A State of Grace Pt. 04

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Before we begin this chapter, I want to give a huge thank you to my brand new editor, gungurl_300blk. Her attention to detail can only make things better! Any mistakes that remain in this chapter are mine, not hers. If you’re interested in what’s been going on with me, see the Author’s Note at the end of the chapter. Thanks! – CM


“TOGETHER!” we all said.

It was a powerful and emotional moment! Afterwards, Kevin looked at Crystal.

“Do it, Crystal. Make the call,” he said quietly.

She nodded her head and took her phone out of her purse.

“Damn!” she said with a grimace.

“What?” I asked, concerned.

Wordlessly, Crystal held out her iPhone for me to see. I could only echo her sentiment when I saw the size of the crack in its screen. It was completely useless.

“Kayla,” she muttered under her breath. “I swear, that girl is death on touchscreens! It’s a damn good thing I have the money to keep fixing the things!”

“Here,” I said to her, handing her my phone.

“Thanks, Gracie!” she said, taking it eagerly.

She dialed a number and listened, saying nothing for several minutes. The four of us watched her with baited breath. Crystal was quiet for several minutes. When she started speaking, it was obvious that she was using some kind of prearranged code, because the things she was saying had absolutely nothing to do with anything we’d been discussing. Finally, she ended the call and gave me my phone back.

“The Special Investigative Response Team (SIRT) will be here within 48 hours,” she said.

“I’d hoped they’d feel a little more urgency than that,” I said in a dry tone.

“Oh, they always say 48 hours,” Crystal said soothingly. “In my experience, it’ll be a lot quicker than that!”

“They probably say 48 hours to keep people from learning where the SIRT units are at any one time,” Kevin said, and Crystal nodded her head in agreement.

“How do you figure that?” I asked, more to hear his reasoning than because I thought he was wrong.

“Well,” Kevin began, “with modern air travel, you can literally be anywhere in the world in 48 hours, no matter where your starting point is. By saying ‘expect a response within 48 hours,’ they help keep people in the dark about where their base of operations is. That’s pretty smart, really, considering the way things are these days.”

We spent about an hour talking with Fleur, Elizabeth, and Crystal before things broke up for the evening. Fleur and Elizabeth left for home after hugging Kevin and I. Elizabeth still looked a little fragile.

“It’s going to be okay, Liza,” Kevin said softly as he held her. “We’re going to make sure the people who did this won’t be able to do it to anyone else! And after we do that, we’ll do everything we can to help make you and your Mom better!”

“We will, Liza,” I assured her. “We promise!”

They left, and Kevin and I watched until they made it to their Trailblazer and drove away before we returned to the kitchen.

“You shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep,” Crystal said quietly.

She was still sitting at the kitchen table, staring down at its polished surface. When she turned her face towards us, I could see her eyes were red and her face was blotchy.

“I can tell you right now that while the Feds will come down on these bastards like a cluster bomb, some of them are going to get away with it.”

Crystal was speaking to both of us, but her haunted eyes bored into mine like a laser drill.

“Some of these sick fucks will try to get a plea deal – and they may succeed.”

She shrugged almost shrugged fatalistically and brushed her hair back behind her ear.

“I’ve seen it happen. Or, they’ll turn state’s evidence in return for immunity. I’ve seen that too. And I’ve also seen people actually manage to completely avoid getting arrested at all!”

She closed her eyes and heaved a loud sigh. After a few moments, she looked at me again, her eyes reddened and sad.

“Gracie, no matter how hard we try, we aren’t going to get them all. We’re just not! I’m not happy about it, God knows, but that’s the way of the world. You shouldn’t go making promises to people like that poor woman when you can’t possibly keep them!”

“So what are you saying, Crystal?” Kevin demanded.

“Kevin,” Crystal said tiredly, “I’m saying exactly what it sounds like I’m saying. We live in a flawed world, with a flawed justice system. Sometimes – hell, a lot of the time! – some of the bad guys escape punishment. We will get some of them. In fact, with what you’ve discovered, I’ll wager we get most of them. I’ve been working with these people for a long time, and they’re some of the best criminal investigators there are. But it won’t be the 100% clean sweep you seem to think it will be. That isn’t how real life works!”

Kevin stared at her for a moment, and his face fell. He looked so forlorn that I couldn’t stop myself from going to him and pulling him into my arms. There were no tears; we were both too hard-bitten kadıköy escort for that by this point. I held him close and pulled his face down against my neck.

