Posted by Eve Rabi Author
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An Excerpt from Ruins of Temptation
A shirtless Drover gets out of bed and stumbles downstairs, throws open the door and balks at
the sight of Colin on his doorstep, roses and teddy bears in hand.
At the sight of attorney Phillip Sterling, Colin’s smile dips. This is the man who pulled a dirty on
him. Not his favorite person.
“I think I have the wrong house,” Colin mumbles as he backs away. “Apologies.” He turns and walks down the footpath.
From the car, Milton sees the shirtless Phillip Sterling at the door. He knows Phillip – he’s the man who put his daughter away in prison. Not his favorite person either. What the hell? Maybe we have the wrong address.
“Wait!” Drover calls.
Colin stops and turns around.
“Why are you out of prison?”
“Look it up if you want to know,” Colin says in an abrupt voice, then turns to continue walking.
With a sigh, Colin stops and turns around. “What do you want, Sterling? I don’t have time.”
“Wait!” Drover says. “Just a moment. Are you looking for …?”
“I’m looking for my wife. Clover Callan, remember her? My daughters? My family? Clearly, I have the wrong house.” He turns around and walks again.
“Wait! She’s here!”
Colin whirls around.
“She … this is the house,” Drover says. “She’s here.”
Colin tilts his head at Drover. “My wife is here? In this house?”
After a slight hesitation, Drover nods.
Colin squints at him. “Where?”
Colin’s eyes sweep over Drover, taking in the fact that he is shirtless, wearing just a pair of short, looking like he’s just rolled out of bed. He turns to look at Milton, then back at Drover. “I don’t understand – is my wife living here with you?”
Drover doesn’t answer; he just stares at Colin with one hand on his head.
End of excerpt from Ruins of Temptation
The story continues in Ashes of Temptation
Excerpt from Ashes of Temptation
Colin’s eyes flicker with confusion – if Clover is living here, if she is upstairs, why is this attorney from the public prosecutor’s office, the one who reneged on their deal, who double-crossed him and put him behind bars for seven years, shirtless and bare feet in the very same home? Colin blinks hard – Am I dreaming?
Drover blinks equally hard – how is this possible? Callan should be in prison right now – am I dreaming?
The hostility in Callan’s eyes tell him he’s may not be trapped in a bad dream after all. Drover glances upstairs, debating with himself – should he shout and warn out to Love, or go to her, whisper in her ear and bring her downstairs? He is certain Love will be equally shocked to see Colin here. Finally, he says, “Okay, look, if you wait here, I wi –”
Still clutching the two teddy bears and the bunch of roses, Colin pushes past Drover and strides into the house.
“Hey, wait in a minute!” Drover says, running after Colin.
Ignoring Drover, Colin walks around the house, sighting things that only compound his confusion – Eden’s rocking horse, Angel’s favourite blanket, a portable baby cot, Clover’s discarded jacket …
He pauses to pick up Clover’s jacket and stares at it. He was with her when she bought it. She even wore it to prison when she visited him in it.
“Look, just wait here and I will call her,” Drover says, a thread of anxiousness in his voice.
After a cursory glance at Drover, Colin pauses at the foot of the stairs and look upstairs.
Drover steps in front of Colin, blocking his path. “Wait here, and –”
Ignoring Drover and adding Clover’s jacket to the roses and teddy bears in his arms, Colin side-steps Drover and takes the stairs two at a time.
“Hold on there!” Drover yells.
Colin pokes his head into the bedrooms, looking for Clover. Even though the first bedroom is empty, it is instantly recognizable as Angel’s because of the photos of him and Angel on the wall. I’m in the right house.
He walks fast into the second bedroom, where he finds Eden fast asleep. His frown softens as he stares at his daughter that he hasn’t seen in three years.
. Fighting the urge to hug his daughter, Colin turns and almost runs out of the room in search of his wife.
When he reaches the third room, the door is shut. He flings it open and looks into the face of the woman lying in bed.
“Colin!” Clover cries when she sees Colin in her bedroom, clutching the teddy bears, roses and her jacket. “Wha …” The words die on her lips as she looks at Drover at the doorway, his palms turned out.
“Clover?” Colin whispers.
“I … Colin … ohmygod!” is all Clover can say, before she clamps both hands across her mouth.
With a dazed expression on his face, Colin looks at Drover, at Clover, at Drover, then again at Clover. “Wha … wha … what … Clover …” He rubs his eyes with his knuckles, “Am I … dreaming?”
Clover is speechless.
Colin stands in the middle of the bedroom, Clover’s jacket still in his hand, his eyes squinting at the tell-tale signs of a couple sharing a room – Drover’s phone and wrist watch on the bedside table, along with a half-finished bottle of water and the TV remote, the rumpled bedlinen next to Clover, Drover’s t-shirt and shoes on the floor.
