EPISODE 7

We don't meet people
by accident. They are
meant to cross our paths

for a reason.

~ Author Unknown

 

PART 1



Early Saturday morning, Tara unlocked the doors of Haven House, where she was the Director of the facility. Haven House was a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the emotional and behavioral health of the communities. Special emphasis was placed on the needs of orphans and kids whose families were homeless and lived in shelters. Community involvement was one of the key factors that helped to make the center the success it was, and as the Director, Tara was very proud to be a part of that.

Walking into the building, she smothered a yawn that threatened to break through as she locked the door behind her and trudged to her office She’d decided to come in early to try and make a dent in the mountain of paperwork that had been accumulating for weeks, but she wasn't gonna front. She was tired as hell.

Without delay, she sat down at her desk and dove in. She knew if she procrastinated and waited, it would never get done. Progress was steady, and Tara began to see the stack decreasing, at least a little bit. About an hour later, her secretary, Ava, came in and called out a greeting before going to their small break room to start a pot of coffee brewing. After it was finished, she set a large mug of coffee in front of Tara, who glanced up and smiled her thanks while she kept working.

After almost two hours, Tara decided to take a break. She glanced at her calendar and remembered she had a 10:00 appointment to meet with someone interested in offering his services. Any and all help was eagerly accepted; they could use as much as they could get. No one was turned away.

After taking a few minutes to stretch and get the kinks out, Tara turned back to her desk to resume her work until Ava tapped softly on Tara’s door.

Without looking up, Tara answered. “Yes, Ava?”

“Tara, you’re 10:00 appointment is here.”

“Ok. Give me about ten minutes, then show him in.”

Tara had just signed her name at the bottom of the form she was finishing up when she noticed that Ava was still standing in the doorway with a look of barely contained excitement on her face. A slight frown marred Tara’s brow. She lifted the corner of her mouth and smiled at her secretary. She could tell from Ava’s demeanor that she was just dying to tell her something.

“Okay. What is it?” she asked.

With a look of relief on her face, Ava took a few hurried steps inside the office and stood in front of Tara’s desk. “Girrrlll, he…is… gorgeous!” she whispered loudly.

Tara arched an eyebrow, amused at Ava's excitement. She sat back and twisted from side to side in her chair. “I assume you’re talking about my 10:00? Alright, now. You’d better watch yourself. I don’t think Jerome would appreciate his wife lusting after some strange man.”

“Girl, please. I’m married, not dead.” Ava waved her hand at Tara as if to say, stop playin’.

Tara grinned in amusement. Ava was a sassy, middle-aged diva who never hesitated to speak her mind. She and her husband, Jerome, had been married over twenty-five years. She loved Jerome’s dirty drawers and he felt the same way about her.

“Yeah, but if you caught Jerome looking at some pretty, young thang, you’d be ready to kick his and her ass, though.”

“You damn right! Not that I’m worried about him and any other woman, especially some li’l fast ass PYT. All these young women want to do nowadays is take them self-hees, or self-shees or…”

“Selfies?” Tara provided, trying to hold back a smile.

“Whatever you call ‘em. They don’t know nothin’ about pleasin’ a man like Jerome. Not the way I puts it on that man every night.”

“Ava!” Tara covered her mouth to keep the giggle inside. Lord, she loved this woman.

“Anyway….” Ava shook her head. “As I was saying. This man is absolutely deeeevine! Sorta favors that actor who used to be on the soap operas but now stars on my favorite crime show. T, he…is…fine!” Ava practically swooned on her feet. “With that body of his he looks like he could–”

“Wait,” Tara broke in. She looked thoughtfully towards the door thoughtfully, “He looks like which actor?”

But Ava couldn’t finish gushing about his physical attributes long enough to answer Tara. “And those dark eyes of his. Like two cups of chocolate cocoa. Hot chocolate cocoa. I felt like creamin’ in my–”

“Ava!” Now it was Tara’s turn to whisper loudly. She looked towards the closed door, hoping she hadn’t been overheard. “Okay. I get the picture. He’s a sexy, good looking man. Now can you please show him to my office in about ten minutes?”

“Fine.” Obviously miffed because Tara didn’t share her enthusiasm for the visitor, Ava turned to leave. However, just before she closed the door behind her, she peeked her head back in and added in a mischievous voice, “But wait until you see him.” When Tara scowled, she quickly closed the door.

Tara laughed to herself then gathered the papers on her desk together and put them in a neat stack. She got up and went to the filing cabinet and began filing the folders back in the right slots. Everything was scanned and entered into the computer, but she still liked to keep a hard copy just in case. When Ava knocked on the door, Tara glanced around and called out for her to come in. She bent down to put the file in the last drawer.

“Be right with you,” she called out.

“Hmph. Please. Take your time,” a deep voice responded.

The familiar voice that answered definitely wasn’t Ava. Tara froze. It can’t be…

Forgetting she had still the top drawer pulled out, she straightened quickly and whacked the back of her head.

“Dammit!” she said softly as she stood up and rubbed the throbbing pain in her skull. With her back still towards her visitor, she closed her eyes and said a silent prayer that the man standing behind her wasn’t who she thought it was. Tara slowly turned around...then wished she hadn't. 

Crap!

The expression on Brandon Valentine’s face told Tara that he was just as shocked to see her as she was to see him.

“You?" He pointed to her with his mouth open before his eyes glazed over to reflect his unmistakable dislike. “What are you doin’ here?”

Tara’s eyes held the same look. “No, the question is, what in the hell are you doing here?”

“I’m here to meet with the Director of the organization. Who are you? Her secretary?”

Tara’s eyes narrowed. She forced herself to remain calm. “No. I’m the Director. Didn’t Brenda tell you my name when she made this appointment?” Brenda was the Assistant Director of Haven House.

“No. She just told me her supervisor would be in on Saturday, and that it would be okay to stop in around 10:00. Believe me, if I had known it was you…”

“Well, now you know.” Tara’s neck twisted around on her shoulders. “I’m not sure what kind of game you call yourself playing this time, acting like you’re interested volunteering here, but you can just turn around and leave.”

“Oh, believe me, I’m gettin’ ready to just that!” Brandon snapped.

