2. Spark

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Of all the men Ray brought home, Trenton was the worst. Outside of the often visible and audible PDA they engaged in, he never seemed to leave. Reagan, now 15, usually ignored her mother’s company, since they never stuck around long anyway.

Reagan stood in the bathroom, snapping pictures of herself in the new striped shirt she’d purchased with her first paycheck. She’d felt him creep past a few times, but ignored him. If he was hovering for the bathroom, he could wait; this was HER house.

The last time he walked by, he lingered in the doorway. Even though he was obviously homeless, his clothes and shoes were always brand new. “Don’t you think those shorts are too short?” he said. Reagan turned to see his eyes snap back upward to her face.
“What?” she said. Normally, she’d answer respectfully, since he was an adult, but she didn’t take kindly to her mother’s company talking to her. At all.
“You got…a lot going on. I don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea about you,” he said. By now, he was obviously looking at her body with more than concern. Reagan reached the handle and slammed the door in his face.
 
She remained there for the rest of the afternoon. Alma marched up the stairs and banged on the door with all the strength her palm could muster. “Reagan Mae Dobson, you better get the hell out my bathroom before I tear this door off the frame!”

Reagan opened the door, now clad in her grandmother’s robe. “I thought you had somewhere to be. Why are you in my robe?” Reagan tried to open her mouth and tell her grandmother what happened but she closed it. The only thing she felt was shame and couldn’t handle whatever her grandmother would say. She crossed the hall into her bedroom and shut the door.

Alma was on her heels, joining her in the room before the latch could catch in the doorframe. “Reagan, talk to me,” Alma said. She knew something was wrong with her granddaughter and she feared the worst.
“Trenton told me my shorts were too short.”
“Well, who the hell is he? If I bought them, they’re okay.”
“No. It’s not that,” Reagan said, folding her arms across her chest. She couldn’t shake the disgust that snaked up her spine. Alma sat on the bed next to her granddaughter, patient as she waited for her reply.
“It was the way he…looked at me. Like he does when he follows Mah into another room.”
“Lust,” Alma sighed. Beneath the surface of her smooth cocoa skin, she was fuming.
“Talking about he didn’t ‘want anyone to get the wrong idea about me’,” Reagan said. She roughly wiped away the tears that had begun to fall, annoyed she’d become this emotional again. Alma pulled the girl into her chest and held her. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Reagan. You’re a good girl, you always have been and I promise that it will never happen again, as long as you are under this roof and there is breath in my body.”

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COMPLICATED {6}

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Elise knew he would be there, but she was still unprepared when he walked in the door. She’d spent the last two weeks painstakingly arranging every detail for the bachelor/bachelorette party at the secluded cottage; It was her way of focusing on something other than her missing lover.

“Oh, so you’re on that bullshit tonight, huh?” Josalyn said, watching attentively as Elise finished the large cup she’d just poured. Elise gasped and winced as the liquor burned its way past her throat and stomach.
“Long week,” she said flatly.

It killed her to keep the secret from her best friends, especially when she needed their advice at the moment.
“What’s the point of having a bachelor/bachelorette party if they’re already married?” Amara said, swigging from her own cup.
“His family is very traditional. I don’t even know if they know about the house yet,” Elise said. She poured another serving of Hennessy into her cup.
“I see what kind of night this is gonna be,” Josalyn said, still awed by her friend’s consumption.
“She’s just trying to keep pace with Liam.”

Elise found her eyes, scanning the room for him. His animation with her sister made him easy to spot, booming over the speakers and conversations. The rage that had been boiling inside her pooled into another heat that sat between her thighs at the sight of him. His beauty and charm gave him access to any woman he chose. On anyone else, the busily-patterned button-up would be played and his exposed chest from its lack of buttoning would be corny, but Liam was regal. Elise watched him like a hawk, examining his every move, anticipating her attack. She knew he’d seen her and was waiting for his opportunity to strike. He made his way to the trio to deliver his traditional greetings. He seized Amara in his arms and squeezed her as tight as he could.

“Are you drunk?” Amara asked.
“Quite,” he said, hugging Josalyn before turning his attention to Elise.
“What’s up?” he said, taking her in.
“What’s up?” she repeated before he swept her into his arms. She’d kept her hands glued to her side as he pulled her into his chest. Her icy demeanor held briefly, until it was thawed by the gentle press of his lips onto her neck. Suddenly, she was ablaze beneath her skin. “I hope you didn’t drive,” Elise said.
“Well, this is a slumber party, right?” he said, winking at Elise before he walked away.

