It’s murder by numbers one two three
It’s as easy to learn as your ABCs
Now if you have a taste for this experience
and you’re flushed with your very first success
Then you must try a twosome or a threesome
and you’ll find your conscience bothers you much less
Because murder is like anything you take to
It’s a habit-forming need for more and more
You can bump off every member of your family
and anybody else you find a bore
Because it’s murder by numbers one two three
It’s as easy to learn as your ABCs
Now you can join the ranks of the illustrious
In history’s great dark hall of fame
All our famous killers were industrious
at least the ones that we all know by name
But you can reach the top of your profession
If you become the leader of the land
For murder is the sport of the elected
and you don’t need to lift a finger of your hand
Because it’s murder by numbers one two three
It’s as easy to learn as your ABCDEs
~ Murder By Numbers (The Police)
“You’re the pilot?” Tabitha asked. “You can fly a helicopter…”
“I can also fly a plane, a jet, an’ even a kite.”
“So the mountain is going to open before we hit it, right?”
“Gee, I hope so.”
Tabitha tugged at her seatbelt harness and then found things to hang on to, just in case. Creed worked the controls quickly and the noise level became uncomfortable as the rotors roared to life. She was sure he rushed them at the wall to make her wince. It opened before they hit it, but they were soaring over the snow, mountains and trees before she could get her breathing and heartrate back to normal.
“Yee-haw, right?” He grinned at her.
She struggled not to glare at him. “What is this thing?”
“A helicopter, we established that.” Smirking at her frown, he added, “It’s a twin engine Sikorsky S-76. They had one in black – I couldn’t resist.”
“Who in their right mind would sell you things like this?”
“Folks not in their right minds, natch, or just greedy ones. Some people are more int’ turnin’ a profit than they are fussin’ ‘bout what tha buyer might use a toy like this fer.”
“So you own a jet and you’re going to fly it yourself to take the cat to Nepal?”
“That’s tha plan. Got lotsa jobs comin’ up; gonna work ‘er in an’ try t’ make tha fuel costs make sense. Ya weren’t readin’ when I was on tha phone, though, so ya already know that.”
“Where do I fit into that plan?”
“Depends on how our li’l jaunt in Vancouver goes, Tab. Lotta that’s up t’ tha choices ya plan t’ make.”
She watched the pristine white world go by and whispered, “Do I really have a choice? Besides ‘do what you say or die’?”
“Most folks prefer tha easy choices, don’t they?”
“How am I supposed to learn how to not get killed by you when it could happen at any time, in any mood, in your sleep, or just whenever your brain gets thrown out of your ear?”
“It ain’t that complex – just like flyin’ this thing. Ya take it on, ya practice. Ya figure out which buttons t’ press, which not t’ an’ ya keep yer hands on tha stick most o’ tha time.” His fingers, claws peeking out, stroked up and down the control stick.
“I’m glad one of us finds this humorous.”
“Quit yer bitchin’, yer still alive, ain’tcha? Gonna show ya how t’ have fun when we get there; might even show ya my soft li’l underbelly a bit.”
Tabitha stared ahead to watch the frozen landscape go by beneath them. I’m wearing the designer clothes of a woman he probably raped and brutally murdered for no damn reason … maybe just because he figured her clothes would fit me. She was just the latest one, too – and I’ll likely be the next. She shivered in the dead woman’s coat. My only real shot may be in the middle of the job, but first I get to play house for a few more days with the sadistic psychopath. When his hand reached over, the backs of his fingers brushing her cheekbone and stroking her hair, she managed not to flinch or move away.
“Ya look good with tha cold flush on yer cheeks, Tab. Tha cornhusker’s a moron, but I’m bettin’ ya don’t want me t’ kill ‘im fer ya.”
“Not much can hurt him in a fight.”
“Yeah, that’s only while he’s cannonballin’ – I’d sneak up when he’s balin’ hay or some shit.”
“Could we switch to a topic that isn’t about gutting my friends, my ex, or me? Or anyone else?”
“Sure, but we already know ya got suck taste in tunes. Ya like Monty Python?”
Biting back a sigh, she didn’t look at him. “Yes…”
“Tha dead parrot gag an’ tha Spanish Inquisition just kill me, but Holy Grail is their best.”
Tabitha could feel it everytime he looked over at her, but she didn’t want to see if he was smirking at her or not. She closed her eyes and turned her face away from him. “I like the fish-slapping dance and the Spam song,” she muttered. When he chuckled and began to sing it in a slightly off-key baritone, she couldn’t help the smile that stretched her lips. I am going insane … after another few days with him, I may be too looney to notice when he kills me.
~ ~ ~
She woke when she realized she wasn’t moving anymore. Then her door opened and all the cold came in.
“Wakey-wakey,” Creed told her. He reached in to unbuckle her and just picked her up and set her on her boots.
They were in a huge hangar full of other helicopters, planes, and vehicles, including a passenger jet. Men who looked like airport workers were unloading their luggage from the helicopter.
One of the men trotted up like a loyal, eager pet. “Mr. Creed? Which car do you and the lady want to take, sir?”
“Yer pick, Miss Smith,” Creed told her.
Tabitha looked around so that she wouldn’t gawp at him. The vehicles in the hangar were all expensive. “That one,” she said, and pointed.
“Ya heard tha lady, she wants tha Bugatti,” Creed told the man. He took the keys when another man brought them to him. “Send tha luggage t’ tha hotel, it ain’t fittin’ in that thing.”
“Yes, Mr. Creed.”
“You don’t have to tell them what hotel?”
“Nope. Come on, Tabitha, before ya freeze t’ death. The car’s seats are heated.”
She followed him to one of the craziest sports cars she’d spotted. It was black and maroon with silver accents and she wasn’t sure if it could fly or not. “I’ve never seen a Bugatti that looked like this.”
Creed snorted. “How many ya seen on tha regular? It ain’t a production model, it’s a concept car. Bugatti Veyron EB 18.4. T’ be honest, I thought ya’d go fer tha Rolls.”
“I’ve been in a Rolls Royce; ‘Cueball’ has tons of them.”
He opened her door for her and she managed not to hesitate in confusion. She watched him get into the driver’s seat, amazed that he fit. His hair brushed the ceiling. He started the car and the engine purred, louder than the driver.
“Belt up, darlin’.”
She clicked the seatbelt quickly, noticing that he didn’t bother with his. “Where are we?”
“Vancouver International Airport. Won’t take long t’ get int’ tha city proper, not in this beast.”
“All those men scrambling around waiting on you, calling you ‘Mr. Creed’ – do they all work for you?”
“They think they work fer my banker, but yeah. Every damn piece o’ metal in that hangar belongs t’ me. When they know yer rich, they tend t’ scurry t’ please ya. Are ya impressed yet?”
Tabitha studied him as he drove. The black suit and huge tailored coat, fresh shave, long hair swept out of his face and the alien feral attributes and massive size of the man was impressive, but it was the behavior change that really impressed her – and made her suspicious.
“I am impressed,” she said, remembering to answer his raised eyebrow. “Where did ‘Miss Smith’ and ‘the lady’ come from?”
“From tha flipside o’ me I said I was gonna show ya. I’ll even try t’ remember not t’ threaten ya every five minutes.”
“Since you already got some really good ones in before we left…”
“Natch. Oughta hold ya fer a bit, huh?”
She should have paid more attention to her surroundings as they drove into the city, but she kept stealing looks at him instead. Always had a thing for watching a handsome man drive a sports car…
“Yer gettin’ a bit flushed, Tab – still cold, or are ya gettin’ hot now?”
Fuck it, she thought. She reached across the car and palmed the muscles of his thigh. “I hope we’re going to the hotel now.”