He allowed me to comfort him for several long quiet moments.

“I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you both that,” Crystal said softly. “But just like I know you won’t lie to me, I won’t lie to you either. Not even to make you feel better!”

Crystal sighed again and stood up from her seat at the table. She offered the two of us a weak smile.

“Look, there’s more than enough time to worry about all that,” she said. “If you want my advice, concentrate on the now. Let the Feds do their job. You two just live your lives. I’m going to go hold my daughter and get some rest.”

Crystal smiled at us again, more warmly this time. Her eyes took on a hint of their usual twinkle.

“Why don’t the two of you go…relax your way, alright?”

Having delivered her parting shot, she wrapped an arm around each of us and hugged us for a moment before heading off to the guest room where little Kayla slept. I knew intellectually that Crystal was right, but that didn’t make her words any easier to hear. That was especially true for Kevin.

My loving brother is not naive by any means, but he does have a very simple view of the world. In his view, good prevails. Evil is punished, and justice is given impartially to one and all. I know he knows that isn’t really the way things work. We’ve both had enough personal demonstrations of that, God knows! But that doesn’t change the way he feels about the way the world SHOULD be. In some ways, Kevin would be a truly wonderful absolute monarch. If anyone could assume that much power without being corrupted by it, he could!

“Come on, Gracie,” he said softly into my ear. “It’s late. Let’s get to bed.”

He took my hand and led me to our bedroom, closing and locking the door behind us.

“Just in case Kayla should get up in the night,” he said by way of explanation.

Then he pulled me hard against his chest and kissed me passionately! At first, I was too startled to react. In moments, though, my body responded all by itself. My arms went around him, tracing the outlines of his muscles through the fabric of his shirt as I kissed him back. This kiss was hungry, and the raw need and desire behind it nearly took my breath away!

I was so lost in that kiss that it took several moments for me to realize he was undressing me. In fact, I didn’t become fully aware of that until his strong, calloused hands caressed the smooth bare flesh of my back.

“Ooooohhhh,” I moaned softly into his mouth.

At last, Kevin broke the kiss as his lips wandered down to nibble and tease my sensitive neck. The feeling of him kissing and nibbling there was electric!

“Ah! Oh, Kevin!” I whispered urgently as one of his hands cupped a breast.

He gently teased the nipple with the pad of his thumb. I moaned again in pleasure as the crinkled skin hardened beneath his touch. Then he dipped his head lower and stroked the broad, flat surface of his tongue across the aroused skin. I cupped the back of his head and pulled him closer, while simultaneously trying to push my breast into his warm, wet mouth!

“Oh, yes, baby,” I whispered breathlessly, still trying to be quiet.

He lavished both breasts with his loving attention before startling me again. Kevin scooped me up and carried me effortlessly to our bed. I reveled in my man’s strength for an all too brief moment before he laid me down on the mattress. He hovered over me as he carelessly stripped himself. Then he dropped down on top of me, his arms sliding beneath me to hold me close. His lips met mine again as he kissed me wet and deep.

As he kissed me, he very gently slipped a finger between my thighs and tested my wetness. He probably knew I was soaking wet, but the way he made sure to check was too touching for words! And then suddenly he entered me!

“Oh God!” I cried, ruining all my earlier attempts to be quiet.

Kevin silenced me with a kiss and thrust the rest of his thick manhood into me. I couldn’t believe how rock hard he was! I hadn’t so much as touched his cock, and yet he was hard as a rifle barrel!

“Gracie!” he whispered, his voice full of urgent need.

“Take me, Kevin!” I whispered back.

I reached up and cupped the back of his head with one hand, urging him to look me straight in the eye.

“Take me the way you need to, darling!” I said. “I belong to you!”

Needing no further encouragement, he thrust deeply into me. I threw my head back against the pillows, making soft noises of ecstasy as his thick manhood filled me. He pulled out smoothly, then plunged back in as deep as he could several times, before building up a steady rhythm. I spread my legs wide and crossed my ankles over his ass, and let him have me.

In seconds he was pounding me into the mattress, giving quiet gasps of pleasure. His penis üsküdar escort was hitting places it usually didn’t. That, combined with the aggressive – almost rough – way he was taking me brought me to a shattering orgasm very quickly!

“God, Kevin!” I cried, before stuffing the corner of a pillow in my mouth to stifle it.

