The Crimson King Ch. 12byvelvetpie©
Thorne and Sammi
"This is Sammi Glass and for Bernard and everyone here at Channel 5, have a good night."
"And we're out."
Sammi took a huge breath and smiled shakily, accepting the congratulations of Bernard Porter, co-anchor of the five o'clock newscast. "Great job, Sammi. Welcome aboard."
"Thank you." She accepted the accolades of her fellow news people and stepped down from the podium, unhooking her earpiece and handing to the technician. It had been a long five months since the story of Richard Chambliss' love child had broken and made her a star. The station had immediately recognized her worth and thus began her rise to the weekend news anchor position.
This week, she was filling in Katie Stephens, who was out on maternity leave and she was so grateful that Bernard had been one of her best friends when she'd been a field reporter. His advice and support had turned the opportunity of a lifetime from a nervous experience to a professional love fest. While she was happy with everything, her insides felt strangely empty, as if there was something missing, other than a man in her life.
She followed her usual routine, previewing the raw film for the next day's stories, going over production notes and left at ten with a notebook full of items that she had to read over and research for the next day's airing. But when she arrived home, something was different. Everything was the same in the apartment, though. She checked every room and was relieved to find that all was in order, except that she still felt something amiss …
The shower was hot and steamy and she spent long minutes luxuriating in the therapeutic jets, letting her hands traverse her skin from shoulder to breast to thigh, smoothing her silky flesh until her fingers found their way into her pussy. Sammi gasped, her fingers rubbing her clit and slipping the others into her pot. As hard as she tried, she could never achieve what her body remembered. It remembered the touch of another and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't remember that person's touch.
"Sammi." She looked around the bathroom, wiping water and tears from her eyes and found no one. I'm losing my mind, she decided and toweled off, dressed in a robe and went into her bedroom, grabbing her brush to take care of her hair when she heard it again. "Sammi."
"Who are you?"
"You know who I am, love. You've been looking for me, haven't you?"
Sammi's mind struggled, caught between the real and the supernatural and knowing, believing that there was a difference in both. But still, she felt confused, listening to the disembodied voice and not knowing where it was coming from. "I – I don't understand."
"Yes, you do. Search your soul. You'll find me there."
"Who are you?" The patio suddenly filled with vapor and a handsome man breached the clouds, his deep blue eyes searching hers. Sammi felt herself drawn to the sliding glass door, her heart pounding in her chest as something familiar about him tugged at her. She raised her hands, touching the glass and mirroring him on the other side of the pane. "Who … "
Thorne waited for her response, his stomach twisting into knots. The news from Pieter had been devastating concerning the Beauregard's Solution and her memory but there had been one shining revelation: the powerful connection that they had shared as lovers could bring the memories back but she had to open the connection on her end before that could happen. Please, his heart whispered. Please remember.
"Thorne." She said softly. "Your name is Thorne."
Speaking his name released something inside her and Sammi closed her eyes, letting the connection open and flow, surprised at first to find him on the other end, then overwhelmed by the strength of the feelings that came through. She saw everything, everything that had happened between them and felt the love that they had shared. When she opened her eyes, she saw his tears and smiled, taking a step back. "Come in."
Joy raced through Thorne as he pushed the door aside and grabbed her, holding her as close as possible without harming her. Her arms curled around his neck and her scent filled his nostrils and he knew he was home. He couldn't help sobbing and was relieved to find that she was crying, too. "Oh, Sammi. I thought I'd lost you forever."
"Thorne … "
"Come home with me. Come home and make my life complete again." Thorne traced the curve of her lips. "I don't want to live without you."
Sammi sighed as he embraced her, his love filling the emptiness she'd felt. "Take me home."
"No, no, no! Jacob, how many times do I have to tell you that the small fork goes on the outside?" Pieter fussed, reaching over his lover and re-arranging the forks.
"Why does it make such a difference?" Jacob huffed. "They're just forks."
"No, they are not. This is a salad fork and this is a dinner fork."
"I think you just want to rub my ass." He murmured into Pieter's ear, giving the lobe a sensual lick.
"You may be right." Pieter growled back, turning Jacob in his arms and giving him a deep kiss. Jacob melted against him, his hands moving through Pieter's silver hair. "I love you."
"I love you, too, old man."
"Geez, will you guys get a room?" Thorne laughed as he watched the byplay with a smile. "Pieter, the table looks fantastic. You've outdone yourself this time."
