EPISODE 9

If you tell the truth, it becomes a part of your past.
If you lie, it becomes a part of your future.

                                              ~Author Unknown

PART 1


Brandon sat at a table in the back of a popular jazz club nursing his second drink. After having just talked to Tara he needed something to calm the turbulence building up inside of him, and on Monday nights, this particular club featured a live jazz band as well as poetry readings.

Of course the Hennessy he’d been sippin’ on had a hand in helping him relax even further, but it didn’t help to quiet his thoughts…or stop images of Tara from jumping inside his head. Talk about puttin’ him in his place. Not only had she let him know what she really thought about him, but she’d done it on speakerphone so that her cousin could hear as well. 

Great. 

 

Brandon brought the glass up to his lips to finish the rest of the Henny in his glass then signaled to the waitress to bring him another one


Several women there noticed his brooding expression, as if his thoughts were not exactly pleasant. If anything, that made him more attractive to them. There was nothing sexier than a good-looking brotha who seemed as if he needed a little comforting and tender loving care. Several had stopped by and blatantly offered their services, but Brandon had politely, but firmly, declined. He wasn’t in the mood. Yeah, he knew the game and could play it very well if he so desired, but that was the problem. What he desired, he apparently couldn’t have.

As his thoughts went back to Tara again, he took a sip of the fresh drink the waitress had set in front of him. Holding the flavorful liquor in his mouth, he savored the taste for a few seconds before letting it smoothly slip down his throat. It had been a long time since he’d indulged in more than one drink, but what the hell. If ever there was ever an occasion to do so...

Unable to help himself, he wondered what she was doin’ right now. Brandon looked at his cell phone sitting on the table, then shook his head. He wasn’t gon’ call her. She'd made it perfectly clear that she’d made her decision. If she ever changed her mind about wanting to be with him, it would be up to her to make it happen. He was done makin’ a fool of himself. It had been a couple of hours since she’d called him and told him what he’d already known, which was she didn’t want to see him any longer. Brandon had to admit that a small part of him had hoped she would tell Yvonne to butt out of her business, though.

“Yeah, right,” he muttered under his breath. “You see how that worked out, dontcha?”

Suddenly, Brandon felt the sensation wash over him like he was being watched. He lifted his head and let his eyes scan the club until he saw her. A woman sitting at the bar was boldly staring at him as if he were an entrée on a buffet line that she wanted to sample.

Brandon’s eyes slowly wandered over her, taking in the sexy body beneath the ridiculously short skirt. Brandon held her gaze for a moment then looked away. Oh, she was fine as hell, but he was not in the mood to play right now…especially not with her. Been there, done that, and had regretted it ever since.

Out of the corner of his eye, Brandon saw her slide off the barstool and grab her drink before making her way over to his table. He blew out a quiet breath. Bitch couldn’t take a hint. Great. He did not need this right now. When she stopped beside his table, he ignored her and brought his glass up to his lips to take another sip of his drink.

Seeing that he had no intention of acknowledging her, she broke the silence. “Hello, Brandon. Long time no see.”

Brandon barely looked up at her. “Sup.”

“I didn’t know you were back in town. How’ve you been, boo?”

“Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m not very good company tonight. I’d rather be by myself. I hope you understand.”

His tone told her he didn’t care whether she understood or not as he turned his attention back to the poet on the stage. Brandon had heard this guy spit his rhymes before and he was good. The crowd was riveted to the energy of his flow. His stage name was The Messenger, and every time he appeared here, the ladies made it a point to show up in packs, vying for whatever amount of attention he bestowed upon them. Whatever piece he performed always had a message and left you thinking. Brandon was trying to listen, but the woman beside him had other plans.

“You sure you don’t want company? I can make you forget whatever problems you might be having.” She stepped closer to him. “Believe me, I remember everything you like. Everything.”

Brandon slowly raised his eyes and looked at Kiki with an expression bordering on disgust. Another bone in his closet…another dirty little secret.

He averted his eyes, trying to block out the images her words resurrected. Images of hers and Terri’s body, wrapped around his, their lips and hands everywhere on his body…

“Maybe just for old times sake. We haven’t talked since Terri–”

That got a response quick. “I asked to be left alone! Are you deaf?” he snapped. “What’s so fuckin’ hard to understand about that?”

He didn’t want to talk about Terri and he definitely didn’t want to think about that night the three of them…

Shit! Of all the people he could’ve run into tonight, why did it have to be her? Hell, who was gon’ be next, RaShaun?

Kiki took several steps back. Embarrassed, she glanced around and saw people looking and laughing at her. Turning around she quickly left the club to get away from the unwanted attention.

Brandon leaned his elbows on the table and smoothed his hands down over his face. He felt as if he were standing in quicksand. For every step he tried to take something always seemed to pull him further and further back down, as if determined to keep him in one place.

So many mistakes, Brandon. So many mistakes.

He sat back wondering how things always had a way of going from bad to worse with him. When was shit going to go right?



PART 2

Kiki walked to her car, growing angrier with each step.

Oh, so I was good enough to screw your brains out and have a threesome with you and Terri, but now you treatin' me like I’m lower than the dirt on the bottom of your shoes? Well, we’ll just see about that, Brandon Valentine. We’ll see who gets the last laugh.

Once she got to her apartment, Kiki unlocked the door and slammed her way inside. That bastard! Now, all of a sudden he was too good for her? Why?? Why did they always act like that after having sex? She was good in bed. She fulfilled any fantasy a man dreamed about when he was with her, let him do anything he wanted with her. Hell, she was a freak and she knew it. She did what a man’s woman was too uptight to do or try.

But then they always acted shitty the next time she saw them, as if they didn’t know who she was, or she wasn’t good enough to speak to outside a bedroom. That is until they wanted to fuck again.

Kiki wasn’t gon’ lie, she wanted Brandon bad, wanted to again experience the pleasure she’d felt that night. It didn’t matter that he was more into Terri than her or that she had more or less invited herself into their bed, she still had gotten hers.

Not many men knew their way around a woman’s body the way Brandon did. Mothafucka’ needed to teach a class to the other lames on how to please a woman because he was the truth when it came to sex. When she saw him walk into the club tonight, she couldn’t believe her luck. She had expected him to jump at the chance for no strings sex but instead he’d talked to her like she was some skank off the street he’d never seen before.

Feeling her anger grow, she went to her bedroom and walked over to her TV stand. Opening the bottom drawer, she saw the DVD she was looking for. Smiling, she took it out of the case and popped it in the DVD player. Hitting the play button on the remote, she looked at the images from that night of the three of them in her bedroom in various sexual position: Brandon sitting back and watching Kiki and Terri engage in sexual acts, Kiki riding Brandon’s monster dick with a look of ecstasy on her face, Brandon going down on Terri and making her come…

Pretty mothafucka acted like he was too good to go down on me though, Kiki muttered. That still pissed her off.

Even though she must have watched the DVD hundreds of times, it never failed to excite her. She took off her clothes and lay on the bed. If she couldn’t have Brandon tonight, this would be the next best thing. Brandon hadn’t been aware they had taped him that night. But she was gonna make him aware real soon.

She just had to pick the right time.


PART 3

Two more days until the weekend and then I can try to get some rest, Tara thought to herself. She was so tired. She hadn’t been able to sleep much since Monday when all that confusion happened between her, Yvonne, and Brandon.

After Yvonne and Faith had gone home, Tara had stayed at the office and worked until she could barely keep her eyes open. Her goal had been to work up to the point of exhaustion so that she wouldn’t lie awake at night staring at the ceiling, but it hadn’t helped. Once she got in bed, she still hadn’t been able to get Brandon off her mind. For the last few nights, she’d only slept a couple of hours before the annoying sound of the alarm went off to let her know it was time to get up and start another day.

Brandon hadn’t been back to the center for the last couple of days, which had Tara even more on edge. She tried to subtly question Brenda to find out how he was doing, and whether or not he’d be back, but all she got from her were noncommittal answers, which was understandable. Brenda’s loyalty was to her brother, as it should be. Not to Tara.

Late Wednesday afternoon, she was just walking into the center from a late lunch and decided to take a detour to the rec room to say a few words to the children. She had just entered the room with a smile on her face when her feet came to a sudden stop. Her heart started racing and her breathing came in quick spurts. Across the room there stood Brandon talking and laughing with Jonathon. He was indeed a visual feast for her starving eyes. She hadn’t realized how much she’d missed him these last few days. She missed him a lot. Too damned much.

Taking a deep breath, she took a step in his direction. Yes, she wanted to say hello to Jonathon, but she desperately wanted to talk to him. Just to make sure he was okay, she quickly assured herself.

All of a sudden, Tara saw him turn around and search the room until his eyes met hers. The smile slowly died off his lips as he stared at her. Neither seemed to be able to break eye contact. His hungry eyes ran over her body, letting her know he had missed her just as much. Tara gave him a tentative smile. For a moment, he just continued to stare. Then to her relief, a slow smile lifted the corner of his mouth, leaving her breathless all over again.

“I hope you’re not playing games with him,” a cool voice said from behind her.