She undid her seatbelt and leaned into him, her hand sliding to cup his erection. “Good.”
He began driving faster, but controlled the car like a pro. “Wait’ll ya see tha suite.” She squeezed his bulge and he growled with hunger. “Keep that up, darlin’, an’ I might be fuckin’ ya in tha lobby.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“Uh-huh, miss ‘I don’t like t’ be watched’. Ya finally done grousin’ an’ ready t’ relax an’ enjoy fer a bit?”
“Since I may never get out of this city alive, I plan to go out with a bang.”
For a reason she couldn’t possibly guess at, he stopped smirking and fell silent. After a moment, feeling awkward, she removed her hand. The car swerved around traffic more aggressively and she fumbled to buckle up again.
“Did I fuck up somehow?” she whispered.
“I won’t jaw ‘bout guttin’ people if ya agree t’ stop bringin’ up dyin’.”
Sinking lower in her seat, her hands in her lap, she muttered, “Okay. I’m sorry.”
He reached over, picked up her hand and brought it to his mouth to kiss the knuckles. “Lemme try, huh?”
She swallowed. “Okay…” He put her hand back on his thigh and held his over it. Tabitha stared a moment at how tiny her hand was in his. “What are we going to do to relax and have fun?”
“Got some ideas, things I already know ya like. Ya even get t’ leave tha bed some o’ tha time.”
She smiled, shaking her head in mock amazement. “Where are we staying?”
“Four Seasons, booked tha Royal Suite; it ain’t tha biggest, but thought ya’d like tha harbor an’ mountains views.”
“Sounds expensive – I’m in.”
“Takin’ ya shoppin’ too, since ya won’t shut up ‘bout yer hand-me-downs. I like seein’ tha diamond on ya, though; be sportin’ o’ ya t’ keep wearin’ it fer me.”
“I will, but…”
“But what? Spit it out, girl.”
“Who was she?”
“Somebody workin’ on betrayin’ me an’ my banker.” He glanced over, the glowing amber eyes pinning her in a meaningful stare. “She got what was comin’ t’ ‘er fer that an’ that’s all ya need t’ know. Got it?”
“Oldest rule in tha book ‘bout me, girl – don’t cross me.”
She watched him as he weaved through traffic. Some of his hair had escaped the ponytail and fell in his face. She smiled when he puffed at it. Moving her hand out from under his, she tucked it behind his pointed ear. When she put her hand over his and wriggled her fingers, he laced them together.
“Do you know what I’ve noticed?”
“You haven’t called me frail or skirt in quite a while. Thank you.”
“Keep up tha nice an’ grateful act an’ I might even start callin’ ya an affectionate nickname – like Tabby.”
“I might prefer ‘skirt’, Vicky.”
His burst of laughter made her smile again. “Touché, darlin’.”
~ ~ ~
Tabitha was surprised when Creed handed his keys to the valet at the front of the Four Seasons. The valet managed not to faint.
“Don’t go an’ Ferris Bueller my car, kid – trust me, I’ll know.”
“No, sir, I’ll be careful with it.”
A porter had opened her door, but when Creed walked around to her, he offered his arm. “Let’s get ya int’ tha warm. Our luggage beat us here.”
“How do you know?”
He smirked at her. “Cuz I told ‘em it better.”
“Don’t we need to check in?”
“Relax, Tab. I don’t ever hafta ‘check in’. It’s all been handled.”
She took in as much of the amazing lobby as she could, stunned to see that it was decked out for Christmas, but Creed was leading her straight to the elevators. When the doors closed and he didn’t start touching her, she was genuinely surprised. They rose to the twenty-seventh floor and he guided her on his arm to the suite. She let him go as he reached in his coat pocket for the scan card. He held the door open for her as she stepped in.
“Wow, okay – now I’m impressed.” The door shut behind her and the lock clicked automatically.
The place was huge, with more window than wall in most directions. It was a split-level suite, with a two-story high ceiling over the living area and formal dining set. The master bedroom was located on the twenty-eighth floor. The suite was decorated modern but elegant, in blues and earthy tones.
Fingers touching the back of one of the many dark brown apolstered dining chairs, she asked, “Is this where we put the maps to take over the world?”
“Go up tha stairs an’ check out tha master bathroom.”
She turned to face him and grinned. “Is it one of those nutty marble Roman Caesar things?”
“Straight-up Caligula sheik, so I’m told – might be bigger than mine. I got tha idea fer those tubs from a place like this.”
As she stood in the doorway of the massive white marble bathroom, she heard him come up behind her. He started to take her coat and she shrugged out of it. The suite was warm and the huge tub looked tempting.
“I’m fine with seeing nothing but the ceiling over the bed for a while.” Tabitha turned and saw him heading back down to the lower level with their coats. She sat on the bed and took off her boots and suit jacket.
Tabitha looked around quickly, expecting him to come back up any moment. The bedroom level also had a large formal dressing room on the same side as Caesar’s bathroom, nearest to the stairs. It was hard to ignore the phone on the nightstand. There had been another one on a large desk downstairs, but she assumed they were off-limits.
She picked up her jacket and boots and went into the dressing room. The two large suitcases she’d repacked were sitting on stands next to an open walk-in closet full of drawers and hangers. On the other side of the vast expanse of leather couch in the middle of the room, was another closet. A surprising pile of black leather luggage and a black steamer trunk waited beside it. Every piece of it she could see had a silver combination lock on it.
Leaving it all alone, she draped the jacket over one of Fiona’s suitcases, set the boots under its stand, and went to check her reflection in front of a huge freestanding mirror. With a sigh, she tried to ignore the red scratches all over her skin and patted her curls back into place.
Heading down the stairs in her suit and stockings, she found him on the couch. He was barefoot, but still in clothes. His crimson tie was pulled loose and askew, but it was still knotted around his neck. He watched her approach with that avid focus that made her shiver and forget her common sense.
“Are we going to bed?”
“Got dinner comin’ up soon, since we skipped lunch. Come here.”
She took his offered hand and let him pull her into him and kiss her. His mouth was gentle and the exploratory kissing, clawless hands in her curls, started a shudder of want up her spine.
Tabitha put her hand on his crotch to find the erection still there, but he plucked it away by the wrist and set it on his chest. When she tried to find a nipple to toy with under the suit jacket and shirt, a soft growl started in his throat.
“Tryin’ t’ make out like teenagers, here. Don’t ruin it.”
In reply, she slid her tongue out and licked it up one of his protruding fangs. His shuddering response made her grin. “I’d rather fuck.” He pulled his head back to look down at her and she couldn’t have read his mood to save her life. “What are the rules for this little vacation? There’s bound to be a few new ones.”
“Were ya ever a real couple with that pointless twit o’ a farm boy? Or was it more o’ a friends-with-bennies deal?”
“Uh, couple, while it lasted. Obviously, I was more serious about it than he was.”
Victor let her face go and stretched his arms out along the back of the couch. “Ya ever play bed games like role playin’?”
“Naughty nurse, French maid? He wasn’t into bondage. The theme was vanilla.”
“We’re gonna play couple. Humor me.”
“Okay… Are there new rules for ‘couple’?”
“We gotta job t’ do soon an’ we do need t’ drag out maps an’ shit later, but ‘sides that, ya already know ‘bout tha ‘no runnin’ off, no crossin’ me’ rules. So if ya wanna pick up a phone an’ call a buddy, be my guest, if ya keep that in mind.”
“With that in mind, I think I’ll pass.”