I rode out the blissful contractions as my handsome, strong, loving brother kept thrusting. He didn’t break pace, not even when his continued thrusts brought me to a second (smaller) orgasm. Suddenly though, he lowered his body until he was lying fully on me.

“Ooohhh,” he moaned softly.

Then I gasped as I felt his manhood pulse inside of me. His release was so intense, he could do nothing but bury his face in the crook of my shoulder. I quivered with ecstasy as he filled me with his seed! As long as I live, I’ll never get tired of that feeling! Kevin and I lay like that for a few moments, savoring the warmth and intimacy of the moment, before he rolled off of me onto his back.

I took a few moments to recover, then I got up and strode into the ensuite bathroom to freshen myself up a little. When I returned, I brought a warm soapy washcloth and used it to clean Kevin’s softening manhood. One of his eyes popped open as I gently wiped him clean.

“Thanks, Love, but I was gonna get up in a minute,” he mumbled.

“Hush, Kev!” I said. “Just relax and let me do this for my man!”

I finished quickly, dried him off, and tossed the washcloth into the bathtub. When I came back to bed, Kevin had turned the covers down and fluffed up the pillows. He smiled at me, lifting the covers for me so I could slide into bed with him. As I did so, he pulled me close. I snuggled into his warmth as his arms wrapped around me.

It was so comfortable that I expected to drop off into dreamland almost instantaneously. That didn’t happen, though. Instead, I laid there snuggled against Kevin’s flank, idly stroking him.

“You can’t sleep either, huh?” he said softly after some time had passed.

“No,” I sighed.

“What’re you thinking about?” he asked, turning his head to look me the eye.

“I don’t really know,” I said, after taking a moment to consider it.

“I’ve been thinking about what Crystal said,” Kevin admitted.

I wasn’t at all surprised. I wondered if that was what was bothering me too, or to be more precise, if the way it was bothering Kevin was what was bothering me. I’m very attuned to his moods and feelings. When he’s upset, I usually pick up on it even if I’m not right there with him at the time.

“Do you think she was right?” I asked quietly.

“Yeah,” he said with a sigh. “Yeah, I do. In fact, deep inside of me, I already knew that was probably going to be the case. I guess her saying it like that just snapped me right out of my little hero fantasy.”

“Hero fantasy?” I asked, lifting an eyebrow at him. “Honey, what do you mean?”

Kevin pursed his lips and his eyes narrowed as he tried to articulate what he was thinking about.

“For as long as I can remember,” he began slowly, “I’ve been a problem solver. When something’s broken, I fix it. When someone needs help, I help. I take action, and I make things better. But this mess with Trent and his cohorts…Gracie, for the very first time in my life, I’m faced with a situation that I might not be ABLE to fix! I can’t shoot my way out of it. There’s no engineering solution. There’s simply no way I can affect the outcome of this situation, no matter what I do. Or more accurately, there’s nothing I can do beyond what I’ve already done.”

He heaved a frustrated sigh and squeezed me into a gentle hug.

“Do you think I have some kind of hero complex, Gracie?” he asked. His tone was deliberately light, but I could tell it was a serious question.

For my part, I didn’t even have to think about it. However, I wanted him to take my answer to heart, so I took a moment or two to consider his question.

“No, Kevin, I don’t think you have a hero complex,” I said. “At least, not in the clinical sense that you’re implying in this context.”

I pulled slightly away from him so I could prop myself up on one elbow. I gazed lovingly into his beautiful eyes and laid a reassuring hand on his chest.

“Kevin, in the past few months, you’ve been through an awful lot. You’ve been rejected by your first true love. You’ve had to rescue me from a vicious rape/mind control scheme, you’ve saved me from drowning and freezing to death, you’ve dealt with serious bodily injuries of your own, you’ve dealt with the trauma of telling our family something you knew might make them cast us out of the family (which, thankfully, they didn’t!). And finally, you were forced to actually take a man’s life.”

I shook my head in love and admiration.

“Kevin, a lot of people would collapse under that kind of stress and emotional turmoil. In fact, I wouldn’t blame anyone who did. But you did NOT, Kevin! You have held up amazingly well under tuzla escort the burden! Honey, you don’t have a ‘hero complex!’ You really are a hero to me!”

I leaned down and kissed his lips, letting myself linger there for only a moment before continuing to speak.