Tara turned around and looked at Brandon’s sister. “Brenda–”

“Tara, I’m going to say something that I’ve been wanting to tell you for the last couple of days. I understand your cousin went through a hard time when she and my brother were involved, but it seems as if no one wants to take responsibility for their part in this whole mess except my brother. I think that should count for something.”

“It does but it’s not as simple as that.”

“It is if you want it to be. My brother and I have gone through a lot. From the work we’ve done here, we both know that the past can influence our future and sway the decisions we make along the way. It can be even more destructive depending on one’s upbringing and the experiences they’ve gone through.”

Tara’s brow creased. When her lips parted to ask her what she meant, Brenda shook her. “That’s all I’m going to say on the subject. Just, please make sure you decide what you want and stick to that decision. Otherwise, you’re not being fair to yourself or to Brandon. ” She held Tara’s gaze before walking off to check on a group of kids she’d been talking to before she saw Tara.

Tara wore a thoughtful look as she studied Brandon. She saw him lean down to tell Jonathon something. Jonathon took off running to play with the other kids. That in itself was progress for the little boy. He hardly ever played or mingled with anyone. She never would’ve thought Brandon had so much patience or even cared enough to spend as much time as he did with a child who had as many problems Jon.

Tara noticed Brandon hadn’t moved. He just stood in the same spot, staring at Tara with his hands in his pocket. His stance seemed relaxed to the casual observer, but Tara could see the intensity in his eyes and read the unspoken message he communicated to her from across the room: The ball was in her court. If she wanted him, she would have to make the first move.

Tara took a deep breath and quickly came to a decision. She’d deal with her cousin later and make her understand. She wanted Brandon. And she wasn’t going to give him up. Still holding his gaze, her smile slowly grew wider. His mouth was beginning to turn up in an answering smile, then suddenly his features froze. Tara saw his chest rise and fall as he inhaled deeply, and saw that he was focused on a point over her shoulder.

Puzzled by the quick change in his demeanor, she turned around to see what he was staring at. When she did, a sense of dread clutched her chest, squeezing it until she couldn’t breathe.

“Oh no…” she whispered.

RaShaun stood in the doorway of the rec center glaring at Brandon, and as expected, he was furious. Tara could feel the heat of the ferocious glower he directed towards Brandon, and knew without a doubt, if they were anywhere else other than Haven House, the proverbial shit would be hitting the fan.


PART 4

RaShaun walked over to Tara, continuing to stare unwaveringly at Brandon the entire time. He reluctantly pulled his eyes away and stabbed a narrowed gaze at Tara. She defensively folded her arms and glared back at him.

“What?” she asked.

“You know what. Don’t think we won’t talk about it as soon as I take care of your boyfriend.”

“For God’s sake, he’s not my–”

“You wanna see me?”

Tara briefly closed her eyes when she heard Brandon’s voice behind her. God, if there was ever a time I needed you…now is it.


***


Brandon started over to Tara the same time as RaShaun. He wasn’t going to let her take the brunt of RaShaun’s anger. If RaShaun had a problem, he could take it up with him. Tara had nothing to do with this.

RaShaun turned to face Brandon with fire in his eyes and took a step towards him. Through tightly clenched teeth, he growled, “Look at you. I see you’ve finally grown a pair. Mighty bold here in a room full of children. Guess you know you’re safe, but you can’t stay up in here all night.”

Brandon shrugged and took a step forward himself. “Hey, we can go outside now if you want.”

Tara quickly stepped between them. It didn’t seem to bother her that both men dwarfed her in height and outweighed her by at least a hundred pounds each.

She glared at RaShaun. “I am not going to allow you to do this. Not at my center,” she said in a quiet, but firm voice. “What are you doing here anyway? I thought you were out of town until Friday.”

“I was supposed to be, but I left early. I would’ve been here before now to take care of this, but I couldn’t leave any sooner.”

“And by this you mean…” Brandon taunted. RaShaun’s hands balled up into fists.

Tara whipped around and this time glared at Brandon. “Stop it! Now! You know that most of the children here come from violent households or have experienced some type of violence in their lives. If you think I’m going to stand here and let them see it here, you’re both fucking crazy!” She hissed. How dare they!

She stared at Brandon until he looked away, and did the same to RaShaun until he dropped his eyes. By that point, Brenda had made it over to where they stood.

Exhaling a breath now that both men seemed to be backing off a little she told them in a calm voice, “Now, yes, I agree, you both need to talk, and I mean talk,” she emphasized to RaShaun. “But it will not be here. Have I made myself clear?”

They looked at her in silence. RaShaun shot another glare at Brandon and moved back. Tara sighed with relief. Thank God. Tara didn’t know what she would’ve done if they had ignored her.

“You’re right. I’m sorry,” RaShaun told Tara. He cut his eyes at Brandon, seemingly making an effort to cool his temper. But then he saw Brandon looking at him expectedly as if waiting on something.

“What?” he snapped.

Brandon’s jaw worked from the effort it took to keep an even tone. “If you have something to say to me, we can go to Tara’s office. It’s up to you. Out of respect for Tara and where we are, I’m not gon’ fight with you, though.”

RaShaun looked at him warily for a moment before agreeing. “Fine,” he said in a clipped voice, stalking away towards Tara’s office.

Brenda grabbed Brandon’s arm. “Do you think this is a good idea? Maybe you should just leave for now and do this when you’re both calmer.”

“No. We’ll talk now. I’d rather get this over and done with.” He looked at his sister's worried face and mustered a smile. “It’ll be ok.”

“I’m coming with you,” Tara stated.

Brandon’s dark brows pushed down over his eyes the minute the words left her mouth. “No, you’re not.”

“I wasn’t asking.” Tara left him standing there fuming at her stubbornness.

“Dammit!” he cursed under his breath.

“Brandon–”

“Brenda, it’ll be fine. I promise.” He squeezed her hand and then headed in the direction of Tara’s office. He passed Ava without word and closed the door to Tara’s office behind him.

“Now, what in the world…” Ava grumbled to herself.

First RaShaun had flown by, barely nodding a greeting, then Tara, who just said to hold all of her calls. And now Brandon. When he didn’t give her one of those cutie pie smiles of his…well, she knew something was wrong.


PART 5

Inside Tara’s office, RaShaun casually leaned against the wall with his arms folded. He looked at Tara when she came in. “I still cannot believe you’re involved with him.”

“I’m not. Not anymore. At least for the moment. And I’m not going to discuss it with you right now.”

RaShaun shook his head then straightened when Brandon came through the door. Both men eyed each other with wary expressions. With Brandon on one side of the room and RaShaun lounging on the other side, Tara stood in the middle between them.

“Before either of you say anything, I want you both to promise me that there will be no fighting.” She made eye contact with each of them. “I won’t have it. I mean it.”

Brandon stared at her for a moment, then looked at RaShaun. “You and I are never going to be able to tolerate one another. My being here has nothing to do with any of you. It’s personal. I told Tara from the beginning, that I had my own reasons for wanting to be here.”

“I’m sure you do. Do you think I’m stupid? There’s always a reason for you doing something; this is no exception, I just haven’t figured out what the reason is yet.” He turned to Tara. “He’s using you. I don’t know why you can’t see that.”

“RaShaun–”

“I did some checking and found out a few things about your boy right here. I bet he didn’t tell you he works as an ‘escort’, dating rich, lonely women for money.” RaShaun’s laugh was intentionally insulting. “He has an agenda, and I have a sneaking suspicion it includes you, Tara. Wake. Up.”


PART 6

Tara looked at Brandon with a glimmer of uncertainty in her eyes, but Brandon remained silent. He didn’t correct RaShaun's ass backwards assumption and inform him that he had actually owned that agency before recently selling it to a wealthy European company out of Amsterdam.

Demand for that line of work was high, but not all of the ‘dates’ involved sex. Many were just for escort duties, and that was it. Women were just as wealthy and powerful as men nowadays. They didn’t necessary want a relationship, but when they did want companionship, his agency had provided it. The deal he made to sell it yielded a very hefty profit which left him very well off for the rest of his life. That’s how he’d been able to pay for the house Yvonne had sold him with cash…but all of that was none of RaShaun’s business.

Instead, he kept it short and said, “I’m not in that line of work anymore.” He ignored RaShaun’s snort of disbelief. He didn’t have to explain himself to anyone. “And I’m not using Tara. I didn’t even know she worked here when I showed up.”

“RaShaun, he didn’t,” Tara added. “He was just as shocked to see me as I was to see him.” When RaShaun cut his eyes at Tara, her tone rose defensively. “Well, he didn’t.”

“So you just happened to pick this center, out of all the ones you could’ve chosen.” RaShaun’s voice revealed his skepticism.

“His sister is–”

“Tara.” Brandon quietly called her name.

“Huh?”

“Baby, I got this, okay?”

Tara snapped her mouth closed and nodded. RaShaun gave her an incredulous look and then rolled his eyes to the ceiling as if he couldn’t believe she was the same Tara he knew.

Tara gave him a quick glance then ignored him and kept her attention on Brandon, who gave her a small smile of thanks before turning back to RaShaun.

“My sister is the Assistant Director of Haven House. She’s actually been after me for a long time to volunteer some of my time here, and to be honest, I fought her every step of the way.”