"Hey, I helped!" Jacob said, stamping his foot like a petulant child but smiling mischievously.
Thorne laughed again, clapping Jacob on the back and they hugged like brothers. "You've helped a lot, Jake, and not just with the table." Pieter blushed at the reference and went to busy himself in the kitchen. Jacob finished fixing the forks and straightened the napkins. "I've never seen him happier."
Jacob grinned. "I never thought it would happen to me, Thorne. I never thought I'd find somebody as wonderful as Pieter."
"He feels the same about you, you know." Thorne moved closer, whispering. "Did you give a thought to what we talked about yesterday?"
"Yes. I went to the store yesterday."
"Excellent. It's a triple."
Before Jacob could speak again, the doorbell rang and Thorne grinned. "They're here." He went into the foyer and returned in minutes, escorting Mary, Leon, baby Morgan and Sammi into the dining room. Pieter came rushing out of the kitchen and took the baby, making her squeal in delight as he raised her in the air.
"Take it easy, Uncle Pieter. You're going to scare her to death."
"Not a chance." He smiled at Leon, then cuddled Morgan, tickling her belly before returning her to Mary. "Morgan will never be afraid of her Uncle Pieter."
Leon and Jacob talked for a few minutes, then everyone took their seats with Thorne and Pieter serving the grilled chicken breasts, garden salad with sun-dried tomatoes and sugar-sautéed baby carrots. Baby Morgan ate her baby food, then finished off a large bottle with a loud burp, much to everyone's delight. She gurgled happily and fell asleep in Uncle Jacob's arms.
"Here, I'll take her."
"No, I'm okay." Jacob smiled down warmly at the slumbering bundle. "I'll take her upstairs and put her down."
"Are you sure?"
"Absolutely." He stood carefully and headed down the hallway, all watching his depart with wide smiles.
"Jacob seems quite taken with Morgan." Sammi looked over at Pieter. "Thinking of adopting?"
"We've talked about it but nothing's in concrete yet."
"He looks so comfortable with her." Thorne commented. "Much better than I look. I'm still afraid that I'll break her or something."
"She's not a china doll." Leon laughed. "You won't think that when you have to change her diaper."
Everyone laughed and Thorne shook his head. "Let's hope that I miss that opportunity."
Jacob rejoined the gathering and they all moved into the library to enjoy a bottle of rare Spanish tawny port that Jacob had bought for Pieter. Thorne's gaze moved from Sammi's laughing eyes, to Leon's, dark and full of love as he smiled at Mary, to Pieter, whose aged eyes took pride in the love granted to him by his younger lover. Months ago, he was ready to leave the world behind; today, his world sat around him, all regular people who had taken him into their lives and breathed animation into his own.
He caught Leon's eye and gave him a small nod, then watched as Leon did the same with Jacob. All three men arose in concert and gave small bows to their confused partners. "We'll be right back." Well-hidden in a cupboard in the hall were three bouquets, the theme flower of each varied in respect to each partner: sunflowers for Mary, violets for Pieter and tulips for Sammi. Armed with their flowers, the men returned, each standing in front of his loved one. Jacob and Thorne turned to Leon and Leon turned to Mary.
Leon dropped to one knee and handed the flowers to Mary. Her eyes filled with tears as she gazed at the beautiful flowers, then met Leon's, which were also wet. "Mary, I've been with a lot of women in my life and more than once, I thought I had found a woman who would be my perfect mate only to be proven wrong. And then, I fell in love. I fell in love with a woman who didn't have all the answers and who had made mistakes; a woman who never looked back and whined over the hand she was dealt but instead, looked for ways to better herself. And I fell in love with a little bundle of joy … " He paused as the lump rose in his throat. "A little girl that smiles every time I look at her. The second greatest day of my life will be the day that she calls me Dad." A chorus of emotional ohs went up and Leon wiped away tears. "The first will be when you agree to be my wife. Will you marry me?"
"Yes!" Mary launched herself into Leon's arms and squealed happily as he slid the one-carat ring onto her finger.
Jacob took a deep breath and turned to Pieter who was crying openly, smiling at Leon and Mary. He commanded his lover's attention by kneeling at his feet but had to pause, his head bowed when his feelings overpowered his steely resolve and he looked into Pieter's love-filled eyes. "These are for you."
Pieter took the bouquet and burst into tears, causing Jacob to start crying again. "These are so beautiful, honey."
