Chapter Twelve


I couldn't hide my surprise. Laurie looked at me and tilted her head, intrigued. "Dear, what's the matter?"

What was I supposed to say? The man who was doing everything in his power to keep me away from Elizabeth was at her party, casually mingling with the wedding guests and enjoying a stiff glass of brandy? That he purposely left me asleep so he could sneak out and try to pull more shit over my eyes? I cracked a strained smile and pretended to appear unfazed. "Oh nothing."

To top it off, Noah was across the room, slumped in an armchair and giving Gianna a very explicit look. I turned my head and saw her expression was a mirror image of mine.

"Take a seat ladies." Laurie gestured towards a couple of empty chairs on the other side of the coffee table. Elizabeth stood and waved her hand at her mother. "Don't be silly, you sit here Deirdre."

She vacated the spot and sat in one of the empty chairs, leaving me to sit beside the last person I wanted to be near. The other chair was situated beside Noah, and Gianna grunted silently enough for only me to hear. It felt like we walked into the twilight zone. With my jaw clenched and my hands nervously picking at my dress, I walked over and took the spot beside Darby. His hand possessively wrapped around my shoulders, an assertive grasp that let me know he wasn't planning on letting me run away. Gianna also sat, Noah keeping his eyes on her the entire time. Elizabeth was already caught up in some other conversation with an Indian couple and I leaned into Darby.

"I didn't know you were invited." I hissed, wrapping my hand around his lower thigh and digging my nails into his pant leg. He smiled again, very confidently this time and kissed my head.

"I ran into that friend of yours." He said.

How did he know Tawny? I caught sight of the blonde twenty-something immersed in conversation with a lithe brunette, her face long and narrow, her smile a little too suggestive. As I thought about the amusing things he would probably say in an intellectual discussion, Darby brushed his finger along the crook of my neck. I ignored the touch and watched Gianna uncomfortably adjust in her seat.

"I assumed by certain comments-" I looked at him with narrowed eyes. "-that you and Elizabeth weren't on speaking terms."

"I came to make amends." He lied. My nails dug deeper and he used two of his fingers to squeeze a surprisingly painful part of my neck. I immediately let go and settled for crossing my arms.

"And I'm the pope." I snorted. He laughed quietly and crossed his one leg over the other, his foot blocking me in. Darby knew what I was here for and he wasn't about to let it happen. I leaned into him. "People don't typically like when you go through their phone."

He didn't freeze or tense, which alarmed me. Instead, he smiled as he looked down on me. He waited until no one but Gianna was watching and nuzzled into my neck, his lips brushing against my ear. "You started it."

I stared at him, a wave of anger gripping me. He was treating this like a fucking game. We were both dancing around the big elephant in the room, pretending not to know as much as we did. And still I sat silent, unable to just blurt it out. Now he was manipulating the only people I had left, pretending to be this remorseful pietist when he was just cajoling them all too.

Alright, if he wanted to play, I would play.

"Tad." I called, turning my attention towards the tanned adolescent who was still trying to entertain the brunette. His attention towards her immediately ceased and he turned to me, sensing my hinting tone of my voice. I smiled warmly and out of the corner of my eye I saw Darby's amusement drop right off his smug little face.

Jealousy was Darby's only weakness. He was possessive, controlling, domineering and obsessive in every sense of the word. The last thing he would want would be his pet flirting with other men.

And that's exactly what I did. "You look well." I complimented, trying my best to act sincere. He appeared pleased.

"You look nicely well yourself." He smiled. I inwardly cringed at his lack of charm and misuse of grammar. "Would you like a drink?"

I nodded, making sure to bat my eyelashes as seductively as I could. Darby snorted and squeezed my shoulder.

"And you look like you're having a seizure." He muttered, unimpressed.

"Bite me." I replied, standing while peeling his hand off of me. The brunette's glare was no where near as severe as the look Darby was shooting me. Tawny led me out of the room and we walked across the hall, through a large french glass door and into the kitchen. It was extravagant. The counters were all dark granite and the cupboards whitewashed. A large brass overhang above the island hung expensive looking copper bottom pots and pans. Tawny went right for a door hidden around the fridge.

