Okay, so that is a weird title, but I found Elliot’s body! He is a different model, but with a little picture magic, I was able to get them close enough…of course, with those awesome pecks and abs, no one may even notice his face! Damn, I’d love to wash my laundry on that washboard stomach…mmm…have to get that laundry dirty first, but I think I could come up with something. Hahaha!
I’ve been working steadily on the newest book in the series and am thoroughly enjoying myself. I took a little breather to check out some stats. Smashwords and its retail feeds (Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, etc.) have been the source of over 100,000 downloads, add the amazing Amazon, and I’ve reached nearly 300,000 readers since I began publishing about two years ago. Wow…that is SO cool! So as a special treat, I decided how about a little more teaser from Because The Night? How about the next two chapters?!
Enjoy Chapters Five and Six (and once again I apologize for any editing blunders because I don’t go back and do editing corrections usually until the book is finished):
Genesis waited until the trucks left before she exited the backdoor to go to the barn. The first appointment written on the pad wasn’t until ten a.m.—she had a little time and her employer had closed his bedroom door so she assumed he didn’t want to be disturbed. She thought about knocking then changed her mind. She didn’t want to be around him too much because, for as much as she hated men, he’d left her feeling…um…strange.
His immediate rejection had slammed her harder than she expected, opening all her old wounds, but he sounded deeply sincere when he apologized—sincere enough to stop her from flying out the door and crying all the way home. Perhaps it was his helplessness, or maybe it was because he couldn’t get out of that wheelchair to get close enough to make her uncomfortable, but whatever it was she’d never felt such a profound need to please someone.
She couldn’t stop thinking about his face. My God, she’d never seen a man so handsome! His features were like sculpted alabaster, yet not carved so sharply to make his expression severe. Instead, although very defined and shaped, his face had a degree of softness. And those eyes! She’d kept her distance, but she was positive that under those beautiful, thick black lashes and hair, his gray orbs practically shined—shined like polished silver. And when she’d asked if she could fix him some coffee and he smiled—damn it all—she’d almost collapsed to her knees. “Then he would have thought I was a freak!” she mused aloud.
She paused on the back steps and closed her eyes, allowing the sunlight to soak through every fiber of her body as she breathed in the fresh, clean morning air. All the anxiousness from dealing with the group of men left with a long exhale. She opened her eyes and looked across the expansive yard to the two-story red horse barn. Most of the farms had white barns, but she liked his barn better—it matched the brick-red color of the house. And, she liked the fact that it wasn’t too far from the main house. She’d seen farmers who kept the barns at a great distance from their homes so they wouldn’t have to smell the horse shit. She giggled, I’ll take smelling horse shit any day over dealing with assholes!
She let her eyes wander down the long white fence line to the rolling southern pasture. The grass was a vivid shade of emerald and longer than it should be, reminding her that mister Hayden—Elliot—she corrected herself with a smile—hadn’t been here too long. There was a mist lying where the elevation in the pasture dropped making her wonder if there was a pond in the field. She glanced upward at the cloudless, perfection above her. Damn it’s so beautiful here!
She stepped off the back steps and headed toward the group of mares. He had purchased a mixed group of colors, which she found odd, but she like it. There were two golden, one red, and three liver chestnuts, two bays, a palomino cream, and a cremello in the mares. The stallions were a gray roan and a red chestnut. She shivered briefly as she thought about the stallions—she shouldn’t have been able to handle them, and she was thoroughly surprised that she didn’t get kicked or dragged across the yard. Maybe she could do this after all.
She looked through his barn and realized his supplies for the horses hadn’t come in yet, but she’d seen the delivery from a local stockyard scheduled on the notepad for twelve noon today. He had ordered bedding for the barn, bales of alfalfa, bags of oats, beet cubes, and some sweet feed. The pasture was more than sufficient so he shouldn’t need round bales. She guessed he had four or five hundred acres, but if he only had ten mares, he wasn’t planning on running a major operation. He did have eight yearlings set to be delivered, but that was two days away.
She couldn’t do more for the horses than to fill their water troughs, but they appeared to be happy in their new surroundings. She didn’t dare allow them to go out into the pasture because she had no clue if his fences were all in good condition. If Elliot didn’t hire someone today then she would bed the stalls, stable the mares, and feed them all before she left tonight. It might make for a late night, but that was okay with her; she wasn’t in a hurry to get back to Aunt Martha’s hell hole.
With the watering finished, she returned to the house to continue cleaning. She shook her head as she walked through the backdoor. It would take all day just to get the first floor in decent shape and who knew what kind of mess was waiting for her on the upper floors.
The first appointment of the day was a man named Pete Finner. She welcomed him in then walked him back to Elliot’s room, rapping once on the bedroom door.
She swung the door open to find Elliot seated in front of his computer working on what appeared to be a stock brokerage site. When he spun his wheelchair around, she felt his stare grip her as tangible as if he touched her with his hands. She didn’t normally get turned on by men, but there was something about Elliot that shot straight between her legs and seemed to flutter there—it actually tickled—and it tickled so much she couldn’t open her mouth to make the introduction.
“You must be mister Finner,” Elliot said, a smile resting on his lips as he took his eyes off her and then offered his hand to the thirty-something-year-old man.
Pete Finner appeared totally surprised to see his future employer was an invalid. “Y—yes, sir.”
“You’re my only applicant who isn’t from Kentucky.”
“No, sir. I’m a Floridian, actually. I worked for the Clear-Bell Horse Farm in Ocala in Florida for the last three years.”
“Good,” Elliot stated, “maybe you won’t try to tell me how I’m doing everything wrong.”
Pete laughed, “I’ll save that until after you hire me.”
Elliot nodded, “Smart move. Would you care for something to drink?”
“Just a glass of water would be great.”
She still felt rooted to the spot. God whatever was taking place between her legs was heavenly, but she had to snap out of her near-orgasmic state and do her job. “I’ll be right back,” she said, stumbling slightly as if the soles of her shoes had become sticky.
She hurried out to the kitchen and leaned heavily against the countertop. “Wow!” she gasped, “What is wrong with me?” Whatever it had been, she could only hope that it wouldn’t happen again. She felt absolutely strange like she couldn’t collect her thoughts. She fumbled around the kitchen for fifteen minutes trying to prepare a glass of water. First, she couldn’t remember which cupboard she’d seen glasses in, then she was looking in the refrigerator for ice cubes instead of the freezer, and finally to top off her madness, she turned on the hot water to the sink and actually stood there with her finger under the flow until it got hot then filled the glass.
“I’m losing my freaking mind!” she finally admitted as she poured the melting concoction down the drain and started over. Every movement felt forced and labored. She paused and made sure she knew what she was doing before doing it. She stood in front of the freezer a full minute before she allowed her hand to grip the handle and open the door. She was going to make sure she was opening the freezer! The same thing was repeated at the sink as she slowly reached her hand toward the hot water lever and then paused, knowing she was doing it wrong, she moved her hand to the cold water side.
But as soon as she filled the glass with cold water and turned to go back to Elliot’s room, the mind-blowing weirdness vanished and she could actually think straight. She walked to the bedroom just in time to see Pete thanking Elliot for the opportunity to work for him as a farm manager.
