Kirsty was not sure which of them was more reluctant, procrastinating harder. She had dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt she found in the wardrobe. She had brushed her hair, then checked and double-checked her appearance. She looked perfectly fine.
She felt…good. Deliciously sore still. And more than a bit disappointed. She and Mikael had spent the past hour talking. Just talking. She had pulled out her tablet and shown him a few apps and programs that she felt were right for Monica. He had asked all the right questions. She had to admit rarely had she met a father as committed to his child.
Not that most men were not good dads, merely that the Big A word usually was so terrifying they did not know where to begin. They felt helpless, powerless to fix their child, and ill-equipped. All too often, those feelings led to frustrations, withdrawal from their child, and abandonment, emotionally if not physically. But not Mikael. She admired that. And when they had gotten to talking, it was as easy, perhaps more so, than with Bjⱷrn.
So, why did his repeated promises never to let the demons out again disappoint and bother her? Had he been right? About the bad boy thing? She would have never thought herself the type for such things. In fact, Svein’s messages, theirs she supposed was more accurate, were the only ones that she had responded to for that very reason. Only because they were so polite and intelligent. There had been dozens, hundreds, from ‘bad boy’ types demanding instant submission. But theirs…had been merely friendly.
Knowing what she did now, that all of them wrote messages at different times, she could almost laugh at how easy it would be to assign ownership. Svein, of course, were those two-liners about where they were. Talking was not the man’s forte unless, of course, you counted dirty talk. But all of them had her number when it came to that.
She watched him in the mirror as he began changing the sheets. It was as good an excuse as she could come up with for joining him, “Let me help with that.”
He shrugged and smiled, “There are extra bedding stored in boxes under the bed.” He explained as he tucked in one corner of the mattress, and she did the opposite.
She chuckled, “So, my bedroom does not need to constantly smell of sex like the cabin did?”
He chuckled, and she would have sworn the man blushed, “Something like that.” They did the corners at the foot of the bed. Then he pulled another quilt this one as beautifully made as the other, but with a large red, orange, and yellow sun in the middle of a light blue background.
She ran her hands across it, “It is beautiful.”
“Mama made several for us all when she was…” He shrugged, “After Bjⱷrn was born. She spent a lot of time with her flowers and sewing.”
She wanted to question him more about his mother, about life here, but he smiled tightly and held out his hand. “Can’t delay this anymore, I am afraid.”
She shook her head, “What do you mean? It is dinner. Not an execution.”
He sighed, “It would be if baby brother had his way.”
She shook her head, “Why?”
He brushed a strand of hair off her cheek. “You don’t get how serious what happened is, do you?”
“No, it was drop. Of course, I have read about such things. But how is that such a big deal? And why would he blame you?”
“Because I fucked up,” he smiled weakly. “And I deserve it.” He brought her hand to his lips and pressed a kiss to the back of it. Were it not for the whiskers, she would have thought it more in line with something Bjⱷrn would do. “I am sorry.”
“For what? Is it all that big a deal? Some water, a bit of chocolate, tea, and…” She felt the blush rising as she remembered what else her body had craved, but she was not going there right now. “A nap. And I am fine.”
He chuckled, “You might have missed something in your little list.” Kirsty felt her cheeks burn even more. “I should have done all of that last night. But just as importantly, I should have checked in on you this morning. I pushed too hard last night. I am sorry for that too. As I said, I won’t let my demons get out of control like that again.”
It was as close to an opportunity as she was going to get. She screwed up her nerve and took a step closer to him. “What if you were right?” Her voice cracked, and she looked down at the dark wood flooring as she felt the heat rise in her face. “What if I like your bad boy?”
He lifted her face gently with a finger beneath her chin, “I am sorry, Kirsty. Maybe someday. But not,” he stammered for a moment before continuing, “Not until I know I can control it. Until then, how about we work on becoming friends? On reaching Monica? On getting to know one another?”
He was shutting her down. She felt it. Knew it deep inside. And something told her that ‘friendship’ would be an even harder wall to knock down than ‘bad boy’ had been. Maybe he also knew that and wanted to safely hide once more.
