Love Takes a Swim Part 25 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallOn their date, Kai and Paisley go to the park and play on the swings. Soon, it turns into a seductive make-out session, until they get interrupted.

They looked up to see a female police officer. She held a flashlight, pointing it at them.

“Sherri? My God, girl. Is that you?” Kai let the swing down slowly, helping Paisley stand as he spoke to the woman.

She was medium height with a compact, athletic build. Her skin was a rich mocha, her eyes dark and her lips full. Kai hugged her, kissing her cheek.

“I want to introduce you to my girlfriend, Paisley. Baby, this is my friend, Sherri. I didn’t know you were a police officer now. When did that happen?”

“It’s been a few months. He neglected to tell you we used to date.” Sherri shook Paisley’s hand. “I’m engaged to Patrick now,” she told Kai.

“McMurtry? No shit? Still a geek?”

“Patrick’s not a geek!” She punched his shoulder.

“Hey! Police brutality. There’s nothing wrong with being a geek. He’s the smartest guy I know. I wish I had half his brains.”

“You do,” Sherri said, walking them to Kai’s Jeep. “Have half as many brains. Nicer build, though. I’m trying to convince him to workout more. But nobody has as tight an ass as you. I have to admit, it’s a thing of beauty. Don’t you think?” she appealed to Paisley.

“She’s not had the pleasure of seeing it up close and personal, yet, Sherri.”

“Oh, sorry. I assumed by the level of groping I saw going on, you’d progressed at your usual, dexterous speed.”

Kai opened the door for Paisley. “One second.” He walked Sherri a few feet away. “Look,” he said softly. “I really like this girl. I don’t want to spook her, so could you not?”

“Spook her? What are you talking about?”

He looked around furtively. “She’s never been with a guy. I’d rather not make her nervous.”

“You’re not behaving yourself very well, under the circumstances.”

“Could have been worse.”

“Oh, you mean like the way you behaved on our first date?”

“Be fair, I’d known you nearly four years by that time. And you weren’t protesting.”

Sherri punched him again. “I’ll be nice, if you’ll forget that night ever happened.”

“I’ll never forget—it was incredible. But I won’t bring it up.”

“It was pretty good. Deal.” Sherri held out her hand.

Kai took it, kissing her fingers. “You be happy, Sherri. Pat’s a good guy. Little goofy…. But he’s been one of my best friends forever. He better take good care of you, or I’ll kick his ass.”

“Oh, you won’t need to. Trust me, I can do that myself.”

Laughing, they hugged and Kai walked Sherri to her squad car. He joined Paisley a moment later.

“Have you had a lot of girlfriends?”

“A few. Not that many. Why?”

Paisley shrugged, shaking her head. She wouldn’t look at him.

“Five,” he said quietly. “Five serious girlfriends, and a handful of friends who happen to be girls. We hang out, have a few drinks….”

“Have you had sex with them? The friends, I mean.”

“A couple of them, yeah. Okay, more than a couple. But it didn’t mean anything. Just friends with benefits. But never when I’m in a serious relationship. Ask Officer Sherri. She’ll vouch for me.”

“And if one of these beneficial friends called you tonight?”

“I’d say, Hi, how ya doing? I’m in a relationship. Nothing would happen.”

His phone rang. Kai looked at the ID, laughing. He turned it to show her, continuing to laugh. It was, predictably, one of the beneficial friends.

“Yeah, Toni. Hi. Sup?” He listened with the phone pressed to his ear.

Paisley could hear a woman’s voice, but not what she was saying. Kai blushed, clearing his throat uncomfortably. Toni was being very explicit about the reason for her call. He hoped that Paisley couldn’t hear her words. Since she hadn’t killed him yet, he had to assume she couldn’t.

“Whoa, Toni—hold up. No can do.”

“Why not?” she screeched. “You always have before!”

“Cause I’m in the Jeep with my new lady. You know I’m a one woman guy.”

“Bastard,” she said loudly. “Why do you have to be so damn honorable? I need your lovin’ touch! Nobody does it for me like you.”

“Toni, can I put you on speaker a second, and have you assure Paisley that I didn’t, in any way, coerce you to make this call?”

“Oh, sure!”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 24 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai and Brad are having a conversation about his relationship with Paisley.

“Cause I can’t promise that. I swear, it would kill me to end this relationship.”

The older man continued to smoke silently.

“If someone had told you to stop pursuing my mother, could you have done it?”

Brad smiled, shaking his head. “Sure. Then I would have walked into the ocean and drowned myself. A man can’t live without his heart.”

