“Oh, Fredrik! Please don’t stop…”
I don’t plan to, love.
I suck her clit repeatedly into my mouth, pressing my lips hard against her pelvic bone.
I hear another gasp, though it’s not coming from Cassia. I only stop when her thighs clamp around my head and she looks toward the living room entrance with an expression of horror.
Greta is standing there with her mouth agape and eyes wider than Cassia’s legs had been.
Without raising my body, I look across at her and say, “Do you mind waiting outside for about”—I figure it out in my head quickly—“a couple more minutes?”
Greta, making me feel like she hasn’t been laid in a very long time, takes a few seconds to get her thoughts together.
“I’ll be in the car,” she says, moving quickly toward the door. “Just wave at me when…you’re done.”
The front door opens and closes so fast she probably ran the last few feet.
“Oh my God, I’m so embarrassed!”
“Don’t be,” I tell her while grasping her thighs firmly with both hands and spreading them away from my head. “Now be still.”
“But I can’t—”
“Oh, yes, you can. Trust me. Now lay your head back down.”
Promptly, she does what I tell her and I go back to work.
While Cassia is in my bedroom getting dressed, Greta is re-entering the house with absolutely no eye contact. Not that that’s unusual, but this time for very a very different reason.
“I am so sorry, Mr. Gustavsson.” She sets her purse on the counter and then goes to drape her coat over the back of a barstool, but she misses and it falls to the floor instead. She bends over and tries again, fumbling it all the while. “You told me to let myself in. I just didn’t—”
“Don’t worry about it.” I step toward her. She steps to the side, dropping her gaze. I walk around her and toward the refrigerator. “It was my fault. I knew you’d be here, but…well, things happened that I didn’t anticipate.”
“I’ll say,” Greta mumbles under her breath.
I let it slide.
Cassia enters the room, dressed in her gray tank top and a pair of my running pants covering her little pink panties. She can barely look Greta in the face, unable to contain the redness in her own. It’s so f**king cute I want to put her on the counter next.
“Hi Greta.” Cassia waves her hand daintily.
I open the refrigerator and take a water bottle off the top shelf.
“Hi Cassia, dear. I uh, take it you’ve been doing well the past few days.”
I shake my head at their awkwardness, but say nothing.
If Cassia were standing on a beach, she’d look like she was shyly shuffling her toes in the sand.
How can she and Seraphina be the same person?
“Yes, Greta,” Cassia says with an unrelenting smile, “things have been wonderful.”
Greta’s eyes finally find their way to mine, but she doesn’t look at me for long, just long enough to expose the uncertainty hidden within them. I let that slide, too. She’s just very motherly when it comes to Cassia, and quite frankly, I’m beginning to appreciate that about her even more now.
Suddenly, realization sinks in and Cassia’s smile drops as she turns to me. If Greta is here it can only mean one thing.
“Are you leaving?” Her sad eyes draw inward. It crushes me a little inside.
“Yes.” I twist the cap off the water. “I have to meet someone in about an hour. It’s very important.”
It’s important, but it also has me on edge. I almost don’t want to meet Izabel at the coffee shop because I’m afraid of what she’s going to tell me.
Cassia steps up to me.
“I don’t want you to go.”
I set the water down and place my hands on her shoulders and lean in to kiss her forehead. “It won’t be for long. You’ll be all right.”
Greta begins unloading the dishwasher, pretending not to be listening, but she’s hanging on every word.
Cassia’s expression appears tortured. I know she doesn’t want me to leave her, but this isn’t only about that. She doesn’t want to go back into the basement and although I haven’t verified that’s going to happen, she knows that it will.
I take her hand and she lets me.
We leave Greta in the kitchen and I walk with Cassia down the concrete stairs, turning on the lights as I pass. I admit that even to me it feels like walking into a prison though I haven’t been the one confined in this place. I wish I could let her live freely in my house, able to look out the windows or even to go outside whenever she wanted. But right now that’s not possible. And it may never be.
“You promise you won’t be gone long?”
She lays her head on my chest, her arms bent and pressed between us, her fingers clutching my dress shirt.
I cradle the back of her head in my hand, tightening my grip around her. “I promise.”
Raising her face, she looks up at me with apprehension.
I kiss her forehead.
“What is it?”
Cupping her face in both of my hands, I kiss her trembling lips.
“Don’t be afraid.”
“But I am. I’ll always be afraid.” Her fingers tighten around the fabric of my shirt.
“Fredrik?” she repeats, though this time with reluctance.
I soften my gaze, letting her know that it’s OK to talk about Seraphina—this is different.
“Can you promise me that you’ll never let her hurt me again?” The corners of her eyes well up with moisture. “I know that you love her”—she tugs my shirt harder, seizing my wandering gaze—“I know you will always love her. But please, don’t ever let her hurt me again.”
Looking her in the eyes and seeing only Cassia for the first time I say, “I’ll never let her hurt you again.” I kiss her forehead. “And I don’t think I want to find her anymore.”
Cassia says nothing else as I lock the shackle around her ankle and make my way back up the concrete steps.
I felt a smile try pushing its way the surface of my face, but it died too soon. My hands drop to my sides and I just stand here in the center of the room, the chain stretched out beside me on the floor. I should be happy about the last thing he said—I want to be, but I feel strange.
I don’t know what’s happening to me.