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A Time To Die ~ Part 3

HibiscusMyr sat forward with her hands falling between her knees. Her brother Mikhail, slouched on the sofa across from her, studying the carpet like it held the answers to life’s greatest questions. His shaggy, light brown hair a mess; he was still asleep when she arrived. She watched him, waiting for a response. Any response.

“I forbid you to marry him,” he said, finally making eye contact with hard, grey eyes.

Not the response she expected. “You can’t forbid me,” she retorted, straightening in her seat.

“Mama and Papa would’ve if they were still alive. They didn’t bring us out here to let us die so young.” He would not allow her to risk her life with that boy. He didn’t care how old they were now. They were still kids to him and he made a promise to keep Myr safe.

His reasoning was as flimsy as an old floppy disk, making it impossible to contain her response. “Maybe if they hadn’t brought us out here, they wouldn’t have died in the plane crash when they went back for Deshka’s funeral.” She leaned towards him. “And they didn’t bring us out here for you to continue the oppression we left behind in Russia.”

“What do you know about oppression?” he asked mirroring her posture. His eyes narrowed to slits and his eyebrows almost touched. “You were just six when we left.” He hooked his thumb towards his chest, “I was seventeen. Everything changed for me when we moved here. I had to learn a new language-“

She reined herself in and interrupted quietly, “And you speak it very well, Misha.” She used the shortened form of his name to soften him and chose not to point out how things were different in Russia now. Their motherland would always be the Soviet Union to him; not the recent years of Gorbachev, perestroika, glasnost, and the end of the Cold War. “Besides, not everything changed. Natasha came a few years later and you have your own family now.” Once again, she used the short form of Natalya’s name to keep the mood light.

She thanked God that Natalya and the kids were at the park. They didn’t need to bear witness to this, and this was about to turn ugly. Mikhail had a temper he could not, or would not, control.

He stood and glared down at her. “That’s not the point.”

She rose to her feet calmly. “You’re right. It’s not. You don’t treat your kids this way. So why are you doing it to me?”

“Because you know about family honor!” He waved his arms around frantically. “You could die but it will reflect on me. People are going to look at me and say to themselves, ‘There goes poor Mikhail. His sister is dead because she married someone with AIDS.’” He set his hands on his waist.

“He’s HIV positive. He doesn’t have AIDS yet. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t have to be afraid for me or you or your family.” She kept her gaze on him without blinking. “I’m going to marry him. Mama and Papa liked Chris and would want me to be happy. You have to let go of this fear you have because of the accident. God took them home with him.”

“There you go with that religious stuff again. It’s all a bunch of fairy tales.”

“How do you know? Huh?” She paused a beat to see if he’d answer. He didn’t. “Christianity wasn’t allowed. We had orthodoxy with no personal relationship with God until we came here.”

“Sure,” he replied sarcastically and crossed his arms over his chest. He couldn’t debate that with her because she was right on the last point, so he chose a different tack. “If you go against my wishes, don’t expect me or my family at your wedding. We are no longer family.”

“But you’re supposed to give me away,” she protested while pain seared through her gut. Mikhail was full of the unexpected today and this last stand shredded her heart. Her brother was the last of her family and he wanted to toss her aside like a useless, broken toy.

He forced the hardness in his voice so she would never see him breaking behind his tough exterior. “Tough shit.” He marched past her his bedroom in the back and slammed the door.

Myr headed for the front door. As she placed her hand around the cold metal knob she heard Mikhail shouting in Russian. Phrases she hadn’t heard since she was five.

They lived in a small apartment in Leningrad. Just her, Mama, Papa, and Mikhail. Deshka took her out for a walk one day and when they returned, Mama and Papa were yelling at Mikhail for being stupid and selfish. She didn’t know why they were yelling and no one ever spoke of it after that. Deshka led her to the bedroom she shared with her brother and she asked him about the phrases she didn’t understand. He laughed and told her she would know someday.

“I understand now, Deshka,” she whispered, glancing towards Mikhail’s bedroom.

She sighed with more sorrow than when their parents died, then left with her brother still yelling in his room.

©Debi Smith, 2014

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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How Long Will I Love You? ~ Part 8

Lara 2

Catch up here.

Chase waits outside the gallery in a tailored charcoal grey three-piece suit and pink shirt with the top two buttons undone. He smiles as I join him and presses his lips to mine. “You look gorgeous as always, but the shoes are throwing me off.”