“I want ya t’ think ‘bout this, Tabitha.” He turned to face her, one hand on her shoulder. When he caught her staring at his pants again, the other hand rose to her face and his fingers held her chin gently. “Look at me.” As she met his gaze, he huffed out a breath. “If we were gonna try t’ make this work, we’d have a lotta shit t’ try an’ compromise on an’ ya already know where I won’t budge. This ain’t ‘bout changin’ me. I still think ya’d make one helluva contract gal under my teachin’, but ya won’t budge on killin’. Ya seen some o’ what I could give ya. I got property an’ mansions all over tha damn globe an’ ya’d be safe in any o’ ‘em. Key is, if ya help me t’ learn t’ trust ya, ya could have tha fuckin’ world on a plate. I ain’t even askin’ ya t’ trust me.”
“Is a part of this that I get to speak freely, even if you don’t like what I have to say? No fear of reprisals, even?”
“Yup, an’ ya can ask me whatever ya want. How much o’ an answer ya get will depend on how much I’m trustin’ ya at tha time, though. Freedoms increase tha same way.”
“How much of this has to do with Bonnie? Am I still just a surrogate blonde you can work your lusts out on? An interchangeable companion to chat with?” She watched him inhale sharply, saw the movement of his claws slide out at either side of her chin. Holding her breath, she watched him struggle to control himself.
“Ain’t gonna lie, girl, I’m not over ‘er; got nightmares, got grief t’ process. Fact is, ya fell int’ my lap before I gotta chance t’ move past it. I can’t exactly let ya go now an’ believe promises yer not gonna come at me with tha spandex cavalry later, cuz I think tha first thing ya’d do is tell Cueball all ‘bout tha Yukon house.”
“So the whole ‘we do the job, you pay me and let me go’ always was just a lie. Gee, what a shock.”
“Givin’ ya freedom o’ yer tongue is gonna be a pain in my ass, I can tell. Best kinda skirt is a tongueless skirt.” He let her go, got up and moved to the dining table. Pulling out one of the chairs, he straddled it with his arms folded over the back. “Once ya got tha likes o’ tha runt, Stormy, One-Eye, Red, Cueball an’ tha rest circlin’ tha fuckin’ wagons, convictions that yer gonna ‘not tell ‘em where I am’ would go right out tha window an’ ya know it. Shit, Cueball could just pluck it right outta yer brains without askin’.”
“Why did you take me there if you never wanted me to know where it was?”
“Cuz I never meant t’ let ya live after tha job was done. That plan could still get changed, if ya want it t’ change.”
“So if I don’t ‘choose’ to be some kind of girlfriend-under-duress, plus make an effort to get you to trust me – never mind that you’re the poster boy of trust issues – my alternative is being murdered, like you actually planned to do all along. I think you need to look up ‘choice’ in a dictionary, dude.”
His eyes narrowed, the upper lip curling into a snarl. “Walk out tha door, then.”
“Not on your life. I’m hungry, horny, poor, and not interested in being hunted to my grisly death on an empty stomach, pussy, or wallet. Hell, I don’t even have a wallet, thanks to you.” She took a breath, refusing to let his abrupt smirk affect her. “You were right about my life being a mess. I don’t have friends anymore, obviously. That stack of telepaths hasn’t exactly honed in on my mental anguish and the last time I started over on my own, I ended up working as a stripper in Seattle.”
“Take ‘nother breath, Tab – yer turnin’ blue.”
“Shut up. ‘Fact is’, you aren’t giving me a choice at all. If it’s duress and you know it, how can you ever start to trust me, no matter what I do? Meanwhile, I could still be mutilated in your sleep, or on a horny whim. You just want to hear me say I’ll try to play girlfriend so you can feel like you won.”
“Ya want tha truth?”
“It’d be nice, yes.”
“I like yer ballsy comp’ny an’ yer nympho danger addiction. Hell, I even kinda like yer sass. Ya gotta giant hole in yer life an’ I’m crazy ‘nuff t’ think I fill it pretty fuckin’ nicely. Ya ain’t hard t’ look at an’ yer smell drives me outta my mind. Yeah, if ya’d never let ‘em slap an X on yer ass it’d be easier t’ trust ya, but that’s blood under tha damn bridge an’ can’t be helped much now. I ain’t even had a chance t’ figure out what meetin’ Bonnie did t’ me, but it changed me … she changed me.”
“In just one night?” she whispered. “I believe you, Victor, I do, but…”
“It was diff’rent. Don’t expect ya t’ understand that. Skirt like ya could probly wag ‘er ass an’ get any man she wanted, any time – ‘cept those hero freaks, they always put duty over snatch.” He rose and began to pace. “I ain’t gonna run outta digits countin’ up tha people that I know fer a fact are never afraid o’ me. Most o’ ‘em had years or decades t’ settle in t’ that, too. Bonnie saw all tha feral shit, saw me shot an’ watched me shake it off. I saved ‘er, took ‘er t’ a safe house an’ actually planned t’ just satisfy my curiousity ‘bout tha bastards that were chasin’ ‘er, but she claimed she didn’t know nothin’ ‘bout ‘em. I was just startin’ t’ threaten that she’d better remember why they wanted ‘er, when she leaned in an’ fuckin’ kissed me. I asked what tha hell she was doin’, but then she pulled off her shirt an’ started sidlin’ up. Ain’t never seen that before unless tha actions an’ scents didn’t match.”
“Didn’t match? What do you mean?”
“Plenty o’ folks put on an act – like ya did at tha start. I can smell if tha want is real.” Growling, he came back and flopped into the couch on the opposite end from her. “She’d just moved from some tiny puke town t’ tha big city, probly never saw a mutant before, let alone a monster like me. She said all tha danger got ‘er hot. Maybe it was adrenaline, some freak thrillseeker high? Shit, I dunno. She wanted me, over an’ over – tha stamina, tha hunger o’ that woman… Not just cuz she wanted some dick an’ I had a convenient one. I been alive a helluva long time, girl – never had that before, not once. She wanted … me. Diff’rent.”
“Don’t want yer pity, girl.”
“It’s not – never mind… You were, ah … compatible in bed? I sort of got the idea that any woman instantly into you would have to be very experienced and already … hard-core.”
“Wasn’t a virgin sacrifice, but didn’t have much experience; I can always tell. I was pretty surprised myself when she turned out t’ have a natural taste fer my brand o’ fun. Wanted my bite, loved tha claws an’ tha nympho slut preoccupation – even got turned on by tha ‘tude. She didn’t know what she was doin’, but she jumped in with both feet. I’d bet she woulda been game fer anythin’ I wanted t’ do.”
“How was she able to handle you … physically? I know you’re being your idea of gentle with me, even when you’re trying to hurt me. In spite of that, sometimes I can’t walk afterward – not without a list or a limp.”
“Yer just a tiny slip o’ a thing, slender an’ small. She had curves, built tougher, stronger – cornfed, maybe, hell I dunno. Didn’t hafta be so careful an’ she didn’t need me t’ be, or want me t’ be.”
“Tell me why you say she changed you? You could have just enjoyed her and left. Going by your reputation, I’d bet most people don’t get a second ‘date’.”
“Those freaks that were after ‘er, they kept comin’; it made me mad. I guess it got territorial at first. She made it like takin’ on a mate – instinct kicks in, protect tha mate. They kept us runnin’, tracked us, attacked tha safe house. It wasn’t much, just a li’l apartment, but it was tha closest at tha time an’ we had t’ go t’ ground. After that, I took ‘er t’ ‘nother place, a brothel I own outside tha city, ‘nother safe house.”
Tabitha felt caught between fear of him and horror for him and for the woman. He’s telling the truth, though – I can feel it. “Did they track you there?”
“Yeah. I left ‘er with people I trust an’ went t’ go find ‘em, t’ take ‘em out. Gotta nasty shock, though – they weren’t wholly alive; they were like some kinda fuckin’ undead scientists.”
