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EIGHT

Slipping onto the soft leather seats, no matter how many times I have tried to replay that day in my head. I still couldn't remember how Marcie managed to convince me to occupy the passenger seat whilst she sat in the back.

So there we were all in that vehicle, with him and I sitting on opposite sides. Whilst there was an invisible line between us that would require joint effort to willingly cross without any fear we'll trip and fall. I glanced his way taking in the way his hair danced. With one hand resting on the steering wheel he seemed so carefree with his eyes focused on the streets. He easily moved past other vehicles and though he was a good driver, I never did like his tendency to opt for speed. "Your friend doesn't like me very much, does he?" Although it was posed as a question, I knew he already had an answer and that no amount of persuasion would work. "He's just weary when it comes to new faces, Nicholas."

"I thought we were in agreement that you'll call me, Nicky."

Marcie snorted in the back leaning forward to poke her head between us, "For a man who threw a fit whenever your mom and mine called you that, I'm surprised at the change of heart."

"Why was he against it?" I inquired staring down at her secretly enjoying the way he threw a quick glare her way. "He claims it made him seem too soft."

"So how exactly are you guys related?"

"Our moms are sisters. They grew up on these very streets," he answered. Nodding my head in understanding at how exactly they were connected it would only be a matter of time before I learnt more about them. It wasn't long before we reached Marcie's home, hopping out in an unladylike manner she turned to lean down staring at us grinning from ear to ear. "Make sure she gets home safe."

"Yes ma'am," he playfully raised his arm making a salute motion causing me to giggle, satisfied by his response she stood up and sauntered towards her home. And once he revved the car back to life, I could tell that he was now driving according to the speed limit making the drive longer which later on had been an intentional move on his part. With the images of shops passing the window partly covered in frost I kept my gaze focused on the scenery. "So Marcie tells me that you'll be going to this art thing tomorrow night," his voice came out lower now that it was just us two in the confined space.

"Yeah, I'm looking forward to it."

"Let's go together," turning to look at him, his eyes were already on me awaiting my reply to the offer dressed in a robe of modesty when in actuality for a man like him it would be far from aiming for virtue. "I can't," I replied breaking the eye contact. He released a sound from his mouth that seemed to be an odd mixture of a scoff and groan, "Why not? Because your friend thinks I'm bad," he pouted playfully.

"First of all I'm already going with him and second even if that was the case then technically wouldn't he be right?"

"Don't sit there and act as if you're an innocent girl, Liyah. Completely pure and incapable of touching sin, I'm not going to sit here across from you and pretend I don't see the lustful, lewd thoughts swimming in your beautiful pools of burnt sienna," he cooed gently eliciting a blush across my cheeks due to the truth in the fact my mind often conjured up vivid images. Images that often kept me tossing and turning allowing my limbs to be entangled in the sheets with a temptation to allow my hand to explore the apex of my thighs.

As a result I wound up shifting in my seat, felt my thighs involuntary clench at the sound of his voice that reverberated inside me quickening my heartbeat.

"What's your point?" I managed to utter deciding to take a chance and look at his profile knowing the stars lining the scope of my sky would possibly fall with the way a sly grin emerged on his face.

"Come with me tomorrow."

"I told you, I'm already going with Donovan and I'm not the type to ditch my friends."

"Would it help if I begged?" he asked a hint of humour in his voice, "You are awfully demanding aren't you?" I replied.

"I'd like to call it persistence. I don't like being denied certain requests."

The car came to a complete halt and I was shocked to learn I was home with the way I had been solely focused on the conversation. Turning to face him, I leaned against the seat to find him smiling at me equally waiting. Neither of us said a thing whilst his eyes swept all over my face.

"Isn't this the part you're supposed to use your gun on me for denying you?" I cooed biting my lower lip withholding the need to laugh at the way his eyes widened slightly before he chuckled lightly.

"What I have in mind for you doesn't involve a gun..." leaning forward his body stretched crossing the line. He had made the first move and all I could do was remain trapped against the leather as he opened the door for me mumbling gently, "I strongly suggest you leave before I demonstrate."

Releasing a breath I didn't know I was holding I stepped out walking briskly towards the door to distance myself away from the feeling creeping in. Once I was at the top, sparing one final glance his way I found him still watching. His eyes drew a silent path along every bump and curve of my body till they all but reached my eyes twinkling with mischief. Leaving me to wonder where his thoughts laid. It was only when he wore a smirk that hit me right in the gut that confirmed that beyond the decency behind his small touches... he was no angel.

***

I was only nine years old when my mother took me to the only art gallery in our town. At the time the experience was thrilling being surrounded by large paintings often portraying the painter's life with a simple stroke of a brush.

That was what art does; it provided an outlet for the often tortured souls seeking relief. My mother grew up in a strict Catholic home. Raised by a father who wanted all his children to specialise in either medicine or engineering, I was grateful she allowed my mind to roam free and find that which made me content instead of pushing me to become a doctor like her. She allowed me to find my own identity.

Staring up at the crimson littering the white figure's frame, from the outline I could tell it was a man lying on the ground in pain. The darkness surrounding the painting involuntarily pulled me in. And left me to wonder what part of Marcie's soul was being shown to the world.

