Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chapter 4, Part 2

Please see "Chapters U May Have Missed" for previous chapter/parts.

The sun rose, shining its light into the bedroom window. The ceiling fan blew a breeze across Mykell’s toes that were exposed from under the comforter. She pulled the bodypillow into her body and smile. The scent of sex lingered in the air. She could still feel his heavy frame pressed against her back. Mykell slid the bottom half of the pillow between her legs trying to shield the urge to roll over and again conquer her boss. Dallas had spent several nights over since the trip to West Palm Beach weeks ago. Since that night of freakish passion, she enjoyed the luxury and company of her agent.

The pain growing in her loins erupted. Without any luck of suppressing the pleasurable pain, Mykell pulled the cover over her head and planted her body in the middle of the bed, straddling Dallas’ legs. His manhood rested limply upon his thigh. She gently took it into her hands and stroked it. She let the saliva, accumulating in her mouth, dribble down the head. The allure of swallowing Dallas whole encompassed her and she took him into her mouth. She suckled him until he began to stir. Dallas’ hands embraced her shoulders. He intermixed his fingers into the ringlets of her hair and held on while Mykell went to work exploiting him.

The heat and wetness increased inside her mouth. Slowly, but vehemently, Mykell brought Dallas erect. He pulled the coverings back away from their bodies. His eyes opened and looked down upon her as she consummately worked. Just as he reached his peak rigidity, she pulled away from his member and released her grip. Mykell rocked back onto her knees and gazed down at Dallas. He softly stroked her thighs and followed up to her waist. She gave him a devilish smile.

“Good morning. Ready for some more?”

“Of course. That was great.”

“Oh, baby, it gets better.”

“Really? What’s next?”

“How do you want it?”

“I mean, I’m feeling the whole wakin’-a-brotha-out-his-sleep thing you got going. So right now, the way I’m feeling about you, I would want to do missionary cause I think you are beautiful and I would want to embrace you and look you in the eye as I pleased you.”

“Really. And what else?”

“I wanna whisper in your ear because I’m so happy that you’re so willing to share your gift with me.”

“And do you wanna make me happy? Do you want me to make you happy?”

“Right now? Hell yeah.”

Dallas tenderly flipped Mykell onto her back. He pushed her legs apart and buried his face between her thighs. Her wetness filled his mouth and flowed down his throat. He slid his tongue between her pussy lips and licked her clit, making her thighs tighten around his neck. He threw her legs up and pushed them toward her chest, to better access her blood-filled gift. Her clit harden in excitement and her ass rose from the bed. He explored her insides with his tongue and enjoyed her savory flavor.

Without warning, he pushed himself inside her, pulling her down on his dick as far as her insides would allow. Dallas leaned in over her body and blew into her ear. Mykell’s breathing was filled with passion. She began to call out to Dallas. He whispered into her ear to soothe her. He grew inside her walls, creating a mold of himself permanently engraved inside her. He lost all sense of control and finally gave into his desires. The former occasions involving the two had been merely incidental, impromptu moments. His feelings had evolved and, now, were uncontainable. Dallas gave Mykell everything he had wanted to give her since the first day their paths had crossed at the open call. He pushed so deep inside her, Mykell began to cry out and tears rolled from her eyes. Again, he whispered into her ear.

“Sweet beautiful, Mykell. Are those tears of pleasure or pain?”

“Tears of pleasure. I feel you so much, I couldn’t help myself,” she said between moans.

“Good, because I never want to hurt you, at least not in a bad way.”

“Just keep doing what you’re doing. Work my body, Dallas.”

Dallas continued to work over Mykell. He had memorized his stroke and fell into it rhythmically. Mykell clawed at his back with every thrust. She invitingly spread her legs wider, as to make herself more accessible. As she opened herself up to him, Dallas exploded inside, letting his juices run the gauntlet of her body. As if on queue, she poured herself. Together, the hot mixture ran from her body onto the sheets. Dallas dismounted and rolled over onto his side.

The two lovers lay next to each other for a few silent moments before moving. Mykell steadied her breathing and stroked the last of Dallas’ fluids from his body. Dallas fought back a second arousal, but the touch of Mykell’s palm wrapped seductively around his shaft brought him back at attention. He pulled away from her grasp and stood from the bed. Confused, Mykell pushed herself up on her elbows. She followed Dallas around the room with her eyes. He walked over to her side of the bed and yanked her up on her feet.

