Title: Whisper Your Name
Email: pchristie6 AT comcast.net
Summary: 15 mo. after PB, Fry is missing someone who she believes is dead, unbeknownst tO her he is watching her and missing her just as much.
Disclaimers: Pitch Black belongs to USA Films. The title of my story is taken from a letter written by Maj. Sullivan Ballou, one week prior to his death at the First Battle of Bull Run. “Sarah, my love for you is deathless. If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I loved you nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield it will whisper your name."
Ch 1 Ghosts Of The Past
“Richard,” Carolyn Fry whispered to the darkness that slowly turned the purple streaked sky into a thick cushion of velvet that sparkled with stars. The festive sounds of the Earth holiday Christmas could be heard coming from the small two-story building that wrapped around three sides of the garden terrace where she sat in solitude.
It had been a rough 15 months for her. A year earlier, she’d been in the hospital, too weak to do much more than nod her head, with very little memory of the events that had gotten her in that condition. Now she could remember almost all of it. The crash of the Hunter-Gratznia was vivid in her mind and her dreams. But it was the two days spent fighting the alien monsters that roamed the eclipsed planet, which often brought her awake screaming in a cold sweat.
Her last clear memory of the terror that had been stalking them, was getting Imam and Jack safely to the skiff, then going back to help Richard. If she closed her eyes, she could see the look of concern and caring on his face, and her own reflection in his shined eyes. Then she had been struck from behind, and filled with a sharp searing pain that had caught her by surprise. In her mind, she had known what it was: her own death. The monsters had gotten her. But somehow, she’d lived. Richard B. Riddick, escaped convict and killer, had saved her, but had been unable to save himself.
Imam had told her that Richard had been badly wounded fighting the alien that had attacked her. He had managed to get her back to the skiff, before other aliens had struck and carried him off. Carolyn had been bleeding badly, and was almost in shock, but had been strong enough to pilot the skiff through a blast-off. According to the Holyman, the last thing she did before she passed out was set the autopilot for the Sol Track shipping lanes. The two passengers had put her in the only sleep tube on the small shuttle, and had crossed their fingers that someone would intercept their distress call before they ran out of water or oxygen.
She remembered clearly, standing in the rain, as she and Richard held tightly to one another. But of getting the skiff off the ground, she remembered, nothing! Her next clear memory was waking up in a hospital on New Mecca. Lost somewhere in the shadows of those weeks, was all she had done, and what had been done to save her life. Though at times she had a faint memory of the sound of a man’s voice calling her name and telling her she had to live. That she couldn’t die for him. She knew that voice, and it could belong to only one person. Even now, she shook her head at the tricks her mind had played on her. It couldn’t have been Richard; he’d been dead for weeks. She must have been caught in a loop, fixated on his last words, the ones he’d said to her before the monster had struck.
As she listened to the Christmas carols that were being sung by boarders at the small hotel in Mecca City, that she ran with Imam and Jack, she shivered and looked closely into the shadows that were cast by the rising moon. Something made her feel jumpy, almost as if she was being watched. She had grown accustom to that sensation when she’d first been released from the hospital. The Company had kept a close eye on her, often from a discreet distance. She hadn’t been surprised that they’d sent their watchdogs after her, it was the price she’d paid for being the only member of the crew to survive the crash of a Company ship.
What had surprised her was the stance they’d taken, in what she had thought was an informal hearing, a few months after her release from the hospital. The Company had declared pilot error as the cause of the crash. They stated that if Carolyn Fry had followed the flight computer’s orders and dumped all remaining bays, the Hunter-G, would have been saved.
She found it interesting that in the official report it wasn’t mentioned that the only bay she had been unable to expel had been the one containing the passengers. But what she thought hadn’t been deemed important. She’d been little more than a spectator, in the three-day ordeal, which had ended with the loss of her credentials, and what amounted to blacklisting by the Company. They had needed a scapegoat and had had no qualms about throwing her to the wolves
“Carolyn, you out there?” Jack stuck her head out the door, interrupting the blond woman’s brooding.
“I’m just enjoying the night air.” Carolyn looked over her shoulder at the young teen that came to join her.
“Here’s some of the hot cider we made. We did good, this time!” It was evident that the child was thriving in the family life that the Holyman and Carolyn were trying hard to provide for her.
“Whatta mean this time?” Carolyn chuckled.
“Well ya gotta admit that your cooking isn’t much better than mine, and that isn’t saying a whole lot.” The two women had shared many laughs at their attempts in the kitchen, though both were proud of the progress they were making. “Though we haven’t made a lodger puke in months!”
“We were never that bad.” She rolled her eyes at the teen’s exaggerations.
“Ha, you weren’t in the mood to eat much when you first began doing the cooking, I was!” The accidental reminder of Carolyn’s poor health in the past, and the reason for it, brought a stop to the joking. “Here, Imam says I’m to give you this, and be sure you put it on.” The younger woman placed a blue wrap over the older one’s shoulders.
