Meta:Between the Books: Volume Seven

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Volume Seven
Character(s) Big Mike
Date July 2005
After Volume Six
Before Volume Eight
Between the Books Navigation
Volume Six
Volume Eight

Big Mike pushed back from his plate with a satisfied sigh. The house was definitely too small, but in an odd way, reminded him of home. Old fashioned, overstuffed furniture with cabbage rose floral prints, a small dining room table that fit the house, but not the family—and yet, that was okay. Everybody worked it out, would squeeze into the center of the house to bless the food and then disperse to their favorite places, some finding refuge on the sofa with a plate in hand and wolfing down grub from the coffee table. Others would take their food out on the porch and eat on the swing or steps, a few took over the kitchen, and usually, the old heads were in the dining room. Just like home, back when his people were alive. He missed that.

However, God had provided, had given him a new family. He’d made his peace with the whole situation a long, long time ago.

But what he loved most now were the nights when it was Inez’s turn to select the menu and cook. She never said anything to him directly, but he could tell she always planned what he liked and served it well. Fried okra laced succotash all mixed up in stewed tomatoes, buttermilk biscuits, shrimp and grits, collards, macaroni and cheese swimming in butter… baked chicken with homemade gravy on the side from pan drippings to appease Marlene, albeit no pork chops on behalf of Shabazz and Dan, but he wouldn’t complain. Have mercy, the girl could burn. And she always sat by him. He liked that. Liked it a lot.

“You’re ruining our lean program, Inez,” Berkfield said, blowing out a long, satisfied breath and unbuttoning his jeans. “But take it as a true compliment.”

“Once a month I allow this,” Marlene said with a smile and got up from the table. “Lawd, chile. I gotta agree with the man—you threw down.”

“Does every time she cooks, Mar,” Mike said, shaking his head.

“Oh, and I guess my tuna casserole was—”

“Fantastic, Marj,” Berkfield said with a wink at the guys. “You know I love your cooking.” He kissed her quickly and made her slap his arm in good humor.

“I can’t be angry,” Marjorie said, lifting her chin. “Inez is the master of that domain. I am a mere apprentice.”

Inez giggled and gave Marjorie a broad smile. “I do what I can do, that’s all, Mrs. B.”

“Well, hon, you did way better than the fish I burned last week,” Rider said, stuffing his mouth with another biscuit.

“So I guess you all will really have a problem with the vegan dishes me and Damali are gonna work up for tomorrow to clean everybody out, then?” Shabazz said laughing.

“Aw, man. Lemme digest what the girl done did tonight before you start talkin’ rations, 'Bazz,” Mike fussed good-naturedly.

“Well,” Inez said with a giggle, standing, “can’t be no worse than that mess Carlos and Dan fixed the other day.”

Everybody raised their glasses of lemonade and burst out laughing.

“I heard that,” Carlos hollered from the porch.

“Me, too,” Dan said, shoveling food in his mouth. “I take exception!”

“Warming up for Inez ain’t no joke.” Carlos laughed hard, making everybody join in. “Plus, she’s so serious about her program that she won’t let nobody help her when it’s her turn, like she could drop some knowledge on us. But noooo…”

“The girl is wrong. Stingy,” Jose said, pounding J.L.’s fist, while Bobby and Krissy laughed hard.

“Please give my mother your recipes,” Bobby said, flopping back against the overstuffed chair in the living room. “Have a heart, Nez!”

“I can’t be giving up my recipes that been handed down, man. You crazy? Inez chuckled, looking down shyly from the barrage of compliments as she gathered up near-emptied dishes.

“Well at least you could whisper in your best friend’s ear,” Carlos added, drawing a series of hoots from the house, and then jumped up from the porch step as Damali made a snatch for him.

“That’s okay,” Damali hollered into the house, laughing hard as Carlos raced around the front yard with his plate, avoiding her. “I’ma remember that—you wait!”

“Don’t give it up,” Juanita said from her position on the couch. “Make ‘em work for it.”

Fun banter notwithstanding, it was not enough of a distraction to keep Mike’s eyes from following Inez as she sauntered away from the table laughing. In the back of his mind, he heard Marlene get up from the dining room table. Somewhere in the recesses of his consciousness he knew Berkfield and Marjorie had, too, and he somewhat remembered offering them a grunt as an answer to some comment they’d made.

But watching that woman walk… the way her cut-off denim shorts rode up on her ample behind, and the sound of her thick thighs rubbing together with every step… just a light swish of jeans fabric was running all through him.