“Fine!” Tara returned.

“Fine!” Brandon parroted.

“Don’t let the door hit ya’ on the way out!” Tara was determined to have the last word.

Letting out a grunt of disgust, Brandon stalked to the door, but just as he reached to open it, Brenda walked in, almost stumbling into him. The smile that lit up on her face brightened up the room.

“Brandon! Hey, you made it! I was hoping to be here when you came.” She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and threw her arms around his neck before turning to Tara. “T., I know I told you someone interested in volunteering a couple of days a week was coming by, but I was intending on touching bases with you before now. It’s been so crazy around here that I haven’t had time. I did want you to at least get a chance to meet with him, though.”

When Brenda turned back to Brandon, he glanced at Tara over Brenda’s head. Tara folded her arms and stared back at him with an air of disdain, as if he wasn’t worthy to be in the same space as her. His eyes went back to Brenda to try and make an effort to listen to what she was saying.

Tara rolled her eyes and turned back to the filing cabinet. Shaking her head, she muttered out loud. “Now I see why he wanted to ‘offer his services.’”

Ughhh!





PART 2

Brandon frowned. He had heard what she’d just said. When Tara first turned around, he’d been speechless. Phoenix was a big city. He really hadn’t expected to run into anyone once he got back…especially not her. And the moment she’d opened her smartass mouth, he’d been done. There were other centers he could volunteer at that would appreciate the help.

However, the second she mumbled under her breath insinuating that he had ulterior motives for offering his time, he changed his mind. His reasons for wanting to spend time at the center to help the kids there were personal. Being around to irritate Tara would be an added bonus. He brought his attention back to Brenda when he heard her mention his name.

“Tara, now that you’ve had a chance to get acquainted with Brandon a little bit, don’t you think his personality would be a welcome addition to the program?” Brenda looked at Tara with an air of expectation.

Brandon saw Tara hold in a sigh before her lips tightened in a movement that he guessed was supposed to be a smile. “Brenda, actually we were talking before you came in and Brandon has decided–”

“That I would love to participate in the program and help any way I can.” Brandon cut her off before she could finish her sentence. “Right Tara?”

Tara’s look of surprise quickly turned to anger. He saw the knowledge in her eyes that she’d figured out he was trying to tick her off. 

When she finally answered, her voice was full of fake saccharine for Brenda’s sake. “But…I thought we had agreed this wouldn’t work.”

Brandon’s tone imitated hers. “I’ve changed my mind.”


PART 3

Tara’s palm itched with the desire to slap that stupid smirk off his face. At work, she at least wanted to keep some semblance of professionalism, but he was pushing her to the limit.

She continued through tightly clenched teeth. “Um…Brandon, that’s not what you said a few minutes ago. Maybe you need to take some time to think about it. ”

Brandon squinted and looked up as if pretending to think about her suggestion. “Uhhh…nah. I’m sure.”

Confused and not sure what she was missing, Brenda looked from one of them to the other. “Is…is there a problem, guys?”

Tara and Brandon were too busy engaging one another in a staring contest to pay any attention to her.

“Brandon?” Brenda called his name tentatively.

Brandon reluctantly dragged his eyes from Tara’s and looked at her. “No. There’s no problem. Is there Tara?”

Tara unknowingly clenched her fists at the challenge she heard in his tone. He knew as well as she did that she couldn’t very well turn down help that was offered in good faith without going into detail as to why. Tara gave Brenda a stiff smile, then nodded once to let her know that everything was fine.

Slipping her arm through Brandon’s, Brenda’s face cleared up and she smiled at both of them. “Good. Bran, why don’t I show you around? I’m so excited that you finally decided to take me up on my offer.”

Observing them closely, Tara raised an eyebrow at the familiarity between the two of them. It was obvious they were…close.

Brenda grinned at Tara. “Ever since he came back to town, I’ve been after him  to at least come by and take a look around. I think he would be a perfect fit to help a lot of the children around here.”

That’s a matter of opinion, Tara thought to herself.

She looked at Brenda with curiosity. “So, Brenda, you and…Bran…seem like you’ve known each other for a while?”

Brenda giggled. Tara had to stop herself form rolling her eyes again. Brenda was one of those perpetually perky and cheerful people, and sometimes it got on Tara’s nerves. However, she was also the most efficient Assistant Director Tara could ask for, and their personalities complimented each other well.

Still smiling in amusement, Brenda answered, “Oh, I guess I didn’t tell you. Me and Brandon–”

“Have known each other all our lives,” Brandon quickly broke in and finished her sentence.

Brenda glanced at him with a puzzled look on her face that she quickly masked. “Right. Uh, why don’t we get started? Tara, I’ll talk to you later?”

Giving her a wave, Brenda led the way out with Brandon following her. However, just before he closed the door behind him, he turned around and smirked at Tara. She sneered and gave him both her middle fingers in return. Chuckling softly, Brandon slipped his shades on and closed the door.

Tara stood in her office steaming hot. What in the hell was he up to? None of them had heard from him in almost a year, and then he just shows up out of the blue to volunteer at a community center? He knew damn good and well he had no interest in hanging around Haven House in his spare time. She couldn’t wait to talk to Yvonne. She was not going to believe this shit.


PART 4

The rest of the day passed fairly quiet, but still, Tara remained on edge waiting for Brandon to come back at any moment and gloat. Several hours later, he still hadn’t popped up. Unable to stand it, she left her office and casually walked through the center under the pretense of checking on the activities.

It didn’t take long to spot Brandon across the room playing table tennis with one of the younger boys, Jonathon, who always tended to keep to himself. Tara slowed down and moved out of his line of vision as she watched him in surprise.

Jonathon was ten years old and had been in foster care since he was three. He had been mentally and emotionally abused for years before he was finally removed from an unfit home. He acted and carried himself well above his age because of what he’d experienced there.

Having been in and out of five foster homes so far, Jon never stayed in one for long because he was very hard to control. He constantly acted out in school, which meant the foster parents had to run back and forth to speak to the teachers or the principal. It all stemmed from the things he’d gone through in the past, but the foster parents had little desire or patience to take the time needed to work with him. Many decided the check they received wasn’t worth putting up with such a troublemaker.

