Authors: Susan A. Bliler
She moved her body so she sat directly above Draken, with his head cradled in her lap.
Warren, with great effort, got to his feet. Bleeding profusely from his nose, mouth and a cut below his right eye, Warren quickly scanned the room and retrieved the bat that Lucia had discarded.
He reared back with the bat, ready to strike the helpless Draken when Lucia looked up and screamed, “NO!” Quickly, she covered Draken’s body with her own as she looked up at Warren, “What are you doing?”
Warren gritted through bloody teeth, “Move Lucia. It’ll be better for all of us if I end this now.”
Stunned, she raised a hand to shield herself and Draken as Warren again cocked back, “NO WARREN!”
Draken began to stir and tried to sit up, but Lucia grabbed his head and buried it under her body as he had yet to regain his strength. She turned from Warren and buried her head in Draken’s shoulder, using her hands to cradle his head, “Just leave Warren, please just get out,” she sobbed.
Without looking up, she heard Warren sigh, “This was our best chance to get him out of my life forever.”
Then she heard the bat drop to the floor and the door close as Warren left. When she heard the screech of his tires outside as he departed, she knew he was gone for good.
Sitting up, she looked down at a barely alert Draken. As her tears fell down on his face, she rocked him back and forth, “I’m sorry Draken…I’m so sorry. I thought you were going to kill him, and I didn’t know what else to do.” She bent to kiss his brow as she ran a hand through his hair.
Slowly, he became more aware, “What happened?”
“I’m so sorry,” she began again, “I didn’t know what else to do. You were so angry and I couldn’t make you stop.”
He sat up slowly, rubbing the back of his neck where the blow had connected. “You did this to me?” He got unsteadily to his feet and stood swaying slightly, trying to regain his composure.
Lucia rose from the ground with him as she explained, “I wasn’t trying to hurt you Draken, I just wanted you to stop…”
He cut her off angrily, “For his sake? You were worried that I’d permanently damage your lover?” he asked as he jerked his arm from her grasp.
“No,” she whispered, “It’s not like that Draken. I told you Warren and I are not lovers, we never have been.”
He spun on her with fury in his eye as he grabbed her by both arms and pulled her to him, “You little bitch, I don’t know that I should believe anything that pours from that sensuous little mouth of yours. You and Warren are clearly playing a game with me, but I won’t be outwitted. Not by him or his lusty wench.”
Angry, she fired back, “I’m no man’s lusty wench. Not his and certainly not yours!”
She saw the glint in his eyes too late as he pulled her closer to him and said, “We can change that.” He bent and swept her up in his arms as he closed the short distance to her bedroom.
He spun and kicked the door closed behind them as Lucia struggled in his arms, “Put me down,” she gritted through clenched teeth, not showing the fear that was making her heart race.
“As you wish”, Draken drawled as he threw her on the bed.
She sat up quickly, but not fast enough to retrieve the belt of her robe from Draken’s grasp. He jerked the belt from her waist, allowing her robe to fall open revealing her skimpy nightgown. In seconds he was on top of her, kissing her as she fought against him.
She frantically kicked and tried to writhe free, but it was no use, his weight was too much for her. She used both hands to push on his chest, which left little defense on her part. His left hand was behind her neck holding her head so he could continue his assault, while his other hand left her waist to creep down to find the hem of her nightgown. He slid his hand up her thigh and caressed her hip. Lucia began frantically pulling at his clothes, trying to find leverage to pull him off her. She heard him chuckle deep in his chest and realized that he loved that she was fighting him. It dawned on her that he was actually gaining pleasure from her struggle.
With that realization, she instantly stopped fighting.
Two can play this game.
She changed from a terrified creature to a wanton goddess. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer to her. Her mouth met his and she eagerly returned his kiss instead of fighting it. She let her legs fall open and lifted the one he was caressing to give him better access as she arched against his body. She felt the sudden change as his body tensed.
He pulled back slightly and demanded angrily, “What are you doing?”
Lucia smiled up at him as she let a finger trail down his jaw line, over his lips, then down to slip inside his buttoned shirt to feel his muscled torso. Biting her lip she purred, “I’m being your lusty wench. Isn’t that what you want?” Pulling her hand out of his shirt, she let her hand travel down to finger the button of his trousers as she repeated, “Isn’t that what you want?”
