EPISODE 8

You cant change what has already
happened so don’t waste your time
thinking about it.
                          Move on, let go, and get over it.
                                    ~Author Unknown


PART 1

Somewhat surprised that Tara had let him in without an argument, Brandon’s eyes remained fixed on her as she walked to her bedroom. After hastily locking the door, he followed behind her, unbuttoning his shirt along the way.

Tara switched the lamp on beside her bed and waited. She hoped she wasn’t going to regret this. Her head told her it was a mistake to take this step with Brandon, but her body was too weak to listen and take heed to the warning. Besides, she was tired of fighting whatever this was between them. Maybe they just needed to engage in a night of hot, sweaty sex and get it out of their systems.

Turning when she heard him enter the bedroom, Tara couldn’t control her quick intake of breath. God, he was a beautiful specimen. All male. There was no doubt about that. When he pulled his shirt off and threw it on a nearby chair, her hungry eyes ran over his wide shoulders and muscular torso like it was a snack that had been set out for her consumption. She slowly exhaled the breath she’d been holding. The sheer anticipation of what was about to happen was driving her crazy.

“Don’t you think we have too many clothes on?” he asked, pulling her attention away from his body.

Tara slipped the spaghetti straps of the dress over her shoulders and smiled. “I was thinking the same exact thing.”


PART 2

Brandon couldn’t look away from her. That little bit of material she called a dress was sexy as hell. He could tell she didn’t have a bra on; the cut of the dress wouldn’t allow it.

No wonder Doug was so angry when he left her apartment a few minutes ago. Brandon would’ve been too if he’d spent the evening in close proximity to her body, only to be shut down and turned away. Remembering how the other man had touched her so possessively as they walked up the stairs to her apartment made his nostrils flare with something he refused to call jealousy.

Pushing the emotion out of his mind, he did the same with thoughts of Doug. After all, he was the one who was here with Tara, the one she wanted to be with tonight. Brandon refused to waste another second thinking about inconsequential things that took him out of the here and now.

His hands went to the buckle of his belt, watching intently as she undressed for him. When Tara pulled the dress over her bare breasts, his hand stilled on his zipper. She tugged the dress down past her waist and over the fullness of her hips until it fell at her feet. Stepping out of it, she stood before him only wearing a pair of black high heels and black lace thong.

Damn. She’d been practically naked under that dress. He forced his eyes up to meet hers, walking towards and aching with every step he took. His hand came up to loosely encircle her neck. His thumb rested against the erratic, uneasy pounding of her pulse.

“You’re nervous.” The observation was more a statement than a question. “Don’t be. I don’t want you holdin’ nothin’ back from me tonight, understand me?”

Tara nodded. A violent tremble ran through her body when his hands slipped down to cover her breasts.

Brandon lowered his head and sniffed along the hollow of her neck. She smelled good. Whatever perfume she had on was very soft and subtle, yet powerfully seductive. It aroused him. Excited him, as did Tara herself. It made him want to explore every inch of her body and discover where else she may have applied the intoxicating scent.

“Mmmm…” He pinched her nipples between his slightly calloused fingers before swiping the pads of his thumbs over them.

Tara gasped and swayed towards him.

“Feel good?” He asked in a low voice

“Yes,” Tara answered in a choked voice.

Brandon lightly bit the delicate shell of her ear. “I can't wait to fuck you, Tara,” he whispered in a hoarse voice. “Do you want me?”

“Yes. Very much.” Tara’s lips parted slightly when his fingers trailed from one of her breasts to her stomach.

“How much?” Brandon’s teeth nibbled down her jawline, taking little bites along the way. “Hmm?”

He lifted his head and watched her closely as his fingers teasingly circled her navel. Venturing down a little further, he reached the top of her trimmed mound and slid his fingers back up to her stomach.

Tara’s body tensed. The muscles in her stomach trembled against his hand. Her eyelids fluttered open to stare at him, and without breaking eye contact, she placed her hand over his and pushed it down her panties until he got to the swollen lips of her sex.

Brandon let out a low hiss when his fingers came in contact with her creamy center. Yeah. Before he left there tonight, this pussy would belong to him. He planned on writing his name all in it so that she would know it too.

Tara smiled . “Does that answer your question about how much I want you?”

But the smile instantly left her face when Brandon slowly slipped his middle finger inside of her then pulled it out. He brought his finger to his mouth and sucked it clean of every drop of her body’s essence. They stared at each other, both remembering he’d done the same thing that night he’d come to her apartment almost a year ago.

Brandon lowered his mouth until it hovered over hers. “You taste good, Tara. But all that did then was tease my appetite, the same as it did that night.”

“Brandon…”

“I want more,” he said, gazing into her eyes. “But this time, I want to eat the whole meal. Not just a sample”

Lowering his mouth the distance it took to claim her lips, Brandon kissed her with a hungry urgency that had been building up for a long time. While their tongues took turns dominating each other, he walked her backwards until Tara’s thighs touched the edge of the bed. She sat down quickly as if her legs would no longer support her.

Leaning forward, her mouth opened wide over his stomach. She licked the individual muscles popping out of his six-pack, dipping her tongue over the hard, deep grooves in between while eagerly dragging his zipper down. Once she did, her eyes grew wide when she saw the bulging monster trapped inside his boxer briefs straining to get out. Licking her lips, Tara’s desire for him showed clearly on her face.

“Tara…”

The muscles in Brandon’s square jaw jumped in anticipation. When she hesitated, he hooked his thumb in the waistband of his underwear and pulled them down, freeing the heavy weight of his dick. Slipping his other hand behind her head, he gently urged her forward, groaning when she wrapped her fingers around his girth and eagerly sucked in the head of his dick.

“Shit,” Brandon muttered, his lids lowering half-mast.

Easing himself deeper into her mouth, he licked his lips as she accepted his straining erection. Brandon gyrated in and out of her warm, wet mouth in slow circles, rotating his hips repeatedly, controlling the rhythm and showing her how he liked it. Tara caught on quick, giving him head that was so good, he had to bite his lip to keep from crying out.

“Wait, baby.” He grabbed the base of his shaft and pulled himself out of her mouth. If he didn’t stop now…

“Damn, that felt good,” he muttered. “Here. Lay back, Tara.”

He urged her down on her back then reached down and slipped her thong off. Giving her a sexy smile, he stuffed them securely in his back pocket.

Tara grinned. “You are wild.”

“You think that’s wild? I’m getting’ ready to show you wild in just a minute. Scoot back a little bit.”

Doing as he said, Tara allowed him to bend her legs at the knee and position her feet on the edge of the bed. Brandon spread her legs wide apart, exposing the most intimate part of her anatomy to him. Brandon studied her with an intense desire that made her writhe on the bed. She was neatly trimmed, just the way he liked his pussy served. The sight of it made his mouth water for a taste.

“You are fucking gorgeous, you know that?”

With a mischievous gleam in her eyes, Tara reached down and parted her lower lips, opening herself up to him even more.