“Thank you, Jackie.” Carolyn pulled the soft wool around her. “I hate to wear it, when I don’t know who sent it.” She grimaced at the lovely shawl that she had found carefully wrapped under the Christmas tree that morning. It was the exact shade as her eyes and she loved it, but it gave her pause. She knew it hadn’t come from either Jack or Imam. It was obvious she had a secret admirer out there. But since there was only one man she wanted, and he was dead, it didn’t seem right to wear a gift from someone else.
“You okay?” A frown marred the teen’s smooth brow. She hadn’t seen the older woman this sad in months.
“Sure,”” Carolyn lied, as her eyes darted around the outer edges of the terrace. She couldn’t very well tell Jack that she felt as if someone was watching her, again. The young girl had had enough nightmares of her own after their ordeal on the eclipse planet.
Jack looked into the shadows and glared at the man who she knew was probably hiding there. He was a big man, who could be rough and tough, but who had shown her nothing but kindness. A part of her loved him like a big brother. Another part of her wanted to shake him until his teeth rattled, for the game he was playing. She was sure the shawl had come from him. That meant that he was back. But why in the hell he wanted to keep it a secret from Carolyn was beyond her.
In the beginning it had all made sense to Jack. They’d been in the skiff and Carolyn’s blood had been everywhere. Richard had been slick with it when he’d carried her up the boarding ramp. As the hatch closed behind him, and he lay her on the deck, both Jack and Imam were sure she was dead. But Richard had refused to let her die! As the big convict had piloted the ship away from that hellhole of a planet, Jack and Imam had cut up blankets and bound Carolyn’s wounds.
It had been Riddick’s idea to put her in stasis until they reached New Mecca. He had spent 40 hours at the helm, never sleeping, driven by one purpose, to get Carolyn to medical care as quickly as possible. And he had done it! She had lived, but as far as everyone was concerned, Richard B. Riddick had died. The man he had been was torn apart by monsters on a rainy black night as he held a small blond woman close to his heart. In his place was born Zeke Richards, prospector and miner, a free settler; destine to wander the galaxy always alone.
Riddick had planned it all, including the story they had told everyone. He’d hidden in an empty supply locker, until Imam and Jack had seen that Carolyn was taken to a hospital. Once the skiff was abandoned, he’d disappeared into the night. A few days later he’d showed up on their doorstep demanding to know how Fry was. He’d spent his days with them, but had slipped out each night. Somehow he managed to sneak into the hospital and had sat with the unconscious woman, until he was sure she was going to be all right.
The night nurse had told Jack about the shy, kindly prospector who’d held Carolyn’s hand all night, every night, often talking to her, telling her she had to live. Whispering her name over and over again, as if he would call her back from whatever depths she had gone to hide in. It was the old nurse’s belief that without his support the small thin blond would have given up and died.
“You still miss him don’t you?” Jack asked quietly as she watched her friend sipping the spicy cider, trying to pretend that everything was all right.
“I didn’t realize it showed.” Blue eyes met knowing brown ones. “I don’t have any right to, really.” Carolyn forced a smile. “Though the best part of me died on that planet. He gave me courage and made me stronger than I ever thought I could be.” He had given her much more than that, but she would never speak to anyone about the passion that they had shared during the long systems check on the skiff. That was something that she held close to her heart.
The memory of his touch still had the power to make her ache with longing. There were nights when she thought she could almost catch his scent, if she closed her eyes and tried hard enough. At times like that, she could feel his skin move against hers while his mouth kissed and tugged at first one nipple and then the other. He had played with her and teased her, driving her higher and higher, until her desires had exploded again and again, making her want no one but him. When they had finally come together their passion had been so intense, that if they could have bottled it, they’d have been able to use it to fuel the little ship.
“Carolyn?” Jack whispered her name, surprised by the look of open desire and longing that filled her friend’s face. ‘So that’s the way of it.’ The teen thought to herself. For the first time she understood the fear that had dogged Riddick’s heels when he had run from New Mecca three days after the sick woman had regained consciousness. Somehow the two adults had found time to share something very intimate while surrounded by death and monsters. From where Jack stood, it looked like that something had opened the door for feelings that neither the man nor the woman had expected!
“Sorry, Jack, I was lost in thought.” She turned away to hide the fire that she knew burned in her eyes. “I can’t help wondering where he would be, or what he’d be doing if he’d lived.” She sipped her cider as she looked at the stars in hope of finding an answer.
“Oh, Carolyn, I wish I could make it all better.” Jack whispered as she leaned over and gave her a hug. Even through the other woman’s shirt and wrap, she could feel the ridges of heavy scar across her back, but it only made her hang on tighter.
“Thanks, honey.” She squeezed back, letting herself be held for just a moment before breaking the child’s hold on her. It had been a long time since some one had held her like that and she’d needed it badly. “You go back inside, and help Imam with the last of the boarders, I’ll be in shortly to clean up from the party.”
“Dishes are already done.” Jack grinned at her. “Don’t stay up too late, you look tired.”
“All right,” she nodded as she reached to unfasten the clip that held her hair off her neck. She ran her hands through the blond strands that she’d let grow for the first time in years. Now that she didn’t constantly have to worry about long periods of cold sleep, she could wear it any way she pleased.
