Authors: A.J. Lape
Okay … maybe she was
Yankee hung out until the silence was deafening. After ten minutes of pure awkward, she dramatically flipped her hair and went home, her mile-high pink stilettos clickety-clacking on the charcoal-colored pavers.
A few minutes later, Dylan and his mother came outside headed for the car, freshly showered, decked out in shorts and polo shirts. They were going for “a drive.” Emphasis on the quotations. Over the years, I’d learned that signaled code for something else in this family. Could be good, could be bad.
“How’s the most beautiful girl in the world?” he grinned.
“Missing you,” I smiled.
Um, hating you
, I should’ve said.
“Come over here, and let me love on you.”
Standing up, I gathered all my strength and bumped my right foot into his thigh, knocking him flat-backed into the pool with a thunderous splash. There was little premeditation, but if I were brutally honest, I held him responsible for Yankee. Evidently, she brought a hibernating jealous streak out of its cave.
He broke the water, yelling. “Darcy Walker! You little brat!”
“Don’t use my name in vain, D,” I laughed. “That’s a sin.”
Dylan whipped his head around, ridding the hair from his eyes. “In no way are you deity. Why did you just
The devil made me. “It was an accident,” I claimed. On purpose. “An accident,” I said again.
Dylan splashed a huge tide of water in my direction, but I jumped out of the way.
“Pack it up, sweetheart,” he growled. “You’re on a plane tonight.”
“I’m already packed,” I shrugged,” and I don’t care,” I said, adding a lie.
Dylan treaded water, acting like he wanted to hold me under. “Try that again, Pinocchio,” he hissed. “I just picked up a pile of your dirty clothes and threw them in the washing machine. Out of the grace and goodness of my own heart, I might add.” Dylan paddled over to the side, looking like a drowned rat.
“You’re the best friend in the world,” I grinned.
-best friend,” he emphasized angrily. “Watch your back, Darcy. When you least expect it, you’ll get a calling card from
I laughed, “Blah, blah, blah, misogynistic blah. I’m not scared.”
Dylan swam to the side and in a one-handed strength, skyrocketed himself to a standing position. Towering over me, he took my right arm and twisted it behind my back, forcefully shoving me facedown onto the chair. I felt his personality flip—the change rolling off of him in seismic waves. “Kiss me,” he breathed hotly in my ear.
I looked back at his lips and was pretty sure I might’ve licked mine.
For a second, the world went on blackout. Dylan occasionally pushed the boundaries of whatever it was that we had together, but this went further than he’d ever gone. I mean, we had an audience; that had always been taboo. When I glanced to his mother, her face shot straight to blood-red, producing a frown that threatened physical pain. She reached to touch him then warily pulled away like it was too confusing to even try and dissect.
I smiled in complete satisfaction. “Towel off, Dylan,” she told him exasperated.
Dylan left me laughing as he ripped his shirt off, stomping furiously inside.
His mother gazed at me and frankly didn’t know what to say or do. “You two are
…” She paused, looking for the right word, “
,” she decided on reluctantly, “I shudder to think what your relationship would entail should you ever date.”
Okay, so Dylan roughed me up from time to time, but that was minor compared to the mental pain I inflicted on him.
All the good people were asleep. Lincoln had dropped off into his snoring period, so I banked on the fact it was safe to bunk with Dylan for a while. I knew why I stood outside his door, so why was
“What were you two talking about?” I whispered as I passed Sydney in the hall.
Sydney pulled her bright pink robe together on what looked like another babydoll vixen number. “Ask my brother,” she said in a gravel. “It’s not my place.”
As much as Sydney resembled her mother, she had her father’s raven-black hair and dark, penetrating eyes. She could cut to the chase and was as blustery and protective as Dylan. And although she could grate on his nerves, he confided in her. But one look in her eyes, and I knew she’d die with whatever secret she was keeping.
