Authors: W. Lynn Chantale
“Could you tell me about this oil?” A soft voice said. Na’arah looked at the customer. “Is this something I can use on sensitive skin?”
“I’ll talk to you later, Arah.” Miles propelled Street away from the booth.
Na’arah nodded. She inhaled quickly to regain her composure and answer the woman’s question. Even as she assisted the woman in choosing another product, her mind wandered to Street and his sudden change in attitude.
“You’ve been busy.” Zee plopped on the bench next to her sister and proffered a corn dog and chili cheese fries. “The fair has some of the best food around even though it costs an arm and two legs to eat.” She tossed a handful of popcorn in her mouth. “But it tastes so good. Must be the open air.”
Na’arah picked at a cheese covered fry. Her shift had been busy, which was welcomed, but any time she had to pause for a massage, it gave her time to think. What went wrong?
“You’re not even eating.” Zee nudged her. “What’s wrong? Did that jerk come back?”
“I think Rue is mad at me.”
Zee stared at her blankly.
“The bartender from last night.”
“Did you not pay the tab?” She chuckled. “Although I’m sure he’d take it in trade. Damn. That man is fine.”
Jealousy lashed at her. “We had sex in his office.”
“Shut up! For real?” Zee’s eyebrows disappeared into her bangs. “When did this happen?
“So how was it?”
Na’arah shoved a few fries in her mouth to stall for an answer, but the response must’ve shown on her face.
“If you had such a good time, what’s the problem? You don’t want a repeat?”
“Of course, but I have no idea why he’s giving me the cold shoulder.”
“Men are pricks. They never know what they want until it ups and walks out the door,” Zee scoffed. “I’d say wait in his office, tease him and leave him like the rabid dog he is, but that’s just me.”
Na’arah unwrapped the waxed paper from the corn dog and dunked the golden brown treat in a cup of mustard. “That’s mean.”
“So.” She shrugged.
They munched in silence, watching families and couples move throughout the park. She would have loved to spent time with Street in this tiny fair. A man with broad shoulders limped into view. She sat a little straighter.
“You got it bad.”
She snapped her gaze to her sister. “Huh?”
“You do realize the concept behind a one night stand?”
“Don’t have any more.” Zee stood and gathered their trash.
Na’arah swiveled on the bench.
“You’re mooning over a guy who obviously only wanted one thing and nothing else.” She dropped the garbage in the can. “Face it sis, you’re just a notch in the bartender’s desk.”
She opened her mouth to protest and then closed it. Humiliation at having been so wanton and naive didn’t settle well with her. She’d let her libido overrule any common sense she’d have used. She could argue that Street seemed genuinely interested in pursuing something afterwards, but what was the point?
She sought the crowd and found Street holding a bag of cotton candy. So why would he ask her out if he was going to give her the cold shoulder?
“You look much better,” Na’arah told Auggie the following day. She settled the vase of flowers she’d brought on the nightstand. “I was really worried about you.”
Auggie raised a hand and captured her wrist. “Were you hurt?” His eyes held concern and a bit of guilt.
“No. They ran off before I hit the sidewalk. Why would you think they would hurt me?” She perched on the edge of the bed. “Anyway, here.” She reached in her pocket and held out the bracelet. “This belongs to you.”
“Did you see who they were?” He studied the jewelry a moment, but did not take it.
“It was too dark and my contacts were blurring.” She shook the charms. “Here.”
He pushed her hand away. “Keep it, Na’arah. You deserve it.”
“Is this going to get me beat up now?” She teased. “I don’t want one of your many girlfriends coming after me.”
When he laughed he grasped his side. “Oh honey, don’t do that.” He settled back on the bed. “None of my many admirers will harm you. They know how to behave themselves.”
She cradled the bracelet in her palm. “Are you sure?”
He nodded. “Tell me about the fair?”
She darted her gaze out the window, then back to him. “I have to replace Kyle.”
“I should’ve done that for you. He’s really a good guy. Once you get to know him.”
If Na’arah hadn’t been watching Auggie’s face, she’d have missed the flicker of guilt in his eyes. What did he have to feel bad about? Kyle was a jerk plain and simple.
“Well, him trying to shove his penis down my throat is not how I want to get to know him.”
Auggie’s eyes darkened and he clenched his fists in his lap. “He did that? To you?”
“I’ll beat the brakes off him as soon as I get outta here. He had no right.”
“It isn’t your fault.” Auggie was a lot of things, but in his world, no meant no.
His features softened. He grasped her hand and held her gaze. “Listen to me, okay?” She nodded. “If anything happens to me, anything at all, you go to my nephew and get his help.”
“What could possibly happen to you?” She dragged her hand from his. “Don’t talk like that. Besides Rue wants nothing to do with me.”
Auggie quirked a brow. “Are you sure about that?”
“Well, remember what I said. Street will be there to help you.”
“I signed all the papers your lawyer brought to me.” She stood. “I’ll let you get some rest, the nurses said I shouldn’t overtire you.”
He smiled. “Thanks for the flowers.”
She picked up her purse and left with a wave. As she headed to the elevator, she mulled over Auggie’s words. Street would be the last person she went to for help. No matter what the situation.
Street stabbed the ‘up’ button for the elevator and stood back to wait. Seeing Na’arah at the fair sent a jolt of lust through his veins, he hadn’t been able to shake. When he laid eyes on her, he’d wanted to crush her to him and ravish her again, but she’d been on her knees with someone else. The woman sure got around and he still wanted her.
The elevator dinged. A whoosh preceded the doors opening. He held his breath as the woman of his thoughts stepped off the car. Her head was down as she studied the screen on her phone. Some perverse need to grab her attention went through him and he blocked her path.