"Impressive, right?" He smiled. I quirked a brow and had the immediate urge to remind him it wasn't his house. Instead I smiled like an idiot.

"Very." My tone implied more then just admiration for the kitchen. He disappeared for a moment and came back with a bottle of Goldschl├Ąger, waggling it in the air. I didn't question his apparent intrusion into their liquor cabinet but I did find it curious that he was in good standing with the Hirsch family.

"So Laurie and Scott forgave you?" I asked as he searched for shot glasses amongst the half dozen cabinets lining the back wall.

"I came over the day after the champagne thing and I bought them a great bottle of wine. They were good sports about it and the five of us have been spending some time together." He explained, referring to both the parents and the married couple.

"How do you know Elizabeth?" I started looking for the glasses and found them in the second cupboard from the entrance. Setting them down on the island with a click, I leaned against the counter and braced myself for something incredibly boring.

"We went to high school together. I used to be a real nerd. Can you believe it?"

I did my best to laugh realistically but any normal person wouldn't have bought it. He shook the bottle and the tiny yellow flakes swirled around. "Real gold." He waggled his brows. I would have been impressed if I didn't know it was only thirty dollars.

"We met after being pared together for a science project. Elizabeth was pretty even then, and fairly popular. She treated me like a friend when I didn't really have many. Any normal guy would develop feelings for her - which I did. She didn't feel the same, but she helped me get out of my shell a little. We lost contact after high school. This is the first time I've seen her since." He sounded genuinely grateful and warm, which surprised me. The more I heard about Elizabeth, the more she sounded like a honest person. Everyone seemed to love her, considering the number of guests in attendance for her wedding. It only confused me more, how could a down-to-earth woman like her cheat on Darby? The story was just so strange.

"That sounds like Elizabeth." I smiled.

"She told me about what happened." He said, pouring the shots without looking me in the eye. My skin crawled.

"About what?" I knew exactly what.

"The whole cheating thing, how Heath lied to her and all that."

"Oh." I crossed my arms, suddenly feeling a little chilly. "How are they doing?"

"I talked with Elizabeth for hours about it. She was hurt for sure, but Heath has been doing everything in his power to reconcile. I think she'll forgive him in time, but they've both been drinking a lot so it could be quicker then I thought." I raised my brows and nodded, knowing tonight would probably involve more then just conversation between them. It took some weight off my shoulders knowing that they could work through it, given Heath was willing enough to try. I was past my bitter stage, all the hate and resentment I initially had for their union edging away into something better. If I could leave this weekend having helped their relationship, then it wasn't a complete waste.

"How bad was your breakup?" His question jolted me out of my thoughts and I had to take a moment to think. With all the distractions, it had been at least two days since I recalled it.

"Pretty bad." I didn't lie. "I was the angriest I'd ever been in my life. The only thing I could think of was retaliation, which drove me to do some pretty dumb things."

I grabbed the shot and knocked it back. The taste was strong initially, but the cinnamon flavoring burned my tastebuds and warmed my chest. He poured another and I sipped it as if it were water.

"Like what?" He asked, drinking his.

"I packed some of his most prized possessions in a duffle bag and burned them on the beach. Threw his clothes out of my apartment window. Smashed his laptop. Keyed his car"

His eyes were wide with surprise and I decided to stop, despite there being more. He rightfully took a shot and prepared another round. I gingerly tossed it back and licked my lips, savoring the taste.

"I'd stay away from that guy out there. He looks like trouble."

I watched him pour me another and cleared my throat. "Why do you say that?"

"Do you really think he was completely innocent?"

"Sorry?"

"With Elizabeth. Don't believe everything he tells you."

I grabbed the bottle from his hand and took a swig, almost gagging from the bitterness. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time, but I was too emotionally exhausted to even try to react and make some kind of rhetorical quip. Instead I sighed and passed him the bottle.

"You can hold your liquor." He smiled. "That's a big turn on."

At least my seduction was working, but it'd be pointless if I didn't evoke some type of response from Darby. Tawny put the bottle away and we took the last shots, discarding the glasses in the large stainless steel sink over in the back corner. At that point, the alcohol was making me a bit tipsy, but I was still composed and coherent. Laurie caught sight of us as we quietly walked back in and smirked.