Brandon’s chest rumbled with a deep growl. “That’s right, baby. Show me that candy.” His dick jerked at the sight of her wet, pink flesh. “They say the tongue is one of the strongest muscles in the body. Did you know that?”

Tara shook her head. “No.”

“Mmhm. Here. Let me show you.”

He lowered his head down between her smooth, thick thighs and finally got a taste of what he’d been feenin for for so damn long. He moaned in appreciation. Even better than he remembered. He pushed his tongue deep inside of her slippery cunt, wiggling it rapidly in a move that launched her clenched butt cheeks off the bed.

“Oooooo! Brandon!” Tara fisted the covers, gyrating her pelvis to match his fluid movements with frantic ones of her own. “Oh God, yes!”

Brandon cupped her ass in both hands and brought her closer to his mouth, screwing her deep and slow, eagerly lapping up her sweet, honey. His tongue flicked over her clit, surge upward repeatedly.

Tara's head thrashed from side to side as the pressure built up. She pleaded, demanded, begged from release. Once it came, it hit her hard.

“Brandonnn!!” Het thighs clamped tight around his head, grinding her pussy against his mouth. Shuddering spasms caused her to buck beneath him, jerking involuntarily on the bed as she soared to heights she had never reached before. Her cum flowed like lava, trickling down the crack of her ass and dampening the bed.

Brandon, being the greedy lover that he was, wanted everything. Pushing her knees up to her chest, he flattened his tongue and licked her moist flesh until he wiped her clean.

By the time he finished, Tara lay weak and spent. Brandon wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and stood up. He quickly took off his shoes and the rest of his clothes. Grabbing a couple of condoms from his pants pocket, he tossed them on the bed by the pillow.

“Move up, baby.” He smiled when she tried to do as he asked, but her trembling limbs refused to cooperate.

“Its not funny,” she pouted.

Chuckling softly, he easily scooped her up in his arms and placed her in the middle of the bed.

“My shoes,” Tara said.

“Leave ‘em on. I want to fuck you wearing those first.”

After sheathing his dick in the ribbed condom, he climbed between her thighs. Wasting no time, he drove upward, filling her in one swift motion. Brandon and Tara cried out simultaneously.

“Oh shittt!” Brandon growled. She felt so much better than he even imagined.

He embedded himself deeper, opening and stretching her to accommodate his size with each measured thrust. Brandon bit down on his lip and cursed under his breath. She was so fucking tight. He whispered in her ear and told her how good she felt wrapped around him. He could feel how hot and wet she was through the condom.

Brandon worked her pussy like he was on a mission. He wanted to make it so good for her that anyone that came after him paled in comparison. He touched every inch, every corner, burying himself to the hilt. When her climax claimed her, he increased the speed and depth of his strokes until he was right there with her.

“Fuck! Gettin’ ready to cum, Tara.”

Head thrown back in ecstasy, Tara’s nails dug deep into his back. “Brandon!”

“Yes, baby! I’m with you.” When her muscles tightened and pulsated around him Brandon moaned from pleasure. “Damn, Tara!”

His harsh groans of male satisfaction joined her high-pitched screams as their passion crested. His seed filled the condom. His release seemed to go on and on, draining his strength and leaving him weak. Spasms shot through his body until he emptied every drop of its cum.

Breathing harshly with chest heaving, Brandon lowered his forehead to hers. His trembling arms barely held him up, but he couldn’t bring himself to separate them and remove himself from her heat. Tara ran soothing hands up and down his back until his trembling subsided.

Finally gathering enough strength to withdraw from her body’s grip, he gave her a slow, deep kiss before hauling himself up and going to the bathroom to dispose of the condom. When he came back, Tara was under the covers. She peered up at hi through eyes heavy with satisfaction. For a moment he hesitated, wondering if this meant she wanted him to leave, but Tara gave him her answer by folding the sheet back in invitation for him to climb in.

Once beside her, Brandon gathered her in his arms and held her close. Their hunger momentarily quenched, they indulged in a series of slow kisses, talking softly and grinning in between.

Finally, Tara sighed and rested her head on his chest. It didn’t take long for her to drift off into a deep sleep. Brandon brushed his hand up and down her arm in a soft caress, his thoughts flooded with what just happened between them. He’d known it would be good between them, but sex with Tara was easily the best he’d ever had. She could definitely become a habit if he wasn’t careful. For some reason, that idea didn't sound as bad as he would've thought.

About half an hour later, he glanced at the clock on the nightstand. It was about time for him to get up. He didn’t want to leave, but he had promised to go to church with Brenda. He thought about taking a rain check, but he’d taken several already and knew there was no way she’d take no for an answer again. After reluctantly climbing out of the bed and getting dressed, he sat on the side of the bed and gently kissed Tara until she woke up,

“Hey,” he murmured softly.

“Hi,” she sighed. “Are you leaving?”

“Yeah, but you don’t have to get up. I’ll make sure the door’s locked behind me.”

“Okay.”

Smiling, he leaned down and kissed her again before standing up, but before he could take a step, Tara stretched her arms towards him, wordlessly calling him back for one more kiss. More than willing to comply, Brandon lay down beside her and gave her a long, slow, sensual kiss before lifting his head.

“Did you enjoy yourself tonight?” he asked

“Yes. Very much,” Tara answered, looking up at him with an expression that had him ready to take his clothes off again.

Damn. He was already hard again. “I’d better go now or I won’t be able to leave.”

Tara slid her hand down and covered his erection. “Stay then.”

Seriously tempted to do just that, Brandon groaned and pushed his package into her palm. “Believe me, I want to. But I have some things I need to take care of that I can’t put off. Otherwise…”

He smiled, leaning down to suck her pouting lower lip into his mouth in apology. He gave her another quick kiss before getting up to leave. This time he didn't stop until he got to the front door.

Tara lay in the bed, listening to the sound of his boots walking through her apartment. After she heard the door close, she lay in bed for a few more minutes before getting up to put the chain on the door and activate the alarm. She immediately went back to her room and climbed back in the bed. Her mouth curved up into a sleepy smile. The last thing she remembered thinking before drifting back to sleep was that Brandon Valentine was the truth.

And she couldn’t wait to be with him again.


PART 3

The following Monday morning, Tara arrived to work bright and early in a terrific mood. She’d taken extra time today with her outfit and makeup. Jeans and t-shirt were her normal uniform for the center, but today, she decided to wear a black pleated skirt that fell right above her knee along with a red silk shirt and strappy heels. When she walked into her office, Ava was already at her desk.

“Morning,” Tara greeted her cheerfully. “Looks like it’s going to be a lovely day, doesn’t it?”

Ava peeked at Tara over her glasses. “If you say so. All I can say is that it’s a Monday morning.” She looked Tara up and down. “Do you have a meeting that I forgot about?”

“No. Why?”

“You’re all dressed up and wearing more makeup than usual. That’s why. And what’s so ‘lovely’ about today anyway?”

“One, is there any rule that says I can't dress up once in a while? And two, the sun’s shining, funds are pouring in to make Haven House more efficient and productive, we’re alive and well, and–”

“You got some, didn’t you?” Ava interrupted in her usual blunt manner.