Dallas covered Mykell’s mouth with his. Lifting her up, he pushed her back against the wall near the window. Mykell steadied herself, wrapping one hand around the curtains and the other around Dallas’ neck. He entered her for the second time that morning but it still felt as if he was making love to her for the first time. His body quivered in excitement. His pumps were relentless and he thought about nothing else but her.

The moment was near perfection. He was enjoying her body and satisfying his insatiable appetite for Mykell’s spirit. He had never experienced this type of joy and pleasure with any other woman, not even his fiancĂ©e Tayla. At that moment, thinking of Tayla, Dallas stopped. He looked upon Mykell’s face and saw an immense amount of satisfaction, all due to him. He, again, placed his mouth over Mykell’s and kissed her deeply. He reached up, removing one hand from her thigh, and brushed her hair off her face. Dallas broke the kiss and moved his lips across her cheek to her ear.

“Damn, girl, I think I’m falling for you.”


“Yeah, I think I love you.”

“Dallas, are you sure? Please don’t say it unless you mean it.”

“I mean it, Mykell. I love you.”

“What about Tayla? What about your engagement?”

“That’s not going to be an issue anymore. I want you.”

“Oh, baby. Show me how much you love me.”

Dallas resumed his strokes. He cupped her breast and fed himself her body. He was determined to show her every bit of love he held for her. When he was ready, he released his love as far deep within her as he could. Mykell felt the warm load stream into her body causing her to explode. She shuddered in Dallas’ arms and freed the curtains from her grasp. Slowly, Dallas lifted her body and laid her back upon the bed. Just as he was climbing in next to her, a knock came from the door.

“Hey, Mykell. Don’t forget that we’re leaving this morning. I hope you’ll be ready.”

“Yeah. I haven’t forgot.”

“Where you going?”

“Home. For the holidays. That’s why I invited you over last night. I probably wont be back until the Spring semester starts.”

“Damn, baby, that’s a few weeks. What am I going to do without you here?”

“The same thing you been doing. Building your empire.”

“You mean our empire? I was for real about making you my official chick.”

“Yeah but you have a chick already. What about that situation?”

“I told you, that won’t be an issue anymore. I’m gonna take care of that soon.”

“I guess but you should really think about what you’re doing before you go doing it.”

“What are you trying to say? You don’t wanna be my girl? The head lady of my empire?”

“I would love to be your one and only, but you have other things on your plate right now preventing that from happening.”

“I told you not to worry about that.”

“Yeah, but I have to because its my life too. If you’re making moves, I’m making moves with you. And what effects you, effects me.”

“I like how you think, but some things are gonna have to be solely my problems.”

“Well then, you handle your problems before you come asking me to be in the game with you.”

“Understandable. Just don’t give up on me yet, Mykell.”

“I’m cool. Just handle that first.”

“In my mind, its already done.”

“In reality, its not.”

Mykell rolled away from Dallas. She was frustrated at the fact that he could just pass his relationship with Tayla off so effortlessly. She never had intentions of breaking up their relationship. All she wanted was a good shot in the industry that Dallas was so generous to provide. Sleeping with Dallas was just an added bonus and a easy way to get better jobs. Although she had enjoyed his company, her actions had given her so much more than she bargained for.

Mykell grabbed her robe from off the hook on the back of her closet door and wrapped it around her body. She left the room and headed to the bathroom to shower. Dallas gathered his clothes from the desk chair and redressed himself. Quietly, he let himself out the front door.

He walked down the staircase and got into his truck. He pulled his cell phone from the dash cradle and checked the call log. Tayla had called several times over the course of the night. He hit the send button, put the phone on speaker, and replaced the phone to its cradle. The voicemail system played through his messages.

Message 1: Hey babe. Its me. Just wanted to find out where you were. Thought we were having dinner tonight. Call me.”

Message 2: “Ok…its me again. Me and Andre are at the restaurant waiting on you. Let me know something.”

Message 3: “Where the fuck you at? You making me look dumb in front of my brother. We’re going back to the house. You have some serious explaining to do when you come home.”

Tayla’s last message was filled with anger. Dallas prepared himself for a confrontation on his drive home. He wondered how he would break the news to Tayla that he had fallen in love with Mykell. After all, over the past year, it was Tayla that had his back and stuck by him in the first months of BPI’s development. His thoughts were interrupted by the blaring horn coming from the car behind him. He turned the corner of his housing block and approached the home he had just purchased. The driveway led up to a large contemporary house. There was a large panel of 10 ft windows on the front side of the house, revealing an open foyer. The landscaping was a makeshift Japanese rock garden, including a waterfall centerpiece.