Frankly, I wanted to ask, but I legitimately had a headache. My head always hurt when it thought about too many things, and right now, some evil entity had sucked out my brain and replaced it with bad baby gremlins. They chomped and chewed and devoured what little bit of sanity was born in there.
After Sydney slinked back to her room, I made sure no one spotted me and crept inside like a cat burglar. The moon was full, casting a long shadow over the lake, and although my vision wasn’t perfect, I caught the light bouncing like a prism of broken glass. I heard movement outside. I couldn’t make out the exact source, but something scampered this way then that. Run, stop. Run, stop. As if tempted to stay, but something or someone made it feel unsure of itself.
Dylan lay on his stomach already asleep, hands up by his head hugging the pillow. He had that melt in your mouth thing going on, and the first thought that came to mind was “finder’s keepers, losers weepers.”
Dylan did offer, “payback”—a calling card—like he’d promised. After his “drive” with his mother, he waltzed through the door, loved me up in his usual way, and then wrapped me in his arms and legs, launching us both into the pool. We rolled around for an hour. He meant it as punishment; to me it felt like the foreplay of two porpoises.
Before I even uttered a word, Dylan jerked awake, instantly alarmed, rising up on his elbows. “Are you okay?” he murmured softly. Through the years, I’d always tried to sneak up on him. I’d tiptoe. Get my ninja on. Move with the wind to not disturb him. I’d never mastered the art of him not “feeling” me, as he said. On a night like tonight, I found that beyond comforting. Let’s face it, the Darcy Boat was headed for an iceberg, and God only knew how many people would drown with me.
Dylan threw back the sheets, and I quietly climbed in next to him. He seemed extra affectionate tonight. His feelings were palpable, his heart beating so loud I felt it touching my own skin. Sometimes Dylan’s emotions streamed so strong he didn’t even have to admit them. It could be a heartbeat; it could be anger he kept in check. Whatever it was, I’d simply peer in his eyes and what puzzled anyone else rang clear to me. Right now, he shot off nothing but 100 percent, no holds barred, affection.
My night just got a little better.
While he slowly ran his left hand up and down my body, I instantly got struck with a feeling of insecurity. I was wearing old, gray sweatpants and a holey white t-shirt. I’d found them at the bottom of a laundry basket—nothing but B.O., sweat, and ketchup stains. Fluffing the feather pillow, I rolled onto my elbow to face him, once again wishing I’d worn my glasses.
“What were you and Sydney talking about?”
His hand stilled on my back. “Do you really want to know?” he said strangely.
Yes was on the tip of my tongue, but I couldn’t bring myself to say it. “If it’s between the both of you, then no.” Wow, my nose must’ve grown two inches.
“Has Yankee’s latest visit been bothering you?” he asked quietly. “Maybe it’s time we have a conversation, sweetheart. I’ve needed to talk to you for some time, but I’ve not been able to find the appropriate moment or the words.”
He tucked a tendril of hair behind my ear and lowered his forehead into mine.
she still bothering me? Was that the reason I’d snuck into his bedroom? If so, what could we talk about? He’d kissed her. And if I were to make an educated guess, a little bit of France was involved. That wasn’t
you grossed me out and I’m just being polite
behavior. It was
wow can we do this again
kind of stuff. Could someone like Yankee actually be his “everlasting?” That’s the word he used to describe the one Destiny chose for you. If she was, a part of me wanted to find her and gut her insides. I’d heard the stories about Dylan and girls—seen them firsthand with Brynn Hathaway at home—but now that I’d witnessed it again, any rumor would’ve been sufficient.
Curiosity, in this case, was a killer.
“Just hold me, D,” I whispered, trying not to cry. “For once, I don’t want to talk.”
Here Dylan and I were—in a dimly lit room, no chances for discovery—and I was suddenly at a loss for words.
He opened and closed his mouth two times, ending with a long-suffering sigh. “I love you with an eternal intensity, Darcy, and if that’s what you need, then okay …
I always felt like an ellipsis followed Dylan’s sentences … like there was something—or a dot, dot, dot—he knew that I didn’t.
