She was much too young for him. He suddenly no longer cared. Blood Land. Chapter 2 – 3
April 11, 2013
A VG Serial: Blood Land
Chapter 2 – 3
“Family is the damndest thing,” she said.
“That it is,” Hanson said. “My father died when I was in my thirties, already deep into my law practice.”
Hanson waved her off politely.
“He was a good man. Moral. Just a baker, actually, but his turpitude is what caused me to take up law. I saw how honest and unyielding he was. Law-abiding, I remember always thinking. Then he got sick. Stomach cancer. Really one of the worst ways to go. Painful.
“So my father, this man of principle and morals, he lies. Lies about the severity of the pain early on so that he can hoard enough opiates under his mattress so that, when the pain becomes very real, he has more than enough to end it.”
“Oh my God,” Wendy said.
“He didn’t want it to look like an overdose. That’s why he hoarded the pills. He planned the whole thing out. Just increased his dosage each day. Pill by pill he put himself to sleep.”
Wendy crossed the small space between them and knelt, putting her arms around him. Hanson’s eyes, though, were dry; his voice was steady.
“It’s not that I blamed him. He did what he had to do. No one suspected. It was me who found his stash—the pills he still had stockpiled. I never told anyone, not until now.”
“He must have been in tremendous pain.”
“No, he planned for that, too. The doses he was taking would have assuaged his suffering. He was a smart man. He knew what he would need to kill the pain and he knew what he would need to kill himself. It was then I decided to devote my talents to defending the accused. You see, I realized at that moment that any man or woman can be driven to something they would ordinarily never consider. Those people need someone on their side.”
Her face moved close in, eyes locked momentarily with him. Lips moved together, his mouth opened in surprise, hers with confident passion.
She kissed him. She tasted of beer and smelled of vanilla cream. She reminded him of all things in the world he believed to be sensual. Hanson was a little drunk. He pulled her close. Unable to deny himself. They stayed like that, entwined, exploring each other with hands and tongues. They stood as one and moved to the bed.
The last sex Hanson had was three years prior, with one of the mousy librarians from the Special Collections branch at Coe Library. Liza Dexter, he remembered suddenly. It had been perfunctory lovemaking and had done nothing to assuage his fears of having gotten too old to be any good in bed.
With Wendy, Hanson rediscovered his youth. Because they’d been drinking, they were less restrained; they wrestled passionately, discovering each other’s’ shapes, needs, and desires. He was easily twenty years her elder. Probably more like thirty. Yet she cleaved to him as if he were the only man in the world. She made him feel not only younger but relevant. As if he’d not spent the better years of his life alone.
They made love for over an hour. Fell asleep in each other’s arms. The heat of her lithe body infused him with hope.
* * *
In the morning, Hanson did not want to move. He woke first. Wendy lay there, delicate as a bird, still pressed unobtrusively against him. He was relieved. The last thing he wanted was for her to awake and realize her horrible misjudgment—relegate him to the purgatory of bad drunken choices.
She did awake. And as soon as she did, she squeezed him harder. Kissed him deeply. They made love again. Slower. More intimate than the night before. Hanson allowed his newfound confidence to guide him. Still she intimidated him, and he strove to show her that he was worthy.
* * *
I’ve never cared for you much.
There are times when hearing what you already know to be true is the most unbearable accusation of all. Even as situations change, such words remain lodged in the back of the heart like splinters. They fester. Infect the better times with accusatory concerns.
Was it possible?
Did Wendy Steele come to his bed in order to garner his services? Could her motives be so tactical?
“Back to your uncle Ty,” Hanson said, breaking a palpable yet comfortable silence. “You came here to ask me if I would defend him.”
Wendy avoided his eyes, measuring her response. She kissed his cheek.
“I think so. I’ve never really been one to use subterfuge. The whole idea of asking it now feels pretty unseemly.”
“I suppose it’s only subterfuge when you’ve not been candid regarding your motives,” he said.
“My motives aren’t as clear as they once were.”
“Just like that?”
“Maybe. Or maybe I am just rethinking the whole ‘get involved’ option. Me, I mean. With my family. Not with you.”
“In matters of family,” Hanson said, “we’re always involved. Whether to engage. That, my lady, is the dilemma.”
Wendy nodded solemnly. Her dark eyes conveyed caution. And what else?
A defeated admiration?
“What would you say if I did ask?”
Sitting there, mesmerized by the reawakening this young woman had produced in him—deserted to an extent by his own conscience and principles—Hanson wasn’t sure there was anything he would not be willing to give her. He stroked her cheek and kissed her on the top of her head.
“I’d say no.”
Chapters of the serial are published Monday through Saturday.
You can learn more about R. S. Guthrie’s novels on his Amazon Author’s Page.