“I’ll go on out to the barn and take a look at the stock. I’ll handle your other appointments and take care of the hiring.” He turned and looked at Genesis, surprised to see her standing there with a glass of ice water and offering it to him as if she was a mute.
“I’m an ice-tea drinker myself,” he said, “but I do appreciate the offer.” With that he tipped his hat to her and walked out the front door.
She was baffled.
“I’ll take that,” Elliot said calmly. “Close the door, Genesis.”
She didn’t recall walking into his bedroom, nor closing the door, but she was suddenly standing there right beside him offering him the glass of water. Don’t freak out! Don’t freak-out! She screamed in her head. She’d only felt like this once in her life and it was when she had been fourteen and her best friend Luella talked her into smoking a joint. It was the exact same feeling; there were chunks of time missing from her mind! Living with Aunt Martha has finally done it, she thought. I’m going bat-shit crazy!
Elliot didn’t want Genesis in the room during the interview so he simply put the thought in her head that he had asked Pete if he wanted water, and he put Pete’s non-existent answer in her mind as well. Elliot knew immediately upon meeting Pete that he was not only competent, but he had excellent managerial skills—he would be able to handle everything for him.
As much as he wanted to help Genesis by offering her the job of working with the animals, he wouldn’t be able to concentrate on her and the horses all day. There was a good chance that she would be injured. He had no intentions of hurting her feelings by sending her away at the end of the day, but what she didn’t know was while she had been outside watering the horses, he’d been talking to the hospital about Martha. It didn’t surprise him that they were going to release her this evening due to her inability to pay. He no longer wanted Martha to return. He wanted the woman who was in his house even though every instinct told him to leave her alone—he couldn’t. He arranged for Martha to be placed in the three week detox program, and he was flipping the bill!
Genesis amazed him with her resistance to his thought control. He had a terrible time keeping her befuddled in the kitchen trying to fix a simple glass of water. Mentally, she was tremendously strong—and he found her strength to be just as fabulous of a turn-on as her scent. He made the decision that he would fuck her, red flags and instincts be damned. He would not ask. He would not wait. He would increase the power of his mind control and make her believe it was her choice—now. He was also considering turning her, though he had a very strong suspicion she would be against it. He could keep her under his control day and night until the transformation completed. She would be hell to deal with for a while—ravenously hungry, temperamental, and his near physical equal, but he had lost his objectivity in the few hours she’d been in his home.
Although he rarely changed anyone unless asked, he did not have to have permission from his victim. Matter-of-fact, although vampires had civilized greatly with the modernization of the culture—many still took what they wanted like arrogant dictators. Genesis was the first person he wanted to absolutely rule.
Elliot hadn’t had sex since he had a threesome with Deidra Tulane and Vicki Smalls in Maine. The women were bi-sexual lovers who had figured out his secret. Vicki was the sexually adventures one. He liked Vicki—he liked her extremely well. She actually requested him to feed from her before she made the decision to bring Deidra into the picture. He told her he no longer used humans for food. She convinced him, for the sake of the experience, even if it was only to puncture the skin, she had to know she could go through with it. He didn’t drink much from her, but she had been delectable. Once she had a degree of comfort with being a servant, she brought her lover into the triangle.
The night he turned them, he had a long discussion with them about the pitfalls of his kind of life. They were undeterred. He told them about being hunted, and that associating with him could make them Caleb’s target. They were willing to take the risk—foolish as it was. They thought knowing who the adversary was would make them wary of him. They didn’t understand the magnitude of a dhampir’s influence. When he’d done all he could to change their minds—short of thought control—and they still wanted to become vampires, the night of exquisite sex began.
The women laid him back on their king-sized bed and slowly undressed him; kissing and caressing his body. Vicki particularly liked French kissing him, and begged for him to keep his fangs exposed when she did. She had a pierced tongue and she thoroughly enjoyed sliding his fang through the hole. He would release minute amounts of his venom onto her tongue and then she would pause and change positions so she could lick Deidra’s pussy.
Vampire venom is a strange thing. He could feed without releasing it and nothing would happen to his victim—they simply became a blood servant—if he didn’t drink them dry like he had done to so many of his early victims. Injecting straight venom into a jugular caused massive clotting in the victim and usually precipitated a fatal stroke or heart attack within 30 to 45 seconds. Or he could ingest the victim’s blood and swallow venom with it, mixing with his own blood, regurgitate then inject the blend causing the victim’s body to begin the slow process of transformation.
But venom taken orally was a sweet and mild hallucinogen. Applied topically to sexual organs it caused hypersensitivity to stimulus (for both the vampire and the sex partner). What it could do to a virgin’s maiden veil was beyond belief, but there was a voluntary factor that had to be present or it was ineffective.
He recalled the sensation when he positioned himself above Deidra, the head of his cock ready to push through the venom wet folds. She agreed to be first, saying she wanted Vicki to watch him sink his fangs into her throat. He stared down into her frightened brown eyes and asked if she was sure. She swallowed and then thrust her hips upward, forcing his hard dick to plunge inside her. The orgasm was instant. He could feel her coming on his cock; the venom heightening every sensation as he pounded hard and fast between her legs.
When she turned her face to the side, baring her neck, it was so sexually intense that he didn’t even recall diving for her throat; he only remembered the warm sweet liquid flowing into his mouth as he came inside her. He ejaculated so hard and deep that he mentally mused he might taste it in her neck. He didn’t taste the semen, but he did taste the sweet venom as it blended. He drank deeply, just until her heart began to flutter in weakness, then he pumped the blend back into her throat. She had already passed out by that point. The orgasm created by biting a victim during sex was too intense for most humans to stay conscious through.
That was when he felt Vicki tugging on his hand. She had licked his fingers then pulled his hand between her legs. He thoroughly enjoyed pumping Deidra (on both ends) while dipping his fingers into Vicki’s hot, wet, and willing entrance. When he pulled his mouth from Deidra’s neck, Vicki refused to let him wipe away the blood before kissing. She said it was a flavor she would soon learn to love and she wanted to start immediately. He’d never kissed a woman with his mouth still stained from a victim—he liked it. He liked Vicki.
They fucked for almost two hours before she could no longer resist exposing her throat to him. She screamed and writhed in pure passion, staying conscious longer than any woman ever had during the process. Eventually, she too passed out, but what a night!
Now he was staring up into Genesis frightened face, realizing that sex with her would be even better than the threesome. He took the glass from her hand and placed it on the desk. She was fighting his control although he knew she didn’t understand that he was doing it to her. He clasped her hand in his ready to pull it to his lips and kiss it when he received a shocking surprise—he saw images.
These weren’t the things he was used to processing. He could process and control the thoughts and emotions of others, and visual thinking easily produced pictures, but they were black and white and one dimensional for him—flat like watching something happen on the television. Genesis’s thoughts were bold and colorful, and to experience them was to feel as if he’d lived them. The bits and pieces he felt were like shards of flying glass—memories that hurt physically.
He immediately released her. The only thing he could process and assume from the barrage of memories was that she had been gang raped a few years ago, and she hated men.
“I’m sorry,” he said, instantly regretting his plan. He would be no better than those who’d hurt her if he coerced her into sex by controlling her mind. Rape was rape, even if she was in a mental state that forced a yes from her lips. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t hurt her—but why? What was different about Genesis?