Well, that was just too damned bad. She smiled sweetly and nodded her head. She had seduced one husband who wanted to be ‘friends’ first. She would find Mikael’s buttons as surely as she had Bjⱷrn’s. She wanted to laugh hysterically – since when had sweet, innocent Kirsty Dickens turned into such a needy cunt? Since when did she use the ‘C’ word?
Since she met her handsome, rough Nordic fisherman for innocent coffee and woke up to discover herself married to three of them. Three Doms.
“Ready to face the firing squad?” he teased as he pulled her towards the door.
Petrine looked up from the table as they came down the stairs. Every head in the room, except her granddaughter’s, swiveled towards them. Her youngest son turned a most unappealing shade of red around the ears as he tightly clenched his hands at his side. But her eldest was not much better as he stepped forward to wait at the foot of the stairs. His eyes glued to Kirsty as if searching for the tiniest sign of trouble.
She sighed and shook her head. Like a bone to be fought over between dogs. She remembered it all too well. Worse yet, the damned Old Man was right. Her rash actions had only made the situation worse. Not that Kirsty did not need her assistance, the girl clearly had. She did not regret that. Only how she had done it. And Olav would have to live with that as she crossed the room to the other side of the stairs.
“How are you feeling, sweetie?” she smiled.
Kirsty stepped forward, placing herself between Mikael and his older brother, she looked as much at him as she did at Petrine when she answered. “I am fine. Honestly.”
Bjⱷrn joined the crowd at the bottom of the steps and held out his hand, “We were all just worried.”
Petrine smiled as she watched the woman step down one more step and reach out her hand. She first caressed Bjⱷrn’s cheek and then smiled at Svein, “I am perfectly fine. Mikael took great care of me,” she blushed.
Petrine wondered if she realized that she stood directly between the three of them. Her fingers never releasing Mikael’s even as she caressed his brother. She smiled. Yes, they had chosen well.
But she had something she needed to do; while she had the courage. She smiled up at the younger woman, “Part of that is my fault, Kirsty. I am sorry. I did not handle the situation as I should have.”
She sucked in her breath and looked first at Mikael. Her son was staring straight down at the step upon which he stood. How had she ever thought this man uncaring? She of all people should know the truth. The problem with her middle son was that he cared too damned much. And yet again, she had hurt him badly. Him, worse than the others, even Kirsty.
“Mikael, I am sorry. What I said was truly out of line,” those words came surprisingly easy because they were the truth. No doubt, her son had messed up. So, too had she.
He shook his dark head and looked up, sheepishly, “No, Mama, you were right. I was a stupid idiot. I deserved everything you said.” He looked from brother to brother, “And worse.”
Petrine shook her head, “No, Mikael, yelling at you like you were five years old did not help. It only made the situation worse.”
She paused and inhaled. Looking at the three of them as they stood there, she realized that the goddess damned Old Man was right about the other, too. Somewhere over the past few decades, her ‘boys’ had grown into men. And as he had told her, damned fine ones too. Probably despite her more than because of her.
This part was harder. Not because it was not equally valid, but because of what it symbolized. She was passing some Rubicon along life’s way. She was no longer just their mother. And as right as she knew it was to let them go, to allow them to grow and fulfill their destinies, that did not make it any easier. All the ‘reasons’ why this was so long coming were nothing more than flimsy excuses. Damn, she hated how right the man had to be sometimes. She had held them too tightly, too long, until she had held them back perhaps. But no more.
Her voice trembled as she spoke. She fought back the tears, “I owe all of you an apology. These old eyes have failed to see the truth that was right in front of me. None of you are my little ‘boys’ anymore. You have not been in a very long time. You are men…and as someone told me, damned fine ones too. No thanks to me.”
She caught a smile on her husband’s face as Svein took her hand, “No, Mama, we understand. You did what you needed, and none of us blame you. You are an amazing mother, and we are lucky as hell to have you.”
“Damn it, don’t go making the woman cry. She always burns dinner when she cries.”
She felt his arm about her waist, and without even realizing what she was doing, leaned into the man that had become as much her best friend as her husband and lover for the past few years.
Her sons nodded and moved towards the table. All except Mikael, he hung back on that step. Even as Bjⱷrn pulled Kirsty towards the table with his other hand, she saw the girl turn and look back at him.