Dallas pushed the button on the garage door opener to lift the access door. He slowly pulled inside, parking next to Tayla’s car. He turned off the ignition and waited a moment before entering the house. He advanced toward the door and pushed the button to close the garage door. The door flew open and there stood Tayla, chest heaving and with a flew blown attitude on her face.

Dallas apprehensively walked through the threshold. He deposited his keys into the dish on the side table and continued through the kitchen. Tayla slammed the door shut and followed him into the house. Dallas intentionally ignored her antics and proceeded to pour himself a glass of fruit juice. Tayla stepped less than a foot from his body and inhaled deeply as if she was searching for a scent.

“I knew it. You smell like pussy. So who is she? One of those bitches you manage?”

“Does it matter? It aint you.”

“Nigga, you lost your mind!? How could you do this to us? How could you do this to yourself?”

“Do what, Tayla? Be happy?”

“Oh so that bitch is making you happy? Is that why you couldn’t bring your ass home last night?”

“You fuckin’ right she makes me happy. But that don’t matter to you. You was just here for the money anyway. Well guess what, baby, the free ride stops now!”

“What!!!?? Dallas, I’ve been with you for over a year and I was there when you didn’t have shit! Trust me, that little chump change you making was not the reason I stayed with your ass. I thought we were in love. You put this ring on my finger. Why, if you were just gonna fuck all this up for some random slut?”

“Watch ya fuckin mouth! This is my house and you will not disrespect me in it!”

“You know what? You’re a sorry ass nigga and I wish I never met your sorry ass. My brother was right about you. I gave you the benefit of the doubt and told him you was different. But you ain’t. Sorry mutha fucka. Hope you and chick get it, cuz I’m gone.”

“Thanks for making this easy for me. Just collect your things and get the fuck out.”

“Easy? No, never. Its about to get real hard for you now.”

Tayla huffed out of the kitchen as Dallas finished off his juice. He didn’t know what she could be referring to, but Tayla was not the vindictive type of woman. She never came across as one who would seek revenge. As far as he was concerned, Tayla was now a woman in his past, and he was free to pursue a real relationship with Mykell. Dallas set the empty glass down in the sink and picked up the cordless phone hanging on the wall. He quickly dialed Mykell’s number.

The phone rang once before she answered. She informed him that she was getting ready to head out to go home. He understood but wanted to hear her voice a final time before the distance would make her inaccessible. Mykell raised the Tayla issue once more, curious as if Dallas had addressed it. With enthusiasm, Dallas reassured Mykell that he had resolved the matter. Her voice relaxed at his attentiveness. He told her that they were free to indulge themselves in each other’s company. In the background, Dallas heard Tayla dragging her things down the stairway. He abruptly ended the conversation with Mykell and wished her a safe trip and return. He replaced the phone on the wall and headed to his office to relax, as to keep his distance from Tayla.

Tayla lugged her suitcases and luggage out into the foyer. She had changed into a comfortable sweat suit and sneakers. She returned to the kitchen to use the phone. She pulled a pen and scrap paper from the counter drawer and hit the redial button on the phone. Tayla scribbled the number that appeared in the display and then hit the on button so the phone would dial it back. Her suspicions were confirmed when a female voice answered. She quickly hung up and waited a moment before she placed her initial call. Tayla made arrangements for Andre to help her move her things out.

The reality of it all finally kicked in after she hung up. She reached into her coat pocket and withdrew her keys. She unwound the key to what was now her former home and placed it in the dish on the side table. She returned to the foyer and finished lugging her belongings outside to the driveway. She loaded her car as full as she could get it, leaving three large bags in the driveway.

A half hour later, Andre pulled up. His sister was standing outside, posted against the largest of her luggage. Her face was pale from the cold and covered in dried tears. Angered, he hurriedly parked and headed up the drive. He wasn’t going to let any man disrespect his sister. He picked up a large stone from the garden and hurled it threw the air. It connected with a panel of glass and shattered through it. He turned and picked up another, repeating his vandalistic action. After the second rock shatter the adjacent glass, Dallas appeared.

“Who the fuck are you? What the hell is your problem dude?”

“Nigga, you must lost you fuckin mind, puttin my lil sister out like this. Its fuckin 50, 60 degrees out here, and she’s posted up on a stack of suitcases!”

“You threw a rock through my fuckin window, punk! Do you know how much that’s gonna cost?”

“Bill me, bitch! Let me see your ass around. Trust me, I will murder your ass!”

