Dead and Loving It
“But how’d you know I—?”
“Promise, Crescent. As long as you’re in this house, no more crazy jumps.”
“But I won’t be hurt,” she explained earnestly, resisting the urge to snuggle into his arms. He was holding her like she weighed as much as a bag of feathers, like it was nothing. And the way he was scowling down at her—it should have been scary, but instead, she wanted to smooth out the frown lines with her fingertips. “Really! I’m sure I can do it.”
“Not in my house,” he said firmly. “Now promise.”
“Or what?” She wasn’t being sarcastic. She was curious.
“Or I won’t put you down.”
Now she did smooth out the frown line over his eyebrow. Weirdly—but nicely—he leaned down and nuzzled her nose. She felt her nipples tighten and fought the urge to squirm in his arms.
“You’re just going to carry me around all day?” she teased.
He smiled down at her. “It wouldn’t be much of a hardship.”
“Okay, okay. I promise. No more jumping off stuff in your house.” But I can’t promise I won’t jump anywhere else…
“All right, then.” He set her on her feet, gave her a warning smack on the ass which stung like hell— “Hey!” —and walked back to the kitchen.
He heard her as she tiptoed past his room. Actually, he heard her when she opened her eyes and sat up in bed. He knew from her smell she hadn’t slept, and made sure he didn’t either.
When she stole out of his house like a thief in reverse, he was right behind her.
* * * * *
Bags were always in short supply at the shelter, so she just gathered a few changes of clothes to her chest and stole back outside. Unfortunately, she caught Maria’s eye on the way out. Well, it couldn’t be helped. The woman gobbled speed like it was Tic-Tacs, and she never slept.
Crescent crept down the alley behind the shelter, thinking she still had time to catch the Red Line back to the bus stop near Drake’s house, when she heard running footsteps and turned to see the Asshole Brigade.
“New crib?” Maria asked. She was one of those women who always smiled—who smiled when you knew they were screaming inside. “New man?”
“Yes, and no, and mind your own business.”
“Hold up, Cress.” That was Nick Moran, the leader of the incredibly lame group. “You got something for us?”
“It’s Cress-ent, and no, I sure don’t. What’s wrong with you?” She shifted her weight and clutched her clothes a little tighter. She did not want to let these three put her in the middle of their nasty little circle. Her gut almost always led her right—why else was she staying with a stranger?—and maybe it did this time, too. Maybe when she fell in with these idiots, they didn’t really know how bad it could get. Her gut was good, but it couldn’t foresee the future. “Robbing a blind guy? Trying to, anyway. You couldn’t even pull that off.”
“Shut up,” Nick said roughly. He was a tall, cadaverously thin man with the bare beginnings of a mustache, and a scar that bisected his left cheek. “We had it under control.”
“Sure you did. ‘Bye.”
Jimmy, the other schmuck, clawed at her elbow and managed to grab it. “Whyn’t you take us to his place?” he asked. His tone was reasonable, but she wasn’t fooled. “Cute piece of ass like you, bet you’ve already got a key.”
As a matter of fact, she did. As a further matter of fact, she certainly wasn’t going to let them have it. “Forget it,” she said, trying to pull away. “Fuck off, you three, before I lose my temper. I can’t believe I ever felt sorry for you.”
“Sorry for us?” Nick echoed, expression darkening. “Be sorry for you. Because when we get done, you won’t be so pretty no more.”
“It’s any more. For God’s sake, Nick, you went to private school before your folks kicked you out.”
Nick blushed—he hated being reminded he hadn’t been born to the streets— but Marie’s smile widened, if that was possible. Crescent observed that the woman had a nodding acquaintance at best with toothpaste. “We can do this the easy way—” she began.
“Oh, spare me your thug clichés.” Crescent was more annoyed than frightened, which she supposed was something. She’d been a moron to come back here by herself—and for what? So Drake wouldn’t see the shelter? Who cared what he thought? Big overprotective dope. And she wasn’t going to be winning any College Bowls, either, unless she starting relying a little more heavily on instinct and less on pride.
Jimmy’s other hand—the one not squeezing her elbow—darted forward like a pale spider and grabbed her nipple. Then he started to pinch. Hard. Crescent could drop her clothes all over the filthy alley floor, or she could stand there.