Elise managed to drag her sister off of her husband’s lap, just long enough to pull her into the master bedroom. “I literally can’t hold this in any longer,” she said, shutting the door behind her.
“What, what happened?”
“My secret one-thing? It’s Liam,” Elise said. The words felt like she was releasing a breath she’d been holding in.
“Shut the fuck up!”
“Yeah, but I fucked up. I asked him out and now I know he’s weird about it.”
“Go talk to him! Not me!”
“I can’t! What am I supposed to say? Hi, I know I asked you out and it’s cool if you don’t like me that way, but I’d still like to hit that?
“Yes! Say exactly that!”
“Em! Be serious!”
“What do you want?”
“5 minutes in the linen closet?”
“Make it 10,” her sister said before shoving her back out the room.

In her mind, she’d known she still wanted him. She’d plotted the whole night, from the decorations and the music, to the black dress she wore that accentuated her body. With her sister’s approval, Elise was ready to make her move.
“El, do you wanna play this drinking game?”
“Yeah, let me grab a cup,” she said, making her way into the kitchen. As she reached for the red solo cups on top of the fridge, she could feel the hair on her neck raise sharply before the hands snaked around her.

“Shit,” he whispered into her ear as he draped himself over her. “This dress is driving me crazy. I need to take it off,” he said, his hands lazily ambled across her body. Just as she settled into his warmth, he was gone, several feet from where he had once been as one of the guest wandered into the kitchen. They exchanged heated looks, before Liam went back into the living room. She’d managed to let out an annoyed sigh as Amara entered.

“Five bucks he’s passed out on the floor before midnight,” Amara chuckled, refilling her cup.
“I’m not gonna take that bet. He’s blasted.”
“He’ll be ok. He just broke up with someone and he’s a little raw.”

Elise found it impossible to mask her fury as she turned and stormed out onto the porch. She’d been saving her special friend as an after-party treat, but her anger rose in her throat like bile. Her breath was jagged as she inhaled and exhaled the thick smoke, almost immediately calming her raging brain. She replayed the last two months over and over in her head, looking for any sign in her murky memories. She’d known Liam her whole life and found it hard to believe that he’d lie to her and cheat on someone. She’d always held him to a slightly higher standard but it dawned on her that Liam was a man, just like that rest: capable of anything. The weed began to work its magic, slightly relaxing Elise, as she heard the door creak open.

“There you are,” Liam said, before he dropped onto the steps next to her. He reached out to take the cigar from her hands, when she pulled it out of his reach.
“Oh, you being stingy tonight?”
“I don’t like to share,” she said in a grim tone.
“What’s wrong?”
“You’ve been with someone this whole time?”

Liam sighed and rubbed his face. He’d come to the party to avoid his thoughts of Kim and her “happy” marriage.
“It wasn’t anything serious. And it’s over.”
“Obviously it was more serious than you thought,” Elise scoffed. Up close, Liam was a sweaty, drunk mess, which eliminated a lot of his charm.
“It was. Or I thought so. But it’s over and I’m over her.”
“So you couldn’t tell me you were with someone else? Or did you just want to have your cake and eat it too?”
“That’s the dumbest idiom ever…”
“Only because you don’t understand it,” Elise said, ashing the blunt and standing to leave. Liam leapt up and blocked her path to the house.
“Come on, don’t be mad. I’m sorry,” he said, running his hands over her chilled skin.
“No, fuck you. I’ve been, I don’t know, holding out hope that one day you would see me since I was a kid. I’d given up until…. I don’t know what you and ole girl had going on, but obviously you’re upset about it. You came here, hoping I’d be ok with you ignoring me for weeks now so you could get your sad little rocks off but it’s not happening.”
“Ok, I’m upset! Damn, I thought friends were supposed to be there for one another.”
“You don’t know what a friend is, Liam. Everything is always about YOU. You think the world is supposed to just stop for you and it doesn’t. I have feelings too. You don’t even have the decency to turn me down properly!”

Liam’s face changed instantly, an unfamiliar emotion Elise had never seen. He took his hands off of her and stood back. “Is that what this is about?”
Elise bit her lip and shook her head. She’d be damned if she dropped tears in front of him.
“Bro, you’re tripping. No, I know what it is. You’re jealous.”
“Jealous?! Of what?”
“Jealous that I actually wanted something with her. Terrified that you were another side piece just waiting for a ride around the block and a pat on the head.”

Elise felt as though the air had been ripped from her lungs. If her reaction time hadn’t been impaired, she might have tried to peel the flesh from his bones. She shut her eyes for a moment, trying to turn off the brewing storm.
“Goodbye Liam.”

