Mulo stood propped up in the doorway wearing his signature smug grin.
“What are you doing here?”
“Come now Love, you already know why I’m here,” he smiled and strolled past me into my hotel room.
Seeing him again after the last few weeks, left me conflicted. I had told myself I wasn’t going to go to him. I had to handle this on my own for the sake of my marriage, I had to, but he was here. He came to me…but I couldn’t let him…I couldn’t accept his help.
“You can’t stay. You…I…you have to go.”
“You seem nervous, Love,” Mulo said crossing the room to stand in front of me. “Why are you so nervous?” His voice dropped down as he let his fingers trace the contour of my jaw.
He ran his thumb across my bottom lip and inhaled deeply. “I know that scent well,” he said with a smirk.
I shifted my weight from leg to leg, ignoring his comment. “How did you know I was here?”
“We may not be bonded like before, Love, but I always know where you are.”
I narrowed my eyes and frowned at him. “You do know that stalking someone is against the law.”
He laughed. “Are you going to turn me in?”
He stood in front of me, smiling. Something was off, different. Mulo had always been serious, but he seemed relaxed, almost playful. He leaned forward, his clean spicy scent swirled around me. Our time on the island came barreling back, all the feelings, emotions and primal urges threatening to take over. I moved away needing to distance myself. Wrapping my arms around my body, I thought about Marcus. I’d told him this was done. We were married, we took vows. Mulo couldn’t be a part of my life anymore. When I looked up, Mulo was studying me intently.
“That look tells me you’re worried about the husband.”
“You said you respected my choice. You said you’d stop this pursuit of me and let me live in peace with the man that I love.”
“One of the men you love,” he corrected, “and I did when I thought he was worthy of you. However, any man that would make you choose between his frail ego and your child gets no respect!”
I opened my mouth to refute his claims but came up empty. How could Mulo know that’s how I’d felt? “He’s…that’s not what he’s doing. He wouldn’t.”
“He may not have said it out right, but that’s exactly what is happening. Our son came to me. Our son! The boy that has all but disowned me, came on your behalf because you are scared to because of how he would ‘feel’.” Mulo’s tone was harsh and awash with sarcasm and contempt.
“That’s not…that’s not why. It wasn’t about him.”
“No?” he asked cocking his head to the side. Challenging my lie.
“No. It’s me. I…I need to not always use you as my crutch. I can’t always depend on you. I can’t always come to you when there’s an issue. I need to stand on my own two feet.” I hoped my words sounded more convincing than I felt. It was true; I needed to not always run to Mulo. Marcus was right in that statement.
“That’s great, Love, and I would respect that if it wasn’t total bullshit.” He crossed the room, pulling me into his arms. “Tell me that when you got that first call your first thought wasn’t about me. Tell me you didn’t want me instantly to come and save Ceula, save you from whatever Marisol is doing. Tell me that and I’ll walk out of here right now and leave you to it.” His voice was gruff, his words harsh, but truthful. And he knew it.
I pushed him away. “It doesn’t matter Mulo! You…you are just as guilty of bringing her into my life as my father. Now you both want to scramble to clean up the mess you made!”
“He threw you to the wolves. I’m just trying to keep you from being eaten.”
“Keep me from being eaten? What?! No Mulo that’s not what you’ve done to me. You…you know what you’ve done to me. You’ve felt the pain you’ve caused me.”
“And I’ve apologized for that. You felt my remorse! You’ve forgiven me.”
I let out a heavy sigh. “You’re right, I have, but…this trip down memory lane her game has lead me on has made me reflect on a lot. I’m left with so many what-ifs it kills me!”
“Like what, Love?”
“Like what if my father had made a different choice? What if I’d never left Riverview? What if you…” I stopped myself on the last one. This would get me no-where. Questioning the past couldn’t change my current situation. What was done, was done and I just had to find a way to survive it like everything else.
“What if I what?” Mulo pressed. He stood closer to me, those feelings from earlier worming their way back into my consciousness.
Our eyes locked, his features were soft; caring. There was something between us that Marcus didn’t understand and hated. If I wanted to be honest with myself, I didn’t fully understand it either. Mulo had hurt me in many ways, yet I was pulled to him. The connection we had was one of the great mysteries of the world. Even now as he stood in front of me part of me was happy to see him.
“Have you ever thought about what our lives could have been like if you weren’t such an ass?”
He smirked. “I suspect we would have traveled a lot and spent quite a bit of time in bed,” he answered.