Draken sprang from the bed, “Damn you Lucia!” He shoved an angry hand into his disheveled hair as he stood and exhaled. He attempted to look back at her sprawled out on the bed, but couldn’t follow through. He knew one look would seal her fate and he wasn’t prepared to follow through with his threats just yet. As he strode from the room, Lucia heard him whisper under his breath as he left, “Damn you.”
Lucia fell back on the bed emotionally exhausted. With Warren and Draken both gone, warm tears rolled down her cheeks. She wasn’t sure she could take much more of their antics. Silently, she closed her eyes and hoped for sleep, but found none.
Three weeks passed and Lucia hadn’t heard from Warren or Draken, and her efforts at locating Kennedy and Vinnie were fruitless.
She rarely wore the gloves that protected her scarred hands, but she did receive sidelong glances from passers-by if she wore a low-cut shirt that revealed too much of her scarred neck. She didn’t mind the scars, she’d actually grown accustomed to them, and saw them as a reminder of that near fatal day on the track.
She adapted back into her life quite easily, but she missed the thrill of the race. Her car had been totaled in the fiery crash, and without her teammates, she had no one to turn to for a loan. She couldn’t figure out why Team Cutlass had abandoned her and the questions about the accident still haunted her.
Her thoughts were also haunted by memories of her last night with Draken. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t seem to shake him from her thoughts. His kiss, his hands, his scent, all seemed to constantly plague her memories. She had taken extra shifts at the pub to earn extra cash in hopes of financing another car, but also to keep her mind off Draken. Between tips, wages, and her savings, she was well on her way to having enough money for a decent car, especially with so many extra shifts.
She had a meeting the upcoming weekend with the team’s auto dealer. Callisto had been dealing in illegal streetcars for years, and she was the one all the thrill seekers sought when they wanted to purchase something new. She had a reputation of producing clean, fast cars at a fair price.
Wiping down the bar, Lucia was pulled from thoughts of speeding down the track in her new car by the bar phone. “The Firm, this is Lucia.”
“Lucia, good. You’re just who I was looking for. This is Callisto. Look, I’m going to have to cancel our appointment for this weekend.”
“Why?” Lucia asked disappointment evident in her tone, “If you’re busy we can meet up tonight, or tomorrow, or next weekend if we have to.”
Callisto cleared her throat, “Look, what I’m trying to say is, I don’t have anything for ya. I don’t have anything today, I won’t have anything tomorrow, and I won’t have anything in a year.”
Perplexed, Lucia was silent a moment before demanding, “What the hell is going on? I’ve always been professional in our dealings Callisto; you know I’d never sell you out.”
Callisto relented, “You’ve always been a good customer, so I’ll let you in on a little secret, but you didn’t hear it from me,” Callisto hesitated then whispered, “You’re being black-balled on the circuit kid.”
“What!” Lucia gasped, “Which circuit?”
Again Callisto hesitated briefly before responding, “
of the circuits.”
Anger infused Lucia’s tone. “By who?”
“I don’t know who the guy is, but he’s got money and enough of it to keep you from racing here ever again. I don’t know what kind of enemies you’ve been making, but apparently they’re powerful ones. Anyway, I gotta go. I’m sorry kid I really am. Best of luck in the real world.” Then the line went dead.
Lucia listened to the dead line for several minutes before replacing the phone. “Sal!” Lucia yelled for the pub manager, “Watch the front, I gotta go.”
On the street in front of the pub, Lucia hailed a cab and gave directions as best she could remember. It had been months since she’d last been to Shatan Manor; she just hoped she remembered the way.
The taxi pulled to a halt at the front gate of Shatan Manor. Lucia hadn’t remembered the way exactly, but luckily the cab driver was more familiar with the area. Lucia exited the taxi and paid the fare.
“You want me to wait for you lady?” the driver asked stopping to peer through the gate at the enormous manor on the other side.
“Naw, I’ll be fine.” As the taxi pulled away, Lucia wondered if she’d made the right decision, but thinking back to Callisto’s words, her anger was re-ignited. She knew Draken was behind her inability to find anyone who’d sell her a car and behind her supposedly being blackballed on the entire underground circuit. She knew of no one else with that kind of money or power. Even with Warren’s well-known name, he didn’t possess that kind of influence.