Once she was alone on the terrace again, she stood and walked to the wall at the back, where they had planted night blooming jasmine. It was a scent she remembered from her childhood and had been pleased to discover that the climbing vines had thrived on the semi-arid world were she now lived.
She breathed deeply and tried to clear her mind, but couldn’t. For some reason, Riddick seemed closer than he had in a long time. She shook her head at her wild imagination. Between the fragrance from the jasmine and the spicy liquid in her mug, she would almost swear she could smell his delicious scent. Raising tear filled eyes to the stars, she smiled and whispered. “Merry Christmas, Richard, I miss you very much.” Then she took a sip of the warm cider and with a half smile she turned and went into the darkened inn.
Three feet away from where Carolyn had been standing, the shadows seemed to move, and a large man slipped out from behind a thick vine covered area. “Merry Christmas, Carolyn,” a deep voice whispered to the door the woman had just closed. “I miss you too, Babe, but that’s why you gotta think I’m dead.”
He was flooded with memories as he strode quietly out of the shadows. She was just as he had remembered, except her hair was longer and she was a bit thinner, if that was possible. He moved with stealth to the place where she’d been sitting and found her barrette on the table where she’d left it.
It had all started because of her hair. He could remember sitting in the shade of a long dead animal’s skull as he’d listened to her halting voice as she’d told a story that had twisted into his heart and had made him cut off a lock of her hair. She hadn’t known he was there then, as she hadn’t known he’d been watching her tonight.
With shaking fingers he reached for the delicate clip. It looked small in his large hand, but it was a piece of her, so he held it tightly for a moment as he listened to the quiet in the garden terrace and let memories flood him. Memories of her as she’d faced him down when he’d been chained in the ship. As he’d challenged her at every turn, but no matter what he’d done, to frighten her, she’d stood her ground. He’d known then that there was only one way things could be between them. He’d seen it in her eyes and heard it in her voice. What had surprised him was the strength of the passion that she’d ignited in him.
Standing in the dark, with her sleeping in a building that was only meters away, he let himself dream of all that they had shared in those few hours during the systems check. The way he’d teased and tested her, until she’d finally come screaming at him, her temper exploding between them. The fire in her eyes had met his passion head on and he had pulled her close and kissed her.
The second their lips had touched, a storm of feelings had taken control and for the first time in his life, he’d cared that the woman he was with felt as much pleasure as he did. She had been tiny and perfect beneath his hands and he’d teased and tormented her until she’d been a wild thing, clawing at him for release, but he hadn’t been easily swayed. He’d wanted to feel her soft skin against his and the taste of her lips as he’d kissed her again and again. Finally he’d relented a bit. As he’d trapped her legs between his, he’d arched her back so he’d been able to feast on first one velvety nipple then the other. He’d driven her to the edge, and then he’d pulled back as she’d writhed in passion beneath him.
He hadn’t given in until she’d been as ready for him as he’d been for her. Finally as she’d whimpered his name, he’d spread her legs and he’d filled her. She’d been sent over the edge on his first thrust. As she’d cried out his name again and again he’d driven deep into her small tight body. Three different times he’d felt a series of contractions as her inner muscles had danced in a rhythm as old as mankind. Her eyes had been swimming with tears as she’d whispered his name and had begged for more. He’d thrust harder and deeper than before. This time her contracts had been so intense that he’d exploded with her.
“Oh Babe!” He had whispered then and he whispered now. Though the night in Imam’s garden was cool, he was drenched in sweat. The fullness in his trousers was marked with each pulse beat, as he groaned and chuckled. “Oh God Carolyn, if just your memory can do this to me, it ain’t safe for me to be anywhere around you.”
His mind made up, he gripped the small hair clip and walked uncomfortably into the shadows, where he’d come from.
Ch 2 Realities Of The Present
For six nights Riddick had come back to this spot to watch the woman who moved through his dreams and haunted his waking hours. He quietly scaled the back wall to her terrace garden, and then hid in the shadows hungry for the smallest glimpse of her. She had become like a drug that burned in his veins, always calling him back to watch and wait. Every morning he promised himself he wouldn’t return, that this was the last time, but as darkness fell, he found his feet walking the same path. He was caught in a trap of his own making. He never should have come back to Mecca City. But even as the thought crossed his mind, he pulled a barrette out of his pocket and held it tightly in his fist.
“Ah, Carolyn, what are you doing to me?” He whispered as he looked toward her darkened window. Sometime in the last few days it had become important to him to not only see her, but to watch over the Inn that she ran, until he was sure she had fallen safely asleep.
Just as he reached for the vine above him to climb back over the wall, whimpers that became screams filled the night air. They made the hackles rise on the back of his neck as he turned, and listened to the words that filled the darkness.
“No, no, come back!” Carolyn screamed as she fought to wake herself. “Richard please come back!”
“Carolyn, you’re only dreaming.” Imam rushed into her room, with Jackie fast on his heels. “Wake up, you’re all right, you’re safe.”