“Man, be cool,” Shabazz said, leaning in to whisper to Big Mike.

“Huh?” Mike jerked his attention around to stare at Shabazz. “You say somethin’, man?”

“Oh, shit. Our audio sensor’s gone deaf,” Rider muttered with a sly chuckle.

“Y’all need to stop,” Mike said, reaching for his lemonade.

“You’re looking at that newbie like you could sop her up with one of her biscuits, brother, and you know that until—”

“I know, I know,” Big Mike whispered in a low rumble. “I heard Mar. Be cool till her gift is revealed. I ain’t deaf.”

Shabazz tucked away a smile. “I’m just reminding you, ‘cause ain’t no sense in window shopping so hard you’ll be tempted to rob the store.”

“Or the cradle,” Rider said, chuckling as he swallowed the last of his lemonade. “I’m going outside for a smoke. Happy trails, dude.” He stood, saluted Big Mike, and left the dining room.

Mike leaned on the table with his weight balanced against his forearms, and simply stared at Shabazz.

“Don’t be giving me the evil eye,” Shabazz said with a smile. “I’m not the team’s seer.”

Inez’s return made both men look up.

“It don’t make no sense to put this little bit away,” she said, sighing as she picked up the long, oblong glass pan that had once contained the mac and cheese. She smiled at Big Mike. “The corner is yours—you want it?”

For a moment he just continued looking up at her. “Yeah,” he finally murmured, and then gave her access to his plate. “I’ll take it any day you dish it out.”

She stood still for a second, and then leaned across the table to scoop the remainder of the pan’s contents onto Mike’s plate. His eyes never left hers as she did it.

Shabazz stood up, sighed, and raked his locks. “I’ma go outside and tell Rider to stop smoking. But right through here, I could honestly use a spliff.”

“Mom says that anybody who didn’t cook or set the table is on dish detail,” Bobby announced.

“I got it,” Mike said, still looking at Inez as he shoveled a heaping forkful of mac and cheese in his mouth.

“Ain’t nobody arguing with you, holmes,” Jose yelled from the other room. “You got dat.”

“That is so not right,” Marjorie protested. “All those pots and pans that poor Inez—”

“If she can throw down like she did in here, I don’t mind bustin’ her suds,” Mike said, standing.

Marlene choked on her lemonade and came out of the kitchen. She eyed Mike with a scowl as he passed her. “Maybe a couple of us could help… in… there…” she offered diplomatically, her voice trailing off when Mike flung the spigot on and almost yanked it out of the sink housing. “Or maybe not. Not is best. Okaaay.”

“I’ll just put away the rest of the food,” Inez said, glancing at her flip flops. “Then, I’ll… uh… you know, come out and play some cards or something.”

Marlene just nodded as Inez scurried past her.

Mike kept his back to the kitchen doorway. Had to. Kept his hands in the sink. Had to. Let the suds build and began washing dishes, like he was supposed to. Inez was moving around behind him, wrapping up food, snapping Tupperware, scraping out pots, putting away containers, constant motion, constant friction, bending over to shove food in the fridge… peripheral vision was his undoing and the sounds she generated were kicking his ass.

“All done,” she said brightly, finally closing the refrigerator door. “Guess I’ll go find a card game, or something.”

“Why don’t you sit on a stool and keep me company?”

He saw her smile and look away seeming pleased. He loved that look on her face, and only wished he could really give her a reason for a satisfied smile. But he shunted away the hopeful thought. Too soon, not now, and not until her gift emerged.

She was caught off guard, he could tell that, too. She was stalling, sorta glancing at her pretty toes in her flip flops, taking her time to decide if she was staying or not. He was just glad that everybody else hated washing dishes. This was the only time that he could steal with her alone, and it had taken him a long time to just work up the nerve to simply ask her to sit with him. Months. All he could imagine was if somehow things didn’t go right, she’d tell his baby sis, Damali, all their business—he wasn’t having it. Plus, every time it was Inez’s turn to cook, he’d missed the window, and then she’d be off with gabbing with Damali. But she’d smiled and stopped fussing around tonight. She’d smiled.

“How about if I dry while you wash?” she offered after a nervous pause, grabbing a dishtowel and flinging it over her shoulder.

He pulled it off her shoulder slowly, watching the way that made her heavy breasts sway at the disturbance. “No, I got it, suga. You rest yourself after all that down home cookin’ and let Mike take care of it. Just talk to me while I work. I got KP—cool?”

