Max came to, groaning. She put a hand on her head; there was a large knot above her eye. She sat up and the world started spinning. She groaned again and lay back down.
Someone placed a very cold compress against her head. “Don’t sit up.”
Max blinked as her vision cleared. She turned her head in the direction of the voice. Bane stared down at her, concern in his beautiful eyes. She sat up again and grabbed her head before sinking back down into the bed.
“Owww! My head!” Her skull felt enormous.
“I told you not to sit up.”
“How…did I hurt my…head?”
“You fell in the bathroom and hit your head on the sink.”
She looked at him. Her head hurt like a mad bastard. Then, as things started falling into place, she tried to frown but it hurt too much.
“Relax,” he said. He kept his large hand on the compress.
“I hate you,” she moaned. “You…ruined my evening. I was going to…to have an excellent dinner…and even better sex…and you…you ruined it…I hate you…”
“Is he the man that you spoke of?”
“Yes,” she said, closing her eyes.
“He appears to be quite fond of you. I asked him to come back and check you out. He told me to bring you to the hospital, and you’re going to be on bed rest for the next few days.”
“Tammaro…he came back?”
“I contacted the hospital and asked for him directly. When I explained what happened, he came right over. He was stressed and it’s understandable, considering that I threatened him a couple of hours ago. But when he saw you, he immediately began caring for you in spite of his fear.”
“You’re…a fucking…asshole…” That was one of the most trifling things she’d ever heard of.
“He’s in love with you. But you’re not in love with him. You use him for sex. You’re also using that other guy, and he’s married.”
“Don’t you…dare judge me,” Max said, adjusting the compress. “So what? Men have been…doing this shit for…years. And it wasn’t just…sex…between Tammaro…and me.”
“I really don’t care,” Bane said. “I don’t want you with either one of them. I am jealous.” He would own it.
Max groaned and turned away from him. She was uncomfortable. Her dress felt too tight and her head felt massive.
“I need…to get home.”
“You can’t drive.”
“I need…to get home…to my son.”
“You can’t drive.”
“Bane, I need to go…home to Kyle.”
“You’re not driving. So decide how you want this scenario to end. I’ll do whatever you say.”
Max tried to sit up again but it was too much. Black dots swirled in front of her eyes and she collapsed. She wanted her pajamas and her cool, Egyptian cotton sheets. She wanted to hold her little boy close and smell his hair. Instead she was stuck in a hotel room with his idiot father.
“Did he…give me a painkiller?”
“He wrote a prescription, but you have better drugs at home. He doesn’t know you’re a rogue pharmacist.”
“If you can get up and walk to the door without falling, then I will let you drive.” Bane knew full well that Max wasn’t going to be able to get up without her head swimming. The knot was the size of a golf ball. She wouldn’t even make it off the bed.
“Okay. Okay.” For her son, she would attempt anything. Max closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. She sat up slowly and looked around. Bane sat next to her, his eyes full of an unfamiliar emotion.
“I hate you,” she said, and passed out.
When she came to again, she was in her bedroom. Her head still hurt; a dull, immense throbbing between her ears. Her curtains were drawn and the room was dark, but she could hear the sounds of the sea, which meant the door to her terrace was open. She looked down. Somebody had changed her clothes. She was dressed in a big T-shirt and still in the red panties she wore for her date. Max touched her forehead. Her head was bandaged.
“Can you sit up?”
Max gripped her sheets. She knew that voice. He was here. He was in her house, in her bedroom. Quickly, her mind ran to her son.
“Asleep. I took care not to wake him.”
Max moaned and lay back down. She started to cry. Bane, completely taken aback because he had never seen the woman cry before, didn’t know what to say. Tears weren’t a part of his life.
“Are you in pain? I have a syringe ready to give you but I didn’t want to do it without you knowing. I know how you feel about meds.”
“I didn’t want you here,” she said. “I wanted to protect my son. I didn’t want him tainted by you. You’re an evil man, and I don’t care if you think it’s necessary, you’re still responsible for the deaths of a whole lot of people.”
“What about the blood on your hands?”