“W-What?” Tara stammered, blinking rapidly.

“You heard me. You’re practically glowing. You come in here all perky and cheerful…on a Monday morning, no less. Everyone knows you’re no good until you get your first cup of coffee, but here you are going on and on about what a gorgeous day it is. It’s a no brainer. You got some di–”

“Ava!” Tara hissed. She looked around to make sure no one had overheard.

“Don’t be embarrassed about it. Hell, what you should be embarrassed about is the six month dry spell you’ve had.”

“It has not been six months since I’ve had sex!” Forgetting where she was Tara raised her voice in outrage.

“Excuse me,” a deep voice said behind her. “I hope I’m not interrupting?”

Tara felt her face burn flaming hot when she heard Brandon’s amused voice. Oh, God, please just take me now, she prayed.

She sent Ava a nasty look then turned around to face Brandon, who was fighting to keep the smile off his handsome face. Tara immediately forgot her embarrassment. She was too busy noticing good he looked. And he was dressed up. Every time she’d seen him, he’d been either had on jeans and boots, or jogging suits and sneakers. Today, however, he was wearing a pair of black slacks and a dark blue dress shirt.

“H-hi. Good morning,” she finally said. “How are you?”

Ava sat back and gave Tara a curious look before turning her shrewd gaze to Brandon, who was staring at Tara like a hungry man looking at a full course meal.

“I’m fine,” he answered Tara. “How are you?”

“Great.” They continued to stare at one another as Saturday night played through their minds.

Ava cleared her throat loudly. “Uh, I’m fine, too, Brandon, thanks for asking.” Her words broke the spell between the two lovers and brought them catapulting back to the present.

Brandon gave Ava a killer smile that had gotten him out of trouble with more women than he could count. “Sorry, beautiful. Good morning.”

Ava’s face turned soft and sweet. Blushing she smiled back at him and gushed, “Oh, you know I’m just jokin’ with you, honey pie. What brings you by this morning? I didn’t think you were coming until this afternoon.”

Tara looked at him expectantly as well. Not that she minded of course. Thank God for whatever the reason happened to be. They’d been playing phone tag all weekend missing each other’s calls so she’d been eager to see him today.

“I’m dropping Brenda off at work. Her car stalled at my house last night, so we got it towed this morning to her mechanic.” His eyes ran over Tara. “I, uh, had a few…questions for Tara, so…”

He looked at her as if waiting on her to help him out, but Tara didn’t hear anything past the part of the conversation where he said Brenda had been at his house last night. Her narrowed eyes sent poisonous daggers his way.

Seeing the look, Brandon's face showed his puzzlement at her sudden change in attitude. “Tara? You think I can talk to you?”

Tara voice was as cold and harsh as a Chicago blizzard. “You’ll need to make it quick. I have an appointment in a few minutes.”

Brandon expression closed up at her tone. The warmth in his eyes slowly faded.

Ava looked at her appointment book. “No you don’t, Tara. In fact you’re free until–”

“It’s a private appointment. Thank you Ava,” Tara growled through clenched teeth. Turning on her heel, she walked to her office.


PART 4

Brandon threw a questioning glance at Ava who just shrugged. Following Tara to her office, he quietly closed the door behind him, cautiously watching her pick up a stack of mail and flip through it with stiff, jerky movements.

“Did I say something to upset you?” he asked.

“No. Not at all.” Tara’s voice was clipped and impersonal.

“You upset with me for just stopping by like this? I didn’t think you’d mind.” He gave her a charming smile, hoping to melt the ice that suddenly surrounded her like a protective shield.

“Why would I be upset?” She threw the mail down on her desk and turned to face Brandon. “I don’t have all day. What do you need to see me about?”

Brandon’s bewilderment with her mood changed to one of mounting anger. “So the bitch is back, huh?”

“Excuse me?” Tara glared.

“Nah, I won’t excuse you. You know what? Just forget it.” He turned to leave, but Tara’s sharp accusation stopped him.

“Don’t you dare try to turn this around and act like you’re the injured party here!”

Brandon whipped around. “What in the hell are you talkin’ about, Tara?”

“If you don’t know, then I’m not telling you!”

“Fine, then don’t!” He turned to leave again, his good mood a thing of the past.

“But since you insist, I’ll tell you. I don’t appreciate you playing these little immature games. What are you doing, trying to see how many women in the office you can sleep with? Is Ava next?”

“What?”

“Well, lets see. You just started volunteering here Saturday. You slept with me Saturday night. And it seems like Brenda had Sunday on lock. Should we pencil Ava in for tonight?”

It grew quiet in the room for almost a full thirty seconds as they stared at one another. Then Brandon laughed. It started off as an amused snicker, and then became a quiet chuckle, as if laughing to himself about something he found extremely funny. Finally, it graduated to an out and out belly laugh that flooded his eyes with tears.

Tara was furious. She stomped her foot. “Its not funny, dammit!”

But his laughter continued. He only quieted down when he saw her eyes searching desperately for something on her desk. Remembering the telephone to the back of his head, he knew she was looking for something to throw at him. Hurrying over, he grabbed her around the waist from behind, trapping her arms to her side.

“Let me go, Brandon! Let me go!”

“Baby…” Brandon chuckled softly. “Baby, wait. You have the wrong idea.”

“Oh, really? So Brenda didn’t spend the night at your house last night?” She twisted her head around to see his face

“Yeah. She did.”

Tara’s eyes opened wide at his honesty before she resumed her struggling.

“Tara, will you stop? I’m gonna tell you the truth if you just give me a minute.”

“Ha! You wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you on the–”

“Brenda’s my sister. My twin, actually.”

“What?? Oh, puleeze!” Tara spat out. “You are such a liar.”

“You think I’m lying?” Brandon tilted his head to look at her.

“In a word? Yes! You must really think I’m naive to believe that.”

Brandon turned her around to face him, careful to keep a good grip on her. “You’re sexy when you’re jealous, you know that?”

“I am not jealous!” she yelled.

Brandon raised an eyebrow. “Do you think you could shout that any louder? I don’t think they heard you on the next street.” He released Tara and pulled out his cell phone.

“What are you doing?” she snapped.

Brandon ignored her question. After dialing a number, he brought the phone up to his ear. “Hey. It’s me. Can you come by Tara’s office for a minute? Cool.”

He leaned back on Tara’s desk and folded his arms and stared at her.

“What?” Tara snapped at him again.

Brandon shrugged. “Just thinking about how I’m going to collect my apology from you. Trying to decide if it’s going to be nice and slow, or hot and fast. I’m kind of leaning towards a combination of the two.”

“You think you can sweet talk yourself out of anything don’t you? Well let me tell you–” A knock at the door interrupted her tirade.

“Come in,” Brandon called out.

Brenda came in with a wary look on her face as she looked from Brandon to Tara. “Morning, T.”

“Good morning.” Tara’s greeting was short and abrupt.