He saw her swallow hard and her smile go soft. What was worse, he’d heard it… the tiny, strangled gurgle in her throat. Maybe she had also really heard what he was trying to say.

“All right,” she said quietly and then turned away to go perch herself up on a stool.

He knew he probably shouldn’t have watched her do that, not the way he was feeling right now. But it was impossible not to. Lawd that woman had better keep her fine fleshy self up on that stool and on the other side of the room. He turned back to the sink, almost going deaf from the sound of the thuds in his chest. Then he could immediately hear too much of everything in the room.

“So dinner was okay?” she said once settled, her voice light and melodic.

Damn that woman had a voice.

“It was more than okay, ‘Nez. You put your pretty foot in it.”

“Aw, it wasn’t nothin’. I just like to cook.”

He glanced over his shoulder at her, not even sure what type of dish he held in his hand. Everything was on autopilot, as long as she kept smiling like that, speaking to him in soft utterances. “I could tell.”

Her smile seemed to become sad as she released a long sigh that riddled him. “Yeah,” she said, placing both hands on her thighs. “I know. It’ll be a long time before I’m a lean, mean, fighting machine, but—”

“Hold it, Nez,” he said, instantly appalled as he stared at her over his shoulder. “I like them legs. Don’t be getting rash while you’re in training. Naw, baby, don’t lose that, or anything else you got coming or going, hear?”

She laughed and waved him away. “Mike, please. I’ve been working out for months, and haven’t lost a pound, haven’t done nothing but make some of this jelly firm up, but it ain’t going nowhere.” She cast a sad glance toward the doorway. “I won’t never be—”

He stopped washing dishes and cut off her words. “Girl, you fine. Period. You need to know that. Take it from a man’s point of view.”

“You’re just saying that to be nice,” she said quietly. “I ain’t hardly demon fighting material. I can’t run as fast as the others, can’t—”

“That’s ‘cause you ain’t working out right, girl,” he said with a sly grin, and then mopped his brow with the dishtowel that he’d slung over his shoulder.

“Stop playing.” She giggled and put her hands on her hips. “You know what I mean.”

“Okay, okay,” he said laughing. “But don’t worry. Mike got you.” His smile faded to slowly pour over her body like thick, warm gravy as his voice dulled to a rumble. “Mike got you from the rear, from the sides, from the front… you the one that needs to stop playing, girl.” He let his breath out in a rush that flared his wide nostrils. “Matter of fact,” he added quietly, “if necessary, I’ll pick you up and carry you, if your legs give out. But I will work your cardiovascular to the bone, so you can hang.”

She stared at him, began to speak, but no words came out of her mouth. He turned away and went back to the sink, and started washing dishes again. She patted her breastbone, feeling a sudden dampness covering her skin. The kitchen was way too hot and waaaaay to small. Somebody needed to open the back door to allow in a breeze or something—dang. Mike had never said too much to her, except general convo, but had always been real nice, real accommodating… but this was a side of him she’d never seen before. Yeah, sure, she’d had hoped for it, had dreamed he’d see her that way, and now that he did, she was nervous. Correction, scairt.

That tall fine hunk of man, a senior Guardian no less, had outright propositioned her. Her? Naw. She had to be wrong. Big Mike was the team’s loveable teddy bear, so Damali said. Plus, her? He liked those tall, gorgeous Amazon types, her girl had confided after much needling, and she was short, round everywhere, and—no. She had to stop trippin’.

But God in Heaven, the man was fine. She watched him take in slow breaths and let them out as he stood in front of the sink doing dishes. It was impossible to take her eyes off his back, the way each muscle under his sleeveless white t-shirt moved with the expansion and expulsion of air. And his shoulders… Lawd.

Each time he picked up a dish, it seemed like steel was moving beneath smooth, dark wood. All that tight sinew came down to a V, and her eyes followed the trail lower to his nylon Lakers basketball shorts. She almost had to look away, but couldn’t. Her imagination stripped him of his shorts as his body made slight pivots while at the task of moving a platter or dish from the suds, to the rinse sink, and then over to the drain board. The man’s ass was solid stone, his legs were ridiculous. One of his thighs were practically the circumference of her body, and the way the muscles dovetailed right into high, tight calves made her hop down off the stool to fetch something cool to drink. No, he couldn’t want her. Not like that.

“Oh, so you trying to make some more dirty dishes to hold a poor man hostage in the kitchen?”

