Twisted Roses

Page 136

Her nose wrinkles. “Don’t start nothing you can’t finish. I will bring a puppy home so fast.”
“That’s the last thing we need. A race to bring home a puppy. We’re both competitive. We’ll wind up both bringing one home trying to beat each other to the punch.”
“Two puppies. I’m not seeing a problem.”
“You say that now. Wait ’til they’re chewing on the shoes you love so much.”
I taste her lips and squeeze her hips, indulging myself for an extra second or two, before forcing myself back to the grill.
It starts drizzling in the coming minutes. The sky darkens a stormier shade and the tide picks up crashing against the shore. Delphine checks the weather app on her phone and confirms the forecast for the evening has changed—the good weather promised this weekend has shifted. We’ll be getting plenty of rain.
Fortunately, we’ve finished grilling by the time it really comes down.
No big deal.
We move inside. We light candles and the meal becomes that much more intimate. At one point, Delphine slides into my lap, and we enjoy dessert together—strawberries and cream we feed each other and savor. I may get carried away, licking cream off her lips, kissing her deeply, my arms keeping her planted where she is.
She curls fingers into my shirt and makes all the breathy sounds I love.
Time escapes us in moments like this. It’s no surprise when we have the entire evening to do as we wish.
Our stay at the beach house was Delphine’s idea. It was coming off of a rough year for her, where she’d been raped, targeted by the Belini family and the Neptune Society, blackmailed by an old classmate, and still managed to run a campaign for district attorney of Northam. In the middle of dealing with these situations, she was trying (and failing) to resist the pull between us.
She learned the hard way. You can’t escape the inevitable.
The lesson I learned was similar but different—my infatuation for this woman, which began as a means to destroy a man I hated, had taken on a life of its own.
Try as I might to pretend otherwise, it wasn’t merely an obsession anymore. It was love.
I didn’t even know I was capable of feeling it ’til I realized I felt that way about her.
Hate, rage, the thirst for revenge don’t leave much room leftover for love.
For more than half my life, I’ve waited for the chance to exact my revenge against Lucius. The kind of revenge that’s more than simply killing him. That would be an ending too lenient for a man like him. He deserves to suffer, to be humiliated, stripped of his ego, and made to know what a pathetic, insignificant sack of shit he is.
For him to feel small. Worthless. Repulsed with even himself.
To such a degree he’d prefer death instead.
After all the things he’s done, the ways he tormented me from the moment I was born, it’s more than owed.
But I never saw myself surviving. I always figured he’d immediately retaliate and I’d probably be killed. Something I’ve never had a problem with, considering life has no real purpose or meaning. I was fine with dying so long as I went out knowing I got what I wanted and took down Lucius.
Delphine has changed my outlook. Due to no real effort on her part, but more so being the woman I fell for, and who I’m wanting a future with.
A future that entails thingsbeyondmy revenge against Lucius. The idea of making it out of our war alive finally feels like it has a purpose… and that’s to be with her, and discover what else there is to life other than blood and violence. Maybe even traditional milestones I once balked and laughed at.
With Delphine, it’s begun to creep into my mind. It wouldn’t be so ridiculous, would it? A guy like me wanting stuff like that?
I just have to do this first. Carry out my plan. Get my revenge. Destroy Lucius.
Then I’ll have earned what I now see as my reward; I can return tothis.
After dinner and dessert (and our heavy kissing and petting), we move into the living room. The drizzle’s graduated into full-blown downpour, pounding on the roof and tapping against the beach house’s many windows.
I’m sitting on the sofa with a drink in hand, pretending like I’m paying attention to the sports game on TV. Really, I’m watching Delphine play with Salt and Pepa.
She’s on the floor between my legs, teasing the pair with a toy mouse on a wand.