22. INIQUITY ENGINEER
ATURDAY NIGHT HAD ARRIVED.
I stood in the kitchen chatting with Colton; the rest of the house surprisingly was sound asleep. How that managed to happen, I have no idea, but I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Colton’s hair ran every which way but sophisticated, and his clothes were so rumpled together it looked like he’d dragged them out of a garbage can. My guess was he’d already snoozed a few hours and was searching for coffee to relax him.
Like me, it calmed him down.
Unfortunately, I had to account for my whereabouts as he found me inches from the door. I knew he hadn’t changed the security code to something complex. I’d staked it out the last couple of nights, and it appeared to still be three letters. I hoped that maybe—
—he’d left it the same or spelled Leo backwards. A quick glance at the door showed the light still green and good-to-go. As luck would have it, he hadn’t even activated it for the evening. I fought a smile because it appeared things were already in my favor.
Grabbing a white mug from the cabinet, he slid it under the Keurig and brewed a cup of Fog Chaser, still in his sleepwalking stupor.
“I’m going next door to take Oinky for a walk,” I explained.
“Sounds like a fascinating evening, dear.”
“We’re going to paint each others’ nails then tromp nude down the street while we rub our hooves together.”
“Then let the Wookiee win.”
“May the force be with you,” he slurred.
, I laughed ... his favorite movie. I choked back a giggle as he took one, long sip. When Colton went on vacation, so did his brain. When Colton sleepwalked, his brain practically flatlined.
“Where’s Dylan?” he mumbled.
“Around,” I sort of lied.
“Just as long as he knows.” Not yet and hopefully never.
After I reassured him that Dylan defined omnipresent, he shuffled over to the black cookie jar on the counter, removed the lid, and plunged his hand inside, placing a Benjamin Franklin in my palm. Why he felt Oinky and I needed a hundred bucks was beyond me, but Colton had one eye closed during our entire conversation.
When he stumbled back down the hallway, I shoved my bucket hat on my head to match my black miniskirt, halter top sweater, and strappy sandals. Black represented formal affairs, and this getup was about as formal as my tomboy tendencies would allow. But I knew my ensemble wasn’t complete. I needed a weapon, or weapons. I couldn’t take Lincoln’s gun for reasons of the obvious, and anyway, that seemed more wrong than what I’d planned. Yes, I had Kyd, but at the end of the day, he might just be another pretty face.
In my opinion, I needed to prepare to live or die by my own two hands.
I rummaged around in the kitchen drawers and came out armed with a turkey baster and a butter knife. Neither would inflict mortal wounds, but they would buy some time and placate the angel on my shoulder who screamed I was stupid. Slipping the knife snuggly inside my waistband, I situated the blade running parallel to my right leg. When I took one step, it slid down my hip, pinging loudly on the tile. Quickly snatching it up, I grabbed a rubber band on the countertop, knotted it around the handle, then safety-pinned it to my skirt. When two aggressive jumps left it firmly in place, I figured I was good to go and ditched the turkey baster.
I tiptoed down the hall to retrieve my purse and iPhone from Dylan’s room. We’d finally zip lined over alligators today, and I must say, I didn’t see enough reptilian debauchery for my liking. They were supposed to be mating, for God’s sake, and we didn’t see crap except for a few open jaws. We ended the day boating, and Dylan (thank God) fell into bed bone-tired. He lay in the same position he’d been in an hour ago, facedown, hugging a pillow under his right arm. Dylan didn’t technically snore, but he sure did breathe heavily when exhausted. I told him twice of my plans with no answer. Maybe that’s why I consciously left my things in his bathroom. If he woke, it would be a sign to stay home; if he didn’t, I’d interpret that as a green light to continue on. Well, fret not, my fellow deviants, he hadn’t moved a muscle, and I was geeked up and ready to go.