“You think I haven’t thought about that? I’m not innocent, but I’m not you. I did what I had to do for my daughter. I had a reason to do what I did. You choose to be a dick just because.”
“So we’re murderers, but we’re also parents.”
“No. No. I’m a parent. You’re just my baby’s father. Soon you will be gone and Kyle will never lay eyes on you.” Max moaned. “I’m so tired.”
“You shouldn’t go to sleep.”
“I need to see about my child. What time is it?”
“It’s still dark. I took you to the hospital after you passed out again. You have a concussion. After you were examined, I brought you home. You will get better rest here and I didn’t want you to wake up in a strange bed without knowing about Kyle.”
She didn’t remember being in the hospital. “You saw him?”
“I hate you.”
“You ruined my evening.”
“You ruined everything.”
“He didn’t see me, Max. But I did watch him sleep. He is…perfect.”
“Tell me you don’t have that mask on.”
“You know that I do.”
“Did you have it on at the hospital?”
“No.” He didn’t bother to explain that he removed the mask after taking an injection in the bathroom before taking her to the hospital. That he had, in fact, put it back on shortly before she woke up.
“I want you gone before he wakes up.”
“Your housekeeper doesn’t work weekends. You have a concussion and you’re going to need to rest. There is no way I’m leaving you alone, Max. You’re just going to have to deal with it. I told you to calm down, but you wouldn’t listen. If you’re thinking about our son, then think of him.”
Max looked at the man. There was tenderness in his eyes. He put a hand on her stomach. She frowned. “What did you say to Rosa?”
“That you fell and hurt your head. I asked that she return in the morning to prepare meals for you and Kyle. I told her that I would watch out for you, but that I didn’t know how to cook.”
“Did you have the mask on?”
“Of course not. Give me some credit.” The housekeeper was hesitant to let Bane in until she saw him carrying her boss. Had he been wearing his mask, it was very likely he would have been in some Italian jail.
Max sighed. “I was so mad at you. I’m still mad at you. You’re jealous. You don’t want me with any other man. You think that just because I had your baby that gives you exclusive rights to my pussy. You’re such a…such a…”
“You may call me whatever name you like if it makes you feel better.”
“If I had a gun, I would shoot you.”
“Where’s the gun you used to have?”
“I won’t keep a weapon like that in my house with Kyle running about.” Max threw her legs over the side of the bed. "But I do have knives and I know how to use them."
“Be careful,” Bane warned.
Max stood up carefully. She looked around and took a couple of steps. Her vision started to swim and she stopped to get her head right. “I just need to see him for myself.”
Bane started to get out of the chair, but stopped himself. Max was just as stubborn as he was and ferocious when it came to her child. He watched her walk out of her bedroom and take a few steps down the hall to Kyle’s room. She opened the door and stood there for a long moment. Then, satisfied, she returned to her bedroom and went into the bathroom, closing the door. He waited patiently. A few minutes later, she came out and walked back to bed.
“My head hurts,” she said, touching the bandage.
“Something’s wrong if it doesn’t,” he said. “Do you want a shot?”
“I don’t like taking meds.”
“You don’t have to take a full dose,” he said. “But, like you told me, you need to relax. I’ll stay here and watch over you.”
“I don’t want you here when Kyle wakes up.”
“Get over it.” Bane got up and came towards the bed. He had one of her syringes in his hand.
Max lay back down. Her head was starting to throb. “I hate you. You ruined everything.”
“As you’ve said. I’m an evil, reprehensible, brutish man and you hate my guts. You’re allowed. However, I remember a time when you wanted to assist me; when you wanted to spare me pain. I remember you doing a number of things to help me manage my agony. You did it because you wanted to do it, regardless of the man you knew I was. You spent your time, money and resources helping a man you didn’t know. While I’m not the nicest guy, I’m not so inherently evil that I could walk out on the woman who helped me not be in constant pain." It wasn't a wise tactic to put his queen in jeopardy. "You and my son are the only ones I won’t abandon.” Everybody else was fair game.
She ignored the last. “What are you giving me?”