He took Pieter's hand, stroking the broad back and admiring the muscles underneath. These hands had single-handedly saved his life. The Beauregard's Solution had worked and he was no longer plagued with bloodlust but was plagued with lust of a different kind. At first, part of him had been repulsed at having sex with an older man but he had learned so much since then. He learned that it had nothing to do with age. It had to do with what was in your heart. Before he met Pieter, he didn't know what was in his heart except violence and blood. Now, everything was so different. Now, he had a future.
"Pieter, I have so much to say to you but somehow, it all seems inconsequential when I look at you. The words I have mean nothing compared to being able to sleep soundly at night, to work my ass off and come home to a decent pot pie, to make love to someone who truly feels love for me. I owe you so much … "
"Don't, Jacob. You don't owe me anything."
"Yes, I do. I do owe you but don't mistake my indebtedness for pity." Jacob moved closer, his hands on Pieter's knees. "I told you that you were a liar before and you're trying to lie again." Tears squeezed out of Pieter's closed eyes and Jacob pulled his head down, pressing kisses to his wet cheeks. "The reason I feel this way is your fault. If you hadn't been so caring and concerned about me, my heart wouldn't have responded to you as it did." He reached up and touched Pieter's eyelids, gently asking him to open them and their eyes met and held, both filling with tears. "I deserve to have a life, Pieter, just as much as you do. And we both deserve to be with someone who loves us." Jacob reached up and touched his face. "I love you, Pieter, and I would be so honored to spend the rest of my life with you." He couldn't restrain his sobs any longer. "Please don't turn me away again."
"Oh, Jacob!" Pieter dropped to his knees, scooping Jacob into his embrace and sharing his tears. "I'm sorry! I just … I was just scared to believe that what you felt for me could be real."
"You haven't felt it every time we … "
Pieter's finger shushed him and he smiled. "Oh, I've felt every time but you are so wonderful, Jacob, and I've waited for so long … "
"Then don't wait any longer." Jacob pulled a blue velvet box from his pocket and showed Pieter a thick gold band with a large sapphire seated in the center. "Please marry me."
Pieter hugged Jacob again, burying his face in his fragrant hair. "Yes, Jake. I'll marry you."
Sammi was almost bawling when Thorne turned to her. Leon and Mary joined Pieter and Jacob on the couch and were all embracing each other and crying, their eyes trained on the last couple. Thorne bent on one knee, laying the flowers in her arms and looking into the eyes of the woman that he so fiercely loved.
"Sammi, we've been through so much that's it's hard to know where to begin and I'm not a great speaker like these other two … " Leon and Jacob laughed, smiling at their partners. "But Pieter can tell you where I was before I met you, where I am now and the difference between the two. More than once, I had flirted with the idea of walking out into the sunlight to end the loneliness I was feeling."
The horror in her eyes was almost enough to make him break down but he fought against his emotions, willing himself to finish. This was much too important to melt into a pool of tears just yet. "You mean so much to me, Sammi. From day one, you weren't afraid of me. You accepted me as I was and never wavered. Do you know how rare that is?" She nodded her head negatively, squeezing his hand. "I asked you to come home with me and make my life complete again. What would really make it complete would be if you would allow me to continue to be your friend and lover and to add husband to that list. Will you marry me, Sammi?"
"Of course I will, Thorne." Sammi said softly. "I will not lose you again."
The foursome on the couch cheered and Sammi and Thorne were engulfed in their congratulations. Moments later, six champagne flutes were held aloft and six voices cried out together: "To love!"
The man with the limp stole slowly along the alleyway, hoping to put some distance between himself and the woman whose throat he'd just ripped out. His mouth and chin were still pained in blood but in the darkness, he knew that no one would notice. Just a few more yards ..
"There he is!"
Gunshots rang out as a bright light pinned him to the wall. The silver-tipped bullets sliced through his slender frame, burning holes into flesh that had long ceased living. The man writhed and tossed, white-hot fire slicing him with each shot, sending him closer and closer to the grave. Finally, the last few shots echoed as he fell forward, landing with an anticlimactic thud into the muddy, wet gullet of the alley. SWAT Team Members inched forward, guns still trained on the inanimate body and one stepped forward, checking the pulse.
The team moved back and Sammi Glass took a deep breath, pushing the face plate of the helmet up and speaking in a low tone. "The Crimson King has been killed in a firefight in the alleyway behind Uncle Ron's Jazz Hole." She watched as they turned the body over and smiled as she recognized the face as that of Domenico Roballo. "Our city is safe forever."