Brenda frowned. She directed her attention back to Brandon. “What are you doing here? I thought you’d left already.”

“Not yet. I just told Tara our ‘family secret.’”

A look of relief washed over Brenda’s face. “Oh thank God! Tara, I am so sorry. I told him to tell you, but you know how he is. He’s so darn stubborn sometimes. I’m just glad it’s out in the open.”

“There’s just one problem,” Brandon replied. “She doesn’t believe me.”

Brenda blinked at him several times in confusion. Catching him by surprise, she reared a fist back and punched him in his arm.

“Hey!” Brandon scowled.

“You should’ve told her the first day you got here, but no! You wanted to be so mysterious about the whole thing. It’s no wonder she doesn’t believe you.”

“I’m telling her now.”

“You can be such a jerk sometimes.”

“Now you're mad at me too?” Women!

They frowned at each other with identical expressions on their face. Tara’s eyes darted between the two of them. The resemblance hit her like a ton of bricks.

“Oh my gosh! You…you are twins!”

Their faces cleared up at the same time and then they smiled the exact same smiles at her.

Tara covered her mouth in shock. Why hadn’t she noticed it before? The same coloring. The left eyebrows which had a high natural arch. The small dimple that appeared in the corner of their mouths when they smiled…

Brenda gave Brandon a reprimanding glare as she walked over to her friend and grabbed her hand. “I truly am sorry, T. We’ve been arguing all weekend. I told him if he didn’t tell you, I would. Do you forgive me?”

Tara squeezed her hand. “Its okay, Brenda. There’s nothing to forgive. Its not your fault.” They both turned accusing eyes to Brandon.

He threw both hands up defensively. “Hey, hold up. I didn’t exactly lie, so don’t give me those looks.”

Brenda shook her head at her brother before turning back to Tara. She gave her a hug, then went over and kissed her brother goodbye before she left. Once it was just the two of them, the room became eerily silent.

Tara cringed inwardly as she realized how much she’d revealed by her jealous behavior. Brandon looked at his watch, then stood up. He put one of his hands in his pocket and walked to the door. Just as he passed Tara, he stopped so that they were shoulder to shoulder. Tara didn’t dare raise her eyes.

“Possessive little thing, aren’t you?” he mused, looking down at her. “I’ll let you know how I want my apology. Ai’ght?”

Brandon lowered his head and waited. Tara hesitated before raising her lips to his to receive his kiss. He gave her a stinging swat on her butt before leaving, winking at Ava when he passed her desk.

Tara stood in the same spot for several moments digesting the information she’d just found out. Ava came and stood at the door, staring at Tara with a knowing smirk. Tara frowned. From her expression, she knew Ava had heard everything.

“Don’t you have work to do?” she scowled.

“Hmph!” Ava closed the door and went back to her desk.


PART 5

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. Typical Monday morning problems popped up that kept Tara busy and with little time to think about Brandon. She had a couple of appointments she’d set up, and wasn’t able to grab lunch until the day was almost over.

It was almost quitting time when she drove back to Haven House. The center stayed open later during the summer and on the weekend, but now that the kids were in school, they were once again closing at their regular time.

Tara smiled at the kids as she walked through the rec room to her office. She stopped and talked to several of them as they told her about their day. Many never had the luxury of getting individual attention, and she tried as often as she could to do that.

“Tara! Tara!”

Tara turned around, trying to see which one of them had called her. Her smile became even warmer when she saw Jonathon smiling and waving at her to come over. Her step faltered when she spied Brandon standing a few feet away. Her eyes were greedy as they quickly ran over every inch of him.

He had apparently gone home to change before coming back to Haven House. He wore a pair of faded denim jeans, Timbs, and a fitted black t-shirt, looking just as delicious as he had this morning. They smiled at each other before Tara turned her attention to Jonathon.

She was surprised at how animated he was as he talked about his day. Every other word out of his mouth was about Brandon: Brandon was going to take him to see the new action movie that had just come out. He had beat Brandon in a game of basketball a few minutes ago. Brandon had helped him with his homework.

Tara nodded and smiled. Jonathon had never said this much all at once during the whole time he’d been coming to Haven House, and she knew it was due to the time Brandon took with him. She was quickly beginning to see him in a different light. Maybe it was possible for people to change.

Brandon finally noticed her staring at him with an unreadable expression before she quickly looked back to Jonathon. After talking a few more minutes, she regretfully excused herself.

“I’m glad you’ve been enjoying yourself,” she told the little boy, rubbing his back. She sent Brandon a look from underneath her lashes that. “I’ll see you later?”

“You most definitely will,” Brandon replied in a low growl.

Avoiding his eyes and trying to keep the smile off her face, she left and finally made it to her office where she finished up some last minute details and returned phone calls.

A couple of hours later, Ava stuck her head in the door. “Alrighty, I’m leaving. The kids are gone for the day and the doors are locked. You going home soon?”

“Yes, I just need to finish this up, then I’ll be heading out.”

“Yeah, right. Girl, you are too young to be stuck at work every evening. Promise me you’ll go home soon.”

“I’ll try,” Tara smiled. “Have a good evening,”

Tara admittedly stayed late at the office most evenings because she didn’t have anyone waiting for her at home. And now that Yvonne had her own little family, they didn’t spend as much time together, although they talked on the phone several times a week. Vonnie was almost six months pregnant now. She and RaShaun’s marriage was rock solid; once Faith came along, it solidified their union. Yvonne loved RaShaun and Terri’s daughter as if she were her own. It was uncanny how much Faith looked like Terri, but it didn’t bother Yvonne. Tara knew she couldn’t love that little girl any more if she were her own flesh and blood.

The phone rang and interrupted Tara’s thoughts. Still thinking about Faith, Tara answered with a smile. “Hello.” `

“Cousin! Now how did I know you’d still be at work?”

“Vonnie! Hey girl, I was just thinking about you. What are you up to?”

“Well, actually, Faith and I are on our way to see you. We just left the airport from seeing her Daddy off. He’s going out of town on a business trip and we’re not that far from Haven House. How long are you going to be there?”

“I have some things that I absolutely have to finish today, so I’ll be here at least another hour or so. I’d love to see you and the cutest baby in the whole wide world.”

Yvonne laughed. “Flattery will get you everywhere. You know Faith loves her Auntie Tee. Since you’re going to be there for a while, I’m going to run in the store real quick and pick up a few things then we’ll be on our way, say about thirty minutes?”

“Sounds good. Call me when you’re almost here, and I’ll unlock the door.” They spoke for a few moments more before saying their goodbyes. Tara had just turned back to the report she’d been working on when the phone rang again.

“Okay. Now what do ya’ want?” Tara teased after picking it up.

“Hmmm….that’s a loaded question. Don’t you think?”

Tara’s pulse quickened when she heard Brandon’s sexy ass voice on the other line instead of Yvonne’s. A wide smile spread over her face as she sat back in her chair.

“Hey, you. I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else.”

“Someone else, huh? Male or female?”