Brandon hesitated. Not wanting to reveal too much, he chose his words carefully. Unknowingly, his tone carried a twinge of bitterness. “I never could understand why she would choose to be around the very kind of life that we grew up in…the kind of life we fought to get away from. But she would always tell me, she knew these kids well and understood what they were going through because these kids were her…and me. We grew up in foster care and spent the last of our teenage years in a orphanage.”

Brandon cleared his throat. This time when he continued, his voice carried little to no emotion. “I wasn’t too much into giving back. That shit was for the birds, but let’s just say some things happened to make me have a change of heart, so…. here I am.”

Tara glanced at RaShaun, but she wasn’t able to read his expression as he stared at Brandon. She could still feel his intense dislike, but some of the hostility seemed to have left his face. He was quiet and studied Brandon as if judging whether or not he was telling the truth.

“I haven’t had a chance to even tell Tara this much,” Brandon added. “The only reason I’m tellin’ you is so you can hopefully understand this has nothin’ to do with nobody except myself and my sister.”

Just then a quick knock sounded at the door before it opened. Brenda walked in and glanced around at everyone before going to stand by her brother. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t wait any longer.” Her look towards RaShaun was faintly accusing. “I needed to make sure everything was okay.”

Seeing the look she directed at him made RaShaun to frown.

Brandon reluctantly did the introductions “This is my sister, Brenda. Brenda this is–”

“I know who he is.” Then as if unable to help herself she went after RaShaun. “I was just telling Tara that no one is blameless in this entire situation, but it’s interesting that both you and your wife want to put the blame solely on my brother’s shoulders.”

“Brenda.” Brandon softly called her name.

RaShaun shook his head. “Damn. Just got women coming from every direction to defend you, don’t you?” He glanced at Brenda, his look lingering longer than necessary. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

“No, I don’t think we’ve had the displeasure of meeting. Thank goodness.” Unable to help herself, Brenda rolled her eyes hard at him.

RaShaun continued to stare. “You look familiar to me for some reason.” Shrugging it off, he brought his attention back to Brandon. “Look, bottom line, I don’t want my wife upset. I hope you get what I’m saying to you.” His voice lowered threateningly. “Let me know if I need to make it clearer.”

Brandon glanced down at the floor and shook his head. A year or so ago, he would’ve been in RaShaun’s face with a smirk, taunting and mocking him just to fuck with him. RaShaun made it so easy with his temper that half the time he hadn’t been able to help himself. He raised his head and looked RaShaun in the eye.

“I’ve already told you. I didn’t come here to start trouble. I have no intention of upsetting Yvonne.”

“Oh, believe me, you won’t. Because if you do, I’ll put my foot so far up your…”

“RaShaun!” Tara gave him a disapproving scowl.

Brandon couldn’t help it. He gave him a little smirk and looked him up and down. “Whatever….” he muttered under his breath.

RaShaun’s mouth tightened in renewed anger.

“Brandon…” Brenda’s eyes pleaded with him to just leave it alone.

RaShaun shook his head and looked pointedly at Tara. “And you say he’s changed. Just remember, when he’s finished messing with your head, you have no one to blame but yourself.” He opened the door to leave, then almost as an afterthought told her, “By the way. Yvonne told me you’re coming by for dinner Saturday night.” Keeping his eyes on Tara he jerked his head towards Brandon. “Just make sure you leave this motherfucka at home.” Then he slammed out the door.


PART 7

Brenda left a few minutes after RaShaun, leaving only Brandon and Tara in the office. Dropping down in her chair with a huge sigh of relief, Tara put her elbows on the desk and cradled her head in her hands.

“Thank you, God. Thank you,” she whispered. No bloodshed. She lifted her head and looked at Brandon. “Well, that wasn’t too bad.”

Brandon shrugged. He didn’t want to talk about RaShaun, or Yvonne, or anyone else but the two people left in the room. “Before your…cousin-in-law…so rudely interrupted us out there you looked like there was something you wanted to say to me?” He tilted his head to the side as he captured her eyes. “I’m listening,” he prompted when she remained silent.

“I…” Suddenly Tara felt a little shy and at a loss for words. “Well…” Finally, she just blurted it out. “I miss you.”

Brandon smiled and decided to have a little mercy on her. “I missed you too.”

Tara sighed with relief and felt a little bit more confident. She stood up and walked over to where he was standing. “You did? You missed me?”

Brandon bit his lip as he watched her move. He couldn’t help the way his eyes wandered over the face he’d caught himself picturing throughout the day, or the body he dreamed about being buried deep inside of whenever he closed his eyes at night.

“Yes I did,” he said slowly.

“Brandon, I’m sorry,” Tara whispered. “I guess I just felt so guilty, and I didn’t want to hurt Yvonne, and…well…”

Brandon slid his arms around Tara’s waist and pulled her close to him. Tara rested her hands on his chest and stared at him with watery eyes.

“Hey. I get it. But you can’t continue to live your life for other people at the expense of your own happiness, Tara. I’m not saying this is the best of circumstances, but it is what it is. Neither one of us set out to hurt anyone.”

“I know, but–”

“But nothing. While we’re here miserable about not seeing each other, they’re at home happy and together. I don’t know about you, but something’s not right about that picture.” Brandon smiled at her until she returned the gesture.

“You’re right. Can we go back to the way things were before?” Tara asked.

Brandon hesitated then shook his head, his expression grim. “I really don’t think that would be a good idea. Why would we want to go back to the way things were before?”

“Well…I, uh, just assumed, that…” She searched Brandon’s eyes, trying to get a clue as to what he was thinking, what he wanted.

“You assumed? You know what they say when you assume things, don’t you? You make an ASS out of U and ME.”

Tara’s mouth fell open. She tried to take a step back. Maybe she had read the signals wrong.

Brandon tried to keep a straight face when he took note of her stricken expression, but he couldn’t. Teeth flashing brilliantly against his smooth caramel skin, he burst out laughing and reached out to pull her back to him.

He bent his knees slightly to look her in the eye. “I’m joking.”

Tara slapped him on the arm. “That wasn’t funny! I thought you were serious. You ass! You play too much!”

Brandon wrapped his arms around her and hugged her, rocking slightly from side to side. Tara slid her arms around his waist and buried her nose in his neck. She loved the way he always smelled so good.

“Can I ask you a question?” Tara looked up at him, wanting to see his face when he answered. “Were you really an escort?”

Brandon’s body stiffened. His facial features closed up in an expression she was beginning to recognize as cautious, almost protective.

“I’m not judging you,” Tara said in a gentle voice. “Just…curious.”

“Not judging, huh? So if I told you that everything RaShaun said was true, that yeah, I used to be an escort who…did things with women for money…you’re sayin’ that wouldn’t change your opinion of me?”

“Well…no. I didn’t say that. There’s no way something like that couldn’t change the way I see you, Brandon.”

His eyes cooled a bit before his lashes swept down to try and hide his reaction. “That’s what I thought.” Brandon’s mouth twisted bitterly.
“It’s cool, tho’. Can’t really say I’m surprised.”

“I am. Surprised, I mean. I never, ever thought I could find you any sexier, but I do.”

Brandon’s eyebrows quickly bunched together. “What?”

“I am so hot for you, right now. You have no idea.”

For a moment, Brandon looked confused as if trying to reconcile what he’d heard to what he thought she’d meant. Once he did, the smile started in his eyes. They squinted and crinkled at the corners until the grin reached his mouth.

“Oh really…”

Tara snuggled closer, raising her head to kiss his chin. “Mmhm.”

“Hmph. Okay. Guess I’ll admit I didn’t see that coming.”

“Good. Glad to know I can throw you off balance once in a while.”

“Yeah, I ain’t gon’ lie. That definitely caused me to stumble a bit,” he laughed. “Thought you was gettin’ ready to kick me to the curb…again.”

“You’re not getting away from me that easily.” They smiled at one another for several seconds before Tara asked, “So, did you really miss me?” she asked.

“I missed the hell outta you, girl, but now I got a question. What changed your mind about wantin’ to be with me? You were so adamant about us not being together a couple of days ago. And then there’s still going to be the problem with Yvonne. Tara, I hate that I’m the cause of tension between you two.”

“Let me handle Yvonne and RaShaun. I don’t know how or when, but you got under my skin, Brandon Valentine. Whatever this is between us, I want to explore it further.” Tara’s eyes dropped to his lips and lingered there before she raised her eyes back to his. “I hope you do too.”

His amusement from a moment ago faded. His hands slipped down to her hips and held her firmly against him. “I’m telling you now, I want to be more than just some fuck buddy. I mean, that part of the relationship is cool and all, but I’m at a point in my life where I want more. You okay with that?”

Smiling, Tara nodded. “Uh-huh.”

“Good. So we’re gonna try to do this then, right?”

Again she nodded. “Yes.”

Her eyes dropped down to his lips again. She slid arms from around his waist and brought them up around his neck. Standing on tiptoe, Tara pulled his lips down to hers and gave him a soft kiss, which Brandon deepened by pressing his lips firmly against hers and slipping his tongue inside her mouth. Tara released a long sigh and melted against him, returning the kiss with hungry enthusiasm.

When their mouths reluctantly separated, Brandon caught his breath as Tara did a little grind against his crotch area. “See, there you go. Don’t start nothin’ you don’t intend on finishing.”