She laughed, but it was a weak one. Her mind was catching fire at the corners. “I’ll wash it. Relax.”

He turned, dripping suds, the front of his t-shirt wet and clinging to his abs. A grin tugged at his mouth. “Well you coulda offered the help some.”

She stared at him for a moment, the smile frozen on her face. In a wet t-shirt, Mike needed to stop playing with her. Every cube of muscle down his torso was stacked like high-rise masonry. His smooth chest was parted by two distinct blocks of pure strength, and she could see two darker splatters of flesh that subtly rose into nipples.

Do not look down, do not look down, she told herself as she forced a chuckle and put a hand on her hip. “All you had to do was ask.”

“Really?” He gave her a slow wink. “Then I want some.” He turned back to the sink.

She almost dropped the pitcher. Problem was, she had to go past him to get to the cabinets that held the glasses. “Dang, Mike,” she said, trying to keep things light as she rounded him and reached up to root around on the shelves. “There’s enough plates and pots and pans messed up to feed an army.”

“Well, that’s what we are, ain’t we?” He smiled and watched her pass him again to go to the table.

“I guess you have a point.” She didn’t know what to say. It was hard to breathe around him. Always was. She took her time pouring more lemonade. Her hands were shaking. She had to be sure, though, before she made a complete fool of herself. “You like kids?” She could have kicked herself.

“Yeah… but I don’t get to be around ‘em much. Used to work with them at the rec center—more knuckleheads than kids, but they was still babies in my book. Trying to be all hard, but just needed somebody that cared.” He shook his head and his tone became soft. “I miss that.”

“I showed you a picture of my boo, right?”

“Purty little thing, just like her momma. Yeah.”

She smiled, flattered beyond his imagination. “I got a new picture from my Mom. Father Patrick got the mail from her and sent a fax. Wanna see it?”

“That would be right nice.”

She lingered for a moment, hanging onto the gentle tone in his voice. “Aw’ight. I’ll be right back.”

He watched her dash away through the doorway and let his breath out. He had to get himself together and stop sweatin’ the girl. Shabazz was right. Mar had put her foot down. But the moment Inez left the kitchen it suddenly felt hollow, vacant. Like a vacuum seal had sucked out all the oxygen. As small as she was, Inez filled up a room. Then just as suddenly as she’d gone, she was back, and he could breathe again.

“Here she go,” Inez said, standing next to him by the sink.

He dried his hands on the towel over his shoulder, bent to look, and gingerly accepted the faxed photo with care. “Aw… now ain’t she sweet,” he said quietly. “She’s growing up, girl. Getting all big.”

“I miss her,” Inez said softly, taking the photo back from Big Mike.

“Yeah… I know. Can’t imagine. Leaving family behind is always hard, but a baby…” He sighed and shook his head. “You got heart, suga. She’s gonna be all right in grandma’s care. Her daddy’s gonna need a shotgun, pretty soon, though.”

Inez stared down at the photo and then withdrew from his side to lay the fax down on the table. She picked up a glass filled with lemonade and handed it to Mike. “That’s if I ever find his trifling ass again.”

He took the glass from her and sipped from it slowly. “Don’t worry about it. If he ain’t around, Uncle Mike got a shoulder cannon for anybody tryin’ to mess with her.” He set his glass down on the drain board and folded his huge arms over his chest. “He’s crazy.”

Inez chewed her bottom lip. She would not allow the thought to materialize, but hell yeah Mike had a cannon that could blow anybody away… especially a sister. And it did not rest on his shoulder. No comparison to her ex’s pitiful equipment. She shook her head.

“Yeah, well,” she said after a while, pushing herself back up on a stool and balancing her glass in her hands between her knees. “Ain’t seen him since he got caught messing with some girl around our way. Couldn’t wait the six weeks.” She took a deep sip of lemonade. “Who am I kidding, as soon as I got all big, he was foolin’ around.”

“Like I said,” Mike reiterated, his voice a low, serious rumble. “He’s crazy.”

“She’s almost three, and ain’t seen hide nor hair of him.”

“Brothers need to stop that mess and take care of what they make.”

Inez looked up from her glass. “That’s why, after I had her, I just went to work, came home, and took care of her.”

For a moment he didn’t say anything. He had to be sure he was really hearing what she was saying. The child was almost three years old. Inez was a thick-hipped, small-waisted, big-boned, heavy-breasted, fine woman that could cook…

“The brothers in LA must be missing they minds. Ain’t nobody coax you out in all that time?”