"You two look guilty." She mused, laughing deeply. There was an empty glass in her hand.

"Whatever do you mean?" I teased playfully. Tawny's hand pressed at the small of back, leading me into the circle once more. My attention was caught by the brunette, now seated beside Darby. She was leaning in a little too close for comfort. He kept his head forward and I met his gaze as we walked by, sitting together on the white loveseat. His white knuckles gave away just how furious he really was. I smirked in sweet triumph, pretending to be interested in other people scattered about. At least a dozen guests milled about, conversing by the fire and relaxing at the long table positioned behind the cluster of couches. Heath and Elizabeth were now sitting together and seemed rather cozy, which made me glad. I turned to Laurie.

"Where's Scott?" I asked.

"Oh, he passed out a while ago." She leaned in as close as she could from her position. "Don't tell but I may have slipped him a sleeping pill or two in his tea. He's always such a downer at these events." She giggled.

I stared at her for a moment, her confession setting off an alarm in my head. It sounded like the coffee Darby had given me.

No.

He couldn't have done that. I mean, that would be crazy.

I immediately pushed the thought out of my head - it was simply something the rain did to me ever since the accident. It really screwed with my moods.

I laughed it off and settled back into the seat. Tawny's arm slyly wrapped around my shoulder and I couldn't help but compare it to Darby's. His touch was frigid and his hand trembled slightly as the pads of his fingers rested lightly on my skin. It wasn't a possessive touch like Darby's, one that suggested so much just a squeeze. He was like a nervous schoolboy, unsure of how to make the next move. I had to give him credit still, considering the fact that he was hitting on a woman he clearly knew belonged to someone else. I looked over at Gianna and she was resting her chin in her hand, bored. I shot her an apologetic look, but I didn't want to split up Heath and Elizabeth just then. Eventually some of the guests would need some air and scatter, which would be the perfect opportunity to strike.

"So are you doing anything tonight?" Tawny leaned in, his voice abnormally deep. I knew what he meant and I smiled, looking over at Darby. The brunette was starving for his attention, but he ignored her every word, his eyes narrowed at me.

"Well, I'm enjoying this party." I played coy, teasing him. Except he didn't understand.

"I mean afterwards." He sounded confused. I fought the urge to roll my eyes and shook my head. He didn't waste any time by planting a small kiss on my shoulder. It was a bit too wet for my taste.

That was when Darby's expression changed. His frown morphed into a leer and something sparked in his eyes. His hand came to rest at dangerous spot on the brunette's thigh, holding her with a predatory grasp. When he turned, giving me the cold shoulder, I felt my stomach churn. A biting animosity clamped around my heart.

He was playing dirty.

"Who's that woman?" I asked.

"I think it was Haley. Or was it Heather?"

Heather suited her better. She had an artificially attractive face, caked with thick makeup and false eyelashes. I probably looked like a slovenly beast in comparison to her. Still, the only real part of her body were her over exposed legs. She returned the touch, drunkenly placing her long fingers on his upper thigh. I swallowed hard, trying to remain oblivious to the silent quid pro quo between us. I shot a look towards Gianna and pointed discretely at her purse. It would be too obvious if she passed me my phone, but I had a better idea.

"Can I see your cell for a second?" I whispered to Tawny. He looked a bit perplexed, then he appeared delighted. "I already put your name in there. Just add the number."

"Oh... Oh yeah, of course." I nodded as he passed me the device. I turned towards him to hide it from Darby's view and quickly texted Gianna. She warily took out her phone, hiding it behind her clutch. Noah was slowly nodding off, probably tuckered out from their earlier sexcapades. Thankfully, that would be one less problem to deal with. I silently thanked the fact Gianna had the stamina of a horse.

'I have no idea when I'll be able to talk to Elizabeth. Get her alone.'

A moment later, I could tell she was reading the message. She nodded very subtly and not a second after, she inserted herself in conversation with the couple by asking some sort of question that they were happy to answer. It helped that they were both presumably drunk. I worked quickly to add a fake number under my name in Tawny's cellphone and casually slipped it in his pocket. He was flustered at my closeness and a small blush blossomed in his cheeks. I caught myself slanting my head to the side, observing Darby. Heather was much nearer than before, her ear only a hair away from his lips.

