16 Angel and the Badman: Revelation
The Revelation ... which God gave unto him, to show unto his servant things which must shortly come to pass...
~~The Holy Bible, King James Version
He ran his hands through his hair, then scraped his palms down his rage contorted face. There was nothing stuck to the tape on the back of the envelope, no mention of the name Benning on the first page of Andreen’s report. The crisp white sheets of A4 were in numerical order, 1-2-3, and didn’t read in sequence. The man who opened the envelope hadn’t noticed, a mistake only a damn jackass would make.
Adrenalin injected blood coursing in his veins, Cort forced himself to sit calmly, but he couldn’t keep his hands from flexing to stretch the tendons and sinew, just as he used to before a gunfight.
Fucking Paco. Dead fucking Paco.
Dead as soon as Cort could kill him clean. But not yet. He’d wait, see what the damn traitor would do. A little patience now would pay off later, warn him where the next threat would come from. He thought of Bud White and the LAPD. Trouble from that quarter? Cort doubted it. Their case was a dead-end and they knew it. Wouldn’t even be a problem if it wasn’t for White’s bull-headedness.
The threat would come from the bikers. Hard core Mongols. Sweet Christ in heaven, the fucking one percenters. The law was nothing to them, and except for their own, their brotherhood, human life was nothing. His stomach churned, thinking of those bastards with a hard-on for his Angel. They’d kill her without thinking about it.
If all they wanted was a payoff, there’d be no problem. Cort had plenty stashed away, enough to live well on for the rest of his life. He’d stolen and bribed and clawed his way up from nothing to get it, and he’d give it all up in a heartbeat to save Angel. But the money wouldn’t be enough. He knew from experience, once you paid up, you paid again and again. Outlaws like the Mongols exploited weakness, thrived on fear. It was all about control and containment. He knew. He’d been that way himself once, long ago. Truth was, he wasn’t that far from it now.
Cort’s rage surged again in a desire for violence, for blood. He wanted to kill the bastards who threatened Blanche. Christ, Angel… He’d waited a long time for her and now that she was his, he wasn’t about to let anyone hurt her. He wanted to protect her, keep her safe. But he had to tell her what was going down. Ignorance of the danger wouldn’t stop it -- she had to be warned, prepared. And as much as he wanted to hide her away somewhere safe until this was finished, he had a feeling she wouldn’t run.
“Fuck...” He stood up and paced back and forth, wishing she would come back from Maureen’s room. Jesus Christ, she’d been in there for hours. How much could two women have to talk about? He needed her. Needed to touch her, hold her close to his heart.
Cort’s eyes cut to the basket in the corner where Sport held the rubber duck between his paws. He growled low, lifted his head and shook the toy violently.
Jaw clenched, his nerves jangling, Cort swore. Christ, he’d be going for his gun in a minute. That damn racket was going put him over the edge…he’d shoot the damn duck until it never fucking quacked again. He went over the basket, squatted down.
“Drop it, Sport.”
His jaws working furiously, the dog ignored him and the duck protested as if it were alive: Quackquackquack
Jesus, why the hell did I buy that thing? “Come on, old boy. Gimme...” He grabbed it, tugged. The dog held on.
There was accelerated quacking as Sport chewed furiously. Sweet Christ in heaven. Cort went loud, his voice booming like thunder.
“Gimme the duck, goddammit!” He snatched the spit slippery toy away and tossed it on top of his pine armoire, fought off guilt when Sport’s eyes followed hungrily. Jesus, he looked just like he did when the gulls got away from him. But Cort couldn’t take that noise, not now.
“You can have it back tomorrow,” he promised the dog. Sport stared unblinking, his ears perked, his body quivering. Waiting for the damn duck, just as he waited in the surf for the shorebirds.
The shepherd began to pace in front of the armoire. Suddenly Cort laughed. “What we need here…” he said aloud, “…is a little distraction. Come on, old boy. We’ll go to the beach and run the frustration out of both of us.”
* * *
It was after eleven o’clock when Blanche came back to their room, whispering a soft, “Hey...” just in case Cort was dozing. But he wasn’t there, and neither was Sport. The French door stood ajar, the night breeze fluttering the muslin curtains, and she knew they’d gone outside.
The night had turned cool. Closing the door against the chill, Blanche went into the bathroom and ran water in the tub. She had time for a bath, but she’d be waiting when Cort came back. He would need her tonight, she already knew that. His tension at dinner, the smile that didn’t reach his eyes. She’d even sensed a disappointing coolness toward Maureen.
She undressed, clipped up her hair, and lay back in scented water to think. Still on Eastern time, weary from a day of traveling, Maureen had fallen asleep almost in mid-sentence. She’d been chattering non-stop all evening, and it had been impossible to leave her. After a while Blanche had begun to think her sister’s aimless rambling was a deliberate attempt to keep her away from Cort. Her forehead creased in a worried frown as she considered it. Her lover didn’t seem too crazy about her sister, and Maureen hadn’t seemed to be impressed with Cort either. Blanche sighed and reached for the soap. She wanted the two people she loved most in the world to like each other, but maybe that wasn’t going to happen.
