On Forgetting Ch. 10byewebie©
They climbed off the bus and retrieved their packs from the luggage compartment. Dingle wasn't a very big town, if you could even call it a town. It was more of a small village on the far southwest coast. A throwback to the picturesque simplicity of small-town Ireland, but it had a bus depot at the bottom of the Strand and the Mall, and the two emerged into the bright, seaside morning. There was a brisk, cold breeze coming in from the harbour, and Langdon was glad she packed warm layers for the weekend; they were going to need them.
She dropped her heavy camping backpack and stretched her arms over her head, rising up on her toes. Connor watched as her shirt and fleece pulled up in the front, exposing a flash of soft flesh and bellybutton. A grin crossed his face and as he crept up behind her and slid a hand across her stomach.
Langdon let out a shriek and a giggle as she folded over his hand to protect the vulnerable skin. "Your hands are cold!" she squealed.
He chuckled against the side of her neck. "I know. I thought you could warm them up for me." A small shiver ran through her and she laced her fingers through his to save herself from the cold. He rested his chin on her shoulder, "So where do you have us going from here?"
Her stomach rumbled loudly and she blushed. "Well, food first apparently."
"Are you on the menu?" he nipped at the skin on her neck.
She let out a squeak. "Behave!" She turned in his arms and grinned. "I figured we could find a place to eat here in town, then rent our bikes and head out toward Fahan. We have reservations at one of the B&Bs out there."
Connor raised a brow. "Do you think they have thick walls?"
Langdon's eyes widened and her face turned red before she smacked his arm. "Connor Kennedy!" She couldn't maintain a disapproving expression when faced with his roguish grin and they both dissolved into a fit of giggles.
He dipped his head, brushing his lips against hers. "It makes me so happy to see you laugh like that."
She bit her lower lip and gazed into his warm green-brown eyes. "You make me happy," she said shyly.
"Stick with me, kid," he murmured, kissing her. Her stomach growled again and they both chuckled. "Ok, I get it," he laughed. "You need food. I best keep you fed." He released her to swing his bag up onto his shoulders. "You pick, I'll pay." He grabbed her bag with one hand and her hand with the other. She squeezed it affectionately and tugged him down the Strand looking for a place to eat.
It was past midday when Paul got off the train in Tralee and glanced around the station. It was one of the older stations built in the early 1900s and probably never fully renovated. There were pigeons wandering the floor and Paul grumbled, kicking at the birds. Stupid birds, the hell are they doing inside anyway? Rats with wings.
He found the bus desk and rang the bell, barely keeping a frown from his lips as a rather overweight woman trundled over to the window. "Can I help you?" she asked, her voice heavily accented and he guessed she was from Cork.
"I sure hope you can, ma'am," he plastered a warm grin on his face. "I'm so sorry, but my brother and his girlfriend came through here earlier today. I was supposed to be here, but my plane was delayed in Dublin and now I don't know where they've gone. I had the bus route written down somewhere and I can't seem to find it. You haven't seen them by any chance, have you?"
He slid a picture of Lang and Connor under the divider. The woman picked it up with her pudgy fingers and squinted. "Sorry, honey. I don't think so."
"Well, shoot." Paul crammed his hands in his pockets and tried to look helpless.
"It was awfully quiet here this morning. Maybe Sean saw them," she suggested and turned over her shoulder, shouting into the back room. "Sean! C'mere! You seen two kids come through here this morning?" She turned to Paul, "They're American as well?" He nodded. She resumed shouting over her shoulder. "An American couple, cute as pie." An unintelligible string of words poured from the back room and the woman turned around with a big toothy grin. "He said that the two American kids went off to Dingle on the route 503 bus. Does that sound right?"
Paul took the picture back from her and smiled broadly. "You know, it does. You've saved my hide."
The woman blushed, "No worries, dearie. You need a ticket on the next one?"
He nodded and paid for the ticket, giving the woman a wink before heading out for toward the buses. "Stupid bitch," he muttered under his breath.
Dr. Maslow massaged his temples as he spoke. "It'll take me a few hours to pull up all of his reports. We don't catalogue by pathologist the same way with the SHOs. He shouldn't have been signing off on many by himself, but we've been a little understaffed and he was less monitored than he should have been."
The inspector in charge nodded. "Give me a ballpark figure here."
Maslow sighed and looked up at the man, his imposing figure made insignificant by the flashing temper in his eyes. "At least thirty."
