Israel + Seraphina (Free Read)
Israel Storm and Seraphina Cook have their own special kind of love story to work through. It’s time this mother and her son got their chance.
The insistence of a ringing doorbell dragged Reggie kicking and screaming from sleep. He moaned his displeasure, pushing Israel’s arm away from where it rested on Reggie’s belly.
Is rolled away with a grunt, and Reggie tossed an envious glance his lover’s way before he gathered the strength to sit up.
The doorbell went off again.
“Fuck. Me.” It was too fucking early for visitors. He caught sight of the clock atop the dresser and hung his head. Okay, so it was after twelve on a Sunday afternoon.
Still early, damn it.
When he and Israel had stumbled home from the backyard party the night before, the sun had already been high in the sky. That was what? Four hours ago? They’d been drunk and high off the weed, crashing as soon as they got home. Now someone was at the fucking door, abusing the hell out of the doorbell.
“Shit.” He glared at a sleeping Israel. That bastard got have his beauty rest while Reggie had to put on pants and stumble downstairs. He planned to shoot whoever was stupid enough to wake him. At the bottom of the stairs, he blinked the sleep and brightness from his eyes before stomping over to the front door and yanking it open. “What the fu—”
“Well. Hello, there.”
Ugh. “Seraphina.” Naturally, it had to be her crazy ass standing there, eyeing him like something she was dying to figure out.
“Reggie, right?” She smiled when he grimaced, pushing past him and stepping into the house while he tried to figure out how much Israel would hate him if Reggie killed his mother.
Might be worth it.
“Late night?” She didn’t look back at him as she walked into the house and took a seat on the couch. Legs crossed, hands folded in her lap, the most serene expression on her face.
Man, looks were so fucking deceiving.
“Early morning.” He strode past where she sat in the living room, and entered the kitchen. He needed coffee. Shit. They had none. His gaze landed on a baggie of weed either he or Israel had left on the kitchen counter.
Maybe a smoke. God knew he’d need it if Seraphina planned to stay for more than fifteen minutes.
But the backwood was upstairs.
He groaned as he grasped onto the counter and bowed his head.
He stiffened, but didn’t turn around to face his lover’s mother. It was his love for Israel that kept Reggie for lashing out at Seraphina for referring to Israel as Colin. “Why are you here, Seraphina? What do you want?”
“I’ve come to see my son.” She said it as if those words made everything okay. As if she didn’t know being close to her tore Israel in a million different directions and fucked with his head.
Not to mention his heart.
Reggie turned around then. She stood in the kitchen doorway, dressed in a cream-colored blouse with pearls at her throat, close-fitting mint-green pants that stopped at her calves, and tan heels. Eyes wide and curious as she stared at Reggie.
He didn’t trust her.
She had a way of scorching everything and everyone in her path. And she had her sights set on his lover.
“Where is he?” she asked again.
“He asked you for space, didn’t he?” Reggie crossed his arms. “But you can’t help yourself. You want in his life so badly, you’re going to break the fuck in, aren’t you?”
Seraphina cocked her head, a smile curving full lips painted something dark and glossy. “You don’t like me, do you, Reggie?” He didn’t answer, and she asked, “You think I’m going to hurt my own son?”
“I think you’re just like Is,” Reggie told her. “Dangerous and deadly, dipped in blood.” He pushed away from the counter. “I’m in love with your son, so on him, those traits are sexy as fuck. But you…on you they’re an annoyance I don’t care to deal with.”
Something flashed in her eyes. Anger. There one second. Gone the next. And when she smiled, Reggie wished he didn’t feel a sudden chill.
“I’ve been called many thing, Reggie.” She pursed her lips. “Never been an annoyance before.”
He could just bet. “Normally, I don’t waste time on annoyances,” he confided in her. “But I’ll make an exception for you, if you break his heart.”