Hearing the touch of jealousy in his voice made her feel a little better after making such a fool of herself this morning. “Now who’s being possessive?”

“Damn right. I don’t share. Remember that.”

“Neither do I, so you need to remember that.”

Brandon laughed softly, then his voice lowered. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing much.”

“Well, know what you’re getting ready to do?”

“No, but I have a feeling you’re going to tell me.”

“Got that right. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about my apology.”

Tara smiled. Her thighs tightened as she felt a tingling in the center of her lady parts. “That’s right. Okay. I apologize,” she said.

Brandon chuckled. “Uh Uh. I get a special apology. You really hurt my feelings, you know.”

“Awww, poor baby. What did you have in mind?”

“I can show you better than I can tell you, so this is what I want you to do: Take your panties off and wait for me.”

“What?” Tara laughed.

“You heard me. Take your panties off. I’m on my way to your office.”

Tara sat straight up. “You’re on the way to my office? Now? B-B-But I thought you’d left already.” she said anxiously. Dammit! Yvonne would be there soon.

“Nah. I was in Brenda’s office bullshitting with her. She just left. I made sure the door was locked behind her, so I’ll be there in about thirty seconds.”

“Wait! Brandon! Just come by my apartment later. We can–”

“Oh, I plan on coming by your apartment, too. But I want you. Now.”

“We cant!” When he didn’t answer, Tara stood up and went to look out her window. She breathed a sigh of relief. Yvonne hadn’t made it yet.

“Why cant we?” Brandon’s voice came from her open doorway.

Tara spun around, almost dropping the phone. Brandon slipped the cell phone he’d been talking to her on in his pocket and started slowly walking towards her. The gleam in his eye told her he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

“B-because Yvonne will be here in about twenty minutes.” Her voice held a sense of urgency, which he just shrugged off.

“Then we’d better hurry.”

Tara stood in front of her desk and watched as Brandon unbuckled his belt. “Did you hear what I said? You have to go.”

Brandon’s eyes roamed over her lingering on her cute little skirt. “So I take it you still have your panties on.”

“Do you think I’m joking? This isn’t funny, Brandon!”

“Nah, Tara, it ain’t. Now bring your fine ass here. I been wanting you since the minute I left your apartment Saturday night.” He advanced until he was in front of her. Hovering over her, he placed his hands on her waist and pulled her close. “I’m not waiting a moment longer.”

Tara tried to push his hands away, but he bent down to kiss her as if he were starved for the taste of her lips. The moment their mouths touched, she capitulated. Moaning her surrender, she wrapped her arms around Brandon’s neck and returned the kiss with a fiery eagerness that matched his.

Brandon’s growl was passionate and impatient. He picked her up and sat her down on the edge of the desk. Quickly snatching his t-shirt over his head, he threw it down on the floor then immediately brought his mouth back to hers.

Tara frantically unsnapped his pants. When Brandon reached under her skirt she momentarily let go of his mouth and put her hands on the desk to lift her butt up to aid him in slipping her panties off. Grinning at her, he stuff them in his back pocket the same way he’d done at her apartment.

Tara shook her head and grinned back. “Is that a fetish you have or something?”

“Not until I met you. Lets just say they’ll help me get through the nights when I can’t be with you.”

“Oh.” Then her eyes widened as she got his meaning. “Ohhh!”

Brandon laughed at her embarrassment. He allowed Tara to pull him back between her legs, all signs of amusement vanishing when she started ravishing his mouth. Her hands roamed over his chest, loving the way his muscles jumped and flexed under her palms.

“You are so fine, you know that?” she told him as she kissed down to his neck and took little love bites.

Brandon closed his eye and held the back of her head as she nibbled and soothed the bites with her tongue. His hand slid between her legs and found her wet and ready.

“Tara…baby…” Reaching around her, he picked up the laptop that was in the middle of her desk and placed it in the chair behind him. “You have no idea how much I been thinkin’ about this.”

“Me too.”

“Hated to leave the other night. If I hadn’t promised Brenda I’d go to church with her…”

With her legs still wrapped around him, he slipped his hands underneath her ass and picked her up so that he could lay her lengthwise on the desk.

Tara lay back and gazed up at him. “You? Went to church?”

Brandon pulled his wallet out and got a condom. “Yeah. You look shocked.”

“A little. The surprises just seem to keep coming with you, Brandon Valentine.”

“That’s a good thing, ain’t it?” He teased, biting his lip. “Keeps you on your toes. Speakin’ of which…”

He propped her feet up on the desk and spread her legs wide. He groaned in appreciation when he saw how wet she was. Her pussy practically glistened from her arousal. Brandon traced her velvety lower lips with his finger before opening the delicate folds of her labia that reminded him of the petals of a flower blossoming to show him its secret inner garden. He couldn’t wait to start exploring.

Tara’s hips moved restlessly beneath his teasing finger. “Brandon, please….”

“I ain’t never wanted a woman as much as I want you, Tara. Can’t stop thinkin’ about you.” He slipped a finger inside of her and beckoned upwards to tickle her spot. Her muscles clenched around it as she moaned.

“I crave your touch. Your taste. The feeling I get when I’m deep inside you. If them deacons at church knew where my mind kept wandering to yesterday, they probably would’ve called me to the alter and formed a prayer circle to exorcise my sins away.”

Tara smiled. “You’re so bad.”

“To the bone, baby. To the mu’fuckin bone.”

Licking his lips, he lowered his lips to her honey spot, his mouth practically watering for a taste of her. Brandon felt like he’d been going through withdrawals and was finally getting his hit. Hearing Tara panting his name was almost as satisfying as her creamy flavor coating his mouth. His tongue moved over her clit at a consistent tempo, playing a tune to some unheard melody that had her wailing along in absolute ecstasy. Tara found the rhythm and timed her hips in small circular movements, rocking her pelvis to the speed of his tongue and keeping pace. It didn’t take her long to orgasm and explode in his mouth.

Brandon pulled out a condom from his pocket. Quickly tearing the package open with his teeth, he slid it down his throbbing length then pulled her off of the desk. He turned her around with an urgency that told Tara he needed to fuck her now. Bending her over the desk, he pulled her skirt up and separated her thighs with his knee. Then, bending his legs slightly, he guided his dick to her opening and pushed deep inside her with one powerful stroke.

“Brandonnnn….” He was so deep that Tara sprang up on her tiptoes. Lying flat on her stomach, she grabbed the sides of the desk and held on.

“This pussy is so fuckin’ good, Tara. Mmm. So fuckin’ hot.” Brandon fucked her without mercy, circling his hips and plunging deep until her sugary walls began to surrender to the climax he beckoned.

“Fuck! Tell me it’s mine, Tara!” The words slipped out before he could stop them.

“Brandon, oh God, yes! It’s yours baby! However you want it, it’s yours!””

“Mmmm. And you know what else? This your dick, baby. You understand what I'm tellin’ you?”

Growling deep from within his chest, he plunged into her contracting muscles one last time before throwing his head back and reaching his own satisfaction. He chanted her name as her pussy rhythmically squeezed and released his dick like a hungry cat that wanted to milk him dry.