“Shit, I’m sorry I woke you,” Carolyn gasp as she shook her head and tried to drive the images of Richard being carried off by one of the alien monsters from her mind.
Riddick froze in place when he heard her nightmare. She had been dreaming about him! It made his gut clench. Until that moment he’d been able to tell himself that the obsession was only on his side.
Suddenly the back door flew open and Carolyn came rushing out of the still dark building, but it was a Carolyn like he’d never seen her before. She wore a thin white nightgown that hung from her shoulders, and swept the grown. As she moved he caught a glimpse of slim bare feet. In difference to the chill in the night air, she had the blue wool wrap he’d given her over her shoulders. Who would have believed it, Fry looked like a woman! He smiled at the thought, thinking that she’d probably belt him one if he told her that.
“Shit, Carolyn, you never could hide the fact you’re a woman from me.” He whispered as he watched her collapse into a chair, with her head in her hands. Oh yeah! His thoughts were interrupted by Imam, as he came out the same door she had and moved quietly to her chair.
“You should go back to bed.” The Holyman looked at her worriedly. It was evident she wasn’t sleeping well.
“I will, just give me a minute. Did I wake-up Mr. Hawkins?” They only had one boarder with them, since the Inn was closing for three days starting New Year’s Eve Day.
“No.” Imam laughed. “That man sleeps like the dead and besides his room is in the front, so I doubt he would have heard you even if he was awake.”
“That’s a relief.” She leaned back and sighed. “I’m really sorry. I thought all these nightmares were behind me. It’s just that he’s been on my mind a lot lately,” ever since Christmas, when I first felt as if I was being watched, again. She thought to herself, but refused to say out loud. It was bringing back all the feelings she’d had when she’d first come home from the hospital. Right then and there she decided to do some careful checking in the morning, and nip this in the bud if she could.
“Honey, you loved him, you still do.” He patted her head as if she were no older than Jackie. “You can’t expect that to just go away.”
“No, there wasn’t time for that, we only had three days.” She fought the feelings that were welling up inside of her. “I cared about him, maybe if we’d had more time.” She kept shaking her head, not wanting to listen to the truth.
“Love takes no time at all, it just is. One second you’re walking along happy as can be, content with life, then boom. You meet someone and everything changes.” Imam smiled at her confusion.
“That’s life’s philosophy according to Imam?” She quirked a brow at him, their nonsense talk was having a calming effect on her nerves.
“Naw,” he shook his head. “You want philosophy you gotta give me more time, that’s just a preview of a little course I call Love 101.”
“Save it for Jackie, she’s the one who’s going to need it when the boys start coming around here. I can take care of myself.” Carolyn got up and headed for the door. “Thanks for being there when I needed you.” She whispered to the old man’s back, as he sat and watched the sky.
Imam waited almost an hour, sitting in the garden, until he was sure Carolyn had gone back to sleep. Then he stood and moved toward the edge of the brick walk. “Riddick, you there, Riddick?”
A shadow moved and a huge man walked slowly out of the darkest corner between the vines and the wall.
“What you want, old man?” He was feeling guilt from what he’d seen, and attack seemed the quickest way to get around it.
“I could ask you the same thing.” Imam met him toe to toe. He’d never feared the convict, even when there had probably been reason to do so. “You’re tearing that girl apart.”
“Not me.” He plastered a grin on his face and acted his toughest in the presence of the other man’s growing anger. “I ain’t doing a thing to her. She don’t even know I’m alive!”
“Her head may not, but her heart does!” Imam’s voice rose as his temper took hold.
“That’s not my problem.” Richard turned as if to leave.
“Why’d you send her that shawl if you were going to keep playing this cat and mouse game?”
“Who said I did.” Riddick hissed. His feelings were being torn apart. He couldn’t answer the Holyman’s questions, and it made him angry.
“You bastard!” he shouted at the younger man.
“You got that right.” The convict hefted himself up on the wall and dropped from sight.
The next morning Carolyn got up early. She had something she needed to do and didn’t want Imam or Jackie to know about it. Sneaking out of the house, she moved carefully around the perimeter of the terrace until she found what she’d been looking for. Stooping down she examined a partial boot print in the dirt by the far wall. Her hand looked small next to the indentation in the ground, and it was only the ball and toes of a boot, as if someone had landed in that spot after climbing the wall. It had to belong to a big man, who was heavy enough to leave marks in the hard ground
She didn’t know if she was relieved or frightened to see physical proof that someone had really been watching her. Up until finding the print she had tried to tell herself that the sensation of being watched was triggered by the dreams she’d been having lately. She had figured it was the holidays that had made her think about Richard so much, and they had given rise to the dreams.
Last night’s nightmares had been the worst so far. First she had woken both Imam and Jackie when she screamed out in her sleep, then later on toward morning, she had dreamed that Richard and Imam had been arguing. The second dream had been so real, it had seemed as if she was hearing their voices in her sleep. Thinking about it made her shiver. At least after finding the boot print, she knew she wasn’t going crazy, a possibility she was beginning to wonder about.
