I'M FUMING MAD.
If I were a cartoon, my ears would be gushing smoke. I can't believe he would get two innocent boys to guilt me into going with them.
I love kids. I would hate to make them cry—I would hate to make anyone feel bad; Devin knows this. I had no other choice but to say yes. And now, sitting in Isabel's and Lucas' Corolla with only three seats in the back, makes it harder for me to ignore him.
His knee occasionally brushes mine, sending a rippling burn through my core. His breath kisses my neck whenever he rests his head on the headrest. His eyes laser in on my skin, stinging it with need.
Need to kiss him, to erase the anger boiling up inside for his absence this past week and to remember the man who took me to the beach and made me laugh like I hadn't in a long time.
But I know I can't let this go that easily. If I do, he'd probably disappear again with no explanation. I'm willing to forgive him—I was taught that forgiveness and approval were the two main ingredients in living a godly life.
If Jesus freed us from our sins, who am I to hold a grudge on Devin for disappearing on me? However, I do need an explanation. I might be nice, but I'm not naïve and if his explanation is a crappy one, then our relationship will be truly over—if it isn't already.
"Vale, Camila, and Mom are meeting us there. The boys wanted to ride with the studs of the family," Isa says proudly. "Isn't that right, boys?"
"Where is this place?" I ask.
"Deerfield Beach," Lucas says. "The festival usually starts in February and ends around March, but they came down earlier this year."
It's the first time I hear him talk. Not even in New Year's when Isa introduced us did he say hi. He merely nodded and got back to drinking his beer. I've noticed he's a quiet man who keeps to himself most of the time. The more I think about it, the more I see us becoming great friends.
"Do you always go there?"
"Oh, yeah. Lucas and Bryan—Camila's husband, are very into this era. They actually met there."
"Vale isn't really into it, but she takes the girls there. They love dressing up."
"My sisters love to dress like princesses and they scream so loud," Dylan says, covering his ears.
I laugh. "We girls can get pretty loud sometimes, huh?"
"Yeah! I want Mom to give me a brother, but she keeps saying no. Now, I'm stuck with two screaming sisters."
"At least you have Gabriel; he's cool," I tell him.
"He and Uncle Dev are the coolest guys in the family."
Lucas clears his throat and everyone in the car chuckles but for Dylan who keeps talking, not realizing he hurt his other uncle's feelings.
"Once, Uncle Dev took us both to Disney World. It was a surprise and no one knew! Mom got so mad at him."
"Remember when he picked us up from school?" Gabe chimes in. "He bought us helmets and told us we were racing through the streets. He said bad guys were following us and we needed to get away from them." Gabe makes a car engine noise and surges his hand forward.
"Boys, enough with the stories," Isa reprimands.
I turn to Devin who's looking out the window, reminiscing the past as we leave the trees and passing cars behind. I touch his knee, my anger slowly dissipating as I draw his attention to my hand.
His gaze falls to mine. "That was very sweet."
He smiles sadly and looks in the rearview mirror, locking eyes with Lucas as something passes between them. We drive in silence for forty minutes, only listening to the boys playing with their plastic swords.
I look at Devin, whose forehead rests on the window, looking regretful. I find it hard not to want to comfort him, even breathing is hard when I'm next to him. His presence is overpowering; it draws the oxygen out of the room.
We enter Quiet Waters Park and after ten minutes of looking for parking, we get out of the car and walk to the main entrance. Everywhere I look people are dressed in their most luxurious attire.
Women are wearing long dresses with tight corsets that make their breasts reach their collarbone and the men are dressed in high boots and baggy shirts.
We've officially stepped into the sixteenth century and left the twenty-first century behind. Suddenly, I'm feeling out of place with my shorts and T-shirt. I think Devin feels it too, wearing jeans and a white shirt.
Isabel sighs. "You two are embarrassing the family," she gushes and turns us over to a clothing tent to get changed.
"Hon, I'm going to look for Ms. Elena and the others," Lucas says as he takes the kids by the hand in search of the rest of the family.
An older lady with white hair in a bun dressed in a black silhouette gown walks over to us. "Good morrow. How may I help ye today?"
"Ma'am, these two need to find something to wear."
"Come on," the lady says excitedly in a Yorkshire like accent.
She hands me a tavern wench ensemble and sends me off to the privy to change. I look to Isa for help, but she waves at me with a smirk and turns to help the lady look for Devin's clothes.
I slip the white chemise on and grab the olive and black double skirt. The tiny bodice the lady gave me looks too small to fit around my waist and breasts. I don't even attempt to try it on, slipping on my boots as I step out of the bathroom.
"You mustn't do that milady. We're missing the bodice," the lady astounds.
"I don't think it'll fit. Maybe another size."
She turns me around, places the leather corset on my waist, and laces the strings together. She pulls one last time, sucking the oxygen out of my body and hoisting my breasts to my throat.