I rolled my eyes. “Always comes back to sex with you doesn’t it? I’m being serious, Mulo.”
“I am too.”
“So the only reason you wanted me was for your personal concubine?”
His arms wrapped around my waist. His presence was overwhelming like always. “That is a divine idea,” he whispered into my ear, “but you know you mean more than that to me.”
I turned my head to look at him. Our lips were mere centimeters apart. If either of us moved, they would connect, and if that happened all hell would break loose. The desire pulsated around us thick and hot. The warm heat of his slow exhales tickled my face. We stood close, the arm around my waist held our bodies pressed together. My body temperature rose and there was a tingling of excitement between my legs as my arousal grew. He waited; waited for me to make the first move, to let him know that it was okay. I closed my eyes, inhaling deeply.
“Do I know that?” I asked, my voice barely above a whisper.
Mulo’s free hand caressed my cheek, his thumb slowly ran across my lips. “Yes, Love.”
“Then why? Why make me suffer? Why cause me pain and heartache? Why not stand beside me through this crazy thing Marisol inflicted upon me instead of making it worse? All you had to do was love me Mulo. Was that too much to ask?”
I was alone. The heat of his body taken away as he pulled from our embrace.
“I do, but I’m not a traditional man, Love, therefore what you get from me won’t fall into the same category as the everyday man. Would you want me any other way?”
There was anger in his voice. Mulo was never a man that liked his faults being pointed out, but I needed closure. I couldn’t keep living in this state of limbo. I loved him. I desired him, but something had to give. He couldn’t keep toying with my emotions and I couldn’t let him.
“No Mulo, you are who you are and I do love you for that.”
“When things changed for you, when you started to care about me, to love me, your actions didn’t reflect that. Instead you acted like that kid on the playground pulling my pigtails because he liked me. You chose to be angry, and make things harder on me instead of just stepping up and admitting how you felt and acting accordingly.”
“We’ve been over this!” he yelled.
“Yes, we have but that doesn’t change how I feel Mulo! I am tired, and angry, and confused, and conflicted on a daily basis. I am married to a man that has had his life so fucked over simply because he loves me. Anyone in their right mind would have run away screaming given the chance but he hasn’t! He is so angry with me and when this is all over I don’t know if he’s going to stay. I sure as hell don’t make it worthwhile for him to do so.”
“His fragile ego is not my problem!”
I dropped down onto the bed, burying my face in my hand. “You’re right, it’s not. It’s mine. This thing with us…it’s a betrayal to him. Marcus doesn’t deserve this and I’m starting to think I don’t deserve him.”
“You have put that man up on some sort of pedestal and in doing so you are beating yourself up with misplaced guilt,” he said coming to kneel in front of me.
“Misplaced? Mulo a few minutes ago I was ready to kiss you. I wanted to kiss you and more…how can I not feel guilty over that? And you don’t make it easy. You said you would back off, that you would give me the space I needed to make this work with Marcus, yet at every turn you’re here. You prey on my weakness, on the feelings I have for you. You’re still causing me heartache, Mulo.”
He moved to sit beside me on the bed. “That is not intentional. I want you; I have no shame in saying that. What would you have me do, Love?”
“Walk away. Stay away.”
“What’s the saying…absence makes the heart grow fonder. I have gone away, that didn’t make you love me any less or I you.”
I let out a heavy sigh. He was right, we’d been apart before and my feelings for him were always there, but I could hope this time things would be different. I could hope that with him out of my life, I could prove myself worthy of Marcus’ love.
“You’re right. If my marriage fails, I’m sure you’d be the first one to help me pick up the pieces and at that point I wouldn’t fight it anymore, but…”
“You want the chance to find out?”
I nodded. “I love Marcus. He’s a good man and a great father and he deserves to be happy. To have a wife dedicated to him and only him. I will probably always love you Mulo, but our time has passed. I need to move on. You need to move on.”
We sat quiet for a while digesting the fact that this was the end of an era. If I could turn back the hands of time and do things over, I'm not sure if I would or not. The suffering I've endured hasn't been without its high points. My children, each of them I was blessed to have. Had things turned out differently with Mulo and I they wouldn't be here. I could no longer live in the land of what-if. My life was with Marcus now, he was my future. Mulo needed to be my past.
“You never said why you were here.”
His hand covered mine and he pressed his lips to my forehead. “To tell you how we're going to kill Marisol.”