No longer under his thought control, she backed away. He felt her shock when she realized how close she’d come to him. “I… Do you need… I’ll go back out to the… Are you okay?” she finally managed to string together. Now she approached him of her own free will. “Are you okay?” she repeated. “What’s wrong?” she gasped, reaching her hand out to touch his face. “Oh my God you’re cold! You’re not breathing!”
He hadn’t put two and two together until that moment. In his surprise from being impaled by her memories, he’d forgotten to act human. He hadn’t taken a breath or blinked or swallowed as she stood only feet away from him—and to make matters worse, he forgot to adjust his temperature when she touched him. He immediately and violently inhaled as if he had been underwater and was getting his first breath of air. He gulped and coughed waving her away from him, but she refused.
He inhaled again, “I apologize. I should have told you I have apnea. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Scare me?!” she said, her voice on the edge of cracking, “I just went through practically the same thing last night with Aunt Martha! And what do you mean you have apnea? Don’t you have to be asleep for that?”
She was touching his face again, but this time he made sure he was warmer, although still on the cool side so she wouldn’t noticed a huge difference. Her thoughts were so pain-filled that he couldn’t take the contact. “Please—don’t touch me,” he finally asked.
“I didn’t mean anything by it,” she said, quickly withdrawing her hand. This time her voice was very soft and teardrops formed on her lower lashes, “Are you sure you’re okay?”
He had seen her eyes from a distance, but now he could stare directly into them; magnificent spheres of deep, vivid blue with streaks of golden brown. “So beautiful,” he whispered. He wasn’t thinking about controlling her, but he was doing it unconsciously at this point. His potent sexual attractant filled the air around them like an aphrodisiac mist. Genesis dropped to her knees in a trembling heap—she was having an orgasm—and he felt it.
“Exquisite,” he breathed. His desire to take what she would never offer reasserted itself. She was completely vulnerable and it was too easy not to take advantage of the situation.
That was when he heard someone knock briefly, and his front door being opened.
“Mister Hayden?” Pete’s voice rang out.
The release of his power on her was broken so thoroughly you could almost hear the snap in the air like a hypnotist releasing their subject from a trance. Genesis was on her feet and stumbling backward away from him with a look of shock on her face when Pete appeared in the doorway. She backed into him.
“Whoa!” he said, catching the swaying woman.
“Let me go,” she croaked, brushing his hands away. There was another man standing in the opening of the front door. With the sunlight behind him, she couldn’t make out anything other than the fact that he was tall and broad shouldered. She felt panicked—too many men and not enough space. She headed for the staircase not knowing what she’d find on the upper floors but at least she was certain she would be alone. One flight then another and she found herself on the third floor with nowhere else to go. She grabbed the nearest door handled and opened it. A bathroom! “Thank God!” she whispered, closing herself inside.
Elliot was annoyed. He thought he’d made a good decision by hiring Pete, but he didn’t like the man walking into his house virtually unannounced right in the middle of… Damn it! He’d been so close to crossing an immoral boundary. He was still mentally fixated on sex, so much so that he watched Pete blush. His aura often had a mind of its own—and he was turning on his newest hire!
“What do you want?” Elliot asked rather gruffly.
Pete briefly gave a stupid grin but then seemed to recover, “There is a Mister Anamulus here. He said he needed to see you. He doesn’t have an appointment, but he said you wouldn’t mind.”
Elliot’s aggravation subsided. What other man?! There were only two thought patterns he could feel in his house; Pete and that luscious piece of ass hiding in the bathroom upstairs! “Are you sure?” Elliot asked, feeling rather dumb after it came out of his mouth.
Pete turned and looked down the hall toward the front door then looked back and nodded, “Yes, sir. Is it okay to send him in?”
Elliot stiffened. If someone truly was there, this wasn’t good. There was only one creature in his lifetime that he hadn’t been able to sense—at all—and she’d killed his son. “That will be fine.”
“Do you need me to stay?” Pete offered.
Interesting, he considered. This man must be rather imposing to make Pete wonder if he needed help in dealing with him.
“No. We’re old friends. I just didn’t know he was in Kentucky. You can go back to the barn.”
Pete walked away. Elliot stood up, knowing Pete wouldn’t return. There would be no need to pretend with whomever he was about to meet. He didn’t like being unable to sense him. He had two hundred years experience with unique sensory perception—and for the first time in that long span, he suddenly felt human in his blindness. For the first time, in a very long time, he had to rely on two human senses; the sound of footsteps, and seeing the shadow falling on the doorway.
“Who are you?” Elliot asked immediately when the figure filled the opening to his room. The man was young, early twenties, and tall. Elliot guessed he was six-foot-five with sinuously thick arms and a broad chest. His irises were an unusual blend of black and electric blue and partly shaded under his full head of dark, long, reddish-brown hair. His facial expression was one that seemed to scream, ‘This isn’t going to end well for you.’ And at the moment, all Elliot could think was that he regretted not getting to have sex with Genesis before dying.
“I’m not going to kill you,” came the deep, smooth voice.
“Who are you?” Elliot repeated.
“Tristan. Tristan Anamulus.”
“Let me rephrase my question. What are you?”
“An old friend, remember?” Tristan stated, repeating what Elliot had told Pete.
“I don’t like playing games,” Elliot began, but before he could continue, Tristan cut him off.
“Then don’t play them with Genesis.”
That was surprising!
“You know Genesis?”
“I know about her—and her pain. I know she is worthy of much more than being a forced servant.”
“And you didn’t come here to kill me over her?” He wondered if this ‘creature’ had also been attracted to the tempting woman hiding in his house.
“I will not harm her.”
The odd way he said it left the implied threat of harming Elliot dangling, unspoken, in the air. “But I’m fair game?”
“Only if you continue.”
“Continue what?” Elliot asked, playing coy.
No words were necessary. Tristan’s facial expression immediately revealed that he wouldn’t tolerate false ignorance.
“What is she?” Elliot cautiously asked, suspecting all along that she had been different.
“Now who’s the one playing games? She’s not human—not with the way she makes me feel.”
“She’s human—but she is exceptional.”
Elliot was trying to keep from getting sexually aroused while this—um—creature stood in front of him, but the thought of spreading Genesis’s ‘exceptional’ thighs and driving his cock into her ‘exceptional’ pussy was more than he could suppress.
“Stop it,” Tristan warned.
“So are you omniscient or are you reading my mind?” he asked, feeling frustrated at not being able to tell.
“If I was omniscient then I’d know how this is all going to end for you. Unfortunately, I don’t.”
“But you’re forbidding me to have sex with her, and if I do, you’ll kill me.”
“I’m not forbidding sex—if she’s willing.”
That was profoundly confusing. “Love?” came the one word question.
“Mutual love I will not stand in the way of, but taking her virginity without…”
Elliot choked. Really. Truly. He choked!
“You didn’t realize she was a virgin?”
“No she’s not!” he protested. He saw the glimpses in her thoughts—they weren’t things he should have seen from a virgin’s mind. He didn’t want to deal with a virgin—the last one stole his heart and birthed a child who nearly killed him. Yes, he knew a virgin was the key to going out into the sunlight one day, but he would rather stay in darkness forever than to fall in love, screw everything up, and hurt for eternity over it.