Mikael smiled weakly and shook his head, “I need to see to Monica.”
The young woman frowned but nodded reluctantly as she followed Bjⱷrn and Svein to the table. Yes, it was right. It was as it should be.
But what of her? Where did she belong now? Sixty-three might seem old to all of them but wasn’t it just yesterday that she was the bride. Trying to find her way. She had been all alone. No mother-in-law to guide her to be what they needed without losing who she was. That road had not been easy. All the jealousy, just as she saw in her sons now. Then no sooner had they began to overcome that…when…
“Good girl,” the tears slipped unbidden from her eyes. She shook her head as she looked into his eyes.
How many times had she heard those words? Why could they still make her weak in the knees? Wet. And hold out the only lifeline she had in this new world where she no longer knew who or what she was. It had been a quarter of a century or more since she felt this lost and adrift.
“We will talk later,” he promised. “After your punishment.”
She was glad there were no fishing hooks around at that moment. She wondered if her aim had gotten any better over the years.
So, why as lost and confused as she felt right now, why did those words thrill her more than they frightened her?
“Fucking bastard,” she cursed under her breath. The damned man just had to be right about all of it, didn’t he?
Because as much as she might want to deny it, he was right about that too. It had been way too long since she had been what she was, a real sub. And not just a mouthy brat or a role player in the bedroom. She would have said that she had no idea what that even was anymore. But the tingles in her tummy told her that would be a lie.
“Did you say something, old woman?” he whispered as he bit her ear lightly. Just enough to get her attention.
“I said, Yes, Sir,” she replied with a smile. How long had it been since those words meant something? They felt as natural now as they always had.
He nodded with that smile, “I thought so. Now let me help you get dinner on the table before our sons riot.”
Olav watched them as he helped Petrine clear the dishes from the table. Mikael had spent the whole meal with Monica. He knew what his son was doing, separating himself from all of them even more. There was no doubt that the man had screwed up. That was not the issue.
What his son was forgetting was Dom Rule Number One: Doms are human. You will screw up. Learn from it. But learning from it was not wallowing in self-pity. He would talk to him later.
Right now, the dark storm which was blowing strongest was from their youngest. Maybe Bjⱷrn was having the hardest time with all of this now because his childhood had been so damned charmed?
Looking as his wife, he had to give the woman credit. She was a fighter. She had fought her way through more testosterone than he wanted to think about to make her own place here. She had fought back the pain of losing three men that she loved. And of course, she had fought the hardest demon of all.
His Rachel, soft, nurturing, and oh so fucking submissive had been eaten alive. Absorbed in the pillar of strength that had walked into this room one day with a baby on her hip. Her green eyes shined from another round of the tears that had not seemed to stop in close to a year. She had stood there before them all and declared in a loud voice, “From now on, I am Petrine. The rock.” And that had been it. As simple as that, she had buried all that pain so deeply that no one had dared question it or her.
But it was still there. He had seen it this morning in those green eyes that, despite what the woman might claim, saw almost as good as they ever had. And she was damned sexy with her reading glasses as she hunched over that damned computer with her fingers whizzing away on that keyboard.
He inhaled. He hoped like hell he was strong enough for this. He was opening all of that pain…after all these years. Wounds like that only got worse with time. And that was his fault. His mistake to fix now.
“Go on back to the cabin, Rachel. I will join you after I finish cleaning up. A half an hour or so, get a relaxing bath. It will pinken that sweet butt up nicely for me,” he said as he positioned himself so that no one could see him lightly swat that bottom. It was not the first time that such things had happened in this house — just the first time in a very, very, very long while.
He saw her look up. He caught fire in those green eyes and thrilled at it. Then she nodded and whispered, “Yes, Sir.”
He chuckled as he leaned in and nipped at that ear one more time, “The way you say that Old Woman still sets this Old Man’s heart aflutter. Now off with you.”
He watched her as she walked over to their sons and Kirsty. The two women spoke for a couple of moments. He noticed that whatever they said seemed to darken those clouds over Bjⱷrn until the young man stood and followed his mother through the door.