As she went about fixing breakfast, she worked on her plan. The Inn was closing at 1l00 hours that day. The last of the boarders would be gone for three days. Imam, Jackie and Carolyn were to have gone with friends to The Odin Mountains for a short vacation. There was a fresh snowfall there, and Jack had been talking of little else for the last two weeks.
Now that she knew she was really being watched, Carolyn was frantic to get the two people she cared about to safety, so she could deal with the unexpected. While they were away, she planned on setting a little trap for who ever the Company had sent her way. For the first time in a long time, she felt anger begin to replace the apathy that had hung over her like a plague. She was drawing a line in the sand, and God help the Company spook who dared cross it!
It had gone remarkable smooth. If she didn’t know better, she would have sworn that Imam and Jackie wanted her to stay behind! Neither batted an eye when she told them she had decided that what she really needed was some sleep, and her best chance at that was to remain in Mecca City, instead of joining them in the mountains.
She waited until she was sure they were good and truly gone, and then she walked with determination to her room and pulled out the small trunk she kept under her bed. With fingers that shook slightly, she opened the lid and looked through the few reminders she had from that terrible three days, over a year ago.
As she unfolded the torn black shirt she’d worn on the ill-fated Hunter-G, she shuddered at the gaping holes that told a story of their own. It used to be smooth supple leather that hugged her like a second skin, but now after all the washings to remove the blood it was stiff and cracked in places. Much like three long puckering scars across her back, and one at her side. It had been a miracle that she survived the initial attack. She was hit with a pang of grief at the cost of it. “Richard,” she whispered his name, as her hand shook and she fought the need to cry.
But the shirt held other memories, too, not just terror and pain. She remembered seeing large hands as they moved over the leather, touching her, but not touching. He had slowly driven her mad with need, until she had almost begged him to take her. As she closed her eyes she could feel the way he had carefully unzipped the fastener in the back, and pulled the shirt over her shoulders and down her arms until it lay on the deck of the skiff, a forgotten thing, as his hands moved where the shirt had been.
“No!” She gasped, Carolyn knew that if she gave into memories, the night would find her still dreaming of what could have been, and unprepared for what was going to have to happen tonight! She put the shirt aside with determination and kept on looking for the item she was seeking.
Buried beneath the few personal things she’d been able to salvage from the Hunter-Gratznia was a sickle shaped blade, made out of metal from the wreck. The first time she’d seen it among her things it had taken her breath away, because she knew that if he were anywhere alive, it would be with him. It was what made her finally believe that Riddick was dead. His shiv was as much a part of him as his goggles; he wouldn’t leave it behind. Finding it had killed her last hope that maybe Imam and Jack weren’t telling her the whole truth.
The metal felt cold against her hand, but that didn’t matter. He had crafted it, carried it with him, and used it to keep them safe. It was all she had of the man who had thundered into her life with an explosion of adrenaline, then died before she could find out what he really meant to her. “Oh Richard, you shouldn’t have had to die,” she whispered. Carolyn had a clear memory of a rainy night when she’d been pinned flat on her back in the mud, with the shiv digging into her neck. He’d challenged her then and she’d met it, but she hadn’t expected him to do so as well. “I said I’d die for them, not you. You were never supposed to die!”
Her chest felt heavy and tears were very close to the surface, but she didn’t have time for them now. Later she promised herself, later when she’d dealt with this new threat. Then she’d cry away all these strange feelings that were haunting her. Now she had to get ready, because she knew that whoever had been watching her would be back soon and she planned to take care of him quickly and quietly. She’d never used a shiv, but she’d seen it handled by the best. With any luck this would be the last time that Company spook spied on anyone!
Across town a large man tossed and turned. His dreams had been haunted by a woman who he’d only had once, but he wanted to keep forever. During his waking hours he kept himself too busy to think about her, and the time they’d shared together. It was when his defenses were down and he slept, that she slipped into his thoughts and into his heart where she lived as real as she did in an Inn on the other side of Mecca City.
“Carolyn,” Riddick whispered in his sleep, his large hand reaching out, but only found empty air beside him. “Carolyn,” he sighed again as if it would bring her closer to him. But it didn’t and when he woke, he was just as alone as when he’d gone to sleep. But he was filled with an intense desire that made his body hurt and his insides ache. “Damn, I gotta stop dreamin’ about her!”
He had come back to New Mecca, to try and banish her from his dreams, but he’d found that his insatiable need to be near her had only made them worse. She was all he’d ever wanted, but knew he couldn’t have.
After his confrontation with Imam he knew he’d have to leave. The old man had spoken the truth. He was only hurting Carolyn and himself by staying. Tonight would be the last time he stood watch in the terrace garden of the little Inn. If he was smart he knew he would lock himself in his room and not unbolt the door until it was time for him to leave for his transport. ‘Hell if I’d been smart, I wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place!’ He mumbled to himself as he rolled out of bed.
