“If you spit at me, you won’t like what I do next,” he says very seriously, but I can see the barest trace of a smile. Caleb.
“What about what I asked for?” I whisper the words, taking advantage of our closeness. I’m not nearly as bruised as I used to be and I know what men like him, men with power, like from beautiful women like me. I sway my body toward him, trying to make it seem incidental.
He frowns and gives me a strange look. Slowly, his hands come up to rest on my shoulders, they’re warm. I wonder if his mouth is too. I lick my bottom lip and his eyes track my tongue. He reminds me. He reminds me so much of him. It’s been days since someone has touched me in a way I might enjoy.
He pushes me back gently. This man is all business. “Entry into Witness Protection isn’t guaranteed,” he says. He grabs the chair I threw and motions for me to sit. “This crosses international lines, not just federal. The DOJ is currently reviewing this case and it depends on other complicated factors.” He sets it down where he wants and looks at me. “Sit down.”
I look at the chair and raise my arms from behind my back, wiggling my fingers.
“I’m going to leave those on. Forgive me if I don’t trust you.”
I force a smile just to piss him off, “I won’t sign anything until you come through. I’ll say I lied about everything.”
He steps closer, “Have you been lying, Miss Ruiz?” His gaze is hot and smoldering – intimidating as hell. If it weren’t for the fact I’ve been with Caleb for so long, I’d probably piss like a puppy, but after Caleb, Reed’s threats feel like a caress. “Sit. Down,” he orders less nicely.
I sit slowly, giving him the sultriest look I can muster. He holds my eyes the entire time, trying to maintain his authority, his control. I slowly lean over and spit on his shoe. I look up at him, lips wet, and smile.
His hand wraps around my bicep with enough force to make me wince and he hauls me to my feet. “We’re done for today. You can go back to your room.” He shoves me toward the door and I go without a fight.
I want to go back to my room. I’m too close to falling apart and I don’t want Reed to see it. I don’t want anyone to see me falling apart.
The ache in my chest is ever-present. I dream of Caleb whenever my eyes are closed. I can touch him in my dreams. I can run my hands along his smooth, sun-kissed skin. He’s always so warm; he has so much heat inside him.
I press my nose to his chest and inhale deeply. There is a familiar tug of arousal as my nipples pebble and my pussy swells. Standing up on my toes, I press my lips to his. He won’t open his mouth to me. He wants me to beg. My Caleb loves it when I beg. With him, I always have a reason to. I hear myself whimper softly and then I brush my nose against his. Against my lips, I can feel him smile. He opens his mouth and lets me sweep my tongue inside. Mmmm. I could spend a lifetime trying to describe the decadence of Caleb’s mouth. He tastes like everything I’ve ever wanted to eat. Unlike biting into a tender, warm, juicy piece of meat – Caleb’s flavor never fades. It builds. I want him more with every slide of his tongue against mine. I whimper louder. Beg harder. More. Please, give me more.
I can hear him. He moans against my lips. Softly, he inhales and exhales as we kiss. He never stops kissing me; he simply continues to steal my breath, returning it to me only when he’s infused it with his essence. Pure lust lives inside him. Every breath I take should come from his lungs.
This is what it’s like to dream of him.
This is what I lose when I wake.
The situation is uncomfortable to say the very least. In fact, it’s closer to insufferable. Agent Reed is not here. His invitation has been revoked by Dr. Sloan. I can’t say I’m unhappy about it. Still, it means I am alone with Dr. Sloan, and I can be unhappy about that.
She found me crying yesterday. Gripping Caleb’s picture to my chest and rocking.
I rather like rocking. I’m doing it now.
She asked about the photo of course, asked about what had happened between Agent Reed and me. I refused to respond to her questions – she had nothing to offer me – no photos to dangle in front of me. I haven’t said a word since I was brought back to my room yesterday.
Agent Reed returned this morning, ready for another round of what he calls an interview, and I refer to as, an interrogation. Dr. Sloan got here an hour before he did. I watched, detached, as she asked Agent Reed to step outside with her. He gave me the stink-eye as he turned to leave. I guess he thinks I’m a rat. I don’t really care though, because it means I can keep quiet a little longer. When Dr. Sloan returned, she was obviously tense. Whatever was said left her in a huff. If I weren’t so grief-stricken, I might have smiled.
She’s much calmer now. She has shut the door to my room, entombing us, but she hasn’t asked me any questions…yet. I rock back and forth, cradling Caleb’s photo in my hands, as I sit on my bed. He is so beautiful. I love him so very much.
Dr. Sloan is sitting in a chair near the corner, knitting a sweater of all things. It’s a strange design – unless she has a pet octopus she likes to put clothes on. A few times, I’ve been tempted to ask her what the fuck that is about.
She catches me watching her.
“It gives me something to do with my hands,” she says through a rueful smile. “A lot of times I am the last person people want to talk to. So I just sit down and knit. I understand the mechanics of it, but I haven’t really learned how to make anything. I guess you could call it ‘free-form knitting’.” She laughs at her own joke.
This woman is ridiculous.
For a moment there is a pause and I think we’ve reached the end of our one-sided conversation, but then she sighs and keeps right on talking.