“There’s no need for you to worry. I would never—”
“His heart is mine to protect. Mine to keep safe.” He picked up the bag of weed from the counter and brought it to his nose, inhaling deeply. Fuuck. “I’m gonna speak nice and slow so you’ll get it: break his heart and I will break you.” Holding her gaze, he reassured her, “Nothing about my threats are idle.”
“I like you,” she said, and he watched grudging respect brighten her eyes. “You love him. I understand, but know this, Reggie…” She straightened in the doorway. “I just want him. I just want my son. I want to know him and I want him to know me.” Her hard shell dissolved then, exposing the vulnerable woman underneath.
He saw the need she’d been keeping under wraps, the need for her son. No way would he begrudge her that, but he meant his words. Woman or not. Mother or not.
She’d pay if she hurt Israel.
“I love him,” she told him in a weak whisper, burdened down with pain. “He’s the only good thing in my life, and I need him.”
“He’s not your fucking absolution,” Reggie snapped as he walked past her. “Wait here.” Halfway up the stairs, he said. “And don’t call him Colin, for fuck’s sake.”
At the door to their bedroom, he paused to take a deep breath before entering. Israel was naked, lying on his stomach with one of the pillows hugged up underneath him. One leg stretched out, the other bent with his knee hanging off the mattress. The checkered blue and gray comforter was bunched up at the foot of the bed.
His body was sick, cut and well-muscled, smooth lickable brown, taut ass right there to grab on to.
Reggie’s groin stirred, but now was so not the time. Shit.
He slammed the door behind him. “Is.”
Israel jerked upright, the pillow flying off the bed. “Huh?” He blinked at Reggie then groaned, falling backward onto the bed. “Fuck. What, Reg?” He covered his eyes with an arm.
“Your mother is downstairs.”
Israel stiffened and he dropped his arm slowly. “What?”
“Seraphina is downstairs.”
“The fuck?” Israel sat up again, slower this time. “You just let her in?”
Reggie sighed as he went over and climbed onto the bed. “She wants to see you, Is.” He slid a hand over Israel’s shoulder blade and gripped his nape gently. “I can play guard dog and chase her away. You know I can, but I think that’s not what you want.”
Israel just watched him. Spooked. That shit was not a good look on him.
“You want her in your life, babe.” He got up on his knees, facing Israel as he leaned forward. “And I’m here to make sure you get anything you want.” Reggie kissed his lover softly, tenderly. “I threatened to kill her if she hurts you.”
Israel huffed out a laugh.
“So she’s on notice.” Reggie sat back on his haunches and grasped Israel’s face in his hands. Holding him like that, staring into his eyes, Reggie told him, “I’m here to keep you safe. To watch your back. I don’t care who it is.” When Israel’s gaze skated away, Reggie tightened his hold on him. “I don’t care who it is,” he repeated. “I got your back.”
Israel closed his eyes and put his forehead against Reggie’s. Reggie embraced him. Hugged him close, held him tightly in the privacy of their bedroom. He didn’t need the words to know Israel was scared to let Seraphina into his heart, into his life. They didn’t need to speak for Reggie to know his lover felt torn between Seraphina and the brother he’d only recently acquired, but already loved.
The same brother Seraphina tortured and broke.
Reggie didn’t have to ask to understand that Israel felt as if he was betraying Donovan by wanting what every boy should have.
He caressed Israel’s nape then slid his hands down his naked back. “I love you,” he said into the hazy silence.
Israel’s head turned and warm lips pressed to Reggie’s neck. Those lips lingered.
Then Israel pulled away. “Okay.” He jerked his head with a sigh. “Okay.”
Reggie released him and Israel climbed off the bed, stepping into the jeans he wore the day before. When he went for the t-shirt, Reggie stopped him.
“You spilled Carib on that one last night.”
Israel sniffed the piece of clothing then tossed it aside. As he rummaged in his drawers for a clean t-shirt, Reggie stripped and made his way to the bathroom.
“You coming too, right?”
“You need to be alone with her, Is,” he said over his shoulder. “And I need a shower.”
