It all began the morning we found him at my backyard, sprawled on his back. He was dead.
That last statement wasn’t accurate.
In his unconscious state he had looked dead, and believing him to be, we… That would be my eccentric cousin, Abba, my girlfriend, Ronnie, her shady boyfriend, Seye, and I. We had gone through the worst hours of our lives trying to get rid of his body.
Nobody wanted a dead man, and most certainly one they hadn’t killed, found outside their home. No one wanted to be a suspect in a homicide investigation. Which was what we would have been, varied levels of murder suspects, if the police had discovered his body within my premises.
Or perhaps we wouldn’t have been suspects, for surely as professionals, they would have felt his pulse and realized he wasn’t dead?
I frowned at him as the question nagged at the back of my mind and wished he’d, in fact, been dead that day. That way he wouldn’t be there at my door, dark and manly in his all black attire, and playing havoc with my senses.
Had I noticed how enticingly virile he was after his return to the land of the living?
No. At the time all I’d wanted was for him to get out of my house while he still was on his feet.
“Why the hell are you here?” He might be an inch over six feet, according to my estimation, lean and tough with muscles that bespoke dedication to physical exertions, and possessed a face that put H to the word handsome, but he wasn’t allowed to make me lose my train of thought for ten seconds.
He most definitely wasn’t allowed to make me want to wrap him around myself while I plunder the pair of inexcusably tempting lips he had on his face.
“Hey, Tec,” he said, and as if drawing out a slow dance, stretched his mouth into a smile.
“John.” Tingly things were happening to various parts of my body, so I glared at him. “I asked a question.”
“So you did.” His eyes, the colour of rich, dark chocolate, flashed with humour and it was apparent he wasn’t in the least troubled by my passive aggression. “You want to invite me in? That’s usually the polite course of action when an old friend comes calling.”
“Old friend?” Because my super-active imagination flashed an imagery of us stumbling down the corridor and into my bedroom in a tangle of heated passion, I reacted with a derisive snort. “You’re the jackass who had party drugs and passed out at my backdoor, not a friend.”
“I’m also the lucky guy who had breakfast in your kitchen when he came to,” he said with a wink. “The grateful man who’d called you a number of times to thank you for taking care of me while I was unconscious.”
“I didn’t take care of you. I was trying to get rid of your body. Something I wish I’d succeeded in doing, because then you wouldn’t be standing at my front door wasting my valuable time.”
“Were you busy? It’s a Sunday afternoon.”
“I know what time of day it is, John. What I don’t know is why you are here.” He was starting to annoy me, and mainly because I was working too hard to keep my concentration. “What do you want?”
“Huh?” I actually gaped.
And the…jackass. Fine looking man or not, he was a jackass, and he had the audacity to chuckle.
“I want to take you out for a drink. Before you ask why and say no,” he went on, preempting my next response. “Let me tell you that I’ve carefully thought about this for the last three months, at least. So, I know I want to take you out for a drink, I know I want to get to know you and I know I want to be with you. And according to the conclusions my thorough self-examination unearthed, that would likely be for a long time.”
I stared at him.
He’d made a speech, one I was unprepared for, and I didn’t know how to react.
My brain did not know, that is, but several parts of my body, due to their incapacity to conduct a proper mental evaluation, reacted. What, in fact, felt like butterflies scrambled in my stomach. Vibrations spiralled from my spine to all my limbs. Most mortifying, my female parts throbbed.
Jesus on the Rugged Cross! I wanted him.
He’d passed out at my door, thrown me, and some persons I knew, into a mental debilitating state where we, for good many hours, played with a number of ways to dispose a body. We’d risked our reputation, our safety and our right to freedom, and all because he had the poor judgment to imbibe alcohol and drugs at some party and chose the back of my house to lose consciousness.
All of that and I wanted the man on a sexual level.
“Are you out of your mind?”
The question was self-directed but since I’d spoken it aloud, the troublemaker claimed it as his.
“I wondered the same thing, but I’m not. May I come in and wait, while you get dressed?”
“No, you may not. I’m not getting dressed, either.” While I wasn’t in full control of every one of my senses at the moment, I had a good grasp on the situation. “You’ve been thinking about this and your mind assures you that you can come here, mouth out some over-used lines and find yourself a guest in my bed. John,” I said, and discovered I liked his name. It was strong and manly. Like him. A fact that made no difference. “I don’t want to go out with you, I don’t want to get to know you and I most certainly don’t want to be with you. In any way. Do you understand?”
“No?” The single-word response where I’d expected another speech stumped me, which irritated me. “Then I’ll make it simple. Goodbye, John. I never want to see you again.”
He was fast, and shoved his foot between the door before it slammed shut. “What are you afraid of, Tec?”
“That I might wind up killing you.” That wasn’t why I was afraid, and yes, I would have liked to deny I was afraid, but lying to oneself was a sign of foolishness in my book. “As a stint in a maximum security prison doesn’t appear anywhere on my bucket list, you should leave, and this time, don’t return.”
“You’re not afraid that you’ll kill me. You’re afraid to let me in. You’re afraid if you do you’ll have to face the fact that you’re not indifferent to me. You’re afraid of what you feel when you look at me.” His voice was deeper, quieter, and for both of those reasons, seductive. “You’re afraid of what you see in my eyes as I look at you.”
He’d taken his foot out of the doorway and I did not slam it close in his face. He stepped closer, and I did not caution him for invading my personal space, or back away. My heart, instead, thudded at a terribly alarming rate. If he drew me to him and moulded our bodies together, I wouldn’t offer a protest.
I wanted him to do just that.
Across the street a familiar creaky sound echoed.
It was enough to snap me out of the sexual haze I was sliding under. “Damn it!” I swore, and quick as lightning, grabbed John by the arm and pulled him through the door, shooting the deadbolt into lock mode.
The creaky noise meant my neighbour was coming out of her house. Tracy James led the team of consummate neighbourhood gossips. She could smell out dirty secrets, possessed the rare talent of telling them with undoubted sympathy, and never rested until everyone knew the details. Worse, she had the erroneous belief that we were friends.
We were not.
It took me a moment before I realized I had my hand on John’s wiry and hairy hand, and he had his on my waist.
Hissing another swear word, I stumbled backward, clenching my fist to squelch the spray of tingles in my palm. “Let’s make this clear. You’re only inside my house because I want to avoid my annoying neighbour. Once the coast is clear, you’re leaving.”
“That wasn’t what you wanted two minutes ago.”
Why did he insist on talking in that almost baritone voice?
“You have no way of knowing what I wanted two minutes ago, so don’t let your imagination run wild.” I backed another step. A safety measure. “We will give it another minute and you’re out of here.”
“You wanted me to kiss you.” In a swift move, he covered the distance between us. “You still want me to kiss you.”
“Thecla.” In his voice, my full name, which I hated to be called, sounded like a tender endearment. “You don’t have to lie, not to me or yourself. I also want to kiss you. I think of kissing you every time you creep into my thoughts. You know how often that is?”
“No,” I whispered, while my heart thudded like the disjointed bunts of bullets against a wall. And yes, hell yes, I wanted him to kiss me.
Right at that freaking moment.