“Undead – like zombies? Zombies with an agenda and work ethic?”
“One o’ ‘em told me stuff, other bits I figured out by fightin’ ‘em. They had bodies like soldiers with military skills an’ even combat muscle memory, but they fought an’ talked like pencil neck labcoat assholes. They put their brains in undead soldier bodies t’ be harder t’ kill an’ so they’d survive their fuckin’ bioweapon plague. Just smellin’ ‘em, watchin’ ‘em move, thought I was goin’ mad – well, ya know…”
She couldn’t help a small smile. “I know.”
“Found out ‘bout tha infection they hit ‘er with, tried t’ get tha antidote.”
“There was a… What happened?”
“It got destroyed in tha fight when tha lab blew sky high. It coulda saved ‘er… I went back an’ they attacked us. She fought like a mad thing, even electrocuted one in tha tub when he came at ‘er. Hell, she shot one in tha face back at tha apartment. She was magnificent, didn’t even blink over me doin’ my level best t’ kill ‘em all night long. I had t’get inventive, but – they’re all-tha-way dead, now.”
“You said before … you had to break her neck… Why?”
“Told ya, it was gonna kill ‘er an’ then unleash some fuckin’ zombie disease. Tha clock just … ran out. She didn’t know, couldn’t tell ‘er. I held ‘er close an’ she clung t’ me like she never wanted t’ lemme go. Then I had t’ do it, t’ keep my promise. She said she wanted t’ go away with me – kept settin’ me back on my heels, that girl. That don’t happen t’ me much, neither.”
“She made you want to keep her, want to find a way to make it work?” The look he gave her made her heart hurt, but he didn’t answer. “That’s why you want this. She helped you realize you could want more and a taste of it showed you something new, something you didn’t know you could want. That’s what changed you. It was taken away too soon and now you don’t know how to go back to the way you were…” She stopped herself and swallowed slowly under his steady stare. “Is that what happened?”
“I know how t’ go back, girl. Prob is, I wanted t’ go forward an’ now goin’ back just feels restless an’ empty. I’m stuck an’ I can’t just plug ya int’ that – yer not ‘er. Yer terrified o’ me an’ ya hate me an’ I sure as hell gave ya plenty o’ reasons. Ya know, at first I just wanted t’ skin ya fer takin’ advantage o’ my brainless kitten self. Then yer moxy an’ yer heat – an’ tha way ya kept comin’ ‘round no matter what I did – got me thinkin’ ‘bout maybes.”
“In the Danger Room, I was feeling the same way. I was lonely, and yeah, horny. I was alone and so were you. I felt like garbage, like I’d never be good enough for what, or who, I wanted. Some of them only cared about locking you up, but others tried to help you change. It gave me hope.”
“They didn’t help squat from where I was sittin’, but … that’s a first – ain’t never inspired hope in any-fuckin’-body before.”
“They made me believe it could be possible and if that was true, maybe I could change, too. I shouldn’t have done what I did to you. I didn’t understand you then, at all, but I’m trying to now.”
“Gotta understand yerself first, darlin’.”
“What do you mean?”
“Yer asshole father bein’ an abusive drunken fuck ain’t yer fault an’ it don’t make ya trash. Growin’ up poor don’t make ya trash, neither.”
“You like calling me ‘white trash’, remember?” she teased.
“No, I like gettin’ a rise outta ya.”
“Can I talk to you about your parents?”
The glare was quick, but started to fade fast. “Keep it brief.” When she hesitated, he sighed and added, “Shoot.”
“The same goes for you. What they did wasn’t your fault. I understand it harmed your mind, probably every bit of you in ways I can never grasp. Can I ask … when it started?”
“I killed my older brother Luther over a piece o’ pie.” He snorted at her shocked look. “Wasn’t really ‘bout tha stinkin’ pie. I bloomed early as a feral; it hit before puberty, even though that wasn’t far behind, bein’ ahead o’ schedule, too. He had somethin’ I wanted an’ I didn’t have much restraint then, neither. He gloated, teased me ‘bout it. Feral mutant hormones like mine, rippin through me worse than a cat in heat? Didn’t go well.”
“Did you … get along at all, before that?”
“Nope.” Slouching lower, he leaned his head back to stare at the ceiling. “Ma walked in an’ screamed. My life was just over. Pa saw what I did, saw tha fangs an’ claws … mutants weren’t a thing then, with their marches an’ fightin’ fer rights shit.”
“That was when he put you in the cellar?”
“Yup. Pa said I had a devil in me, dragged me down t’ tha root cellar an’ tied me up, told ya all that.”
“Didn’t they have anyone come to see you? You said you had a doctor before –”
“Well he was six feet under not long before, thanks t’ me. Pa had t’ cover that up, near beat me ‘round tha clock fer it. I guess losin’ Luther, a pair o’ workin’ hands, made ‘im a touch more mad. He got tha preacher an’ tha priest, who tried t’ exorcise me. At first I was just a kid with fangs an’ claws, afraid in tha dark; didn’t understand it had become ‘bout my ‘devil’ more’n my dead brother. My Ma used t’ bring me milk in a bowl, but she refused t’ cut me loose.”
“So that’s why you hated me so much for that. I didn’t know. I’m sorry, Victor.” She pulled her legs up under her and smoothed her skirt. “If none of them knew what a mutant was then, I guess ‘possessed’ is what the morons would think. What year was this?”
“Bit more’n halfway through tha 1800s, give or take.”
“Sorry, I kind of forget that – you’re so, well … modern, most of the time.” She took a deep breath and let it out slow. “Victor, can I touch you? Sit with you? It’s a little cold down here.” When he opened an arm to her, she got up and curled up against him. He held her to him gently and she began to breathe again. “I must seem like such an idiot child to you.”
“Sometimes.” His finger hooked the chain around her neck and pulled the diamond free. He rolled it in his fingertips for a moment and then let it go. “Mostly, tha cape talk is more annoyin’.”
She placed her palm on his chest and snuggled into his warmth. “Is that when he – started to pull … with the, um… I don’t want to upset you again…”
He bent his head down and kissed her curls. “Told ya I’d tell ya shit if ya asked, but ya heard most o’ it before. Pa couldn’t get anybody t’ help cuz nothin’ worked. So he got his big ugly horse-pliers an’ started takin’ out my fangs an’ claws, one by one.”
Tabitha forced herself to slow her breathing, to stay calm. Avoid anything that sounds like pity, stick to questions and empathy apologies. “How old were you?”
“I dunno, nine? Ten? He didn’t have a clue they’d grow back – neither did I. Every day Pa came down those steps with tha pliers an’ yanked ‘em out. Every night they grew back. He made Ma stop feedin’ me t’ punish me fer that.”
“So the healing factor got weaker…”
“It made him think he’d found a way. I nearly starved t’ death an’ when tha shit quit growin’ back, he thought he’d won tha fight. Couldn’t eat anyhow. Ya can’t imagine it…”
“I think I hate him, too. Worse than mine.” She turned her head to press a kiss to his chest through the suit jacket and then rested her head on him. “How did you figure out how you could … escape?”
His voice slipped out as a rasped whisper. “Ma couldn’t stand watchin’ ‘im torture an’ starve me. She started feedin’ me tha milk at night, sometimes even some bits o’ meat, scraps he wouldn’t notice an’ I could just swallow. I got better, but it just made tha fangs an’ claws grow back. When Pa came down an’ saw ‘em, he beat tha shit outta me an’ got tha axe. I got drug out t’ tha old log an’ he hacked both hands off at tha forearms before throwin’ me back in that hole.”
Tabitha shuddered. “They grew back,” she whispered.