She ran into him and would’ve hit the floor if he hadn’t wrapped his arms around her waist.
“Oh! I should’ve been watching where I was going.”
He relished the feel of her soft curves rubbing against his lean hard frame, heat pooled low and hot, wanton lust throbbed with every beat of his heart.
“It was my fault.”
She gazed into his face, her delectable lips forming an ‘o.’ “Rue.”
“Nice to see you remembered my name.”
She shoved against him. He tightened his arms.
“What are you doing here?” He grabbed her elbow and led her to a deserted waiting room.
“Visiting Auggie.” She jerked away from him. “Why should it matter to you? You made it clear you don’t want anything more to do with me.”
He studied her a moment: dark circles smudged her eyes and when she tilted her head, her hair slid over her shoulders. She hugged the light zip-up hoodie she wore more firmly around her voluptuous figure, which only enhanced the swell of her breasts. He dropped his gaze, hoping to avoid the temptation of her curvy bosom, only to fasten on the hint of bare midriff. A diamond studded hoop adorned her navel, while the corner of a small tattoo peeked above the waistband of her low rise yoga pants.
A touch of ink teased and flared like a beacon. He had to know what it was, he’d bet money it was a butterfly or some other cutesy piece or art. Damn, if he’d had time yesterday, he’d have discovered her secret.
“Why can’t I stop thinking about you?” he demanded.
She shook her head. “I don’t know what game you’re playing, but I don’t want any part of it.”
“I could say the same thing about you. You told me you didn’t have a boyfriend.”
“And I don’t.”
He resisted the urge to flinch beneath her scathing glare. “What about that blond guy at the fair? He seemed pretty happy with your services.” Watching the play of emotions cross her pretty features fascinated him.
Confusion knitted her brows, before it cleared and was replaced by stormy anger. “You thought I was a willing participant to what that fool was doing?”
To his horror, her eyes glistened like diamonds. Once again his mouth and emotions ran rampant when a cooler head should’ve prevailed.
“If my sister hadn’t been there, he most certainly would’ve tried to take advantage of my position.” She stared at him a moment, disappointment mingled with contempt. “Why would you think otherwise?”
Street held out his hand, palm side up. “Honey, I’m sorry. I didn’t...”
She spun on her heel. He grabbed her arm and dragged into his embrace. Na’arah wiggled against him, igniting a firestorm of need only she could quench.
“Let me go.”
“I wish I could.”
Fire sparked and flared in her eyes, but beneath the anger was good old fashioned lust. Her beautiful breasts heaved up and down. He hauled her a little closer, so she rose on tiptoe to keep her balance. She grasped his biceps to stay upright. Last night when she stood in front of him, he could kiss her on the forehead with no problem. Today, without the heels, the top of her head barely reached his shoulder. And that was just fine with him.
“If all you wanted was a one night stand all you had to do was say so. I’m grown. You don’t have to play with my emotions by pretending to want to date me then ignore me until it’s convenient for you. If you don’t want to see me, just say so.”
“I don’t want a one night stand.” He lowered his head and slanted his mouth across hers. Her lips were pure temptation. He ran his tongue along the seam, nibbling at her full bottom lip. When she moaned, he deepened the kiss. Such sweetness and it was his for the taking.
He relished the heat of her hands as they slid from his arms to lock behind his neck. The move allowed him to draw her closer, molding her soft breasts to his lean, muscular frame. Now all he could think about was the way her body would feel, bare beneath his, and despised the clothing that prevented them from being skin to skin.
With supreme effort he broke the kiss, but did not let her go.
She slid her hands from his shoulders to his chest and looked up at him with desire filled eyes. “If you didn’t want a one night stand, then why were you so cold yesterday?”
“I thought— I was jealous,” he muttered.
“Jealous?” Surprised filled her voice. “Why?”
He released her and stepped away. “Can we talk about this over dinner?”
She studied him so long he feared she’d say no. “Fine, but you better have a really good explanation.”
Street exhaled the breath he’d been holding. “I’ll meet you at the bar at 7:30 this evening.”
Na’arah nodded and sauntered away.
He watched the sassy sway of her hips. Damn, baby girl had a body on her.
Na’arah stepped onto the sidewalk in front of Street’s Bar & Grille at 7:20 pm. She was surprised to find Street leaning against one brick wall, a bouquet of flowers clutched in his hands. He straightened when he saw her.
She wasn’t sure what she expected, but this wasn’t it. Muscles rippled beneath the black tailored dress shirt when he shifted. His tie, a deep crimson, added the right amount of color to his evening attire. Even his black slacks held a bit of red in the pinstripe.
“You look amazing.” She drifted her gaze over him again, this time lingering on the growing swell near his crotch. Well, that was impressive, too.
Street closed the distance between them. The subtle scent of spiced wood beckoned and enticed. She inhaled the subtle fragrance so alluring and potent, and for a moment she forgot they were on a street and smoothed a hand down his tie. Attraction crackled beneath her palm, while she held his gaze.
“I’m going to kiss you.”
“And if I don’t want you to?” She hoped he couldn’t feel her pulse pounding. If he kissed her now she’d melt on the spot. Every time she was around him, common sense went out the window and all she wanted was to feel his body next to hers.
He cupped her cheek, caressing the fullness of her bottom lip with the pad of his thumb. “Then say no.”
Lust coiled and tightened in her belly with every stroke of his thumb. A smirk creased his lips and she knew she couldn’t deny him a kiss. He lowered his head, blotting out the evening sun and slanted his mouth over hers.
Pure, unadulterated bliss. She sank into his embrace with fervor, hoping to sate her desire for him with her lips alone. Never had a kiss been all-consuming, scorching a path of need through her veins only to leave an ache between her legs and her panties damp.