"Thither!" She takes me to a full-length mirror next to the bathroom and attaches the second skirt to the bodice, letting the black peek out. The lady leaves me alone for a second and comes back with a baby breath crown, placing it atop my head. "Beauteous."
"You look so good, Genny!" Isa jumps in. "Devin's going to flip when he sees you."
I smile and look back at my wench self. Mom would have a heart attack if she saw me. My giddiness turns into something else when Devin steps out of the privy wearing a leather jerkin and black pants.
I'm beginning to think God put him in my life as temptation. I used to think I was Devin's forbidden fruit, but now I think it's the other way around. He gives me a shy smile and my breathing increase, making my breasts reach my chin when his eyes rake over my body.
"Fare thee well!" the lady says after we pay and waves goodbye, happily. Of course she is, this outfit cost me fifty bucks.
Isabel waves back. "We thank thee."
"These people are crazy," Devin murmurs, eliciting a laugh from my lips. Then I remember I'm supposed to be mad at him and stop.
Isa swats his shoulders. "They're staying in character, Devin."
"Whatever. I still didn't understand a word she said." Neither did I.
We walk around the park, passing through artisan shops selling flower crowns, homemade crafts, and jewelry. The air around us is filled with laughter, chants, and funnel cakes powdering with sugar. My mouth turns to water as we pass by a man roasting turkey legs.
"You want to share a turkey leg with me?"
"No," I say, walking ahead. My chest instantly tightens. I turn around to say sorry and see him frowning.
I know I don't have any experience with men or relationships, but I do know a relationship involves two people; it works both ways. I don't want to be mean and I don't want to ignore him, but I don't want to give in too easily, either.
Who knew love could be this complicated.
I would think that if he really cared about fixing this, he would've told me what happened during those days as soon as I walked through the door of his apartment. The fact that he hasn't, makes me feel like whatever connection we held disconnected.
The rest of the family is dressed in sixteenth-century gear. Devin's nieces wear fairy outfits like the three godmothers of Sleeping Beauty. They look too cute with their pointy hats and star wands.
"Genevieve, it's so nice to see you again." Ms. Elena kisses my cheek, giving Devin a warily look.
I smile at her. "It's nice to see you, too."
Bryan asks, "You've never come to one of these things before, have you?"
"Am I that obvious?"
"Yes," Camila says, her eyes turning white.
"Camila quit it!"
"Whatever. Come on, we're late for the joust. The boys want to watch all three acts."
"Are you okay?" Devin asks, putting a hand on my back. "She's such a bitch."
"I'm fine, Devin. You don't have to come to my rescue like a knight in shining armor."
He shakes his head dismissively. My heart contracts, I need to stop this. I go to apologize, but he runs to carry the three fairies in a bear hug. We get to the Xtreme Action Arena where the joust battle starts in five minutes.
"Are you two okay?" Valentina asks, seeing the tension between me and Devin who occasionally turns to look my way.
"Yeah," I tell her, though my stressing of the word gets me a scowl. "We're fine. It's nothing, really."
She bites her lip as if to keep her mouth from spilling secrets. "He's a very sweet man, Genna. Give him time."
Time? How can she ask that of me? I've given him more than enough time. All I want is a reason, a valid explanation for why he ignored me and didn't bother to call or text me to tell me if we were together or not, if he was alive or dead.
Trumpets sound high on the speakers around the arena. The King steps up and with a firm voice, gathers everyone's attention.
"Hither, hither. We are gathered here today to witness my daughter, Princess Marigold, choose a husband to run her empire. Who two men dare fight for Princess Marigold?"
"Sir Gregory of Cast and Lord Oliver of Trinidad, my King," says Princess Marigold as the two men sit graciously on their horses.
The two horsemen gather their shields and close their silver helmets as the horses get anxious to start. The flags are waved and the horses surge forward as the men align their lances.
Everything happens too fast.
One minute both men are on their horses, the next Sir Oliver from Trinidad is on the dusty ground. Cheers and whoops erupt through the stadium as the clear victor is announced and takes off his helmet, kneeling to Princess Marigold.
"Hither, hither," the King shushes. "He isn't the winner yet. My daughter is too precious to be given to a man who has only won once. The battle will continue in two hours and ye will see who holds the crown to the prestigious kingdom."
"Wow!" Gabe and Dylan say in unison. "That was awesome!"
The arena slowly starts to empty out and the kids decide they want to try archery. We stand up and head down the steps to the exit. The sound of a horse's hoof trotting toward us makes me turn around to see a knight gallantly riding his horse close to our group.
The horse stops when he reaches me and the knight holds out a rose.
"For ye, milady."
Isabel and Valentina shriek and encourage me to grab the flower. I look to Devin's crimson face. If he were a cartoon, smoke would definitely be fuming out of his ears. I flush as I take the rose from the man and thank him.
"That knight has no chance. She's with you, Uncle Dev."
I look at Devin and raise an eyebrow, mouthing, "Am I?"
