What The Cat Dragged In Ch. 13bypsyche_b_mused©
Thank you for all the wonderful comments and speculations about the previous chapter, and thanks to all of you who are regular readers. Hopefully you'll enjoy this new chapter just as much as the previous ones.
The frail was anxious and had been since they'd pulled out of the driveway. Creed couldn't really blame her either. The whole thing pissed him off. With all the shit he'd done, he was the one who should have been a fugitive. She should have been...what? It had been so long since he tried to picture her as anything but his that now no images came. He just knew that she deserved better.
From the corner of his eye, he could see that she was knitting something again. He didn't give a shit what it was; he was looking for outward signs of the anxiety that permeated her scent. Her jaw wasn't clenched. Her hands didn't tremble or grasp the nasty-looking nest of needles any more tightly than usual. Her eyes were fixed on her work and every so often she'd stop to count. She might have been sitting on the couch next to him. It was perfectly ordinary and too fucking perfect.
He'd seen that kind of calm before, but only in wartime. Being under fire was one thing, you could wait it out or fight it out and you learned how to tell the difference if you lived long enough. Being under threat was something else. That shit could go on for an hour or a week or a month and there was no way to tell when it was going to end until it did.
Guys handled it different. Some didn't sleep, some slept all the fucking time. Some parked themselves in one spot and waited for something to happen. Others couldn't take the indecision and went looking to make something happen. Then there were those who just went on about life as if there was no threat looming. Usually it meant they had already seen too much shit. Already spent so damn much time under siege and learned how to go numb to the insidious agony of it.
She started to hum along with the Vivaldi that was currently playing. Even that gave nothing away.
She looked at him, a nervous little smile on her lips. "Sorry, was I humming?"
"Yeah, but it wasn't too annoying yet. You hungry?"
She glanced at the clock before she answered. "It's nearly lunchtime."
"Not what I asked."
A little shrug, her eyes turned toward the window as if she was suddenly fascinated by the scenery that was slipping by. "It's been hours since breakfast."
He recognized the deflection, but calling her on it wasn't going to do him a damn bit of good. "We'll stop in half an hour."
"Sounds good." Another flicker of a smile.
He gripped the wheel tighter. She was doing exactly what he told her to do and watching her do it made his teeth ache.
"Frail." He waited until she looked at him. "Pretend for other people."
She blushed. "Am I that bad at it?"
"No, but I don't wanna watch you fall apart before we get to Philly."
"Philadelphia in Pennsylvania?" The surprise registered in her voice.
"Yeah. Unless they moved it and nobody told me."
"I didn't think that was exactly on the way."
"It is when you're avoiding New York State as much as possible."
"I didn't realize you were planning to..." Some of the anxiety faded. "Is that where we're spending the night?" She seemed hesitant to ask the question. Probably because of the trip to Maine.
His shoulders twitched in a little shrug. "Thought about driving straight through, but I figured there wasn't any big hurry. Got any more questions?" He made sure to add a little snarl to the end, just because she would be expecting it.
She smiled a little, probably recognizing his pretense and following his lead. "No."
He could smell her anxiety receding. He couldn't say he understood why, but he wasn't going to question it either.
Somewhere in rural Connecticut, they changed vehicles again. Kelly was familiar with the process this time, so driving up to a seemingly ramshackle building in the middle of nowhere wasn't nearly as unsettling as it had been that first time. The black BMW 750i had a cherry undertone to the paint and an air of danger and power surrounding it. In other words, it had Victor written all over it.
She tried not to stare at it as he moved the luggage and covered the Escalade, but she didn't succeed. While she tried to keep out of the way, she wondered if he changed vehicles midway through every trip, and if he did exactly how many he had. She knew they weren't all like this. The old Chevy he'd driven from the cabin wasn't-
A sharp tug on her hair broke her train of thought and pulled her off balance. Kelly stumbled back into his chest. He supported her weight with his hand on her head. He nipped the sensitive spot just under her earlobe, leaving another stinging scratch. It made whatever she was thinking about seem monumentally unimportant. She leaned back into him. He chuckled and gave her a little shove.