Tristan nodded, and for the first time appeared apologetic. “It’s true. She could help you—if she falls in love with you.”
“Love has never been a requirement,” Elliot scoffed. “She only has to be willing.”
“Rethink that. What would make a woman suffer through something as horrific as what you’ll have to do to her? There is only one emotion that changes the unwilling to the willing—love.”
Elliot often wondered about that element. No vampire ever told him the virgin would have to be in love with him, but it did make sense. Why else would anyone agree to such a thing? Pamela agreed—terrified as she was—but that was why he couldn’t do it. He didn’t want to hurt her; he wanted to return her love as splendidly and perfectly as it had been offered. “I’ve read her thoughts,” Elliot continued his denial, “she can’t be a virgin; she’s been raped.”
“Her ordeal is not for me to tell, but she wasn’t raped. Stop and think about what you saw in her mind.”
He cracked open the door to what she’d exposed him to, truly afraid to feel the intensity of the hurt again. Briefly, the pain soaked into him like water on a dry sponge. He saw someone else’s face in the fray, but he felt the tearing, burning pain inside of Genesis. He slammed the mental door shut to stop the hurt and the shame. “She’s an empath,” he uttered, shocked that he hadn’t realized why all the emotions from her were greatly magnified.
“Among other things,” Tristin revealed.
“What other things?”
“To call her an empath only would limit her. She is extra-human. She is in touch with both sides of her humanness.”
He really didn’t mean to have such a stupid expression, but he had no idea what Tristan meant.
“Humans have a mortal and an immortal side. She experiences the world around her, but she perceives, feels, and accepts the reality of human oneness in the spirit. They are all interconnected—you are connected. Don’t you understand?”
More dumb expression.
Tristan reached out and grabbed Elliot by the arm, slamming his hand, palm down, onto the desk.
Elliot suddenly realized there was no equality of power here; Tristan could decimate him in the blink of an eye.
He held Elliot’s wrist in one hand, keeping him immobile while he reached out and, with his free hand, ripped Elliot’s index finger completely off! He severed it in one rapid movement!
The pain was excruciating, but Elliot only winced then concentrated on stopping the blood flow. It halted immediately, but the missing digit and the gruesome, exposed knuckle socket would be hard to explain to Genesis.
“Did you feel that?” Tristan growled.
Elliot let out a slow breath. Not that he needed to breathe, but it was one of those ‘I need to collect myself’ kind of breaths. “Yes, of course I did,” he said rather strained.
Tristan placed the severed finger back against the raw flesh as a golden light engulfed their hands. The pain vanished and when Tristan released him, the finger was perfectly reattached and undamaged.
Elliot flexed and wiggled his finger just to make certain it still functioned properly.
“Each part of you makes up the whole. Humans are the greater part of the whole, but ninety-nine percent of them have forgotten their connection. Once your finger was severed, it no longer felt your pain—you felt the pain of losing it—but the finger itself was numb. Most humans are numb. Genesis is trying desperately to become numb. She feels connections all around her, and she feels like a freak because of it. She is human,” he emphasized, “but she is different. Do—not—hurt—her.”
“I’ll tell her today is her last day,” Elliot said, feeling an inner crushing sensation that hadn’t reared its ugly head in years. He didn’t want to send her away.
“That would hurt her. Reach out to her—humanly reach out to her—as a friend—that is what she needs more than anything else. She doesn’t deserve to be forced into submission, servitude, or transformation just because you find her beautiful and tempting,” he said with a tinge of anger.
“I don’t know how to be human anymore,” Elliot sighed.
“Yes you do.”
“I don’t want to fall in love,” he admitted.
“I can’t help you with that problem. You can try to guard your heart, but you will never be a true friend to her if you don’t engage your emotions on some level.”
“I can’t trust myself with her.”
“Don’t worry about that—I won’t be too far away.”
Elliot gave an uneasy chuckle, “Will you be my house guest?”
“No, you’re going to hire me—and pay me,” he ordered. “I’ll be your new field hand. There is a cottage out by the equipment barn. I’m moving in there. I’ll take care of the fences and pastures. You take care of Genesis. I’ll tell Pete when I leave.”
“I guess I don’t have a choice, do I?”
“No, you don’t—boss. I’ll start on the fences today.” With that Tristan turned and walked away.
A virgin! How the hell did I end up with a virgin when I was trying to be so careful?! He stopped brooding. She was still cowering in the bathroom upstairs completely freaked out over her orgasm. He needed to get her mind off that and on to other things. He walked to the doorway and called out for her. He felt her panic—she didn’t want to be around him anymore. He put a little more pain and helplessness in his voice and called out again. He heard the bathroom door unlock and her near-silent footsteps as she began descending the staircase. When she appeared at his door he was in his wheelchair and pulled up next to the bed.
“I need your help,” he croaked, indicating the bed. Dumb, dumb, dumb! He chastised himself. Of course she isn’t going to get anywhere near my bed! It was time to stretch that lie out to something less scary for her. “Tristan is my new field hand. He came into tell me there was a natural gas line by the house that burst. Damn, I’m still woozy from all the fumes. Did it bother you at all?” He was hoping she wouldn’t put two and two together about when he might have hired this ‘new field hand’ who didn’t exist this morning.
He felt the relief wash completely through her.
“That’s what that was?! Oh my God, I thought I was freaking out there for a little bit,” she laughed nervously and then approached him.
He closed his eyes briefly and then reopened them. “I don’t feel so good,” he said, transferring thoughts of nausea and weakness to her.
“Please,” she said, now fully unafraid, “let me help.” She turned down the covers on his bed and then seemed to be perplexed as to how she could lift him.
He locked the wheels on the chair, “I normally do this myself, but you may have to catch me if my arms give out.” He was amazed at how deep her emotions were at the moment. She felt so badly over his ‘paralysis’ that she was holding back tears. She kept thinking how unfair it was for him not to be able to use his legs. She was so tender hearted and sweet under the tough façade she tried to show to the world.
He grunted as he pushed himself up and swung himself onto the mattress. He honestly didn’t want her to touch him—that was too potent—but she lifted his legs before he could reach over and bring them up on his own. His pants protected him from direct contact with her, but he braced himself and then placed his hand over hers. “Thank you,” he whispered, waiting for the crush of feelings, but he was surprised at what greeted him; she was happy—happy because she felt useful.
“Would you hand me that?” he asked pointing to the line coming off his IV bag. It was regular 0/9% saline, which normally would hydrate most people. In Elliot’s case, being a blood-drinker, his body had a very high sodium content. His body chemistry was different, and diluting his cells with such low saline content left him depleted and starving. He rarely used much of it; it was basically for show. He connected the line to the port in his left arm and then relaxed against the pillows. “Since Pete is going to be handling all the hiring that won’t leave you with much to do other than housework. Would you mind doing the grocery shopping you offered earlier?”
“Not at…all,” she said with a tiny pause.
He knew the pause was over money; she didn’t like having to ask for it. “Open the drawer,” he said, pointing to the nightstand. He would take care of the money issue before it bothered her any further. “I keep my cash in there. If you need anything don’t hesitate to come in here and help yourself.”
She pulled the drawer open to reveal several bundles of hundred dollar bills. “Shit,” she said and then immediately apologized. “I’m sorry, but when my Aunt Martha gets back, you might want to hide most of that.”