Jonathon had been in this current orphanage for almost a year now, and he was even worse than he’d been before. He barely communicated with anyone and saw a counselor several times a week. He had been coming to the center for a little over six months and gave off vibes that told anyone around that he didn’t want any company.

Although Tara interacted with all of the kids, there was something that tugged at her heartstrings whenever she saw Jonathon. She made it a point to spend extra time with him when the orphanage brought him and the other kids by. She’d sometimes get a shy smile out of him and a couple of words, but that was it. Now seeing him laughing and high-fiving Brandon after a particularly good shot made her pause. He seemed like a totally different child.

Hmph. Who would’ve thought that pretty motherfucka actually cared about anyone else other than himself, Tara thought.

As if sensing her nearby, looked up and caught her staring. The smile he’d been directing towards Jonathon died from his face once he spotted her.

A memory that had never been spoken about passed between them. Without being aware of it, Tara licked her bottom lip, almost as if remembering a particularly satisfying taste. Brandon’s eyes dropped to her mouth. She could feel the heat of his gaze from where he stood…

“Tara. Tara…”

She dragged her eyes away from Brandon’s as Ava’s voice penetrated through the fog of awareness that suddenly surrounded her like an invisible shield.

“Yes?” She turned, answering breathlessly.

Ava’s face wore a knowing. “Mmmhmmm. I see you’ve noticed how fine he is too, haven’t you?”

Tara cleared her throat and made an effort to sound unaffected. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Now is there something you needed?”

Tara looked her directly in the eye until Ava shrugged and told her that the package she’d been waiting on had been delivered. They started back towards Tara’s office, but before they rounded the corner, Tara couldn’t help herself. She turned around and stole another look at Brandon. Her breath caught in her throat, almost choking her, when she saw him still standing in the same spot, his eyes glued to her butt.

Asshole! Tara hurriedly followed behind Ava, but damn if she didn’t curse her treacherous body’s reaction to him every step of the way.


PART 5

“But why don’t you want me to tell her, Brandon?”

The two of them were walking to Brenda’s car after the center closed. Brandon had known she wasn’t going to let it go when he’d stopped her from answering Tara’s question earlier about their relationship.

“I just don’t, Brenda. Besides, it’s none of her snooty assed business. You tell her that, and then she’ll know more about me than I care for her to know.”

Brenda’s eyes narrowed as she watched him closely. “Something’s going on and I want to know what it is.”

Brandon avoided her knowing look and slipped his sunshades on. “I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. You forget, I know you better than I know myself. Are you going to tell me how you two are acquainted? I can tell there’s something going on between you.”

Brandon snorted. “Girl, please. I wouldn’t touch her stuck up ass if she was the last person on earth. All she knows how to do is look down her nose like she’s better than everybody else as if her shit don’t stank.”

“You’re avoiding my question. I know what I sensed. Underneath all of that so called animosity, there’s a fire between you two that’s scorching, almost ready to explode. For some reason you’re both fighting it. Why?”

Brandon remained quiet as his thoughts turned to Tara’s cousin, Yvonne. He hadn’t seen her in over a year. Brenda knew about Yvonne, but she didn’t know Tara was Yvonne’s cousin. And he didn’t feel like going into it right now.

“Mmph Mmmm.” Brenda cleared her throat to get his attention once they reached her car. “I know you’re lost in thoughts of you know who, but do I need to open the door myself, or do you think you can do it sometime today?”

Brandon turned back to Brenda with a sheepish look on his face, which he tried to quickly cover up. She saw too damned much.

“You know what? You always were a smartass. You forget I’m the oldest.”

“So? Only by four minutes…but who’s counting?”

The twins grinned at each other as they had the same argument they’d had almost from the moment they were able to talk. Although Brandon was a few minutes older, Brenda had always been the bossy one, but God help anyone who messed with her brother, and vice versa. They were all they had from the moment they took their first breath. They would die for one another.

Leaning down, Brandon hugged his sister and kissed the top of her head. “We’ll talk later, sis. Okay? I promise. Just remember what I said. I’m sure Tara will find out we’re related soon enough.”

“Alright, big brother. And I’m going to hold you to that promise. We will definitely talk…soon.”

Brandon stood in the parking lot watching her drive off. After her car was out of sight her turned and looked back at the center with a thoughtful expression. Maybe he and Tara should at least try to get along. Giving whatever he could to these kids meant a lot to him. Quickly making a decision, he decided he would be the bigger person here and extend an olive branch.

Taking a deep breath, Brandon went back in the building and made his down the hall to Tara’s office. He saw that Ava’s computer had been shut off so she must have left for the day. He raised his hand to knock on Tara’s door, which was half-opened, but he heard her talking and assumed she was on the phone. Deciding to wait until she was finished, he sat down in a chair by Ava’s desk and took out his cell phone to pass the time.

At first he wasn’t really paying to what Tara was saying, but then he heard his name. Frowning, he cocked his head to the side and listened to her conversation more closely.

“Vonnie, yes! That Brandon! Can you believe that motherfucka actually calls himself volunteering here?”

There was a pause as she listened to something Yvonne was saying on the other end.

“Of course I know he’s up to something. He always has an ulterior motive for anything he does. I have a feeling I know exactly what it is in this case, and she’s 5’4“, about 130 lbs. and has long, dark curly hair.” Another pause then, “MmmHmmm. Exactly! He’s trying to get on Brenda’s good side to get some ass.”

Brandon leaned back in the chair and folded his arms. He slowly shook his head from side to side. He didn’t know whether to be pissed off or amused that she was gossiping about him to her cousin.

“Yeah. I most definitely will keep an eye on that motherfucka.”

Brandon lifted a smooth, dark eyebrow. Oh really…

“Hell nah, I don’t trust his ass. He ain’t nothin’ but a low down, triflin’, flea bitten dawg!”

Brandon had heard enough. Lil stuck up, bougie ass wench. He stood up and walked to the door. Slowly pushing it open, he quietly stepped inside the office, his rubber-soled sneakers giving him the cover of silence. Tara was standing with her back to the door as she continued her conversation with Yvonne. Brandon stopped in front of her desk and folded his arms.