“What makes you think I’m not going to finish it?” she asked slyly.

Brandon’s brow shot up. He glanced at the desk. “Now?”

Tara burst out laughing. “The desk again? So much for imagination.”

“So you sayin’ I’m boring, is that it? Okay,” he nodded. Stepping back, he grabbed her hand and pulled her behind him towards the door. “Tell you what. Why don’t we get out of here and go to your place, and I’ll show you just how boring I really am.”

Tara laughed and held back. “I can’t. I have something I have to do.” Slipping her hand free of his, she went to grab her purse from her desk.

Brandon frowned and looked down at the erection straining against his zipper, then back up to her. True they hadn’t been with each other very many times, but in that short amount of time he’d come to know her body well. She wanted this just as much as he did, so what was so important that she wanted to put it off. His baffled expression told her just that.

“Alright. You got somethin’ to do that’s more important than you and me finishing what we started here?”

“Uh-huh.”

Tara walked past him and opened the door, but he reached in front of her and closed it. Tara turned around and leaned back against it as she stared up at him with an innocent expression. Brandon waited with an expectant look on his face. When no explanation was forthcoming, he leaned forward with his forearm resting on the side of head and bent down until his face was inches away from hers.

“Tara...”

“Yes?”

“Don’t play with me, baby. Especially not now. I want you. Bad. Let’s not play games.”

“I’m not. But right not I need to get some things straight between myself and my cousin once and for all. I don’t want that hanging over us, so I’m headed over there now to, what was it you told me when you slammed out of here the other night, handle my business.”

Brandon pushed away from her and got quiet. It wasn’t the reaction she expected.

Tara frowned. “What’s wrong? I thought you’d be happy. I want us to start off with a clean slate, Brandon. No drama.”

Brandon’s gut suddenly grew tight, as if it was tying itself up into tight knots. He thought about Terri and Kiki. His fucking life was nothing but drama.

“Brandon?” Tara called his name, waiting on him to answer.

“What’s wrong is that the last time you talked to Yvonne, I ended up getting a phone call telling me you didn’t want to see me again. How do I know that’s not gonna happen again?”

Staring him deep in the eye, Tara grabbed a handful of the front of his shirt and yanked him to her. “You know because I’m telling you it’s not, that’s how. Remember, the last time I told you if there was a choice to make, I’d choose family. This time I’m telling you, I’m choosing us.” She pulled him down further and gave him a long, thorough kiss. When she released his lips, Brandon gave her that slow, sexy, familiar smile.

“Well, damn. Then go handle your business, woman.”


PART 8

Yvonne stood in the doorway of the bathroom as RaShaun gave Faith her evening bath. She smiled at the mess they were making, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She loved the relationship the two of them had, and she never forgot how blessed they were to have Faith in their lives.

She’d been surprised, but happy, when RaShaun walked in the house a couple of hours ago, and Faith had been a bundle of energy ever since. When she tried to ask him about being home two days early, he’d leaned down and kissed her until she almost forgot the question. Then he’d reached for his daughter. The time had passed quickly after that. During dinner, they’d talked about his trip and discussed the doctor’s appointment she’d had while he was away.

Faith’s squeal of laughter brought her attention back to them. Yvonne smiled as RaShaun wrapped Faith up in a big fluffy towel and finished drying her off. After he lotioned and powdered her down, he told her she smelled just like a little princess should. He brought her to Yvonne so that she could kiss her good night. While he took Faith to her room to tuck her in, Yvonne went to the kitchen to start stacking the dishes in the dishwasher.

RaShaun entered the kitchen about fifteen minutes later, telling her with a smile that Faith was so worn out from playing that she fallen asleep almost the second her head hit the pillow.

“Yes she was so excited when she saw you,” Yvonne grinned.

“I was only gone for a few days, but I missed my girls.” Leaning against the counter, he stared off into the distance before realizing what Yvonne was doing. “Hey, I told you I’d get that. You’re supposed to be relaxing. That was the whole purpose of me getting Faith ready for bed.”

“I appreciate it, babe, but there weren’t that many dishes. I’m finished now anyway.” Yvonne watched RaShaun open the refrigerator and take out a bottle of water. She wiped her hands on the dishtowel and casually asked, “So honey, what time did you say you made it in?”

RaShaun shrugged. “A little while before I got here.”

Yvonne’s eyes narrowed at his avoidance of the question. “Did you come straight home from the airport?”

“Mmmm. More or less.”

Yvonne tossed the dishtowel on the counter. “You went to Haven House, didn’t you? To look for Brandon.”

RaShaun stared at her and screwed the top on the water. He went back to the fridge. He was gonna need a beer for this conversation.

“Shaun! Why did you do that? I told you there was no need.”

“I know. I just wanted to reiterate and reinforce whatever you said. You know. Back up.”

“I knew you were acting too calm about the whole situation.” She paused. “Well, what happened? Please don’t tell me you made a scene, or worse, fought with him.”

“Vonnie, of course not.”

RaShaun avoided her gaze and grabbed her hand, leading her to the family room. They sat down on the couch with Yvonne curled up under his arm. “He and I talked. Got some things out in the open. I told him to stay away from my family or else I’d put my foot in his ass.”

“And you promise you two didn’t get into it?”

“I promise.”

“I assume Tara was there.”

“Yeah. She was.” RaShaun shook his head as he remembered how protective Tara seemed towards Brandon. “You’re right, she’s lost her damn mind.”

“I did not say she’d lost her mind!”

RaShaun grinned and shrugged.

“Brandon just manipulated her until he got what he wanted,” Yvonne said in defense of her cousin. “I’m not sure what his motives are, but I don’t trust him.”

“I know you said she called him and told him it was over, but I got the feelings things were still hot and heavy.”

Yvonne frowned and sat up. “What do you mean? I heard her tell him they were through myself.”

RaShaun hunched his shoulders. “Babe, all I can tell you is all the signs were there. The looks, the quick smiles…I could barely say a word to him without her jumping to his defense.” RaShaun grew quiet, looking as if he was lost deep in thought.

“What is it?” Yvonne asked.

“I’m not sure, to be honest. I’m just thinking that I’ve never seen Tara act that way with anyone before. She really seems to like him.”

“Shaun, we both know Brandon can maneuver any situation to his advantage. I don’t want her hurt.”

Again RaShaun remained quiet.

“Okay. What is wrong with you?” Yvonne asked again.

Shaun shook his head, as if reluctant to put his thoughts into words. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I just got the feeling that he’s into her as much as she’s into him.”

Yvonne held a hand up to stop him. “Okay, where is my husband and what have you done with him? Are you sick?” She felt his forehead. “You don’t have a fever. I cannot believe you just said that.”

“Vonnie, come on. You know I wouldn’t admit something like that lightly. I don’t want Tara hurt anymore than you do, but honey I got the feeling he was being sincere….or as sincere as Brandon can be,” he added taking a swallow of his beer.

Yvonne opened her mouth to reply, but the doorbell rang before she could say anything. They both frowned and looked at each other.

“Are you expecting somebody?” Yvonne asked.

RaShaun got up. “No. Be right back.”

Yvonne sat back and closed her eyes. Seconds later she heard Tara’s irritated voice.

“RaShaun, I know you think you’re funny, but you’re not!”

Yvonne’s eyes opened as watched Tara and RaShaun come back into the room.

“What? I just asked if you had permission from your boyfriend to come over?” RaShaun said innocently, then laughed in satisfaction as Tara gave him the finger.

Yvonne shook her head at her husband. He was always trying to provoke Tara and she usually fell for it. Neither of them had a sibling, so they relished the bickering, which was their norm.

Tara put her hands on her hips, and pointed at RaShaun. “Did he tell you what he did?”

“Yes, but T., he was just–”

“But T. nothing. He came in there like he was in the wild, wild, west, or some shit, inviting Brandon to a shootout! Ridiculous!”

Yvonne gave her husband a look of reprimand. “RaShaun, you said you didn’t make a scene.”

“I didn’t.” RaShaun shrugged and sat down on the arm of the chair with his arms folded and looked at Tara. He could almost see the steam coming out of her ears.

“Only because I threatened to kick yours and Brandon’s asses if you fought in front of my kids.”

“Come on, I never would’ve taken it that far.”

“You shouldn’t have even have brought your happy ass up there to begin with, Rah. I’ve tried to tell both of you that he’s changed, but you don’t want to hear that.”

“And you act like you don’t remember how he was a year and a half ago,” Yvonne snapped.

“That’s right, Vonnie, a year and a half ago. You don’t think people can change and grow up? He doesn’t even get the benefit of the doubt?”

“Tara please! The Brandon we knew–”

“Exactly! The Brandon you knew! He’s not the same person. And anyway, give me a little credit. Do you really think I’d be in a relationship with an asshole like the person he was back then?” Tara rolled her eyes at both of them.

Without moving his head, RaShaun slanted a look at his wife out of the corner of his eye. Yvonne stood up and folded her arms as she gave Tara a direct stare, which Tara returned…with attitude.

RaShaun lowered his head. Here we go.

“What do you mean ‘relationship’?” Yvonne asked.

“Exactly what I said.” Tara replied in a sassy voice, but almost immediately, her face softened. “Yvonne, I like him. You don’t have to like it, but I don’t want this to come between us.”