A cold wind blew down out of the mountains and across the flat dry land that separated them from Mecca City. Carolyn shivered as she built a fire in the fireplace in the kitchen of the dark and locked Inn. Their only guest had departed prior to Imam and Jack’s leaving. Now she was alone and she had things to prepare before it became too dark. She checked to be sure she had enough wood, for the fireplaces in her room and the one in the kitchen. Then she carefully lit only one light. She was experienced in moving through darkness, she hoped her Watcher wouldn’t be expecting that.
When the clock struck 2100 hours she shivered as she put her plan into action. Dressed in loose fitting pants, with a sweatshirt over her tank top, she moved toward the fireplace and made a big show of pretending to tend the fire. Then reached for the wood basket and headed out the back door as if needing to fill her basket at the woodpile at the side of the Inn. As she closed the door behind her, she felt his shiv that she’d tucked into the back of her pants. It gave her courage and strength to feel it so close to her skin.
Once the woodpile was between Carolyn and the spot where she’d found the footprint, she knelt and put down the basket, then proceeded into the vines that grew close by. She moved with stealth toward her target. The shiv gripped tightly in her hand.
Suddenly a large form rose in front of her. She swung her arm and brought the shiv down with all her strength. Before the metal could contact flesh, a huge hand gripped her wrist and swung her around. She could hear his breathing as she struggled, but she couldn’t make out his face. Then her feet were swept out from under her and she went down hard. Years of self-defense sprang into action and she twisted as she fell, bringing the man down with her. They rolled in the dirt, over and over, each fighting for the position on top. His superior size and strength gave him the advantage. When they came to a stop at the base of the woodpile, he gripped both her hands with one of his and pulled them high above her head. His body straddled hers, with his full weight pinning her to the ground. His free hand had pulled the shiv from her limp fingers and pressed it against her throat.
“No!” She whispered, as memories flooded her. She’d done this before, this had all happened before. Then it had been raining and there had been death all around them. Fear shot through her at the tricks her mind was playing on her. Gasping and thrashing she began to scream, but before the sound was much more than a whimper, the shiv was tossed aside and a large hand covered her mouth.
“You’ll wake the neighbors, Babe.” A voice like old scotch poured over her and hit her in the stomach with the power of a punch.
Riddick looked down at the woman he’d pinned to the ground. He could feel her body against his and it was making him throb with want. While he silently asked himself how he could have been so careless as to let her discover his hiding place, his heart laughed back at him. Cause you wanted her to! In that moment he faced the truth. He loved her. A man, who had never known love, or given it, finally loved someone. There could be no other explanation for his actions of the last year and a half.
When he’d ran from New Mecca a year ago, he’d told himself it was to keep from being discovered, that Carolyn had nothing to do with it. That was the first lie. When he came back here he tried to tell himself he’d wanted to make sure that Imam, Jack and Fry hadn’t done any talking to anyone, maybe let slip that he was still alive. That was the second lie. When he left the blue shawl under her Christmas tree, he’d told himself it meant nothing. Another lie, to pile on all the lies that centered around her. But the biggest lies had been the ones he hid from himself, the ones that made her just another fuck along the way.
He shook his head at what he was thinking; this wasn’t the time or place for true confession! He gripped her around the waist while he kept his hand over her mouth, and carried her through the back door, slamming and locking it.
“No, you’re dead!” As soon as her feet hit the ground, and she was freed, she pulled away. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him, hadn’t been able to since hearing his voce a lifetime ago in the garden. She couldn’t get enough of looking at him. He was as big and tough as she remembered. His goggles were on his forehead, the only light in the kitchen was from the fireplace and they stood in the shadows. He had a black leather jacket on over his usual tight fitting top and baggy pants. He looked wonderful to her.
“Did I feel dead?” White teeth flashed when he grinned at her. Their struggle had aroused him and he knew that she had felt it against her belly when he had her pinned to the ground. It was taking all his will power not to pull her back into his embrace and take his fill of her.
“Richard, I don’t understand.” She backed further away as her mind rushed in circles. Finally things that were unclear in the past became crystal clear. There had been too many unanswered questions. Looking back she realized that Imam and Jackie had often sidestepped issues, and she hadn’t bothered to push for answers.
“What’s there to understand?” He shrugged in an attempt to pull a mask over his feelings, as he stepped closer to her.
“Why did everyone lie to me? God damnit, why did everyone tell me you were dead!” She flung herself at him, with fists pounding, as her temper exploded. He had hurt her, and hurt her badly. If he hadn’t wanted to be around her, he should have told her so, then she could have gotten on with her life! But the way he’d left things, she’d grieved for him every moment of the time that she’d been awake.
He let her small fists plummet him once or twice, until he couldn’t take her pain anymore. He knew he had to do something that would really hurt her, so she could be free of him. Gripping her wrists, to fend off her attack, he pulled her close with her hands held tightly behind her back.
“Ohh yes, Babe,” he muttered. “I’d forgotten how much passion you kept packed in that tight little body of yours.” To be sure there was no mistaking his words, he ground his hips against hers. “We could always take up where we left off in the skiff.” He locked her against him by pushing on her waist with her trapped hands. “You were one of the best fucks I’ve ever had.” His lips turned up into a cruel smile as he rocked against her. Even with his shined eyes he could see hers widen and the odd tinge to her skin as his words hit home.