Tara, none the wiser, kept talking shit. “Ain’t that the truth. I don’t know where he’s been all this time. If RaShaun even has a clue that he’s anywhere around, he’ll be over here quick to kick his ass…again!”

There was a pause before Tara fell out laughing at something Yvonne said. Hearing RaShaun’s name, and knowing that Tara was laughing at him made Brandon bristle with anger.

It was bad enough she felt the need to call Yvonne about him showin’ up at Haven House, but then to know they were laughing about RaShaun supposedly kicking his ass? Patterson just got lucky. Each time they had a confrontation, he took him by surprise and got the upper hand. Brandon was still fuming from that last episode when RaShaun had choked him until he almost passed out. They’d meet again, though, and the next time he’d be ready for him.

But as for Tara…

“Hmph Hmmm.” He cleared his throat loudly. “If you’re finished talkin’ shit…you and me need to clear the air about some thangs.”


PART 6

Tara stopped speaking mid-sentence. Her body stiffened, became as rigid as a board. She didn’t have to turn around to know who was standing behind her. That motherfucka! Dammit!

“Uh, Von, let me call you back,” she whispered urgently in the phone. She didn’t wait for a reply, just hit the button to disconnect the call and replaced the phone on its base.

Taking her time, she gathered some papers and stacked them neatly on her desk before she turned and raised her eyes to focus on a point over Brandon’s shoulder.

“Yes, can I help you?” she asked in a professional voice.

Brandon looked at her with eyes narrowed. “Wait, did you just ask if you could help me? Okay, yeah. You can help me. You can tell me why you in here talkin’ smack. Is that how you treat everybody that comes in to donate their time to this center?”

“Don’t act like you don’t know how I feel about you,” Tara bluffed. But inside, she cringed. She thought he had left already. When he continued to just stare at her, she raised an eyebrow and defiantly returned his stare with a  smirk of her own. “Was there anything else?”

***

Brandon hadn’t been this angry in a long time. After everything that happened with the Yvonne situation, he had tried to put childish situations like this behind him. It’d been a minute since anyone had seen him because he’d been working on bettering himself for his own piece of mind and reevaluating the choices he’d made in life.

Since Terri died, he’d done a lot of soul searching. Life was too short to go around doing dirt. As he’d found out, karma was a bitch. He knew it was no excuse, but he’d never had a responsible male figure in his life to show him how he was supposed to treat women, how to take responsibility for the mistakes he made in life and learn from them. That was one reason why he wanted to volunteer, to be able to make a difference in at least one kid’s life, no matter how small it might be.

But it seemed like Tara was getting it twisted. Just because he’d tried to lay low and bury that part of himself that was a straight up dog didn’t mean he couldn’t resurrect it if he needed to. She wanted to play fuckin’ games? Bet.

His lips curling up in a sexy smile Brandon walked around the desk until he was only a couple of inches away from her. He saw the frown that crossed her forehead. He knew she wanted to step back, but was too stubborn to give him the satisfaction.


***


Tara took a deep breath and forced herself to stare Brandon directly into his eyes…eyes that were dark…and sexy…and hypnotizing.

So this is what they mean by bedroom eyes, she mused to herself.

The next instant, she found herself blinking rapidly to break visual contact. What in the hell was wrong with her? She hated Brandon Valentine.

You can’t stand him. Remember?? She silently berated herself. Get him out of here. Now!

Tara’s nostrils flared as she caught of whiff of his Eternity cologne. Oh, but damn. Did he have to smell so good?

She closed her eyes. Shit! Focus, Tara. Focus.

Finally feeling as if she'd gotten control over her senses, she opened her eyes and cleared her throat. “Brandon, if there’s nothing else, I really have some work that I need to finish up.”

“Like what, calling Yvonne back so that you can finish trashing me?”

Tara snorted. “Oh, please. Don’t act like you’re so innocent. You know exactly why I said the things I said. Believe me, pot’na, you’ve earned every diss we gave you honestly.”

Brandon’s jaw clenched. Staring unblinkingly at her, he took a step closer. If Tara breathed too deeply, her nipples would touch his chest. He was just that close in her personal space.

“So you don’t think people can change,” he asked quietly.

Her doubtful expression gave him his answer.

“You up in here yakkin’, got so much to say to Yvonne. Let me ask you something. Have you told her…everything?”

Tara’s eyes got big. Her mouth opened and closed and she bent her neck back to look up at him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, I think you do.”

Brandon looked down at her breasts and saw the hard beads of her nipples prominently making themselves present and accounted for. He licked his lips as if remembering how they’d felt against his tongue.

“Stop it, ” she whispered in a hoarse voice.

“Stop what.” he answered just as softly. His eyes moved to her lips. He moved his head a couple of inches towards her. “I just asked you a simple question. Did you tell Yvonne about that night.”

“I was drunk!” she screeched.

Brandon slowly moved his head from side to side. “Couple of glasses of wine? You weren’t that drunk.”

Tara’s breathing quickened. The next step Brandon took put his body in contact with hers. She tried to move, but felt the back of her thighs touch the desk behind her. She looked to the left as a means of escape, but saw her oversized leather chair beside her, blocking her way.

“Will you move?” The desperate, raspy plea tore from her throat.

“Apologize first.”

“I will not!”

Suddenly, Tara gasped. He…He was aroused! She could feel his hardness through the front of his jeans pressing against her thigh. Then he shifted slightly so that he was aligned perfectly to her center.

“No?” he asked softly.

“Okay, I apologize!” Tara said quickly.

“For…” Brandon prompted, lightly resting his hands on her waist.
.
“F-F-For talking about you to Yvonne,” she stuttered. Tara pushed at his chest with both hands, but she felt like an ant trying to move a rock. “I want you to leave, Brandon!”

“I think I deserve a kiss with that half assed apology.”

Tara’s mouth hung open in shock as she leaned her head back to stare him fully in the eye. He just reminded her why she couldn’t stand his ass. He was so damned arrogant! She readied herself to blister his ass by give him a few choice words, but before she could, he lowered his mouth the last few inches it took to capture her lips with his.