I was never a fan of abstract art but there were paintings I found so far in the gallery that sparked my interest. And some of the photographs from some of the students captured the true essence of beauty. Some of the images ranged from wildlife to the simple activities humans did by showcasing these activities as beautiful for their simplistic element in a complicated world.

"I'm starting to reconsider my career choice," Donovan remarked coming to stand by my side whistling lowly in appreciation when he took note of Marcie's painting. She had a range of other paintings one of which was a beautiful lotus flower but the one of the faceless man had to be my favourite. "You and I both know the only thing you're capable of drawing are stick people," I jested laughing lightly when I saw how annoyed he looked. "You know a good friend wouldn't insult their friend so much."

"I thought we were family now," I replied mimicking his deep voice causing him to chortle at the admittedly goofy attempt to sound like him. Walking past him, I took in the other pieces as other people lingered around the area. Waving in Marcie's direction I could see the pride radiating on her mother's face as she remained plastered by her daughter's side.

Smoothing down any visible wrinkles of my dress I found myself faltering in my movements at the mere sight of a lion. Wild and untamed in nature captured within a graphic sketch showing it stalking towards an unsuspecting gazelle.

"It kind of depicts your life, doesn't it?" Feeling the fabric of his cable knit sweater brush my side. I used to believe that in time my body would grow accustomed to him, that it would be indifferent to his voice, smile and eyes but it never was able to adapt. "How so?"

"There's a lion lurking close by that's about to disrupt your peaceful life," he joked nudging me gently. Turning to stand face to face with the made man my eyes swept over him. Returning my eyes to a respectable level I replied initially aiming to pose it in nothing but a strictly innocent question. However, the risqué part of me broke free in his presence and my voice came out a lot deeper than I intended to when I asked cocking my head to the side, "You plan on eating me, Nicky?"     

His smile dropped whilst a tick emerged on the side of his jaw. Before he could answer I heard Ms Friedman calling me over, pulling me away from soaking in more of his company.

Only to intentionally leave him to dwell on my statement and give an adequate response.

For the rest of the event I stayed trained by Marcie and Ms Friedman's side. I was glad for the most part that Donovan and Nicholas were getting along. Even though it consisted of them not saying a word to each other but I would take what I could.

Naturally we decided to go back to Ms Friedman's home to enjoy a little celebratory dinner. Donovan didn't stay for long and dismissed himself due to the fact at the time he was studying for the bar coming up soon. I had once considered becoming a lawyer when I was younger. But it took some time to see that the system was flawed and was dissuaded with the notion of keeping someone out of jail when I knew they were guilty. And the more I'd slowly enter Nicholas' world I think it was for the best I wasn't a part of the very system that aimed to put men like him behind bars.

It wasn't long before the empty plates were cleaned that I excused myself to go to the bathroom. Although I had merely been fascinated with the sketch of the lion hiding within the shadows waiting, the second I opened the bathroom door and met the dark orbs covered partially by the lack of light to offer a cloak of mystery, I genuinely felt trapped. Suddenly the space felt a lot smaller with him mere inches away.

I found my body operating on its own accord the second he pushed himself off the wall and moved towards me till my back touched the wall. Staring up at him, I was meek unable to speak, "You don't ever say shit like that and think you can just walk away," he growled, the sound although usually associated with anger in this situation I knew it was different.

I hadn't been blind to the glances he passed my way since the exhibit and all throughout dinner. Such that whenever I reflect upon that time in the hallway where we were hidden away I couldn't help but chastise myself for poking the beast and expecting not to get scathed. He bent his head down when he noticed my silence.

Taking it as a sign to plunge head first into the pool of impurity his head dipped between my shoulder and neck grazing my flesh with his nose. After taking a whiff of my perfume I reached up tracing the fabric upset that this barrier separated me from touching his skin. I wound up gripping it in response to the feel of his rough hands settling on my hips. At this point my breaths came out quicker the second his teeth nipped my earlobe whilst he pressed his body even more against mine.

"Boss?" a low voice muttered into the abyss reaching us to make the man himself stiffen and lift up his head taking his warmth with him whilst keeping me close. He scowled eyeing the poor victim. Taking a peak over his shoulder expecting to find Leo or Daniel; I instead saw the face of another man whom I had never seen before look nervously between us.

"What?!" he barked tightening his hold on me when I attempted to remove his hands feeling a bit conscious and unwilling to draw attention to our rather questionable position but unlike me, Nicholas didn't give a damn. "We have a situation," he replied keeping his eyes focused on the ground. He scurried away once he was dismissed, Nicholas sighed reaching up to run a hand gently through his hair. It was strange seeing him do it when seconds ago I was close to running my hand through the loose strands but questions began flying inside at what the situation was.

He looked back down at me, his tongue poking out to lick his lower lip stirring a side to me that was slowly gaining a voice and identity of its own. Looking away feeling flushed I felt his fingers on my throat denying the chance I needed to breathe, "I have to go," he whispered rubbing gentle circles as his eyes bore into mine.

Tearing down my armour and dismantling the chains he uttered promise that left me feeling like jelly. Whilst a stream formed between my thighs making me forget what situation needed to be handled when he whispered, "Make no mistake my little gazelle, I will eat you..."    

Comments (1)
goodnovel comment avatar
Melissa Wilson
Damn!!! That last sentence! I now identify as a gazelle!
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