“That was all it was to you, just a quick fuck?” She gasped as she tried to pull free of his hold.
“As I remember, it wasn’t so quick.” His voice had become thick with need as he held both of her much smaller hands with one of his. She was still trapped against him, as his free hand moved beneath her sweatshirt, over soft smooth skin that he knew as well as his own. He’d dreamed of touching her like this, but he knew that unlike his dreams, he would let her pull free after he was sure that he’d disgusted her enough so that she’d never look at him like she’d been doing when she first realized he was still alive.
“Let me go you son of a bitch!” Her voice sounded breathy even to her own ears as she fought frantically to get out of his reach. “Let me the fuck go!”
“Oh such language.” He chided as he ran his hand over her abdomen. He knew he was playing a dangerous game. If he didn’t stop touching her soon, he wouldn’t be able to. One last time, he promised himself, as his hand moved over the honey of her skin, but away from the dangerous area it had been headed. If he got anywhere near the gentle slopes of her breasts, he was a goner! “No way, Babe, I’m not done with you yet.”
“You bastard, I wish you’d stayed dead.” She ground out as she felt him caress her side as his fingers moved toward her back. She was lost in the scent and feel of him. She had to fight to keep her anger alive as he attacked her senses and emotions. In that moment she knew that he owned her soul. She was his and would take whatever he planned to dish out, tomorrow would be soon enough to pick up the pieces and learn to live without him.
“No such luck, Babe.” His breath tickled her ear, as he ran his tongue over the delicate folds he found there. “What the fuck?” Riddick stiffened as his hand moved over the ridges of the first of her scars. With lightening speed, he gripped her waist and turned her around as he pulled up her sweatshirt and tank top, while keeping her bent over his arm. What he saw made his blood boil and his heart stop. “Oh my God!” The scars were still an angry red against the perfection of her pale skin. He knew enough about scaring to know that these would shrink and lighten with time, which they probably already had, a bit. It made him sick to think of her being marked like that.
“Let me go!” Carolyn kicked frantically, as fear licked at her. It was one thing to face possible attack head on, but to have him come at her from behind made her panic. Ever since that night on the eclipsed planet, it was the one place where she felt vulnerable. Her hands pulled at the iron bar that was his arm, as it kept her bottom pinned to his stomach while his hand ran over her back. She shivered at the contact of his large warm palm against her skin.
“Hold still! Damnit, I said hold still!” He slid to the floor, but wouldn’t let her turn around. His hand ran over skin that had once been smooth and soft. “Why didn’t you tell me, Babe?” He whispered as he leaned over and carefully examined with touch, what his shined eyes kept him from seeing as clearly as he would have liked. He’d known she’d been hurt; he’d been there. He’d sat with her in the hospital, but it had caught him by surprise, this permanent reminder of how close he’d come to losing her forever. The graphic evidence caught him completely off guard. It knocked away his resolve and sent him careening off course.
A feral sound escaped his lips as he leaned over her and began kissing and licking his way up one scar and down another. If he couldn’t erase the monster’s damage, then he would cover them with his mark. She was HIS and nothing was every going to hurt her again!
She whispered his name over and over again, as his lips traveled over her back, and the dam of tears that she’d been fighting for 18 months broke. She began to cry in great ragged sobs as she begged him to stop. His show of tenderness was more than she could bear. She knew she wouldn’t be able to recover from this assault on her emotions.
“It’s gonna be all right, nothing or nobody is ever gonna to hurt you again, and that includes me.” He whispered as he turned her over and pulled her against his shoulder.
“You didn’t hurt me, Richard.” Carolyn looked into shined eyes with tears running down her face. “It was only when I thought you were dead.”
“I hadda do that, cause I couldn’t stay here and you needed to.” He ran his fingers through her hair enjoying touching her freely.
“There’s nothing keeping me here now.” She shivered at the thought of him leaving her again.
“You’d do that, without words between us?” He frowned down at her. “After all this time, you’d just up and leave with a man like me?” He was struck dumb with her generosity. She had every right to hate him for the way he had abandoned her.
“Yes, because you’re the only man I want. I tried for a long time to convince myself that what I was feeling was just a result of all that had happened during that time on the monster planet, but I was lying to myself.” She smiled at her folly. “I love you Richard, I have from the beginning. I fought it, and tried to deny it, but it was no good. If you go away this very second, nothing will change. The die was cast a long time ago.”
“That’s it, you aren’t asking anything in return?” How had a woman of such value found her way to his side? It took his breath away.
“There’s nothing for me to say.” She smiled slightly. He was going to leave her and she knew it, but at least she would know that he hadn’t died because of her. “My feelings are my own. As much as I’d like to, I can’t make you have them in return.”