My mouth dropped open, then snapped into a scowl. My lungs were contracting at an erratic speed and I felt a disgusting amount of jealousy grip me. I wanted to shout all sorts of obscenities at her, but all I could do was imagine the things I'd do to her. She blushed as he crooned something obviously naughty to her and I was unable to rip my eyes away for even a second.

What a bitch.

"Do you want to get out of here?" Tawny asked. I didn't acknowledge his question, nor his presence. My focus was glued to Darby. My peripherals allowed me to see Laurie off in the hallway, ushering out a couple that were probably off to make the trip home. It gave Darby enough privacy to slide his hand further up her leg, his index finger slipping under the hem of her skirt. Looking at her grotesque and inappropriate expression finally brought me over the edge. I got up and left the room in a flash. My legs carried me to the opposite end of the house in record speed. I found a small secluded staircase and ditched my shoes as I stomped upstairs. A narrow door down the hall caught my attention and I entered, finding myself standing in the middle of small, but well decorated washroom. I made double sure to lock the door behind me and I sat on the counter, allowing myself to catch a breath. On a scale of one to ten, I was an eleven in regards to my anger and frustration. I laid my head back against the mirror and covered my mouth to let out a scream. It was just so much worse when I saw Darby doing what he did with me, with another woman. The effect it had on me was disturbing. There was no way he could even come close to how jealous I felt.

There was an urgent knock at the door. I didn't have the strength to tell them it was occupied so I just turned the tap on. The knock turned into a pound and I groaned, turning it back off.

"Go away." I hissed, covering my eyes, even though there was no light. Only what the moon illuminated through the small privacy window. The handle started to jiggle and I finally had it. I stood and unlocked the door, throwing it open. Darby appeared in front of me, his breathing labored and shallow.

"Go fuck yourself." I tried shutting the door but one of his large hands held it open. It was like trying to overpower steel. I used both hands to force it but he kicked it open and strode in, taking up most of the space in the bathroom with his broad stance. After slamming it shut and turning the light on he stood there, mouth agape and eyes a foreboding shade of black. I wasn't sure what to say, other then more pointless profanity laced insults that got me no further.

"Why don't you go back to fingering that slut?" I mocked, crossing my arms so he couldn't see my shaking hands.

"Would you like that?" He growled, his fury evident.

"Fuck her in every orifice if you want. I'm done with you."

I remembered Gianna once telling me that spitting at someone's feet was one of the most disrespectful gestures amongst her culture. I had nothing left, no insults or ignominies to offend him with, so that's exactly what I did. I cleared my throat and spat in front of him, shooting him the most enraged look I could muster. His shoulders relaxed in shock for a moment as he processed what I just did. There was a complete silence between us.

Then in a flash, I was grabbed and thrown forcefully against the counter, Darby's hands ripping up my skirt, yanking up my panties and spanking my bottom so hard, I screamed. I struggled against him, flailing my arms attempting to get in a punch or two, but he forced my head down onto the counter.

"Don't ever fucking try that shit again." He roared, slapping my backside again. My cry was muffled by the hard surface. He did it over and over, unrelentingly. This time it wasn't careful or deliberate.

He was really punishing me.

And my body was responding in disgusting, nymphotic way. Soon there was no pause between each strike of his hand, as he let out all of his anger upon my body. I struggled defiantly and kicked out my feet, trying to escape his grasp. It continued, each painful whack and swat causing me to wail aloud. The burn was so severe that I began to cry.

"Why won't you fucking say it?!" He bellowed, continuing to slap me like I was the single most hated person in his life. I knew he meant the safe word, but I shook my head madly. I didn't want him to stop. There were five final blows, fueled with all his strength. They were purposely distanced further apart so that I could feel the pain more acutely in each one. The last was weak, his hand relaxing and falling limp by his side after it met my skin. For an endless minute, I could feel his stare on my bottom and hear the uneven, desperate breaths racking his lungs. He pulled my hair back so hard I whimpered.