“Hydrocodone, 5ccs. I know that you don’t like taking meds, but this should alleviate some of your pain. You will simply have to get over it, Max. I wasn’t planning for it to happen like this, but I also didn’t expect for you to get a concussion. But I do admit to being jealous. I did find you appealing in that dress, and yes, I wanted to tear it off you.” He swabbed her arm and gave her the shot.
She glared at him. “You will never touch me again.”
“I don’t know about all that, but we’ll deal with it later. You did promise to smother me in sex and I'm seriously considering holding you to it.”
Max grabbed his forearm. “If Kyle wakes up, don’t tell him who you are. Please, Bane. Please don’t tell him who you are. And don’t wear that fucking mask, either. You’ll scare him.”
A little while later, Max was feeling a whole lot better. The hydrocodone worked great, and she was relaxed. She wanted to sleep, but Bane wouldn’t allow her to. She understood that she shouldn’t sleep, but she was so tired. She looked at him. Bane got up from the chair and sat next to her on the bed. It creaked loudly.
“Don’t break my bed.”
“This is the same bed you had when we were together last.”
“New mattress, though. But you have the potential for destruction and you want to fuck me.”
He put his hand on her stomach. “If I didn’t break it then, I won’t break it now.”
She closed her eyes. “I want to go to sleep.”
“No,” he said. He had to keep her awake. “You told me that you remember the night we made my son. Tell me about it.”
Max looked at him. Bane looked so different now. There was compassion in his expression, a sensitivity she didn’t think he was capable of. “You don’t remember?”
“You would know better than I when you conceived.”
She smiled tenderly. Once she knew that she was pregnant, she calculated the date of conception and was amused by it. “The night you wore the mask for the first time; when I told you it turned me on. You came into my room wearing nothing but it and a rock-hard dick.”
Bane looked at her. He remembered that night well.
“I remember it being almost non-stop; we were all over each other. You held me down on the bed and I let you have your way with me. It was so good, so hot, so powerful; it made perfect sense that I got pregnant that night.” She put her fingers on the mask and stroked the faceplate. “If you’re curious, it still turns me on.”
He closed his eyes, recalling her earlier statement. “Don’t, unless you’re sure. There will be no going back.”
“Isn’t that why you came to the hotel room tonight?”
"If you didn't have a concussion, you'd be smothering me right now." He looked around the room. The sun was starting to come up. “It’s almost morning.”
Max sat up quickly and her head swam. “Kyle’s going to wake up soon. You need to leave.”
Bane looked at her. She clearly wasn’t thinking straight because he had no intention of leaving.
“He’ll be in here in a few minutes; he always comes and gets in bed with me on Saturday mornings and we watch cartoons. Please, please go away.”
Bane got off the bed and left the bedroom. Max sat up and turned on the television. And sure enough, five minutes later, Kyle came running into the room. Max wrapped her arms around her son and pulled him under the covers. The boy was beautiful. Bane stared at him from the shadows of the hallway, much as he had done last night. The child was a miniature version of him, even down to the way he walked. He had adored Talia, and she was like a little sister. But this baby, this child, this little boy was his…how could he not already love him?
Things were likely to get ugly between him and Max.
Bane listened quietly to Kyle’s morning chatter. “Mommy, what happened to your head?”
“Are you okay?”
“Were you playing?”
“In a manner of speaking.”
“I fell yesterday during recess, but I didn’t hurt my head.”
“You didn’t tell me that you fell down.”
“I’m okay, Mommy. I'm a big boy.”
Max kissed his head. “Mommy’s going to lie down for a while.”
“Are you sleepy?”
“Yes, but I’m not going to sleep. You can watch television. Just don’t…just don’t turn the TV up too loud, okay?”
Kyle rolled down to the foot of the bed with the remote. Max lay back, her eyes closing. She wanted to go to sleep so badly. He started changing channels and settled in with The Backyardigans. Then after a minute or so, he looked up.
“Mommy, there’s a man at the door.”
"Heard it all Before" Sunshine Anderson
"Be Careful" Sparkle & R. Kelly
"G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T." Changing Faces
"Sugar" Trick Daddy
"Crown Royal" Jill Scott
"In My Bed" Dru Hill
"I'll Be" Foxy Brown
"Give it Up, Turn it Loose" En Vogue