Mistress & Master of Restraint, #11, Integrated: Ezra Holden Zeitler’s story.
I embark on a journey of self-realization, redemption, and forgiving oneself…
I’ve struggled since I was thirteen years old to keep myself even. I lost my innocence when I fractured. The childlike part of me was tainted while the dominant part of me overpowered my mind. I’ve lived in a constant state of tug-of-war.
Some call me Master Ez, Dr. Lunatic, Son, Elder Holden, Dad, or husband. Until I integrated I couldn’t simply be called Ezra.
Everyone struggles throughout life. I would know since I counsel a large majority. Imagine a life filled with financial, familial, and romantic problems, but compound that by fighting one’s own mind. Imagine having two halves dueling for control of your mind as you try to merge them into one, to give yourself peace. Mental illness makes the mundane seem trivial, doesn’t it?
With great wealth comes an ease of freedom of choice but an even larger responsibility. I am responsible for all those around me: their happiness, their safety… their torment and punishment and ruination.
Integrated, I finally recognize all the evil deeds I’ve committed in the name of my alters. I must come to terms with my actions, and for the first time ever, I need to accept the responsibility and the consequences.
I’ve set my path of redemption. I’ve asked for forgiveness, and I cannot demand that my victims pardon me. Out of my control, their thoughts on my character are their own… now, a much more difficult task lies ahead… forgiving oneself.
As if a newborn, raw and exposed, wounded and fragile, I must learn who this integrated person is that I don’t truly recognize. The last time I was whole was twenty years ago. I was a child, and now I am a man.
You must learn to walk before you run… I must ask for forgiveness before I can forgive myself… and hopefully, I can learn who I was meant to be along the way.
Fog, wavering in a fog of self-creation. My mind’s way of protecting oneself from the guilt and shame. I know I’ve done something I will regret this evening as surely as I know I breathe. My body is sexually sated while my mind screams in torment. I realize both halves of the whole betrayed me on a primal level.
Both wanted what I had never planned to give… and the guilt is suffocating. It is a rape, a rape of oneself. When one half, or both halves, take dominion over your body to do as they will, it is the highest violation.
Already sensing something major was happening within my personal life, my mind fractured. One half took care of me while the other half laid in wait. Working in conjunction, they betrayed me- I betrayed myself.
I never planned on going through with my scheme with Daniel and Dalton. It was always a means to an end- an end where the boys lived a happily ever after, far removed from the fear, guilt, shame, and remorse over their sexuality. I simply wanted them to know they were better than they were behaving- to know they were worth more than waffling in self-doubt.
I never planned on being with them- fucking them- being fucked by them.
With a desperation borderlining on madness, I hunger with a desire so fierce that I’m on the edge of starvation- I must see Cortez. I must get to the meeting. No doubt he knows of my nightly activities, and no doubt he will surely leave me now.
While I’m always on the edge of madness, Cortez is always on the edge of flight. More so now than ever. I can feel it roiling in my blood, Cort’s behavior is not his norm- something is driving him away. He freely gives me unlimited access to his body but his emotions are closed off. It has always been the other way around.
I never feared losing Cortez, even when he denied me his body. His emotions were always an open book. Even when screaming I hate you, Cortez’s face was filled with love. Even when professing love, Cortez’s face was filled with hurt. One constant- the love was ever present.
Lately, Cortez has been suppressing the love while reveling in the lust. Fear has me forcing my companions to hurry, unsure what Master Ez said or did that put the tortured expression on Daniel’s handsome face.
This is what I hate. I hate that I have to ask myself what I did as if having a conversation about a separate entity. But it is ME who had upset Daniel. The discombobulating sensation is more than I can bare. If I didn’t have people counting on me, I’d have ended my confused existence by now.
My skin flushes pink, a mix of lust and embarrassment as I enter Misery Castle’s opulence. As if waiting for the perfect opportunity to ruin me, my halves waited until I arrived to the Christmas meeting to show me the hedonism I’d engaged in this evening with Daniel and Dalton. Ezra gleefully flashes sights, sounds, tastes, and scents into my mind. A kaleidoscope of lust-filled passions. This is how it’s always been. Ezra is gloating, bloated, fat and sated over this evening’s events. Ezra loves to be naughty and never tells me what I did until well after Cortez has received the punishment. In this instance, the punishment and the crime fall upon myself, so he, me, shows me what I’ve done.
Rosy pink flesh, striated with lean muscles, glistens with sweat. Pale, translucent skin filled with good health thrusts deep within me. A fingertip trails down a tattoo, its owner proudly professing that one of the Kings decorating the decedent landscape of his side represents me. Green eyes, blue eyes, green eyes, blue eyes flick like images being shot with the rapid flash of a camera shutter- an unearthly color and a color so deep that every sea envies the shade.
The sights put the pink high in my cheeks. But the melodious sounds- a composition of lust played by the greatest orchestras in the world fill my mind, causing my skin to tighten and burn with embarrassed arousal. The keen of two very satisfied young men in their early twenties without a lick of hair on them- boys that were almost untried- innocent- jaded by my knowledge. Ezra, I, had drank them deep, consumed them, and turned them into men.
My alters worked in communion with one another on the pair of young men: Ezra for the pleasure of flesh and Master Ez for the pleasure of the cerebral fuck.
I am not proud that I partook, but proud of the way Daniel and Dalton owned their true nature, reveled in the pleasure of being one’s true self. Never again will they deny their need for one another- they will never take the wrong path and fall off course.
The last thing I remember this evening- I, me, Ez, as I refuse to think of myself as Ezra or Master Ez. The last thing I remember as a whole being, not figments being flashed by a spiteful child or apologetic images being poured into my memories like glacial waters by an ethical tyrant.