Curling her hands into fists, Lucia approached the intercom that was set into a stone wall on the side of the gate. Not sure what to do, she pushed the button that sat below a speaker.
Hearing the throat clear on the other end, she grinned in recognition of Patrick’s habit, “Please state your business.”
“Patrick, it’s me Lucia…Lucia Griffin. I need to see Draken.”
“Yes, Miss Griffin, Lord Shatan has been expecting you.”
There was a buzz, and then the iron gates slowly swung open. Determined not to be intimidated, Lucia stormed down the length of the driveway, goose bumps rising on her flesh despite the warmth of the summer sun beating down on her. The length of the driveway was longer than she’d remembered, and by the time she reached the front doors of the manor, she had exhausted some of her anger.
As she lifted her hand to ring the bell, Patrick opened the door and expressionlessly proclaimed. “Welcome back Miss Griffin. It is a pleasure to receive you. Please come in.”
Unsure how to respond, Lucia ran an unsteady hand over the scars on her neck as she entered and offered, “Thank you Patrick, but I’m afraid my business with Drake…er Mr. Shatan is not a social call.”
Without batting an eye, Patrick responded, “Of course Miss. Might I interest you in a cold beverage?”
Licking her parched lips Lucia replied, “Yes, please. Iced-tea would be great.”
“Right this way,” Patrick drawled as he led her through the large foyer to the library where she’d had dinner with Draken and Nikolai so many nights before. She shuddered as she remembered the incident with Nikolai.
Misreading her reaction Patrick offered, “May I fetch you a shoulder wrap?”
“No thank you,” Lucia spoke as she followed Patrick into the library.
Wordlessly, Patrick exited the room. Lucia opted against taking a seat on the proffered couch, choosing to walk to the window to peer out on the estate. A few moments later a maid entered with a glass of iced tea and a plate of biscuits, which she left on the coffee table. Lucia sipped on the tea while she waited for Draken, leaving the biscuits untouched.
Starring out over the estate, Lucia wondered what it would be like to live in such an immaculate manor. She envied Draken for his lifestyle, his wealth, and his ability to need no one. Everything he desired was at his fingertips or easily attainable, which made her even more upset that he was standing in the way of her dreams knowing she had limited resources and avenues to pursue her secret passion.
Angered anew, she walked away from the window and took a seat on the sofa in front of the empty fireplace. It was a hot summer’s day, with just enough of a breeze outside to make it truly enjoyable. The windows to the library were open, and the burgundy curtains billowed and fell with the gentle grass scented breezes that filtered into the room.
As the birds chirped just outside the window, Lucia ran her hands over her neatly braided hair, then over her blue jeans. After her long taxi ride to the manor, she hadn’t thought to check her appearance in the small mirror she kept in her purse. She looked down at her pink, short-sleeved shirt, to ensure she hadn’t stained it while on shift at the Firm. Draken was taking his sweet time to meet with her, and bored of scanning the grounds, Lucia stretched and reclined back on the couch.
Waiting for Draken on the large comfy couch, with the summer breeze wafting in through the windows, Lucia realized how strenuous her day had been. She’d worked a full ten-hour shift at the pub, accepting a morning shift from 6am to 4pm when Sal called and offered her overtime to fill in for another bartender. She desperately wanted to shower, to rinse the day and the scents of the pub from her body, but after receiving Callisto’s phone call, she knew she had to settle this matter with Draken immediately if she had any hope of purchasing her car this weekend.
With thoughts of her day, Draken, Callisto, and racing all spinning in her head as she waited, it wasn’t long before Lucia drifted off to sleep as she nestled deeper into the softness of the sofa.
Unsure how long she’d been out, her eyes fluttered. She felt relaxed and well rested for the first time in many days. She was so comfortable in fact, that she wanted to remain asleep and didn’t immediately open her eyes, temporarily forgetting where she was. As she stretched and snuggled deeper into the comfort of the sofa, she tensed with the realization that the sofa wasn’t as soft as she’d remembered. As she became fully conscious, she remembered where she was and her eyes flew open to reveal Draken asleep on the sofa next to her, holding her in his arms.