“Tayla, you better get this fuck nigga off my property before he sees a jail cell.”

“Lets go Andre. I’ve got a lot more than a rock through the window for his punk ass.”

Tayla grabbed Andre by the arm and pulled him toward the car. Andre reluctantly retreated. He backed out, never turning his back on Dallas. He helped to load the suitcases into the trunk and settled back into the drivers seat. Tayla backed her car out of the garage and into the driveway. She put the car in drive and slammed into the back of Dallas’ truck, leaving a dented tailgate. She flipped the car back into reverse and left, with Andre behind her.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chapter 4, Part 1: I Choose You

Please see "Chapters You May Have Missed" for previous chapters/parts.

Chapter 4: I Choose You

As the fall semester came to an end, Lelani packed up what was left in her room. Her meeting with the dean the week before was not beneficial. She had until the end of the week to remove her belongings out of the dorm. With Neo’s help, she was able to find an affordable apartment off campus. Not living on campus was going to cut into her budget, adding to the stress load for the final two semesters of her master’s program.

She folded the arms of the last box over each other and grabbed the tape dispenser from the floor. Lelani taped the box shut and slid it across the floor towards the door. Taking a break before carrying it downstairs, she flopped down on the bed. She laid across the bare mattress and closed her heavy eyelids. The humming motor of the ceiling fan echoed off the naked walls of the room.

Neo slowly pushed the room door open. A smile appeared over his cold face when he saw Lelani’s sleeping. She had recruited his help for making the move from the dorms to her new digs. Trying not to disturb her, he lifted the last box from the floor and hauled it downstairs. The courtyard outside was deserted with the exception of a group of ladies huddled at the corner table. It was December and the temperature was in the mid-60’s; he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be outside standing around talking. Although baffled by the ladies outside choice in loiter area, he briskly walked the box to the awaiting SUV. He pushed the final box into an empty spot in the backseat and locked the door.

Despite the brightly shining sun, the cold air nipped at Neo’s exposed skin causing him to shiver. He rubbed his hands together and blew a warm breath between them. He inhaled deeply and then exhaled, clearing his lungs. Neo was grateful that the final stages of Lelani’s move were nearing. Entering the building he was hit with the warmed, heated ventilation. Neo approached the vending machines and searched his pockets for change to buy hot chocolate. He inserted his money and vended two cups. He took a seat in a nearby lounge chair to pass the time.

A cold breeze blew threw the doorway when a couple lingered in. The young lady was of average height with short-cropped hair. Her arm was interlocked with a man of the same complexion but his hieght mirrored a starting forward on any NBA team. His towering frame was at least 6’8, he had a clean shaven face, and his hair was intricately braided. Neo smiled at the couple then refocused his attention on the hot beverages in the midst of spewing from the plastic spigot of the machine. He collected the hot chocolates from the tray and carefully carried them back upstairs.

The couple followed shortly behind him, continuing up the stairs to the next floor. The echo of female laughter bounced back down the hallway. Nonchalantly, Neo paced to the door of Lelani’s room and swung the door back with the toe of his shoe. Lelani was still sleeping. He entered the room and settled next to Lelani’s resting body. He admired her ambition and hard work. Her driven personality, determination, and optimism would aid in her success in life and he knew that all those qualities could drain anyone. He lightly tapped her on the shoulder to stir her sleep.
“Hey Lani. Wake up.”

“Damn, did I fall asleep? How long was I out?”

“Don’t know. You were sleep before I got back from loading the car. You tired?”

“Hell yeah. Can’t wait til all this shit is done.”

“Well, you’re on your home stretch. Here, sit up, I got you some hot chocolate.”

“Awww, Neo, you didn’t have to, but thanks.”

“I know, but that’s what men do for their ladies.”

Lelani looked over at Neo, puzzled. Hearing it come from him felt right but it was still something she neglected to admit. She shook her head in disagreement. She wanted nothing more than to be make things official with Neo, but the time was still not right. Besides, in the last few weeks and the months to come, she knew that Neo would be a scarcity in her life. His job was still the number one thing in his life, next to his son. How could she ever compete with either of the two?

“Neo…I’m sorry...I guess I wasn‘t clear before.”

“Clear about what?”

“This. Me and you.”

“What about us? For the last four months you are the only woman I’ve spent my time with. I’ve grown very fond of you. What’s the problem?”

“There’s no problem, but I can’t commit to you right now. I’m focused. Really. I’m fond of you. I love our friendship, its great. It’s probably the best thing that’s happened to me since I left Orlando but truthfully there is no us.”