He smiled. He wanted to tell her Martha wouldn’t be back, but he would let it be a surprise. “I’ll remember that,” he laughed.
She pulled out a single hundred.
“Please take more. Groceries are expensive and I expect you to buy food for yourself since I’m monopolizing your day from morning ‘til night.”
She pulled out one more bill, “This is more than enough unless you have some really expensive tastes in food.”
“I explained earlier that I don’t eat much—and I hate to admit how picky I am—but I do enjoy a rare steak once in a while.”
He made a face.
“Heavy on the broth, light on the vegetables.”
“Beverages? Coke, Pepsi, tea, juice, milk?”
“Soda is horrible! Hot tea or coffee with milk is good. Other than that, I pretty much stick with water.”
“I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.”
She frowned and then studied the bag on the IV pole.
“I’m not a nurse but now I know why you’re so pale. Good God, you’re going to need a blood transfusion if you don’t get some nutrition!”
He tried not to crack a smile, but it couldn’t be helped. “How about a few packs of Ensure or something similar?”
“All right,” she relented, not overly impressed with his diet. “Just tell me this is there anything you really absolutely, positively hate and will totally refuse to eat?”
He didn’t have to give the matter too much thought. He only hoped he could say it without breaking into laughter, “Garlic.”
Vampires don’t sleep. Well, they don’t need sleep anyway. So many of them had lived in a state of eternal awakening for so long that they had forgotten what it was like to sleep, or to dream. But some, like Elliot, had trained themselves to rest in a deep hibernation that was very similar to human sleep. Dreams were possible in this state, if he permitted them. He had conscious control over his thoughts while in a semi-conscious state. It made for a strange mix because he could alter the course of dreams without disrupting their river-like mental flow. Pamela was a frequent visitor when he was in this state of odd suspension between worlds. He permitted her there. He cherished her there.
What he never allowed were the painful memories of her leaving with Caleb. His mind often seemed to stand in the opening to the fuzzy border world that separated the good from the horrific. He could never close the door completely to the thoughts he didn’t want to think about, but he could prevent himself from going through it, and into things that hurt him bone-deep; deep enough to make a vampire consider staking his own heart.
Yet, even in this suspended state, he was fully aware of everything in his surroundings. Every sound, every scent, every movement in the dark was acknowledged and analyzed for possible threats. He’d already committed the sound of Martha’s car to memory. But when he heard the car door close, something was different—something was wrong. This wasn’t Martha! This person had a different gait, and she was nervous—damn nervous. Shit!
He heard her unlock his front door so whoever this was she had Martha’s house key. The scent of clean, youthful, female skin raked through his nostrils like the smell of fresh cut grass or an early morning rain. He shivered unintentionally. His mouth was suddenly dry—desert dry. He could smell the blood coursing through her veins—blood like pure sweet nectar from heaven. His cock instantly hardened.
He licked his lips and considered that he’d been without nourishment, decadent nourishment, for far too long. She was an earthly woman, he was certain of that much, but her blood was as potent to his senses as Lou’s had been. A human with a lycan bloodline? Possible, he guessed. Many children were born to lycans that never became lycans themselves. Yet, he felt she wasn’t of werewolf lineage; she was delectable for other reasons—reasons that his brain found to be profoundly confusing.
She moved quickly and silently through the house, yet the only thoughts he picked up were her wondering where the kitchen was and where he was.
When she found the kitchen at the back of the house, he heard her working. She was focused and determined as she began filling a bucket with hot water. The scent of bleach reached his sensitive nostrils. He recoiled slightly. He didn’t like it. It wasn’t because of its irritating aroma, but more so because it interferred with smelling her scent.
The first thought that gave him a clue as to this woman’s identity, and the reason for her being in his house, finally came through loud and clear. She was angry—furious actually—at Aunt Martha. She was mad as hell over the condition of the house. She was grumbling softly under her breath, wondering what the hell had Martha done all day yesterday? It sure as hell wasn’t cleaning, he overheard.
He knew she was right. When Martha left yesterday and twilight gave way to night, he was free from his imprisonment. He wandered the house for a time, considered boarding up a few more windows, but decided it would be easier to explain if he did it over the weekend and told Martha he’d had a handyman come in. He noticed the extent of her ‘housekeeping’ had been to wipe the dust from the kitchen counters. She spent the remainder of her time watching the small television that was built into the kitchen cabinets. Martha was lazy; Elliot wasn’t surprised.
He rose and dressed quickly. He had no fear of being caught out of his wheelchair because he knew her exact location. The problem was he couldn’t wheel himself to the kitchen and confront her because he hadn’t covered up those windows—damn sunlight! It would take less than a minute for severe burns to appear on his skin, and then it would be several days before those burns would heal.
He sat in his wheelchair and opened his bedroom door. He could see the light spectrum filtering into the darkness of the hallway. He would stay out of the particles. “Hello? Martha?”
He heard her pause and felt her panic as she considered explaining to a stranger why she was in his house. His skin pricked with anticipation as her body blocked part of the light stream. She had stepped into the far end of the hallway.
“No, I’m Martha’s niece. She was sick but didn’t want to leave you without help. I hope it’s okay.”
He could feel her hesitation; she didn’t want to meet him.
“Please come back here,” he stated carefully. “I’d like to know who’s in my house.”
He felt her shivering with fright.
She began walking slowly toward his room. Her thoughts were jumbled and hard to decipher simply because she was so angry about Martha putting her in this situation.
Her scent became stronger, more powerful, more tempting.
He hadn’t felt this kind of anticipation since Pamela walked into his life. He backed his chair from the doorway all the way to stop beside his bed. He didn’t want to see her coming down the hall. He wanted this anticipation to last a little longer, savoring the tingling sensation. When she turned the corner into his room, he was not disappointed—he was enthralled by the innocent, young beauty.
She was of a slight build, yet he knew she was strong and unafraid of manual work. She was about 5’7” and he guessed about 110 pounds. Her mid-length hair was a soft, shimmery, wheat-colored blonde/brown and scented like strawberries, and her eyes were a rich cerulean blue with what appeared to be a vivid ring of brownish amber around the pupil. His fangs protracted without mental provocation. His mouth was closed, so there was no chance that she saw them, but he quickly retracted them into their sockets.
Her first thought stunned him.
He moved on instinct, gripping the armrests on the wheelchair and preparing to rise before he remembered he was supposed to be crippled. This wasn’t good. She was gorgeous. She was young. She was able to affect his mental abilities and self-control. This girl had to leave. She was a mistake waiting to happen.
“No more mistakes,” he breathed quietly.
“Nothing. I’m sorry, but this won’t work. I hired your Aunt, not you.”
He could feel her fighting back the tears. My God, he thought, she’s so desperate! He felt a tsunami of pent up pain rolling from her as she silently nodded then turned to walk out the door.
“Wait,” he called out, but she was still moving. “Please.”
She turned back around and he felt her emotions crush into him again.
“I’m sorry; I don’t mean to be cruel or rude. Please, tell me what happened to Martha?”
“She had to go to the hospital last night,” she choked out.
He didn’t need to read her mind for the next question, “Was it her drinking?”
The young woman nodded, unable to speak.