It allowed me to see the frightening expression of the man behind me. It was Darby in the raw, everything he was at the core. What I had seen before was nothing. His teeth were bared and clenched, his nose wrinkled as he snarled at me. His brows were forced together in struggle and those long, wet bangs of his were plastered across his forehead. He was breathing so hard it was almost alarming. I hiccuped and shook violently, the pain turning my legs to limp, useless objects. My body collapsed back against his and my head spun. I blamed the alcohol. He lifted me on the counter, the cooling sensation of the marble giving me temporary relief. Darby's hands parted my legs barbarically and tipped me back so he had full access.

"Take off your panties." He commanded quietly, his voice strained and hoarse. I obeyed him as my head lolled against the mirror, my hair tangled around my cheeks and curled around my neck. I whimpered as I pulled the lace down against the freshly slapped skin. After I lifted my legs and slid them off my feet, he snatched them from me and pressed them to his face, inhaling deeply. The action still got me disturbingly wet. He shoved them in his pocket and leaned forward to kiss me. I was so weak that I could only part my lips against his. He chuckled sinisterly and simply explored my mouth with his tongue as I lazily attempted to match his strokes. I purred and felt my need for him start to multiply exponentially. The desire began with a tight knot in the pit of my stomach and grew too hot, too much to bare as I practically dripped for him. My clit throbbed for his touch and my insides tightened at the thought of his cock slipping inside me.

Darby had creeped pass my defenses and consumed my every thought, occupied every fantasy and made every inch of me long to please him. The dynamic changed to a slow burning lust, more torturous than the spanking. I struggled but managed to reach his belt buckle, wearily unfastening the leather and unzipping his pants to expose the rock solid erection bulging under his briefs. I gently pressed my hand against him, the hot flesh burning my fingers.

"P-please." I begged, almost on the verge of crying once again. I ached for him to fill every inch of me, to numb the pain and tiring emotions that nagged at me. He braced his hands on either side of my head against the mirror and pressed his forehead to mine.

"That's not good enough." He whispered. I knew he wanted me to beg him and I would, if that's what it took.

"Darby." I murmured. "I need you to fuck me. I can't take it anymore. I don't care, you win. Please."

His lips were trembling against mine and I knew he was holding it in again. His eyebrows were drawn up and his eyes drifted close.

"More." He demanded.

"What more do you want?" I rasped, writhing restlessly against the mirror. "Do you want to hear how consumed my mind has been with constant thoughts of you tying me up and fucking me? Do you want me to admit that I can't even make it through a singular minute without getting wet fantasizing about you? What Darby? Do you need me to tell you that I wanted to tear that bitch's face off for simply looking at you, because my reaction was pretty clear. I don't understand what I'm supposed to say, other than I want you to pound me until I can't think or talk straight. So please, do it."

Darby sucked in a sharp breath, then groaned as he hurriedly pulled down his pants and buried himself inside me with one, slick thrust. I shuddered at the sudden intrusion and held myself still as my body acclimatized to his size. He stretched me; filled me so entirely that I moaned like a wanton whore. As he pulled out, I dug my nails into his ass and forced him back. His breath grew into wild huffs and groans while he began to thrust inside me, building a slow but agonizing rhythm. I clumsily ripped at his shirt, forcing the buttons undone and sliding it down his shoulders. My hands caressed at every inch of his chest, the warm flesh undulating under my touch. He took a moment to step out of his pants and widen his legs, effectively spreading mine even further.

"Yes." I gasped, lazily grinding my hips against him. He wiped the tears from my face and watched me intently as he filled me again and again, his expression pained. We were so close, so focused on each other that I couldn't help but turn my head away out of shame. He grabbed my face and forced it back.

"Look at me when I'm inside you." He sounded more hurt then commanding.

"It's h-hard." I moaned. He furrowed his brow.

"Why?" He asked, gently licking away the tears that still flowed.

"When you're looking at me like that..."

He gritted his teeth and his shoulder twitched as he pulled out, only to thrust back in. I braced my hands on the counter and lifted my hips with the only ounce of regained strength I had. He slid into me with quickened pace each time, his mouth slack and chest heaving. I bit my lip to keep from moaning but he forced my mouth open, hooking his thumb on my lower jaw to hold it in place. The sounds started to flow and I found myself panting, whining and pleading.