“Oh God,” he leaned his forehead against hers, as he mind spun. His body ached for her, but that would have to wait. If he told her the truth he was giving her the ultimate weapon against him. If he told her how much he loved her, she would own him as thoroughly as he did her. Taking his courage in both hands he kissed her lightly then whispered, “I love ya, Babe.” It made his chest swell with emotion as he clasped her to him. “Why do ya think I went away, and why do you think I couldn’t stay away? I didn’t know what love was, but I knew I loved you, ‘cause no matter what new life I had, it wasn’t living unless you were there.”
“Richard,” she whispered as her hands began clawing at his jacket and moving under his shirt. He needed to touch him everywhere. She needed to feel her skin against his, like she needed air to breath.
“No, wait.” He shed is jacket, then held her hands in his as he looked around the kitchen. “Not here, not on this hard cold floor, not this time!”
“We do pretty good on floors.” She giggled, as her nipples hardened at the memory.
“We’ll do even better in a bed.” He promised with a grin and picked her up, to carry her to her bedroom on the floor above.
“First door on the left.” Her voice was husky as she nibbled at his neck when they got to the top of the stairs.
“I know,” he ground out, a week of watching and he could have found his way to her bed with his eyes closed. She was driving him crazy and he was afraid he would drop her if she didn’t stop exciting him.
The second her room door closed behind them, and her feet hit the floor, his shirt followed suit. As she reached for his belt buckle, she ran her nose over his bare skin and nibbled at his chest.
“You’re playing with fire, Babe.” His voice was husky as he pulled her sweatshirt over her head.
She yanked his belt out of the loops and tossed it aside, as she grinned up at him. “Fire you say? Sounds interesting to me.” Her fingers twitched as she reached for the fastener at his waist.
“Getting ahead of yourself, aren’t you Babe?” He gripped her tank top and gave it a tug. In one swift motion it separated down the front to the sound of tearing material and a small gasp from Carolyn. “Yeah, now that’s better.” He nodded as he pushed her back and they fell on the bed together.
Suddenly she couldn’t take it any longer and began pulling at his pants. “Please Richard, I need you inside of me.” She tried to hurry him, but he wouldn’t be rushed.
“Easy Babe, we still got the same problem we did before.” He eased her out of her slacks and pulled his off and tossed them on the floor. “You gotta be ready for me, you’re so tiny, I’ll hurt you, if you aren’t.”
She jumped at him, her body on fire, she came at him nipping and biting, hoping to drive him over the edge so he would have no choice but to enter her. “I want you now!” She cried out between her assault on his chest and arms, while her hands moved lower.
He pressed his hand against her mound as his lips took a rosy nipple in his mouth and he began to suck. It had the desired effect on her, she whimpered and gripped his shoulders as he drove her onward.
Fire licked at her insides, as his touch sent her world flying and diving until she exploded in rough feelings. She could hardly breath, she wanted to die, she was dying, then she was held tightly in his arms as she fell apart and was put back together again.
“Once more, Babe.” He encouraged as he moved over her again, playing and nibbling, making her sob as she exploded in his arms again.
“Richard,” she whispered his name over and over again. “Now Richard, please.”
“Now,” he moved over her as her legs came around him. He pushed her hair back from her hot sweaty face and covered her lips with his, his tongue going deep, as hers met it. His hips pulled back and he arched into her. His body remembered hers and they rocked in a rhythm as old as mankind. Until they both exploded and dissolved into a million pieces, only to reform, fused together. A whole that was stronger than the sum of its parts.
The next morning Richard awoke to the sound of a gentle drizzle on the roof. The winter rains had come at last. His body was curled around Carolyn as she slept, her bottom tight against his groin; his arm wrapped around her held close to his heart. He moved a few inches and began kissing her back, following the scars that had hurt him so badly the night before.
“Richard,” she murmured as she turned. “I love you. I meant it when I said it last night.”
“So did I.” He reached for the down comforter and pulled it over her shoulders. His hand caressing her chin, it was hard for him, the words always would be, but he knew that it was something she needed to hear. “I love you, too, but I can’t stay here. They’d find me if I did. That would put all three of you in danger.”
“Please don’t leave me behind!” She held his face in her small hands and pulled his lips to hers. Her tongue worked along his mouth until he gave in and kissed her as she was begging to be kissed.
“I’ll only take you with me if you’ll marry me first. You’re mine and I want anyone we run into to know it.” Before she’d crashed into his life he didn’t have a jealous bone in his body, but since meeting her that all changed. “I got a little place on a planet outside of Company influenced space. It ain’t much, but it’s a start. They call me Zeke Richards and there I don’t have a prison record or mercs after me. We’d be safe, but it’s a hard lonely life.”
“No Richard, being without you is what’s lonely.”
“You just might be right about that Carolyn.” He covered her body with his. “Now I seem to remember you particularly like this move.” He clasped her legs together between his and held her arms over her head with his left hand as his mouth began to explore first one breast then the other, and his free hand moved lower. “Think you can take it?” He chuckled.
“Anything you can dish out.” She whimpered, as her body sizzled under his touch.
“I always did like a woman who was a challenge. We got a new life in the New Year, Babe.” He whispered her name one more time before his mouth became too busy to talk. In that moment he knew she was right. Together they’d keep the loneliness away.
THE HAPPY ENDING