“How can you say that? I wanna be in love with you but you’re not making that available. And I don’t understand why that is. Why is this so hard for you?”

“There are things that you won’t understand. Hell, things you don’t know.”

“Well, then tell me. Tell me what I don’t understand or know. Nothing or no one can make me stop feeling the way I do about you.”

“If only you knew…,” Lelani thought to herself. She saw the sincerity in his eyes and felt the tension building between them. “Come on, let’s get out of here,” she said eluding a follow up explanation.

Lelani rose form the bed and took a final survey the room. She pulled the small envelope from the top of the desk and headed for the door. Neo grabbed her coat from the desk chair and passed through the small opening between Lelani and the door frame. He paused just behind her and looked down at her. His annoyance was written on his face. Lelani tipped her head downward to avert eye contact. Of all of Neo’s features, his honey brown eyes were her weakness, and she knew if their eyes had met, she would be powerless against him. She reached for the doorknob and shut the door. After locking the deadbolt, she dropped the key in the envelope and sealed it.

Neo was a few steps ahead of her. She knew that those few steps would keep the conflict at bay until they were again in close proximity. She followed him down the stairs maintaining that distance. The lobby was empty except for the lingering dean of residence halls. He had set up a key drop box and was inspecting the it for, what Lelani assumed was, her key.

She called out to him and waved her envelope in the air as if to tell him that she had what he was looking for. He closed the box and walked over to her.

“Miss Freeman. One of the people I was looking for. Is that your room key?”

“Yes, sir. I’m sorry that my outside activities have led us to this point. I understand that when you have obligations and responsibilities, that you have to prioritize.”

“Yes. I’m sorry that it came to this, too. I was truly looking forward to you training someone to replace you before you got away from us. But I’m sure that whatever it was that kept you from doing your job, it was important.”

“Yes, sir. But again I thank you for the opportunity to set an example and work with the students. I’ve gained a lot from this experience."

“It was a pleasure. Have you seen Tayla Gibbons? I need her key, too.”

“No, sir. Why would you need her key? I thought she was staying on as an RA?”

“She came to me a few days after she reported you saying she was moving. I think she’s getting married or something.”

“Married?! Wow. I didn’t realize.”

“She said she would be out today, too. Are you sure she’s not around?”

Just as the dean finished his sentence, Tayla called out to him from the stairway. Lelani turned toward her voice. Her vindictive smile glowed against her face. Two steps behind Tayla stood another familiar face. Andre Johnson. Lelani’s heart sank deep into her chest. Her legs started to shake and almost gave out from underneath her. She could feel the air leave her body but not return. The cup of hot chocolate slipped from her sweaty hand and splashed against the carpeted floor.

Tayla made her way into the lobby. Fixed on her face was attitude and disgust. She handed the dean her key envelope and turned back to look up at her brother, who was still towering on the steps. His eyes were fixated on Lelani’s, full of sadness and contempt. The temperature in the room felt as if it had risen, evident of Lelani’s perspiring skin. The water welled in her eyes and her bottom lip began to tremble. She broke the eye contact and moved toward the door. Neo was nowhere in sight. He was so frustrated he didn’t even bother waiting on her.

As she passed the stairway, she could feel Andre still eying her. She hurried out the door. Behind her, Lelani heard Andre’s heavy footsteps bang down the remaining few of the carpeted steps and Tayla’s resentful voice calling him back. Lelani felt her arm being jerked back; she knew it was Andre trying to stop her from running away. The icy wind attacked her bare arms, practically freezing her in place in the courtyard. Although her body was freezing, her mind and heart were burning with heat and anger.

“I’m tired of seeing your back, Lelani. Look at me,” Andre said side stepping Lelani.

“Andre, this is not the time, nor the place. Its freezing out here.”

“No one told you to run your ass out here. But since I’ve got you here, I’m not leaving until you talk to me.”

“I can’t. Neo’s waiting on me. I have to go,” Lelani said shuffling her feet in an attempt to get away.

““Stop, Jicole. You’re not going anywhere. You owe me an explanation.”

“Don’t call me that!” Her anger erupted. “Why are you doing this?”

The headlights on Neo’s SUV came on and cast a spotlight on the scorned lovers. Lelani knew that she couldn’t delay any longer or Neo will start to get suspicious. She pulled her arm free from Andre’s grip and quickly walked off, leaving Andre alone in the courtyard. A single tear ran the length of her face and down her neck. Unsure of what was about to transpire, Lelani approached the oversized vehicle cautiously. She slowly opened the door and lifted herself into the seat.