The last thing I remember is Katya.
Our full-to-bursting household had just finished the Misery Castle Christmas dinner from Hell. All of us knowing, but not truly knowing what was to come upon midnight. We were antsy, predatory- anticipatory. A skittish Cortez wanted more time with the children, and the second he was out of earshot, Katya demanded my entire attention- and then it’s blank, save the flashes from my separate halves.
I see Katya at Restraint through a blurry haze from Ezra’s memories. This is the perplexing facet of my being. I focus on what I fail to remember, the dark void of utter blankness, and one or the other always mentally answers my unasked question. They pour difficult truths within my fractured mind. But what they show is never truth- it is filtered by their intentions, their protections- their perceptions.
This is the mind of madness.
As I enter Whittenhower Estate’s Grand Ballroom, my eyes instantly seek and find Cortez. My gaze connecting with my twin gaze. I relax. I blush. I feel guilt. I feel love. I toss Cortez a wary smile and wink. My heart ceases to thud when Cortez blushes and smiles in return.
He’s not mad at me, and he most definitely knows what I’ve done against my will. Pupils dilated, eclipsing the storm raging within his eyes, Cortez heatedly looks at me. A look I welcome. A look that beads my body with sweat and causes my cock to pulse like nothing ever could. I know in an instant that Cortez is not fleeing me because he’s already imagining remarking his territory with his body, with his lust, with his love. And I gladly await the exquisite torture.
I hear commotions around me. Shouts that one of my alters most definitely perpetrated. I take ownership for my unknown actions, but I don’t give it a second thought. It’s not arrogance or lack of empathy that has me not caring that the youngest Daniel and his pregnant female’s lives just smoldered into ash. I feel for the young couple on the deepest of levels. My lack of attention is due to my utter shock.
I’m captured within in their tightly wound familial web. My son and daughter. Brother and sister, eyes nearly the same but not quite. The male version is steely, just as Cort’s and mine, as is my dead aunt’s and my bastardized father’s gaze. The feminine version is softer yet colder, bluer- as with my living aunt, mother, and female cousin. The son carries the tainted Hunter genes, while the daughter, no less or more tainted, carries the Holden genes. My children are like Ezra and Master Ez, halves of my whole. Side-by-side, my child half, the Holden, Ava, sits by my stronger half, the Hunter, Zane.
Zane and Ava, united for the very first time, heal me, change me, unite me.
Cortez pumps the very blood through my veins, for he is my beating heart. Cortez’s life sustains my own. For if he breathes, I refuse to die. But that has never been enough to keep me even, balanced- whole. My children, my halves, they integrate me.
I sit down, noticing nothing but my son and daughter and Cortez’s gaze holding mine. On my left, I reach a hand out until a small, fragile, delicate and pink hand fills mine. I simultaneously do the same on my right with a hand identical to my own, only younger.
I hold my children’s hands and my partner’s eyes, and I am whole.
Heart pumping wildly out of control, breath sawing between my parted lips, eyes bulging in wondrous fear, my world view tilts on its axis, returning me to the state of existence I haven’t experienced in almost twenty years- I am finally myself: Ezra Holden Zeitler.
A gasp rushes out of my filled lungs. A gasp pulled from the mental inundation I undergo- the transformation- the completion. Memories don’t frigidly pour into me. The images aren’t snide snippets of gloating. It’s a lifetime of memories without unwarranted protection, twisted intention, or altered perception.
I just know… everything… in an instant- from one heartbeat to the next, one breath to the next.
There is no Ezra and no Master Ez.
Ezra: the boy who refused to be a Hunter to the point that he broke. Master Ez: the man who held me back from ending that boy’s life- our life. They are no more, because they are more together than apart.
There is only me- a whole entity. Ezra Zeitler.
Passages are written in chapters. The chapters with the heading Cortez Abernathy are in the present, while the chapters with the heading TheHunter are passages from the past, written within the pages of Cortez Abernathy’s memoir, The Hunter.
Note: Cortez Abernathy is romance novelist. Cort is highly sexual, romantic, and extremely emotional. Since this book is written for him, about him, and takes place within his mind, the usual linear storyline would not suffice. In essence, this book is Cort.
The blinking cursor of death.
I’m not used to this insanity. Well, I’m used to actual insanity, as in the kind in actuality. What I’m not used to is… Ugh, I can’t even think it.
I suffer from the dreaded writer’s block. I’ve been suffering for almost a year. It was a big joke between Ezra and me when I wrote my first shitty book. I wrote it on purpose. I wanted to see how Katya would react, whether or not she’d do her job versus falling for my charms.
Kitten did her damned job, alright!
The book I gave my wife was a shit-fest. I deliberately messed it all up. It was a test, or so I told myself as Ezra maniacally laughed at my plight. I was able to resurrect the horrid creation, and it hit number five on the New York Times best seller’s list. It stayed there for many weeks in fact… and then life got in the way. I lost track of the days that I didn’t write, when previously it was unfathomable that I go a few hours without putting words to page.
In the past, writing was as essential as breathing, an involuntary compulsion. I had to create to release the pent-up pressure inside my mind- the emotions, the thoughts, the sensations that choke the very life out of me. For me, writing was an emotional pressure release valve. I grin and charm my way into people’s lives. I smile when inside I feel raw, an open wound that will never heal.