“Tara…”

“No, Yvonne.” Tara stepped forward and took Yvonne’s hands in hers. “You’re more than my cousin, you’re my sister. And sisters are there for one another, no matter what. After you left RaShaun and came to stay with me, you know how big a mistake I thought you were making.”

“How could I not know, you were so vocal in telling me what an idiot I was.” A hint of a smile touched Yvonne’s face. “You told me your feelings on the situation, gave me advice…” Yvonne reluctantly finished the sentence. “And then let me make my own decision.”

They looked at one another as a look of understanding passed between them.

Yvonne reached out and gave Tara a hug. “Fine. Just don’t say I didn’t tell you so.”

Tara laughed. “Thank you, cousin.”

“Oh, so now I’m a cousin again,” Yvonne teased her. “What happened to being your sister?”

Tara picked up her purse and kissed her on the cheek. After leaning over and hugging RaShaun goodbye, they all walked to the door. Before she left, Tara turned around as if she’d forgotten something.

“Oh! Is dinner still on for tomorrow?”

“Yes, I have the steaks marinating now.”

“Good. But take another one out if you don’t mind.”

RaShaun’s eyes narrowed when he saw the mischievous expression in Tara’s eyes. He slowly shook his head. “No, Tara.”

“Right,” Yvonne laughed. “We are not wasting a perfectly good steak. You can barely eat one.”

“Oh. It’s not for me.” She turned and hurried to her car. When she opened it, she looked back and called out, “It’s for Brandon. Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

RaShaun started walking towards Tara but she quickly hopped in the car and sped off. The little minx, he fumed, leading a shocked Yvonne back inside the house.

“Wait. What just happened?” she asked “How…how did she do that?”

“You’re out of practice, sweetie. She set you us from the minute she walked in.”

Yvonne looked at him, still somewhat in a daze. “And we call Brandon a manipulator.”


PART 9

Brandon paced back and forth in his living room as he waited for Tara. He looked around again to make sure everything was perfect.

The lights were dimmed and soft music played in the background. He’d moved his sofa and table to accommodate the large fur blanket he’d spread in the middle of the living room, along with pillows of all sizes. Candles flickered throughout the room, allowing their seductive fragrance to permeate the room. A bottle of wine rested in an ice bucket beside the blanket, and he’d just taken out a covered tray filled with fruits, cheeses, and chocolate covered strawberries.

Wondering what was taking her so long, Brandon glanced down at his watch for the tenth time in as many minutes. Maybe I should call her…

No. He’d give her a few more minutes, then he’d call. Rubbing his hands together, he’d just started his pacing again when his cell phone rang. “Finally!” he said under his breath before answering it. “Hey, you on your way?”

“Huh?”

Brandon grimaced. “Oh. ‘Sup Bren.”

“‘Sup Bren’? Well excuse the hell out of me.” Brenda tried not to laugh. “She hasn’t made it yet, huh?”

“Nope. And to be honest, I’m beginning to get a little nervous.”

“She’s coming, big brother.”

“You know what happened last time she talked to Yvonne. She…” Brandon paused when he heard a soft knock on the door. “Wait. I think that’s her. Bye, sis. Talk to you later.”

Brandon hung up the phone without giving Brenda a chance to answer. His long legs quickly took him to the door. He placed with his hand on the doorknob and took a deep breath before opening the door. He tried to look cool and calm, but his eyes lit up the moment he saw her.

Tara smiled, and without hesitating, walked directly into his arms. Brandon held her to him and closed the door.

“You thought I wasn’t coming, didn’t ya’?” she grinned.

“Who, me? Nah, baby. I didn’t doubt you at all,” Brandon said with a straight face before he broke out into a smile.

“Good. Because wild horses wouldn’t have been able to keep me away.” Tara turned her lips up to his in a silent invitation and sighed softly when Brandon complied.

Tara’s body melted against him. Brandon was such a good kisser. He was also the sexiest man she’d ever met, and when it came to making love, his confidence and desire to please came through in everything he did, especially those lips of his.

“Mmmm. Well I guess that was worth waiting for,” Brandon breathed, his eyes lazy with his desire for her.

“You guess?”

Brandon smiled in a way that had her ready to rip his clothes off his fine body. “I’ve been thinking about you all day. I don’t want to wait another second to have you.”

“Good. You won’t have to.” Tara stepped back and started unbuttoning her blouse. She watched him watching her the entire time and noticed the way his throat worked up and down as he swallowed.

Brandon’s sharp gaze was riveted to each button, willing them to work themselves loose quicker. Finally, she pulled the blouse from her shoulders and let it drop to the floor.

His hungry eyes devoured the tops of her breasts, which practically overflowed out of the cups of the sheer lavender bra. The dark nipples that stood at attention and teased him through the material mesmerized him. When her hands moved to her skirt, no amount of money in the world could’ve made him look away.

Tara hooked her thumbs on each side of her skirt and did a little shimmy twist movement with her hips to help her get the snug material over her very generous derriere. Brandon stood there, tense and ready, in case his assistance was needed. He took a step towards her, but Tara held up a finger and slowly shook it from side, effectively stopping him in his tracks.

“Ah, ah, ahhh. Right now, you can look…and I’ll tell you when you can touch.”

Brandon’s stiff dick was ready to take control and get to that sweet spot of hers that was calling his name, but he’d be patient and play her little game. For now. He took a couple of steps back, but his eyes promised retribution.

Tara let the skirt drop to the floor and raised each stiletto-clad foot one at a time to step out of it. She slowly and precisely hooked a finger under the string of the thong sitting low on her hips and gave it a gentle tug upwards.

Brandon agonized groans told her how much he wanted her. His eager eyes lowered to the V formation of her sex between her thick brown thighs. “Tara….”

Her name came out as a hoarse plea. When she turned around and looked at the area where he’d placed the blanket and wine, the sound that escaped him could only be described as a man in pain from wanting, no craving, something as if his life depended on it.

Even when they hadn’t been able to stand the ground the other walked on, he’d never been able to stop himself from watching her walk out of a room. The matching lavender thong she wore showed off her round, firm ass to perfection. Brandon’s dick was so hard and so ready. He was determined to have her face down and ass up before the night was over with.

Tara casually walked around the living room, looking at and touching the expensive sculptures and vases he’d collected throughout the years.

“You have a very nice home, baby. Very modern and classy, but warm.”

Brandon clenched his teeth to stop from telling her he didn’t give a fuck whether or not she approved of the décor. He was only going to be able to tolerate this little game of hers for so long, then he’d take matters into his own hands. As if reading his thoughts, Tara turned towards him and beckoned him with her finger to come to her.

The corner of his mouth lifted as he did as she requested. Well. Maybe he could put up with it for a little while longer. He pulled his shirt out of his pants and began to unbutton it. He haphazardly threw it on the sofa. When he stood in front of her she pushed his hands away from his belt and reached out to palm his erection through his pants. She leaned forward and pressed little butterfly kisses on his chest and licked his beaded nipples.

“Do you know I couldn’t sleep at night for thinking about you…and this?” She squeezed his dick firmly through his pants and rubbed the length of it up and down before she unbuckled and unzipped his pants. “Can I taste it, baby? Would you mind?”

He gave her his answer by putting his hand on her shoulder and pushing her down south. She smiled and pulled his pants and underwear down to his knees then began placing wet, open mouthed kisses up one side of his shaft then down the other. Tara licked the tip of tongue back and forth over the slit, tasting the generous amount of pre-cum that oozed out. Her hand curved around his length, stroking him with just the right grip.

Brandon bit down hard on his lip. He was almost at his breaking point. “Tara…that feels good, baby.”

Tara looked up and him as she slowly wrapped her lips around the head of his dick and suctioned him into her mouth one precious inch at a time. Her jaws caved in slightly as she sucked him deeper and deeper before sliding his dick out of her mouth. Using her tongue, she licked and circled around his balls, popping them into her mouth and gently sucking them before noisily slurping her way back up to his dickhead.

“Shit…” Brandon’s hands clenched in Tara’s hair and pulled her back. He quickly removed his shoes and the rest of his clothes and pushed her down on the blanket. He made short work of removing her bra and thong. Covering his body with hers, he moaned from the contact of finally feeling her naked skin against his.

“You’re driving me crazy, you know that?” he said a minute before he plunged his tongue deep into her mouth, faintly tasting his flavor.

They devoured each other in desperation, teeth nipping at lips, tongues battling tongues. Gone was the teasing playfulness. Tara wanted him to feel him inside of her now. She pushed her hands upwards on his shoulders and pushed him back. Brandon flipped them over so that he was lying on his back and Tara straddled above him.

Continuing to kiss her, Brandon reached under the pillow and brought out a condom to give to her. He watched as she quickly tore it open and rolled it down over his dick. Once she was done, he lifted her by the waist and guided her down his thick length. They both cried out loud, verbally expressing the extent of their arousal every inch of the way.

“Brandon, you feel so good. You’re so…so deep inside of me,” Tara gasped.

Brandon groaned at her words and raised his hips upward as he pulled her down, closing his eyes as he felt her tightness surrounding him. No woman had ever made him feel as good as Tara did.