Instinctively, Neo put the car in reverse and pulled off. His hands grip the steering wheel tightly, encouraging the veins to bulge. The opportunity to break the silence at the first red light passes and it festered as Neo drove on. Minutes later, the two arrived at the gate of the new apartment. Neo found a park space near the breezeway of Lelani’s building then killed the engine.

Lelani shifted her weight in the seat, resting her elbow on the center console. She reached down and took Neo’s hand from its quiescent place on his knee and held it in her palm. He pressed his fingers between hers and snuggly squeezed her hand. He took an extended breath to settle his nerves.

“Look, I don’t know who that was back there, nor do I care. But I can’t keep playing this game with you.”

“What do you mean game?”

“You not wanting me. I just don’t understand what’s holding you back.”

“There are things that have happened, Neo. I’m just not ready to be there again.”

“See that’s what I’m talking about, Lani. Be where again?”

“Back in a relationship. Back in love.”

“Who said anything about love. I’m not asking you to love me until you’re ready.”

“Then what do you want from me?”

“I want you to choose me. Me and only me.”

At that point, Lelani could feel the tears boiling in her eyes again. She loosened her hand from Neo’s grip and let herself out of the SUV. Rummaging through her bag, she found her key chain, flipping it around until she came across the door key. The chilly wind began to pick up. She grabbed her coat from the seat and let the door swing shut. She paused.

The longer she held out, the more she knew that what she was doing to Neo was wrong. He was right, in a sense. There was so much holding her back from letting him in. The past was the past and she knew she should leave it there. Neo was an innocent party in the dilemma and he didn’t deserve the rancor.

She reopened the door and invited Neo inside. With reluctance he obliged and pulled the keys from the ignition. It was clear from his body language that he was still upset. He followed Lelani into the breezeway, pausing for a moment to collect his thoughts. The heat flowed out of the door warming the couple’s bodies. They quickly entered to capture more of the warmth.

Lelani placed her keys and coat down on the breakfast bar. Her new apartment was unfurnished and scattered with boxes. Neo pulled up a box to sit on. He distributed his weight evenly over the box so not to fall through in an anticipated collapse. Lelani lifted herself onto the countertop of the breakfast bar. She nervously fiddled with sleeve of her shirt.

“I’m sorry, Neo. I have not been up front with you about everything.”

“What do you mean?"

“I’m talking about Andre and our history.”

“What else is there? You’ve told me the story about you two already.”

“Not the whole story. And I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t know if you would stick around had I told you everything.”

“What could be so bad that I would leave? You are a wonderful person, Lani and nothing can change that.”

“You wouldn’t say that if you knew everything.”

“Look, I’ve already told you, I don’t care about what you and Andre had. Its long over with, right?”

“Of course. But there are things that were unfinished between us.”

“Unfinished? See that’s what I’m talkin’ about. What the hell is going on with you two? Just fuckin’ tell me!”

“I don’t want you to be upset with me. This is hard for me to say to you. I’ve never told anyone…not even my parents.”

“So what’s the big secret? I’m not going to judge you.”

“First, let me say that I do want you. Its just that being with you is a little more complicated than just saying it. And, before you make a final decision about wanting me, I feel like I need to tell you the whole story.”

“I’m listening.”

Taking in a long, deep breath, Lelani prepared herself for the harsh reality that she was about to expose to Neo. Her story would either clear the air between them or it would obliterate the undefined relationship for good. She fearfully began to tell her tale, pausing only briefly to choke back tears.

With every word, her body grew weary. Her palms clammed and her nerves were uneasy. Neo looked up from his view of the floor to see Lelani shaking nervously on the counter, as she confessed. Tears poured from her eyes, accompanied by mucous dripping from the tip of her nose. He couldn’t help but want to comfort her as she bore her soul to him. He never imagined that her testimony could affect her so emotionally, or him for that matter. Pushing his anger to the back of his mind, he stood from the box and made his way over to Lelani.

He lifted her face with his hand and cradled it in his palm. He soothed her trembling bottom lip with his finger, stroking it lightly. He pulled her body close to his and stroked the back of her head, smoothing the hair down her neck. At that moment, Lelani realized that she was safe in Neo’s care. She relaxed and let her body be comforted by him. Everything felt right.

She buried her face into his shoulder and softly whispered, “I choose you. Please care for me like I deserve.”

“I will, for as long as you want me to or God wills it.”