I am wearing a jade green halter dress with black leather flats. “I knew we’d be walking the four blocks to Basil. And thank you,” I add with a shy smile.

We spend dinner discussing the last few days. Both of us were busy since dinner Tuesday and barely had time to text hello to each other. Afterwards, we head into the bar area and wait for Robin at the end of the bar.

Chase keeps an arm around my waist and an eye out on the door.

I move to face him and lay a hand over his heart. I let a small sigh escape.

“What’s wrong?” he asks with his brow furrowed in unease.

I shake my head. “Nothing.”

He uses his free hand to tip my head up and pierces me with his bright eyes. “Tell me.”

“Nothing is wrong,” I insist. “Unless you being devastatingly handsome is wrong.”

A smile spreads wide across his face. “Only if you being incredibly gorgeous is wrong.”

My temperature rises and I rest my forehead on his shoulder to hide the blushing. Chase kisses my head and caresses my back.

Part of me wishes we were anywhere but here. This moment has me yearning for time alone with Chase instead of waiting for Robin to show up.

“He’s here,” Chase whispers.

I lift my head and turn around. Robin makes his way through the crowded bar in black jeans and a short-sleeve blue henley hanging loose on his torso.

Chase drops his arm from my waist and I hug Robin then he and Chase shake hands. Robin leans into the bar and orders a beer from the bartender.

I notice his shiny boots. “Hey, did you get new Docs?”

He twists his head back, still leaning on the bar. “I polished them.”

“You polished your boots? Is the world ending?” I joke.

“Ha ha.” He rolls his eyes with a little sparkle in the grey irises.

“I see a table opening up. I’m going to grab it,” Chase says, pointing across the bar.

“Okay,” I reply and check where he is pointing. “We’ll be there in a minute.”

He takes our drinks with him. I watch as he crosses the room through the throng, remove his jacket and hang it over the back of the chair before sitting down. If I thought he was devastatingly handsome before, he was even more so now. There is something about a man in a tailored vest that makes him look even better.

Robin snaps his fingers in my face. “Earth to Lara.”

I blink hard. “Sorry.”

“What are you guys drinking?”

“I have a dirty martini, he’s drinking Basil Hayden, neat.”

The bartender sets Robin’s beer in front of him and Robin orders fresh drinks for me and Chase. We join Chase a few minutes later.

“I hear you’re a great cook,” Robin says to Chase after the initial small talk ends.

“It’s my fun time after work,” he says, shrugging his shoulders.

“What else do you do for fun?”

“I run a few mornings a week and check out local artists when I can.”

“Right. Lara said you like art.” Robin takes a swig of his beer without taking his eyes off Chase.

“I do.” Chase takes my hand under the table. “What about you? Lara mentioned you’re in a band.”

I spin my martini glass by the stem between my fingers with my free hand.

“Yep.” He nods. “Punk band. Lara comes to most of our gigs in town. You should join her for one.” I could hear a hint of Robin trying to egg on Chase in his statement.

I shift slightly in my chair.

“I would love to.” Chase releases my hand then drapes his arm on the back of my chair and massages his thumb into my the back of my shoulder.

“We play tomorrow at The Dive.”

Chase looks to me. “Shall we?”

“If you’d like,” I answer and put on a smile.

“We’ll be there,” Chase tells Robin.

“Great,” Robin says a little less than thrilled.

I narrow my eyes at Robin.

“Pardon me,” Chase says standing, his eyes on the bar. “I’ll be right back.”

I wait for Chase to shake another man’s hand at the bar then I lean across the table. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Getting to know Chase,” he says feigning innocence.

“I know you better.” I narrow my eyes at him. “You’re setting him up for something.”

Robin leans in. “He’s obviously likes you, but he’s so…proper.”

“Proper? Just because he likes to cook, supports local artists like Trevor, and takes me to the opera?”

“And his clothes!”

“Dammit, Robin. He’s an investment banker! What’s the difference between how he dresses for work and how I dress for work?”

Robin presses his lips together to form a line. I had him and he knew it.

“We can’t all dress down like you do for the record store,” I remind him.

He averts his eyes and looks past me.

“Yes, Chase is much different than you, but he’s just as attentive and caring. If you can’t see that past your own feelings then maybe this was all a mistake.” I push my chair back quickly and it scrapes against the wood floor.

Robin reaches over and grabs my wrist. “I’m sorry.”

“Damage is done.” I state tartly. “I think you need more time.”

I stand and he looks up at me with sad eyes, pleading for me to stay. He releases my wrist and I pull my purse onto my shoulder then carefully remove Chase’s jacket from his chair.