Maybe he should follow his own advice to his wife, but he knew that feeling all too well. In the end, he decided to have a brief tug on his pipe before finishing up the dishes and dealing with the other as well.
Bjⱷrn was leaning against the side of the house when he stepped out. He walked over to him and lit the pipe, which he kept hidden on the window seal. He offered it to the younger man, but he laughed roughly, “I’d be careful. If Mama caught you with that,” Bjⱷrn chuckled.
Olav shrugged, “A man my age has to have some pleasures in life.” Not that the damned pipe was one of those.
He nodded back towards the light from the window, “Not as easy as you thought it would be?” He would leave it at that. Let the man know that he was here if he needed to talk, that he understood.
The younger man was silent for so long that he thought Bjⱷrn had either not heard him or preferred not to discuss it. Olav was preparing to put his pipe back in its hiding place when he finally did, “How did you do it?”
Olav laughed, “Not one damned bit easier or simpler than you are, son. Our way of life is not easy. Sharing something as special and precious as the woman you love, even with the brothers you love, is not meant to be easy.”
“I want to punch him, beat him to a pulp. He fucked up. Really fucked up. And she and Mama, all of you, are just forgive and forget. But it doesn’t fucking work like that with me. Now she is going to help him with Monica’s bath. She promised…”
The younger man pushed off the wall and started pacing. His fists were knotted at his side as if he needed to hit something.
“Which is it, Bjⱷrn? The fact that she dropped unexpectedly hard? Or the fact that it may have brought her closer to your brother? Which is really bothering you?”
The younger man swung around so fast that for a moment, Olav braced for the punch, which he was sure was to come.
Not that he could not still hold his own with any of them. Well, maybe not, but he could make them think twice about doing it again.
Whoever thought growing older meant, becoming weak and senile needed a lesson all their own. He was far from ready to take up a rocking chair and waiting to die. Hell, no, there was plenty of fight, love, and life left in his old bones.
But that punch landed instead on the hardwood of the door frame, “Why now? Why the fuck did he have to mess it all up for me just when I was getting close to her?”
Olav stilled his voice as his own pain resurfaced. How often had he thought the same damned thing about this man’s father? Stig had been dead almost seven years, and honestly, maybe he was still battling it, wanting to place a portion of the blame on the shoulders of a corpse. He bit back the ironic laughter that threatened to bubble over. Like fathers, like sons?
He sighed before opening his mouth, “Mess what up, son? What has Mikael messed up for you?”
Bjⱷrn blushed and looked at the ground. He was silent for another long moment, “The whole damned scene I had planned.”
Olav nodded, “So, you were going to put the new sub through her paces? See how far you could push her too?”
Bjⱷrn looked at him like he had grown three heads of some ancient Norse god, “Hell, no, unlike my brother, I am no fucking sadist.”
Olav chuckled, “Don’t knock it until you try it. But if that is not the case, then why exactly can you not stick with your plans?”
“Because she needs to rest. She needs…”
“A break?” Olav shrugged, “Maybe. I don’t know. She is not my sub. I do not know what she needs. Hell, I have not been doing a very good job of…”
He saw the younger man stiffen and realized that even after Rachel outed them, their sons were not ready to accept the truth. He stopped himself and changed the subject, “Do you remember your first hangover, Bjⱷrn?”
Bjⱷrn laughed nervously, whether from the reminder or with relief that he had changed the subject. “Pretty damned unforgettable experience.”
Olav chuckled, too, at the memory of this young man hung over the side of the boat as all of them laughed and poked fun at him. The young fool had taken to his computer looking up and trying half the cures for the malaise that he could find. “Black coffee. The tablets. Water. Orange juice…you went through almost a liter of the damned stuff. And what was that nasty one?”
“Raw egg, tomato juice, and hot sauce,” Bjⱷrn made almost the same face as he had when he tasted it all those years ago.
“Yeah, I remember. And what was it that finally worked? Do you remember, son?”
He watched the light dawn on the man’s face as he whispered, “Papa handed me a shot of vodka.”
Olav nodded, “Funny ain’t it? How a little shot of the very thing that caused all that trouble was just what it took to cure it?”