“Took a bit, but they did, same as tha rest. I begged Ma t’ just kill me, kill me or cut me loose, but she wouldn’t do it. She believed in tha devil shit, I guess. So I lost my mind – dunno how long it all went on … two or three years, maybe. I suspect when I started chewin’ off tha hand, it was an animal thing; got no memory o’ choosin’ t’ do it. Pa found me loose an’ decided t’ kill me t’ save me, came at me with tha axe. Ma jumped in tha way, right when I leaped up t’ kill ‘im.” He shook his head. “Now that memory still sticks, but I dunno if I trust it.”
“Trust it? You said that Psi-Borg person fixed your memories and took out the fake ones.”
“Far as I know, but he’s also one o’ tha assholes that helped those Weapon X fucks jack my brain in tha first place.” A low growl thrummed under her ear.
Tabitha looked up. “Don’t do that,” she murmured and grasped his wrist gently where the claws had popped and pierced the jacket. She was afraid to look at the hand that was wrapped around her body. “Tell me the rest about your father. You told me you killed him.” She carefully meshed her fingers in his and watched the claws retract.
“He fell apart when he realized he killed her insteada me; if that was … real… I took my chance, either way. I made a mess. End o’ tha fuckin’ story.”
“You got away, though…”
“Crawled off t’ die more like, but couldn’t even do that right. Instinct made me grab some damn thing an’ eat it. I ate, so I healed. Was already stark-starin’ fucked up.”
“Did you have the hyper-senses then, too?”
“Yup. They showed up with tha pointy bits. Didn’t notice it at first, too jacked up an’ hurtin’. Started t’ realize I could hear ‘em comin’ from too far away. Spent nights listenin’ t’ mice an’ rats – even caught a few o’ tha li’l ones an’ ate ‘em. Night vision made me think I was bonkers, but hearin’ tha blood rushin’ in people’s veins – that was a stumper at first; didn’t know that was what I was hearin’. Scents were probly tha most confusin’ an’ hardest t’ learn, though. Never had a teacher fer that.”
“Once you escaped, you were still a child… How did you know where to go or what to do?”
“Wasn’t ‘nuff o’ a person yet then t’ be thinkin’ ‘bout shit like that. I was pretty much a wild beast. Went on a rampage; told ya that when I turned thirteen I killed three lawmen, which happened across a big hunk o’ Canada. Healin’ factor did all tha fixin’ on my brains it could, I guess; slowly started t’ be a boy just in time t’ realize I wasn’t really a boy at all anymore. Lived in tha wild a long time an’ then started watchin’ people. Started learnin’ how t’ be more like ‘em, but never really could pass as one.”
“Were you still … killing people then?”
“Never stopped fer long. By then, I knew killin’ came easy. Killed my way up int’ tha Yukon, workin’ on tha railroad, told ya that. That Frenchman, he took a likin’ t’ me an’ taught me how t’ work that job. Learned how t’ at least fake bein’ a person with ‘is help. Wanted t’ keep outta tha jails, mostly. Wasn’t gonna let myself get stuck in a hole like that again. I’ve managed, fer tha most part. Chuck’s dungeon an’ my kennel with X-Factor were both a party compared t’ Pa’s.”
“Um, can I ask you a weird question?”
“Do ya ever ask a regular type one?”
“You said your father found slave chains and shackles – I didn’t know Canada had slavery?”
Victor snorted. “That’s tha skeleton in my homeland’s closet. Wasn’t nothin’ like tha American South, but it was here; tribal more’n anythin’ else, but some farmer types had ‘em. It was all abolished more’n thirty years or so before I was born, though.”
“Huh. Now I know.” Tabitha sat up. “Will you take off the jacket?”
“We gonna eat in tha nude, give tha staff a show?”
“They aren’t here yet.”
He sat up and yanked the jacket off, handing it to her. “Elevator dinged. Cart’s rollin’ down tha hall.”
“That has to be kind of awesome – the hyper-senses, I mean.” She pitched the jacket onto the other end of the couch.
“It don’t suck.”
She put a hand on his shoulder, rose up on her knees and leaned over him, ignoring the arching blonde eyebrow. “I’m sorry for dredging all that up, but thank you for telling me.”
“This tha part where ya remind me it don’t change all tha naughty bad I done?”
“Well … I’m sorry again, but it doesn’t. You kill people who aren’t trying to betray you too, and considering your career of villainy, I can kind of see their point when they try to stop you.”
His expressive lips lifted in a smirk around the fangs. She tried not to think about that horrid man yanking them out of the mouth of his child. “Yer sittin’ a wee bit close t’ be so frank, ain’t ya?”
“No reprisals, you promised.”
“Hush. I was going to say … it does help me understand you better, at least a little. No matter what you’ve done since, you can’t make me change my mind that it’s at least partly your father’s fault, for what he did to you.”
“A half-assed absolution is better than zip, huh?”
“Were you Catholic?”
“Hell, I dunno. Don’t think so. Hardly fuckin’ matters.”
“Have you ever gone to confession?”
“Yup, sometimes – whenever I hear ‘bout a priest diddlin’ kids, I go eat ‘im. Call it a hobby.”
A knock sounded on the door as a voice called through it that their dinner had arrived.
“Gonna lemme get that, darlin’?”
Tabitha sat back and let him stand. “So since I’m still ‘darlin’’ and not demoted back to ‘frail’, can we fuck after dinner?”
“I’m inclined t’ think there ain’t much frail ‘bout ya, Tabs – despite yer delicate li’l girl bones.” Turning to grin at her as he fixed his tie, he added, “Sure as hell gonna fuck ya.”
~ ~ ~
After an amazing fancy meal, during which Victor had proved he knew what silverware was for, Tabitha stood at the windows overlooking the harbor. She held a glass of some kind of wine she couldn’t pronounce while he was at the door tipping a steward. Two of them had served them during dinner as if they were in a restaurant, except that Victor had ordered the meal ahead of time.
To get more of the crazy view of the harbor, she stepped up onto the black steamer trunk Victor had hauled there. When she looked at the glass beside her, she could see his reflection in the window, watching her as soon as the door locked behind him.
“Wanna ‘nother snort?” he asked, crossing to pick up the bottle. When she shook her head no, he lifted it to his lips and finished it off, wiping his white shirt sleeve across his mouth.
He approached behind her so silently that watching him do so in the reflection seemed like her imagination. His huge hands, claws retracted, pressed against the glass on either side of her face. She remained still as he bent his head to scent and nuzzle her neck.
“Bedtime?” she whispered to the harbor below.
“No.” He took her glass, downed the rest of the wine and moved away to set it on the table. “Strip.”
Without bothering to ask any questions or fuss about it, she just began to obey. She watched him in the window as he shed his clothing, openly staring at the beautiful and impossibly large body as it was revealed. He was staring back as she shed her clothes and it made her skin flush. She left the diamond on for him, just to please him.
“I like tha blush, darlin’. Whatcha thinkin’ ‘bout?”
“The way you watch my body – I could get addicted to that.”
“Willin’ t’ give ya a shot at it.”
She shivered from the cold coming off of the glass as she kicked the pile of clothing off of the trunk. She intended to step down, but he stalked up behind her again and pressed himself into her back, pushing her front against the glass.
“It’s cold!” Her body instinctively tried to move back, but she knew she was trapped – right where she wanted to be.
Victor caught her hands and held them over her head, spread wide. His mouth moved back to her neck as he sniffed and nuzzled her again. He growled in lust when her scent spiked and her body grew wet with her heat.
“Spread yer legs an’ push yer ass back,” he ordered. “Don’t move those freezin’ li’l nipples.”