He was completely overwhelmed by her emotions. This girl had been hurt terribly in her lifetime and all she wanted was some means to escape; escape from him, his house, her aunt, this town, these people, even the state of Kentucky. Then he sensed how imprisoned and trapped she felt. He’d never met a human with emotional cuts and scars this deep. He realized that by telling her she would have to leave, he added to her pain.
“I was concerned something like this might happen when I gave her the advance on her pay, but I never dreamed she wouldn’t even make it past the first day without some sort of binge. Is she going to be all right?”
She shrugged weakly, “I don’t know. I haven’t called the hospital this morning, but she was in pretty bad shape last night. They said she’d be in there for a day or two.” She paused and looked down at her worn sneakers, “The EMT said she really should be in a 21 day detox program, but we don’t have the money for that.”
She was still looking at her shoes, “No.”
“What’s your name?”
Her eyes rose slowly, locking onto his, “Genesis.”
He would never have imagined that a single word could set off an avalanche of thoughts; a new beginning, life from lifelessness, perfection, beauty, peace, new birth, rising from desolation, dawn, provenience, nurturing, Eden—the avalanche halted as if he’d poured liquid nitrogen into his thoughts—the fall of man. This girl could easily be his downfall.
But what a resplendent ending! That thought seemed to hit him from nowhere and then hung in his mind as he stared at her.
He took a moment to glance at her hand; no ring. She was young, perhaps not even 20 yet, but he knew women in this area married early. Red flags of warning were swirling in his mind, but he needed someone, at least for today until the horses were delivered and stalled. He still hadn’t found a suitable horse-handler nor farm hand.
“Your aunt has certainly put me in a bad position. I have horses being delivered in an hour, and six interviews set for the day. I need you,” he finished, the words sticking to his tongue like honey. God yes, he needed her. He’d give her the fortune he’d amassed if she’d simply bare her throat and tell him she’d be his blood servant—and mate. The danger level was increasing every second she was in his presence—and, damn it all, he was enjoying it. “Would you please stay, at least for today and perhaps tomorrow.”
She’d already tasted his rejection from the first moment they met and he could tell she wanted to say, ‘Hell no!’ but she was too tender-hearted and kind. She was actually concerned about him and how he’d fare without assistance. His heart was melting, and he feared she might somehow see it.
“I’ll stay. Besides cleaning the house, is there anything I can do for you?”
The avalanche broke free and the thoughts tumbled once again into a luscious free-fall. He could think of so many things she could do for him.
“Can I fix you some coffee?” she continued. “There isn’t much in your kitchen, but I could run to Kroger’s if you want something to eat.”
She shyly returned the smile.
More heart melting.
“I take most of my fluids intravenously,” he stated pointing at the port he’d placed in his arm the night he arrived.
“Why?” she asked quickly, “Can’t you swallow?”
“I can swallow,” he responded, swallowing immediately after his answer because he was thinking about her blood. “It just makes things easier for me. Eliminating solids can create some problems for a paraplegic, and I don’t have a colostomy bag—thank God. If you’ll forgive me for my knee-jerk reaction to you being Martha’s replacement, I would appreciate you staying. Is a hundred dollars a day sufficient?”
She didn’t answer at first, but he heard the ‘Hell yeah!’ so clearly from her thoughts that he wondered if her mouth had moved and he’d somehow missed it. She was thinking something about a truck, three-hundred-seventy-five dollars saved, fifteen-hundred dollars, and then calculating that she’d have enough money if he kept her on for twelve days.
“Sure, yeah that would be fine.”
“Thank you. I assume, since you arrived on time this morning, that Martha told you the hours?”
“Yes, sir. She said seven to six.”
“Genesis,” he said, allowing her name to roll off his tongue as smoothly as a perfect French kiss, “my name is Elliot, not sir.”
“Oh. Yes, sir—I mean, Elliot.”
“My appointments are written down on the pad in the kitchen. The horses will be delivered by eight and I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to handle the delivery. I wasn’t able to hire someone yesterday. Hopefully at least one of the six men being interviewed today won’t be so hard-headed.”
“Horsemen in Kentucky are all hard-headed,” she stated, “But I don’t have a problem with horses.” Her cheeks pinked and she smiled, “if Martha comes back tomorrow or the next day, I could be your horse handler.”
His eyebrows rose, “Do you have experience?”
Her exuberance dimmed, “Not really, but I’ve been around a few handlers. I think I could do what they do.”
He didn’t want to turn her down. He didn’t want to be the cause of any further pain for her. “We’ll see.”
He was impressed with Genesis when the trucks pulled up with his stock. She was afraid—not of the horses, but of the men—yet, no one would ever know it by the way she acted. The deliverymen unloaded the ten mares into a corral near the barn. Two stallions were in separate trailers. Their ear-piercing, shrill whistles cut through the morning air as they challenged each other over the mares; each male wanting to show his dominance over the herd of fertile females. They couldn’t be turned loose into the corral nor penned together; they would have to be stalled.
Elliot heard the driver tell Genesis that it wasn’t his job to stable the stallions. He said his job was to deliver them. This man was being an ass—feeling big by intimidating a young woman. He knew the horse he brought was too wild for her to handle, and the other two delivery drivers seemed content to watch her fail miserably at unloading a head-strong stallion.
It wouldn’t have been difficult for him to mentally control the men and force them to do their jobs, but he was more intent on the emotions that were rushing through Genesis. She needed a bolster for her confidence. She feared men, although he didn’t understand why. Whatever it was she refused to think about it.
Elliot couldn’t physically see what was happening outside as he stood by his boarded up bedroom window, but he could read the thoughts and feel every emotion, including the emotions of the animals.
Genesis took a lead rope and was preparing to get into the trailer with the first stallion. She was wisely alert to the agitated state of the seventeen-hand, unruly male, but it didn’t stop her. He could sense that she felt this would be a test of sorts to prove herself as being not only capable to work for him, but to also show the men outside the trailer that she was tougher than she looked.
The thousand pound horse was aggressive, frightened, and hurt. Elliot sensed in the animal’s memory an incident of being shocked in the hind quarter by an angry handler who had difficulty getting him into the trailer. He was ready to take out his frustrations on the first human who approached him—that human was Genesis.
Elliot heard the horse blowing hard through its nostrils, its front legs tapping and prancing on the trailer floor, preparing to strike out at the tiny human entering into the front of the trailer. Elliot wasn’t about to let the most stunning woman he’d met in over fifty years be killed by this animal. He took control.
The horse’s mind was simple for him, the same as the moose had been. Genesis spoke softly to the horse, entering its space with slow, deliberate movements. She had no idea that the animal she thought she calmed wasn’t under her control. She clipped on the lead rope to the halter, petting and caressing the animal. Elliot could feel that the horse was actually responding to her gentle treatment, but he didn’t dare pull his influence from the animal’s mind.
When the delivery person lowered the ramp, Genesis backed the stallion out of the trailer then led him to the barn. The horse was oblivious to the screams from the other stallion and the whinnies from the mares.
She walked the quiet animal to the first stall and stalled him without incident.
Evidently, the driver with the second stallion didn’t like the idea of this ‘girl’ showing them up. He decided to bring the other stallion out himself. Once again, Elliot felt the animal’s agitation and fright, but this time he did nothing to sequester the horse’s mental state.