First, life got in the way: relationships, family obligations, mystery illegitimate children, secrets and lies and betrayals of the deepest kind, marriages, and threats. Then the emotions came and rolled me under: Fear, jealousy, friendship, love, betrayal, fear, jealousy, betrayal, bitterness, and love. These emotions were so strong that no words could be uttered. My mind was a blank canvas without its usual colorful imagination. I was a black hole, devoid of anything but an infinite stretch of silent pain.
The first stirring appeared after I felt safe, the tingling at the back of my mind. It’s a slight sensation, rather pleasant and titillating. It was my muse awakening from a long slumber. She… and I have no idea why as a male I have a female muse, a muse I refuse to name. She stretched and yawned, and then she smiled at me, the smile of an angel. I blinked back tears, realizing that her visage is that of my long dead mother- but we all have our issues, mine just happen to be of the mommy kind.
I was elated. I was sitting on the sofa watching a movie with my family. I burst up from my seat, knocking poor Kitten off of my lap. I’d frightened Diane to the point that she gasped, a huge expression for the ultra-controlled women. Marcus knew. I could tell by the sparkling in his eye and the hearty laugh as he gazed at me in wonder. I’d shouted, “I’ve got to write. Disturb me and I’ll hurt you.” I ran to my office and sat down to write. Laptop booted up, a carafe of coffee, the whirr of the air purifier singing its song of contentment. Hell, the air temperature was perfect. I was at peace, the pressure ready to be relieved.
… And then I checked my messages. All one-thousand-four-hundred of them.
A while back, I’d joked about Bitch-Slaps through the laptop screen. It is a turn of phrase I created as Grant and I commiserated over the horrors of being a published author. Grant and I have long discussions about how reader interactions make us feel- the inspiration, the anxiety, the fear. The majority of the interactions are life-changing, friendship-building, inspiring. A scant few are like cancer, they bleed into your creativity and deplete your motivation, hell, your will to live even. Demands, ridicule, people speaking to you as if you are not a human being, but just a source of their unlimited entertainment- a puppet that’s strings get pulled for the price of your book.
I was in Hell- I burst into flame. I incinerated in my horror as my muse shriveled up and died within that special place she dwells at the base of my spine. My angel, my muse, the unnamed inspiration that I refuse to admit is Celeste Hunter. My mother died again for me that day, and I haven’t written a word since, not even a grocery list.
The demanding hands came through the laptop screen and choked me- they had me by the throat. The screams were deafening in their silence. Words of malice formed perfectly placed plunges into my heart. It was the game reawakening and ruining the only thing I had left to call my own. Ezra isn’t mine. Faith isn’t mine. Katya isn’t mine. Ava and baby Ez belong to Ezra and Katya. Zane belongs to Ezra and Faith. Azriel is mine by genetics, but she belongs to all of us. I’m not even mine. I’d freely give myself to Ezra in all ways, but the game owns me. I have no rights to anything. I thought my passion was something that couldn’t be taken from me.
… And I was wrong. My passion was torn from my soul- ashes of who I used to be, who I should have become.
I paid the penance for whatever tantrum Ezra had thrown within the bounds of the game, and the payment of that consequence was my life’s blood- my life’s work.
Thousands upon thousands of emails, comments on my websites, Facebook and Twitter were blowing up with malice… and then the reviews started. Reviews are the bane of my existence. Perfect, five-star reviews manage to hurt my injured psyche. I think to myself, what did they really mean by that? Was the tone insulting? You never know, but the mind always sees it as a slight. I don’t read reviews on principal, but how can you not when you are inundated with thousands overnight?
The mean reviews, bashing, personal attacks, suck the life from your soul. You would think because someone received my book for free, or as an ARC, or for Lord’s sake, pirated the cocksucker that that gives them the rights to taint your name. Line-by-line they shred your story, and you try not to take offense, but how can you not? You created every word, you breathed life from nothing. While it may just be a book to them, a few minutes to snicker as they taunt like schoolyard bullies, it was thousands of hours of your life put into word form. Each and every book is remembered within you mind. Just the title itself will ping memories and emotions of how you felt as you birthed your story.
The worst are the reviews when you know they didn’t even read the dang book. They take apart a few chapters, totally annihilate your work, all the while getting it wrong because they didn’t even read it. But you can’t defend, you can’t even respond, you can’t even speak out in your own private medium on your own websites. You will be scorned for life. Stoned in the way of social networking. The scarlet letter, but in this case the A stands for Author.
I was ruined.
Ordinarily it would have washed over my back as soon as I began writing again, or read a book, or hugged my children. Any sort of positive interaction to remove the darkness that smudges my soul. But over a thousand is not a handful, and the reason for the well-placed strike was another mini-death- the betrayal.
Doesn’t everything in my life boil down to Ezra and his many explicit betrayals? I was distraught, raw. It felt as if Ezra personally attacked me. Hell, at the time, I figured he did. But I knew that if Ezra hadn’t betrayed me, then it was Faith, which was just as bad. Worse actually, Faith using me to hurt Ezra, and Ezra allowing me to take his consequences- it’s a double fist to the ass, that.
For months I pretended to write, which is with great difficulty when you live with your editor and your boss. Breakfast conversation was tense to say the least, especially when asked how my work in progress was coming along. Yeah, thanks for the advance, but I ain’t got shit on paper. Unless you want me to take a crap and wipe my ass and hand it in as a manuscript. I might be able to do that at least by the rapidly approaching deadline- I hope.
Finally, after questioning concerns and plenty of razzing, they all realized I had a real problem. So instead of indulging in writing, my soul cleanser, I ignored my issues and became the best father on the planet. Never having a father myself, I took all the qualities I respected in Marcus, and all the mistakes everyone was making around me, and tweaked it to how I thought a father should react.