“What was the point?” she said in a near whisper. “I wasn’t tall, video-worthy, with Mariah Carey skin and Beyonce hair, okaaay. I didn’t do booty-calls, and wasn’t allowing nobody to make me pay their rent for the privilege of laying in the wet spot, if you’ll excuse me for being so blunt—but that’s how it was where I lived. I had to take care of my kid, work all the time, and didn’t have time to be played.”

He shook his head. Three years was a long time for a woman to be scuffling alone. Three years was way too long for a woman who loved to laugh, and play, and who obviously loved family and liked to bring down-home hospitality to the table, to be ignored. The young boys were acid-trippin’. Three years was definitely too long for a woman with a voice like hers, a spirit like hers, and a body like hers to be left unattended. It was sacrilege—a waste of natural resources. Yeah. He’d heard her right. Big Mike would take care of it.

“You’re a good mother, Nez. And a beautiful woman. If’n you wanna go see the baby and your Momma, I’ll get strapped and drive you to Houston.”

“You’d do that?” she whispered.

He almost closed his eyes. The sound of her voice and the expectant tone it held was setting a timer on something that would detonate, if he didn’t diffuse it fast.

“Yeah. I would. Be nice to meet your momma any ole way. Leastwise she’d know you was with somebody who could handle a problem, if one came up.”

She shook her head in obvious disbelief, her big pretty eyes glistening. He studied her small, heart shaped face. Her skin seemed like it was made of dark, satiny opal… sorta shimmered from the kitchen lights. He didn’t know what was wrong with the brothers. Her hair was so pretty, too, the way she’d had it all in long, tiny little braids. In that moment he wished he could just take them out of the ponytail and let each one fall through his fingers.

“Marlene ain’t gonna let us go, though,” she finally said in a quiet voice. “Not until I learn some stuff and can run five miles without losing my breath, and whatever else Shabazz says.”

“They’ve got a point,” he murmured, his line of vision fixated on her mouth, on the exact spot where the lemonade had wet her full lips. “I want your gift to emerge so you’ll have another weapon in your arsenal. I want you to be able to run those five miles without getting tired, so you’ll have a fighting chance if we’ve gotta rumble.”

She smiled. “You said ‘have another weapon,’ and I ain’t even got one.”

He shook his head making her smile fade. “You’ve got a coupla weapons that can blow a man away… but I can wait till we can travel, to tell you all about that.”

“For real?” she whispered, knowing that he could hear her. “You’ll take me to my momma’s?”

“I told you,” he said quietly, but loud enough for her to hear, “Mike’s got you.”

It had been so long since a man had looked at her like that, or had spoken to her like that, or had made promises she knew he’d keep that, she almost slid off the kitchen stool. “I hope so.”

“You’d better know so, suga,” he breathed.

The way he’d said it had put gooseflesh on her arms. “You’d better finish them dishes before somebody comes in here and starts fussing about—”

“Ain’t nobody coming in here,” he said, his voice like distant thunder that rumbled through her bones.

“Guess you got a point,” she said quickly, trying to collect herself. “Don’t nobody wanna get dragged into KP.” Her laugh was strained and she chased it away with another quick sip of lemonade.

“Don’t nobody wanna come in here and mess with me while I’m trying to talk to you.” He unfolded his arms, blotted his brow with the towel, and turned back to the sink.

The water had gone cold, but for the life of him, he didn’t care. He just began washing the dishes in the frigid mixture of fading bubbles and grease, hoping the cool temperature would ratchet his brain back into his skull. But the silence in the room was deafening. Her breaths were like a pulse, and it connected to the throb she’d created in his groin.

“Nez, you need to talk to me while I work. I thought that was our deal for you keeping me company.”

“People always say I talk too much,” she said in a quiet voice. “Especially men.”

“Thought we established that they, men in general, not to be confused with me in specifics, was crazy?”

“Okay…” She watched his back. This time his breathing seemed labored. “I don’t know… next time I cook, what do you want?”

“That’s a loaded question. I’ve got a big appetite.”

She hesitated, not trying to read more into his statement than was there. “I’ll make whatever you want.”

He paused, and then began scrubbing pots harder. “I like everything you fix.”

“What haven’t you had in a long time?”

He dropped the pot, and picked it up again. “Everything Marlene and Shabazz say I can’t have.”

“What if I made you some of what you really want on the side? Like—”

He held up his hand. She watched oily suds run down his arm and then plop on the floor. He swallowed hard.