Kai held out his hands, acknowledging the comment. He gave a that’s what I’m talking about motion, nodding emphatically.

“I wasn’t any older than you when I started dating Nina. She wasn’t even Paisley’s age. God, that girl could make me do back flips to please her. She had me so tied up in knots, I couldn’t stand it! Every day, it was something else, some other reason she’d refuse. It took me a month just to get a kiss. Two before she let me go any further than that. And it was nearly three before we first made love. That was just about the best day of my life. Only our wedding and the birth of your brother and sister were better.”

Kai waited, wondering why Brad was telling him all this.

“Take it slow, son. Don’t rush into anything. Going off fully loaded is a good way to end up pregnant. Use what’s between your ears, not your legs, and pay attention. You will have to tread very lightly with Paisley. You don’t want to make a major mistake, and lose her forever—a man can’t live without his heart.”

It took a moment for Kai to process what Brad was telling him.

“So you aren’t telling me to end it?”

“I’d only do that if I thought it was a destructive relationship. I want you to be careful.”

“I’m always careful, Brad….”

“Not that kinda careful, though that’s important. I mean careful so neither of you ends up hurt.”

“I’ll do my best. I won’t ever hurt her on purpose.”

“I know. But you need to be careful not to hurt yourself.”

“How am I gonna get hurt?”

Brad shook his head, stubbing out his cigarette. “We’d better get back inside, so the ladies don’t think we’ve run off to get drunk.”

Kai chuckled. He and Brad rarely drank.

They walked back in the house and Nina ran to Kai, throwing her arms around him.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” She took his face in her hands, looking him in the eye. “Can you forgive me? I promised I wouldn’t bring that up—and I did.”

“Sure, Mom. It’s okay.” He kissed her on top of the head. “It’s okay,” he repeated, holding her close.

Before leaving for Paisley’s apartment, Kai changed into a royal blue Polo shirt, khaki pants and boat shoes. His mother pronounced him acceptable, and they headed to Paisley’s. She changed from her workout gear to jeans, a pink Polo and sandals.

Once she was ready, they headed to Manatee Park on Riverside Drive. The place was virtually deserted. The occasional adult walked by on the boardwalk, but they had the park to themselves.

“How about we sit on the swings,” Kai invited.

Paisley sat on the swing. He pushed her gently until she got going well, then he joined her. Laughing and giggling, Paisley tried to outdistance him. Although she had a head start, he soon caught up. His powerful legs pumped harder and faster until he passed her.

“So not fair!”

“I was King of the Swing at my elementary school. I can’t tell you how many times I got sent to the office.”

“Why?”

“For doing this.” He leaped off the swing when it was at its apex, landing on the ground several feet away.

“Oh, my God!” She dragged her feet to slow down. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“You jumped like ten feet in the air and landed. Oh, my God!”

Laughing, Kai grabbed the chain of her swing, halting her. Standing in front of her, he walked her swing back until her face was level with his. With his hands on the chain, he fluttered kisses across her nose, mouth and cheeks.

Paisley wrapped her legs around his waist, pulling him between her legs, as his kisses got more interesting. She could feel his tall, lean body pressed seductively against hers, his excitement obvious. Kai sighed contentedly, snuggling closer. His body fit perfectly, conforming to her curves. Her scent changed as she got more excited, making him crazy with lust. Rubbing against her, he felt himself thicken, wanting to fill her.

“You kids need to move along now,” someone said from a few feet away. “It’s dusk and the park’s closing.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Down the Drain ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting imageAlthough technically Vanessa and Dario already know one another, this is the first time they’ve actually considered taking their friendship further. Since it’s a defining moment, it makes for a good first meeting.

Music played loudly and Vanessa heard voices in the back. Rather than walking through the house, she wandered around the well maintained lawn and found the party around the pool. Deb saw her coming and let her in the back screen door.

You look good enough to eat!” she teased.

I’ll take my compliments where I can get them. Thank you.”

Nessa!” Dario rushed over. He wasn’t a quiet or a subtle man, but he was good looking, above average height, muscular build with black hair and the darkest brown eyes she’d ever seen.

Taking the bowl from her, he offered her a beer, or other beverage, and bustled into the house to put the bowl in the fridge. He came back with two bottles of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, handing one to her with a flourish.

A lady as lovely as you, should have the best.”

Thank you.” She took the proffered bottle and sipped as he watched. “Oh, that’s good! Yum!”