He shrugged, “Well, those dishes won’t wash themselves. Although sometimes leaving things to soak is just what you need to do. Goodnight, son.”
Bjⱷrn stood in the doorway. It was undoubtedly a good thing that Svein and Olav had sealed the whole damned room, as wet as the floor was. His niece was laughing as she splashed water, bubbles, and damn it, was that his can of shaving foam that he saw laying on the floor next to where his wife knelt.
His wife and kneeling: those possibilities were not ones he wanted to explore with his niece and brother around. He might not be old school high protocol crap like Svein or a sick sadistic fuck like Mikael, but there was not a Dom alive that did not get hard at the thought of his sub kneeling before him.
But right now, he felt like an ass. A total and complete jack ass. As he watched the woman he loved, laughing and giggling with the little girl. Damned, she will be an amazing mother. He sighed – is. She is a good mother, he reminded himself. It was the only argument that had swayed Mikael. A mother for Monica.
Why then did their little family scene bother him so much? Make him feel like an outsider looking in? Like the kid at Christmas looking in the toy store window at the shiny BMX bike that he knew Santa would not bring him this year.
His brother looked up from beside her. “Kirsty was just helping me with Monica’s bath, baby brother.”
She smiled up at him, and his breath caught in his lungs. She was always beautiful to him, but never more so then, kneeling over that tub with his shaving foam in her hair and a smudge on her cheek. She glowed from within.
She giggled, “I may owe you a can of shaving cream. Sorry, I just meant to use a bit. See how she liked it.”
“Oh, she liked it,” he hated that soft look in his brother’s eyes when he looked at her.
Just as quickly, he hated himself. This was not how it was meant to be. Their fathers had never fought over their mother. No, theirs was a home with enough love for all – sons and husbands. How had he so easily forgotten his mother’s lessons?
“It’s okay. I’ll just…”
Just what? Wait for her in her room? Hell, they had not even discussed it. For all, he knew, she had changed her mind. Looking at the three of them like that, it hurt. Pure and simple. It felt worse than the anger he had nursed for this man the whole damned day.
Mikael shook his head, “No, we’re finished. I’ll take Monica and put her to bed now.”
“I’ll help,” she smiled as if she had always been there.
Always belonged. Always been a part of their lives. Wasn’t that what he wanted? Damn it, after all this child had been through, it was the least she fucking deserved. A loving mother. A real family. He was a selfish fucking bastard, and he felt it.
His brother shook his head, “No, we have borrowed you long enough. I will get her down.” Mikael looked up at him, “You have others who need you more right now.”
His brother shook his head, “No, honestly, I have been doing this as often as I can since she was born. It is something I enjoy doing for her. I can more than manage, I promise.”
She looked so dejected then that Bjⱷrn was tempted to tell her to go, but before he could, his brother spoke.
“Just one more time…drink?” His brother brought his open fist towards his face as if he were holding a cup. She nodded her head with a smile. Then Mikael closed his eyes and brought his steepled hands to his bearded cheek as if he were going to…, “Sleep?”
She beamed, “Absolutely perfect.”
Bjⱷrn frowned, “Why does Monica need sign language? She isn’t deaf.”
Kirsty shook her head and smiled at him, “It is not sign language. It is Makaton. I’ll explain later. Teach you some too.” She turned back to Monica and did something with her hands as she said, “No more bath.” Then she, too, made that other sign, “Sleep now.”
Then she lifted his niece and handed her off to his brother that was waiting with the towel. “Remember what I said. A bit harder when you rub her off. Just watch her face. Like the shaving foam, she may love it. Or she may hate it. Trust me – she will let to know if you watch for the signs.”
His brother laughed, “I think I might know a thing or two about watching for women’s reactions. I just never thought of using those skills with my daughter.”
She shoved him lightly, and they both laughed. Bjⱷrn’s chest got so fucking tight he thought a whole fucking pack of elephants was sitting in the middle of it.
Then his brother was pushing past him with his niece kicking and beginning to protest in earnest in his arms. “I am sure you will take care of her better than I did.”
Bjⱷrn wanted to gloat. Wanted to say, ‘hell, yeah.’ But after the touching scene, he had just watched, the words seemed hollow. And it was he, who stared like that truly green-eyed monster at Mikael.