“I’m gonna tempt you till you tell me,” she said laughing. “Hmmm… how about ribs, cornbread, potato salad, greens, and I can make the rest of them what they want, but for you… I’ll make you a special plate, okay?”

She saw him tilt his head, close his eyes, and lower his massive arm to hold onto the side of the sink. Seeing him do that made her grow serious. The play went out of her voice, an earnest offer of trying to return a favor that could never be repaid enough replaced it.

“I’ll make you some peach cobbler for dessert, too, if you want?” she said in a soft tone. “Or bread pudding… or I can do a lemon butter pound cake? Honey, just tell me what you want, ‘cause you’ve been so nice to me—you saved my life back there in the subway, and can’t nobody keep me from cooking for you. All you gotta do is tell me, and—”

“Inez,” he said firmly, but the tone in his voice was tender. “We got the Berkfield kids up in here, and jus’ trust me when I say, I can’t tell you specifically what I want, right through here.”

She watched him snatch the towel off his shoulder and move to the drain board to dry the large pot he’d just rinsed. Horrified, she was off the stool like a shot. “No!” she said, laughing, grabbing the pot from him. She had to keep things light, had to ignore what he’d just said, couldn’t go there, not with all eyes on them. “You don’ wiped your face with that, got it all sweaty. Man, here. Use a fresh—”

He’d bent down, leaned in, and kissed her so fast that the clean towel she was about to hand him hit the floor. She’d expected the rushed kiss to be hard, if not brutal when it came, but it wasn’t. Once his mouth was on hers, it was the slowest, gentlest touching of mouths; thick flesh against her lips, parting them, moving her body in closer to taste more. A massive hand cradled her head, loosening her ponytail until hundreds of braids spilled across her shoulders and through his fingers. Another damp, hot hand splayed across her back, catching her spine on fire.

She stood on tiptoes but still couldn’t reach enough of him, her hands sliding across wide shoulders made of polished brown marble. She could taste her own cooking in his mouth as he deepened the kiss… the last corner of macaroni and cheese never tasted so good. But when his body made contact with hers, she almost cried out. It was like standing against a skyscraper covered in padded, smooth skin. His length was pressed against her navel like a sawed-off shotgun, good Gawd!

Suddenly she felt petite, something she’d never felt before… fragile, in the arms of a giant, light, featherweight in his strong arms. Tonight she was beautiful.

He swallowed her soft, stunned whimper, listening to everything and nothing. Why a stolen kiss in the kitchen was burning him up, melting him down, he wasn’t sure, nor did he care. Footsteps of fellow Guardians he measured, the Doppler effect of voices telling who was near, who was far, laughter echoed and bounced off wood, plaster, porch frames—as long as it didn’t come in here and interrupt this, he was cool.

But the sound of her voice crested and filled his mouth until he could hear it from the inside out. The sensation sent his hands down her back to the place they’d ached to touch, her luscious rump. Jesus, it fit his hands perfectly. Her hips were a warm swell of soft meat that came off a tiny waist. He could almost touch fingers around it, and yet there was a perfect little rise of belly just below her navel, padded enough to cushion her pelvic bone when it was time for him to go to work.

Man… her voice, though. It had a Portuguese influence with an urban southern flair, her moan trebled with it, too. The dirty south was all up in his head, her backside filling his hands. Her thighs were all thick and cushiony and toned but not hard—just right. He was losing his mind.

“Girl, you feel so good it don’t make no kinda sense,” he whispered in a harsh rush against her temple.

He knew it was foolish, wasn’t no way to do all what needed to be done, but he couldn’t stop kneading the soft, squeezable flesh beneath his palms, separating the halves of it, pressing them together to the rhythm they both wanted to share, but couldn’t… he had to keep kissing her to keep her soft whimpers in his mouth, to keep his silent. A strangled groan beat through his chest and climbed up his Adam’s apple. Her tiny hands flitted up his spine causing chills—he hadn’t meant to lift her with one arm around her waist, but he needed her pelvis to lock with his, needed to feel the large swell of her breasts crushed against his chest. Just the sound of her voice was sending contractions through his sac.