Dario smirked, ducking his head slightly. “Glad you approve. I have a cousin who works at the brewery in California. He keeps me supplied.”

Can’t you buy this at the liquor store?” she smirked, raising an eyebrow as she sipped.

Yeah.” He stretched, extending his legs, exposing a tasty patch of sculpted abdomen. “But it sounds better to the ladies if I tell them how much trouble I went to, to get it.”

Vanessa laughed, tossing her head back. “Should you tell me that? Doesn’t it spoil the mystique?”

Maybe, but you aren’t the type of woman a man should lie to.”

That sobered her slightly. “Do I—come across…. How do I—? Do I seem—mean?” she stumbled and stuttered, trying not to seem needy or bitchy.

Dario laughed, shaking his head. “Vanessa, you are a whole lot of intimidating. But underneath beats the heart of a passionate woman—who can be scary as hell.”

That doesn’t make me feel better, Dario. Just saying.”

He scooted closer, lowering his voice. “But the scary isn’t the real Vanessa. There is another, very different woman under all that intimidation. And it takes a brave, confident man to find it.”

Are you saying you’re that man?” she raised an eyebrow.

I’m saying that I’d like to find out if I am. You willing to give me a shot?”

She gave him a once over, taking in his thick black hair, fathomless eyes, full lips and square jaw. Dropping her gaze, she examined his broad shoulders and firm chest, washboard abs, powerful thighs and tight ass. He waited patiently for her decision.

Yeah. I’m willing to give you a shot.”

Cool.”

Don’t think you’re getting lucky after this party.”

Hadn’t entered my mind,” he lied.

Sure, it hadn’t.” She nudged him, laughing.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 23 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai goes home for a nap, waking when the family comes in. He and Cody put up groceries while Nina tells Paisley about the steamy romance novels she bought.

“I love when she reads them,” Brad said, putting his arms around her from behind as he kissed her neck. “Cause then I score.” He nibbled her neck more, concentrating on the curve of her shoulder.

“Dad! Jeez, get a room!” Cody yelled, throwing a roll of paper towels at his parents. “Old people—sheesh!”

Kai laughed, pulling Paisley close in front of him, imitating Brad’s movements.

“Dammit!” Cody threw another roll at his brother, and stormed from the room.

“What’s wrong with him?” Nina asked the room in general.

The men exchanged a look, saying nothing.

“Well?”

“Guy stuff, Mom. He’ll be okay after a long shower.” Kai winked at Brad, and finished putting the groceries away as his step-father laughed.

“Guy stuff,” Nina sniffed primly. “I don’t want to know, I’m sure.”

“No, baby, you don’t,” Brad assured her, kissing her neck again. “So, how was work?” He asked Kai over Nina’s shoulder.

“It was okay. First day was rough, but it got easier. Thad was talking about firing Greg, but now that Randi’s pregnant….”

“She’s what?” His mother interrupted. “God, I just had one leave for that. They usually come in threes. You two—no fooling around. I’m serious. I can’t lose anymore personnel.”

“Mom, we haven’t even been out on a date yet. Would you not panic.”

“I know how the men are in this family.”

“Oh? And how are we?” Brad asked, trying not to laugh.

“I believe she’s insinuating that we’re naughty, Brad. I think I’m offended.”

“You set the precedent,” his mother said angrily, shaking the roll of paper towels at him. “With what’s her name—the lunatic.”

Kai blushed, looking at his feet. He swallowed hard, unable to meet her irritated gaze.

“There’s no way of knowing if that kid was even mine,” he said quietly. “For your information, I’m always very careful. To the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any little mistakes out there with my genetic code.”

He rushed out of the room, hitting the deck at a dead run. His mother tried to apologize, but he slammed the door to her words. Hands on his knees, he gasped for breath. The sliding door opened and shut behind him. He didn’t turn around. If it was his mother, he didn’t want to talk, and he didn’t think he could face Paisley.

“She didn’t mean to upset you,” Brad said quietly, lighting a cigarette as he sat at the table. “That was a tough time for your mother.”

Kai started to protest, but Brad held up his hand.

“I didn’t say it was easy for you, either. She didn’t want to see you make a mistake like she did. Not that you’re not a great kid, Kai. And she doesn’t regret having you. She regrets how it changed her life, having a child so young. It hurt, losing her grandchild. It hurt more, nearly losing you. She didn’t deal with those emotions any better than you did. I reiterate my opinion that you both should talk to somebody about it.”