“Fuck.” Israel stormed into the bathroom and went about brushing his teeth and splashing water on his face. When he was finished, before he exited the bathroom, Reggie gripped him.
“Is.” Reggie hugged him again then brushed a thumb over Israel’s chin. “Go.” He kissed him, hard and fast, before stepping back. “I’ll be here, waiting.”
She looked as though she belonged there. Hunched over the counter, humming something he didn’t recognize while chopping carrots.
Either Israel was more fucked up and hungover than he’d first thought, or Seraphina Cook, the woman who’d given birth to—then subsequently abandoned—him, was cooking in his kitchen.
He scrubbed a hand over his face, and seriously debated going back upstairs. This woman—his mother—was turning him into a fucking coward.
She moved toward the fridge then stopped when she spotted him. “Col—Um, Israel.” Her eyes, they brightened by degrees as she watched him.
Not a physical hunger, but an emotional one. Still made him uncomfortable, still made his chest tighten as the need in her called up the need in him. He wasn’t prepared for this. For her.
He didn’t know how much more his heart could expand to make room for her. He’d had to make room for Reggie, and he’d thought that hard enough. Impossible enough. Then he’d discovered he had a brother, and somehow there’d been space in there for Donovan and the family he brought with him.
Now Seraphina wanted her own piece of his heart.
“What—” He cleared his throat. “What are you doing?” He sounded hoarse, from the hard partying the night before? Or maybe the cause was this, the sight of his mother doing something as mundane as cooking?
“Making something for you boys to eat,” she said easily. “Reggie looked hungover. I figured you two might want—”
“You don’t have to do that.” He shook his head. “You don’t.”
She nodded. “I know.” Picking up a piece of carrot, she popped it into her mouth and chewed. “But I want to.”
He didn’t know how to deal with her. Couldn’t settle on one emotion to feel in her presence. The needy boy he used to be cried out for his mother, but the roughened and jaded man he was now couldn’t afford her.
“Why are you here?” he asked.
“To ask you for a chance.” She came over to him, standing there in front of him. He saw her strength and her confidence, but he also saw the flipside. The weakness and vulnerability reflected in the depths of eyes as dark as his.
He was her weakness and her vulnerability.
“I know I should give you time,” she said. “And I know you don’t owe me anything. I’m the one.” She fingered the pearls at her throat. “I’m the one with the debt, and I want to start repaying it. Please.” She reached out a hand slowly.
Soft fingertips. They touched his face, his cheek.
He was a grown man. Long past the years when he needed his mother’s touch to soothe him, to heal the cracks in the very depths of his soul. Long past the years when a maternal caress would be able to unravel him.
Yet she unraveled him.
“I want to be your mother.” If words could bleed, he imagined hers would paint him scarlet. “Let me.” Her touch trembled.
Making him tremble.
“Please. Israel, let me be your mother. Let me be the woman I should have been.”
His chest hurt and he had to fist his hands to stop from reaching for her. She could hurt him. This woman, she could destroy him in ways only a mother could. He wanted to not feel this thing.
He wasn’t ready to feel this thing.
“I stopped needing a mother a long time ago,” he rasped.
Disappointment dimmed her eyes and she dropped her, but he grabbed it.
Clung to it.
Fuck. “I don’t need you, Seraphina. But I want you in my life.”
Her lips parted as she tried to speak, but he rushed ahead. Otherwise he might lose his nerve. Or maybe come to his senses.
“I’m choosing to give you a chance,” he said around the boulder in his throat. “I’m choosing to trust you. I’m choosing you.”
Her eyes got wider, her expression slack. And Israel ended up with an armful of her.
Sobbing into his chest.
He tightened his hold on her and closed his eyes, trapping his own tears before they fell.
**Ongoing free read. Chapters will be posted once a week, at the very latest. Don’t know how long this read will be, but this is all about tying up the loose ends between Is and his mother. We all need them to get their closure**