“He’s buying your affection to get you into bed,” he says flatly, staring at my empty chair.

“Fuck you!” I grab the rest of my martini and throw it in his face.

Chase rushes back, pulling me to him by my waist. I shove his jacket into his chest, still glaring at Robin. He swipes his hand over his face then wipes his hand on his leg.

I bend down close to his ear. “He hasn’t bought me a damned thing and I haven’t slept with him, you ass.”

He turns his head to me with steely eyes. “Maybe you can’t get him into bed because he’s still in the closet,” he returns acidly.

I douse him with his beer then march off with Chase following as Robin jumps up from his seat. Chase folds his jacket in half and gently lays it over his forearm then twines his fingers into mine once we’re outside.

“What were you two whispering about?” he asks as we walk towards my apartment.

I tell him then tears well up and overflow.

He untwines our fingers and pulls me into him by the waist. “I’m sorry, Lara.” He rests his head on mine. “I had hoped we could be friends.”

“Maybe in time,” I say wishfully, then more seriously, “We’ve never fought like this before.”

“I never wanted this to happen,” he says soberly.

“You didn’t do anything,” I remind him. “It’s not your fault he decided to declare his love for me after he found out about you.”

“You know what this night needs?” he asks, looking at me with a glint of mischief in his eyes.

“What?”

“Chocolate cake.” A grin forms.

“Chocolate cake sounds divine right now.” I smile in return. “Cuppa Joe?”

“Unless there is somewhere else nearby with good chocolate cake you haven’t told me about.”

Half an hour later we’re at my door wrapped up in each other’s arms engaged in a chocolate-y goodnight kiss.

“Thank you,” I say breathily as I slide my hands down from his neck to rest on his biceps.

He touches his forehead to mine. “For what?”

“For being supportive and understanding with all this.” Then add with a grin, “And for the chocolate cake.”

He beams. “I know how you love your chocolate cake.” A long sigh escapes him. “If I could make this better for you, I would.”

I give his biceps a squeeze. “You are making it better. You’re making me want to trust you. That hasn’t happened in a long time.”

One of us has to trust the other first.

A smile returns to his lips and he closes in on my mouth, brushing his lips against mine. I open up and let him in for another chocolate-y kiss.

©Debi Smith, 2014

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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How Long Will I Love You? ~ Part 7

Lara 2

Catch up here

I text Chase as I wind down at work.

Do you need me to pick anything up for tonight?

I’ve got it under control. I’ll be there in an hour.

Can’t wait.

Me neither.

A grin breaks out from ear to ear. I call up to tell Trevor I am leaving for the day.

“Hang on a sec. I’ll walk you home. I need some air.”

“I’ll meet you downstairs.”

I step out of the elevator and Kate is walking away from the desk with her purse.

“Night, Lara!”

“Night, Kate.”

Trevor bursts through the stairwell door and Kate jumps, letting out a squeal.

“Sorry ‘bout that, Kate,” he says.

She lays a hand over her chest. “You’re going to break that bar on the door one day, Trevor.”

“Possibly,” he winks at her and we all head to the door.

I lock the door behind us and we part ways with Kate.

“So what’s up with you?” he asks curiously.

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve had this crazy grin on your face all day.”

“Oh, that.” I grin.

He grabs my shoulder. “You’re seeing someone!”

My cheeks flush. “His name is Chase Ashton.”

“Trust fund baby?”

“Investment banker.”

“I need to meet this guy.”

“You did. He bought one of your paintings.”

“Which one?”

Trevor is bad with names so it’s no surprise he can’t remember meeting Chase. “Hope.”

I can see the wheels turning in his head then his eyes widen when the wheels click into place. “That guy?” He squeezes my arm hard. “Holy hell, Lara! I’d do him.”

I giggle. “He’s too straight for you.”

He lets go of my arm. “Straight out of GQ hot. I remember his eyes.”

“Yes, his eyes,” I say dreamily.

“You’ve got it bad.”

I hook my arm through his and smile. “Yes, I do.”

He kisses my cheek when we arrive at my building. “See you tomorrow.”

“Good night, Trevor.”

I change into black yoga pants and a teal tank top then roll out my yoga mat to work out the kinks from my day through yoga.

A soft knocking comes from the door as I roll up the mat. I put the mat away in the coat closet and open the door.

Chase is smiling, looking impeccable in a tailored navy suit, white shirt, and a cream silk tie. He holds a reusable bag of groceries in one hand and a garment bag over his shoulder in the other.