COMPLICATED {3}

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Liam hated being tough with Maya but this time, she’d gone too far. The car ride was silent, with Liam glancing at his daughter in the rearview mirror.
“I’m still waiting on this explanation.”
“I didn’t start it, Dad.”
“It’s not about who started it. It’s about who ended it.”
“Well, if Desiree didn’t irritate me everyday…”
“So you punched her in the face?”
“I punched her because she called me a name.”
“People are going to call you names, babe. That’s just life.”
“Yeah… but no one had to laugh.”
“So you punched her?”
“Yes.”
“Because you were embarrassed.”
“What’s embarrassed?”
“It means something happened to you and because everyone thought it was funny, it made you uncomfortable. Like you want to run away and hide…or in your case, punch her in the nose.”
“Then yes. I was embarrassed,” Maya said slowly.

Liam was always in awe of how quickly she’d grown and how brilliant she was at just 7 years old. He could remember the moment she was born, how she opened her eyes and grinned with all her gums at him. He’d been madly in love with her ever since.
“We don’t solve problems with our fists, Maya,” he continued. He struggled to maintain a firm voice with her, but being in the driver’s seat helped. He knew that one look into her big brown eyes and he’d be putty in her tiny hands.
“I know, Daddy.”
“Well, if you know, then we don’t have to have this conversation again.”
“We won’t, Daddy. I’m sorry,” Maya said. One glance in the rearview mirror and he felt his heart breaking as she hung her head into her chest.

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The Trouble with Diamonds: Fourteen

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Dorian didn’t feel right about Noelle’s plan. “Let me come with you,” he said again, his hand reaching out for her. “No. You’re my ace in the hole. If this goes south, I’m gonna need you.” Her words stirred him, wondering if they were meant for more than just tonight. Before he could speak or move, she was out of the car and walking into the darkness. He huffed and pulled out his cell phone.

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The Trouble With Diamonds: Eleven

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It took Dorian a split second to react to Noelle standing at his front door. His arm whipped to his waistband and seized the gun, swinging it to her face. She grabbed the muzzle and forced his arm down, sending the gun flying. Dorian grabbed the thief by her lapels and dragged her into the apartment. She used her forearms to break his grip and block his strikes as he came at her full force. She was the reason he was out of a job & under investigation. She had seduced him, made his drop his guard for one minute, and outfoxed him, something he could proudly say didn’t happen often. Dorian hated to admit it to himself, but he had a point to prove.  Continue reading

The Trouble with Diamonds: Ten

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He pushed deeper inside of his wife. Her gasp pushed her warm breath onto his full lips, her brow furrowed in borrowed ecstasy. He wound his arms around her, sharing the air between their mouths and the sweat on their skin. “Tell me you love me,” he said as he watched her. She squirmed on top of him, trapped like a field mouse and its slithering predator. He filled her again and again with no remorse for her moans. “Tell me. Say it.”
“I love you.”

He rolled over deftly, still tucked away but she was different, her scent spreading through the room: honeysuckle and orchids. She pushed her knees back so he could peer down and watch her love bloom for him. He pressed his lips onto her knees as he dipped inside of her. He could feel every muscle inside of her twitch around him and he felt himself unravel with every thrust. He wanted to hate her; he wanted to stop and drag her into the deepest hole the federal government could provide. Yet, he wanted nothing but to bury himself deep inside of her, to release the thick sorrow and melancholy that kept him captive. He was trapped in quicksand; a harrowing love for his dead wife and the forbidden lust he possessed for the thief.

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The Trouble With Diamonds: Seven

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Her body shook as she pulled herself up on the bar. “Come on, I need five more, Noelle,” he said, his voice gruff below her. “I can’t!” she yelled as her scrawny arms gave out and she swung from the bar. “CAN’T isn’t in our vocabulary,” he barked. Noelle dropped down onto the floor and stuck her acrylic fingernail in his face. “No, it’s in YOUR vocabulary. This is some bullshit, I’m gone,” she said as she grabbed her bag. “Noelle,” Kyle yelled after her, his hands on his hips. “I don’t know why I have to do this crap. I told you, I don’t need a dad!”
“So what, you expect to go back out there and do what? Keep grifting at the grocery store? Go to juvy? Get lost in the system?”
Noelle adjusted the bag on her shoulder and bit her lip. “If you want to do this, you need to do it RIGHT. I’m offering more than these lessons…” he trailed off. His own daughter would be a little younger than Noelle and he was constantly reminded of her when Noelle was around. He felt like it was a second chance and he needed to do it right. “Do you wanna go grab some dinner?”

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