APRIL IN ROME
He felt it before he saw them. The piercing, stabbing, damning eyes intent on burning his back with so much hatred and animosity blazing in their dark depths that it actually made the hair rise on the back of his neck. Jack swallowed nervously despite his hard resolve to not let anyone ever see him sweat, especially his worst nightmare—Don Hockley! Reaching deep down into the bottom of an accomplished actor’s bag of tricks, he placed a blank look on his handsome face and nonchalantly swaggered inside the theater to impatiently await the start of the feature.
As Jack heavily sat down, he let out a pent-up breath that until that moment, he had been completely unaware that he was holding. Outside, Hockley and Martin had resembled a hostile lynch mob—a vicious pack of wolves practically foaming out the mouth to get to him. What was Stefano’s problem anyway? Martin seemed perfectly amicable until the notorious Hockleys crashed in. Trying to grasp the situation, Jack seriously doubted that Martin would have informed Rose’s husband about their Rome relationship. But then, Hockley already knew because Jack had made damn well sure he knew in LA—even going so far as to rub his face in it! Besides, he gave the respected director a lot more credit than that. Nevertheless, something was remiss…
Now of course, Hockley was an altogether different matter. Because he knew exactly what was torturing that pervert! At that, Jack had to maliciously grin—Good! He could only hope that Hockley remembered him, the defiler of his precious wife, for the rest of his miserable life. Every time the bastard took Rose—he fervently prayed with every ounce of his being that Mister Hockley was crucified by the fact that he, Jack Dawson, had possessed her first—in every imaginable way. A petty and mundane consolation in this day and age, he had to admit, but the only one he felt he’d ever have in this fateful tragedy of love and loss! As far as Martin Stefano was concerned—well, God only knew who put a burr under that man’s saddle!
Shortly, Emma came down to sit next to her son. Neither said a word, each lost in their own tumultuous thoughts and both experiencing an extreme case of nerves that were stretched as taunt as Cupid’s bowstring. Although Jack felt overly curious about his mother’s obvious acquaintance with the Hockleys, he stubbornly held his tongue—perhaps another time when this lump had left his throat.
Then out of the corner of one eye, a flutter of lavender caught Jack’s starved attention. Somehow though, he managed to sit in mute distress—never turning, barely breathing, rarely blinking—staring straight ahead. It was the hardest performance he had ever tried to pull off—sitting there acting unaffected…uninterested…unmoved.
Gazing askance, Rose absorbed him—studying each movement, each perfect plane of his beautiful revered face. Mysteriously, he showed no outward emotion just an occasional blink of an eyelid and the ever so slight rise and fall of his muscular chest. With just a mere glimpse, her entire body began to tingle again in anticipation and excitement—enraptured by the man who had taught her how to love. Her heart was fluttering as if a thousand butterflies were inside trying to get out. It had been too long since she had experienced such powerful feelings. Dear God, he was so incredibly handsome. Her Jack! Was it really true—could it be true? No other woman? Her pulse began to race as if she were bearing down upon a coveted finish line. Disturbingly however, Jack’s icy blue eyes remained focused straight ahead—totally oblivious to everything and everybody around him.
What was going through that intelligent, talented, and ever so special mind? Did he still think of her—of them? Her mind was screaming at him. Beckoning him to turn around. Look at me, Jack! Stop ignoring me! Give me some sign, some acknowledgment that you remember—that perhaps you might still care! For I know a secret, Jack Dawson—a life altering hidden mystery guaranteed to promise us happiness that can never be surpassed or equaled again! Our lives will be forever changed…Want to know, Jack? Look at me…really look at me, Jack…can’t you see us? Turn around…
Fight it, Jack! Don’t look! Don’t you dare look at her! God he felt her…even from the distance the magnetic pull of her being was so overwhelmingly bewitching. Just close your eyes if you have to, he kept telling himself. But don’t glance, don’t glimpse and whatever you do…don’t stare! The inward battle kept raging—stabbing him with blades of cold hard steel. He was struggling, grappling, fighting with all his might to resist the persistent urge to steal one mere glimpse of the other half of his heart…But no…he couldn’t surrender.
On top of that, Jack felt like he was being intensely watched--like an animal of prey being stalked. The nervous tension hung thick in the air. The eerie feeling wouldn’t go away of being ogled—but surely not! It was most likely his overactive imagination and a product of his fondest desire. For she wouldn’t have the audacity and boldness to stare openly at him with her husband sitting right next to her, would she? Shit, of course she would! He was forgetting this was Rose, not afraid of anything or anybody. But dammit, what was she trying to do? Get him killed?
At that last thought, the feature blessedly began.