“Hmkk!!” Tara’s eyes almost popped out her head when she felt his tongue invade her mouth and spar with hers. She tried to pull her head back, but he brought his hand to her nape, holding her steady and deepening the kiss.


PART 7

Brandon didn’t think; he just went on instinct. His tongue swept gently around the inside of her mouth. Damn, she tasted good. He let out a low moan when her tongue hesitantly met his before curling itself around his tongue and caressing it over and over.

Brandon’s moan turned into a deep, chest-rumbling growl. His hands went back to her waist and lifted her up to sit her on the desk. He pulled her butt to the edge so that he fit snugly between her thighs.

“Shit…” Brandon muttered. He could feel her heat warming him through his jeans. His lips moved to her neck. So sweet.

Tara bit her lip to try to keep her groans inside, but the effort only ended up making them come out as high pitched whimpers. She wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled him even closer as she tilted her head to the side to give him greater access to her neck.

“Tara. Damn…” Brandon whispered.

***

Tara threw her head back, enjoying he way her body responded to his. She hadn’t felt this good since…the last time he’d made her feel good…

Vaguely, they heard the phone ring, but they both ignored it. Brandon dropped to his knees and lifted her shirt up. He slowly licked her smooth, soft skin in long lapping swipes like a big, lazy cat licking its paw. Tara stretched her arms behind her, palms flat on the desk, and leaned back. The phone rang again.

Tara stared down at Brandon, giving him her rapt attention. His eyes held hers captive as he inched both hands up her stomach then under her bra to grasp a bare rounded breast in each hand. He gently squeezed their fullness, the same way one would squeeze a mango to test its firmness. When his thumbs lightly brushed her nipples, Tara cried out in pleasure.

Somewhere, from in the distance, Tara heard her pleasant voice on the answering machine, telling the caller to please leave a message and she’d return the call as soon as possible. Keeping one hand full of a soft, firm breast, Brandon moved the other down to the front of her jeans. Tara held her breath as he unsnapped them and reached for the zipper. Two beeps sounded on the answering machine, then the caller left a message. A deep, male voice filled the room.

‘Hey, Tara, it’s Doug. Don’t tell me you’re still at work. Tara, please tell me you haven’t forgotten about my annual company banquet tonight. You promised you’d be ready. I guess I’ll try your cell again. Bye babe.’

Both of them went completely still as Doug’s voice penetrated the web of desire that spun around them. Tara immediately sat up and ran a hand through her short curly hair.

What was she doing?

Seeing that the moment was gone, Brandon stood up and took a couple of steps back. Tara’s eyes immediately fell to the large bulge in his pants before she quickly looked away.

She pulled her bra down over her breasts then tugged her t-shirt down. Hopping off the desk and keeping her back to Brandon, she snapped her jeans with hands that trembled.

“You okay?” he asked quietly.

“Yes.” Her voice was barely audible. “He…um...He’s not my boyfriend.”

“I didn’t ask.”

“I know. Not that it matters, I… just didn’t want you to think that I’d let…that happen if…” Tara was so embarrassed she couldn’t even look at him. “I really think you should leave now.”

She felt Brandon staring intensely at her for a long moment. Walking to the door, he turned around once more before he left.

“This is the second time I've stopped before we could finish what we started. It’ll be the last. Next time, we will finish this.” It wasn’t just a statement; it was a promise.

Tara whirled around as his arrogant words sank in. “And just what makes you think there will be a next time?”

“You think there won’t be?” Brandon looked her body up and down. Her nipples hardened again by the time his eyes crawled back up to her breasts. Seeing her reaction to him, he laughed softly then left the room.

Tara gritted her teeth in frustration. He was such a vain, conceited ass! Just…ughhhh!

After she composed herself, she went to the front entrance to the center and locked the door. She covered her swollen mouth with a trembling hand as she walked back to her office. Plopping down in the chair, she folded her arms on the desk then lowered her head.

“Tara, what is the matter with you?” she moaned. “I can’t believe you let that happen…again.”

What was it about the man that made her almost forget her own name? As she sat there beating herself up, her mind drifted back to the incident that happened over a year ago: the night Yvonne had gone to RaShaun’s house after seeing him with Terri and fell asleep on his couch…

Tara had gotten home from around 1:00 a.m. After all the mess that had gone down between Brandon and Yvonne, and RaShaun and Terri, she’d only gone back to the club looking for Kiki’s trifling ass. That wench had enjoyed basking in Yvonne’s humiliation and Tara wanted to let her know that it hadn’t gone unnoticed, but lucky for Kiki, she’d already left.

After getting home, Tara had pulled off her clothes and put on a t-shirt. Her adrenalin was still pumping and her mind racing as she worried about her cousin. To calm her nerves, she’d dimmed the lights, put some soft music on, and grabbed a bottle of wine. Around 2:00 a.m., she’d started yawning and fighting to keep her eyes open, so had finally decided go to bed. She’d left a lamp on just in case Yvonne decided to come back that night. Almost as soon as she’d made it to her bedroom, the doorbell rang.

Slightly tipsy, Tara had grabbed her robe and retraced her steps through the living room. Standing on tiptoe once she got to the door to look out the peephole, she smacked her lips hard when she saw that it was Brandon.

“What in the hell does this motherfucka want?” she grumbled. Ready to battle, she threw the door open and glared at him with her fist on her hip.

Brandon rolled his eyes upwards when he saw her. “Where’s Yvonne?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but she’s not here.” Then just for the hell of it, she smiled and added, “She’s at RaShaun’s house.”

Brandon inhaled deeply before blowing the breath out. “I don’t wanna argue with you. Tara. I just need to see Yvonne.”

Tara’s eyes narrowed. This motherfucka! “And I told you she wasn’t here. Look, I ain’t gotta lie to you. Anyway don’t you think you’ve caused enough problems between them? Yvonne and RaShaun love each other. Just leave them alone.”

Tara closed the door with the intention of slamming the door in his face, but he caught it and pushed it back open. After stepping inside, he closed the door.

Tara’s mouth opened in outrage. Oh no he didn’t!