It took him a bit longer to settle his daughter this night because she was excited and happy. Kirsty had given Monica that. The woman knew her stuff. After their little talk, after he quit being such as asshole, she had just stepped into all of it.
He could not say taken over; she had not. Instead, she had done just as she promised, helped him to bridge the gap. Like Bjⱷrn, he would have never thought of sign language with Monica. But it was not. Maka-something. He would ask her again tomorrow. And the other one too…the picture things that they talked about.
For the first time since Greta left. The first time since he had begun to notice the subtle and sometimes not so subtle differences between his daughter and other children, he felt hope. Real genuine hope. As the woman, as Kirsty, said there was no cure, but maybe with her help…maybe?
If he did not fuck it all up again, like he almost had last night, today. He could not let that happen again. Could not allow himself to lose control. Could not let his demons out to play.
This would be better, he promised himself. This truce. Friendship. Partnership. It was what he had wanted all along, right?
A mother for Monica. That was the whole purpose. And while she might still be holding back just a bit, he could see that she was beginning to care for his child. It was all he could have ever hoped for. Wasn’t it?
So, why did it leave him feeling even more empty than that beast had last night when it tried to break her?
He was not looking as he crossed the living room towards the kitchen. “Sorry, Papa. I was not looking,” he apologized as he bumped into his father.
His father shrugged, “It is fine. I was beginning to give up hope of speaking with you. I won’t leave your mother…”
Mikael shook his head. Why of all times did his parents have to out the worst kept secret in the world?
“I have somewhere to be. But I wanted a word with you first.”
Mikael shrugged, prepared himself for what was coming. Like he told his mother, it was not that he did not deserve it all. And then some.
“Give yourself a break, son. I am not going to lie. Or try to make you feel better. You screwed up. Have you used Rule Two?”
Mikael shook his head, “A couple of dozen times. But it does not help.”
His father frowned, “What? Won’t she forgive you? Things seemed good when the two of you came down to dinner. When you took the baby up to her bath together.”
He sighed, “No, she minimizes it. Absolves me of all blame. Like it was no big deal. Hell, she’s practically a vir…” He stopped himself, “She’s new to all this.”
“Then what’s the problem? You recognized that you made a mistake. I know that you will learn from it. And you asked for and received her forgiveness. Why do you still look like a bear with a thorn in its paw?”
“Because I almost fucked everything up again, Old Man. And this time not just for me. Or even just for Monica. But for them too. And do you think that they are going to forgive me as quickly as the little sub? No, my brothers have every right to hate me,” he drew in a deep breath.
His father nodded his head, “Mikael, it has never been me or your mother or your uncles or your brothers who could not forgive you. You have never failed any of us, disappointed us.”
“It is you. You, who has so much trouble living up to impossibly high standards. You, who cannot forgive yourself, my son. And that is a damned hard place to be. Trust your Old Man; I know that better than you realize.”
Mikael looked away, anywhere except at the man who had just nailed the whole truth.
“Goodnight, son. I would say try to get some sleep. But I guess that you will spend most of the night battling demons in your head. The Old Man needs to go battle some too – old ones. Too fucking old. Take your Old Man’s advice: don’t let them pile up on you.”
Mikael did not move, did not look up until he heard the door closed. He hated to admit it, but the Old Man was right. Even after laying awake for two hours in that damned bed and staring at those fucking monsters from the past, that seemed to be mocking him and the mess that he had made of his life, he still felt no different, no better.
Sure, he had done exactly what he swore to those laughing faces that he would. He had negotiated a truce with the woman. His wife. Their wife. Kirsty. And damn it, it was all he could have hoped it would be. She was intelligent. She was compassionate. She was…
Not yours. She will never really be yours.
He ran water into Monica’s favorite cup and forced himself to walk back up those stairs. He did not need to hear that soft moan as he passed the bathroom. Why the fuck had they not sound-proofed that room too while they were remodeling? He stopped and leaned his head against those closed doors.
“You need to learn to be thankful for what you do have…and stop wanting things you never will,” he whispered. With a sigh, he brushed the wood and turned back down the hall to where his daughter was very much still wide awake and ready to play.