"That staring's another habit I'm gonna have to break you of." He grinned and walked around to the other side of the car.
"I was trying not to stare." Kelly said when they were both inside.
"Well you were doing a shitty job of it." A little smile teased around the corners of his mouth and eyes.
"We left for Maine in a blue Impala that had seen better days. The change is taking a little getting used to."
He shrugged and backed out. "It's what people expected." He got out to close the doors and reset the codes. Kelly wondered how he remembered so many different ones.
"What who expected?" Kelly had her knitting out again, but it was sitting in her lap. She turned a little in her seat to look at him. Much of her time with Victor was spent in silence. She got the impression he liked it that way, and she didn't feel compelled to fill the empty space with meaningless chatter either. When he was in the mood to talk though, Kelly found that she would rather listen to him than do anything else.
"People in town." He maneuvered carefully on the dirt road and onto the small lane. "For the most part, people ain't really very observant, except when it comes to something that they think doesn't quite fit. They might not even know what about it seems off, but it sticks out all the same. They would take one look at this car or the SUV and wonder why I built in the middle of fucking nowhere instead of on one of the lakes. The Impala is similar enough to what most of them drive that it doesn't draw a second look or a second thought. I'm just another guy who works hard for his vacations. They forget me as soon as I'm out of sight."
"And in Maine the Impala would have stood out because people in town would have known that restoring the house was an expensive project."
"The Escalade wouldn't have fit in where we're going now?"
A little smirk curled the corner of his lips. "It would have, but this was on the way."
Kelly laughed and picked up her knitting again.
"What does Stan drive?" He asked after a few minutes.
Kelly got the impression there was more to the question than a way to make conversation. It didn't matter why he asked; it brought the image sharply to mind. "A dark green Aerostar. It had this big dent in the driver's door that was about the size of a basketball. I guess it had been there awhile, because the edges of one side of it were starting to rust. There was rust along the bottom edge of the sliding door too." She moved her fingers, as if drawing the shapes in the air. "I remember it looked like the bottom of an aquarium, with rocks and plants..."
"You remember the goddamn plate number too?" The sound of his voice pulled her back to the present. Curiosity was woven through the sarcasm.
"Would you be surprised if I did?"
He glanced at her. "I'd be more surprised if you didn't. Think it's changed now that he's important?"
Kelly thought about that for a minute. "I don't know. Part of the reason Stan kept the van with all the dents and rust and stuff was that he said the people he wanted to reach wouldn't see him as 'one of them' if he drove a better vehicle than they did. I'm not sure if he's going to stick to that, or if he'll decide that a person in his position won't look credible if he's driving a beat up minivan."
Kelly stood in the marble shower of the Philadelphia Ritz-Carlton and let the hot water start to untie the knots in her shoulders. The last few hours had been a study in excess, and while she was getting more accustomed to Victor's excesses it still made an impression.
The hotel had started off as a bank at the turn of the twentieth century. The elegance of that period had been maintained and blended with modern luxury. She'd fought not to stare at the soaring rotunda they'd walked into, or the sweeping staircases that lead to upper floors. The spacious suite they were given was comfortably appointed with beige and gold turn of the century furniture and was far too large for one night. The meal that he'd ordered from room service would have fed six people easily. By the time Victor was finished, the only thing left was the slice of chocolate cake he'd ordered for her. If she hadn't been so nervous from the minute she stepped out of the car it would have had a fairy tale quality about it.
Kelly rubbed the back of her neck and wondered if she was being paranoid about the whole thing. She wasn't one of the FBI's most wanted, nor was she some kind of criminal. Even people who were hid in plain sight for decades. If someone did notice, so what? She was an adult, the police couldn't get involved. Victor could handle just about anything else. When it came right down to it, he could probably handle the police, too. She smiled a little. All of this worry was probably an exercise in ego and imagination.
Now all she had to do was repeat that over and over until she believed it.
Kelly emerged a few minutes later wrapped in one of the hotel's thick terrycloth robes. The dim light from a single lamp led her to the king-sized bed. She laid the robe over a nearby chair and pulled the covers back. He grabbed her wrist.