Rose couldn’t wipe the sly, cunning triumphant grin from her twitching lips. God, my spirit is back! I, Rose DiStefano-Hockley have returned in full force—no more obstacles, no more assumptions, and no more jealousies. It’s Jack Dawson my first my second, my last, and me! I’m going to win this battle and conquer the man I love. Self confidence restored, she was ready to throw down the gauntlet and fight a dual if she had to. He must surrender…there was no other acceptable alternative. Her indomitable spirit had taken wings and she was about to take flight right up off her seat.
And then the lights dimmed and the credits began to roll. For just a second, she was brought back into the real world with a slight squeeze from her father’s hand. She afforded him a half-meager smile until finally her name was presented.
AND INTRODUCING ROSE DISTEFANO-HOCKLEY AS CORA
Jack’s glinting sapphire eyes inconspicuously squinted at the name and his Adam’s apple bobbed noticeably. Although it was dark, she recognized it. Yes, there’s my sign, she gleaned. He’s not totally oblivious to me. Jack Dawson, you will be mine again…whether you realize it or not! You will…I promise!
Jack’s steel blue eyes darkened, narrowed and shot daggers at the hated Hockley surname. His throat worked convulsively. How can that be? Martin claimed he had no knowledge of Rose’s recent marriage. And if that were the case, why was her new married name in the credits? Was Stefano lying to him, too? Is the whole God damn world conspiring against me? Nothing made sense anymore. Nothing…Feeling his mother nudge him, he peered askance thankful for a diversion. She impishly winked and turned back to watch the prologue. Crinkling his brow he pondered, What was she up to?
It was endless torture watching him both on screen and in person. Rose couldn’t decide where to focus her attention—on Jack seated across the aisle or on the movie itself. All too soon however, the decision was taken from her—"their" scene together! Now matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t make herself watch. Her magnetic eyes bore into Jack! He obviously couldn’t either for his gaze slid away from the screen and unmercifully locked with hers. They both stopped breathing. Twin pairs of misting hungry eyes held each other captive—refusing to release the other.
Up On the Screen:
CORA: I want you to be my first…my second…my third"
VALOR: And your last!
And then, Jack snapped! He couldn’t take it any longer. He wouldn’t watch their April intimacy thrown in his face—no how—no way! For he had a choice here. Although he might be forced to idly sit back in a seat of torture while knowing she was so close and with Hockley, Jack refused to let Rose witness his pain and grief. He had too much male pride for that…he had to get out of there and fast!
Leaping out of his seat, Jack practically ran out of the theater. He couldn’t seem to catch his ragged breath, his rolling stomach had twisted into knots, and his eyes were brimming with unshed tears. With his trembling hand against the restroom door, he heard her.
"Get away from me, Rose!"
Jack forcefully flung open the door and slammed it shut. Refusing to be shut out and ignored any longer, Rose purposefully marched inside. He knew it was her even though his back was turned. Her smell…her delicious scent invaded his nostrils causing them to unconsciously flare.
"You don’t understand, listen to me, Jack! We need to talk, please?"
Jack abruptly stopped dead in his tracks. Damn it all to hell! He couldn’t escape—he still yearned for her—he wanted her—he ached for her—but more importantly, he needed her! Yet, above all else, whatever had gone on before, he still didn’t know how to let her go.
Suddenly spinning around, he impaled her with twin orbs of blue fire. Rose was startled to see him ominously looming before here. Her courage began to falter. Nevertheless, he imperiously and intently came forward and began backing her against the bathroom wall.
Rose’s throat suddenly had gone dry and her heart was pounding inside her chest. She felt helplessly trapped as Jack boldly took another step forward and the wall behind her blocked any retreat. This wasn’t going exactly like she had expected—he had turned the tables and had become the aggressor and she the pursued. Pressing her further against the wall, he was close enough now for her to feel his rasping breath on her neck, feel his muscular thighs against her own, his hardness evident against her trembling body.
The white-hot gleam of his eyes flickered with an emotion so raw that it frightened her. Her throat was congested with fear and remarkably…passion. She stared up at him, unable to move, to think, to breathe. He was pressed so close she was intimately acquainted with each rigid plane of his powerful body. The fly of his jeans was imprinted on her chiffon dress. From that point of contact, heat emanated throughout her awakening body. Her sensitive, swollen breasts ached for his masterful touch. Caresses she craved.
Suddenly, Jack gripped her shoulders hard. The contact immediately shot electrifying sparks sizzling up and down her arms. He was breathing hard with the slightest hint of tobacco and liquor filling her intensified sense of smell. His lean fingers bit into the flesh of her upper arms. Then, he struck like a poisonous snake. His mouth came down hard to claim hers with unarguable possession. She was drowning.