* * *
He ran only a mile or so before a nagging feeling of apprehension too strong to ignore made him stop and turn around. Panting, he looked back up the beach toward the house. Everything seemed normal. Quiet. Blanche was safe inside. There was the wall, the wrought iron gate. The cameras, the alarm system, Malena and Tomas downstairs in their room, where Tomas kept a double barrel loaded and ready.
Easy now, she’s safe... Cort told himself.
He wiped sweat out of his eyes with the edge of his hand. Sure she was safe. But the best protectors she had...him and Sport...weren’t close enough. And the run that was supposed to ease his tension was only making it worse.
“Fuck this…” Cort rumbled and took off at sprint, the dog following, barking joyously. He loved to run.
* * *
The white silk nightgown slipped over her head, whispered down over her body. Blanche pulled the clip from her hair and shook it out, fluffed it with both hands, and then opened the bathroom door to find Cort waiting on the edge of the bed. His bare chest heaved and dripped sweat, and his eyes glittered like chips of ice. Her heart fluttered and she was suddenly afraid. Whatever was bothering him, it was bad. She’d never seen him this way, except for quick flashes of temper, he was always calm and in control.
He leaned back, his eyes following her as she stood between his knees. Concern furrowed her forehead as Blanche smoothed a hand down his cheek. “Cort...what’s wrong? Tell me.”
He ignored the question, reached for her. “You’re everything to me, you know that darlin’? Nothing matters but you.” He pressed his face into her belly. The clean fresh scent of her skin invaded his nostrils and desire flooded him, the need to possess her body immediate and overwhelming. He wanted to talk to her, warn her about what was coming, but that could wait. He couldn’t. Cort’s hands grasped her hips and slowly pulled her closer. He pressed his face into the notch between her legs and took a deep breath.
Blanche pushed her hands into his hair. Sweat damp and curling, it slipped between her fingers. “I love you,” she whispered.
Cort lifted green eyes to hers. “I know, darlin’. And I love you.”
His hands moved to her ass and cupped firm flesh, squeezing. His breath ghosting across her skin, Cort growled low, “Need you, Angel. Sweet Christ, I need you.” He turned her until she took his place on the edge of the bed, went to his knees in front of her. “Take this off,” he ordered, tugging at the white silk and when she lifted her arms to pull it over her head, his hands went to her breasts. “Perfect...” His eyes locked on hers. “Mine.” He hefted their weight and cupped them in his palms. “My beautiful Angel, sent to me from a forgiving God.”
His head dipped and he licked inside her. Her taste bloomed on his tongue as Cort lifted her legs over his shoulders, raising her hips from the bed. She was slick and glistening, already wet for him. He buried his face in her cunt, sucked at her as if her juices would sustain his life.
“Ahh...God...” Blanche braced herself on her elbows, gasped in pleasure as his head moved between her legs. He was rough, ardent, as if he would eat her alive. She gave herself over to flooding pleasure, the spiraling rush his need gave her.
His fingertips sank into her thighs and he spread her wider, nipping with his teeth, his probing tongue invading her body. “Show me, Angel. Show me how much...”
Her fists bunching the coverlet, Blanche panted and reached, her hips writhing. He slid two fingers deep, pressed for the trigger.
“Now, darlin’...mmm, that’s it. You’re so damn hot, so wet. Want my cock inside...want to feel you come...”
She thrashed helplessly, begged him to suck her. He bent his head and her fingers twisted in his hair to hold him to her. And then the stars fell out of her sky, and her world turned on its axis, and Blanche knew nothing but the ecstasy that rippled through her until she pushed his head away, spent and panting.
He rose silently, looming over her, tearing at his clothes. His eyes were hot, avid, locked on her body. Blanche spread her legs, framed her sex with her hands and arched her back.
“Cort. Come to me...” she whispered, her eyes languid, beguiling. “Love me...”
Fascinated, his hands slowed on the buttons of his half-undone fly. She stared at the head of his cock thrusting above the denim, nested in crisp curling hair. His stomach rippled in anticipation as Blanche sat up, her mouth watering for a taste of him.
Long fingers slid buttons through their holes lazily, their indolence an exciting torment. She leaned back to look at him, his jeans open and sagging on lean hips, his dusky skinned cock high and hard. Her hand curled around his scrotum, weighing it as he had her breasts.
“Perfect,” she breathed. “Mine.” And then she took him in her mouth.
“Jesus...” It hissed through his teeth as the heat of her breath surrounded his cock. He pushed her off him, rolled with her on the bed until they were face to sex. His hands gripped the cheeks of her ass, he gloried in the feel of her flesh in his hands. Her lips were tight around his cock, her tongue pressing, swirling. Lost in taste and sensation, they twisted, rolling across the wide bed.