"What the fuck is that?" His eyes swept over the dark green silk nightgown she was wearing.
"A nightgown." Kelly blushed and wished there was more to the spaghetti-strapped knee length garment.
"I can see that. I don't remember seeing you ever wear it before." He let go of her wrist.
"You saw it." She slid into the part of the bed he wasn't currently occupying.
"When we were at the mall a couple of weeks ago. I'm surprised you don't remember. That saleswoman almost had heart failure when you walked into the dressing room." Kelly blushed again at the memory.
He grinned. "She didn't seem to mind so much when I handed over my credit card." He moved closer and started fingering the silky hemline. "Why'd you wait 'til now to wear it?"
"Because..." Kelly squirmed a little as he exposed more of her thigh, his body moving forward until his face was inches from hers. She found she couldn't remember what she was about to say. "Because..." She tried to remember her reason.
He advanced when she retreated and retreated when she advanced, always maintaining that tantalizing distance between them.
"Well, frail?" His voice was a soft purr, his eyes fixed on hers. One claw started to slice through the fabric.
"Don't." The word came out in a strangled whisper. Her heart was pounding so loudly, Kelly was sure that he could hear it.
"Why not?" His hand moved carefully, cutting through the silk, but leaving her skin untouched.
"Won't have anything to sleep in."
"So? You sleep naked all the time." His lips teased close to hers, just for a second, then he pulled away again. "I like it that way. Means less work for me when I wanna fuck you."
"Really?" He shifted so that Kelly could feel his erection against her leg. "'Cause I'm just as hard as always and I can already smell how wet your little pussy is." His tongue teased her lips, but he backed away again before Kelly could draw him into a kiss.
He sliced through the left strap and then the right one. It was a losing battle. Her head was spinning. "Still bruised."
A dark chuckle. "Think I don't know that?" One claw traced sharp, quick lines down her sternum and over her quivering tummy. "You're still hungry to have me inside you though, aren't you frail?"
The silk separated and slithered off to her sides. He grinned again at the sight of her hard nipples.
He bent his head and blew cool air across the right one. The jolt of sensation traveled like an electric pulse to Kelly's core. She whimpered with need.
"Still gonna deny it?" He moved and blew over her left nipple.
"N-no." She moved under him, opening her legs wider, offering herself.
He looked down at her, appraising. "Uh-uh frail, begging don't count 'less you're on your knees."
He moved away from her completely, a self-satisfied little smirk on his face. Kelly turned over onto her stomach and then drew her knees up under her.
"Wider." She could hear the wide grin in his voice.
Kelly buried her face in the pillow and displayed herself. Eternal seconds crept by as she waited, exposed.
He clucked his tongue. "So swollen and needy already."
Without warning his tongue lightly traced her pouting sex. It was almost enough for Kelly. One large hand stroked down her spine, his hand settling lightly around her neck from behind. She felt his weight shift behind her. She whimpered into the soft pillow. She felt him pressing against her entrance with a careful, steady pressure. His hand started massaging her neck.
"Relax for me." It was a command, like it always was. Like always, Kelly didn't question it, she just did her best to do it.
The way he touched her made that easier. His hips rocked slowly until he was completely sheathed inside her. Kelly quivered around him, her little whimpers of need hidden in the soft pillow. Need overwhelmed uncertainty about the readiness of her own body. She pushed back, encouraging him. His claws dug into her shoulder, her fingers dug into the mattress.
As his rhythm built, the mundane pieces of life seemed like nothing more than stuffing to fill the spaces between times when he was inside her. She alternated between riding the cresting waves of pleasure and drowning in the blending of emotional and physical sensations. She hid the loudest of her pleasure cries in the pillow, but Victor wasn't prone to that kind of modesty. If there were others on that floor, they certainly heard his final roars of passion and release.
Afterward, Kelly fell into a light doze for awhile, but the strangeness of the bed and the direction she was facing served to keep her from getting the deep sleep she wanted. His body was a solid wall of muscle behind her, his chin resting on top of her head. She tried to move out from under his arm, but his grip tightened.