Maybe Monica could distract him from thoughts of how fucking wide those blue eyes got when she came all over his face. Of how she would…for baby brother tonight.
“Damn him. What is taking the Old Man so fucking long?” She snuck a look at the clock on the mantle. Six minutes? Six fucking minutes was all she had been kneeling here?
She chuckled. ‘Be honest, old girl, it is not that your knees that can’t take it. You never had any patience.’
It was more than that, though. Much more. It was how fucking right this still felt. After all these years. She thought she had come to terms with this need. Hell, they had all even learned to play the games in the bedroom.
But what she had seen in those eyes this morning was not their safe little games. It is Dominant male — her Dom.
“Goddess damn the fucking bastard,” she cursed.
Why, after forty years, three sons, and all the fucking loss and death they had faced? Why could that man still get her wet?
She chuckled; her sons would have a fucking cow if they knew she even thought the damned word.
That was just it; she did not feel old. Sure, she had to use glasses when working on the computer or sewing, but loads of younger people wore those. Okay, so, she could tell that winter was coming just a bit in her lower back when the breeze blew her coat aside. And she was reminded every damned time, she looked in the fucking mirror. Those lines around her mouth and eyes were not so fine anymore. And where the fuck had all this grey hair come from?
Where had all the years gone? And her husbands? She felt intensely guilty to admit it, but she could not even remember Lars’s face, no matter how hard she tried when she closed her eyes. But she supposed she could excuse that; it had been almost forty years. The man she had barely gotten to know before he was gone. The reminder of how hard this life was, how nasty a bitch the sea truly was, and of why they lived the way they did…why they shared a wife.
“Sweet goddess, please, never let her know this pain,” she prayed to her unknown deity, that voice inside herself that had allowed her to make peace with so much over the years.
Andreas was not quite so hard to picture. Unfortunately, her memories of him were more of the sad, bitter shell, who had found his peace at the bottom of a bottle. The laughing man-boy whom she had first fallen in love with, the one who tricked her and stuck her with this life, he had sunk beneath the waves of time alongside his brother.
Her throat still got tight every time she thought of Stig. Her quiet one. While she might see his face in her youngest son, it was her eldest who reminded her most of the man that it had taken over a decade and more pain than any human should have to bear to come to know and love. “Please, goddess, don’t let Svein waste all those precious years the way we did.”
But it was him. The one whom she had all to herself for the past seven years, the man who had become her best friend, she could not even bear the thought of it. If she had known so much fucking pain then… She was not sure how she would ever survive it.
She wiped away the tears that had started running down her face some time ago. She sniffled. How sexy was a sub with red eyes and a runny fucking nose?
Kirsty reminded her so much of herself back then. But stronger – so much fucking stronger than she had been. Infinitely fucking stronger than she pretended to be. Had professed to the world, her sons, them, him, …and worst of all…herself.
Petrine – the rock – was all just a lie. A role that she played. Just as they had come to role play something that had once been so fucking precious to them.
Until today…until that look. Had she meant to do it? Had she continuously been pushing his buttons, prodding him, trying to make this happen? She would have sworn not. She would have sworn that she was happy with the co-existence they had crafted over the years.
Until she felt that tingle from the top of her grey head to the tip of her toes. Until she felt the butterflies jump in her tummy. Her nipples harden and…all of the other bodily response that she more than well remembered.
Not that they did not play. But this was different. This was so fucking different. And so fucking the same, more fucking comfortable than she could ever remember anything being in a very long time. “Admit it, old woman, you missed kneeling, not because it was a game but because of who he is. Who you are.”
What now? What the fuck now, she wanted to scream. She was not even sure who she was, where she belonged anymore. She had been honest – that damned bed was too big for an old woman and her ghosts. The nights when she could not beg and plead with him to stay at the main house had been the worse. She barely slept lying there; the door open so she could hear Monica if she needed her. She lay there and stared at those laughing monsters until she swore they were laughing at her.