Gabe pulls his hand forward. Yet again, I feel guilty, but of what when I've done nothing wrong? I didn't ask the man to hand me a flower. I did, however, ask Devin for answers and he still hasn't given them to me.
When my belly starts to rumble, I make the line in the concession stand to get a soft pretzel. A man dressed like Robin Hood bows down and hands me a rose just like the knight at the arena did. I curtsy and accept the flower feeling giddy with all the attention.
"I hope your boyfriend won't mind."
"She's taken." Devin takes the rose from my hand and throws it to the man. "Beat it."
"No. I. Am. Not. I'm sorry, Sir. Please, ignore this man."
"Look, lady, I ain't trying to get in trouble."
"Smart man," Devin shouts to his back, giving him the middle finger.
"Devin! Why did you do that? That was rude, not to mention childish."
"Childish?" he asks, stunned. "Two men flirt with my girlfriend right in front of me and I'm to blame for letting them know she's mine?"
"That's where you're wrong. I'm not your girlfriend. I haven't been for the past week!" I walk away from him, seeing that we've drawn a crowd, and forgetting all about my pretzel.
"You're still mad about that? How long are you going to be mad for?"
"I don't know, maybe a week?" I keep walking. To where? I don't know. But I want to get far away from him.
I walk faster when I hear steps behind me and turn a corner and another until I'm completely lost and I have two options: run into the woods or turn around and listen to more evasive answers. Before I get a chance to decide, Devin hoists me up on his shoulders and enters the forest.
"Devin put me down," I say sternly. When he doesn't I scream, "Devin!"
He goes deep into the forest covered by trees and fallen twigs that break with every step he takes. I turn in place and kick my legs but it's no use—my shouts are no use when there's no one around to hear them.
It isn't until my back hits a tree trunk that Devin puts me down. I make for an escape but his hands land on either side of my face, touching the bark.
"Is that what you want, a rose?" He corners me in and steps closer. "'Cause I'll buy you a bouquet—a fucking garden."
My breath hitches, the corset making my breasts rise and fall at his proximity. He nuzzles his stubble in the crook of my neck, slightly scratching my collarbone.
"Forgive me. I can't bear you being mad at me."
"Devin..." I've turned to mulch—soft and red with heat. He kisses the top of my breasts, making me wanton. "I can't bear you ignoring me for days."
"Forgive me, Genny," he pleads. I shake my head.
He tries to kiss me, but I resist, turning my head to the opposite side. "Stop, Devin. Talk to me."
"Later," he says, stealing a longing kiss.
This kiss is nothing like the Devin who kissed me under the fireworks or at the beach.
This kiss is of an arrogant man who wants to get his way.
Our mouths devour each other as his lips move against mine. My teeth fight with his tongue, denying passage into my mouth. We kiss and bite, tug and battle forming our own WWIII with every pull of our lips.
The kiss turns wet and hot until I'm breathless and moan in frustration. Devin takes this as an agreement and lifts me up against the trunk, dragging my skirt up. I wrap my legs around his hips, shamelessly rocking into him.
"I won't disappear again," he says in between kisses. "I just need space. Sometimes for a day or a few hours, sometimes even longer like a month. But that doesn't mean I don't wish to spend that time with you. That doesn't mean I don't wish to not need that time."
His words plead for forgiveness—acceptance, and I give into his kiss. I give into his apology. How can I not when this past week all I've wanted to do was kiss him? I love the way he kisses me like I hold his last breath and the only way for him to stay alive is to kiss me.
With everything that's been happening with my parents, all I want right now is to feel loved—cared for.
Devin places a hand on my ankle and slowly moves it up, sending a zap that flows through my entire soul until it begins to build moisture in between my thighs. He reaches higher and higher. I rock into his hardness because all I want at this moment is to relieve the itch building inside me. His index finger finds my drenched panty.
As I let out a moan, I realize what could happen next—right here, right now. The fact that the word God came out of my lips makes me stop and see how crazed I've become.
"Devin," I warn, but he's not listening, he's transfixed in sex. A flow of pleasure reaches from my toes to my sex. My legs tighten around his waist as I get ready to fall. "Don't stop."
"Hey!" a distance voice shouts. "Break it up or you'll be kicked out!"
Devin kisses me softly one last time before letting me go. I slowly untangle my legs from his waist and plant them on the ground. My breathing is high, my lips I know are swollen by the red marks on Devin's, and my cheeks are heated.
The security guard gets closer to us as Devin adjusts himself before turning around and holding up his hands.
"I won't touch the lady, Sir."
"Are you okay, Miss? Some people were complaining about shouts."
"Shouts?" Devin asks, shocked. "Don't you mean moans?"
I flush crimson.
"Come on, you two." He motions for us to leave the forest.
"Sir, can you just give us a few more minutes. I need to talk to him about something."
The man eyes me up and down and looks to Devin. "You've got five."
"If we're really going to do this—be in a relationship, then you can't do what you did ever again. I get it that you need your space and so do I, but at least text me so I know you're alright."
"Okay," he says quietly. "It won't happen again."