I’m paralyzed by fear, by suffocating emotions that have no outlet for release, by the life I’ve chosen to lead but curiously believe it’s the wrong path. This isn’t how I saw myself. I’m living in our allies’ estate with my family and children, seeking refuge from the shit-storm Ezra rained down upon our heads. I feel immense guilt as I withhold everything from the ones I love. Our hosts are being tormented by the ones they house. It’s wrong, and my mother raised me better than that, and I should be raising my children better than that.
“Daddy,” Baby Ezra’s tender voice flows as he paws at my thighs, and just like that, Celeste Hunter takes the first real breath she has had in over a year. Not the resurrected breath of rebirth, but the dawn of a new life. My muse, my mother, she croons in my mind. If you can’t live with it, don’t accept it. Change!
… And like a lightning strike, I take a deep breath and my fingers fly along the keys. In order to be reborn, one must start at the beginning…
“Wait up!” I shout at Ez’s retreating back.
This summer, Ezra is obsessed with hide and seek. We take turns seeking each other. Once caught, we go back to the center of the lawn, and begin again. He makes us do this from dusk ‘til dawn. I just want to hang around the pool with Divina and Aaron, reading books and listening to music. But Ezra stares me down and says, no, do as I say.
In the past month, we’ve expanded our game to almost a hundred square acres. Now we use compasses, and we’re working up to the seven-hundred acres surrounding ShadowHaven. Ezra expects it by the time school starts. I learned forever ago, just give Ez what he wants.
We play The Hunter, as Ez likes to call it, and he won’t tell me why. He just mumbles, it’s what you do, isn’t it? You hunt your prey, don’t you? I try to tell him that I meant: why do we play it, not why is it called The Hunter? But he always ignores me.
I can tell Ezra is holding something back for me, he’s distancing himself. He knows something I don’t. I’d asked my mom about it because Ezra was getting obsessed with hide and seek… Mom didn’t say anything, and she didn’t need to. Her petrified expression said it all. Now I wish I hadn’t said anything, because Mom and Diane keep looking at us like we’re going to turn into freaks or some shit. The little brat, Aaron, tattles on us every time we do something that they think is nature versus nurture– whatever the hell that means.
An old dude keeps coming around and trying to chat us up. After several times, I figured out that he was a headcase quack. He’s stopped talking to me. But four times a week, Ez and the Doc lock themselves in our bedroom for two hours at a clip. Ezra threw a temper tantrum, so now he only comes after dark. Dr. Weiss was cutting into The Hunter time.
It’s days like today that I get jealous. Ez is only a month older than me, but he’s huge. Ezra is all long arms and legs, which eat up the distance of our hunt. It takes me twice as long to do our route. He hated it when I called him lollypop, but it’s not true anymore. All this hunting has beefed him up. I try not to notice, but it’s impossible with him constantly strutting around naked. It’s like he wants me to see that he’s manlier than me. Divina has seen all of him, too. Ezra just laughs and looks you in the eyes- pervert.
Ezra is a good four inches taller than me. After twelve years of being identical in all ways, I’m pissed. I still look like a kid and Ez is running around with hair on his body. I try not to compare us, but it’s difficult not to when everyone else does. We get a lot of sidelong looks and people calling us twins. I don’t know why, but it annoys Ezra so much that he gets confrontational. I’ve never told him that it hurts my feelings when he goes on the attack. Our lives have always been parallel: no fathers, raised as brothers by our single mothers, we even look alike. Why would Ezra be ashamed to be my brother? I guess he just doesn’t like my skin color. He teases me about being half Hispanic all the time. I’m too tan for Ezra’s white, rich world.
“Don’t be a twit,” Ez taunts, running backwards on his muscular legs- show off. “You’ll never catch me.” Ez whips around and lopes off into the woods, sinister laugh fading in his wake.
“You’ll regret making me chase you,” I shout. “Someday, you’ll be the one eating my dust!” Ez’s answer is his creepy laugh. After a heartbeat of hurt because Ezra left me behind, I go after him.
Pumping my arms as legs as fast as I can go, digging the treads of my sneakers into the ground, I try to gain on Ezra. I slow to yank off my t-shirt and swab my face dry. It’s so humid you can practically see the moisture in the air. It’s ninety-three degrees today with the sun directly overhead. The canopy of the woods isn’t offering any relief. It’s just moist, hot, and buggy.
I’d rather be in the pool, casting looks at Divina’s bikini top. Ez would throw a fit, though. Last week he beat me for looking at her titties. I told Ezra Divina wasn’t my cousin, so I can look all I want. I was just curious. I ended up with a black eye and Ezra had Dr. Weiss for extra sessions.
One advantage of being shorter, the limbs aren’t whipping me in the face. Ez keeps cursing every time he gets lashed. I snicker as he calls a spruce a cocksucker.
“You can’t hide if you keep bitching at inanimate objects,” I sing. “Defeats the purpose of hide and seek.”
“So does chasing me, dumbass,” Ezra shouts at me from somewhere deep in the woods. “The whole point is learning to track… which you suck at.”
“If you’d shut up, I’d look for you. You might as well throw up a flare, since your chatty ass won’t zip it.” Truthfully, every time I’ve found Ezra was because he was bitching at himself or a tree, sometimes a leaf or a bug. He’s silent in the woods. His feet barely touch the ground. Ezra stalks like a perfect predator. I never even hear him breathe. It’s these random outbursts that betray his position- without fail. I know he’s not… right in the head. He’s just Ez.