When she wimpered but simply obeyed, he began to purr against her skin. He shifted and let his cock fall from being trapped between their bodies. It bobbed at the shaved split of her vaginal lips. Moving forward, he sucked in his breath when the hooded head pressed into the cold glass. As he began to move, rubbing the long shaft up, back and forth against her, he felt it harden almost painfully as she made it slick. He felt the head push out as the hood went back.
“Oh, God, Victor…” She bit her lower lip, her breath frosting the glass. “Do you think … people can see?”
“Lucky bastards if they can.”
“Fuck me; my God, please fuck me…”
“Make me fuck ya. Make me so nuts I gotta push in.” When she started to move her head, he hissed in her ear. The animal sound startled and scared her, but it also made her body dump thick pheromones into the air. “Nipples don’t got permission t’ leave tha glass.”
“How can I…?” she began to ask, but then fell quiet. He could sense, scent, and feel the change in her as she understood what he wanted. “I want your mouth, Victor. Give me your teeth…”
Fear leaked into her heat and spiced her scent. It made his hips jerk. He put his mouth at the join of her neck and shoulder and began to kiss and lick at it. His purr returned, vibrating against her skin. He opened his mouth and let the four canine fangs pinch her flesh so gently that they didn’t yet break in. His hips continued to thrust.
Her chin moved down slightly and her gasp told him she was watching his cock smear pre-cum on the glass. “Victor, you need it, I need it. Let me feel them, please…”
His stomach tightened and a growl turned into a groan as the tips pierced her. He stopped, waited.
“More, bite me – bite me and fuck me…” She gasped again. “Below us, there are people on a balcony. They can see… I … I want them to see you fuck me. I don’t care if we smash through the fucking window. Harder, Victor…”
The moment his fangs slid in deeper, his hips jerked backward. He bent his long back, angled up and shoved his cock inside her. Her whole body moved, her nipples and palms scraping upward. He let her hands go and wrapped one arm around her thin waist, pulling her back into his chest. Dragging in a greedy breath as his tongue lapped at her blood, his free hand cupped her ass and lifted her feet off of the trunk.
He reveled in her scream and withdrew his fangs, setting his lips around the wounds, his tongue lashing over them. The shafts of the lower fangs pressed in, bruising her as he sucked at her flesh. The hand supporting her ass shifted and she cried out when a clawless finger pushed roughly into her anus.
One hand and his hips working her body up and down his cock, his encircling arm kept her off of the glass. Now and then her bent elbows struck it, but her hands had reached back and grabbed fistfuls of his hair, pulling at it until the band was torn out and it all fell around them like a curtain.
His mouth full of her blood, he fought the urge to bite again, his jaw trembling and aching to drop and seize her entire shoulder. He thrust harder and faster, forcing his body to finish before he lost the fight.
She screamed again when he came, the punch of his hips possibly hurting her. Pressing the flat of his tongue to the worst two punctures, he kept his lips clamped tight. Trying to remove the finger from her anus without dropping her or crushing her in his arm, he finally wrapped both arms around her and stumbled back from the window. Aiming for the couch, he managed to get there before he fell back, hauling her down and pinning her on top of him.
“Victor … I’m … sorry…”
His hips worked to grind his cock deeper in and out a few more times before he went still, sucking air desperately through his nose and drowning in the smell of it all. When he thought the bleeding might be slower, he released her flesh and licked lazily at all four puncture wounds.
Moving his lips to her ear, he purred in it from deep in his chest. “What tha hell ya sorry fer?” he asked. “Got me, didn’t ya? Got me good. Planned t’ make tha teasin’ last longer.”
“I … I didn’t mean to be afraid…”
His soft chuckle made her whole body shudder. “Not sure ya’d be sane if ya weren’t, babe. Ain’t like ya trust me, right? Ya got me so hot, it was hard t’ behave.”
“I’m not sure if I’m okay or not…” Her fear spiked. “I feel dizzy, cold … and … it really hurts.”
“Yer pussy or yer shoulder?” When she didn’t answer, he licked the outside of her ear. “Gonna pick ya up, try t’ be still.” She gasped when he stood and shifted her in his arms to disconnect their bodies. “Hot bath an’ bandages time.”
Her head rested against his chest as he carried her up the stairs. In the bathroom, he sat her gently on the counter and started pulling bandaging supplies out of the medicine cabinet. Obinata’s people had stocked everything to the letter.
“That’s going to scar,” she muttered. As he started cleaning the punctures, she winced and hissed. “A lot of your ‘marks’ are going to scar.”
“Just makes ya prettier t’ me.” He chose bandages that would hold up in the bath and then left her on the counter to start filling the tub.
“I still feel dizzy and yes, the pussy is sore, too – more than usual. Not that I’m wild about calling it that.”
He returned to her and raised an eyebrow when she lifted both hands to his pectorals and petted his fur. “I like callin’ it pussy. ‘Vagina’ sounds like somethin’ ya’d need penicillin fer t’ get rid o’ it. Fer tha dizzy, ya drank a lotta that wine an’ I drank a lotta yer blood. Got juice in tha fridge downstairs.”
“There’s a refrigerator?”
Victor smirked down at her. “Yeah, Miss Observant, there is – part o’ tha wet bar, technically.”
“This counter is hard and cold.”
“Just like me.” He flashed a grin at her. “Tub’s fillin’ fast.” He picked her up again and held her, turning to lean his ass against the counter.
“No, you’re warm … and soft. Can the juice have a painkiller in it – maybe a muscle relaxer?”
“Bleedin’ junky,” he teased. He ducked his head down and placed a chaste kiss on her forehead. “Once yer soakin, I’ll bring ya an RX cocktail.”
He placed her carefully in the tub in water not quite hot enough to scald. She yelped, but once her hips were in it, she gasped instead.
“Get comfy; I’ll join ya in a few with our refreshments. Don’t pass out an’ drown.”
~ ~ ~
Victor wasn’t sure if she fell asleep or if the pills knocked her out, but he made her drink all of the juice before he let her lay her head on his chest.
Before the water could get cold, he held her against him and got out. He managed to dry her off while she sat slumped on the closed toilet and then let her sit there asleep while he dried himself and his hair. He carried her to the bed and put her in it. Leaning over her, he set the diamond pendant in the hollow of her throat and bent low to kiss it. Setting a glass of water on her nightstand, he polished off his whiskey and then made a habitual sweep of the suite, turning off all the lights as he went.
When he got into the bed, he didn’t touch her. He could see her clearly in the dark room and knew she was asleep. He watched her face, framed by golden curls.
“Could try t’ protect ya,” he whispered, “try t’ keep ya … but ya’d never stop askin’ me t’ quit an’ sooner or later ya’d get stupid. Ain’t gonna allow ya t’ bring ‘em all down ‘round my ears. Had ‘nuff o’ Cueball’s hospitality an’ ‘is ‘help’.”
She moaned and shifted in her sleep. Rolling over, she moved against him and cuddled close, probably after his body heat. One small hand rested on his chest. He pulled her into his side and closed his eyes.
Maybe I can sever those last thin ties between ya. Or maybe it’ll all blow up in my fuckin’ face. Gotta roll tha dice an’ see.
~ ~ ~
Victor heard her get up by late morning. He stood in the door of the dressing room to watch her walk carefully to the bathroom and shut the door. Pulling on a black band t-shirt over undamaged jeans, he carried his heavy boots downstairs.
Their breakfast arrived by the time the girl got out of the bathroom. She appeared at the head of the stairs in a fluffy hotel robe and paused there, her scent betraying her anxiety. He went up to meet her. The steward and his assistant were setting up the table and getting ready to serve them.
“Mornin’, darlin’.” Without another word, he picked her up and carried her down. The steward pulled out her chair and Victor sat her on it.