"How much money would that make?" the inspector asked quietly.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Maslow shook his head. "I guess if someone could sell them, or had a buyer set up, I would figure at least fifty grand per organ."
"That's quite a profit there." He scratched the back of his neck, ruffling the salt and pepper strands in dire need of a trim. "Any idea where we could find him now?"
Maslow frowned. "He was supposed to be in this morning. He called in sick, but I got the feeling he just wanted the weekend off."
Inspector Hynes turned to the nearest officer. "Put a trace on his phone and credit cards. I want someone at his flat in the next fifteen minutes." He turned back to Maslow. "Stick close to your phone. If he shows up here, call me."
Maslow accepted the card from the inspector and nodded miserably, dropping his head into his hands. This was a career ender.
Langdon smiled into the sun as they glided down the coastal road near Ventry. She turned toward Connor and yelled over the sound of the wind. "There should be a beach up here soon."
Connor glanced over his shoulder and shook his head. He couldn't hear her, the wind in his helmet making it near impossible to hear anything. Granted, the scenery made up for it. The coast of Ireland was gorgeous. Here on the Dingle peninsula, it was rolling hills, green farmland, rocky shores, and Mount Eagle looming in the distance. It was breathtaking. He pulled his bike over as they reached a fork in the road and flashed Langdon a dazzling smile. "Sorry, what was that?"
Langdon skidded to a stop next to him and glanced up at the road sign. "Well it's good to know exactly how far we are from Dublin, but is that really necessary?"
Connor chuckled. "I'm thinking that way," he stated pointed to the right.
"Really? Why there?"
"It says 'Conor Pass.' That sounds like a place I should be." He grinned broadly and Langdon shook her head. "So where to, oh wise map guide?"
Langdon squinted at the sign. "We should head toward Ventry Cross. There's a beach there that would be a perfect place to stop for a snack, shouldn't be more than a kilometre that way."
"What is it with you and food today?" Connor reached out and tweaked her nose with his gloved hand.
Langdon wrinkled her nose. "Physical exertion makes me hungry."
Connor gave her a lop-sided grin. "Well, then I'll have to keep that in mind."
She stuck out her tongue and kicked her bike back into motion. "Last one to the beach is a rotten egg."
The road came to a rather abrupt end as they passed out of Ventry and right into the sloped dunes of the beach. Connor locked up his bike and helped Langdon do the same. Turning toward the shore, he let out a low whistle and took in the view. "Laney, this place is amazing."
Langdon grinned and gazed out over the water, propping her sunglasses up on her forehead. Ventry Cross was situated on the sandy beach of a south-eastern facing cove. The high cliffs at the entrance of the inlet sheltered the small haven from the wind and most of the waves that tended to dominate the southwest of Ireland. Even at the end of January, the sun was warm, and without the wind, it was pleasant provided one was warmly dressed.
She dug a sack out of her backpack and wandered out onto the high sloping sand. She dropped down and waited for Connor to join her, handing him a sandwich from the sack. They ate in a companionable silence, listening to the waves roll into the shore. When they had finished, Connor wrapped his arms around Langdon and pulled her against his side. "Ok, travel guide. We ought to get rolling again. I don't want you catching a chill out here."
Langdon snuggled against the fleece he was wearing, tilting her head to kiss the underside of his jaw. "Well," she turned west, gazing down the long beach. "Fahan is about five kilometres that way. And I was hoping to see Dun Beag and Caher Conor while we're out here this weekend." She twisted looking east and up toward the village. "And about fifty metres that way is our B&B that I was hoping to see sooner."
Connor turned and squinted up the road, catching sight of a cheery yellow building with large bay windows and a patio overlooking the bay. He grinned and dragged Langdon into his lap, kissing her softly. "You're brilliant," he murmured.
Hynes stormed into the flat searching for one of the Garda. "Tell me you have good news."
One of his young officers straightened. "Sir, he's not here."
"I can see that," he said, his dark eyes flashing dangerously.
The officer cleared his throat. "He took off this morning. Apparently he was upset and stormed out around nine. A neighbour said he only had a small bag with him."
"Do we have a picture and a description of what he was wearing?"
Hynes nodded slowly. "Good. Where did he go?"
The officer glanced around uncomfortably, "We're still working on that."