“I talked to counselors, Brad. You know I talked until I was blue. All they said was I shouldn’t have had sex so early. None of them offered any real advice on how to cope. All they wanted to do was tell me how to run my life. I was hurt physically and emotionally. I didn’t need a lecture.” He sat across the table from his step-father.

Brad nodded, taking a drag of his cigarette. “So, Paisley…. She said you’re planning to go out tonight?”

“Yeah. So?”

“And afterward?”

“Afterward I’ll take her home. This isn’t gonna turn into a lecture on my behavior, is it?”

“I’d hate for it to. I think at your age you know everything I’m gonna say, anyway. Can you promise me you’re not going to go too far?”

“How can any man promise that? I promise to show restraint. If she gives me the proper encouragement, I’m not backing down.” Kai’s anger was rising. It irritated him that everyone was making comments about his ability to control himself. He’d shown restraint plenty of times.

Brad heaved a heavy sigh. Shaking his head, he rubbed out his cigarette. “Son, we’re men. As such….”

“I know, okay? You never bothered to give me this lecture before. Why now?”

“You never dated a girl like Paisley before. She’s—delicate.”

Kai gulped down a sob, running his fingers through his hair. “What do you want from me, Brad? Do you want me not to date her?”

His step-father said nothing, merely lit another cigarette.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 22 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallPaisley’s class makes everyone happy, even the ones who usually complain.

Kai was pleased at their response. Paisley beamed proudly as she accepted their compliments. He walked her inside where she was teaching the Zumba class again.

“Do you think they really liked it?”

“I’ve never heard so many good things from that bunch. They’re hard to please. You’ve scored major points, babe. Congratz.”

“Thanks.” She blushed, pleased that she was doing well. “I want to make you proud of me.”

“I couldn’t be anything else. You’re fantastic. Beautiful, witty, talented—you put up with my sorry ass schedule without a complaint, and you get along great with my family. What more could I ask for?”

His arms circled her, pulling her close. Kai’s kiss lit a fire in her belly. Paisley wondered how he could have that effect on her without really trying. Her ex had never filled her with such desire. His kisses didn’t excite as much as they disgusted. She’d never been sexually attracted to Ralph at all. Kai was all kinds of exciting.

He stopped suddenly, yawning. “I need to go get some sleep, babe. Mom will bring you to the house. I’ll take you home to change before we go out.”

“Sounds good. Sleep well.”

“I’ll dream of you.”

“Good. Be sure to tell me what I’m wearing in your dream.”

“Nothing but a satisfied smile,” he replied, nipping her lip. “Bye.”

He let go reluctantly, backing toward the door as the ladies started coming in. Unable to pull himself away, he walked back toward her, kissing her once more.

“Hello, Kai,” they all said.

Some saw the kiss and raised an eyebrow. Others fanned themselves, smirking at Kai behind his back. He continued to kiss Paisley, raising a thumb to the assembled ladies, all of whom clapped and cheered, getting progressively louder as the kiss continued. He prolonged it as long as he dared. Dizzy and aroused, he gave Paisley one last, short kiss before departing.

Not sure who that buzzed more, me or her. But he was pretty sure it was him. He knew what they were missing out on, she didn’t.

Kai got home to a quiet house. It was weird to be there with it so empty and silent, like it was waiting to come alive with the presence of his family. He got a shower and shaved before heading to bed. Glad of heavy drapes, he closed them before lying down. He unplugged the phone by his bed, rolled over, falling almost instantly asleep.

The sounds of his family coming in, woke him from a deep sleep. He looked at the clock and saw that it was almost 7:00. He took another shower and brushed his teeth before pulling on his jeans. Tossing a shirt over his shoulder, he padded out to the dining room barefoot. He came up so quietly behind Paisley, she didn’t hear him right away. Spinning around, she greeted him with a surprised smile.

“I didn’t hear you come in!” Her arms went around his neck as she stood on tiptoe to give him a kiss. “I smelled your cologne.”

“Must be soap,” he said quietly, his forehead on hers. “Not wearing any.”

“It smells great,” she said, smiling.

Cody cleared his throat as he brought groceries to the refrigerator. “You could help bring food in, brother mine.”

“I could,” Kai mused, focused on Paisley. “Or I could stand her with the most beautiful woman in the world, in my arms.”

Cody thumped him in the back with a gallon of milk. “Or—you could go grab groceries and help out, bro.”

“Chill, would ya?” He kissed Paisley on the nose. “Be right back. Kick him in the ass, if he gets mouthy, huh?”