“You have proven that you are both willing and able to rise and meet whatever challenge life throws at you. I’d make the argument that you really don’t have anything left to prove to anyone, anymore. If this situation is beyond you, that isn’t your fault! Now, perhaps Crystal made a good point when she spoke about making promises you can’t keep, but Kevin, even that is a part of your nature. I don’t believe for a moment that Fleur or Elizabeth truly hold you responsible for curing all the victims and putting all the bad guys behind bars. Do you?”

“No,” he said after a long quiet moment. “No, I don’t really think they do.”

“I know you hate this phrase, but Kevin, this is one of those times where you have to ‘let go and let God,'” I said tenderly. “You’ve done everything you can do on your own. Now it’s time to let the professionals take over and do their job. You concentrate on your job!”

“There’s not a lot to concentrate on until the spring thaw really sets in,” Kevin began.

In spite of myself, I giggled lightly.

“What?” he demanded.

“Not your job with the landscaper! Your real job is taking care of me!”

I grinned delightedly at him and settled back down against his body. He pulled the covers more closely around us before pulling me closer. I savored once more, the feeling of his powerful embrace as I rested my face in the crook of his neck.

“That’s not just a job, it’s a career,” he murmured tiredly. “But there’s no other career in the world I would rather have!”

“I love you, Kevin!” I whispered with fierce passion.

I squeezed him tightly for a moment, wanting him to feel the depth of my emotion. He returned the hug with interest, crushing my nude body against his.

“I love you, my precious Grace,” he whispered back.

We shared a passionate, yet gentle kiss, and then dropped off to sleep.


We woke the next morning to the delicious smells of food wafting in from the kitchen. Kevin and I took a moment to freshen up in the ensuite, before putting on our pajamas and robes and wandering out to see what Crystal was making.

“Good morning Aunt Gracie!” came Kayla’s gleeful shout.

The cry reached my ears only shortly before the curly-haired tornado reached me and wrapped herself around my legs. She hugged me tightly for a moment before throwing her little body at Kevin.

“Good morning Uncle Kevin!” she cried.

The precious little girl didn’t seem to come with a volume control, but I had become used to that over the years of my friendship with Crystal. For his part, Kevin actually seemed to enjoy it! He grinned down at the little 10-year old girl. Kayla giggled in pure delight as Kevin suddenly caught her up in his arms and started to tickle her ribs.

“Good morning to you too, Kayla!” he said after finally letting her go. “Something smells good! Did you cook us some breakfast?”

“Yeah!” she replied happily, “But Mommy helped, too!”

“Did she? Well what did you make for us?” he asked, his eyes twinkling.

Kayla’s little face lit up with a mischievous grin.

“We made chocolate-dipped asparagus with cauliflower compote!” she cried.

The two of them stared each other down for a moment, then they both said simultaneously, “EEEWWW! That’s GROSS!”

Kayla collapsed in a fit of laughter as Kevin suddenly tickled her ribs again.

“Try to feed me gross stuff like that? I’ll show you!” he growled playfully as he teased the child.

That image: the two of them playing there, Kevin’s face full of love, Kayla’s little face full of innocent delight at the attention he was giving her, will be forever etched into my memory. I knew – had known for some time, now – that Kevin was destined for fatherhood. He was simply too good with children not to be! And I knew also, that I wanted to be a mother. The desire to have his child was very strong just then. Almost overwhelming, in fact.

“It’s good that you’ve got someone your own age to play with, Kayla!” I said brightly.

The girl looked up at me, momentarily confused. Then, her eyes lit up with renewed mirth as she got the joke. She laughed gleefully.

“Did you hear that Uncle Kevin!” she chortled. “She just said-“

“Oh, I heard her alright,” Kevin growled. “I think your Aunt Gracie wants some of this too!”

Suddenly, Kevin’s hands shot out and caught me, tickling my sensitive underarms without mercy! I was so startled that I didn’t resist for a second or two. By then it was far too late! Kevin utilized his unfair knowledge of my ticklish spots, and soon I was laughing helplessly in his arms.

He stopped after a few moments and just held me close. Kayla, laughing at our antics, snuggled against the two of us and hugged us both.

“I love you guys a lot,” she said quietly.

“We love you too, sweetie!” I said, kissing the crown of her head.

“Breakfast is ready!” Crystal said, startling all three of us.

She was leaning against the archway that led to the kitchen, grinning at us. She shook her head, laughing at our playing with her daughter.

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