The whisper of fingertips on my chest awakens me, enlivens me. I’d know these fingertips even in nonexistence, and they just may be the very death of me. The fierce hunger I feel, the pit of ache in my stomach, causes a starvation that threatens to emaciate me unto death.
“Ezra,” his name flutters, quivers from nervousness, from my parted lips as I press his palm to the center of my chest, directly over my rapidly beating heart.
The kiss is soft, a declaration of love as much as a silent apology of guilt and remorse. Ezra hovers over me, hands pressed into the mattress on either side of my shoulders. It’s just him and me, laying in our bed, as it should have always been. Gray eyes, the same shade and shape as my own, gaze down at me in wonder. Twin storm cloud asking for redemption… forgiveness.
Before the words flee my mouth, Ezra’s lips descend and consume me, suck my life down within himself, exactly where I belong.
This is like breathing. This is breathing, for without Ezra I cease to exist. We may have not shared a womb, a fact that I would’ve felt jealousy over if it weren’t for the problem of being in love with one’s twin brother. It’s bad enough that we are both men, men who are related by blood. We shan’t complicate it any more than it already is with pure incent- cousin is bad enough, but not illegal.
Ezra is my world. Ezra is my obsession. He builds me up and destroys me time and time again, and I gladly take it just to be near him. Ezra is my Sun, and I am a budding planet on the fringes of our solar system. I can never be close enough to him. I’d do anything to be as one entity. I crave the sensation of slipping my skin and entering Ezra, or him entering me, joining as one. Just as the Sun does to the planets that are sucked within its orbit- I implode. Ezra destroys my very being with a simple kiss.
“Please,” I beg, salaciously offering myself to anything he wants. A sardonic brow pops as a smirk pulls at Ezra’s cruel lips. I put all of my need into my expression, voicing without sound how very much I need him, how much I need to be with him. Ezra’s answering smile catches the very breath in my throat. It’s the smile that is only reserved for me. No matter who Ezra is: Ezra, Master Ez, or Ez, they all smile at me like that- just me, only me. Just as it should always be.
Muscular thighs part my own as Ezra settles his lower body along mine. I eagerly allow it, I crave what I shouldn’t. But this is not about fear, or right or wrong. This stolen moment is about Ezra and me, us, as it should always be. I allow Ezra to touch me in ways that most men would beat another for stealing, for violating a sacredness of privacy. But between Ezra and me, there are no line worth drawing.
Betrayal, lies, the agonizing torture that Ezra has put me under means so very little when I can smell his musky masculine scent, feel the movement of his chest against mine as he pants from excitement. The sensation of his skin touching my starving flesh has me whimpering in disbelief. It’s been too long. I’ve allowed hurt feeling to warp my love for the man that means the world to me- the man that is my life.
“Make love to me,” I forcefully demand while raising my lower body off of the mattress, trying to grind myself into Ezra. My heels dent the bed, toes curling for leverage. “NOW!”
“With pleasure,” Ezra murmurs with a smile. His tone is part sarcasm, part lust, and a whole heluva lot of amusement. His fingertips skate down my chest, outlining my abs, to my disappointment they veer around my cock. I watch in wonder as Ezra grips his flesh in his fist and pushes into me.
“Ezra,” I scream his name in exquisite torment, ecstasy isn’t a strong enough word. As a word weaver, I don’t have a word in my mental thesaurus to use for the sensation of Ezra joining us as one, as we should be… forever.
“Holy Fuck,” Kitten says with a sharp laugh. “That surely wasn’t a nightmare you were having.”
My eyelids fly open, hating the fleeting dream, despising myself for going there, even in my own mind. My wife stands beside our borrowed bed at Whittenhower Estates, fresh from Restraint and her naughty games with Dexter and Monica. She looks amused as she gazes at the sight I’ve made of myself.
My body is twisted in our sheets, sheets that only cover one of my thighs. Sweat slicks my body, as I pant, still stuck in my imagination. It’s discombobulating, the sensation of being in another time and place. The time was the future or the past, hell if I know which. The place was Ezra and my bed at ShadowHaven, the bed I miss, the bed I’ve shared with the love of my life since I left the cradle.
Tortured, I cry out, hating that my abs and chest are covered in the obvious reaction to my fantasy. I’m covered in my own ejaculate. Rivulets of semen speckle my flesh, covering me in an outrageous amount of proof of what I am, what I refuse to acknowledge. I never cum this much with anyone but him, even in my dreams.
I shade my eyes in humiliation, quickly ripping away the sheet that is twisted around my quivering thigh. I scrub my shame away. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.
“Make love to me,” I beg my wife, but the tone is different than the one from my dreams- distant, pained… desperate. Obvious. Katya’s amusement disappears in an instant. Her vibrant green eyes change, not to lust as I’d hoped. I need her to distract me from the agony. Her eyes change to pain, deeply lancing pain.
“It’s against the rules,” Katya says as an excuse, an excuse as obvious as the reason I asked her to make love to me in the first place.
“You’re my wife. Don’t we make the rules? If you really wanted to touch me, you would,” I easily manipulate, shoving the pain down and employing my charm. “Kitten, I’ll make you purr until I render you speechless.” The desperation is only thinly veiled. I need touch. I need centered. I need comforted and cared for. I need Ezra. And in his place, anyone can substitute. Katya is the substitute Ezra provided me, but she won’t comply. She’s too smart for our game, our ruination. She’s too smart to lie still while the avalanche of torment sent from the fates buries her with the rest of us. Katya is a fighter- a survivor.
“Go to him,” Katya breathes out, and agony is written across her face. “You really have to go to him- forgive him. I heard you. I watched you as you dreamed. Just as I’ve done since we started sharing a bed. You don’t dream of me, you don’t dream of anyone… but him. Get over yourself and fix this.”