She moved sensuously above him, her sinewy body riding him as if she were taming a runaway bronco. Brandon moved just as wild and restless as one too.

“Ah, yes Tara, don’t stop baby. Damn!” Brandon’s hands rested on her waist, letting her do her thing. He gritted his teeth tight from the effort it took to stop him from shooting his load.

“Is all this dick yours, Tara?”

“Mmm…yes baby….this is my dick…all of it.”

“Then ride it like it’s yours. Let me know you want it.”

Spurred into action, Tara surged on his dick with a vengeance, moving up and down, fucking him the way he wanted her to fuck him. She plunged down his length again and again. Screaming his name, she threw her head back as she reached her peak. Brandon came at the same time, lifting his hips and filling the condom up with cum that had been building up for days from wanting her and being denied what was his.

Breathing hard and body trembling, Tara collapsed on top of him. She rested her head on his shoulder, and for several long minutes, neither of them uttered a word. Brandon moved his hand down and cupped her ass, squeezing the fullness, before moving his hands up to softly caress her body.

“That felt good, baby,” he said in a low and lazy voice.

“Yeah. It did.”

Brandon kissed the top of her head and squeezed her tight before sliding her off him and onto the rug. Standing, he went to the half-bath right off the foyer and disposed of the condom before going back to lie beside Tara. Pulling her into his arms, they both closed their eyes as exhaustion overtook them stemming from a combination of not having slept the last few days as well as from the intensity of their lovemaking.

About thirty minutes later, Tara’s eyes fluttered open. She sighed in contentment and snuggled closer in Brandon’s arms. She smiled when felt his dick jump as if sensing she was ready for round two. “I see one part of your anatomy is waking up, even if you’re not,” she whispered.

His chest rumbled beneath her cheek as he laughed. “That’s one part you don’t ever have to worry about, baby. He stays on standby for whenever he’s needed.”

Tara’s laughter joined his, loving this relaxed side of him. Maybe this would be a good time to let him know…


PART 10

“Baby?” She rubbed her hand over the fine hairs on his chest. Continuing her journey, her fingers slid to his stomach and then on to his rapidly hardening dick.

“Mmmmm…yeah, baby?”

“I hope you’re not going to mind but I made plans for us tomorrow.” Tara stroked him steadily, lightly sliding her thumb over the tip of his dick and using the clear precum as a lubricant.

Brandon inhaled, groaning with pleasure. “Yeah. Just like that, Tara.”

“Did you hear me?” she asked softly

“Yeah, you made plans for us. Good.” The words came out as a thick rumble.

“So you don’t mind?”

“Uh-uh. Where we goin’?” But it was obvious from his tone that he didn’t care where they went as long as she didn’t stop stroking him the way she was doing.

“Well…RaShaun and Vonnie invited you to come to their house for dinner with me tomorrow.” Tara held her breath as soon as she blurted out the answer.

Brandon had been pushing himself in and out of her talented little hand, quietly moaning her name, but when he heard Tara’s abrupt and awkward invitation, he got completely still. With the quickness of a rattler’s strike, he reached down and grabbed her wrist that was on its way to stroking him towards a pleasurable end.

He leaned up and pushed her on her back so that he could stare directly in her eyes. “What did you say?”

“I said Tara and Rah invited you to come to dinner tomorrow night.”

“That’s what I thought you said,” Brandon sighed. “Baby, tell me you not serious.”

Tara nodded and gave him the same innocent smile she’d given RaShaun and Yvonne.

“Aw hell no! Absolutely not!” Brandon shook his head, but when he started to get up, Tara rolled him over on his back again.

Brandon’s expression was deadly serious. “Tara, I said no and I meant it. It’s not happenin’.”

“Okay, baby. I heard you.” Holding his eyes with hers, she kept the serene smile on her face and slowly inched down his body. It was clear what her end destination was.

Brandon clenched his teeth tight. “Tara. Tara, I’m not playin’. Tara. Tar–Ughhhh…” He closed his eyes and threw his head back when her mouth found its pulsating eight-inch target.

“Awwww, shhhhit…” he moaned. “Shit. Shit. Shit!”


PART 11

The moment he felt Tara’s mouth on him, Brandon knew he was in trouble. He opened his eyes and watched her holding his dick at the base while her tongue licked the length of his chocolate stick. Her tongue slowly swiped all the way to the top and circled the head of his dick before repeating the movement. She tilted her head as if she were licking around a cone and trying to stop the melting ice-cream from dribbling down the side. It felt like…fuck, he wasn’t gon’ lie, it felt like he was in heaven gettin’ blessed for a job well done on earth.

His attention was momentarily caught by Tara’s expression. A look of pure enjoyment was etched on her face, almost as if she were fulfilling an innate desire she never wanted to end. Her eyes, half-closed and seductive, stared at him the entire time as her warm, wet mouth, and full, pouty lips slid down the veins of his thick shaft. Damn. He seriously wondered what he’d ever done to deserve such perfection as her? Maybe it was a sign that things in his life were shifting and changing for the better.

Brandon’s head slowly dropped back to the floor. Closing his eyes again, he relaxed and enjoyed the blowjob of a lifetime, and that was no exaggeration. He’d never been one to over romanticize sex, but with Tara it was different than anything he’d ever indulged in. It was hard to explain but there was something extremely intimate about it. Sex with Tara made him feel vulnerable. Exposed. To be honest, the feeling was a little intimidating, but it was also a freeing experience.

Speaking of which, Tara had now worked the customized mouth massage into a nice, easy rhythm. Brandon knew his eruption was just moments away.

“Tara…baby, I’m gettin’ ready to come.”

Although he prayed she would swallow the ample amount of pleasure he was about to release, he still wanted to give her a choice. When she moaned and started jacking his grade-A meat faster with her hand while increasing the speed at which her lips vigorously worked his pole, he let out a silent prayer of thanks. Reaching down to grab a handful of her thick, curly hair, Brandon’s hips pumped faster and deeper in her mouth three or four more times until he erupted like an active volcano.

“Ughhhhh…Awww, yessss….” he hissed. Brandon held her head still to receive his juicy flavor. “Tara…Mmmm…”

His thick, sticky liquid gushed in spurts in steady intervals, lubricating her mouth and flowing down throat. His moans became more guttural when she swallowed, squeezing his pulsating flesh with her mouth and tongue muscles. For the next three to five seconds, Brandon transcended to another level where the pleasure he felt was unparalleled. It was just that good.

When he released the last of his seed, Brandon’s weakened body collapsed on the floor. Completely satisfied, he closed his eyes and tried to catch his breath.

Tara released him from her mouth and kissed her way upwards, over his stomach and chest to snuggle contentedly in his arms again.

Brandon held her close and kissed her forehead. “Woman, that mouth of yours needs to come with a warning.”

Tara giggled softly. “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“Believe me, that’s an understatement,” he said between harsh breaths. “I wish I could think of a more appropriate word to describe it but right now my brain is a jumbled ball of mush.”

Tara lips rained light kisses over his chest before peering up at him. “That’s okay. I feel the same way every time you make me feel good. I just wish…”

When the rest of her sentence trailed off with a deep sigh, he asked, “You wish what?”

“Well…do you think you can at least consider going to dinner at Yvonne’s house tomorrow? I know it’s a lot to ask and you don’t have to give me an answer now–”

“What time?” he asked, cutting in on her long, drawn out explanation.

A couple of beats passed before Tara answered in a hushed tone. She almost sounded like she was holding her breath. “Seven o’clock.”

“Okay.”

Tara lifted her head to stare at him in shock. “Okay?" 

“Yeah. If it’s that important to you, I’ll go.”

“You will?”

Brandon smiled at her expression of disbelief. “Mmhm.”

“Thank you, baby. I appreciate you doing this for me.”

“And I appreciate what you just did for me,” Brandon teased with a lazy chuckle. “You just don’t know how much I appreciate it.”

He kissed her head again before his heavy lids closed. Truth be told, she could’ve asked him for anything at that moment and he would’ve done it or died trying. Brandon was well aware that she had used sex to get her way, but he didn’t care. He could put up with a couple of hours at the Patterson’s house for Tara. Hell, he was betting on her showing her “appreciation” again afterwards when they got back to his place. As far as he was concerned the trade off was more than worth it. And so was Tara.


PART 12

The next evening, Tara and Brandon pulled up in RaShaun and Yvonne’s driveway. Tara’s eyes narrowed when she saw the car that was already parked in front of them.

What was Quincy doing there? Dammit RaShaun!

She looked at Brandon out of the corner of his eye. Should she tell him?

Probably. But she knew if she did, there was no way he’d go through with this. It was bad enough knowing that RaShaun held such hostility towards him, but to have to deal with Quincy tonight as well? He was just as bad as Rah. Tara came to a split second decision and shook her head to herself…and prayed.

Brandon rounded the front of the car and opened Tara’s door. She was still a little shocked that he had actually agreed to come. She sighed in pleasure at the memory of how she’d thanked him for the rest of the night until they’d fallen into an exhausted sleep.

“Just what are you smilin’ at?” Brandon asked, but his lips mirrored hers because he knew exactly what she was thinking about.

Tara stepped out and gave him a quick kiss. “Oh, I think you know.”