Their intermingled moans of satisfaction eventually slowed to loud, hoarse pants. Finally, Brandon staggered back and slipped out of her warmth. He pulled his underwear and jeans up, then help Tara off the desk. Turning her around, he pulled her into his arms.

“Damn. One of the most satisfying quickies I ever had.” He kissed her neck and held her tight.

“Very satisfying. I take it you accept my apology?” she teased in a trembling voice.

“Hell yeah,” he smiled. He pulled a couple of Kleenex out of the box on her desk and rolled the used condom up in it before tossing it in the trashcan. With their eyes glued to one another, they quickly straightened their clothes. “I’ll see you at your place tonight, right?” he asked.

She looked at him and smiled. “You’re insatiable.”

He looked her in the eye for a long moment, before responding. “Only with you. You a dangerous woman, you know that?”

The smile died off Tara’s face as she returned his look. He leaned down and kissed her softly. Tara sighed and melted in his arms. When the phone rang, she started to ignore it before she remembered Yvonne.

“Oh, no! Yvonne must be here! I forgot just that quick that she was on her way. Dammit Brandon!”

Brandon raised an eyebrow. “Tara, maybe you need to just tell her. She’s gonna find out sooner or later.” He picked up his shirt and pulled it on.

Tara sent him an irritated look as she picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“Hey. It’s me. Come and unlock the door.”

“You’re here?” Tara asked, trying to buy time.

“Duh. Yeah,” Yvonne answered teasingly.

Tara turned helpless eyes towards Brandon. “O-Okay. Um, be right there.”

She hung up the phone with a trembling hand, nervously watching Brandon pick up several papers that had scattered on the floor. He paused when he saw how upset she was.

“Tara, come on. Its gonna be okay. You’re probably making more out of this than you need to.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You have nothing to lose. Yvonne’s like a sister to me.” She ran a hand through her hair. “Oh God, what was I thinking getting involved with you like this?”

Brandon’s hand froze before carefully putting the papers on her desk. He tried to keep in mind that she was upset about potentially hurting her cousin. While he understood family came first it didn’t make it any easier for him to hear her say she regretted being with him.

“Look, why don’t you go and let Yvonne in. I’ll get things situated in your office and leave before you get back. I can wait in Brenda’s office until she’s gone.” When Tara didn’t respond, he lifted her chin to look at him. “Everything will work out. You’ll see.”

But Tara pulled away from his touch. “I never should’ve crossed the line with you. Not after everything that’s happened.”

“Tara….”

“I cant talk to you now, she’s waiting. Can you please, please be gone by the time we come back?” She stepped around him to get to the door, but paused and turned back to face him before leaving. “If I have to choose between you and my cousin, I hope you know there’s only one choice I’d make.” She held his gaze to make sure he knew exactly what she meant before walking out the office.


PART 6

Brandon stood there for a moment, staring at the door. Suddenly, he kicked over the chair that sat in front of the desk. Man, enough of this bullshit. Tara was right, they never should’ve crossed the line and slept with each other. He’d fought hard to ignore the attraction between them. Things were bad enough with the situation involving Yvonne, RaShaun, and himself and the even more explosive triangle of RaShaun, Terri, and himself. Tara was a complication he didn’t need.

Sighing, he picked up the chair and stacked the last of the papers back on Tara’s desk. Glancing around to make sure everything was presentable, he was just getting ready to leave when he came face to face with Yvonne and Tara.

No one spoke for several agonizing seconds. Although it was a shock seeing Yvonne after all this time, Brandon’s focus was on the child she held in her arms. Faith. Terri’s child. The child that, for the first three months of Terri’s pregnancy, he'd thought could’ve been his. However , the amniocentesis proved otherwise. Brandon had never been so disappointed in his life. He’d wanted this baby to be his more than anything in the world. And when she turned out to be RaShaun’s….

“Brandon. Hello.”

With a humongous effort, he pulled his attention away from Faith and looked at Yvonne. The last time they’d seen one another had been during the altercation in her office with her husband; it had also been the day Terri died.

“Hey Yvonne. How are you?”

“I’m fine. Tara told me you’re volunteering here.”

“Yeah. I started coming by a couple of days ago.” An awkward silence fell between everyone. Brandon gestured towards her gently rounded stomach. “I hear congratulations are in order.”

Yvonne hesitated before nodding reluctantly. “Thank you. RaShaun and I are very happy.”

“Good. I’m glad,” Brandon said with sincerity. His eyes once again went to Faith. “And this is….”

Yvonne hesitated. She remembered how he’d taunted her about RaShaun having a baby with another woman. “This is Faith.”

Glancing from one of them to the other, Tara stepped in to break up the heavy moment. “Uh, Brandon let me walk you to the door so that I can lock up after you leave.”

With her back to Yvonne, Tara gave him a hard glare. He was supposed to have left before Yvonne got here. Brandon read the look, and glared right back.

“Von, have a seat,” Tara said with a forced smile, “I’ll be right back.”

Tara and Brandon walked in silence until they were out of hearing distance. Brandon knew she was furious, but he’d had just about enough of her attitude. He understood the situation she was in, but he didn’t put her there by himself.

“Tara, don’t start, ai’ght?” His voice was gruff with warning,

“You were supposed to be out of my office by the time we got there!” she hissed. “Now, I’m wondering if you stayed there on purpose!”

“And why the hell would I do that?” Brandon stopped in front of the entrance and turned to face her. “Tara, you know what, you a grown ass woman. You shouldn’t have to hide and sneak around like you doin’ somethin wrong. If you want to see somebody your cousin doesn’t approve of, then that’s what you should do. You can’t keep living your life for somebody else, baby.”

He took the key out of her hand and unlocked the door. “But I’m gonna make this situation easy on you by giving you your space. That way there will be one less thing you have to worry about.”

“Brandon–”

“Go handle your fuckin’ business. Tell your cousin whatever you want to tell her. I’m outta here.”

Tara jumped as he slammed out of the door without another word or glance. Sudden tears sprang to her eyes as she watched him walk to his car with long, angry steps. When he got into his car and drove off, she bit down hard on her lip to stop their trembling. Why were things getting so complicated? Just a few days ago, they’d been relaxed, almost…happy.

“Tara, what in the hell is going on?”

With a surprised gasp, she spun around and found Yvonne standing few feet behind her. Shit! She hadn’t heard her walk up.

“Hey, uh, n-nothing’s going on. Just locking up.” She quickly turned back to the door. While turning the key in the lock, she wiped her face as inconspicuously as she could, but Yvonne wasn’t fooled.

“Are you crying?” she asked Tara in disbelief. “Over him?”

Tara took a deep breath then turned around. “Yvonne–”

“Wait a minute.” Yvonne closed her eyes then slowly opened them to focus on her cousin. Her next words came out a horrified whisper. “Are you sleeping with Brandon?”

“Yvonne, let me explain.” She took a step towards Yvonne, but Yvonne held a hand out to stop her.