Hynes frowned, his mobile ringing and saving the officer from a scathing tirade. "Go ahead," he barked into the phone. A small smile pulled at the corner of his mouth, "Brilliant. Get me the name of someone down in Tralee." He ended the call and turned back to the scene officer. "Clean this place up and put a man on the street. If he comes back, I want to know."
Paul kicked the door closed and dropped onto the bed. He had gotten as far as Dingle and hit a dead end. From what he could gather, they came into town, and went... where? They didn't rent a car; they rented bikes. He had figured they'd be coming back to Dingle for the night. But they weren't registered at any of the local hostels, hotels, or B&Bs. Now, it was after dark, and his only lead was that they were going to look at 'the ruins.'
He pushed himself off the bed and dumped a bag of brochures on the floor, rifling through the brightly coloured leaflets. He tossed aside one after another: Fungi the dolphin, The Orchard, Mara Beo Aquarium, Cooleen Theatre, The Marina. He stopped, eying an Irish heritage flyer - Caher Conor. He flipped to the back and read the blurb describing the small beehive cluster.
Paul snorted. It would be just like them to go there. And, he read on, there's another place about a kilometre closer to Dingle, a promontory fort with multiple ruined walls overlooking the ocean. He would bet money they would go there. He'd just have to get there before them.
He set an alarm and turned to his bag on the floor, removing the semi automatic. He released the clip and studied it before reloading the gun. He was so close to getting free of this debt. So close.
Langdon groaned and rolled onto her back, "I can't believe I let you talk me into fish and chips."
Connor's hand slid across her stomach, bunching her oversized t-shirt slightly as he stretched out on the bed beside her, admiring the image she made - relaxing on the bed wearing an old pair of his boxers and a beat up t-shirt. "You have to admit it was the best fish and chips you've ever had."
She laid her hand atop his and smiled. "If you ever put a pile of chips near me again, so help me, Connor..."
He brushed his lips against hers. "You'd eat them in a heartbeat," he murmured. She chuckled as he kissed her tenderly.
"Mmn, true," her eyes fluttered back open, a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth.
He propped himself up on his elbow and ran his thumb slowly across her cheek then along the border of her lower lip. "How are you doing?"
"Aside from a serious food coma..." His fingers felt so wonderful as they traced along her skin; she wanted to purr. "I'm good."
"Just good?" he raised a brow, dropping his hand back to her stomach, plucking absently at the soft cotton of the shirt. He glanced down at his fingers, "It's just, you know, that after last night, I wanted to make sure that you're ok with everything."
He raised his eyes to meet hers again and Langdon felt a blush suffuse her skin at the memory. He was always concerned for her, always making sure she was happy; the attention made her blush even more. Then there was something in his eyes as he gazed at her, a vulnerability that spoke directly to her heart. She nodded slowly. "Yeah, I um..." Her face turned a dark shade of crimson as she spoke hesitantly, "Last night was fantastic. It felt like you knew exactly how to touch me, where..."
Connor chuckled darkly. "To be fair, you have given me months of instruction on the subject." Langdon let out a mortified squeak and buried her face in her hands, turning into his chest. He gently tugged on her wrists so he could see her face. "So, it was good sex, eh?"
She chewed on her lower lip. "Yes," she said softly. "Was I... I mean, did you?"
Connor crooked his finger under her chin and tilted her lips to meet his, kissing her ever so sweetly, his lips moving gently against hers, heating her blood and tugging a soft moan from her. He rested his forehead against hers, sighing. "Laney, there is absolutely no way you could leave me unsatisfied." He smiled wryly, "Is that all that's bothering you?"
Langdon shrugged, pulling on the sleeve of his shirt "It's not about the sex being good, Connor, you know?"
He cocked his head to the side. "It isn't?"
A laugh escaped her and she batted his arm playfully. "No. It was, but no. I don't know. I've never been in this position before."
He chuckled, "Missing memories aside, you should know that you've been in this position before." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
"Connor," she rolled her eyes. "That's not what I meant."
He waited, watching her as she struggled to find the right words. After a moment, he took her hand, studying each finger carefully as if to give her space to think, relinquishing control of her hand when she seemed to want it back. "What did you mean, then?"
A smile pulled at the corners of her mouth and she toyed absently with his fingers. "I'm just never the one who's unsure in a relationship. I mean, normally, I'm waiting for the guy to catch up. And you seem so sure."
"I am sure."