He leaned down and kissed her again before taking her hand. “A’ight, let’s hurry up and get this over and done with. You still have some makin’ up to do with me,” he grinned.

Tara’s smile turned to a nervous grimace as they passed Quincy’s car on the way to the front door. Wait until I get my hands on you, Rah. And Vonnie would hear a few choice words from her as well. She could’ve at least called and given her a heads up.

Tara knocked on the door and fixed a smile on her face as it swung open. RaShaun stood in the doorway, his eyes immediately going to Brandon’s in silent warning. Brandon shook his head, and cut his eyes away from RaShaun.

“Uh, can we come in?” Tara said with a hint of the irritation she was feeling towards him clearly in her voice.

RaShaun finally dragged his eyes away from Brandon and looked at Tara. He stepped back to allow them in. Once inside, she gave him the bottle of wine she’d picked up. Because of his little stunt inviting Quincy, she wished she’d opted for the cheapest she could find instead of the expensive one she’d purchased as a way to thank them.

“Yvonne’s in the kitchen,” RaShaun said. He gave Brandon one last glared before turning and leading the way. Once they got to the kitchen they found Yvonne sitting at the table talking to Quincy’s wife, Gina.

“Babe, Tara’s here.”

Yvonne’s eyes darted to Brandon before giving Tara a kiss on the cheek. She ignored the question in Tara’s eye and looked at Brandon again.

“Hello.”

“Hey, Yvonne. Thanks for inviting me. How are you?”

RaShaun snorted loudly. Brandon’s mouth tightened in irritation, but he determinedly ignored him and kept his eyes on Yvonne. For Tara’s sake, he was not gonna let RaShaun provoke him tonight. The only reason he agreed to come was because he knew how important it was to Tara. Even though he’d put on a show about not wanting to come when she first asked him, he’d known almost from the moment she brought it up that he would do it. He was discovering that he was finding it hard to deny her anything.

Yvonne introduced the woman sitting on the barstool beside her. Tara held her breath. Brandon’s eyes studied the woman, as if trying to place her.

“Brandon, this is our friend, Gina. Gina, Brandon.”

Brandon smiled and reached over to shake Gina’s hand. “Nice to meet you, Gina.”

“You as well.”

They all turned when they heard another voice from behind them by the French doors where RaShaun was standing.

“Damn, Rah. So you wasn't lying. He’s back.”


PART 12

Quincy came in and stopped beside RaShaun. Both of them stood staring at Brandon as if they couldn’t believe he actually had the nerve to show up.

“Told ya’,” RaShaun answered.

Brandon slowly turned his head and glared at Tara, willing her to look at him. His eyes promised her that she would definitely hear about this later. Tara averted her eyes, looking everywhere except at him.

“Quincy, I didn’t know that you were going to be here,” she said with false gaiety through clenched teeth. She looked at Yvonne who suddenly became busy preparing the salad on the large island in the middle of the kitchen.

“Oh, we invited him and Gina at the last minute since you took it upon yourself to increase the guest list.” RaShaun met her furious eyes with a look of unaffected calm.

“RaShaun.” Yvonne called his name out in a quiet warning.

Brandon turned squarely to face Tara, this time not letting her avoid his eyes. “What does he mean you took it upon yourself? I thought you said…” he bit off the rest of what he was going to say as anger overtook him.

Taking pity on her cousin, Yvonne wiped her hands on a dishtowel and walked over to them. “Brandon, what he means is that if it’s important to Tara to have you over, then its okay with us.” The smile she gave him was forced but it was obvious she was trying to make an effort. “Also, RaShaun’s parents flew in to surprise us this morning, so they’re going to be here as well. They took Faith out with them to see a friend of theirs who lives here. They should be back shortly.”

Tara gave Yvonne a grateful look. Brandon, however, was still far from convinced on whether or not he should stay. RaShaun’s detective friend and his parents? He sent a look Tara’s way again, letting her know she was not off the hook. Not by a long shot. However, he nodded his appreciation to Yvonne.

Yvonne turned to RaShaun. “Since we all know the situation here, there’s no need to pretend. RaShaun, you promised you would be civil, so would you remember that, honey? Please?”

RaShaun looked at his wife. “Fine.” he muttered reluctantly under his breath before turning to Brandon and asking grudgingly, “Would you like a beer?”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

“Come on. I have them in a cooler outside, and I need to check on the steaks.” It wasn’t the politest of offers, but it would have to do. He and Quincy left out and went to the backyard.

Brandon looked at Tara again before following them. Here we go.



CHAPTER 13

Once outside, RaShaun grabbed a beer out of the cooler and handed it to Brandon. He caught Quincy’s eye before going to the grill to check his steaks. Yeah, he’d promised Yvonne that he would be cordial…but Quincy hadn’t.

Quincy read the look and ran with it. He folded his arms and eyed Brandon up and down. “So…you’re dating Tara now, huh?”

Brandon returned Quincy’s stare, dislike clearly evident in his expression. He hadn’t forgotten how Quincy had influenced the police that day in the park when he and RaShaun had fought. Even though RaShaun had thrown the first punch, by the time Quincy had finished putting a spin on his version of events, they were ready to arrest Brandon as well as RaShaun if he decided to proceed with the complaint.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but yeah. I am.”

Quincy raised an eyebrow, then turned around to look at RaShaun. He lowered his voice, but still spoke loud enough for Brandon to hear him. “You hear this cocky motherfucka, Rah? ‘Not that it’s any of my business’. Who the fuck he think he talkin’ to?”

RaShaun looked back at Brandon, then at Quincy and hunched his shoulders. “I couldn’t tell ya Q., because he damn sure isn’t talking to me.”

“Hmph,” Quincy grunted, turning back to Brandon. “Son, let me tell you something. Anything that happens with my man here and his family is my business. And Tara is part of his family so, yeah, that makes it my business.”

Brandon’s eyes narrowed. “Well, let me tell you something…son. Tara is a grown ass woman, so don’t worry about her. I got that. And as for me, I sure as hell don’t answer to nobody. So I appreciate your concern. Thanks…but no thanks.”

Brandon held Quincy’s stare for a few more seconds before nonchalantly sitting down in one of the chairs on the patio. Placing his beer on the table beside him, he looked at his phone when he heard it buzz. Brenda had sent him a text. Ignoring RaShaun and Quincy, he started typing a reply.

RaShaun stared at Brandon. Forgetting the promise he’d made to Yvonne, he said, “Q., don’t sweat it, man. Tara’s eventually going to realize she’s too good for him anyway. Let’s be real. What exactly do you think he has to offer a woman like Tara anyway? Not a got damn thing.”


CHAPTER 14

Brandon’s fingers stilled in the middle of typing the text. He lifted his head to look up at RaShaun. Propping his elbow on the arm of the chair and placing his finger over his mouth, he leaned back in the chair.

The animosity radiating from both RaShaun and Quincy was unmistakable. Hell, Brandon could even understand it, but that didn’t mean he was going to sit there and meekly take it. 

 

To make things worse, their comments about Tara had hit a sore spot, because deep down inside, he’d been wondering the same thing. What did he have to offer a woman like Tara who had her shit together? Hearing them express his insecurities out loud made him throw all of his good intentions out the window.

“That’s right,” Quincy laughed. Sensing blood, he pushed even further. “You still fuckin’ women for money, Mr. Gigolo?”

“Why, bruh? Your wife need my services?” Brandon’s response flew out of his mouth before he had a chance to filter the reply.

Quincy froze. “Tha’ fuck you just say you li’l son of a…”

The next instant Brandon was on his feet a second before Quincy charged at him. Bitchass mothafuckas. 



CHAPTER 15

The women were still in the kitchen talking and finishing up the side dishes. Yvonne listened in silence while Tara filled Gina in on the latest programs they planned on adding to Haven House to help the community. Yvonne was very proud of her. Tara truly cared about the kids that came to the center as well as the people in the neighborhood, and they loved her as much as she loved them.

Yvonne had been thinking about what Tara told her last night when she stopped by. During the period she and RaShaun had gone through a rough spot in their relationship, Tara had been there for her every step of the way. Although Tara had talked to her many times and told Yvonne why she felt leaving RaShaun was a mistake, Tara made it clear that she would support her not matter what she decided. Yvonne had decided it was only fair that she return the favor.

However, it had been her idea to invite Quincy and Gina to dinner, not RaShaun’s as Tara obviously thought. If something did happen between Brandon and Quincy, there would be no way she and Tara would be able to stop it. It may not be the most comfortable of situations, but at least Quincy would be able to run interference between the two men if things got out of hand.

Suddenly they heard a deep voice, calling out from the living room. “Hellooo…”

Yvonne frowned as she turned in the direction of the voice. “Who is that?”

“I’ll check,” Tara said, walking out the kitchen to the living room. She stopped in her tracks when she saw who was there. “Doug? What…what are you doing here?”

Doug broke out into a wide smile when he saw Tara. “Well, hello there stranger. I’ve been trying to get in touch with you since last Saturday night. You haven’t returned any of my messages.”

Tara stood there with her mouth open staring at Doug, who came over and slid his arms around her. Before she was aware of his intention, he leaned down and kissed her. Tara was still half in shock at seeing him, but when he tried to slip her his tongue, she pushed him back.

“Doug!”