"Where d'you think you're goin'?" His voice was gravelly.
"I'm on the wrong side of the bed."
"What the fuck does that mean?" The pads of his fingers traced the scabbed scratches on her tummy.
Her shoulders twitched in a little shrug. "Don't know. I always sleep on the other side. I guess I'm used to it." She shifted again, but he held her in place.
"Door's on that side. Stay where you are and go to sleep."
Kelly relaxed her back into his chest. "'Kay."
"And I ain't gonna wait two hours for you to get your ass in gear tomorrow morning." The soft tone and gentle way he squeezed her breast were in sharp contrast to the words themselves. It brought a smile to her lips. She turned her head and brushed her lips over his bicep.
"I'll have one less nightgown to pack anyway."
She felt his chuckle as much as she heard it. "Shut the fuck up."
He'd thought about taking her to the apartment in Columbus, but told himself that the commute between there and the grandparents' place would exhaust the frail. It was a good, serviceable reason that just happened to be complete bullshit. In his mind, Creed divided his properties into places to sleep and wash off the blood in between jobs and places to live for awhile. The frail was part of his life, not work and he would be goddamned if he was going to bring her across that line.
The grandparents lived in a scenic, rural area. It didn't take much to find a vacation cottage on the edge of a small lake. The agent told him that normally it was only rented out in the summer, but swore that it was livable in the winter as well. Looking around the single cold, room he wasn't at all sure what that pushy bitch had meant by 'livable'.
"It's not that bad," Kelly said.
Fucking frail could damn near read his mind. He walked over to the wide bed. Like all the other furniture, it was made out of polished logs. At least it felt as solid as it looked, and the linens had been changed. "Yeah, well, I guess it'll be alright for a few days."
"Give me the keys; I'll start bringing stuff in."
"Don't' bother." He got up and started opening cabinets. "I'll get it after we get back."
"I thought it would be nice to have things put away when we got back tonight-"
"And how long's that gonna take you? Ten minutes?" She was being weird as hell.
"True, but we need groceries for breakfast anyway. With putting those away-"
"We gotta go through town anyway; we'll eat at the diner tomorrow morning. What the fuck is wrong with you? You haven't stood still since we got in the door."
"Nothing." The answer was too quick and too decisive.
"All this time and you're still gonna try lying to me?" He sat on the arm of the sofa and caught her wrist when she walked by. He made her stand still between his legs. She looked at the threadbare rug under the coffee table as if she was fascinated by the southwestern style pattern.
He grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him. "We can stand here all fucking night and you know that's gonna piss me off, or you can tell me what's wrong with you."
Her lips moved as if whatever words she was considering left a shitty taste in her mouth. He let his claws bite into her wrist just enough to sting.
"I'm not what they want."
He groaned. "Frail-"
"They tell you that?"
"Well no, but-"
"Then what the fuck are we standing around here for?" He asked.
"Because every time we talk they act like everything I'm saying is wrong."
"Look, I don't know anything about all that family shit and I ain't even gonna try to get into your head on this one. You don't want them, they don't want you, we go back to Maine." He shrugged and looked away. "Maybe out to Washington State if you wanna take a look at some mountains for awhile. Either way, leaving now is pretty fucking cowardly if you ask me."
She opened her mouth again, but his phone rang before she could say anything. He checked the number.
"Your grandfather." He held it up so that she could see the number. "You wanna go or you wanna run away?"
She shrugged. "Stupid to come all this way and not even say hello."
He answered the phone and let her go. "Creed."
At a little after seven-thirty, they pulled into the yard of a neat, white farmhouse with a wrap-around porch. Kelly could hear her heart pounding in her ears as the car moved slowly down the rutted driveway. An outdoor light came on, illuminating the frozen dirt. He stopped in front of a brick walkway.
She looked at him, suddenly terrified. "You're coming aren't you?"
"After awhile. Too fucking cold to sit out here all night. 'Sides, it ain't me they wanna see."
Kelly still hesitated. He grasped her wrist and nipped the tender inside, leaving a bright red scratch. It was a strangely comforting gesture. She gripped his hand and managed a little smile.