“Damn it; I am not ready to be old. I am not ready to let my boys go. Let them go. Him go. What the fuck do I have then?” she cried as the tears streamed down her face so hard that her whole body shook. She had not cried like this since… Since that day…
Then strong, familiar arms wrapped about her and drew her against him. And all of it came out – all of the pain. All of the lies. All of the pretending and role-playing were swept away by the truth. Even the strongest of rocks, the mightiest of mountains, crumble sometimes.
This was not what he expected. Not at all. It was though what he wanted. What he had hoped they would begin to build towards. Especially as he listened to her, apologize to them tonight. She had gotten it just right. Realized that it was not what she had done or how she felt, but how she had done it, that was the issue.
He tried to remember a time when he had been prouder of this woman, more in love with her. Only Mikael’s birth came close.
But this? The dikes had burst. Almost thirty years, maybe more, of pain were flooding out…and all he could fucking do was hold her.
How long he knelt there holding her naked body as it was wracked with decades of bottled pain, he was not sure. He was well past feeling any of the pain in his knees or joints by the time she began to quiet into hiccups.
Those green eyes swam in murky waters. They were red and almost swollen shut. Her nose was running as severely as their sons’ when they were little. He would have reached for tissues, but they were too fucking far. He used the sleeve of his shirt to wipe her eyes and nose.
He sat back then on the cold wood floor and just leaned against the bed. They were both too weary to even climb into the damned thing just yet. He sighed; the best fucking part about a lifetime together was there was no need for meaningless words like: ‘Feel better?’ or ‘I am sorry for messing up your shirt.’ Silence was enough.
He just rubbed her back as she leaned into him. He felt more like a man than he had in a very long time, just protecting and comforting her.
This was what it was all about anyway. A depth of connection that transcended words. Honor. Unconditional love. Responsibility. Trust. That was the real depth of Dom/sub. HURT. On so many levels. The good kind, the bad kind that they had had their share of, and the necessary kind.
“First off, woman, I am not going anywhere. I waited over thirty years to get your sweet ass all to myself. I am not checking out until I have another thirty with you. So, no more of that, do you understand me?” he smiled as she laughed and nodded.
“Second, you can’t ‘let’ them go. They went long ago. And no one is trying to take your memories of my brothers or your boys. Just help you to see what fine men they have all become,” he hugged her tighter.
“As for the old part, do you want to make me sing to you? You have already cried enough tonight. But just to remind you, Rachel…”
“When a whole lot of Decembers are showing on your face. Your auburn hair has faded, and silver takes its place. You’ll be just as lovely. And I’ll still be around,” he hummed off-key.
“And trust me, sweetheart, it doesn’t take little blue pills for this Old Man to want to lay you down.” He picked up her hand that was showing the years and work. He kissed the back of it, then the center of her palm. With a wink, he brought it to the front of his jeans, over his erection to prove the point.
She left her hand there, even when he drew his back to brush her damp hair back from her face. “You are still as beautiful as you were the day I saw you in those damned cut-offs and halter top, hanging all over Andreas like fucking ivy on some castle. I wanted you then, and I’ll want as long as there is breathe in my body, woman,” he bent and kissed her softly.
“As for what is there for you now? Well, I have a few surprises up my sleeve,” he held it up and chuckled, “Maybe not this one, though.” She giggled, and his heart skipped a beat. “You know I love you, Rachel. I always have.”
Then he swatted the outside of her bare thigh, “But you don’t get out of a punishment that easy.”
He shook his head, “Just not tonight. Tonight, I intend on doing just exactly what that song says…”
“Lay you down and softly whisper tender love words in your ears. Lay you down and tell you all the things my woman needs to hear,” he sang every bit as bad as he had promised he would.
She giggled and had the effrontery to blush, “I think you just want to make me squirm some more.”
He playfully swatted her backside as he lifted her to the bed. “Oh, you will be squirming, woman. Squirming on my hard cock in about thirty seconds.” He laughed as he pushed them both towards the center of the bed and covered her body with his. His hands made their between her legs as his mouth found the nipple that had nursed their son.
Their sons. All of them were his now. A sacred trust that went with this lifestyle as much as this woman did. And he hoped like hell that he could keep those ‘boys’ from even one of the mistakes that they had made with this woman. All of them deserved more laughter than pain in this lifetime.
But right now, it was his honor and duty to see that his wife had something besides pain this night.