“Surprised to see me?”

“Surprised isn’t the word. What are you doing here?”

Yvonne and Gina came around the corner with a curious look on their faces. When Yvonne spotted saw Doug, she appeared to be just as surprised as Tara.

“Doug. Uh, hello.”

“How are you, Yvonne? I hope you don’t mind, but I saw your in-laws at the store and we stopped to chat for a bit. They told me you were having an informal get together and invited me back with them. They knew Tara would be here.”

“Oh. Uh. Of course I don’t mind.”

Tara made a face at Yvonne behind Doug’s back. Yvonne gave her a little shrug before smiling weakly at Doug. She glanced over her shoulder towards the kitchen, obviously looking to make sure the men hadn’t come back inside then back at Tara.

Tara mouthed, ‘Do something’. Yvonne turned to Gina. “Uh, Gina, will you go and check on the…the thing…you know…to make sure….um….”

Gina gave her a confused look for a few seconds before Yvonne’s hidden message sunk in. “Oh! Ohhhh!! Yes! I’ll be in the kitchen…checking on…that…thing.” She hurried out of the room to keep an eye out for Brandon until Tara could get rid of Doug.

“So how have you been, sweetie?” Doug asked Tara as his eyes slowly roamed over. His eyes lingered at her breasts. “You look good.”

Tara glared at him and crossed her arms. “Yvonne, do you mind if I speak with Doug alone?”

“Not at all,” Yvonne muttered underneath her breath, but she pasted on a bright smile for Doug. “It was good seeing you. Where did Mom and Dad go, do you know?”

“Oh, they went to put Faith down for a nap. She’s gorgeous, by the way.”

“Thanks, Doug. Excuse me.” Von gave her cousin a look that clearly said ‘good luck’, then went to Faith’s room.

“Where’ve you been hiding?” Doug asked Tara. “Did you get my messages? I’ve called your house, your cell, your office…”

“Things have been a little hectic lately. I’ve had a lot going on. Listen, Doug, we need to talk, but right now is not a good time.”

Doug stepped forward and slid his arms around Tara’s waist again. “I agree completely. We definitely need to sit down and talk. I’ve missed you. Tara, you know how I feel about you, and I think it’s time we both stopped playing games with one another. Don’t you?”

Without warning, he leaned down and kissed her. Tara’s eyes widened. Whimpering in protest, she tried to push him back, but he held her tight. She had to get him out of there now. If Brandon came in and saw him, she had no doubt it would not be good.

For either one of them.


CHAPTER 16

Outside, RaShaun caught Quincy a millisecond before Quincy reached Brandon. “Quincy, hold up!”

“Rah, move the fuck back! You heard what he said? This motherfucka is dead!”

Brandon stood tense and ready. “Yeah, let him go! His ass been pushin’ me since the minute I got here! We can do this now.”

“Shut up and get the hell of my house!” RaShaun growled. He would’ve gladly let Q. whip Brandon’s ass, but he knew his parents would be back any moment with his baby girl.

“This little bitch done lost his damn mind!” Quincy shouted. “Rah, I’m tellin’ you, you better get him out of my fuckin’ sight!”

RaShaun kept his arms up to stop Quincy from going around him. “Did you hear what I said, Valentine? Get the fuck out of my house now!”

“What ya’ll gon’ do, call his little cop friends again to handle your business for you?” Brandon laughed and continued to taunt Quincy. “You a big man hidin’ behind that badge, aren’t you? Get in a little trouble, you just pull your badge out, right?”

Quincy looked outraged. “Mo-tha-fucka, I don’t need no fuckin’ badge to whip your ass!” He tried to push past RaShaun again.

RaShaun strained from the effort it took to hold onto Quincy. He threw back at Brandon, “This is the last time I’m going to tell you to leave or I swear to God both of us will kick your ass!”

Brandon looked at them and shook his head in disgust before turning to leave. Then almost as an afterthought, he deliberately came back to get his beer. Bringing the bottle up to his mouth, he finished the last few swallows, holding Quincy’s eyes the entire time before giving him a final half-grin and leaving.

The smile dropped from his mouth the minute he turned around. He stalked into the kitchen, his eyes darting around the room but only seeing Gina.

“Where’s Tara?” he asked in a terse voice.

Gina seemed at a loss for words. She quickly glanced in the direction of the living room. “She…she’s, uh….”

Brandon looked towards the direction her eyes had gone and rapidly walked to the front of the house. He got angrier with each step he took.

“Tara!” he yelled looking around. “Tara! We’re leaving right now because…”

Brandon suddenly came to an abrupt stop. When he saw a man kissing and grinding and groping Tara, he saw red.

“What tha’ fuck…”


PART 16

Doug pulled Tara to him so quickly that it had taken her by surprise. When his hands gripped her butt, she screamed in protest, but it was lost in his mouth. Then she heard Brandon calling her name. She doubled her efforts but it was too late.

Over Doug’s shoulder, her horrified eyes saw Brandon stop the moment he saw them. Pure fury came over his face when his eyes dropped to Doug’s hands, which were still squeezing her ass. At that point Brandon’s hands clenched into fists just as she managed to rip her lips away from Doug’s.

Oblivious to the fact that his life was in serious danger, Doug rubbed his hands up and down Tara’s ass.

Tara’s kept her desperate eyes on Brandon. When she saw his legs eating up the distance to get to them, she tried to wiggle away, but Doug was not having it.

“Doug! Let me go!” Tara screeched.

“Do you feel what you do to me, Tara? I want to fuck you so bad. Come on, baby, just–”

But he never got the chance to finish the sentence. Brandon jerked him away from Tara. Rearing his fist back, he punched Doug in the face and sent him flying over the back of the couch.

“Umph!!” Doug grunted

“Brandon, no!” Tara screamed. “Stop!”

She tried to grab Brandon’s arm, but his blood was already boiling from the altercation he’d had outside with RaShaun and Quincy. Walking in and seeing some man groping and slobbering on Tara pushed him over the edge. He jerked his arm away before turning his anger on her.

“What in the fuck is this, Tara?” He jerked his head towards Doug, who lay sprawled out on the floor moaning loudly. Blood gushed through the fingers he held over face.

Brandon did a double take. Squinting he looked closer and recognized Doug as the man who had brought Tara home from a date that night. “Oh, wait. That’s your fucking boy! Doug, right? What in the hell is he doin’ here?”

Brandon turned his furious gaze back to her. He stood over her, chest heaving as he waited on her to answer him. “Wait, better yet, what was he doing touchin’ you like he was ready to tear your clothes off and screw you right here on the floor!”

“Will you stop it, Brandon?! I didn’t know he was going to be here!”

“Oh, he just happened to show up, huh? What was he, your backup just in case it didn’t work out with me? He more your type anyway, ain’t he?” Quincy and RaShaun’s taunts were still fresh in his mind. “A boring, uptight professional asshole?”

“What are you talking about? You’re acting like this is my fault and it’s not!” At that point, Tara was beginning to get upset as well.

Obviously having heard the commotion and raised voices, Yvonne came running into the room with a look concern on her face. “What’s going on?” A movement on the floor brought her attention to Doug, trying to stumble to his feet. Yvonne hurried over to him. “Oh my God! Tara, get a towel for his face!”

Brandon’s head whipped back to Tara, his eyes almost daring her to help Doug. RaShaun, Quincy, and Gina came rushing in. RaShaun immediately saw Doug on the floor bleeding and Yvonne kneeling down keeping his head tilted back to try to slow the flow of blood pouring out of his nose.

“What the hell happened?” RaShaun shouted.

Yvonne looked up in relief. “Shaun! Thank God. I need ice and a towel!”

“I’ll get it!” Gina ran to the kitchen.

RaShaun went over to help Doug, sending a look that told Brandon he would deal with him in a minute.

“You know what? Forget this,” Brandon muttered, striding to the door. “This shit was a mistake from the beginning.”

“Brandon, will you please just stop!” Tara called out, hurrying after him. “Hold on for one minute! Okay, I admit it probably wasn’t the best idea to come here tonight, but–”

“I’m not talkin’ about just tonight. I’m talking about us.” He stopped and glanced over at Doug again, his face showing no sympathy or regret.

Shaking his head, he continued walking and was almost at the door when RaShaun’s parents, Charles and Diane, rushed into the room with worried looks on their faces.

“What’s going on out here?” RaShaun’s father asked.

Brandon didn’t see them at first and almost ran straight into them. He stepped to the side. “Excuse me,” he said gruffly.

RaShaun’s parents stopped and stared at him in shock. RaShaun’s mother blindly reached out a trembling hand to grab her husband’s arm. Her face had an expression of astonishment bordering on disbelief.

“Nathan?" she gasped.

“My God,” RaShaun’s father whispered under his breath, staring at Brandon as well.

Leaving Doug on a chair holding a towel wrapped in ice over his face, RaShaun walked towards them with a curious look on his face. “Mom? Pop? What’s wrong?”

A moment later, RaShaun’s mother fainted and would’ve fallen to the floor in a heap, but Brandon caught her just in time. He moved back when RaShaun lifted her out of his arms and hurried back to the couch.

Tara looked at Brandon with a question in her eyes, but all he could do was shrug. What the hell?





© 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.