Oh, dear heaven, it felt good. This kiss—his mouth warm, sensual, firm and oh so demanding. It had been so long, she wanted it to go on and on. Shortly, it softened and his lips moved over hers with gentle sipping motions. Rose felt small and defenseless against him yet she treasured his conquering male dominance. Her femininity blossomed in response to Jack’s overpowering virile maleness. He settled his searching lips on the corner of her mouth and teased it with feathery strokes of his tongue.
"God, Rose, it’s been so long since I’ve tasted you," Jack harshly murmured.
The sheer thrust of his tongue parted her lips again and sank into the honeyed welcome of her mouth, probing deeper and deeper, stroking, exploring, savoring. Filaments of overwhelming ecstasy spiraled up from the heart of her womanhood to curl beguilingly in her belly and around her tingling breasts, drawing them tighter—fuller. Wonderful sensations fluttered inside her until she thought she might faint.
Her hands came up and wondered aimlessly over Jack’s shoulders until her fingers tunneled into his tawny hair on the back of his neck. Jack made a low animal sound deep in his throat. Moving his hands from her upper arms to her back and down to her sides, he spread his fingers wide over her ribs and lifted her effortlessly against his massive chest. The palms of his hands slid up and down her sides below her upraised arms. One quivering hand moved past her waist to splay over her hips and conform her into his hard heat.
Their breath staggered through their bruised lips as they drew slightly apart. He brushed her face with light, quick, random kisses.
"Tell me you missed me—that you want me," he hoarsely whispered.
Not allowing her to answer, he kissed her again. His hot mouth took hers with fervent urgency. He was bold, thorough, evocative, and when he finally lifted his throbbing head, Rose knew it had been more than a kiss. His mouth had made passionate love to hers. His magical kisses and the gifted touch of his hands had mated with her, stroking, probing until her senses were reeling into a fantasy of sheer ecstasy.
Nuzzling her neck, whisking his lips across every bare expanse of silky soft skin he could find, Rose grew weaker…
Her mouth was so generously giving, flowering open for his kiss and the rapid thrusting of his searching tongue. Jack was ready to explode. She had ignited a fuse that was smoking and burning out of control. It didn’t matter where they were right then…for all he knew and cared they could be in Times Square. Geography and time were irrelevant. As soon as he had touched her, his self-imposed restraint had completely vanished. He was so tense and ready for her, he seemed to have expanded, testing the ability of his clothes to contain his swollen body. He was beyond hearing, beyond reasoning. Jack was on fire—a raging blaze that would never burn out!
A bone-crushing grip sealed her wrists together and hauled them over her head against the wall. He released her from his savage, breath-stealing kiss and lowered his shaking hand to search out a swollen, tender, and extremely sensitive breast. Fleetingly, he noticed how tight the material was drawn where he craved to touch her—so much fuller than he remembered—so sensually woman. Perfect mounds of feminine sexuality to entice, to allure, to seduce and to nurture all his manly needs.
At Jack’s overly aroused rough touch, Rose instinctively flinched in agony emitting an abrupt soft groan of pain.
It was as if she had thrown ice cold water into his face. Misinterpreting her reason, Jack’s head jerked back and he blinked rapidly to bring her into focus. When he finally founded his tongue, he unexpectedly gritted out, "What, my touch repulses you now?"
Jack succeeded in yanking her from a sexual fog so dense, Rose doubted she’d ever see clearly again. For she was wrapped in a complete impassioned stupor; therefore, his tragic accusations did not permeate her hazy senses right away.
Upon her silence, Jack scathingly plundered ahead.
"Tell me, Rose, when you’re with him, does he love you like I did? Do you flinch at his touch?"
Thoroughly baffled and puzzled at Jack’s harsh confusing words, Rose stammered, "Jack, what are you saying?"
Grabbing her arms and shaking her slightly, he sneeringly ground out, "Does he kiss you like I just did?"
An insane jealous rage spread through Jack like an unleashed wild beast—baring teeth to rip its prey to shreds before devouring its bloody carcass. Tightening his grip, he yanked her up against his heaving chest forcing her lips a hair’s breadth from his. She could feel the warm air expelling from his mouth at each harsh allegation—cutting like a thousand knives.
"When you give yourself to Hockley, does he give you the pleasure that I did?"
Rose’s face paled in disillusionment and revulsion at Jack’s angry hurtful words. Surely, he didn’t think that she…my God!
"Of course not! Don’t be absurd, Jack! And he never will! Do you have any idea what you’re saying and accusing me of?"
Jack was beyond reason and civility, jumping again to all the wrong conclusions; therefore, he completely ignored all of Rose’s heated defenses. Tragically, he blindly charged ahead twisting her denial and throwing the seemingly empty words right back at her.