"This, you and me." She restlessly ran her fingers along his palm. "This feels right. Like, like I know that I'm supposed to be here. And I trust my gut. I do. Thank God. But being with you, it's wonderful, and it's comfortable, and you just look at me and it makes me feel all warm and tingly."
"Warm and tingly?" he captured her hand again, bringing her fingertips to his mouth, kissing each one. "Is this something you've remembered? Or something that you've just sort of stumbled across?"
Langdon sighed, her eyes growing sad. "I suppose stumbled across." Her eyes flit away, looking anywhere but him. "I wish I could remember all the firsts, all the little things, all the dates, all the nights we've spent together..."
"You will," he said gently. "I know you will. You just need a little more time."
She cupped his face in her palm, reassured by the look in his eyes. "I know," she whispered. "I know. And I guess... I don't know. I just. I like this," she finished quietly.
He tilted his head to kiss her palm, his eyes closing as she ran her thumb across his lips. When he opened his eyes, he met her gaze with an intense, heated green stare, turning to capture her thumb between his teeth. She smothered a giggle, her cheeks colouring. "You like this, huh?"
She laughed as he released her, his hand playing with a stray lock of her hair. "We um... We haven't been here before, have we?"
Connor pursed his lips. "Have we been here before? Here?" he pointed down for emphasis. "As in, here in bed?"
"No," she groaned, rolling her eyes.
"Here?" he stroked his fingers along her stomach, inching the hem up along her ribs. "As in you laying here, driving me slowly insane, looking sexy, teasing me." He stooped, his lips tracing a line up her stomach. Langdon sucked in a breath, weaving her fingers into his hair. "Or," he propped himself back up on his elbow suddenly, raising a brow, "do you mean, have I been playing along with this for the past day without letting you know that we've been here before?"
She bit her lip and nodded slowly. "Well?"
"Well?" He bent and pressed his lips to her stomach. Langdon expected a kiss, but instead got a big, wet raspberry.
She shrieked, flailing, and dissolving in a fit of giggles. "Stop! STOP!" she laughed, pushing at his shoulders.
Connor wrapped both arms around her waist, propping his chin between her breasts. He flashed her a devilish grin. "Come on, Laney. Do you really think I'd do that to you?" She shook her head. He turned his head to press a kiss to her t-shirt clad breast. "Good, because I wouldn't. We haven't been here before." He inched up, finding the exposed softness of her neck to kiss. "Well, not here, here," he hummed against her skin. "But," he slid a hand under the hem of her shirt. "I have been here before."
Langdon groaned, her body tingling as his hands warmed her skin. "And you said I was teasing you." She ran her fingers through his hair, playing with the strands that curled at the base of his neck.
He sighed, the sound rumbling deep in his throat. "You think this is teasing?"
The smile that spread across his face sent a wave of heat through her in a way that had her shifting restlessly under his stare. "W-what do you mean?" her voice sounded husky even in her own ears.
"Don't move," Connor growled. He kissed her nose and scrambled off the bed, rummaging in his bag and dousing all but the lamp on the dresser. He returned seconds later, straddling her hips and bending to capture her mouth with his. She sighed, sliding her hands around his shoulders. He pulled back slowly, enjoying the way she clung to him, groaning when she finally had to release him to drop back against the pillow. "Do you trust me?" he asked softly.
She blinked, startled. "What?"
"Laney," he brushed a kiss across cheek. "I want to... to do something, but you have to trust me."
Her brow furrowed. "What do you want to do?"
He kissed away the creases on her forehead and propped himself up on his elbows, gazing down at her. The expression on his face was tender but serious. "I want to tie you up," he said softly.
Langdon sucked in a breath, "You, you want to..."
"Tie you to the bed," he whispered, bracing himself slightly, expecting a sharp reaction from her.
Whatever response she was expecting, his blush wasn't it. He winced slightly, "Can I just promise that you'll enjoy it?"
She regarded him carefully, she would never have thought it, but something about the suggestion excited her. Excited and scared. If her hands were tied, she wouldn't be able to touch him, she wouldn't be able to kiss him when she wanted, she wouldn't be able to tease him, but she was damn sure he would be teasing her. He would be able to do whatever he wanted. And she would be vulnerable, absolutely, one hundred percent laid bare. And that was terrifying. And that was exciting. She felt colour creeping into her cheeks as her imagination began to fill in the possibilities.