Leave Me…and I’ll Die.

Pearl

            We’d just finished dinner when there was a knock on the door.

            Vanessa immediately looked at me, like she hoped it was her father.

            I shook my head. “I haven’t spoken to him.”

            Griffin rose from the table and placed Cassandra into her highchair. “I’ll check.” He walked out and left the room.

            My stomach was in knots. My heart started to pump against the iron bars of an invisible cage. I wasn’t ready to face Crow, but five days had felt like an eternity, and I was surprised he’d lasted so long.

            Vanessa drank her wine as she looked at me.

            Voices were heard from across the house.

            Then I heard it, distinct and loud like he wanted to make sure I heard it. “Tell my wife to get her ass out here.”

            Vanessa’s face immediately flushed as she tried to suppress the smile that wanted to move into her face. She was probably eager for me to get out of her hair so she and Griffin could have their space again. But she was also eager for the two of us to be our old selves again. It was hard to imagine a time that would ever happen.

            Griffin walked back into the kitchen then looked at me, like he knew I heard every word.

            I grabbed the glass of wine on the table and finished it before I rose to my feet.

            Griffin moved back to the table, like he intended to sit there with his family and give me whatever privacy he could.

            But there would be no privacy if Crow continued to speak like that.

            I rounded the corner and my eyes immediately connected with his.

            Dark like midnight. An earthquake restrained beneath the surface. A stare so intense it nearly burned the house down. He looked at me like he wanted to rip me apart limb by limb—and kiss me so hard he broke my lips.

            I crossed the room until I reached the front door, feeling the heat of his flames like he was the fireplace in his study. There were a couple feet of space between us, but after the long estrangement, it felt like there was nothing between us at all.

            He stared at me with that hard, piercing look. Like he had so much to stay but his words couldn’t puncture his hard surface. The steam of his rage couldn’t breach the surface. “Grab your bag and let’s go. Before you speak, understand that this is not a request.”

            “Crow—”

            “Don’t fuck with me right now,” he snapped. “I’ve given you five days. Five horrible fucking days. Be grateful for that patience because you’ll never see it again.” His eyes shifted back and forth between mine and he looked possessed, about to explode with rage. “I will not hesitate to drag you out of here kicking and screaming. I don’t give a damn if our kids see it. If you think Griffin will intervene, you’re fucking wrong.”

            “Crow—”

            “I swear to fucking god—”

            “Jesus, let me speak.”

            He shut his mouth, but it looked like the dam wouldn’t hold long.

            “I’ve missed you.”

            It took him a second to process what I said, like he anticipated another argument instead of a declaration of love. Once that second passed, the anger on his face immediately melted like butter on warm bread.

            “I’m sorry that I put you through this…but I needed this time. I appreciate that you gave me as much space as you did.”

            “I’ll never do it again.”

            “I know—”

            “No, I’ll never give you this much space again. I already apologized for what I did and I won’t do it anymore. I served the sentence of my crime and won’t suffer another second of your punishment.”

            “I wasn’t punishing you—”

            “Taking away a man’s wife is the harshest punishment there is,” he snapped. “I had to see my life without you in it. It’s just me and Lars in a big fucking house. I thank god that I’m the one that’s going to go first so I don’t have to suffer that torture like you will. I’m a selfish asshole and I’m not sorry about it.”

            My eyes dropped picturing Crow alone and sad without me in it. The last time he lived alone was when I returned to New York and tried to return to my old life like I put on a sweater left in the back of my closet. It didn’t fit right—because I wasn’t the same person that had worn that sweater every day.

            His patience had snapped and he grabbed me by the elbow and yanked me into him hard. On the front doorstep of our daughter’s house, he grabbed me by the back of the hair and tugged my hair back, getting in my face the way he used to when I fucked him for my freedom. Instead of kissing me, he held me there, his arm tight on my back. When he spoke, it was almost a whisper so our daughter wouldn’t hear it. “You’re going to make up for these five days. Every fucking one of them. You think three hundred and sixty-five buttons is a lot? I just doubled it, Button. Now get your shit and let’s go.”

***

            The drive was spent in silence.

            Crow didn’t say a word to me, but it was obvious he was still angry.

            I didn’t say goodbye to Vanessa or Griffin. Crow didn’t say hello to our grandchildren. It was an awkward departure.

            When we pulled up to the house, Crow left my things in the trunk.

            Alejandro didn’t greet us like he knew to steer clear of Crow tonight.

            After a long walk and more tension, we entered our bedroom on the third floor. Alejandro had already pulled back the sheets for bed.

            Crow gripped his shirt from the back and pulled it over his head, revealing a muscular back craved with a sculptor’s knife. His hair turned messy after he yanked the material over his head, but it complemented the wild look in his eyes. “Take off your clothes and get on the bed—ass up.”

            He hadn’t barked me around like this in a long time. I hoped we would talk and make love, but the enraged side of him had been provoked. He wanted control, and after I took away the control he had over me, he needed to get it back. I liked this version of Crow, but only when our lives were good, not when they were bad.

            “What did I just say?” he snapped.

            I pulled off my shoes then removed my jeans, feeling his heavy stare on me. When my top came off, he removed his jeans and boots, hard like a log cut from the trunk of a tree. He shoved me onto the bed because he was too anxious to wait for me to go for it.

            I was on my knees at the edge of the bed when he shoved my face into the sheets.

            He positioned himself at my entrance, keeping my neck tight in his grasp.

            “Crow.”

            He shoved himself inside me with a hard thrust before his hand pushed into my lower back, deepening the angle. It felt good to feel how hard he was for me, that he didn’t shove his stiff dick in women half my age to get off. That I was enough, even after two babies and three decades of marriage.

            But it’s not what I wanted. “No.”

            He stilled when he heard what I said.

            “I don’t want it like this…” I pulled out of his grasp and he let me go. I moved to my back and propped myself on my elbows.

            He stared at me with those hard eyes, like he wanted to refuse my request to deny my need for intimacy. But he seemed to want it to because he moved up the bed over me, his knees separating my thighs as he brought our bodies close together.

            My fingers slid into his hair and I watched the sharpness of his eyes soften to a butter knife. My body folded as he moved me, and then he slid inside me, making a gasp release from my lips.

            He sunk all the way, watching my expression as I took him.

            Both of my hands dug into his hair as my body started to rock. “I love you, Crow.”

            He didn’t say it back, but his callousness started to fade. “Say it again.”

            “I love you…” 

            “Are you going to leave me again?”

            “No.”

            “Never. That’s the answer I want.”

            “Never…”

            He finally dipped his head and kissed me, and the second our mouths touched there was more than a spark, but an inferno. His cock hardened inside me and he breathed a moan into my lungs. “Leave me again…and I’ll die.”