“You must have lost your ever-lovin’ mind, Brandon! Get out of my apartment before I call the police! And believe me, after that little episode in the park, they’ll be more than happy to haul your ass off!”

“I’ll leave as soon as I talk to Yvonne.”

Brandon looked around then walked towards the back of the small apartment to the bedrooms. Tara was right on his heels, cursing him out the entire time. He paid her about as much mind as he would an annoying little gnat. When he turned to go in Tara’s room, she ran around him and blocked his way.

“Oh, no you don’t. You are not going in my room. I’ve told you Yvonne wasn’t here, you’ve barged your way in, which is called unlawful entry if you weren’t aware, and you’ve checked her room! For the last time, get the hell out, or I’m calling Quincy now!”


PART 8

Brandon stared at Tara for a few moments. He’d just come back tomorrow because he really wasn’t in the mood for her bullshit tonight. Once he got to the front door, he opened it and then glanced over his shoulder at Tara.

In spite of hers and Yvonne’s differences, he could see the resemblance between them. Where Yvonne’s features were soft and delicate, Tara’s were more mysterious and exotic. She was slightly lighter than Yvonne with eyes that tilted up at the corner. They were about the same height, around 5’4”, but Tara wore her hair in naturally large floppy curls that she kept short, while Yvonne wore hers long.

They both were fine as hell, but Tara’s ass…as much as she got on his nerves even he had to admit she had the most perfect ass he’d ever seen on a woman. It was just made to be squeezed and primed for a man to hit it from behind. His boys had seen her a couple of times and had gone ape shit over her.

“Hellooo…” Tara sneered when he continued to stand in the doorway. She snatched the cordless phone off the end table. “Are you gonna leave or do I have to call the cops?”

Brandon blinked. He finally realized he’d been staring. He had just taken a step out the door to leave when he heard her mutter under her breath loud enough for him to hear.

“I swear Yvonne must’ve lost her mind jeopardizing her relationship with RaShaun for this idiot.”

Brandon froze. What did she call him? He took a step back inside the apartment and closed the door. Turning slightly, he lifted his head and looked at Tara from the corner of his eye.

Biting his lip he just stared for a moment before saying in a low voice, “What the fuck did you just say?”

Tara laughed. “Am I supposed to be scared now? Boy, please.” She swished past him and opened the door. “I won’t tell you again. Get out.”

Brandon didn’t move. If her intention had been to piss him off, she’d succeeded. She’d also just bitten off far more than she was prepared to chew. His eyes trailed down her body, lingering on her full breasts, snatched waist, and phat ass. He could tell the only thing she had on underneath the robe was that little wife beater t-shirt and panties.

“In a minute. First, I think maybe I need to show you what made Yvonne jeopardize what she had at home. How ‘bout that?”

Catching her by surprise, Brandon pushed the door she held open closed then grabbed a handful of her dark, luscious curls. Bringing his lips down to hers, the kiss he gave her was deliberately rough and savage. He widened his mouth, swallowing her furious screams. The kiss went on and on. Tara struggled to push away from him, but Brandon held her tight. He wasn’t trying to be gentle, nor was he trying to seduce her. He just wanted to wipe that self-satisfied smirk off her face.

After a few moments he lifted his head and stared down at her. Tears of anger welled up in her eyes. He finally allowed her to wiggle free, which she did and promptly nailed him with a hard right hook to his chin with a small, closed fist. He slowly raised his hand to his throbbing face, cautiously working his jaw open and closed several times.

After giving her a glare that could melt the North Pole, Brandon forced himself to turn and leave. If he didn’t put some distance between himself and Tara, there would be a serious problem.

“You bastard!” Tara screamed behind him. “Son of a bitch!”

“Yeah, I’ve been called worse,” he taunted, opening the door. However, just as he took a step to leave he felt an object slam hard into the back of his head.

“Mothafuck!” he yelled, hunching his shoulders and grabbing the back of his throbbing head.

He looked down at the floor and saw the cordless phone Tara had been holding lying innocently on the floor. Growling, he slowly turned around with a hundred frowns marring his handsome face.

His anger registered immediately. Tara’s expression turned from smug satisfaction to oh shit!

“You…you deserved it!” she said quickly in an effort to preempt any retaliation on his part. Her eyes got big when he slammed the door and started walking towards her. “Brandon, I mean it! I could’ve called the police but I didn’t.”

He continued coming for her. He’d only been in her apartment for less than ten minutes and he’d been cold cocked in the face and had a phone pitched to his head. Visions of payback blocked out anything she had to say.

Tara took a couple of steps back, then turned to make a mad dash to her room. She had just made it and was slamming the door shut when he stuck his foot in the way preventing it from closing. Brandon forced it open and held her eyes as he continued stalking her like a menacing predator.

Tara held her hands out in front of her. “Brandon, st-stop! Think about what you’re doing! If-If you leave now, we’ll just forget this ever happened. I promise I wont call the police.”

“Call the police for what? Oh, you think I’m ‘bout to take it?” he laughed. “Baby girl, I ain’t never had to take pussy in my life. Trust.”

His eyes ran over her again. “Besides. Why would I need to take it when you’ll be begging for me to give it to you in just a few minutes anyway?”

Of course, Brandon had no intention of even going that far, but he planned on fucking with her just the same. That intention changed when he heard her next words.

Tara forgot her uneasiness and brazenly looked him in the eye. “Beg? You? Boy, puhleeze!”

Brandon was right up on her now. “Oh, really? Guess we’ll see, then.”

He took another step, which caused her to move back and tumble down on the bed. She didn’t even notice her robe had come loose and was now gaping open, but Brandon did. Seeing her body scantily clothed in the little shirt and bikini panties made whatever anger he felt effectively disappear. In its place was an emotion he never thought he’d associate with Tara: desire.

“Damn,” he whispered under his breath. His eyes remained riveted on her heaving breasts beneath the thin material.

When Tara tried to sit up, he quickly joined her on the bed. He effortlessly brushed her clawing hands aside and covered her body with his. His mouth searched and found hers, resuming the kiss he hadn’t wanted to end a few minutes ago. However, this time instead of punishing her, his lips were gentle and coaxing. He tasted her again and again until his tongue persuaded hers to participate. She did so with a surrendering moan, as if she couldn’t hold back any longer.