"More." I breathed, the word distorted. He understood completely.

He released me and slipped a hand under my bottom. I cried out from the sudden pain and he smiled sadistically, cradling me and hoisting my body off the counter. After turning around and placing us at the edge edge of the shower, he leaned in and whispered in my ear.

"Hold on." I quickly reached above me and grabbed the shower curtain bar, hoping it was securely fastened to the wall. I was poised perfectly for him to slip into me and that's exactly what he did. I let my head rest against the crook of his shoulder as he resumed the pace, quickly picking up speed. Each thrust inside me felt more amazing then the last. He used his one arm to support me around the waist which left a free hand to rub my clit. The sensation made me throw my head back and release a guttural groan. I could see him in the mirror, bending and straightening, sinking inside me. I watched his shoulder blades move and jerk under his flesh, the muscles in his backside ripple and flex and his hips gyrate. He positioned his legs in a wide stance to support my weight and I could vaguely see his cock plunge inside me, a sight that made me even needier. As he quickened the swirl of his thumb against me, I started to get impatient. The beginning of an orgasm was slowly building deep inside me, tingling my nerves and testing my strength. Even though Darby was keeping me steady, I felt my grip start to weaken.

"Darby..." I moaned. He pulled back to look at me and his face was twisted in some sort of unbridled pleasure. I ignored my struggle and kissed him desperately, my tongue frantically tasting every single inch of his mouth. My fingers finally slipped but I didn't move - he continued to fuck me like I was a weightless rag doll. "Harder." I begged.

We were on the floor in an instant and he spread my legs, burying his dick inside me again. This time he wasn't gentle. The motions weren't hurried, but deliberate and hard enough to make me gasp for hair. He pinned my arms down and held my gaze unflinchingly, pounding me against the tile.

"Holy shit." I wailed, fighting his grasp and digging my nails into his back, dragging them across his flesh with each breathtaking plunge. His eyes were deep black holes, concentrating on my every move. When his fingers resumed playing with me, I grew restless, my body contracting and shuddering against him. I wrapped my arms around his neck and he pulled me up so that I was straddling his thighs.

"Show me how bad you want to come." He seethed, leaning back and bracing his hands on the floor. I grabbed his shoulders and rocked on him frantically, my head rolling against my shoulder as I gasped and purred, never letting him exit me completely. Darby closed his eyes and hissed through his teeth when I leaned over and clamped mine around his shoulder. My hands were all over - in his hair, across his back, playing with his nipples, reaching behind and caressing his balls. I couldn't get enough of him. Finally, I hugged him as tight as I could, pressing my face against his. Our lips only touched by a hair, but I found the mingling sounds we made in unison to be the last thing I needed to bring me towards the edge. He pushed the strands of hair out of my face and looked me in the eyes.

I squirmed on him a few more times before my hips buckled. I tightened around him as the orgasm possessed me, spasming every muscle and strumming every nerve. It started out as a body shaking, breathtaking burst of energy and morphed into something more I hadn't experienced during our previous embraces. It was intense heat building from my toes, searing through my legs and affecting every single inch of me. I cried out, screaming his name over and over again. My mind was going completely blank, every feeling, thought and emotion taken over by the new sensation that consumed me wholly. I shuddered violently and sobbed into his chest, my vision having gone completely white. Darby arched his back and tensed as he came inside me. I could feel it deep within me and it only made my muscles contract harder. "Dee." He growled, dragging his nails up my back. His body had the same tremors, his thighs trembling violently underneath me. My pussy spasmed hard around him, and each time he gasped and groaned. At the hilt, my body completely relaxed and a tingling warmth filled all of me. As I gained back my sight, I saw him mouth my name again. One his eyes was shut tight, the other twitching as he came down from his climax. I felt my body go limp against him, the last few convulsions reduced in severity each time. His cum dripped down my leg and tickled the inside of my thigh.

"I love you." Darby whispered feebly against my mouth.

I closed my eyes and sighed.

"Me too."