“Uh, thanks…” Reading his shirt, she sighed. “Cannibal Corpse – is that ironic whimsy?”
“Said ya were surprised I’m int’ tha classics, figured me fer a Metal fan – thought I’d prove ya right. We’re goin’ out after breakfast, if yer up t’ it. Ya can grab a nap later if ya need one.” She didn’t answer and appeared to be nervous around the servers. After everything was set, he called them to the door. Handing them a generous tip, he ushered them out. “Ya can clean up after we leave, got all we need fer now.”
“Of course, Mr. Creed. Thank you, and good morning.”
Closing the door, he went back and took a chair at the head of the table facing the windows. Next to him, the girl took the cover off of her plate and smiled.
“This is a lot of food. Do you always eat like this? Oh my God, it smells delicious.”
“Need a lot o’ fuel t’ burn, whether it’s on a plate or on tha hoof. With shitheads always tryin’ t’ jack with me, smart money’s on a full tank. Anythin’ ya can’t eat, we can ship it t’ China if ya want; or I’ll just stuff it in my mug.”
“Thank you for sending them out.”
“Welcome, darlin’.” She started eating with gusto, making him snort in amusement. He popped claws to spear the slabs of ham on his plate, and then hestitated, fingers hovering over the silverware.
“Go ahead, be yourself. It doesn’t really bother me. I just like to get a rise out of you.” She winked and smiled before shoving another forkful of eggs into her mouth.
Snorting again, he speared the ham and wolfed it down. “Did I break ya anywhere?”
“I … don’t think so? I feel sore and stiff. My shoulder hurts more.”
“Gonna hafta watch that.”
“Um, how am I going to manage that?”
“Not ya, meant me. Can’t throw down like that if I expect ya t’ function next day.”
“You sound bummed about it.” She ate in silence a while longer and then sighed, her fork clinking on the plate. “I’m probably just too breakable for you. If you have to be careful all the time –”
“Lemme worry ‘bout that, babe. Won’t kill me t’ keep my fuckin’ teeth outta ya fer a bit.” Smirking, he added, “We can save it fer special occasions, like my birthday an’ Christmas.”
“It’s almost Christmas now; I didn’t even know that. When is your birthday?”
“Dunno, don’t really remember. Pick any date ya like in 1868.”
She started to eat again and tried not to stare as he dumped a lake of syrup over his pancakes. “Where were you born?”
“Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada.” He offered her the syrup boat, but she shook her head, so he tipped it to his mouth and drank the rest. “Ya were born in Roanoke, Virginia.”
“Ah … yes. Did some research, huh?”
“Yup. Want me t’ kill yer folks fer ya?”
Victor shrugged. “No harm in makin’ tha offer, babe.”
She picked up a piece of bacon and wagged it at him. “That’s the third time you’ve called me ‘babe’.”
Talking around a mouthful of pancake, he narrowed his eyes at her. “Prob with that?”
“No. I sort of like it. Is that another one you ‘call a lot of skirts’, or is it just for me?”
Swallowing, his lips stretched into a toothy grin. “Yer tha only one ‘round, ain’t ya?”
“So if I start calling you ‘Vic’, without the sarcasm, are my parts going to stay attached?”
“Okay, then.” She grinned at him and bit the bacon with mock savagery.
“Keep that up, yer likely t’ get fucked again. Got an appointment set up, rather not miss it.”
“For the job?”
“Fer yer shoppin’. Places I’m takin’ ya, it ain’t as much fun if ya just walk in off tha street. They got yer sizes, gotta sales girl ready t’ treat ya like a queen.”
“Wow. Cool… Are they going to call me Mrs. Creed?” she winked at him.
“Nope, but they know yer my lady. In that part o’ town, that pretty much hands ya tha keys t’ tha fuckin’ city.”
After breakfast, he carried her upstairs again and then sat on the couch in the dressing room while she dug out some clothes.
“Fancy? Or … what?”
“Warm an’ comfy. Gonna do some walkin’ ‘round tha shops.” The moment she took off the bathrobe, he growled appreciatively, admiring his marks on her. “Bring that thing over here,” he ordered.
Still holding a pair of panties, she obeyed, standing in front of him when he slid down to sit on the floor. “Are we about to be late?”
Fingers on her hips, he scented her and grinned. “This won’t take long. Spread ‘em.” Her hands slapped down on his shoulders as he began to lick and suckle her pussy. He ignored his dick. “Fuck me runnin’, ya taste so fuckin’ good…” He made her come twice before her legs turned to rubber, and then he licked her clean. Taking the panties, he held them out for her. She held onto his shoulder as she stepped into them.
“You are something,” she whispered. “How that sandpaper tongue can make it even better boggles the brain.” Her body shivered as he slowly dragged the panties up her legs.
“Look how that lace nestles right up against that thing. If reincarnation exits, I’m comin’ back as yer fuckin’ underwear, girl.” She giggled and it made him smirk. Staying on the floor, he looked up at her as she gathered most of his long hair into her hands.
“The curling goldilocks hair is insane, you realize that. Women would kill for this. Don’t get me started on your eyelashes. It just isn’t fair. Do you … think I’m pretty? Or are you just in it for the sex?”
“Told ya a coupla times that yer easy on tha eyes. I ain’t a man just burstin’ with tha flowery talk, Tabs. Might hafta take how often I gotta fuck an’ suck ya as yer flowery.”
“I’ll take it.”
“Thought ya might.” He started to purr when she bent down to kiss him, but he broke the kiss first. “Put clothes on or we ain’t gettin’ outta here fer a week.”
She let his hair fall and smiled.
~ ~ ~
Victor sat in a huge armchair in the biggest boutique they’d been in yet. Leaning back with arms crossed, he watched her each time she came out to show him something she’d tried on.
They’d had lunch in a swanky Japanese steakhouse and Victor had let her do most of the talking. He wanted to watch her, lost in thought and distracted for most of the shopping, too, as they left bags at stores to be sent to the hotel. It had taken her a while to realize that she didn’t have to choose what he would buy; if she liked it, it was bought.
When they went out to the Bugatti again and got in, she was wearing one of the new outfits. Leaning over to kiss him before buckling up, she smiled at him. “Thank you, Victor. Wearing jeans and a shirt that cost more than my stepmother’s car is a totally new experience.”
“I see ya liked tha Prada boots ‘nuff t’ want yer own.”
“Yeah, well, they’re awesome. Where to now?”
After they left the car and headed off down a path in the beautiful 1,000 acre park, he paused and offered her his hand. Tears filled her eyes as she took it and then they walked on, holding hands.
“Used t’ run in here at night. Sometimes I’d lay out at tha treeline at one o’ tha beaches an’ watch tha stars.”
“What, no murder and mayhem?”
“Natch, a man’s gotta eat. After that, he prefers t’ relax an’ digest. Tourists are like gobblin’ fast food – even if they ain’t that fast runnin’ in tha woods.”
“I’m never sure when you’re pulling my leg or not.”
“If it makes ya feel better, pretend I’m jokin’. Come on, this way.”
He steered her onto a path that lead into the trees. He could hear the brook before she saw it. They walked up onto the bridge that spanned it and he stopped. Letting her hand go, he took her in his arms and kissed her. Turning her to face the brook and forest, he pulled her back into him and wrapped his arms around her waist.
“What are these trees?”
“Cedar, fir, an’ hemlock. Wanted t’ build custom furniture fer a while, but never really gotta chance t’ try. Busy, busy.”
“Is that a joke?”
“Nope. Don’t get any ideas ‘bout it though. Contract murder is my dream job.”
“Will you run in the woods with me? I’ve never done that. Not unless I was being chased.”