“Sure thing.” She took a fighting stance, hands clenched. “I’ve studied kick boxing for ten years, Cody. Make one wrong move, I’ll kick your sorry ass to Nebraska.”

“Could you make it Colorado instead? There’s mountains there, and I can go skiing,” the young man said as he put the groceries away.

“Nope, Nebraska. Cause it’s boring.”

Kai chuckled as he went out to his mother’s car. He loaded up a bunch of bags and carried them inside, thumping them on the counter. He and Cody tossed things back and forth, putting groceries away quickly and efficiently. Their mother came in a few minutes later, smiling, a pile of mail in her arms.

“Yea, the books I ordered came in from Amazon. Now I’ve got something to read.”

“What did you order, Nina?” Paisley asked her.

“Mom only reads romance novels,” Cody intoned solemnly. “The more sordid the better.”

“I don’t read sordid romance novels,” Nina said pompously. “Though they do get steamy,” she told Paisley with a delighted shiver.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Double Trouble ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

first meetingPaige Turner has a problem. Deciding she needs a private investigator, she walks into the office of the Bates Brothers, Norman and Master—kidding—Chay and Trey, who happen to be identical twins. They have an easy, fun dynamic, which immediately puts her at ease. But I bet you can’t guess which one she falls for.

She opened the stained glass door to the office with trepidation. Never having done this before, her hands shook. Identical platinum haired men greeted her with dazzling smiles. Paige halted as the effect of their stunning good looks left her breathless. One stepped forward, hand extended.

“Good morning and welcome to Bates Brothers Investigations. I’m Norman and he’s Master.”

“Dude, be serious,” the second twin said, hanging back a little.

“Seriously, he’s Norman and I’m Master. Our folks run a creepy hotel. Middle of nowhere, house on a cliff? No?”

“I’m Chay and he’s Trey,” the second one said, shaking her hand.

“But Dad totally wanted to name one of us Norman,” Trey contributed.

“It was all our mother could do to stop him,” Chay added with a smile.

“Did she stab him with a big, scary knife while he was in the shower?” their visitor asked.

“No, but she does love her rocking chair,” Trey replied with a grin.

“We named the dog Norman,” Chay said.

“So, neither of you is Master?” she asked slyly.

“Well….” Trey began.

Chay punched his brother. “No.”

“But we….”

“Don’t need to explain that one,” she interrupted.

“How can we help you?” Chay, the calmer of the two, asked.

“I need you to find someone for me.” She held out a photograph in shaking hands. “I think I’m being stalked. I got this picture on my phone.” She handed it to Trey, who was closest.

He examined it carefully before handing it to his twin.

“Has he spoken to you? Approached you in any way?” Chay asked.

“Not exactly. But I get these creepy calls sometimes. The number’s blocked, but there’s someone there, breathing….

“Then they hang up?” Trey concluded.

“Sometimes they whisper something. It sounds like a name. But it’s not something I ever heard before.”

“Not Rosebud?” Trey supplied.

The young woman cut her eyes at him. “Yeah, could be,” she replied sarcastically. “The closest I can make out, they say Katrinka. But I can’t be sure.”

“Why don’t we have a seat in my office,” Chay said. “And you can tell us all about it, Miss…?”

“Turner. Paige Turner. Yes, that’s my real name,” she directed at Trey before he could comment. “My father’s sense of the absurd. Mom couldn’t curtail him.”

“Do you have a sister named Leaf and a brother named Pancake?” Trey winked one brilliant blue eye.

“Funny, but no. I’m an only child. We named the dog Pancake.”

The men laughed in perfect unison, their booming voices filled the confined space. For the first time in weeks, Paige laughed too. Humor had been hard to find lately.

Chay ushered her into his office. Some would call it shabby chic, some less kind, just shabby. It was obvious they needed her case. Everything spoke to her of lack—from the battered wooden desk to the dented metal folding chairs. Despite the absence of glamour, it was neat and tidy. There were no files stacked on the desk, no half empty coffee cups. There were McDonald’s wrappers in the trash, but they were folded neatly and at the bottom of an otherwise empty basket.

“Sorry we aren’t fancier,” he said with a blush. “Please have a seat.” He indicated the one folding chair with a cushion.

Chay sat in a rickety wooden chair behind this desk. Trey perched on the corner.

“Tell Uncle Chay all about it,” Trey said with a frown of concern.

Paige grimaced at him. “And what does that make you?”

“I’ll be your daddy,” he replied with a nod and sly raise of an eyebrow.

