five but a thousand times more. And each time I will tear your soul little by little till it will be too late to save anything. I can’t do that.”
“Oh, I will. That’s who I am.”
“You are the one that saved me and brought me out in the world, that showed me what it is to truly live not just survive. You made me feel like I was worth more than I was forced to believe I was.”
“I am the one that lied to you and hid things. The one that made you cry and leave and suffer. I am the one that betrayed all that trust and love.”
“Well, that’s true,” I lift a brow.
He tries but can’t fight it all the way. His tight lips curl into a faint smile.
“But you cook so damn well that I think I can live with all that.”
His smile is full now. That real smile of his that makes his face light up like a child’s. For a few moments we just sit there, one opposite to the other.
“It is true. I am a damn fine cook.”
“I mean, you did hide that you had the hots for my sister but then again your chocolate lave cake is absolute heaven so...”
“And you haven’t tried my baklava. Not to boast but it’s at least worth forgivingsaying that you look fat in those jeans.”
“I don’t look fat in those jeans!” I pretend I am annoyed.
“Not now, but by the rate you consume lava cakes, you will soon enough,” he chuckles and my heart flutters at the sound. “And I will love you just the same.”
That last sentence fills me with joy. He is not lying. He does love me. He truly does. And deep in my heart I know he loves me, not Iris’s sister. Me. With my dark past that taints my present, the scars on my soul, the self-doubt, the fears and agonies.
“Kyle,” I move closer.
“Tamie, listen,” he shakes his head. “About... Iris. It’s true, I was.. But it wasn’t like-”
“I know. Rage told me.”
“He came to see me.”
“He said I should forgive you and come back?”
“You seem to have some difficulty wrapping your head around that idea.”
“That’s cause I do. That motherfucker wanted me dead every day and now he... Are you sure it was Rage?”
I throw my head back and laugh. After so long, I laugh with a joy that I thought I have forgotten.
“I missed you, Kyle!”
“I fucking missed you too, kitten.”
I see him weigh everything for a while. There is hurt and doubt in his mind but in the end one feeling prevails. A warm, absolute feeling that mirrors mine. He loves me, I know that. He loves me.
“God, Tamie,” he sighs. “I can’t live without you.”
“Are you sure about this, kitten? We’ve done this before and I fucking blew it.”
“All you have to do is never hide anything from me.”
“And make me some pancakes. I am starving.”
His look turns mischievous and my body tingles in anticipation. I have missed him, the connection, the meeting of minds and souls in utter perfection. But I have also missed his touch, his naked body on mine. I have missed our games in bed, the way he makes me lose control by taking control of every inch of my skin.
I am overdressed suddenly, he is too, we are sitting too far from each other and why the hell aren’t we touching each other to our most hidden places already. An urgency I have never felt before comes over me and I am shaking like a leaf.
He follows me with his look, he too on edge, a predator ready to jump me. But not before he gets my consent. I look at him through heavy eyelashes and my breath goes shallow and fast. I turn around and I put my wrists together behind my back. I hear him get up. I look over my shoulder and I moan under his flaming gaze.
“You want me to take you, kitten?”
The gruffness of his voice, the strain, the want, the desire makes my knees unsteady. I take in a breath and I lick my lips in anticipation.