Three years was a waste to have allowed this woman to go fallow; a coupla years for a man was prison—shit, Shabazz and Marlene would get over it. Any special gift she had, he’d bring it out of her tonight, have mercy. He could feel her behind and the backs of her thighs getting wet by the dishwater, but couldn’ta stopped moving against her if he’d tried. She was gonna get wetter any way, before it was all over, he reasoned, pulling her pink tank top out of her jeans shorts. Lawd, her skin was soft, melted butter wrapped in pink and her bra was pink, too. He’d sop her up and lick the plate clean, yes, Jesus. He had to touch more of her skin, feel that low dip in her spine right before her incredible behind rose up to glory. Make him say Halleluiah… who said God didn’t answer prayers?

She broke from the kiss and found his ear. “We can’t do this right here—I mean, what if somebody walks in here?” she whispered, panicked.

“Lord, woman, I love your voice,” he breathed against her temple, not sure what she’d said; just the tone of it had registered in his groin.

“Baby, listen,” she said quickly, trying to see over his shoulder as he began to work open the top button of her jeans shorts.

“Yeah, I hear you, suga.”

“Mike, you ain’t listening to me!” she said in a hissing whisper. Panic spiked through her as she watched him close his eyes and shudder.

“Loud and clear.” He kissed her hard and then broke away to find her earlobe. “Just say it to me like that again.”

She hung onto him with her arms around his muscular neck, trying not to be driven into the half-filled sink as he ripped her zipper down. “Oh… shit.”

His hands traced her breasts making her briefly close her eyes. “Uhmmm, hmmm. I know. I’m right there, too, suga.”

She held his jaw with both hands before he could lower his head. “We are in a house with however many other people in the next room, Michael—some of whom are playing Pinochle or Bid Whist!” she said through her teeth. “Can you hear me now?”

He looked at her for a moment, dazed, but didn’t back up. He simply stopped moving against her as sheer agony slowly spread across his face.

“Good,” she said breathing hard.

“Suga… listen, all I need is a lil’ bit, a lil’ corner of what you got in the pan,” he said finding the side of her neck, then her shoulder, slathering kisses across it till she trembled. “Girl, do you hear me now?” he whispered, his words and kisses gaining velocity and volume with each statement burst. “Baby, don’t let me smell it cooking and hear it sizzling, then put me out the kitchen, Nez. I don’t know whose eyes you been looking through, but, girl, you make somebody wanna slap they momma. Don’t judge me by those other young fools, sweetness… Big Mike gonna show you jus’ how special you is. Uhmmm hmmm… right there,” he murmured, opening her thighs.

Again she tried to glance around his hulking frame to no avail and smoothed her palm over the gleaming surface of his scalp. “Maybe if we go in the back of the house? Aw, Mike, I dunno.”

“I swear fo’ God they won’t hear us.” His hands traced up and down her hips, his voice ragged.

She zipped up her pants and tried to straighten her tank top. “I can’t be gettin’ pregnant up in here, neither, Mike.”

“I know, I know. But we can work that out,” he said, sounding pained. “Just don’t move for a second—lemme get myself together.”

He was dragging in lumbering breaths, and common sense told her that if she stayed wedged up against him like this, he wouldn’t be getting himself together very soon. Neither would she.

“Just let me off the sink,” she whispered. “Pleeeaase?”

She could feel a hard tremor run through him as his eyes slid closed.

“You can’t be saying please to me like that,” he whispered hard against her ear. “Your voice…”

“Mike, put me down on the floor,” she said as strongly as she could.

He looked at her and his eyes nearly crossed.

“I mean, let me off the sink, baby. C’mon, Mike, you know what I meant. Besides, if we don’t get out of here they’ll bust us and then we won’t be able to. ”

He took in a deep breath, let it out slowly, and moved back two inches to hoist her down with one arm. He kissed the top of her head, but kept her pinned against the sink. “I just kinda got carried away in here. Been thinking about you like this for months, but had been hoping you’d come along for years,” he said in a hard, quiet whisper, sending another hot shaft of breath across her hair. “You right. Let’s take this outside, outta earshot. I’m sorry, suga.”

It was nighttime and nobody was supposed to leave the house without two senior Guardians on their flank. Maybe Big Mike counted as two. Insanity let her hand trail down his abdomen and across his nylon shorts.

“I’m not sorry,” she whispered, gazing up at him in disbelief as her hand slid across the shocking dimension of him. “Dayum.”

She hadn’t meant to start the mess all over again, or maybe she had. But this time when her bent to kiss her, her hair went into the water, he’d leaned her so far backward. If it weren’t for his arm blocking the edge of the counter, her spine would have bruised or possibly snapped. He was pushing against her with such slow, determined force that pretty soon they’d both be in the sink. She didn’t care. All she knew was that a man had never made her feel like this.