“No! Answer me! After everything I’ve been through because of that man, after all of the trouble he deliberately caused between me and RaShaun because of his lies and manipulations…Tara, how could you?” Yvonne’s voice was full of unspoken accusations.

Faith looked at her mother. She placed her little hand on Yvonne’s face. “Mama cry? Mama no cry!” She turned and pointed at Tara with her bottom lip pushed out and trembling. “Aunt Tee no cry too!”

“No, baby, Mama’s not crying.” Yvonne quickly wiped her eyes and put a smile on her face for her daughter. Tara did the same. “See? Mama’s not crying.”

“And neither is Aunt Tee, sweetie,” Tara added.

Faith smiled and clapped her hands before wiggling down to get a ball left out by one of the children.

Yvonne turned her attention back to Tara. “I never, in a million years, would’ve suspected you, of all people, would fall for his bullshit.”

Tara held Yvonne’s eyes for a moment before looking away. She couldn’t stand to see the disappointment and hurt on her face. Born three months apart, the two of them were closer than cousins, mainly due the fact that they were the daughters of twins. Tara’s mother was a natural second mother to Yvonne, and vice versa. In all of the family photo albums, there were hardly any pictures where there was one of them and not the other.

“Yvonne, it…it wasn’t planned, and when it happened, I just didn’t know how to tell you,” she whispered.

“You didn’t know how to tell me? How about not letting it happen at all! How about that!” She looked at Faith then lowered her voice.

“Would you just give me a minute to explain? Five minutes. That’s all I ask.”

Seeing that her daughter was still happily playing, Yvonne glared at her cousin and folded her arms. “Go on.”

“I never, ever meant to hurt you, Vonnie. You know I would never intentionally do anything to bring you pain or unhappiness.”

“And you thought fucking Brandon would make me happy?” Yvonne retorted in a loud whisper.

“Yvonne–”

“You can honestly stand here and say you didn’t think being involved with Brandon wouldn’t hurt me or RaShaun? Have you forgotten how you sat me down and told me how Brandon meant me no good? Huh? That he only wanted to get me in bed then once he did, he would move on to the next challenge?”

Uncomfortable, Tara shifted from one foot to the other and tried to avert her eyes, but Yvonne refused to let her.

“Did you forget how he taunted and provoked my husband at every opportunity he could find, deliberately misleading RaShaun about what really happened in order to drive a wedge between us?”

“Yvonne–”

“No! You asked me a question and like it or not, this is my answer.” She lowered her voice even more. “You betray me, or whatever you want to call it, for what, Tara? For some dick? That was more important than me?”

“I seem to remember it was important enough for you to leave RaShaun not too long ago!” The comment came out of Tara’s mouth before she could stop it. When it did, Tara gasped and covered her mouth.

Yvonne took a step back as if Tara has struck her. “You know what, Tara? Screw you! Screw you and screw that motherfucka, too!” she whispered furiously. “If he’s that damn important to you, knock yourself out. Just don’t, and I repeat, do not come crying to me when he gets tired and, what were your words to me? Oh yeah, goes looking for new pussy!”

She turned and called out to her daughter. “Faith. Honey. Come on time to go.”

Faith vehemently shook her head. “No, Mama! Stay. Play ball.”

“So, damn, that was my five minutes, Yvonne?” Tara hissed. “You doing all the got damn talking is all I get?”

Yvonne twisted around and glared at her cousin. “What, bitch?”

“I know you don’t want to hear this, but I think he’s changed.” When Yvonne rolled her eyes, Tara pleaded, “He has, but…I don’t know how you could think I would ever choose anyone over you, let alone a man. You’re my family, and that means more to me than anything else. I…I won’t see him anymore after today. Not like…that.”

Although Tara said the words, her eyes told a different story. They almost pleaded with Yvonne to give Brandon a chance but Yvonne raised an eyebrow and deliberately ignored the unspoken plea.

“Okay, fine. You won’t see him anymore. And you’ll tell him this?”

With an effort, Tara held Yvonne’s eyes without blinking. “Yes. I’ll call him now, from my office.”

Yvonne hesitated. “Fine. Lets go.”

Yvonne picked Faith up and followed Tara to her office. She pulled out Faith’s blanket and sat it on the floor and gave her a couple of crackers.

Tara went to her desk and picked up the phone. She glanced at Yvonne who was staring intently at her, then wiped her sweaty hands over her skirt before dialing Brandon’s cell phone. She put the phone on speaker, and after the third ring, his deep voice filled the room.

“Hello.”

Her heart thumping furiously in her chest, Tara concentrated on slowing her breathing. She’d never dreaded a phone call more than this one. “Brandon, it’s Tara.” There was silence on the phone for several long moments. Tara frowned. Had he hung up? “Hello, Brandon?”

“I’m here. I just didn’t expect to hear from you this soon after the way we left each other.” He paused, then added, “Actually, I didn’t know if I’d hear from you at all.”

Tara closed her eyes at the slight sound of relief she heard in his voice, but quickly opened them when she heard Yvonne exhale an impatient breath.

“Did you talk to Yvonne?” Brandon asked.

“Yes. That’s why I’m calling.” She took a deep breath before taking the plunge. “I, um, I think it would be a good idea if we called this quits. I, we…I can’t see you anymore,” she blurted out in a rush.

There was silence on the phone again. Tara turned her back to Yvonne. She closed her eyes and bit her lip. When Brandon still didn’t answer, she asked, “Did you hear what I said?”

Brandon snorted a laugh. “Yeah. I heard you. Can’t say that I’m surprised. I was hoping you’d stand up for yourself though, at least put up a little bit of a fight, but hey…it was fun while it lasted. At least we got to have goodbye sex before your cousin got there and laid the law down.” Brandon’s tone was cutting and sarcastic.

Tara glanced back at Yvonne and saw her shaking her head.

“Brandon–”

“No, lets be honest. That’s what happened, isn’t it. Never mind, don’t answer that. You know what? Do you, baby. Go on and run back to Yvonne and let her know you’ve done her bidding like a good little girl and–”

“She doesn’t have to come running back to me because I’m standing right here, you…” Yvonne cut off the name she was going to call him, remembering Faith was a few feet away. “You know what, Brandon? You’re a real piece of work! You love to use women and manipulate them anyway you can as long as you get what you want. And believe me, I definitely know what you wanted from Tara. Apparently, you got it.”

Tara sent her an intense glare, but Yvonne ignored it and continued.

“I cant say I really blame my cousin as much as I blame you because I know what you’re capable of. Hear me, and hear me well. Stay away from my family. Do I make myself clear?”

A loud silence followed Yvonne’s tirade before they heard Brandon’s voice on the other end.

“Nice, Tara. Very…nice,” Brandon said. “You had me on speaker the whole time, huh? Appreciate that. Okay. I told you from the beginning I didn’t want to cause any trouble, so–”

“Sure you didn’t!” Yvonne threw out snidely.