Christ, now. He was on fire, had to be inside her body, feel that warm tightness clamping down on him. Cort pushed Blanche off him, watched his spit-slick cock slide from between her lips. He rose to his knees behind her, pulled at her body until she rested on her elbows, her hips raised, her back arched. His cock leapt in eager anticipation as he smoothed his hands over her waist, traced the groove of her spine with his tongue. He licked over her ass, bit down gently.
“Gonna fuck you good, Angel.” His cock in hand, he swiped it through her dripping juices before pressing inside.
His head fell back, his eyes closed as the heat of her body enveloped him. He gripped her hips for leverage and thrust in farther, his hand stealing around to her clit. Blanche whimpered beneath him, bucked at the sweet pressure of his fingers.
Slow and hard. He fought off the need to come, his head back, his lips stretched in a grimace of effort. Christ, so tight, so hot. Her body gripped him, pulled at his cock. He fell over her, his chest sweat slick, the wooden cross on its leather thong sliding along her back.
His low growl was like a caress: “Fuck me, Angel.” Grunting, panting, he dropped his face and bit her shoulder. His hips thrust and plunged, ground into her. Blanche twisted for his kiss, whimpering into his mouth as she came, and her hand reached for his, entwining their fingers.
Cort felt her contract and his hips surged, hitched, froze. “Angel...Jesus!”
Lost, mindless with pleasure, his fingers crushed hers in the rictus of orgasm. His mouth fastened on her shoulder and he grunted through his coming, not even aware that he was biting her like a stallion does a mare. Blanche collapsed under him, and he sank down to cover her body with his, spent and breathless.
* * *
He held her, stroked her tumbled hair until she fell asleep. Her shoulder was bruised from his teeth and he winced every time he looked at it. He hadn’t meant to hurt her, and even though Blanche swore she’d loved it, that it didn’t hurt at all, he berated himself for using her so hard.
It was the tension, he knew that. It had driven him, made him rough, almost brutal. He still hadn’t told her about Paco and his brother. Cort didn’t want to see her eyes go from loving and soft to bitter and afraid. He held her tighter and in her sleep, Blanche murmured and rolled to her side. He let her go, tucked the coverlet around her shoulders, then eased from the bed. Silently, he pulled on his jeans and shirt, took his cigarettes, and went out to the balcony, Sport padding behind him.
The breeze was stiff off the water, he had to cup the match in his hands to light his cigarette. Cort sat at the table where they had their breakfast every morning and chain smoked. He wished he had a glass of bourbon, but it was too much trouble to go downstairs to get one. Below in the courtyard, Sport sniffed and marked the bushes, walking a perimeter almost like a guard.
‘He leaves no bush unmarked, that’s for sure,’ Cort thought, watching the dog circle the grass.
Tomorrow. No matter what Blanche had planned with Maureen, tomorrow he’d take her aside and tell her what he’d learned. Maybe he could talk her into going back to Philadelphia with her sister, but he doubted it. They’d have to make plans. He wondered if he should call in Ray Andreen, maybe hire a bodyguard. His grin was feral as he thought of Bud White, wondered if he could persuade him to switch sides. A man like White would be hard to stop.
“Hey...” She came up behind him in a whisper of silk, her arms slipping around him. They stared out at the ocean for a long minute, watching the phosphorescence that limned the waves. Blanche straightened, her hands massaging his neck, fingers sliding into his hair. “What’s going on, Cort? You were so tense at dinner, and you’re tense now. I can feel it...”
He let his head fall forward, let her tend to him. Taut muscles relaxed and his shoulders sagged.
“Mmm, feels good, darlin’. Don’t stop.”
She stood behind him, her body pressed to his for warmth, and dropped a kiss on the back of his neck. “Sport down in the yard?”
Her voice was gentle but insistent. “You going to tell me what’s bothering you? Is it Mo?”
Cort shook his head, let his breath out in a sigh. “No, it ain’t Mo. She’s fine. Kind of a smart ass, but so are you.”
She smiled in the darkness. “You like smart assed women. As long as they have nice tits and a fine ass.”
He chuffed a laugh. “Yeah, I do.” Abruptly, he sat up straight and pulled her around him to sit on his lap. “Angel,” he began, once she was settled. “I...” Cort stopped, wondering how the hell a man told the woman he loved that her life was in danger.
“Hey.” Blanche’s fingers were gentle on his bearded cheek. “Just say it, okay?”
Cort looked into her worried eyes, leaned in for a kiss. “Whatever happens, I want you to know I’ll never leave you,” he said softly. “No matter what, Angel...I’ll never let you go.”
Her heart started to pound. She bit her lip, stared at him. “Should I be afraid, Cort?”
He looked away, down into the courtyard where Sport lay on the grass. “Careful,” he said. “You should be careful.”