“I can’t,” I cry out in shame. The pain tightens my chest, threatening to kill me with the vise-like grip clenching my heart. “You don’t understand,” I whine, and how could she, I can’t tell her the fucking truth.
“You are a selfish piece of shit,” Katya growls at me. “Grow up and fix this! Not for me, not for you, not for Ezra. Because I don’t know what is going to happen to us. Do this for our children!” Katya screams at me.
“It’s not my fault,” I shout back. “Everyone blames me when they should be blaming Ezra!”
“Bullshit,” Katya calmly says over her shoulder a second before she locks herself in the en suite bathroom.
“But it’s not,” I whisper to the Heavens. “If you only knew, you’d stop blaming me.”
Frustrated, pained, and horny, I stalk from the bed and yank on a pair of pajama pants. I can’t sleep. But I could write. With a deep breath, I smile. I can write again. The block is gone, and it’s time to heal with my words.
Whittenhower Estates is a strange, place- ominous. It’s perfect if you wanted to write a gothic novel of pain and misery. You can feel it bleeding from the walls, weeping from the mortar. I catch a flash of black and purple as Faith ghosts down the hall and rounds the corner. Yeah, just that split-second opens the wound in my heart and I start to bleed out. I lean against the wall, holding my chest against the suffocating nature of betrayal.
Another flash of color and my world fractures. I stare at the door with a cheery teddy bear plaque. I want to gouge that reminder of the past from the door with my fingernails, leaving blood and flesh from the splinters. I love Daniel, Whitt, Pretty Boy, whatever name you want to call him. Whitt is like the brother I never had, and I truly love him. Better yet, I like him. But right now, I could take a page from Faith’s playbook. I want to twist Whitt’s nutsack until it pops from his body and shove it up his virgin asshole.
That flash of color was the absence of color- white. The white-blond hair on the top of Ezra’s head as he snuck into the door with the taunting teddy bear plaque. At least Ezra asked this time, it’s not a true betrayal. Hot twenty-something pretty boys who eagerly shout their gaydom are a huge draw for my husband. Whitt is so gorgeous that it hurts to look at him, and then you melt when you hear his voice.
I’ve never wanted Whitt, I’ve never seen him as anything but a brother. But I can see Whitt’s appeal to both sexes. The perfect bastard has always wanted to take what’s mine, and I allowed it because it was a test- a test Ezra failed miserably. I’d be angrier if it weren’t for the fact that it’s caused Ezra to be even. I love Ezra enough to be happy that he is happy- that he is even. Yeah, I’m so jealous I could… tear my flesh from my body while screaming like a lunatic, but my name isn’t Ezra.
I retreat towards my office, surreptitiously wiping the betraying tears that flow from my traitorous eyes. I’m not sad. I’m not crying because Ezra is happy from playing gay-games with Whitt and his exotic boyfriend, Dalton. Ezra must feel like he died and went straight to heaven.
I stare at the floor as I enter my office, not giving a shit if obstacles take my life. It’s too bad that my office wasn’t on a different floor, I’d chance the grand staircase with my eyes shut. It would be a sweet surrender to exit this torture. Some days I feel as if I were the tortured hero written within a dark and twisted novel. Will my creator finally set me free?
“Ah, you look like hell,” Marcus wryly says, a smirk on his taunting lips as he sits at my desk, researching something on my laptop.
I sigh in relief- comfort. Thank you, Lord, comfort. “I’m no longer blocked,” I announce.
Copyright © 2013 Erica Chilson
This is the introduction of the Widower & the Widow. Chapters 1-3 happen a few days prior to Chapter 50 of Good Girl, with Chapter 4 of Widow being Chapter 50 of Good Girl. I hope this sets up the time frame. Good Girl flawlessly slides into Widow, with Malcolm Mason & Clover Webster as Narrators.
I just finished chapter 27, have outlined the rest of the scenes, and foresee Widow’s release the final week of August (depending on the muse, and all outside forces beyond my control)
Here is the introduction to the Widower & the Widow. Enjoy!
“I won’t be home very early tonight, Kieren. Sorry about that,” I exhaustedly mumble to my second oldest son as I gaze around our breakfast table. My eyes light on the empty seat and pain lances deep within my chest.
I’m failing them… my family.
“It’s alright, Dad,” Kieren shrugs off all the responsibilities I put on his shoulders. Since my wife killed herself, Kieren and Devon have been my wife and support system. The pressure combined with the painful memories is why there is an empty seat at our table- my son Devon is spiraling down to beyond rock bottom, and it’s all my fault.
“I have a shit load of paperwork and reports to file. I’d rather be here for you kids, but I have to clear some of this away so that I have some free time once school’s out.” I lamely offer my excuse.
“It’s fine,” Kieren stresses as he begins clearing away the breakfast he made me and his siblings. I stare at my son thinking to myself, NO! No, it is not alright. But I refuse to be like my father. But I am, aren’t I? My father would bring women home to take care of us. I’ve never done that. But my father left me to take care of my baby sister, Isis. Just as I’m doing to Kieren, making him take care of house and home… Weston and Raven.
When Kieren graduated high school, Devon was already at the police academy and I had to work to put a roof over our heads. My son threw away his own happiness to take care of ours. Kieren has a full ride to State on a football scholarship, but he threw it away to be a grease monkey so he could be close to home. It’s why I never let Kieren get away with shit. Most parents would have kissed Kieren’s ass, but not me. I rode Kieren hard, all the while thinking Devon was perfectly fine.
I’m a fucking failure.