Brandon separated her thighs with his knee and settled between them. His dick was hard and thick in his pants. He pressed it against the soft, yielding mound at the juncture thighs. Tara spread her legs even wider, her hips rolling up to meet his. Brandon pushed the robe from her shoulders. The thin t-shirt followed.

Tara moaned uncontrollably when his mouth and tongue found her nipples. They puckered up and pouted for attention, which he was only more than happy to give.

Brandon moved his hands down between her legs and found her panties damp from her arousal. His fingers caressed the outline of her swollen lips, making her whimper with need. He could read a woman’s response blindfolded and knew she needed more. His fingers slid the wispy material to the side and finally came in contact, skin to skin, with her hot, wet cunt. They moaned at the same time.

Tara’s moisture coated Brandon’s fingers. He slid his middle finger up her tight tunnel, fucking her nice and slow. Unable to help himself, he withdrew it amid Tara’s whining protests, and brought it to his mouth. Tara watched him suck her essence off his fingers as if licking the final remnants of sweet ice cream out of a bowl.

Her eyes half closed and full of desire, she reached up and pulled his lips back to hers and licked her taste from his tongue. Still kissing each other with a wild recklessness, Brandon placed a hand on either side of her head, circling his hardness over her throbbing clit, dry fucking her to an inevitable climax. He lifted his head, wanting to watch her cum. Damn. Her fuck me face was sexy as hell. His eyes lowered, watching her breasts sway and bounce every time he moved against her.

“Does it feel good, Tara, or do you want me to stop?” he whispered.

On the verge of exploding Tara shook her head uncontrollably from side to side. Brandon repeated his question. When she still didn’t answer, he lifted his lower body away from hers, just out of reach.

Tara’s eyes popped open. “Don’t. Don’t stop. Please. Please,” she begged.

With a moan of satisfaction, he reached down and brought her leg up, leaving her more open to his frenzied movements, fucking her through their clothing. Moments later, Tara screamed as her orgasm hit her. Her hips rose off the bed straining against the rigidity in his pants, bucking uncontrollably as rhythmic, clenching convulsions seized her body. She clawed at his back, eyes closed tight until the tidal waves slowed to tiny ripples. Breathing heavily, she collapsed on the bed, her thighs trembling from the strain of getting hers.

Brandon was ready to explode. He needed to feel her wrapped around his dick the same way she’d snapped around his finger a few minutes ago. Shuddering in anticipation of how good it was going to be, he reached down and unbuckled his belt, but the sound of his zipper sliding down brought Tara back to reality.

“W-wait. We…we can’t,” she whispered.

Brandon froze. “What?”

“I’m sorry. We…I can’t. ”

“Tara, baby, don’t do this. I promise I’m gonna make you feel good.” He lowered his head and took one of her beaded nipples between his lips.

Tara closed her eyes and moaned. She let him have his way for a moment, before pushing him back.

“I can’t do this with you.”

“Tara–”

“No, Brandon.”

He went completely still. Brandon didn’t move for a full thirty seconds. Finally, reluctantly, he rolled off of her onto and his back. His engorged dick literally ached from unfulfilled need.

“You have got to be kidding me,” he muttered, throwing his arm over his face. “Really, Tara?”


PART 9

Tara lay beside Brandon, silent, biting the corner of her lip. It hadn’t been her intention to lead him on and let him think she was going all the way, but then again, she didn’t start this whole thing. He did, and she was definitely not having sex with him. Still…

“Brandon, I’m–”

“If you apologize one more time, I swear to God...”

Tara closed her mouth, watching as he gingerly stood up. He adjusted himself the best he could in his pants then carefully zipped his jeans and buckled his belt. Grimacing, he took stiff, jerky steps to the door, but before he left her bedroom, he had one more parting shot.

“You and your cousin are definitely related. I see you both like to lead men on.”

Tara closed her robe and sat up. “That’s not what I intended to–”

“Tara, just save it.” Mumbling something she couldn’t understand, he left without another word.

A few seconds later, Tara heard the front door slam so hard, she almost expected it to be hanging off the frame when she got up to lock it.

The next day when he’d come over, she had been outside talking to the women who had gathered in the parking lot of her apartment to kick Kiki’s ass. Brandon walked past her as if he didn’t know her and took the outside steps two at a time that led up to her apartment.

Tara hurried after him and saw him talking outside with Yvonne, while RaShaun leaned against the wall staring at Brandon as if he wanted to drop him where he stood. Moments later…well, he’d done just that.

That was the last time she’d seen him before today. Matter of fact, as far as she knew, no one had seen or heard from him since the day Terri was killed in an automobile accident. Now, almost a year later, he appeared as if out of nowhere. Tara lifted her head with a deep groan. If Doug hadn’t called when he did...

She closed her eyes. Doug. The two of them dated on and off, nothing serious. Tara could only put up with his stuffy personality for so long. When he’d called and asked her to attend the banquet as his date, she hadn’t had anything better to do so she’d agreed. With everything going on with Brandon today, she’d basically forgotten that it was tonight.

Tara stood up and grabbed her purse. Hell, who was she fooling? She had forgotten her own name once Brandon Valentine started touching her, and it was starting to be a habit. Tara knew she absolutely couldn’t let it happen. Not again.


***

Later that night, Tara tried to keep from yawning once again as Doug’s boss told yet another boring story that the entire table laughed at as if he had been a comedian in his former life. She reached for her glass of wine and took a big gulp. 

 

God, please help me through the rest of this evening without falling asleep, she prayed.

Doug frowned and leaned towards her when she finished the last of the wine in her glass. "Don’t you think you’ve had enough, Tara? That’s your third glass.”

“Have the waiter bring me a bottle, then I’ll have had enough.”

Doug grimaced at her sarcasm then smiled stiffly for the benefit of the other guests at the table. “Tara. Do not embarrass me tonight," he whispered. "I’m in line to get a promotion. Please…sweetheart.”