Brandon paused then continued what he was saying to Tara. “I’mma do as you ask, but what I won’t do is stop volunteering at Haven House. I’ll stay out of your way as much as I can, but this is important to me, as well as my sister. Aside from that, I won’t bother you again. A’ight? Peace.”

He hung up without waiting on a reply. Tara slowly hung up as well. She reached deep inside of herself to appear unaffected as she turned to Yvonne, and raised her eyebrows in acknowledgement that she’d done what Yvonne had asked.

Yvonne looked at her, then wordlessly turned around and gathered up a sleeping Faith. With angry, jerky movements, she folded the blanket and stuffed it into Faith’s bag.

“Now what?” Tara exclaimed in confusion. “I did what you wanted and you have nothing to say?”

Yvonne didn’t answer until she’d picked Faith up and headed to the door. She looked at Tara before she walked out.

“Never mind I had to practically twist your arm to do it in the first place, but now you’re standing there acting like you’ve lost the love of you life.” Even though Faith was asleep with her head on Yvonne’s shoulder, Yvonne covered her other ear. “Get over it, Tara! His dick is not made out of gold.”


Giving her once last angry scowl, she turned around without another word and left Tara standing in the office staring out the window thinking about Yvonne’s last statement.

“Says you, cousin,” Tara mumbled out loud in the empty office. “Says you.”


PART 9

Yvonne carried Faith into the house still shaking her head at Tara. What in the hell had she been thinking to sleep with Brandon?

The rest of the evening was filled with feeding and bathing Faith. After reading her a story and tucking her in, Yvonne went to her room. She turned the television on before lying across her bed, but her thoughts were suddenly filled with how much she was going to miss Shaun. Faith was already asking for her ‘DaDa’. Yvonne wanted to tell her that she wanted DaDa home, too, but he would only be gone a week.

Letting out a deep sigh, her thoughts turned to Tara. She still could not believe that Tara had gotten involved with Brandon. Those two had barely been able to stand each other. How had it gone from that degree of animosity to now sleeping together? It just didn’t make sense.

Moments later, the phone rang and interrupted her thoughts. Moaning and not feeling like moving, she reluctantly stretched over to get the phone from the nightstand.

“Hello.”

“Hi, sweetheart.” RaShaun’s sexy voice came through the phone, making Yvonne miss him even more.

“Hi, baby. How are you?” A huge smile lit up Yvonne’s face.

“I’m good, just got back to my hotel room. Went out to dinner with a couple of co-workers after the last meeting, but now I’m in for the night. I knew our daughter would be fast asleep, and you’re probably relaxing on the bed right about now, right?”

Yvonne smiled when she heard the teasing lilt in his voice. “You think you know me, don’t you?”

“Something like that.”

“I miss you, Shaun,” she pouted. “I can’t believe you just left today. Maybe it’s the hormones that have me feeling so needy, but it seems like you’ve already been gone for a week.”

A slight pause followed her statement. “Or maybe it’s something more than hormones. Baby, what’s wrong?”

Yvonne hesitated a beat before answering. “Nothing. We just miss you, that’s all.”

“Vonnie, didn’t you just finish telling me how well I know you? I can tell you’re upset. Talk to me, baby.”

“It’s nothing that can’t wait until you get home.” The last thing Yvonne wanted to do was tell RaShaun something like this while he was away on business. He still didn’t know that Brandon was volunteering at Haven House. Even now, just the mention of his name was still enough to make RaShaun’s expression darken with strong dislike.

“You know if you don’t tell me, that will worry me more than anything else.” RaShaun wasn’t letting her off the hook. “Now, please. What is it?”

Yvonne bit her lip when she heard the stubborn tone in his voice. She knew he wouldn’t let this go. Taking a deep breath, she told him everything, starting with how Brandon came to be volunteering at Haven House and ending with what she’d found out that evening about Tara and Brandon. RaShaun didn’t say a word until she finished. Yvonne held the phone as she waited.

“You knew he had shown up again and you didn’t tell me?”

Yvonne plopped over on her back and covered her face. She hated that quietness in his voice. That meant he was pissed off…extremely pissed off.

“RaShaun, please. There was nothing to tell. I didn’t know Tara had gotten involved with him until a couple of hours ago.”

“That shit is still hard to believe. Tara…and Brandon?”

“I know, right?” Yvonne could still see the look on Tara’s face after she’d hung up from calling Brandon. She didn’t realize it, but her expression had been one of devastation at what she’d just done.

“Okay, baby, this is what I want you to do,” RaShaun said. “I want you to go and draw a hot bubble bath and just soak in the tub and relax. You don’t need to get upset over bullshit like this. It’s no biggie. I’ll handle it.”

Yvonne sat up when she heard the slight edge in his voice. “RaShaun. No. Please. Its been handled. I told you Tara called him and–”

“I heard you, sweetheart.” His voice was deceptively calm, but it didn’t fool Yvonne for a minute. “Now, do as I ask and just relax. I love you, Von. Take care of yourself , my baby girl, and my son. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

Yvonne smiled. Some of the tension eased from her body. “And how do you know it’s going to be a boy?” It was a familiar dialogue between the two of them.

“One of these days, you’re going to learn not to doubt me, Mrs. Patterson,” RaShaun teased. “Night, baby. Love you.”

“Goodnight. I love you, too.”

Yvonne hung up the phone and sat for a minute, hoping that RaShaun would let this thing with Brandon die down, but she knew her husband. He may have sounded calm and agreeable, but a storm started brewing inside of him the moment she told him what was going on. Yvonne hoped Brandon heeded her warning about staying away from her family because when the torrential floodgates opened up, all hell was going to break loose.

********

Yvonne had good reason to doubt RaShaun’s calmness when he heard about Brandon. Thousands of miles away in Chicago, he was pacing back and forth in his room like a restless tiger trapped in a cage. Just knowing that Yvonne had seen Brandon was enough to leave him furious and unsettled. He didn’t want anything upsetting her, especially now that she was pregnant. He’d been able to tell from the first few minutes of the phone call that something had upset her. He never expected it to be about Brandon though.

And Tara? Involved with Valentine? What the hell??

Uh uh. Fuck no! RaShaun shook his head. Nah. Like he told Yvonne, he’d handle this the minute he got back into town. After hearing what was going on, that would be sooner than later. He reached for the phone and dialed a number.

“Harry. Hey, it’s Shaun. I’ll be leaving to go back home a couple of days earlier than scheduled. No, Yvonne’s fine. It’s a personal matter, so after the meeting tomorrow, I’ll be flying home. Okay. Thanks.”

After he hung up, RaShaun went over to the window and looked out at the bright lights of the windy city, but he saw none of the beautiful nighttime views. Instead, his thoughts were on Valentine. He thought they’d heard the last of him the day they’d had that confrontation in Yvonne’s office. Yet, here he was showing up like a recurring nightmare he couldn’t get rid of.

RaShaun’s expression grew dark with anger. He didn’t know what it was going to take to get that bastard out of their lives, but whatever it was, he’d find it. He refused to let Brandon Valentine disrupt their lives again. Not this time.


© 2017 S.K. Hardy

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