The air was musky and hot as we struggled to properly clothe ourselves. I was still sitting haphazardly on the floor. I shakily fixed the back of my dress and searched for my panties, only to realize Darby had taken them. He was perched on the bathtub, his elbows resting on his knees, his hands clasped tightly together as he tried to even his breath. I wasn't sure what to say, but then again who would? I grabbed the counter and attempted to stand, but my legs weren't having any of it. My whole body was drained and beaten feeling, not to mention my insides felt like they'd been ripped apart. Darby rose and helped me, grabbing my wrists and using what little strength he had left to lift me. I found it hard to look at him after what just happened.

His hands timidly wrapped around my waist, hoisting me on the counter. I hissed and swore as my bottom hit the flat surface.

"What are you doing?" I murmured, confused. He couldn't possibly want me again after all that...

He surprised me by splaying my legs and using one of his fingers to slide along my cleft. I shivered and tried to close my legs, but he shot me a stern look. He held the digits up to the light and I saw the semen tinged with blood, most likely from the roughness of our fucking. I blushed and turned away, covering myself with my hands. He rinsed it off in the tap and grabbed a kleenex, wiping me before I could object. It was embarrassing and uncomfortable all at the same time. When he was finished, he flushed the tissue and started to look in the cabinets. I watched him closely and noticed the swollen red lines marring his back. They were the marks my fingernails had left. I peeked into the mirror behind me and saw that I had the same ones on my shoulder blades and at the small of my back. After a moment, he retrieved a small green tin with fancy black writing. We were both silent as he helped me off the counter and stood me in front of him. He sat down on the toilet and turned me around, lifting my skirt. I whimpered at the sharp pain of fabric scraping against my skin.

He leaned forward and planted a kiss on the red flesh. I stood there, waiting patiently. The cool touch of cream surprised me, but it was a welcome relief. Darby spread it across my bottom, careful to be gentle with the very tender spots. "What is that?" I asked feebly. "Arnica cream." He replied, his voice wavering as he finished applying it to my flesh. He slowly pulled down my dress, taking care to make sure the seams were straight. Darby stood behind me and buttoned up his shirt as I took a glance at myself in the mirror. My hair was still wet in some places while the rest of it was disheveled and generally an irreparable mess. My eye makeup was smeared and whorish looking, which fit the circumstances. Darby stood beside me and looked at my reflection, stared at the dampness of my cheeks and the sadness of my expression. His was perfectly matched.

"Are you okay?" He asked.

"Sore." I mumbled, heading for the door. I opened it and peeked my head out, checking to see if the coast was clear. When it was safe, we both escaped. As we walked towards the stairs, I could hear some footsteps coming up the singular flight and I turned around to look at Darby. He urged me to go the other way and I did my best to continue on shaky legs and bare feet.

"Deirdre?"

When I looked back, I saw Tawny standing at the top of the stairs, his face contorted into one of confusion. I realized he was staring at my back, and I quickly turned around the hide the marks. He shot Darby a look, then ran up to me.

"Turn around." He commanded, his usual flippant demeanor taking on a much more serious tone. I shook my head silently, afraid I might say something stupid. He grabbed my elbows and tried to spin me, but Darby's hand wrapped around his shoulder. His eyes were chillingly aphotic.

"Don't touch her." He commanded. The air shifted and I could almost smell the testosterone coursing through the both of them. I stepped back, trying to diffuse the situation.

"We were about to come back down." I told Tawny, reassuringly.

"What were you doing?" His voice was cagey. "What are those things on your back?"

There was a pause. "Did he hit you?"

I froze for a minute and looked at Darby. In a flash, Tawny's arm was pulled back, ready to strike. What surprised me was how fast Darby blocked the punch that was flying towards his face. He clearly didn't want a second black eye. He caught Tawny's fist in his grip and twisted the arm behind his back. There was a painful grunt from Tawny as he tried to escape, but only incapacitated himself further, soliciting a mangled shriek.

"Help!" He shouted, falling to the ground when Darby released him. I raised an amused brow and Darby shrugged. There were heels clicking through the hallway downstairs and soon Gianna was up the stairs, looking frantic and alarmed.

"Get away from him." She hissed, pointing at Darby. Tawny was still on the ground, writhing in pain, maybe from a dislocated shoulder. I looked at her in silent question. More footsteps followed and the most surprising guest appeared, her face a sickeningly pale shade of white.

Kitty.