“I never really had anyone to teach me how to knit. I think most people learn from their mother or grandmother, but I grew up in foster care, so I had to learn on my own. I picked it up a few years ago when a friend of mine suggested I get a hobby. A mindless hobby. I’m a bit of an over-thinker. If I don’t find a way to shut my brain off I just keep thinking and thinking and thinking. Mostly about work. My job can be pretty thankless sometimes.” She glances up at me and smiles again.
I roll my eyes. She’s obviously trying to annoy me to death.
“See, told you. Thankless.”
For the love of Christ, shut – up! Let a bitch enjoy her mental breakdown in peace.
“I liked it so much I picked up a few other hobbies.”
Oh god. Please don’t.
“I make my own beanie babies. Well, not really my own, because we already know I can’t knit or sew worth a damn, but I like to buy them, take them apart, and then put them back together in some pretty interesting ways. I like to call it ‘interpretive taxidermy’.”
Kill me. Just, fucking, kill me.
“It’s a little redundant I guess, since most taxidermy involves putting things together in an interpretive way. Still, I’m the only one who calls it that. It’s my own little spin.”
“Do you have any hobbies, Olivia?” she looks up at me.
I can’t help the way my eyes narrow. I wish she’d stop calling me that.
“You don’t like it, do you? When I use your name?”
I give an infinitesimal shake of my head that isn’t really voluntary. The moment I catch myself do it, I scowl and stare down into my lap, at my handsome Caleb.
Don’t. Don’t think about him.
Once again, I am a fragmented person. I am divided between the soft, sentimental, girl who loves Caleb at all costs and the hard, logical, version of me determined to survive – even at the cost of pushing Caleb from my heart.
“Would you prefer Livvie? Your mom says everyone calls you Livvie.”
Tears sting my eyes as I look up toward Dr. Sloan. She is studiously avoiding eye contact, focusing on yet another ‘arm’ of her strange outfit.
I wonder, against my will, if my mother is here. I don’t want to see her, but…why hasn’t she come to see me? Everyone I love betrays me.
Oh, god. Caleb.
Yes, him too. Don’t think about him.
“I spoke with her a great deal yesterday; she wanted to see you.” Dr. Sloan says casually. My heart is skipping every other beat. Panic is rising, but I breathe through it. Barely. “But when I stopped by to ask if it was something you might want….” She frowns and shakes her head angrily. I know she’s thinking about Reed. “I figured I’d wait for you to tell me what you want to do.”
I nod shallowly and feel manipulated when I see her nod, too. She’s getting in my fucking head and I haven’t even said anything.
Caleb says all your emotions are on your face for all to see.
Shut up and stop thinking about him. Be smart for once. Listen to me.
I sigh. Thinking about Caleb hurts, but trying to move beyond my love for him, hurts more. There’s no getting past the pain. There is only a different brand of pain available for my eager consumption.
“Do you want to see your mother?”
I don’t know whether the question is real, or a threat. I carefully abstain from signaling my emotions through my body language or facial expressions. I suppose it works because Dr. Sloan resumes her ridiculous monologue about her hobbies.
“I know what you must be thinking.”
You have no fucking idea.
“That I’m a silly woman with ridiculous hobbies.”
Or maybe you do.
“Though, you’d be surprised to learn, I’m not all free-form knitting and interpretive taxidermy. I have a dark side.”
“When I’m really frustrated with things,” she giggles “…I like to get online and change things in Wikipedia!”
This, bitch…is weird.
“I once made up a whole entry based on someone called, the Christmas Amoeba. You see, I’m not much of a baker and I made these holiday cookies for the people at the office. They came out horribly deformed. They tasted fine, mind you, but they were misshapen. Not a round cookie in the bunch.”
I look at her octopus sweater. I’m fairly sure nothing this woman does with her hands is meant for people to see, let alone consume.
“So I left a note next to the cookies. It was a story explaining how a small village near K2…. You know that big mountain, right?” She looks at me to make sure I’m following along.
I lie down on my bed and huff at the ceiling. Where the hell is the nurse with my drugs?
“Anyway, they made a movie about it. Not my cookies,” she cackles, so fucking amused with herself, “…the mountain. Can you imagine if they made a movie about my cookies? So, I made up this story about how this village near K2 celebrates someone called the Christmas Amoeba instead of Santa Claus. He sneaks in undetected – amoebas are microscopic, so it stands to reason someone who’s an amoeba would be very stealthy – on Christmas Eve and leaves presents for everyone. In return, the people of the village leave a variety of oddly shaped cookies for the amoeba to eat. Amoeba’s come in a variety of shapes, so it makes sense.”
She can’t see my face, so I don’t feel like a traitor for smiling at this preposterous woman’s story.
“Well, the people in my office are just sticklers for the truth. You know, everything must be verified, blah, blah, blah. So sure enough, they do a Google search and – BOOM – up pops my entry on Wikipedia about the Christmas Amoeba.”
She dissolves into peals of laughter.
Oh my god, she really is crazy. I bite the inside of my cheeks to keep from laughing. She is laughing so hard. It’s infectious, but I resist it. My shoulders are trembling with withheld laughter. I shut my eyes to assist in the effort.
Caleb is there the moment I shut my eyes.