“Don’t,” Kieren barks at me as he stacks the cereal bowls. “Get your book bags,” he says to Weston and Raven. “Your lunches are on the kitchen island. Meet me in the truck in five minutes.”
I stare at my hands, waiting for Kieren to light in to me. I deserve it. I sigh, wishing our lives had turned out differently… especially for my eldest sons. Kieren should taking finals for his freshman year at college, worrying about getting piss-roaring drunk and how many chicks he could bag at this weekend’s frat party. Instead, he’s playing happy homemaker, raising my kids, cooking my meals, paying my bills, and working a minimum waged job.
… but then again, Devon should be getting into the car with me to ride to the station, where we would protect and serve our community. But Devon’s marinating at rehab in Arizona.
Failure. Fucking. Failure.
My father was a ruthless, cold bastard that failed Isis. Camille failed us all. I failed us all. Devon failed Kieren, leaving him to take care of Weston and Raven. What a legacy I’ve created.
“Knock it the fuck off,” Kieren hisses, and he never raises his voice at me. Kieren will scoff or make fun of me. But usually he’s gentle, understanding and giving. I raise my eyes to the boy that looks like my father and his mother.
All of my kids are a mix of my family. Devon is the spitting image of his mother, but with my coloring: on the small side, light blue eyes and dark curls. Kieren is built like my father and me, HUGE. But he has his mother’s blond hair. Raven is all Isis. If my sister weren’t still breathing, I’d swear my only daughter was her reincarnation. I’ve never seen anyone as heart-stoppingly beautiful as the women in my family. But it doesn’t make me proud, it terrifies the hell out of me. Weston will look just like Devon when he grows up, but his hair is a shade or two lighter.
“I’m so fucking sorry,” I mumble to the reason I still breathe. Only five people mean anything to me, and I’ve failed them all. I’ve longingly stared at my service pistol, wanting to taste its barrel. But I can’t do to them what Camille did to us all. That dumb cunt even used my service pistol to end her pathetic existence. Every day I get to carry a reminder of how much I’ve ruined my family.
“I said,” Kieren bites out, “to knock it the fuck off. I’m sick of this attitude you walk around with. We were doing good until Devon’s… fuck up. He’s going to be twenty-one. Devon’s a man, and he wouldn’t be in rehab if he took responsibility for his own actions. You walking around blaming yourself is bullshit,” Kieren hisses.
“He’s my son,” I wince when my voice dips down to a whine.
“And he’s my brother,” Kieren counters. “We were supposed to take care of each other, but Devon is a selfish asshole… and that ain’t got a thing to do with you, Dad. Isis, Devon, and I are grown. Rae’s gonna be sixteen and West is closing in on fifteen. All ya gotta do is blink and they will already be out of high school. It’s time for you to move on and get a life.”
“I’m working on it,” I say with a secret smile, and Kieren laughs like a man. That satisfied rumble that only a real man can make. I’ve been waiting for Devon to join our ranks- Augustus and me- but Kieren’s beat him to it.
“I’ll have Rae text Princess to occupy Clover so you can get your loot.” Kieren heartily chuckles. “I’ll see you at lunch. And I don’t give a shit how much work you have to do, be home by seven thirty or I’m sending out a posse. We’re having spaghetti.”
“Alright, I’ll be home by seven. See ya,” I say while clasping my son’s shoulder. I grab my belt on the way by, hooking it into place. I never leave the house without pulling on my Chief Mason persona.
“Be a good girl,” I murmur against my baby girl’s velvety soft forehead.
“I will, Daddy. Not too much is going on at school,” Raven sweetly says, but I trust her as much as I trust Devon. Zilch. An angelic smile from Raven… yeah… lest she forgets who raised Isis. I know all of my daughter’s tricks before she even thinks of them.
“Um-hmm…” I murmur while smiling against Raven’s forehead. I don’t even have to ask, Weston automatically gives me a hug from behind before charging out to Kieren’s truck. Weston is a good boy, I don’t have to remind him to behave. But… I thought Devon was, too. I wasn’t completely blind. I’ve always known Devon’s issues, I just thought he had them in hand. So far so good with Weston and Raven. Rae can be a little bitch and Weston can be devious, but no issues are cropping up from our shared nightmare.
Heart still stinging over the fact that my first born isn’t with me while we ride to work, I hum a tune while I get into my town-issued SUV. But I drive in the opposite direction of the Court House. I have some treats to pick up. I said I’d never be like my dad, and I meant it. My father was a wholly male. Chief John Mason was a fair man, but he was unemotional. He liked to call me a pansy-assed girl because I’m so emotional. But the man did all that he could do to keep us alive, teach us to be good human beings, and be self-reliant. Dad worked hard, and he found harder women to take care of Isis and me. I swore I’d never do that.
… But as I park down the street from Clover Webster’s home, I wonder if I’m doing just that. Not in a million years would I call Clover a whore, like the women Dad brought home to us. But stalking a women seems wrong. But fuck if it isn’t the highlight of my day.
Clover is a good woman. It doesn’t get any more right than when your kids get pissed enough to hook their parents up. The seven kids think it’s a good idea, and I tend to agree. Plus, the woman can cook.
I rub my belly as a smile stretches across my face as I ghost down the street towards my prize. A bouncy ponytail catches my eye, causing me to growl. “Girl,” I hiss. “Gitcha skinny ass right back here!” I run headlong towards the bane of my sons’ existences, and if all goes well, my future stepdaughter, and undoubtedly, my future daughter-in-law.
Willow jogs up to me, box of baked good clutched to her chest. “Seth said Clover was guarding the front window. So I had him distract her while I grabbed the goodies,” the tiny thing breathlessly gasps out. “Here’s your cut.”