Tara turned to look at him sharply when he added the endearment. “Doug, please. I am far from drunk, thank you very much,” she whispered back. “Excuse me. I’m going to the bathroom…that is if I can make it without stumbling around.” She glared at him before pushing her chair back and walking away.

Times like this reminded Tara why they were so on and off. She was so irritated that she didn’t see the eyes of half the men there following her as she walked by. She was just ready for this night to end.

***

Tara may not have noticed the attention she garnered, but Doug did. He sat higher and puffed his chest out with pride. Tara was definitely a looker. She would be an asset to his career once he decided to propose to her. Of course he’d have to smooth out her rough edges a bit, but yes. Tara would do just fine.

He looked again at the men who were covertly trying to watch her ass in the tight, black dress she had on. Their wives and girlfriends tried to act like they didn’t see them looking, but from their sour expressions, he could tell they did.

Doug felt a stirring in his pants as he watched Tara strut out of his eyesight. Her sexy walk was natural and effortless. He definitely could not wait to get her in bed tonight. It had been way too long. His dick sprang to life just thinking about climbing between those soft thighs of hers.

With an effort, he turned his attention back to his boss, joining in with the laughter as he finished yet another dull story. If Doug had to laugh until he lost his voice, then so be it. He was determined to get this promotion.


PART 10

Several hours later, the banquet was finally over. Tara was so glad she could’ve wept. Leaning her head back against the seat of Doug's car, she kept her face turned towards her window, pretending she didn’t see the way Doug kept glancing at her.

“Tara, you’ve barely said two words since we left the function tonight. Is everything okay?” he asked.

She caught the impatient sigh just in time. “Yes, everything’s fine. Just a little tired. I was up late last night and then got up early this morning.”

“I told you not to go out to that jazz club last night. I knew you’d pay for it today.”

This time, Tara didn’t even try to hold in the breath she let out. Doug was on her last nerve. “And as I’ve told you, no one tells me what and what not to do.”

Doug glanced quickly at her as he turned on her street. “I’m only thinking about you, Tara. There’s no need to get snappy.”

Tara pressed her lips together to still the words on the edge of her tongue. Yes, Doug got on her nerves, but to be honest she knew Brandon was a big part of her irritation. She couldn’t seem to stop thinking about what happened between them this afternoon. She still felt like she could still feel his tongue licking her stomach, his hands squeezing her breasts, his dick pressing up hard between her legs…

“Here we go," Doug said, pulling up in front of her apartment   

Tara sat up, grateful to finally be home. Thank God.


PART 11

Brandon sat parked in the parking lot of Tara's apartment complex feeling like a got damn stalker. He hadn’t been able to get her off his mind since he’d left the center this afternoon. That little episode had done nothing but keep him with a hard on he hadn’t been able to get rid of all day. He’d started to call one of the numerous women who would’ve been willing and eager to take care of that for him, but he had no desire for any other woman right now but Tara. She was the only one who could put out this fire that had all but consumed his body.

Brandon cursed under his breath. There. He’d admitted it. He wanted Tara. Him sitting in the parking lot of her apartment complex proved it better than anything else could. She excited him, challenged him. Tara stimulated him beyond the physical. She kept him on his toes unlike any other woman he’d ever met.

Suddenly, he sat up in his seat, alert and watchful when he saw her getting out of some dude’s car. Must be that Doug guy that called her earlier. His hungry eyes took in how good Tara look in that little black dress she was wearing. It clung to her like a second skin and fell mid thigh. The cut of the dress showed that body of hers off to perfection, and from the way the man behind her was watching her, he knew it too.

Brandon’s eyes narrowed when he saw ole boy slide his arm around Tara’s waist and then down to her ass. Damn. He’d been hoping dude would just drop her off, but apparently he had other plans. Brandon watched them walk into Tara’s apartment, He waited about five minutes, then calling himself all kinds of fool, started the ignition.

“Now, don’t you feel like an idiot,” he said out loud to himself in a disgusted voice. “Don’t know what you were thinking anyway, sitting outside her apartment like some damn love sick puppy.”

He put the car in gear and was getting ready to pull out of the parking space when a movement caught his eye. Doug was coming back down the stairs, and he didn’t look happy. His obvious disappointment lifted Brandon’s spirits instantaneously. He turned off the car and waited for Doug to pull out of the parking lot.

With a smile on his face, he got out hurried up the steps to Tara’s apartment. Once he stood in front of her door, he raised his hand to knock, but hesitated. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

But in the next instant, his resolve to have what he wanted kicked in. He knocked on the door and waited.


PART 12


Tara went to the refrigerator and got a bottle of water as she thought about Doug. He had been a tad bit persistent tonight. Sleeping with him had been the last thing on her mind.

If he only knew…

Taking a couple of sips of water, she went to the living room to turn the lamp off was turning to go to her room when she heard a light knock on the door.

“Oh, come on!” What part of ‘no’ didn’t he understand?

Tara almost stomped to the door in her heels. She was trying not to hurt Doug’s feelings, but apparently that’s what she’d have to do to get through to him tonight. She leaned forward and looked out the peephole. Her heartbeat sped up when she saw Brandon. She covered her mouth when he knocked again.

“J-just a minute,” she answered. She stood there for a moment more, then made up her mind. Unlocking the three locks on the door, she opened and saw Brandon on her doorstep staring at her with those eyes of his.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, almost afraid to hear his answer.

Brandon’s eyes ran over her body in undisguised desire. “I think you know.”

Tara crossed her legs to try and calm the part of her anatomy that was purring out an invitation she was doing her best not to verbalize.

“Brandon…nooo,” she whispered weakly, slowly shaking her head from side to side.

Brandon knew she was wrestling with her desire for him because of her relation to Yvonne. He also knew he should walk away and leave her alone, but… he couldn’t. He boldly stepped inside the apartment, giving her no choice but to move back and let him in.

Tara bit her lip and stared up at him. God help her, she couldn’t say no to him. Brandon saw the resignation of the inevitable in her eyes. Closing the door, he gazed down at her and waited.

Tara hesitated. Then slowly turning around, she wordlessly walked in the direction her bedroom, glancing back at him over her shoulder, hoping she wasnt making the biggest mistake of her life.



© 2017 S.K. Hardy

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.