Paige burst out laughing. “I hope that’s an act and you aren’t seriously using that to hit on me.”

Trey smirked. “Planting the seeds of discord. If you think of my bro as an uncle, then it’s sick if you hook up with him.”

“I see.”

“And if I were hitting on you,” he replied quietly. “You’d know it.”

Now that, Paige decided, was a come on. She smiled.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 21 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai manages to get a little bit more sleep, but the morning alarm is unwelcome. He doesn’t want Paisley to ride the bus. Besides, he has to stay for his shift anyway.

Greg showed up early for his weekend shift, grinning and cocky. Apparently he and Randi had been quite busy on their days off.

“We got married!” He told them all excitedly. “I know it was kinda sudden, but we just found out a little Greg’s on the way, so we decided to tie the knot.”

Kai wasn’t sure he felt very enthusiastic about it. It meant that in a few months time, they’d be short at the club, as well as the station.

“I can’t fire the guy now,” Thad said to Kai later. “Not with a baby on the way. They’ll need the insurance.”

“It’s just as well, Thad. That schedule would’ve half killed me. I’d like a little time to spend with my new lady. Except for driving her to work, I’ve hardly seen her. And the good morning kisses aren’t doing it for me, ya know?”

Thad laughed, thumping him on the back. “Go home, get some rest.”

“Gotta do pool duty, then I can.”

“I promise to give Greg the most wretched jobs I can think of. He’s gonna have to scrub Sparky’s kennel with a toothbrush.” Sparky was the station’s Dalmatian.

“Make him lick it.”

“Ouch! You need to get laid, kid.”

“Don’t remind me. See you later.” Kai trudged across the street to the pool and changed into his baggies.

With his T-shit over one shoulder, he grabbed the noodle container, rolling it onto the deck. Paisley, who’d ridden that morning with Cody, had her back to him when he walked up. She hadn’t seen him since his arrival, because Cody was helping her set up.

“Thanks, Cody. Could you get me a bottle of water? I forgot mine.”

Kai said nothing, just got her a water and walked back with it, putting it on her shoulder. Checking her class notes, she still didn’t turn around, so he decided to get her attention. He set the bottle on the chair next to the speaker and slid a hand around her waist. Once his other hand was free of the bottle, it joined the first, circling her body, pulling her close to his bare chest. His lips descended on her shoulder, kissing her lightly.

Paisley screamed, jumping away. She turned with her clipboard raised, but burst into laughter when she saw who it was. “Oh, you brat! I was wondering what the hell Cody thought he was doing!”

“He’d better not ever touch you like that. I’d hate to kill my own brother.”

Paisley laughed, walking into the circle of his arms. “You wouldn’t kill him.”

“No, but I’d rough him up, so only his mama would love him. I sure missed you.”

She raised her face to his, lips parted expectantly. Always one to oblige, he kissed her long and deep. He didn’t care that they had an audience. There were people swimming laps as well as those coming in for class.

“So, we going out tonight?” Kai asked hopefully.

“If you’re not too tired.”

“I won’t be. I’m doing my couple hours here, then going home to bed.”

“Good.”

“Wish you could go with me….”

She pinched his ribs. “Behave!”

“I’m behaving like a perfect gentleman. Well, maybe not so perfect, but a gentleman.”

“You’re perfect for me,” Paisley said quietly. “Get your tight ass up on the tower. It’s time to start class.”

He kissed her again, lips lingering near her ear. “Thanks for noticing.”

“Put your shirt on, you’re distracting my little old ladies.”

He looked around, leaning closer. “You sure it’s not you that I’m distracting?”

“Not at all, I’m a professional. I’ve seen men’s broad chests, finely sculpted abs and—chiseled muscles before….” She turned away, puttering around with something unimportant. “Just not all put together quite as well as yours,” she mumbled.

Chuckling, Kai pulled his shirt over his head and climbed his tower. Paisley’s class went well. For the first time, he was really able to observe her during the class. She moved like a dancer, with ease and grace unmatched by any woman he knew. He was sure she must have a dance background, because she gave the little flourishes and hand positions he’d only ever seen dancers like Ginger Rogers use. His mom was an old movie buff, who she loved Fred and Ginger. Kai had seen all of their movies dozens of times.

The applause after class was loud and enthusiastic. People who usually complained about everything, came up to him and Paisley, complimenting her class.

“The music is just amazing!” One old lady remarked to anyone who would listen. She was one of the ones most likely to complain. She went off humming one of the tunes.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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