Each thrust was making her forget about anyone else in the next room. A three-inch diameter of hard rod was slow pummeling her bud right through her jeans shorts at just the right tempo. Strong hands with a gentle hold caressed her everywhere. His timed breaths were melting her bones. She bit her lip to hold the words back, but they slipped out anyway. “Work it, Daddy.” Her legs were about to find their way to his waist, because what she’d said had released a groan from him that made him move against her faster. He could have it any where he wanted it! Right here was just fine. “Oh, right there.” That was all right, too.

A light cough jerked his head up. She froze.

“Just passing through to get some iced tea or lemonade and to see how the dishes were going,” Marlene said in a jovial tone, opening the fridge. “I’ll finish them.”

Inez slid off the sink, her hair streaming rivulets of soapy water over her shoulders, her gaze glued to the floor. She wanted to die. Her face flushed hot. Her body rebelled, contracting as Mike straightened, stepped back two paces, but kept his back to Marlene, breathing hard.

Fidgeting like she was trying to get a napkin to wrap around her glass, Marlene turned away silently pleased. Inez’s third eye had swept the house, nearly ransacked it for a kitchen intruder. Marlene chuckled but swallowed it away. Go, Mike. But the scan was sloppy; the girl needed practice to breach demon mental radar, which required focus. She hated to do it, but Mike was gonna have to get up off that chile.

“I’ll bring y’all a towel,” Marlene said with a sly grin in her voice, “but I think it’s time for y’all to, uh, get out of the kitchen. It’s way too hot in here.”

Mike closed his eyes, nodded, and kept his voice even as he got his breathing under control. “I hear you, Mar. Aw’ight, Mom, I hear you. Just give us a second.”

See Also[edit | edit source]

Novels 1 - 9 Minion • The Awakening • The Hunted • The Bitten • The Forbidden • The Damned • The Forsaken • The Wicked • The Cursed
Armageddon Finale
(10 -12)
The Darkness • The Shadows • The Thirteenth
Anthologies Make it Last Forever in Stroke of Midnight • Ride the Night Wind in Love at First Bite
Dawn and Darkness (Comics) Individual Comics Book One: Ashes to Ashes • Book Two: Dust to Dust  • Book Three: Bygones to Blood • Book Four: Ride or Die
Graphic Novel Graphic Novel (Parts 1 - 4)
Neteru Academy Novels Shadow Walker • Shadow Seekers (Unreleased) • Shadow Slayers (Unreleased)
Between the Books (Official Website Stories) Vol. 1 • Vol. 2 • Vol. 3 • Vol. 4 • Vol. 5 • Vol. 6 • Vol. 7 • Vol. 8 • Vol. 9 • Vol. 10 • Vol. 11 • Vol. 12 • Vol. 13 • Vol. 14 • Vol. 15 - The Ripple Effect • Vol. 16 - Damali's Dilemma • Vol. 17 - Carlos' Dilemma • Vol. 18 - Damali's Dilemma Part II • Vol. 19 - Training Day • Vol. 20 - Training Day Part II • Vol. 21 - A Neteru Apex • Vol. 22 - New Mansion Compound: • Vol. 23 - New Mansion Compound: • Vol. 24 - New Mansion Compound: • Vol. 25 - "Truth Between Brothers" • Vol. 26 - Shabazz: THE FALL OUT • Vol. 27 • Vol. 28 • Vol. 29 • Vol. 30 - "Submerge"
Other Nothing Like the First Time (Prequel) • That First Kiss • Between Man and Wife • Atlantis Rising
Damali's Journal Volume One • Volume Two • Volume Three • Volume Four • Damali's Journal: Special Volume
Carlos' Black Box Volume One • Volume Two
Inside the Mind of a Vampire Volume One • Volume Two • Volume Three • Volume Four • Volume Five • Volume Six
Additional Content & Short Stories Promotional Media Secret Desires • Exotic Contraband: LA Banks' Vampire Huntress Legend Concept Art Book • Vampire Huntress Legend Sampler • Atlantis Rising • VHL Teacher's Curriculum Guide
Vampire Huntress Legend Sampler Nothing Like the First Time • Damali's Journal: Special Volume • The Power Players: A tour by Master Vampire Carlos Rivera • Character Dossiers
Unreleased Vampire Huntress Legend Series Movie (Unreleased) • Vampire Huntress Legend Series Manga (Unreleased)

References[edit | edit source]

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