Colin stares at Clover and the flimsy nightdress that shows her nipples. “I must be dreaming,” he mutters, blinking hard.
“Colin, I can explain,” Clover says, as she pulls the bedcovers over her, a move that only serves to highlight her lack of modesty, her duplicity. She opens her mouth to explain, but shock and disbelief renders her mute. Under Colin’s piercing gaze, she hangs her head.
For a while no one speaks.
Drover breaks the silence. “Look, Callan –”
Colin swings around to look at Drover. “Can you do me a favour?”
After a slight hesitation, Drover shrugs.
“There’s someone at the door. Can you let him in, please?”
“Who is it?” Drover asks, reluctant to leave Clover right now.
“My parole officer. He needs to meet … my wife.”
Drover looks at Clover, glances behind him, then at Clover again.
Relieved that his parole officer is around to may serve as a buffer to the situation, Clover’s head bobs. “Go! Let him in. Please!”
Drover too is relieved. He’s seen the car parked in his driveway, so he steps out of the room, eager to bring in the parole officer.
The moment he leaves the room, Colin flings down the jacket, the roses and the teddy bears. He slams the bedroom door shut then locks it.
Clover is startled that he would lock the door. “Colin, shouldn’t we go downstairs to meet …”
The words die on her lips when she watches Colin drag a cupboard across the door. Fear bolts through when she realizes that she is now trapped in the room with Colin. With a Colin that lured Drover out of the room, then locked the door.
The moment the door locks, Drover realizes what just happened. He rushes to open the door, slams his shoulder into it, but it won’t budge. He runs to fetch a baseball bat and slams it against the door, hoping to create a hole in it. The bat breaks on the first hit.
Inside the bedroom, when he’s sure they no one can leave, and that no one can enter, Colin turns slowly to look at Clover. “Are you living with him? Are you sleeping with him?” Colin advances toward her as he speaks, his eyes hooded, his voice low and controlled. Too controlled for a man who just caught his wife in bed with another man.
The expression in his eyes is familiar – she’d seen it just before, when he tried to strangle her at the Church of Light. When he believed she was Scarlett trying to pass herself off as Love. For days after that, she slept in a locked office with a Taser at hand, for fear he would harm her.
Clover scrambles back in bed. “Colin …I can explain …”
Colin towers over her, burly and muscular, more muscular than she’s known him to be. The cords in his neck, the twitching of his jaw, the flaring of his nostrils, augments her fear.
“Hey, open this door!” Drover shouts from outside the room. “Callan!”
Ignoring the rattling of the doorknob and Drover’s banging on the door, Colin says, “Don’t explain, just answer my question – are you living … are you, my wife … are you living with Phillip Sterling?”
Clutching the bedcovers, Clover looks away. “I … I … Colin …”
“Are you sleeping with him, CLOVER? I need to hear it from you.”
Clover doesn’t answer. Instead, she looks at the door, gauging and calculating – should she make a dash for it? She is fast on her feet, sure, but what about the cupboard?
Colin suddenly lunges at her, grabs her by the hair and drags her out of bed.
Clover’s terrified scream can be heard outside the house in the still of the morning.
“I asked you a goddam question!” he says, planting her in front of him, his bulging eyes boring into hers, his breathing erratic.
When she doesn’t answer, he jerks her toward him, slamming her into his chest. “Tell me, Clover. Tell me.”
“I … Colin… you’re hurting me, Colin!” she cries, as he holds onto her hair.
Milton, who now stands outside his car, is startled by the sound of a woman’s scream.
Realizing something is wrong, he hurries into the house and toward the sound of the screams. “Oh, shit!” he says when he sees Drover slamming his shoulder against the bedroom door.
“Call the cops!” Drover says.
“Call the cops!” Drover repeats. My phone’s inside the room!”
“What?” Drover demands.
“He’ll go back to jail.”
“Call the FUCKING cops!” Drover shouts.
Just then Andrew and Daisy burst into the house.
“Dad!” Daisy cries. “What’s going on?”
“Andy, help me,” Drover says. “I broke the lock, but something’s against the door.”
Inside the room, a terrified Clover tries to stay calm, even though she looks into Colin’s face, puce with rage.
“When did you start this affair?”
As Clover tries to think of an answer, a whimper escapes her.
“Answer me, CLOVER!”
She doesn’t answer, because through her terror, she knows that whatever answer she gives will be unacceptable.
Colin suddenly slaps her across the face, splitting her lip. “I’m going to kill you, Clover!”
End of Excerpt for Ashes of Temptation
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