The man was having an awful time. When he managed to get the horse down the ramp, Genesis had returned.
The horse reared, jerking the man into the air. The other drivers quickly grabbed onto the lead rope, but that only served to enrage the horse. It pulled all three men off their feet to flop on their bellies in a cloud of dust. The rope pulled from their hands, and the horse was suddenly free in the main yard. He bolted toward the mares, and the only thing standing in his way was Genesis.
“Whoa, boy. Whoa,” she said, extending her arms out to make herself appear larger to the animal. Once more, Elliot assisted.
The stallion stopped just short of running her over. He snorted and backed slightly when she approached, but was calm as she reached for the rope. “It’s okay, boy—it’s okay. Yeah, shhh,” she crooned, “You’re fine. Settle down.”
For some reason, even with Elliot’s help, the horse stubbornly refused to move when she tugged him toward the barn. It was the scent of the mares that had him distracted.
Elliot closed his eyes in concentration. He had to be careful with what he was doing so that the horse didn’t get too excited, but he began to transfer the way Genesis’s aroma had affected him to the animal’s mind. Suddenly, she became more interesting—and he began to follow.
The men stood in wide-eyed wonder and watched as she stalled the horse and returned to where they stood like a bunch of dusty, dirty, fools—fools that had all been shown up by a girl!
“Who the hell are you?” Elliot heard the first delivery man ask her. “You some kind of horse whisperer?”
He felt Genesis’s confidence growing and swelling as she removed the clipboard from the man’s hand, signed the receipt then thrust it back at him.
He chuckled when he heard her surly reply to the driver.
“No, I’m fucking Cinderella, asshole.”
She turned and walked away.
Genesis Taylor didn’t like working as the cashier/everything-girl at the Circle-K. The store manager, Vic Purdy, said he’d hire her (like he was doing her a big favor), but he wouldn’t even pay minimum wage.
“Five fucking dollars an hour,” she growled under her breath as she scrubbed the public toilet. “And I’m not even on the clock now! Freaking Aunt Martha!” she continued. Martha was late—again. It was an eleven mile walk home, and it wouldn’t be the first time she had to depend on her feet instead of her alcoholic aunt.
“Martha’s here,” Vic yelled, shoving open the bathroom door.
She put the toilet brush back in the holder and flushed. When she walked out by the front door she paused and waited for Vic to look up from the customer he was ringing. He didn’t. When the register opened, she put out her hand. He continued to ignore her has he finished with the customer.
Martha blew her horn.
“I gotta go,” she stated, fighting off the urge to snap at him.
He put a twenty in her hand.
“Last I checked six a.m. to noon was six hours—you’re ten short.”
“I already made a drop into the safe. We’ll catch up next week.”
“Next week?” she said in astonishment. “But you told me I’d get at least four days this week.”
“The new guy is starting this afternoon and I promised him thirty hours.”
“You promised me four days!” she growled.
Martha blew the horn again.
“Oh well. Look, I’m doing you a favor by giving you any time at all. He’s got a wife and three kids to support.”
“Three kids that aren’t his! She’s getting welfare for all of them, and they aren’t married. Damn it, Vic, you know I need the money!”
“Don’t get flippin’ sassy with me little girl—you don’t have to come back at all, you know,” he threatened.
Martha laid on the horn.
“Get that drunk bitch out of my parking lot!” he continued. “Come back next Monday, six to noon again.”
She wanted to cry. She wanted to wad that dirty twenty around a brick and throw it in his face, but instead she choked back the tears and bolted out of the store.
She barely closed the rusted door on the LeBaron before Martha threw the car into reverse.
“You need to be fucking ready when I pull up,” Martha yelled at her.
“You’re twenty minutes late! How am I supposed to—”
“It doesn’t matter anyway; you’re going to have to find another ride tomorrow.”
“I’m not going in tomorrow,” she said sounding defeated.
“I thought you said—”
“Yeah, well Vic gave my hours to some brainless dickhead. I don’t work again until next Monday.”
“I need your rent money,” Martha stated as if she hadn’t heard a word Genesis said.
“Aunt Martha, I only make—”
“I support you!” she barked. “Twenty-five a week ain’t nothing!”
“It is when I only worked twelve hours this week and Vic shorts me ten dollars out of that!”
“That ain’t my concern. And you’re going to have to take on more responsibilities at the house ‘cause I got me a good job today and I ain’t gonna come home and have to cook and clean after cooking and cleaning all day long.”
Genesis glanced at the instrument panel and noticed the full gas tank. Martha never put more than a few gallons in the car. There were two bottles wrapped in plain brown bags on the floorboard. She picked one up as Martha protested and told her to put it down. She pulled out a bottle of Wild Turkey 101. “I thought you drank Fleischmann’s?”
“Only ‘cause I can’t usually afford Turkey, but I got me a good job and a hundred dollar advance on my pay this morning—I plan on celebrating. But,” she added, “that don’t mean you can slack off on rent.”
“You got the job?” Genesis asked, unable to hide her surprise. She knew her aunt had an interview, but she never believed she would be hired.
“Seven a.m. to six p.m., yes, ma’am! I’m an assistant to a big shot crippled horse breeder,” she snorted back with an air of superiority.
“He breeds crippled horses?”
“No you idiot! He’s the cripple. He’s a young guy in a wheelchair. We hit it right off as soon as we started talking.”
“Is he weird?” Genesis asked. She couldn’t imagine her aunt getting the job unless there was something majorly wrong with the guy.
“Nah. He’s cute,” she said with a wink.
“Is he blind?” she continued.
Martha’s face hardened into a scowl, “And what the hell is that supposed to mean? You don’t think he’d hire me if he could see me!”
She was thinking that exactly, but she’d never admit it. Anyone who took a good look at Martha could tell she was an alcoholic. Her eyes were perpetually reddened, small blood vessels were broken under her once creamy complexion, and her nose had begun to take on a bulbous appearance over the last few years. “No—I mean, I just wondered what you have to do for him, that’s all,” she covered.
“I’m supposed to help him manage visitors, make appointments, and take care of the house. I guess I’ll be doing some cooking, but he’s hooked up to one of those hospital pole thingies when he’s in bed.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s what you call it.”
Genesis was considering more questions, but she could tell her aunt was edgy. She knew why. Martha wanted a drink, but she’d have to wait until tonight.
They pulled up to the double-wide trailer in a cloud of dust.
“Tell Larry I’ll be home around 6:30.”
Genesis nodded and opened the door; Martha grabbed her arm.
“I want the place cleaned up and supper cooked. And, squirrel,” she paused.
Squirrel was her nickname. Her dad used to call her that all the time—damn she missed him. “Yes, ma’am?”
“Give me what you’ve got. I know he paid you something.”
She reached into her pocket and produced the crumpled and worn twenty then placed it in Martha’s outstretched hand.
“I also expect you to wash all the laundry for the five you owe me.”
“I’ll wash yours and Larry’s but I’m not washing Mike and Charlotte’s and the kids!”
Martha frowned, “Then make sure you separate the clothes right. I ain’t losing anymore tee-shirts to them.”
She nodded. “Do you want me to put those in the house for you?” she asked, indicating the bottles of whiskey.
“Hell no! I want some left when I get home! Now go on and go get busy.”