“I approve,” he says nodding at my yoga clothes.

“You caught me just finishing.” I step to the side and let him in.

He stops and softly presses his lips against mine. “Mind if I use your room to change?”

“Go ahead. Let me take that,” I say grasping the handles of the bag of groceries.

I remove the groceries from the bag and lay them out on the counter while Chase changes in my room. The door opens a few minutes later and he exits the room in jeans and a grey v-neck t-shirt hugging his body.

Oh to be jeans and a t-shirt stretched tight against his soft skin.

“Can I help with anything?” I ask when he joins me in the kitchen.

“I’ve got it.”

“Okay. I’m going to change.” I turn to leave.

“No.” He tugs me back by my wrist.

“What?”

“I like you in your yoga clothes.” He grins and skims his hands down my sides to my hips. “Leave them on. Please?” He sticks out his lower lip and knits his brows together.

The effect on me is catastrophic: my heart races, my temperature rises, my head spins.

“You don’t play fair,” I comment.

“Neither do you in that.”

I open my mouth to tell him it doesn’t make any sense, but realize I’d end up in a circular argument with him that would be fun yet completely frustrating. I turn away and leave the kitchen. “I’ll be in the living room if you need me.”

I sprawl out on the sofa and read The Count of Monte Cristo while all manner of clinking, thunking, whirring, and sizzling emits from the kitchen followed by mouth-watering aromas and the popping of a cork.

“Dinner is ready,” he announces.

I set my book on the coffee table and head back into the kitchen.

Chase artfully arranged dinner on each of our plates; broiled steak over a small portion of mashed potatoes with Hollandaise drizzled asparagus spears falling off the side.

“I think you missed your calling,” I say in wonderment.

He pulls out my chair for me. “I like my job. This just helps deal with the stress of it.”

“If this is how you deal with stress,” I sit down, “you’re going to spoil me.”

He sits in his chair. “I would love to spoil you.”

My heart thumps against my ribs. I take a sip of the white wine and it hits all the sweet spots on my tongue. “Would you be interested in having drinks with Robin on Friday?”

“If he is.” he asks cutting several bite size pieces of steak.

I nod.

“Sure. Basil? We can have dinner then meet him in the bar.”

“I’ll let him know.” I slice an asparagus spear into six pieces and fork one into my mouth.

“I’ll make the dinner reservations.” He scoops a piece of steak with mashed potatoes into his mouth.

The asparagus is steamed perfectly with a little crunch to it. “This is better than the lasagna.”

“Thank you.” He smiles and his eyes brighten.

My heart melts. Those eyes coupled with his smile will be my undoing.

I tell him about my walk home with Trevor and he laughs.

We finish washing dishes and he is staring at me intensely as I dry my hands with the kitchen towel. “What?”

“I’m just waiting for you to put that towel down.”

I give him a quizzical look then toss the towel on the counter.

He swoops in, grabs my face in his hands, and brings it closer to his. Our mouths crash together in a fury. I slip my hands under the hem of his shirt and skim his defined abs with my fingers. His mouth breaks away briefly as he exhales a hot breath. I feel his stomach tremble.

He picks me up by the waist and sets me on the counter. His eyes flare as our gazes lock and he caresses my outer thighs. He leans in and kisses the dip in my neck. His hands slide under my tank top and explores my lower back, sides, and abdomen as he runs his tongue in a circle inside the dip.

“Oh, fuck,” I gasp. My whole body shudders and I want nothing more than to tear his clothes off to put out the fire he started.

He lets out a throaty laugh and moves his hands higher, toying with the edge of the shelf bra, but not lifting it. “Too bad I need to leave.”

“You really don’t play fair,” I say still catching my breath.

“I can’t always play fair at work.”

I give him a half smirk and wrap my legs around him. “Oh, so I’m work now? Am I a merger or an acquisition?” I hook a finger between his waistband and underwear and slide it across, letting my knuckle graze his skin.

He grins. “If I’m lucky, both.” His eyes dull then he removes my hand from his waist and brushes his lips against it. “Lara, I’m still not ready.”

I inhale to quell the hormone overload and massage my free hand over his chest. “When you’re ready, I’m ready,” I assure him and smile.

He enfolds me in his embrace and I feel a large breath expel from his chest.

Whatever his ex did, it weighs heavy on him. I can’t fathom what type of person would willingly hurt the beautiful man in my arms.

©Debi Smith, 2014

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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