She stood there. Never in a thousand years would she show these three how much he was hurting her. “Cut the shit,” she said through gritted teeth. “You think acting like bullying assholes is going to change my mind about you?” She looked at Nick, waiting for him to call off his dog.
Jimmy was giggling and Maria was grinning, and Crescent’s eyes were watering, and she had just decided to drop her clothes and kick Jim in the ‘nads when Jim was flying away from her, literally flying. He sailed through the air and crumpled to the street a good ten feet away.
She had a glimpse of big hands cupping the curve of Maria’s skull, and Nick’s, and then there was a klonk as their heads banged together. It sounded awfully like the time she dropped a cantaloupe on the floor.
And then Drake was towering over her. Scowling, as usual.
“Have I mentioned,” she said, gaping up at him, “that for a blind guy, you get around pretty good?”
“Once or twice.” He pushed her crossed arms down, and carefully raised her T-shirt, then eased her bra cup down so he could examine her nipple. This was startling, and quite nice. She reminded herself that he was a doctor, and hers was probably one of about six thousand nipples he saw in a year.
“It’s pretty red,” he said after a long moment. He was leaning so close, she could feel his breath on the swollen peak, and shifted her weight again.
Suddenly her shorts felt too tight, in a pleasantly irritating way. “But I don’t think it’ll bruise.”
“How—” Her mouth was suddenly very dry, and she coughed. “How do you know it’s red?”
He didn’t answer her. Instead, he smoothed her hair away from her eyes. “If you steal out of my house in the middle of the night again,” he said, quite pleasantly, “I’ll beat you.”
“No you won’t.”
He sighed. “No. I won’t.”
“Drake, seriously. Why d’you care?”
He sighed again. “I care.” Then he pulled her up on her tiptoes and kissed her with bruising strength.
She dropped her clothes. Fuckit.
Kissing Drake—well, being kissed by Drake—was an entirely novel experience. For one thing, the man didn’t have an ounce of flab anywhere. For another, she had the distinct impression he could snap her spine like kindling. But this thought was as exciting as it was slightly scary.
He pulled away and she stumbled forward. “Oh, no, don’t stop,” she gasped. “Kiss me some more—I’m not dizzy enough.”
“I can’t,” he said, and she was delighted to see his breaths, too, were coming hard. “I don’t want to take you in the alley like a—come on.”
He grabbed her hand, hauled her out until they were under the streetlights, and flagged a cab. He practically threw her inside, then slammed the door and tersely told the driver his address.
“My clothes,” she said, staring out the back window. “And after all the stupid trouble I went to…”
“I’ll buy you a Gap store,” he replied, and didn’t let go of her hand until the cab pulled into his driveway.
Drake fumbled for his wallet, then grabbed a bunch of cash and threw it at the driver, dragging her out in the same instant. She heard the driver’s gasp of surprise and appreciation, and then he was pulling out of the driveway and, in typical Boston driver fashion, pulling into traffic without looking.
She jumped into Drake’s arms. He held her easily, his hands cupping her bottom, and she nibbled his lower lip. “I think you tipped him ‘bout a thousand percent,” she teased.
“Ask me if I give a fuck,” he growled back. He shifted his grip, reached, and tore her shirt from the neck down.
They didn’t make it to the bedroom. They didn’t even make it to the front steps. Instead, he took her in the lilac bushes, and to the end of her days she would associate that scent with Drake’s urgency.
“This is insane,” she panted, helping him tear out of his coat, his shirt, his pants. “We don’t even know each other.”
“I know you.”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s what they all say.” Except she felt as if she knew him, too. Independent and proud and kind and gentle, but a hard man when he had to be. A velvet fist when circumstances demanded it.
He tore her panties off and then gently parted her. She was slippery and he groaned when his fingers slid through her, into her, and while his fingers were busy stroking and parting the slick folds between her legs, his thumb was on her clit, gently rubbing, and his lips were on her sore nipple, licking and kissing.
“Later,” she groaned. Oh, Christ, had she ever wanted anyone this badly? Had anyone? “Later for that stuff. Fuck me, before I go out of my mind.”
He left her nipple after one last kiss, then caught her hand, brought it between them, and let her fingers curl around his enormous length. He throbbed beneath her touch and she could feel his slippery tip. She ran her thumb over it and he shuddered in her arms.