I take my two dozen sour cream donuts and scowl the girl down. “Where’s the cherry Danish?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Willow poorly lies.
“Girl, don’t make me spank your ass. I can smell the cream cheese icing…” I sniff the air. “Is that chocolate I smell?”
“Here’s your Danish,” Willow says as she flops a box on top of my donuts. Willow flashes me a brilliant grin, and then takes off at breakneck speeds towards the ancient piece of shit Ford Explorer that she bought from Robin. I momentarily get distracted by the fact that Robin would rip off a relative and that Willow can run like a gazelle.
“Hey, that’s Clover’s seven deadly sins chocolate cake, isn’t it?” I run towards Willow’s car as it idles at the curb.
Willow spills into the driver’s seat, and yells out the window, “Clover was mine first. I’ll always get dibs on her food.”
“You’ll get a fat ass,” I caustically warn, but all Willow does is laugh at me as she drives away with the cake I’d requested my reluctant woman to make. The loneliness suffocates me as Willow drives away.
I am alone, and I’ve fucked it all up.
I am the Widower.
“Did you study for your algebra exam,” I ask Seth for the tenth time. He’s ignored me while texting Willow. I love that they are as thick as thieves… but the little shits are up to something.
I hate how my son doesn’t give me the time a day. I’d ask other moms of teenagers if this is par for the course, but I’m not friends with any. I have no idea if it’s normal or not for your children to act like you were put upon this earth just to feed, clothe, and shelter their entitled asses. They do not see me as a living, breathing person that has feelings that can, and always do, get hurt.
“Uh-huh…” Seth mumbles while his fingers flash lighting quick on his cell phone. I’m not even sure Seth heard me until he replies, “I’ll ace it… I always do.” He rolls his eyes at me like I’ve lost my ever loving mind. My son is obsessed with math and science, so he can’t figure out why I’d worry that he wouldn’t study for algebra. “Why do you keep looking out the window?”
“I’m not,” I poorly deny, and fight my natural instinct to guiltily look away from the front window. My box of baked goods is still there. Two dozen sour cream donuts, a cherry Danish, a layered chocolate cake, and four dozen sugar cookies. My not-so secret admirer sent me two sets of demands last night. I hugely yawn as I think about how late I had to stay up to accommodate the requests. Sometimes… at all times… I wish I had some help.
“Sure you’re not,” Seth grumbles. “Twin,” he shouts. “Kieren will be here any minute. Gitcha ass down here.”
“Don’t be vulgar,” I chastise, and receive another disrespectful eye roll. I try my best to teach my kids not to be heathens, but it’s an uphill battle. My parents are pot-headed tree-huggers that are a foot away from a retirement home if they don’t behave, and Willow swears like a pissed off drunken pirate. Is it too much to ask for them to act civilized?
“Ass,” Seth baits me… Yes, it is most definitely too much to ask. Seth needs a father to kick his ass for the disrespect. The boy is bigger than me now, and he really doesn’t care if he upsets me or not. I’m just the person who gives him whatever he wants.
I’m invisible. Just as Sam wanted it. I can almost feel my dead husband gloating from Hell.
“Heathen,” I grumble, giving a dramatic eye roll of my own. “I can take you to school. It’s on my way to work,” I helpfully offer, wanting a few minutes where my kids can’t get away from me, where they’re forced to talk to me. I’ve yet to figure out why my kids are hanging around the Masons. Hell, why is Violet being polite? It makes my brain hurt just thinking about it.
“I’m ready,” Violet happily says, bouncing into the room. Happy is not in my daughter’s vocabulary. Something is up. My self-conscious need for perfection has led Violet to act like a stick is firmly shoved up her ass. A stick she inherited from me.
“It’s just easier, Mom. Ren is already taking Rae and Wes to school. We were on the way,” Seth logically supplies as he grabs for his messenger bag.
Feeling lonely, I’ll try anything for a few extra minutes of my children’s time. “I…”
“You have enough to do, don’t worry about us getting to school,” Violet sweetly says, and my suspicions rise. I narrow my eyes, but something out of the corner of my eye catches my attention, or lack of something. My secret admirer managed to take the huge box of baked goods off of my porch without me noticing. How the hell does he do it?
“Fuck,” I hiss in awe, receiving identical looks of disbelief from Seth and Violet. I never swear out loud, but I swear worse than Willow inside my mind. “Um… nothing. Have a great day at school today,” I brightly say.
“Yeah,” Seth mutters, knowing I’m full of shit. “Later,” is his goodbye, and Violet mumbles the same. It hurts my heart that my children won’t touch me out of affection… ever. I haven’t had a hug in years, just as Sam wanted it.
I watch my children engage the Masons, hugging and giggling as they pile into Kieren’s beat up pickup truck. My twins act like kids around their friends, animatedly chatting and smiling. That hurts more than the lack of hugs. Do my kids think I’m that terrible that they can’t be themselves around me?
I grab my keys and make my way to my parents’ house to begin my daily routine. Wake and feed the kids, call the Spook House and make sure Willow is still breathing, check in on my parents for the same reason and make sure they won’t harm themselves while I’m at work, then I work a ten hour day, only to come home and take care of all the things people have a mate for. I am not a singular person with emotions and needs. I was placed on this earth for the sole reason to take care of my children and parents. I am male and female. I am husband and wife. I am mother and father. I am daughter, sister, and parent. I am a walking banker, maid, chef, handyman, servant, nurse, therapist, and teacher… and I am agonizingly alone.
I am the Widow.