"No…and he never will! Because he can’t Rose DiStefano-Hockley because he’s an old man and you remember that when you’re in his bed!"
Rose felt as if the forces of hell had opened its gates and was swallowing her under. Loudly gasping in hurt, shock, and dismay at his malicious and cruel charges, she covered her swollen mouth in revulsion and disillusionment.
Pushing on, Jack leered evilly and darkly before fatally striking with a final blow.
"Tell me this, Rose Hockley. As hot and lustful as we both know you are…and as hard as you are to satisfy…can he perform his husbandly duties more than once in one night?"
"You vulgar, ignorant, unimaginable bastard!"
Rose’s palm snaked out striking Jack’s cheek hard leaving behind an imprint that stung with its intensity. The thunderous cracking sound echoed throughout the men’s room, prompting Jack to respond the only way he knew how.
"You lil’ slut!" Jack savagely and brutally raped her bruised mouth with his. Hurting and humiliating, returning what he erroneously believed had been done to him. He punished her for every believed wrong he ignorantly felt she had committed against him. Not one ounce of tenderness or passion did he possesses only hate-filled revenge. Moaning and pushing against his vicious ravagement, Jack finally relented and thrust her away from him as if she burned his touch.
"Now go back to your old man!" he hatefully sneered.
Holding her throbbing mouth with her trembling fingertips, in a quavering voice she cried, "You know who he is and you still say these awful things to me?"
With derision and disgust, he forcefully shouted, "I know you were pining for him in Rome—using me and playing sick little virginal games with me! Hell, everybody knows who Don Hockley is. I’m not a God damn idiot!"
Inside the premiere, Don Hockley was stewing. The blood vessels in his overwrought brain were about to catapult into an all out eruption. He realized now why his extremely nervous daughter had promptly excused herself to the ladies’ room. He couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed on screen…out and out pornography! Although he was realistically aware that sizzling love scenes were played out every day in the movies, this one was not your typical romp in the sack. This thing shot sparks! And his under-age daughter seemed a willing, instigating participant! Now, he knew exactly what had made that poor buck, Dawson, crack—almost!
Trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, he waited a long moment to allow his boiling temper to cool a bit before he took out after his fleeing child. Rose had a lot of explaining to do—not that it would do any good at this point in time but just the same…she better damn well attempt to make one. Taking a deep steadying breath, he stood up and glanced across the aisle at an equally shocked and embarrassed Emma. Green eyes glittering with anger, he curtly nodded his head and took off down the aisle toward the lobby in search of Rose.
On reaching the outer lobby, Don immediately heard a loud commotion coming out of the men’s room. Abruptly, the distinct resounding slap of a hand connecting with skin prompted his gallant side to go inside. What greeted his curious senses was Dawson yelling at his pregnant daughter and literally branding her a slut. Then, the filth began brutally kissing her, man-handling her like a whore before ruthlessly pushing her away. Don Hockley lost all self-control.
Sprinting across the short distance, Don furiously slammed a hard fist into Jack’s groin causing him to instantly grunt and double over in agony.
The force of the punch knocked the wind out of Jack and he bent forward clutching his stomach. Despite the extreme pain, he couldn’t grasp the words that had miraculously come out of Rose’s mouth and savagely cursed, "What the hell?"
Hearing Rose’s imploring cry, Don whirled around and pointed at her midriff bellowing, "I warned him once, Rose. I didn’t kill him in LA because of them, but I’m ending it once and for all!"
Abruptly, Don snatched a stunned and slack-jawed Jack up by his jacket and raised a clenched fist to continue pounding his archenemy to a bloody pulp.
"No, Daddy, stop it!" Rose screamed.
Tragically, Rose rushed forward attempting to defend Jack from the certain beating that her furiously out of control father was hell bent on forking out. Trying to desperately break the two apart, she was accidentally shoved backwards. Losing her balance, Rose fell with a sickening thud, banging her head against a nearby granite stall. Instantly, a scarlet pool of blood seeped onto the white tile floor.
Emma Dawson had followed Don and belatedly entered the violently charged scene and could only watch in stark horror and dread as Rose was roughly knocked back to fall hard in a heap upon the floor. Quickly falling to her knees beside an unconscious bleeding Rose, she peered up at the two pale, wide-eyed men virtually frozen in fear that were standing with jaws agape in shocked disbelief. Innately, Emma took over.
"Quick, one of you call an ambulance!"
Glancing up, she soon realized that both men were literally paralyzed—unable to move, unable to breath and unable to think! Sensing their sorry plights yet desperately seeking to snap them out of their state of shock, she darkly threatened, "If you two have seriously harmed this girl or my grandchildren, I swear, I’ll kill you both! Now get a God damn doctor—NOW!"