She watched Martha speed away, then she turned and looked at the toys and trash scattered on the barren ground around the trailer and small house. She trudged up the steps and opened the door. Martha’s long-time on-again-off-again boyfriend, Larry, was still sleeping.
By 6:30, Martha was back. The house had been cleaned, laundry washed and hung out to dry, and two boxes of Hamburger Helper had been prepared and were on the stove. But Martha didn’t seem to notice any of it. She had one thing on her mind—and it was what she was carrying in her hands—Wild Turkey.
By 7:30, Genesis excused herself and said she was going to bed. She was going to bed early because Martha was getting loud and obnoxious. Larry had joined in the drinking, but Martha was making sure she consumed the lion’s share.
Genesis doubted she would get much sleep tonight with all the shouting and cussing, but she squirmed under the raggedy quilt on her stiff, tiny twin bed and pulled the pillow down tight over her ears. She shouldn’t have been tired, but somehow being cheated by Vic drained every last ounce of energy from her. Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll suffocate under here. That was her last thought before fading into dreamlessness.
“Wake up…waaake up.”
She felt the rough hands shaking her in the dimness of her room. She recognized Larry’s voice, but she couldn’t understand why he was trying to get her up. She glanced at the bedside clock; it was 10:50 p.m.
“What?! Let me go,” she said, pushing his hands away.
“Get up! Yuur aunt ain’t right. Something ain’t right.”
She groaned and rolled from bed. It wouldn’t be the first time she was the only person sober enough to get Martha either out of the yard, off of the floor, or her head from the toilet. But, for some reason, Larry seemed extremely agitated, even in his Wild Turkey stupor.
“I told her,” he began, “I said she was drinking too much. She wouldn’t listen. Daaamn bitch,” he growled.
When she walked into the brightness of the narrow living room, she knew he was right; Martha was in dire straits. At first, Genesis was certain her aunt was dead. Her skin was cold and clammy. Vomit soaked her hair and her head was lying in a huge puddle of putrid yellowish foam. Her lips were blued, but she was breathing, just not very often.
“For God’s sake, how much did she drink?!”
He simply shrugged.
Genesis saw one of the bottles lying empty on its side by the kitchen trash can. Martha gasped for a breath, choking on the liquid remaining in her cheek.
“Call an ambulance!” She yelled to him, but then turned to watch him stumble backward onto the sofa. His eyes were rolling. Damn it! He was passing out. He groaned as she pushed him onto his side on the couch and dug through his pocket . Larry was the only one in the family who was able to afford a cell phone. She could only pray it had some battery life.
The 911 operated didn’t sound too terribly concerned at first, but when Martha began to go into seizures, Genesis freaked out on her. “Just get me a fucking ambulance! She’s shaking like a freaking earthquake! What do I do—what do I do?!”
The operator couldn’t offer more than telling Genesis that help was on the way and to make sure Martha wasn’t near anything she could hurt herself with.
Twenty minutes later, the house was filled with cops and paramedics.
Martha was in and out of consciousness at this point, babbling that she couldn’t go to the hospital because she had to work in the morning.
“You’re lucky you aren’t dead,” one of the paramedics told her. “You have severe alcohol poisoning; you aren’t going anywhere tomorrow.”
“Noooo,” she slurred, gripping Genesis’s hand. “I doon’t wana get frrrrd. Work frrr me—I’ll pay ya, Gen. His kezz in my purrsss…” her eyes closed and she passed out again.
“How long will she be in the hospital?”
“She should be dead from all that alcohol. At a minimum, they’ll detox her for two days. She should be in a treatment program for three weeks, but without insurance they’ll probably let her go by Wednesday.”
“What about him?” she asked pointing to where two medics were talking to Larry.
“She’s worse; I imagine they’ll let him go tomorrow afternoon.”
Mike and his wife, Charlotte watched as the doors were closed on the ambulance.
“I’m using the car tomorrow,” Charlotte snapped as she turned and started walking toward the tiny frame house.
“No you’re not,” Genesis replied, but before giving Charlotte a second to argue, she added, “I have to work in the morning.”
“Bull shit! You little liar! I talked to Martha when she came home and she said you ain’t working until next week!”
“I’m not talking about Circle-K,” she stated, trying her best to hold her temper in check. Surprisingly, Mike hadn’t stepped into the argument. Mike was a distant relation, a second cousin once removed or something like that, but he often acted as if he was Genesis’s uncle simply because he was older than she was.
“Well you sure as hell ain’t got any other job to go to,” Charlotte began to rant. “Ain’t nobody wants to hire a dumb little whore like—”
Genesis lunged with her fist pulled back ready to knock that loud-mouth, high school dropout slut on her ass.
Mike grabbed her. “Settle down—we don’t need any more excitement out here tonight!”
The look on Charlotte’s face was one of total surprise. She had cowered when she saw the swing coming, but (now that Mike had a firm grip on her attacker) her bravery improved. “Yeah, you better hold on to that little bitch, or I’ll have to—”
“Shut up, Charlotte,” he growled. It was rare for him to put her in her place, but it worked.
She closed her mouth and glowered at him.
Genesis didn’t struggle. She had discovered that men were like one of those Chinese finger puzzles. If you struggled, they simply increased their power, making it impossible to pull from their grasp. But, if you relaxed, they relaxed. It would have been the perfect opportunity to knee Mike in the gut or the nuts, but her anger wasn’t directed at him. “I am working tomorrow, Mike.”
“Martha asked me in the trailer, just before she passed out again, to fill in for her so she won’t lose the new job.” She was waiting for Charlotte to argue about it, but she appeared to accept the statement as fact—and the last person Mike and Charlotte wanted to piss off was Martha. Martha’s little crappy one acre was the only place any of them could afford to call home.
Mike released her. “Come on Charlotte, let’s go back to bed before the kids get up.”
“I’d like a little freedom!” she pouted as she turned toward the house. “I never get to go anywhere, Mikey. All I do is sit home and watch the kids.” She was still muttering and babbling as they walked away.
Genesis giggled, “Then you shouldn’t have had so many freaking kids,” she muttered under her breath as she grabbed the door knob on the trailer.
“What’d you say?!” Charlotte yelled.
“Me? I said I was going to freaking bed.” She could still here Charlotte’s whiny voice as Mike led her away.
She rarely ever had the trailer to herself. She loved the solitude. She often thought about people in prison who are sent to solitary confinement as a punishment. “Nope,” she said aloud to the quiet space, “I would love it.” It was almost midnight, but she was too wired to sleep—so she cleaned. She’d cleaned the trailer earlier, but now she had to clean up the mess from Martha and Larry’s drunken night. The vomit was the worst. It was pungent and slimy and soaked into the cheap, worn carpet. When she finished, the trailer once again smelled and looked as good as a rat-hole possibly could.
She locked everything up and then went into Martha and Larry’s bedroom. She stripped the mattress and put on fresh sheets and blankets then she took a long, hot shower. There was something about living with her aunt that made her want to bathe everyday; she always felt dirty here.
When she crawled onto the soft queen-sized bed, she remembered her home. She remembered her mother. She remembered her dad. And, she remembered how it felt to be clean—all the way to her soul. The last thing she saw before her eyes blinked shut was the red readout on the bedside alarm clock: 1:43 a.m.