Victor grinned. “Gotta say, I could offer t’ chase ya.” He kissed her curls. “Ya might not be spry ‘nuff t’ go fer a branch-jumpin’ jog, though.”
She sighed. “Probably not. I just bet it feels like … freedom.”
“Ya don’t gotta be a captive, ya know.”
“You made it pretty clear what my ‘choice’ was. ‘Girlfriend or death’ doesn’t make me feel very free.”
“What would ya do if I let ya go … an’ didn’t hunt ya down? Never mind Chuck an’ his flyin’ monkeys comin’ t’ make me pay or some shit. What would ya do?”
“Well, I wouldn’t get far unless I went back to stripping for a while first.”
“Hardee har. Let’s say I paid ya an’ cut ya loose… Same question.”
“I … don’t know. Go somewhere warm? I hear Hawaii’s nice all times of the year.”
“I gotta safe house in Lahaina, Hawaii. Bought it fer nearly $11 million. 9,761 square feet o’ mind-fuckin’ modern luxury right on tha ocean. Tha livin’ room’s gotta pool an’ waterfall in it, plus tha outside pool. Lotsa tha walls are glass an’ slide int’ tha solid walls t’ turn rooms indoor or outdoor.” Smirking down at her when she stared up, wide-eyed, he added, “I like my creature comforts, but I ain’t no indoor kitty.”
“Um, can we go there after this job? I could just mow the grass for you or whatever.”
“After this job, I gotta fly t’ Nepal an’ then make stops all over. Duty calls.” He let her go and turned her to face him, his hands on her arms. She placed her hands over his ribs. “I could send ya there; ya could wait fer me.”
“Is that an offer – a real choice? Or can I just get paid and go wherever I want?”
Sighing, he looked off into the trees. “Ya like Brys, at least, don’t ya?”
“Cuz if ya tell Cueball where that house is, ‘im an’ Perrin would probly get dead.”
“I wouldn’t tell them anything about it, but the X-Men aren’t killers.”
“So tha authorities get a look at tha oubliette, where they live, got their prints in tha room, an’ ya think they’d let ‘em walk? Plus, tha boys would fight, make no mistake. They’d turn on tha defenses an’ tha house would whack a lotta cops, or even a spandex monkey or two. Dead or prison.”
“Victor, I won’t tell them. I like this side of you way better, don’t get me wrong – but you order me around and expect to be obeyed; that’s not really my scene. I’m always at risk of dying, if you mean me harm or not. I don’t really want to be anyone’s pet pussy – especially not if he’s off paying the property taxes by horrifically murdering people for fun while leaving me alone in a gilded cage.”
His ears pinned as he growled in frustration, irritated that he couldn’t muster the balls to just slash her throat right then. He glared down at her but she was looking up at him with an open, honest expression. Her fear stink was barely there.
“What are you thinking, Victor?”
“Thinkin’ ya smell too fuckin’ good t’ cut yer throat right now.”
“Was Bonnie your prisoner?”
He let her go as if she’d burned him and walked off the bridge. “Nope. She wasn’t no fuckin’ useless X-chump, neither.” Victor twitched in surprise when she jogged to catch up and grabbed his hand again. The claws slid out, but she just shifted her fingers and didn’t let go. He stopped. “What’re ya fuckin’ doin’?”
Tabitha held his hand and leaned against his back. “I want this time with you. I do. Victor, please…”
“Tha orders – that’s just how I am when I’m my own damn boss.”
“When you’ve had a boss and they gave orders and had you under their thumb, I know you had to of hated that.”
“I’m used to orders, kind of – in the field, with a team. I’m not used to it in the bedroom. I haven’t balked much because you terrify me when you’re angry, but that doesn’t mean I like it, any more than you ever have.”
“Ya wanna take a stab at callin’ tha shots? If it don’t fuck with my bottom line?”
“Um … anytime I defy you even a little bit, you start to get murderous.”
“Do ya know why?”
“You’re the captor, I’m the captive. Simple.”
“Simpler than that.”
“Okay… I’m listening.”
“I’m an alpha; it’s peckin’ order. Ya get uppity, it feels like a challenge t’ me, so instinct seeks t’ put ya back in yer place. Anytime I ain’t been tha alpha, like with Sinister, that’s cuz he won when I tried t’ challenge ‘im.”
“Oh. Well … I’d have thought you could take him.”
“Not fuckin’ likely. That bastard can’t be wounded, ‘is body just remakes itself – he don’t even feel no pain. He can turn off my healin’ factor on a whim an’ hurt me plenty, an’ while we never had an arm wrestle, my money ain’t on me. So it’s always ‘yes, sir’ an’ slink off if I can. My best defense is bein’ so fuckin’ obnoxious he decides t’ bench me. Then when he ain’t home, out tha fuckin’ cat door I go. If I got tha choice, I stay tha fuck away from tha freak.”
“I have every confidence in your ability to be obnoxious.” Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, she let his hand go and walked around him to face him. “So you’ve been in my shoes; you know what it’s like. You know you’re not giving me even a shred of a choice, here. Without that, I can’t choose to stay. I can’t live that way – and the more you make me, the less I care if you have to kill me to keep me.”
“Can ya find yer way back t’ tha car?” At her blank look, he pointed. “That way, stay on this path. Wait fer me there.”
“Where are you going?”
“Gonna go on a run fer a bit, clear my head. If yer still waitin’ when I get there, I’ll let ya take tha reins t’night.”
“I’m … not sure I can handle another round like last night.”
“Got somethin’ in mind ya might like, then. If ya get lost, holler; I’ll hear ya.”
He turned and leapt off the path into the trees. He bounded away on all-fours faster than any human could run, leaving her scent and hopefully his confusion and frustration behind him. Not bothering with stealth, he crashed through the light underbrush, scattering small animals in his wake.
At a giant tree on the edge of another stream, he stopped. Pressing his back to it, he slid into a slump, his boots crunching on branches and snowy leaves. After a breath, he turned and climbed up the trunk to straddle a thick limb.
I almost hope she runs fer it. Maybe I shoulda given her tha fuckin’ keys.
He thought about killing her and images of the runt’s bitch came to mind. Growling, he hissed and then threw his head back and roared, sending every wild creature that flew, ran, or crawled into a panic. The loud clatter of birds sounded through the trees around him and he watched them break through the canopy. They wheeled and darted, came together and then streaked apart and flew away. He watched them go as his ears moved, twitched, and rose.
Sonovabitch… Am I really gonna do this shit? Growling low under his breath, he muttered, “Aw, fuck it.”
~ ~ ~
She was leaning on the car and shivering in her overcoat when he walked up. It was starting to get dark.
“Where are we goin’ fer dinner, Tabs?”
“I don’t … have a clue. Can we get in the car, please?”
“Yer tha boss.”
“I’m afraid to ask.”
Victor laughed. “Just keep one thing in mind, babe – ya asked fer this. Gettin’ a taste o’ bossin’ ‘round tha King o’ Mean, yer likely t’ see soft li’l underbelly parts o’ me ya never thought existed.” He winked at her as he started the car. “I’m told tha powertrip’s as addictin’ as fuck, too.”
Author’s Note: I hope you enjoyed this update. For one of my loyal reviewers, I wanted to say: Gothicpug, I think I found you on Deviant Art, and I’m terribly and breathlessly impressed with your Sabretooth art. Seriously, we need to chat.
Thanks to everyone for reading, please do review, I love to hear from you. Naughty Victor has probably just added another chapter to this, too. I know I take forever, my apologies – I still plan to finish all four of my WIP stories. I also need to run edits on them and on my completed works, too. (@MET_Fic) – AnonGrimm